Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used BMW X5 4x4?
Many BMW X5s will have been used as family holdalls, so check the interior and the seats for damage, especially the leather trim. Don’t forget to stand up on the sills with the doors open and check for roof damage, too: Many X5s will have been used to carry roof boxes, skis or cycle carriers so the chance of something being dropped on the roof is higher than normal.
The large alloy wheels can act like kerb magnets for cars driven in town, so check them carefully, and given the cost of replacement tyres, examine the sidewalls for cuts and the tread for an even wear pattern.
Inside, ensure all the electrically operated gadgets such as the navigation system work as they should.
What are the most common problems with a used BMW X5 4x4?
The good news is that the X5’s engines and automatic gearboxes have a good reputation for longevity with very few common maladies. In fact, a software update to cure an abrupt gearbox habit on early cars is about all there is to report.
The X5 is, however, very sensitive to tyre wear and the xDrive 4x4 system can be put out of kilter if the tyres on the same axle have wildly differing tread depths. The rear airbags on the self-levelling rear suspension are also a known weak point.
Most problems with the X5 stem from the interior trim quality with numerous rattles from around the glovebox, sunroof, rear seats and tailgate. The plastic covering on some interior trims can also start to peel.
A wet carpet (especially on the driver’s side) will be a blocked/broken rear washer pipe and check rear light clusters for water ingress as these are known to leak. Exterior door handles can stick, too.
As with any high-tech machine, electrical gremlins can be quite common, but very often faults can be cured by a software update at a BMW dealer.
Is a used BMW X5 4x4 reliable?
BMW as a manufacturer isn’t a paragon of reliability and in the JD Power 2016 UK Vehicle Dependability Study it scored well below average. In the What Car? Reliability Index, the X5 fared badly, too, with the high cost of repair for axle, suspension and electrical issues leading to its poor performance.