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BMW F30: 17 Most Common Problems

BMW F30: 17 Most Common Problems

What kind of problems does a BMW F30 normally have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for an F30. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:

Most commonly, the BMW F30 has several problems with the engine and transmission, ranging from having leaks to failure of certain parts such as the timing chain. Furthermore, the turbo also is not very reliable, and the interior and the suspension are known for starting to squeak over time.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll tell you how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A BMW

We Use Real World Vehicle Data To Create This List Of Problems

Before we dive into the most common problems, let’s quickly explain how we created this list.

This data comes from vehicle owners like you. It’s based on real data from real drivers. No guesswork or hypotheticals here.

We use resources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and many others, to review the most common complaints issues by owners along with the full history of recalls and active investigations.

From there, our team of automotive experts takes a closer look into each problem and breaks down why it happens, what you can do to prevent it, and how to fix it.

We review the data and interpret the results to make your life easier. Now that you understand how we came up with this list, let’s get into it!

The Interior Problems

Rattling Noise Under The Armrest

Rattling noise while accelerating is caused by two metal hoses going through & under the center console. It is because materials lose elasticity with time (which, in the case of BMW, many things do), and therefore the rattling noises will keep on increasing if adequate maintenance is not carried out.

This particular noise under the armrest is an easy DIY fix. You can strap those two hoses with the base, with somewhat heavy-duty zip ties, and to reach these hoses; you can pry out the rear climate control front cover. With a small cut in the carpet, you will get to those hoses. And congratulations, you got rid of that annoying sound.

Cracked Center Console Buttons

The most prominent of all the interior issues would be the cuts on the radio buttons. The plastic bits are prone to cuts over time. The older ones will have more of these cuts if not properly maintained. It costs around $60 to replace with a new set of buttons.

The Front Seat Frame has Rust Issues

The earlier models of the F30 had some concerns regarding rust, up to November 2012. The later models had it taken care of. The rust was mainly because the earlier models didn’t go through the corrosion protection treatment. Although the problem was dealt with under warranty, it is still good to check the rust condition under the front seats. If the condition is terrible, a set of new seats would cost around $700.

Steering Rack Problem Causing Noise And Vibration

This is the most expensive problem that you will stumble upon while driving at a speed of 40-50 mph. The steering rack is a known problem to many of the F30 owners. It arises due to leaked and/or contaminated fluids. It causes weird noises and vibrations in the steering. Some owners had it solved under warranty, while others retained the problem even after the warranty fix. A new steering rack can cost around 3.5K$, excluding labor. Make sure to check any vibration in the steering while driving at a speed of about 45 mph. The steering should not vibrate under normal circumstances.

The Exterior Problems

The paint job on the F30 Chips Away

The paint job on the F30 is susceptible, and It’s hard to keep the paint protected. It would chip away from even the slightest scratch of sand, and if the previous owner didn’t take good care, you are most likely looking at the repaint if the car still looks pristine.

That’s good when you see some chips here and there, especially on the lower sides of the vehicle. It means this F30 is not repainted, given that it carries a clean title. I digress; you should, at all cost, avoid a salvage title. Not only will it have electrical issues, but it will also have many other major issues that would give a fatal blow to your wallet. 

The Sun Roof Leaks

This is a problem not just common to the F30. It’s common for almost every other car, which offers a sunroof or a panoramic roof. These roofs are extremely delicate and almost impossible to repair the accidental ones, costing a fortune. If the seals are slightly bulged due to an accident, the roof lining would never come back to its original place. And even if we change the rubber seals, water would still leak into the cabin.

If an accident isn’t the case, then it’s most likely the seals. The seals tend to get hard over time and wouldn’t properly seal all the gaps. Just change these seals, and we are good to go. The seals are rated at about $50.

Tail Light Is Falling Off

One of the common problems includes the tail light issue. The plastic clip that keeps the taillight in place is prone to breaking. And you would have to spend about $140 to replace it with a new tail light. It is preferred to test the firmness of the taillights in the F30 before buying.

The Engine Problems

Common Reasons Why F30 Has Engine Problems

This is the part where you don’t want to go wrong ever. Engine repairs are expensive, and damages can only be prevented through careful, regular, before-time maintenance. I repeat, before-time maintenance. Most of the problems with the engine arise due to negligence in the maintenance, especially true in the case of the “N20.”

If oils and fluids are not regularly maintained, the engine will have tons of problems and would cost a fortune to repair. So, it is preferred to see the appointment history with the BMW dealership and receipts from other auto shops after warranty expiration. If not, the manual way of guessing if the car is properly maintained is to see whether the car is kept clean & tidy or not. If an owner can’t keep the car clean, it certainly can’t be well maintained.

A private seller who is relatively knowledgeable and has kept the F30 clean would be a preferred choice over someone who doesn’t know any details and has kept the car untidy. If the person does give all the receipts from the dealership or any other auto shop and has a record of on-time maintenance, then it’s also okay.

The golden question that you should ask the owner to know if the maintenance has been done regularly is, “Have you changed the oil filter housing gasket and the oil cooler gasket?” If the answer is, “Yes” then you will know that this F30 is legit. If the owner doesn’t even know about these gaskets, you are looking at a poorly maintained engine, and you will also find a lot of oil and fluid leakages.

This perk can’t be used at a dealership offering second-hand vehicles as they have all of their inventory detailed.

The F30 keeps on Stalling

Oil and Fluid leaks are frequent, and they are not to be taken lightly. Some leaks (due to one problem) cause further damages to crucial electrical components like sensors, i.e., leakages around the “valve cover” seeping into the “eccentric shaft sensor” can cause consistent stalling and lots of undesirable noises with rough driving. An eccentric shaft sensor cost can vary, depending on whether you are looking for an OEM or an aftermarket one. You are probably looking at a figure of about $300.

The most common oil leak would be the oil filter housing gasket, being the reason for our golden question. These gaskets harden progressively and often become an underlying problem for several other issues. The gaskets can cost $30, and by adding the labor, the price goes up to $150.

Timing Chain Jump Causes Whining Sound In The Engine

It is one of the most common problems occurring even in the newer models. Timing chains break pretty easily if driven harshly with improper maintenance. In the normal case scenario, the timing chain would jump, and a whining sound is heard at the front of the engine. If the timing chain jumps at high speed, it will most likely break, and the engine is done for.

The most distinguishable sound for this problem feels as if tiny metal beads are vibrating in the engine. During the periodic scan of the BMW vehicles, these problems can easily be diagnosed. They would show a code that reads “Intake camshaft: offset angle to crankshaft out of tolerance” It means that the crankshaft angle is not aligned with the angle of the camshaft. In other words, the timing chain has jumped, and now it’s time for a repair.

The oil pump chain module is also replaced along with the timing chain. It drives the oil pump and the balance shaft that helps the inline-4 keep stability.

It is advised not to drive after this whining sound starts coming from the engine. If driven while this sound persisted, it will lead to irreparable damages. Although the newer models have a lower possibility of this issue, it is still recommended to have it checked around 70-80k miles on the clock.

The BMW didn’t announce a recall, but it did announce that it will pay those who have had it repaired from an authorized dealership as it is such a common problem. The average cost will be around $700.

Turbo Problems

The most commonly seen issues are with the lubrication, wastegate, and overspeeding of the turbo. A whole turbo assembly can cost $3.5K, including labor.


This part comes over and over again. Lubrication is a massive deal with the BMWs. If oils and fluids are not traveling smoothly over the desired places, it will generate issues. And in this case, the turbo. To avoid these problems, make sure to change the turbo lines, feed lines and make sure that the engine has the proper oil pressure. And double-check to ensure that the lines are free and they are not bent in any way. These lines can be replaced for about $200.

Wastegate Malfunction

The problem occurs with the wastegate actuator. It’s either always closed, causing over-boost, or it’s always open, making no boost. The wastegate actuator is the culprit in this case scenario and can cost around $150. When you release the throttle, you should hear the signature sound of the turbo, known as the flutter or known as the “Choo” sound.

Over speeding Turbo Issue

If the F30 is specifically tuned to boost than normal, we would see overspeeding that can cause further problems. It is not recommended to tamper with any of the stock BMW’s features. Once the factory tunning is disturbed, mountain loads of problems arise. It would be the last nail in the coffin. Ask the owner if there has been any after-market tuning done to the engine to increase the performance.  

The Transmission Problems

Depending on the specific problem with the transmission, you are expected to spend about $300 to $3000. The issues are of a wide range. It might just be a sensor or a whole clutch problem.

Uneven Gear Shifting And Slipping Gears

Transmission issues are often due to the aftermath of transmission fluid leaks and/or contaminated fluids. An excellent transmission should be smooth, even, and consistent throughout. If the fluids are not regularly flushed and renewed, the transmission will start failing.

The early signs include:

  • An obvious Transmission warning light on the gauge cluster
  • Leaking of fluids that can be observed where the car is parked
  • Check for any burnt oil smell
  • Jerky shifts
  • Untimed shifts
  • Irregular Shifts

Suspension Problems/ Rattling Noises In The F30

Most of the rattling heard in the F30 comes from faulty suspension components like the sway bar links, ball joints/suspension joint, strut mounts, etc.  When components are worn out, a lot of noises would be prominent.

Loose Steering

If you are hearing squeaking and clunking noises along with considerable vibrations while driving, and the steering feels loose or tries to sway from side to side, then it’s most likely the ball joints/suspension joints issue. A suspension ball joint would cost around $300, including labor.

Tilting Way Too Much While Cornering

The F30 offers great handling, but If the car is tilting way too much while cornering and it feels precarious, then the issue is with the sway bar, which costs around $100. On the other hand, a bad strut would have a sign of bad maneuverability while braking, and it would feel out of control. The distinguishing noise for a bad strut would be a cruck and clunk noise while going over potholes or uneven terrain. This problem will cost around $1K.

Creaking And Bell-like Noises From The Rear

This particular sound is due to the rubbing of the e-brake lines going along with the driveshaft. The noise is made when these brake lines come off the loose or broken holders and rub against the driveshaft; it can be really annoying and would start with seldom occurring and making its way to always occurring.

It results from hard, neck bending acceleration; the brake line would also bend with the accelerating car, touching the driveshaft and damaging the holders. These holders are responsible for holding these lines in place, which break easily. The noise will go away by replacing these holders. The price of this plastic stuff is not that much, but the labor cost is quite high, around $400. A lot of people tend to do this by themselves. 

Electronic issues

BMWs are known for their electrical issues. Check engine lights are notorious in the BMWs community. And it would give you a headache. Having the diagnostic scanner tool is a lifesaver and money saver for a BMW owner. A simple reset can solve a lot of problems that otherwise would cost a couple of hundred bucks.

The first thing you need to do is check on the dashboard if there is a check engine light running. If not, drive it for a while and see if it pops up. Make sure that the F30 has the latest software update for its electronics.

Checklist to ensure the electronics are working.

  • Turn on the radio to see if the audio is working properly.
  • Connect your phone and listen to some soothing music while you test drive your next car. Check the speakers thoroughly. Turn it off after checking because you would want to listen to rattling noises if any.
  • See if all the lights are working.
  • Check the horn
  • Check all the windows whether they are going up and down with ease or not.
  • Parking sensors
  • Passenger seat sensors. The seatbelt sign remains on even when no passenger is sitting. It is an issue common in mint condition models, not to mention the older ones.
  • The hood release cable
  • Sunroof opening and closing. (Sometimes, can easily be fixed by a reset)

Parking Camera Wouldn’t Work

It is widespread in the F30 that the parking camera would stop working. It is always advised that always try the reverse gear to check the parking camera whenever having an inspection. And to see if there is any weird nose besides the norm. This problem arises due to the failed wiring harness and can cost around 400$.

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