Common BMW 1 Series ('04-) problems

  • BMW 1 Series problems from '04-present
  • Reliability issues and recalls explained
  • Read before you buy
Read the BMW 1 Series hatchback used review
Read the BMW 1 Series hatchback used review
BMW was wise to capitalise on the small family hatch segment, because the 1 Series' combination of premium feel and handling dynamics won many fans – and sales.

The first-generation car was launched in 2004, first as a five-door hatchback and as a three-door in 2007. That was the same year BMW also launched a stylish coupe version and a cabriolet.

The engine line-up consisted of 1.6-, 2.0- and 3.0-litre petrols, and a 2.0-litre diesel in various states on tune. An automatic gearbox could be paired with any of them.

In 2011 the second-generation 1 Series was launched. It was bigger than the previous model and got a new range of engines. There are 1.6- or 2.0-litre petrol engines, or a 2.0-litre diesel – all coming in different power outputs.

The 1 Series has been in production for nine years, so there are plenty of used examples out there. Here’s a list of the most common problems owners have experienced.

BMW 1 Series axle problem (2004-2011 cars)
Some 1 Series cars built between May and September 2004 had issues with their rear axles. The control arm may not have been fitted as intended, and as a result, the connections on the control arms could come loose. Unacceptable lateral forces could therefore be applied to the securing bolts and the exact alignment of the wheels could no longer be guaranteed.

BMW 1 Series braking problem (2004-2011 cars)
There was a problem with the brakes on some 1 Series built during March 2006. A fault in the gassing system on the brake servo sealing-ring could lead to the ring being subject to change. The seal could be pressed into the brake servo housing and cause a leak and a loss of braking assistance.

BMW 1 Series airbag problem (2004-2011 cars)
A number of cars built between May and July 2008 had airbag problems. Due to the faulty crimping of the component parts of the airbag wiring harness and seatbelt tensioner, both may not trigger in the event of an accident.

BMW 1 Series fuel filter problem (2004-2011 diesel cars)
There was an issue with the fuel filter on some 1 Series built between August 2008 and June 2009. Moisture may enter the fuel filter at an electrical connection, which could cause a discharge of the battery and the car not to start. If the vehicle is in motion when this happens, there’s a risk of fire when it’s left unattended.

BMW 1 Series power steering problem (2004-2011 cars)
Some cars built between June 2007 and December 2011 had issues with their power steering systems. A component within the integrated control module was not to specification and could fail. If this happens the EPS dashboard light will illuminate. Directional control will be maintained, albeit with additional driver input.

BMW 1 Series gear change problem (2004-2011 cars)
Many owners have complained of a stiff gearchange on manual models, especially first thing in the morning when the car is cold. This is normal, so don’t be put off by it on your test drive – simply give the car time to warm up.

These issues should have been fixed by BMW, so make sure the work has been done before you buy.

Read the full BMW 1 Series Coupe ('04-) used review >>


Read the full BMW 1 Series hatchback ('04-) used review >>


What Car? Approved Used BMW 1 Series cars for sale >>



By Rory White

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