The BMW X5 Year You Should Avoid & The Problems It Has

You’ve been searching the market for a used luxury SUV. You might want to know a thing or two about which BMW X5 model years to avoid.

The BMW X5 Year You Should Avoid 1 The BMW X5 Year You Should Avoid & The Problems It Has

What’s the worst year for the BMW X5?

Problems with the BMW X5 are fairly rare. The most problematic year we’ve found is 2011, when less than a dozen people complained about major oil leaks. Otherwise, 2012 proved to be slightly better at correcting the same problem.

We’ve written and researched automotive for years, including working at a dealership. We use sources like CarComplaints, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, and RepairPal as reliable sources for issues.

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The Most Reliable BMW X5 Years

BMW X5 Years to Avoid

We’d like to note that we had to do a little digging to find problems with the BMW X5. BMW makes a range of vehicles and doesn’t sell all that many X5s though they’ve been around since 2000. 

Most problems we found were rather limited to just a handful of complaints, which is good. Honestly, our expectations for a BMW aren’t that high because the brand isn’t known for reliability. They consistently get a lower reliability score than competitors like Range Rover.

2001 BMW X5 Engine Problems

While the BMW X5 rolled off the assembly line in 2000, the first year of X5 either had few problems or no one said anything. The 2001 changes this tune slightly, with 25 complaints to the NHTSA about engine problems.

One of the biggest problems is with the oil separator, which is a filter designed to capture debris and air within the engine to keep the oil clean. The separator can break, causing oil to spew throughout the engine, causing a sudden loss of both power and an obvious oil leak – so obvious the driver is likely to see smoke coming from the tailpipe.

You might also like to know that this issue is more common in colder climates where condensation can gradually damage the separator, which leads to the larger issue. 

The issue is rather serious too, as burning oil in the engine can start a fire rather quickly.

2009 BMW X5 Light Problems

We have to admit this is an odd one: Some drivers reported the brake light bulbs can melt in the socket while in use, though according to one of the writeups, the brake light still worked but just looked weird.

The X5 is also smart enough to recognize the problem and warn the user of an issue with one of their lights, though still functioning.

While this sounds like a small deal, it was expensive for one owner. We found it hard to believe BMW would charge $1,000 to replace the harness needed to fix the issue, but it’s a BMW!

2011 BMW X5 Engine Oil Problems

The BMW X5 Year You Should Avoid 1 1 The BMW X5 Year You Should Avoid & The Problems It Has

We are going to start this one by saying that BMW is well known for having engine oil problems. In the case of the 2011 BMW X5, there are 131 complaints to the NHTSA about how much oil a driver’s X5 was consuming. 

We do understand that some engines just do burn oil, putting it on the driver or a sensor system to know when oil is getting low and to replace some. Drivers generally don’t like this because an engine shouldn’t need excessive maintenance.

A couple of known causes of the 2011 BMW X5 engine oil problems are heat and loose valves or rings that allow oil to leak through. Heat itself can burn oil before it was meant to, normally in small quantities.

BMW knows about this issue, as their vehicles are performance-based, and burn oil to achieve that level of performance. 

People who write and participate on BMW forums also know that it is a good idea to keep a quart or two of oil in your garage and in your BMW – and BMW dealerships have travel bags to keep oil in.

2011-2013 BMW X5 Engine Overheating

A couple of issues can cause an engine to overheat: hard driving and a lack of coolant. In the case of the X5 from 2011 to 2013, the water pump could fail or under perform and leave the engine hanging. Another potential issue comes from a coolant leak that results in the engine being unable to produce heat as well. 

An overheating engine can also cause more serious oil consumption issues as oil can burn off more.

There weren’t a lot of water pump problems reported – just 116 recorded on RepairPal – though this problem can be costly and a bit scary with the temperature gauge likely rising.

CV Boot problems on BMW X5

These problems weren’t especially common, garnering only 47 reports on RepairPal. The outer CV boots, which help control your wheel while steering, can tear when the vehicle is nearly out of warranty. You’ll probably hear this while taking turns and can have a mechanic repair the issue.

Power Window Issues

The motors and electronics within the X5’s windows can fail, causing the windows to be unable to open or close. This was also relatively rare, with 54 people saying their windows failed to work properly.

Should I avoid any years of BMW X5?

With all of the information we just discussed – we can say that there isn’t a specific yer of BMW X5 to avoid. Let’s reiterate that the issues we found are relatively uncommon. There aren’t millions of BMW X5 drivers out there either. 

Given the price of the vehicle, and BMWs overall reputation for having cars that need occasional fixing, we were actually expecting significantly worse problems when we first started doing research. 

Given the BMW X5 is not a budget car, you’ll probably pay more for average maintenance like an oil change and the larger repairs cost most. However, if your vehicle isn’t in strong need of repairs and just needs a little extra oil attention, which we’ve seen so far with the BMW X5, then just enjoy it!

Given the price of fixes, we might also suggest hopping on any chances you get for an extended warranty. A BMW is likely to have some kind of problem during the warranty period, including one that might not be listed here. 

If you have the extra money – or want a slightly higher payment per month, it can be absolutely worth it for peace of mind. Also, please know that warranties are most commonly honored when regular maintenance has been performed on the vehicle. In other words, follow what the service manual recommends and you’ll avoid paying more in the long run.

For people who enjoy BMW’s driving dynamics and look, the issues are completely worth the potential for small issues. We just suggest you bring a quart or two of oil with you in case you start to notice oil pressure dropping.

Key Takeaways

  • For a luxury brand with a history of issues, the BMW X5 is fairly reliable
  • The BMW X5 will probably burn some oil, so keep an eye on it.
  • The most common issues are with the oil filter and separator drying out or getting damaged.
  • A 2011-2013 BMW X5 can overheat with higher mileage, but not commonly.

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