Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used BMW 3 Series saloon?
With the BMW 3 Series being very popular with company car drivers, there are plenty of high-mileage examples out there. This, in turn, might tempt unscrupulous sellers to artificially alter the car’s digital odometer, so it’s important to look back through the car’s MOT record online (if it’s old enough to have one), pay for a vehicle history check or plug the car into a BMW dealer’s diagnostics machine.
Also bear in mind that models fitted with large alloy wheels and low-profile tyres are not only more vulnerable to kerb damage, but they also have a significantly firmer ride and produce more road noise, particularly at motorway speeds.
In terms of recalls, there was a possible faulty retracting seatbelt mechanism on cars built between 2014 and 2015, and a potential issue with the power steering in all cars built up to 2015. Additionally, the rear axle bolts on cars built between January 2015 and 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. Finally, if you’re looking at a 2013 car with a seemingly dodgy clutch, it might simply be that the bolt securing the pressure plate needs tightening.
What are the most common problems with a used BMW 3 Series saloon?
All of the engines in this generation of the 3 Series use a timing chain rather than a belt, but it’s still worth listening out for any ticking metallic sounds which 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 most logical systems to use.
Is a used BMW 3 Series saloon reliable?
BMW as a brand managed an average 17th place out of 32 manufacturers in our latest reliability test, but the 3 Series had a more decent result in the executive class, coming closer to the top and beating its main rivals, 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.