BMW X1 years to avoid — most common problems
Learn about the BMW X1 years to avoid and make an informed decision.
At the time of its debut back in 2009, the BMW X1 wasn’t the most well-received car by hardcore BMW enthusiasts. It lacked some of the main features of an old-school BMW, and it was, well, an SUV. However, the car seemed to have grabbed the sympathies of even the most determined BMW fans and it’s now one of the most beloved compact SUVs.
The car recently got renewed for the third generation, and we simply had to warn you about the BMW X1 years to avoid concerning the first two. The reliability of this car may surprise you, but it’s still essential to have the bigger picture in case you plan on buying a used X1.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
Most common BMW X1 problems
The BMW is known to have made a few unreliable models and it’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to premium automotive brands. However, the X1 isn’t one of those and it’s a rather reliable BMW that offers plenty of space and comfort for the compact SUV class.
However, it had a few issues over the years that we’ll discuss in this guide, and the best way to start is by giving you a few thoughts on the common engine problem. It was caused by the faulty motor mounts and it led to vibrations and shaking. On top of that, the X1 also had a few issues with the A/C system and the A/C heater primarily.
Other known issues include improper tie rod assembly which led to steering issues and the airbag fault which initiated a few recalls over the years. There were some minor issues as well, such as the improper seat belt retractor, and the cracked taillight housings.
Problem with the engine mounts
One of the worst things that could happen while driving on the open road is to experience the symptoms of bad motor mounts. Sadly, this frequently happened to BMW X1 drivers and the problem was initiated by the cracked right-side motor mounts.
Motor mounts serve to support the engine and to keep it fixed in place to prevent too much shaking and vibrations caused by the engine operation. In case the engine mounts go wrong, not only will you experience a bumpy ride in your car’s cabin, but it also reflects through engine damage.
It can be a bad thing and replacing the motor mounts usually isn’t nearly as expensive as doing engine repairs, but that’s sadly not the case with this BMW. Replacement X1 motor mounts can go up to $2000, so you must have this fault in mind in case you are considering the X1 for your next car.
Problems with the A/C heater
The A/C is among the crucial systems in a car and that’s where our next BMW X1 problem lies. Specifically, it’s the heater that’s not properly working for some later first-gen models. Not only have drivers complained about being unable to control the cabin temperature, but they have also complained about the faulty defogger.
Because of this, owners reported having visibility issues during wintertime and we can’t blame them. Having a functional defogger and heater is essential in cold weather, so make sure to check the 2014 and later X1 models for these faults.
Bad tie rod assembly
Now we make the transition to the problems of the BMW X1 that could lead to safety concerns, and the first one on the list is a cracked tie rod assembly. It was common for the 2018-2019 models, and the problem originated in the faulty tie rod assembly which led to cracks afterward.
Some of the main bad tie rod symptoms include the vehicle pulling to the side, steering noises, and lower steering wheel responsiveness. Because of this, it’s a threat to driving safety and could even lead to a complete loss of control over the vehicle.
The tie rod issue sadly isn’t the only safety-related problem for BMW X1 drivers. Along with it, there also comes the matter of faulty airbags mostly caused by the faulty airbag module. Other airbag issues include the airbags not inflating in certain situations while driving at a lower speed, and the problem with inflator bag explosions caused by improper remedies of Takata airbag recalls.
Overall, the most airbag-related issues tart with the second generation of the X1, so we advise drivers looking for a such model to pay extra attention.
Which BMW X1 years to avoid?
There weren’t many BMW X1 years to avoid so far due to the impressive reliability ratings and expertise of BMW engineers. However, all these problems mean nothing if you can’t use the information to avoid certain model years that are considered problematic.
Let’s take a look at what it seems like through the BMW X1 generations, so we can tell you exactly which models to avoid.
First-generation BMW X1 (2013-2014 model years)
The first-gen BMW X1 started production in 2009 and the initial model years were quite good. Problems started with the 2013 model year and the main issues that troubled the 2013 and 2014 models were the braking system problems and steering assists issues.
The 2014 model year faced a lot of complaints regarding coolant leaks, bad motor mounts, and the A/C heater and defogger issues followed right up. So, it’s best to simply skip the 2014 model if you are looking for a decent late first-gen X1, and go for the 2015 model instead.
Second-generation BMW X1 (2016-2017 model years)
Right after the debut of the second generation of X1 in 2016, some initial problems showed up and these included the paint peeling off, bad tie rod assembly, and the first airbag issue that came right after the release of a 2016 model.
Because of this, the 2016 model can’t be exactly considered reliable and it’s best to avoid getting one and go for the later production models of the second-gen. Along with all these issues, the early second-gen models also had problems that caused steering cracks and noises, as well as seat fittings that were improperly mounted on the car, causing the rear seats to shake.
Best BMW X1 years
Now you know that some X1 models are created less reliable than others, but there’s no time for despair – we’ll get straight to the best model years. There are some pretty solid editions made by BMW engineers, so let’s take a look at the list of the best models yet:
- 2009 BMW X1
- 2010 BMW X1
- 2011 BMW X1
- 2012 BMW X1
- 2015 BMW X1
- 2018 BMW X1
- 2019 BMW X1
- 2020 BMW X1
- 2021 BMW X1
We can say that the best options to go with are the 2011 and 2018 X1 models since these received the least complaints from the drivers. The problems that plagued the first generation were mostly sorted out for the 2015 model year, so you can rest assured that you won’t have to deal with bad engine mounts or coolant leaks with this model.
Also, major second-gen problems were finally eradicated for the 2018 model with just a few minor complaints about the airbags and seat belts. Overall, if you can’t afford the second-gen X1, going with the few initial production years of the first generation can save you the trouble and money spent on repairs.
Is the BMW X1 worth buying?
If you are looking for the most value in a compact used SUV, the BMW X1 does a lot of things right. While it has a lot of decent competitors like the Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40, the X1 offers quite a bit for the price tag. Especially if you go for the early production models, you’ll get the most value in class and that’s a great bargain for a compact SUV.
Of course, like any other bimmer, the X1 is quite expensive when it comes to dealing with unexpected repairs, so hopefully, our guide can save you some money if you use it to get the most reliable X1 model.
Which BMW X1 is reliable?
The 2009, 2011, and 2018 BMW X1 models are all quite reliable and these received the least complaints out of all the model years.
What is the average life of a BMW X1?
The average life of a BMW X1 is around 200,000 miles, but drivers have reported it going well over 300,000 miles with proper maintenance.
Is it good to buy BMW X1?
It’s a good decision to buy a BMW X1 if you are looking for the most value in a compact used SUV suitable for family needs.