Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used BMW 3 Series estate?
The Touring is a popular and hard-working estate car that might well have been used for long-distance journeys, so always check mileages add up in the service book or check them against the MOT history, provided the car is old enough to have one. Check the interior and exterior for obvious signs of wear, too.
The 3 Series Touring comes with a decent warranty that covers the first three years of its life, with no mileage restriction. It's possible to extend this cover for two years for a fee roughly in line with competitors'.
What are the most common problems with a used BMW 3 Series estate?
All of the engines in the 3 Series Touring use a timing chain rather than a timing belt, but it’s still worth listening out for any ticking metallic sounds that might stem from a faulty tensioner. That aside, there’s really not a lot to report in terms of common problems.
Some owners have found the Bluetooth to be temperamental, but this might be fixed with a software upgrade at a BMW dealer. Beyond that, the iDrive infotainment system is holding up well and is still one of the more logical systems to use.
In terms of recalls, there was a possible faulty retracting seatbelt mechanism on cars built between 1 September 2014 and 31 March 2015 and a potential issue with the power steering in all cars manufactured from the start of production up to 8 December 2015. Additionally, the rear axle bolts on cars produced between 1 January 2015 and 1 September 2016 can fail when reused, so if any work has been carried out on the rear axle (for example as a result of an accident repair), you need to be certain that new bolts have also been fitted.
If you’re looking at a 2013 3 Series with a seemingly dodgy clutch, it might simply be that the bolt securing the pressure plate needs tightening, of which there was a recall issued for cars made between 1 February 2013 and 30 June 2013. Finally, there is a potential issue with engines that stall due to the fuel pump not being up to spec, relating to models produced between 1 September 2013 to 30 April 2014. Check with your local BMW dealer if you think your car is affected by any of these recalls.
Is a used BMW 3 Series estate reliable?
BMW as a brand managed 16th place out of 31 other car manufacturers, but the 3 Series managed to return a more decent result in the executive class, coming closer to the top and beating the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
If you would like to see the full reliability list for executive cars, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.