Best and worst BMW X5 years — which to avoid
Our guide is grounded in real-world data and experiences from owners, offering an in-depth look at the best BMW X5 years to buy and worst BMW X5 years to avoid.
If you are browsing the used car market searching for a BMW X5, you’ll first need to be aware of the certain model years to avoid. It’s one of the best options for an SUV with high tow capacity and a sporty appeal, but common problems made drivers pass on buying specific model years.
That’s why our team is here to help you navigate through the best model years, and the worst BMW X5 years to avoid on your way toward getting a reliable model. We’ll give you a tour through the common problems, NHTSA submissions, and official recalls that the German automaker had to issue to sort out the problems to help you buy the best possible option.
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.
How we rated the best and worst BMW X5 years
As we explored the BMW X5 years and their reliability scores, we only went through details listed on reputable automotive platforms and organizations. Sure enough, the first thing you’ll want to know is whether you can trust our reviews, and we wanted you to feel safe using our guide when making your purchase decision.
So, we also went through the official BMW X5 recalls to see which issues were most commonly affecting the owners, as well as first-hand reviews of the X5 to round up our findings. We also visited various forums and explored safety ratings on prominent sites like IIHS and EuroNCAP and all these tests enabled us to form BMW X5 rankings by model year:
|BMW X5 Generation
|Best BMW X5 Years
|Worst BMW X5 Years
|2000, 2004, 2005
|2001, 2002, 2003
|2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
|2014, 2016, 2017
|2019, 2020, 2021
Most common BMW X5 problems
When it comes to cars, it is essential to remember that numerous issues can arise if you are unaware of what you are getting yourself into, especially when it comes to expensive vehicles like BMWs. Getting into the common issues of the X5 should therefore be your top priority when buying one.
As with any model that has been in production for decades, some of its model years are more likely to have issues, so let’s take a look:
1. Engine stalling
The 2011 BMW X5’s power and agility make for a pleasurable driving experience. In contrast, an abrupt engine stall can ruin the driving experience. This problem appears in some 2011 model year units and is regarded as the most severe flaw in the BMW X5.
Some BMW X5 models stalled at low speeds, which frequently happened at low accelerations, even though the vehicle could stall at much higher accelerations. Either way, if the car shuts off while driving but turns back on, it’s a stressful experience for most drivers on the road, to say the least.
Sometimes, the owners towed their BMW X5 because they could not restart their engines when they stalled. BMW admitted that the engine of the 2011 BMW X5 had a flaw that caused it to stall or seize unexpectedly.
2. Water leakage problem
The BMW X5 sunroof is one of the most popular features but has both advantages and disadvantages. Unfortunately, the sunroof on the 2008 BMW X5 has some issues with leaks that often make water leak into the interior of the car.
On the plus side, it lets in light and can be opened to allow for proper ventilation inside the vehicle.
However, there is a disadvantage: the sunroof allows water from the outside to enter, causing damage to the vehicle’s interior. Usually, drain tubes keep water from pooling on the sunroof. However, the tubes in many 2008 BMW X5 models can leak water into the vehicle’s cabin.
Furthermore, several owners have reported that water frequently leaks into the front passenger seat, causing damage to the electrical system.
3. Water pump failure
Because of its electric water pump, the powerful engine of the 2013 BMW X5 remains cool even when operating at full engine load.
On the other hand, a water pump failure can activate the supplementary fan, which can continue to run even after it is no longer needed. It’s essential to look for water pump failure symptoms before purchasing the X5 because of this issue.
This issue is not limited to the 2013 BMW X5, and this problem has also appeared in several 2011-2012 models. It is critical to repair a faulty pump as soon as possible so that the engine is not harmed by running too long and heating up.
4. Transmission problems
The BMW X5 gearbox supplies the engine with enough power to keep the SUV running. Driving becomes significantly more complicated if one of the SUV’s parts fails.
A severe transmission failure can activate the BMW X5’s safe mode, which allows it to operate at a lower performance level to avoid damage. The X5 models have continuously variable transmissions (CVT), which have occasionally proven problematic. As for the regular automatic gearbox, it was reported to be prone to slipping between gears and feature harsh gear shifts down the line.
The mechatronic sensor may fail without warning in some BMW X5 2011 model years, and the transmission can change without acknowledging the sensor inputs.
There have been other transmission problems with the BMW X5. Some 2012 BMW X5 cars develop vibration issues as the transfer case wears out. Many 2006 BMW X5 vehicles can abruptly change gears while moving at a modest pace, and fixing these gearbox issues could be expensive.
5. Oil leakage
BMW X5 cars from 2009 and 2013 experienced issues with oil leaks. Oil leaks in vehicles are now a frequent issue on various automotive forums. According to reports, the owners have dealt with significant oil spills.
Others who used the SUV complained that it drained too much oil or leaked everywhere. The issue gets resolved after changing the faulty timing covers and alternator bracket.
6. Faulty airbags
The BMW X5’s airbags are another problem. About 0.2 million vehicles were affected by BMW’s recall of the X5 in 2008. The X5 had a defective front seat person detection mat, which prevented the front airbag from deploying even in a severe collision. Affected models were all members of the infamous Takata airbag recall that dealt with the issue of faulty airbag inflators.
Additionally, BMW promised to fix the broken sensor and even increased the X5’s warranty to ten years. A significant airbag recall also affected BMW X5 cars from 2001 to 2003. In some circumstances, the front airbag would rupture and burst.
Worst BMW X5 years to avoid
The BMW X5 is a high-end SUV that can tow anything from boats to compact campers thanks to its capable engines, but the mentioned issues might make it seem like a bad purchase. That is until you can confidently answer the question – what are the worst BMW X5 years?
The worst BMW X5 years are 2008 and 2011, but we’ve made a list of all the badly-rated years below:
Let’s explore a bit more about these model years through their reported problems to make sure you’ll be making a well-informed decision when buying one.
First-generation X5 (2001-2003 model years)
First off, there have been a lot of reports about the engine’s timing chain in these particular automobiles. As a result, the engine abruptly stalled on the highway, causing the driver problems.
Next, after 60,000 miles of driving, the engine’s head gasket fails, and coolant and engine oil leak into the engine. In addition, changing the head gasket is one of the priciest engine maintenance tasks.
In addition, some minor but significant problems are worth mentioning, including coolant leakage from the radiator, power windows, and thrust rod breaks.
Second-generation X5 (2008-2009 and 2011-2012 model years)
The second-generation BMW X5’s biggest problem is engine failure. The BMW X5’s sudden engine stopping, no cranking, etc., were regular and prevalent.
Sometimes it led to the need to replace the entire engine, which cost over $7,000. In addition, the problems with the BMW X5 were mainly unfixable, which made maintenance and restoration nearly hard.
The second-generation BMW X5 was reported to have several fire-catching incidents, which is a cause for concern. It is, therefore, wise to hold off on purchasing a second-generation BMW X5. The worst problem for this generation of the BMW was the engine completely stalling which mostly occurred for 2011 models.
Most BMW X5 cars sold during this generation were recalled. Fifty-four recalls in all were reported from 2009 to 2012.
Third-generation X5 (2013 model year)
It was extremely rare to find flaws in the third-generation BMW X5. As a result, recalls were limited to 11 from 2014 to 2017.
These recalls resulted from high gas consumption, battery draining, EGR cooler leaking, DPF filter clogging, coolant oil gasket leakage, and other issues. However, the majority of these problems are easily repairable and replaceable. As a result, there were fewer complaints about the third-generation BMW X5, and 2013 was the worst-rated model year here due to severe issues with the engine cooling and transmission.
What are the best BMW X5 years to buy?
A BMW X5 has a typical life expectancy of 150,000 to 200,000 miles. However, if you purchase a bad model year, you may have to spend a lot of money on repairs to get it to 150,000 to 200,000 miles. As a result, such versions may be unsatisfactory.
To make the car worthwhile, you should get to 150,000 to 200,000 miles without having to make costly repairs. Choose a dependable model year if you want your BMW X5 to last long without significant repairs.
Below are some of the best years of the BMW X5;
All of those years have had few reported problems and recalls, which is quite impressive given their age. If you want something newer, 2015 to 2019 are all excellent choices. BMW X5s from 2016, 2018, and 2019 are notable model years with few recalls and complaints. Among the best options, we can narrow down the selection to two of the best-rated models – the 2000 and 2016 BMW X5.
2000 BMW X5
For the 2000 BMW X5, drivers and former owners didn’t have much to say related to its issues. It turned out to be one of the most reliable models with a decent life expectancy often exceeding 200,000 miles for both diesel and petrol engines.
Among the reported 2000 BMW X5 issues, you’ll rarely find anything serious as mostly problems with windows and electrical settings were reported to NHTSA. So, it makes the best option for an early-stage X5 on the used car market if you are willing to go for an older model.
2016 BMW X5
As for more recent X5 models, the 2016 one seems like a great option with high reliability rating as it only had some slight issues with the wheel hubs. Of course, that’s not such a meaningless issue either, but at least you won’t have to worry about it affecting your engine or transmission as long as you get it repaired on time.
Is the BMW X5 worth buying?
The BMW X5 is one of the best budget-friendly luxury touring and adventure options. Even though many years of this series experienced massive and fatal issues, including engine failure, it proved a reliable vehicle.
Given that BMW got its act together around the 2014 model year and up, significant problems such as engine overheating should no longer be a major issue with the newer BMW X5 models.
Though there are some model years to avoid, the BMW X5 is a dependable midsize SUV that has become more affordable in recent years.
After conducting extensive research and inspection of the target vehicle, you can purchase a second-hand or used BMW X5. Furthermore, for the most dependable use, you can use this article to avoid some specific years of BMW X5 from a different generation.
What is the biggest problem with BMW X5?
The biggest problem with the BMW X5 is the engine stalling. This problem appears in some 2011 model year units and is regarded as the most severe flaw in the BMW X5. Some BMW X5 models stalled at low speeds, frequently occurring at low accelerations, even though the vehicle could stall at much higher accelerations.
Which BMW X5 engine is most reliable?
The most reliable BMW X5 engine is a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder in the 7 Series, X5, and X6 models. It has excellent performance and fuel economy and is widely regarded as very reliable.