The still very fresh looking third generation BMW X5 was available not only with the xDrive 4 wheel drive system, but also as a rear wheel drive car (sDrive), unlike the predecessor which had only 4 wheel drive. Of course we can speculate if the rear wheel drive only X5 makes any sense but I don’t really have time for this. (however you can discuss this in the comment section)
So let’s move on
The depreciation already done most of it’s job, so currently you can find earlier 2013 or 2014 models for around 25 000 € but if you want an extended warranty, then you have to increase your budget to around 32 000 – 33 000 € to get an extended 2 year warranty-at least in Europe.
The interior of this X5 is basically the same as in the other more luxurious BMWs from that time, so the iDrive multimedia system is great, the optional equipment list is infinite and there are no problems with noticeably worn materials in the interior, except the side of the front seats – so it’s good to check the leather on the side of the driver’s seat because it can be often cracked even after 47 000 km / 29 000 mi. In the early stages just small cracks will appear on the side of the seat, but over time you can end up with a pretty ruined seat side. And actually some owners even got a new seat base leather cover under warranty because of this cosmetic issue!
The build quality is mostly on a good level, but there are some cases of rattling noises from the trunk or specifically the tailgate area, which was usually solved by readjusting the tailgate latch.
As in the previous X5, you can find cars equipped with only the:
-optional sport seats
-or optional comfort seats.
If you are using the car for longer distances then it’s a good idea to choose a car with the comfort seats (on the picture above). There are also 7 seater versions of this X5, but the space in the 3rd row seat area is strictly limited for children only, unlike the space in the front and second row seats which is obviously generous.
“Like in the other modern cars full with electronics, I would highly recommend to at least check for fault codes with an OBD scanner before buying!”
Except the usual stuff, you should definitely pay bigger attention to the: keyless entry, soft close doors and like in the other newer BMWs – the parking cameras can occasionally fail too.
-Then there is the electronically adjustable steering column which can stop working. There are numerous cases when only half of the adjustments worked – this can be caused by a faulty steering column adjustment motor, but sometimes it can also magically fix itself.
-Also listen for various strange grinding, creaking or squeaking noises while turning the steering wheel or while adjusting the steering column. It seems that a simple fix like re-greasing the damn thing won’t solve these noises, and that’s why owners who experienced them got a new steering column under warranty.
-If you are regularly cruising at higher speeds then it’s definitely good to check for excessive wind noise. So mainly if you are travelling at 140 or 150 km/h or more, then you can hear either a continuous or just a short occasional wind noise from doors, mainly if the weather is windy as well. This wind noise is like if the doors would slightly open for a short time or like a slightly opened door window. All of this is usually caused by the improperly adjusted door mostly on the driver’s side. If you experience this wind noise then you can try to adjust the door latch striker plate a little to the inside – which will mostly fix the issue. But you can actually check this another way: Just accelerate to highway speeds and then try to push the door slightly out – if you can’t hear the excessive wind noise then the door is adjusted properly, and if the wind noise significantly increases then you have a badly adjusted door.
–Random iDrive rebooting or other minor electronic issues can also occur mainly on the early models, but these problems are usually solved by the software updates.
-And lastly there are a couple of cases when one of the doors suddenly unlatched itself after hitting a pothole, or it can sometimes happen also if you lean into the door too much. In other words, the door won’t open like completely, it will only pop unlocked-like if you don’t close the door properly. This is not extremely common but it occurred mainly on some early production cars made to 2014, and it was caused by the faulty door lock, so after changing it the occasional issue was solved.
As in the other cars check for water leaks in the interior and avoid cars with the panoramic sunroof unless you don’t forget to occasionally clean the sunroof water drains, because there are already cases of clogged sunroof drains which will obviously cause the water to leak into the interior. Also make sure that the area under the windshield and near the bonnet hinges is clean, since it can accumulate leaves and dirt over time-causing the water to accumulate in this area.
This X5 was available with various variations of suspension types which were usually in packages:
-so first, there is the standard suspension which is simple, reliable and fairly cheap to replace, on the other side owners complained that the ride on bad quality roads is more bouncing mainly for the rear passengers
-then there are the electronically adjustable shock absorbers which can be adjusted from comfort to sport settings, so they are better than the standard suspension in terms of handling and comfort, but they are also more expensive to replace than the regular shocks
-after this there is the self levelling air suspension only on the rear axle which can be combined only with the electronically adjustable shocks (this combination is even more comfortable)
-and lastly there are the active anti-roll bars which can be, again combined only with the electronically adjustable shocks and also with the air suspension on the rear axle – this last combination is obviously the best, so the car can be very comfortable in comfort mode and in sport mode it has great handling with minimal body roll in corners thanks to the active anti-roll bars
On the other side you have to be prepared that the air struts are not made to last a long time so they can leak even after 4 years or after 40 000 – 50 000 mi and it’s good to occasionally check the plastic height sensors on both sides near these air struts, since they can seize up.
“replacing both air struts at the dealer – approx. $1 460 including labour”
The active anti-roll bars should be still in a good condition since the car is still young, but as in the other BMWs they are not cheap to replace if they fail.
On the other side there are numerous cases of prematurely worn front lower control arms even after 30 000 mi. In this case you will hear clunking or creaking noises from the front suspension usually while acceleration from stand still or slowing down, occasionally also while driving on bad quality roads. However, because of the premature failure these control arms were in a lot of cases replaced under warranty, although it’s still good to check them before buying.
“approx. $1 500 to replace the lower control arms at the dealer”
As usual check the suspension for strange sounds, check the control arm bushings for wear and check the tires for uneven wear as well since they are not the cheapest.
“+As in the other newer BMWs if you want more comfortable ride, change the run flat tires to standard tires.”
front brake rotors from 126 € / $142
rear brake rotors from 158 € / $178
front brake pads from 159 € / $179
rear brake pads from 107 € / $121
All of the petrol engines can have occasionally more or less issues with the misfires which can be caused by faulty ignition coils, injectors or by the faulty high pressure fuel pumps, although there should be an extended warranty for at least the injectors on the 4.4 l V8 in the US for 10 years or 120 000 mi.
Some plastic hose here and there can crack as well, but more often on the V8 engines. And actually, you should specifically check the plastic crankcase vent hoses on this V8 which are located under the plastic engine cover right above the two turbochargers. Since the turbochargers produce a big amount of heat, these hoses can crack and cause misfires, whistling sound and even a small oil leak. BMW actually updated these hoses so they are not made from plastic anymore but from rubber, and replacing them is absolutely not hard – on the other side they are not very cheap.
The 4.4 l twin turbo V8 in this X5 is luckily the better/updated version, so it’s not that infamous unreliable early version which is in the other more luxurious BMWs made before 2013. All of this means that with the proper maintenance it can withstand 124 000 mi – 200 000 km without any issues. However I would not recommend buying this engine after this mileage point, since after this the chance of various failures noticeably increases (like leaks, oil consumption, carbon build up and other funny shit).
“It’s also good to check for oil or coolant leaks mainly on the 4.4 l V8, because in some rare cases they can appear even after 40 000 mi.”
It’s definitely important to maintain the correct oil level all the time, since mostly the 4.4 l V8 can consume smaller or bigger amount of oil.
Long story short, if you want to keep the car for a longer time without bigger maintenance costs then choose the turbocharged straight 6 cylinder which is the most reliable petrol engine.
And what about the hybrid version? Well, I would not recommend buying the hybrid version without an extended warranty, but if you really want it then at least make sure that the hybrid battery is in a good condition. They should be able to check the battery condition at the dealer.
When it comes to diesel engines, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. But to minimize, most of the issues you should use the car mainly on longer journeys and it’s also very important to use high quality fuel. Then you should keep in mind that:
-There is a recall related to the possibly faulty EGR cooler which can leak coolant. The coolant can mix with the carbon build up and in very rare cases this mixed deposit can catch fire, so make sure that the EGR cooler was replaced under this recall, and if not, then ask the dealer about this!
Bosch CP4 HPFP
-Then there is the infamous CP4 high pressure fuel pump which can fail: mostly because of the different fuel used in the US or Eastern Europe. If it fails it will throw small metal particles in the whole fuel system including the fuel tank and injectors – so in this case the whole fuel system including the injectors and the high pressure fuel pump has to be replaced according to BMW. Fixing this costs around
$12 000 at the dealer, but there is an extended warranty for the fuel system in the US for 75 000 mi. And if this failure happens outside of this warranty then there is a big chance that BMW will pay half of the repair cost – $6 000, again in the US. There are numerous cases of this failure in the US, as well as in Eastern Europe, but they are still not like extremely common. This means that the HPFP can fail in some rare cases even after 25 000 mi / 40 000 km but also later, after 75 000 or 100 000 mi / 120 000 – 160 000 km. In the Western EU countries on the other hand, it can easily withstand even more than 186 000 mi / 300 000 km with minimal wear.
Nobody knows when exactly it will fail on your car, since it will destroy itself suddenly without any kind of early warning, making the engine stop.
The Bosch CP4 high pressure fuel pump is simply not made very well and most importantly, it was designed to work with European diesel fuel which has more sulfur in it. The fuel used in the US and in some parts of Eastern EU has lower sulfur level which causes the most problems. So this low sulfur fuel can’t lubricate this fuel pump very well, which will lead to premature failure.
“Rumors say that this Bosch CP4 HPFP is the result of the 2008 financial crisis: Bosch had to make a more efficient pump which will operate at higher pressure than the previous versions while they had to maintain the lowest possible production costs-mainly because of the crisis they say. And you see the result. On the other side, the predecessor of this pump – the CP3 version is much more durable and it can run with US fuel without any issues for a long time, but at the same time it’s also not that efficient.”
And if you think that only this BMW uses this fuel pump then you are wrong since it’s used in the BMW 5 series F10, 7 series F01 and in other BMW models made from approx. 2009. The VW – Audi models with the diesel engines from approx. 2009 are affected as well and a lot of other cars too. There really isn’t much to do to prevent this issue-if you are living in these places with low sulfur level fuel, but you can at least not drive with low fuel level, use the more expensive fuel, and using good fuel additives designed for modern diesel engines with DPF filters is also advised. And actually, BMW has it’s own genuine diesel additive with the following part number – 83192296922 – so you can find it, buy it and use it to at least try to prevent this failure if you are living in the already mentioned places.
All of the engines are equipped with timing chain, but as in the other newer BMWs – after 124 000 mi / 200 000 km you should be prepared to replace it. On the other side, with the proper oil change interval it can withstand a lot more-mainly in the 6 cylinder engines.
This BMW is equipped with only the 8 speed automatic gearbox which is usually in a good condition so just change the oil in it and check it before buying.
Obviously, check for all those strange howling or whining sounds from the suspension and also for shuddering at acceleration. The car has to ride smoothly and quietly. It’s also good to look at the rear differential which can rarely leak – in this case you have to remove the differential cover and put new silicone sealant on it so it’s not very expensive to fix this if you notice it in time.
To summarize things up: if you want the most reliable version and you want to keep the car for a longer time then choose the 6 cylinder petrol model with the standard suspension, avoid cars with performance upgrades, buy only a car with proper maintenance history, and keep extra money for the additional repairs if you are buying a car outside of warranty.
As usual, if you have personal experience with this car or more information about it then you can write it into comments!