The BMW X1 is what BMW believes is a perfect entry-level premium crossover SUV that was first introduced in 2009, but the X1 didn’t come to the North American market before 2012. In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about everything that could go wrong with the X1. We will also list the more important recalls, which will give you a broad understanding of how reliable or unreliable the BMW X1 truly is.
The BMW X1 tends to suffer from engine-related issues such as the engine mounts failing, the engine overheating, the timing chain failing, the turbocharger failing, and oil leaks. BMW recalled the X1 five times due to airbag-related issues, while electrical problems with the battery, the exterior lights, electric distribution, and the parking brake are also common.
Now it’s time to go in-depth about these issues and tell you how/if you can fix them. So, if you are interested in the post-2009 BMW X1, be sure to read this article!
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The engine is arguably the most important part of any car, which means that any engine-related trouble can be detrimental to your entire ownership experience while also being extremely costly to repair. For the BMW X1, the most common engine issues are related to engine mounts, the engine overheating, the timing chain, the turbocharger, and oil leaks.
Engine Mount Issues
A few owners of the second generation of the BMW X1 (2016-2022) complained about the engine mounts breaking off and causing the car to rattle and vibrate immensely. These issues seem most common with the 2016-2018 BMW X1 models. This happens because the BMW B48 engine used in some X1 models is known to go through passenger-side engine mounts on many other BMW models as well.
It seems like this issue tends to happen on fairly low-mileage and high-mileage examples, which means that this issue is possibly due to a factory design flaw. Even though these happen, they are not the most common X1 issues.
Engine Overheating Issues
The 2014-2016 BMW X1 models seem to suffer from engine overheating, which is most common on BMW X1 28i models that come with the BMW N20 engine. After much investigation, it seems like this issue is due to the coolant either leaking or evaporating from the system, making it difficult to cool off the engine. Some have tracked the leak to the radiator, while others blamed deteriorating seals.
Either way, this issue can be detrimental to your engine if you don’t deal with it soon enough. As such, keep an eye on your coolant, as you don’t want to risk your engine blowing up.
Timing Chain Issues
As far as earlier 2009-2016 BMW X1 with N20/N26 models are concerned, they sometimes suffer from timing chain issues which tend to be accompanied by oil pump chain failures. Quite a few owners complained that the car suddenly loses all power and the engine shuts down. These can also be rather violet and shake the entire car. It seems like the reason for this is a plastic chain tensioner that breaks, and all hell lets loose underneath the car’s hood.
This is likely one of the most severe issues the BMW X1 suffers from, but it is sadly not uncommon. Many owners said that this caused terminal engine damage and that replacing the entire engine and some of its nearby components was the only way to repair it. This issue was also a topic of much debate in the Gellis v. BMW of North America LLC, No. 21-2093 case, where many people debated that BMW needed to do a recall to address this.
Turbocharger Waste Gate Actuator Issues
As sad as the timing chain is, it is not the only grave issue the BMW X1’s engine tends to suffer from. Owners of a few BMW X1 first-gen models (2009-2016) complained about the car starting to rattle, then losing all power and eventually stalling completely. This issue is caused by a severe failure with the turbo wastegate actuator, which, when it fails, will also need a lot of money to fix. Thankfully, this problem is not as common as the timing chain one, but it is severe.
Oil leaks have been reported across both older and newer BMW X1 models, while the 2012-2015 X1 models seem to take the brunt of the impact. Older E84 models with lots of miles are also commonly plagued by oil leaks, but that is to be expected for older cars. The issue we will discuss here tends to happen on lower-mileage cars.
One owner of a 2015 BMW X1 complained that the oil leaks from the oil filter housing and can find its way to the electrical parts, which can even cause a fire.
Airbag-related issues are the most complained about problems with the BMW X1, which is why we need to mention them here. These range from all the usual stuff, such as the airbags not deploying when needed, airbags deploying incorrectly, or issues with the airbag inflator. We will mention all of these through a few recalls BMW did to combat this issue. These go as follows:
- 16V071000 – BMW recalled specific 2013-2015 BMW X1 models back in February 2016 due to the driver’s frontal airbag inflator rupturing and sending metal fragments that could seriously injure or even kill the driver.
- 17V062000 – BMW recalled certain 2016-2017 BMW X1 xDrive 28i and X1 sDrive 28i models back in January 2017 due to these having an instrument panel that may not allow the front passenger airbag to deploy properly in an event of a crash.
- 19V016000 – BMW recalled certain 2015 BMW X1 models back in January 2019 due to the driver’s frontal airbag inflator rupturing and sending metal fragments that could seriously injure or even kill the driver.
- 20V017000 – BMW recalled certain 2013-2015 BMW X1 models back in January 2020 due to the driver’s frontal airbag inflator rupturing and sending metal fragments that could seriously injure or even kill the driver.
- 20V283000 – BMW recalled certain 2020 BMW X1 xDrive 28i and X1 sDrive 28i back in May 2020 due to the passenger airbag failing to deploy in an event of a rollover.
German luxury cars are notorious for having lots of electrical issues, some of which are small niggles and nuisances, while others can affect your overall experience to a great degree. These include problems with the battery, the exterior lights, electrical distribution issues, and the “secure vehicle from rolling” warning light.
1st gen BMW X1 models (E84) tend to suffer from various battery-related issues, especially the 2013 model, which seems to have the highest amount of overall complaints. These problems include the battery power cable becoming loose, which was part of a recall for many E84 models before the 2013 model, which for some reason, was not included.
Others complained about the car needing a new battery every few months, as some systems seem to be drawing battery power even when the car is parked. Finally, we also need to mention that BMW did a recall for certain 2014 X1 xDrive 28i, X1 sDrive 28i, and X1 xDrive35i back in February 2017 (17V087000) due to an incorrect coating being used on the battery-positive cables, which could cause the car to stall while driving.
Exterior Lights Issues
Older 2009-2016 BMW X1 models can suffer from excessive condensation building inside the headlight housing, which can decrease your overall visibility significantly. These things tend to happen on quite a few older cars. To fix it, take your car to a mechanic who can take care of excessive condensation and seal your headlight properly.
However, BMW also recalled specific 2018-2019 BMW X1 models (19V074000) back in January 2019 due to the possibility of the taillights becoming loose and possibly even falling off the car.
Electrical Distribution Issues
BMW X1 models manufactured between 2009 and 2011 seem to be suffering from an issue where regular road vibrations and movement can harm the battery junctions and thus affect your electrical power distribution, which can wreak havoc on a bunch of electrical systems. Owners complained about the lights failing, passenger protection issues, the gauges failing, etc.
Due to the damaged front distribution box, BMW recalled specific European 2009-2011 X1 models in May 2019 (0061050500). It’s worth mentioning that certain 2012-2016 US BMW X1 owners also complained about this issue, but BMW didn’t officially acknowledge that anything ever went on.
Secure Vehicle From Rolling Issues
One of the weirdest and most frustrating electrical issues with the 2016-2017 BMW X1 is one where the car displays a “secure vehicle from rolling” warning light on the dashboard, prompting you to engage your parking brake even when the parking brake is fully engaged. If you scan your faults, you will likely get the 420106 code.
This issue is so frustrating because it costs less than $10 in parts to fix it, but the labor needed can sometimes take up to 8 hours, which is frustrating. Either way, if you want to know more about the ins and outs of this issue, be sure to watch this video below.
The BMW X1 does not suffer from many structural issues, but the three problems we will mention are all frustrating but for entirely different reasons. These include the paint peeling off, the rear hatch causing head injuries, and the car’s insufficient absorption force during a crash.
Paint Peeling Off
First of all, we need to mention that this is not exactly a common issue but is indeed relevant to those who live in humid regions such as Florida. The problem is that some 2014 BMW X1 models (and a few older model years as well) sometimes suffer from the paint peeling off and exposing barebone metal underneath. This can make way for corrosion to settle in, which is why it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Rear Hatch Closing On Itself
Suppose you go to the NHTSA site for the 2017 BMW X1 and scroll down to the “structure” section of complaints. In that case, you will be met with quite a few X1 owners utterly mad at BMW for refusing to acknowledge that the 2017 X1 has an issue where the rear hatch starts closing for no apparent reason, thus hitting the person standing next to it in the head with excessive force.
Lack Of Crash Absorption Force
This is not an issue per se as one can not feel the lack of absorption force, but BMW did recall more than 100,000 2016-2019 BMW X1 models back in May 2019 due to the car not having sufficient crash impact absorption force, which could lead to injuries or death.
Issues With The Brakes
Some 2009-2016 BMW X1 models are prone to brake vacuum pump failures that can affect your braking force and lead to an accident.
Because of this, BMW issued two separate recalls related to the brakes. These are
- 13V454000 – BMW recalled certain 2013-2014 BMW X1 models back in September 2013 due to a failure in the brake vacuum pump, causing the brakes to fail and thus increasing the chances of having an accident.
- 14V627000 – BMW recalled certain 2013-2014 BMW X1 models back in October 2014 due to a failure in the brake vacuum pump, causing the brakes to fail and thus increasing the chances of having an accident.
Marko´s interest in cars runs in the family. His father was a car trader and regularly took him to car dealerships when he was younger.
These days, when he isn´t watching Drivetribe or Doug DeMuro videos, he´s building up quite a resume as an automotive writer since he´s also a regular contributor on Cararc.com, Tirehungry.com, and Luxurycarsa2z.com.