BMW 3 Series F30 - exterior - red

BMW 3 Series: Which Years to Avoid & to Buy? (2024 Guide)

Hey there!

The BMW 3 Series is one of BMW’s most popular models, and for good reason. It’s got that perfect blend of elegance, performance, and, of course, that irresistible BMW charm.

But here’s the thing: not all BMW 3 Series are equally reliable. Some model years seem to be very reliable, while others… well, they had a few hiccups.

This article outlines what years are best avoided when buying a BMW 3 Series and which ones should be considered seriously.

Read on for a complete overview!

Overview: BMW 3 Series years to avoid or to buy

Looking for a quick answer to your question? Here is an overview of the BMW 3 Series years to avoid or to buy.

Here are the BMW 3 Series years to avoid:

YearGenerationMain Complaints
2006E90– Airbag recall
– Overheating wiring of the blower motor
2007E90– High-pressure fuel pump
– Locked steering wheel
2013F30– Failed timing chain
– Failed thermostat

When looking for the best BMW 3 Series years to buy, look for a model from the year 2016 onward, from the F30 or G20 generations. These BMW 3 Series model years have surprisingly few issues and seem to do well on reliability overall.

What BMW 3 Series years should you avoid?

Despite the fact that the BMW 3 Series is a great all-around car, there are specific production years that have a higher likelihood of experiencing issues.

Let’s check out three BMW 3 Series model years that received the highest number of complaints:

2006 BMW 3 Series

2006 BMW 3 Series - year to avoid

Out of all BMW 3 Series model years, try to avoid the 2006 BMW 3 Series.

The 2006 BMW 3 Series received a total of 785 complaints, which is the highest out of any BMW 3 Series model year.

Many of these complaints are about the famous Takata airbag recall.

The Takata airbag scandal is a reminder of how things can go wrong when quality is compromised.

The Takata airbag recall remains the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, with a staggering 100 million vehicles affected worldwide.

And yes, it has affected BMW too. BMW 3 Series models produced between 2000 and 2006 have been recalled to address the Takata airbag issue.

So, if you’re an owner of a BMW 3 Series produced between 2000 and 2006, it’s crucial to:

  1. Check recall status: If you haven’t already, visit the NHTSA’s recall website and input your vehicle’s VIN to determine if your BMW is affected.
  2. Prioritize repairs: If your vehicle is part of the recall, schedule an appointment with your nearest BMW dealer immediately to replace the airbag inflator, free of charge.

So, what complaints are left besides the airbag recall?

Well, there could be another serious issue related to the electrical system.

In the 2006 BMW 3 Series, the wiring of the blower motor can overheat, which can cause the vehicle to catch fire.

Here is an experience from a 2006 BMW 3 Series owner:

The blower motor wiring overheats and causes the vehicle to catch on fire. This recall has been out for several months now, and they have not had a fix for it yet. I don’t need my car catching on fire, I have a one year old, it is not easy to get them out of the car.

Cortland, USA (Source)

Don’t worry too much, though, because there has also been a recall for this issue, affecting all BMW 3 Series produced from 2006 to 2011:

2007 BMW 3 Series

2007 BMW 3 Series - year to avoid

While the 2007 BMW 3 Series received by far the most complaints, 2007 is also a BMW 3 Series year you should try to avoid. The 2007 BMW 3 Series received a total of 624 complaints.

The most common complaints are related to engine issues, which can include an overheated engine, a failed high-pressure fuel pump, or a failed VANOS system.

Here’s an experience from a 2007 BMW 335i owner:

High pressure fuel pump – critical failure while driving in heavy traffic on the highway, the engine died without warning while in motion. Brakes and steering became incredibly heavy (presumably without power) as I pulled over with very little time to react. Car would not restart, just repeatedly turn over without trying to start.

Tampa, USA (Source)

Then there’s also a common problem with the steering wheel lock. Some 2007 BMW 3 Series would show an error message on the dashboard saying, “Electric steering lock engaged.”

When this happens, you can not start the car anymore, and you may have to replace the steering column, which costs about $1,600.

Related article: What To Do If Your BMW 3 Series Won’t Start? (7 Fixes)

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series - year to avoid

The last BMW 3 Series year that’s better to be avoided is 2013. The 2013 BMW 3 Series received a total of 328 complaints.

2013 also marked the year of the new BMW 3 Series generation, codenamed F30.

And while the F30 generation BMW 3 Series has proven to be able to last over 200,000 miles, there have also been some model years that had to deal with some issues.

Once again, complaints about engine problems were among the most common; however, this time, the car wouldn’t burst out into flames. Instead, most complaints were about broken timing chains.

BMW 3 Series stretched timing chain

The timing chain is responsible for synchronizing the pistons and valves to work together as part of the ignition system.

Over time, the chain can start to stretch and cause the timing of the engine’s valves to be off. If the mechanism fails, it can cause significant damage to your engine!

All engines of the F30 3 Series have a timing chain, and you can expect them to last at least 200,000 kilometers.

However, in some cases, the timing chain wears out much earlier, which is especially common in the 2013 BMW 3 Series.

Another common problem to look out for with the 2013 BMW 3 Series is a failed thermostat or water pump, although a failed thermostat seems to be more prevalent.

If the thermostat fails, it opens up all the way. This causes the fan on your BMW 3 Series to keep running and the engine to be cooled continuously, which means it won’t warm up.

So, if you notice this problem, try to take it to a mechanic as soon as possible as driving with it for prolonged distances can damage your engine!

Reader’s tip: BMW 3 Series: 16 Most Common Problems To Check Before Buying

Which BMW 3 Series year is the best?

When it comes to the BMW 3 Series, models from 2016 onward stand out as one of the best.

BMW’s reputation for reliable performance holds true here, and many BMW owners report that these vehicles are incredibly dependable.

BMW 3 Series models produced between 2016 and 2018 belong to the F30 generation, while those built from 2018 onwards belong to the G20 generation, which is even more reliable.

BMW 3 Series 330i G20 M Sport

And because they’re a few years old already, they make great options if you want a BMW without breaking the bank.

Related article: BMW 3 Series Review: Is It A Good Car? (10 Pros And Cons)

Which BMW 3 Series engine is best?

Figuring out which BMW 3 Series engine is best depends on the performance and fuel efficiency you’re looking for.

However, when looking at the best engine overall, the BMW 330i produced from 2019 onwards has the best engine:

It’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which does an amazing job at balancing performance and fuel economy:

BMW 330i Twinpower Turbo engine

The powertrain has 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque for a surprisingly powerful drive. Additionally, it offers incredible combined fuel economy ratings of 30 MPG.

It’s a great option for keeping your wallet happy and your smile wide when you hit the gas!


Well, looks like it is time to choose your next dream car!

As we have seen throughout this article, the BMW 3 Series has some years that you should avoid, like 2006, 2007, and 2013.

But other years can offer great performance and plenty of value for money when properly maintained.

With a little research, you can find a great BMW 3 Series that will be a reliable companion for years to come.

Good luck with your choice!

P.S. Did you know that from our research, we found you get the best value when you buy a BMW 3 Series that’s about five years old? Learn more here!

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  1. Thanks it is a great suggestion, i’ve owned the E90 and everything you said was correct. The Overheating wiring issue is a headache

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