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BMW X3 xDrive35i: 8 Common Problems and Required Repairs

BMW X3 xDrive35i: 8 Common Problems and Required Repairs

What kind of problems does a BMW X3 xDrive35i 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 X3. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:

Most commonly, the BMW X3 xDrive35i has problems with electronics caused by defective fuses or broken wiring. Furthermore, the fuel pump can stop working, the car won’t start for various reasons, or the automatic headlights don’t engage. Finally, oil and coolant leaks, a faulty timing chain, and problems with opening and closing the window are common.

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!

1. Faulty Electronics

The BMW X3 Xdrive35i is infamous for its intermittent electronics problems. Simple components, including windshield wipers, dashboard lights, ignition systems, and others, often fail to work properly. Moreover, the car can sometimes become half-dead electrically, with a vital system like electronic steering becoming non-operational.

Most of these issues are easy to detect and diagnose. Additionally, many of these issues are easy to fix, and one of several reasons why the X3 (and it’s closely related models like the 35i) is one of our favorite BMWs.

Some common causes for faulty electronics in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i are:

Defective Fuses

The fuses in the fuse box are responsible for different functions. It is generally the first place to check if you are experiencing electronic problems. The fuse box in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i can be located either in the trunk, glove box, or engine bay. Fixing or detecting defective fuses is relatively easy, especially if you have some knowledge about BMW cars.

Broken Wiring

Another common culprit causing electronic problems in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i is faulty wiring. Wiring in the car can get damaged by normal wear and tear over time. To detect any defective wiring, you can take your vehicle to the service station to get your wiring inspected for any damage.

Fixing faulty wirings of the car by yourself can be complicated. Therefore, it is advisable to take your BMW X3 Xdrive35i to the service station to solve this problem.  

2. Fuel Pump Stops Working

The engine in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i has two fuel pumps. The high-pressure pump pushes fuel into the combustion chamber, while the low-pressure pump takes gas out of the tank.

Many BMW X3 Xdrive35i owners face the problem with the high-pressure fuel pump. This problem with the fuel pump causes engine stuttering (at high speeds), poor acceleration, or a total engine failure in worst cases. You can see exactly what this looks like here:

Fixing the high-pressure fuel pump is not a cheap affair, especially if your car is out of warranty. From what I’ve seen, you can expect to pay somewhere between $500 to $1000, including both parts and labor.

3. Car Won’t Start

Suppose the engine in your BMW X3 Xdrive35i does not crank when you push the start button. Then your car might be experiencing some conventional electrical problems. Common symptoms of this problem include:

A Discharged Or Dead Battery

If your key is working properly, but the engine is not cranking, then chances are you have a dead or discharged car battery. A discharged battery is the common reason for any car, including the BMW X3 Xdrive35i, not to start.

The car’s battery with no charge left would be unable to power electrical components or start the engine. Signs of dead battery include no lights, no radio, no noise, no air conditioning system.

You would have to jump-start your car or charge the battery using a trickle charger to solve this problem.

Fault In Starter Circuit/Fuses/Relays

Another reason your car refuses to start could be a fault in the starter circuit, fuses, relays, or wirings to the car’s battery.

Checking your BMW for a bad relay or a blown fuse is quite easy. Just remove the fuse and visually assess it for any damage. You can also check this using a multimeter.

The fuse box in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i can be found in either of the locations:

  • Under the dashboard
  • Trunk area
  • Engine bay

You can also check the relays for the fuel pump or the starter. Note that relays can not be visually inspected, but you can swap identical relays or get them replaced.

To detect the fault in the starter circuit. Check the solenoid. It should click as the contacts close in case of proper functioning. If it is not functioning accurately, there can be a problem with the ignition switch and its terminal, wiring, or the solenoid itself. 

Faulty Starter Motor

A damaged starter motor will not be able to crank the engine of your BMW X3 Xdrive35i. If you suspect a problem with the starter motor, then you can try to jump it directly. After doing so, still, if the car won’t start, you might need to replace the starter motor or get a new relay, solenoid, or module.

A dead battery may also be the reason for a faulty starter motor. If that’s the case, then you would need to replace the battery of your BMW X3 Xdrive35I. The average cost of replacing the battery of your BMW X3 Xdrive35i in the US is around $400, with an additional labor cost of approximately $50-$100.

Other Problems

Some other common problems that may cause the car not to start are –

Ignition Issue

The issue with the ignition control module or a bad crank sensor can result in engine cranking problems.

Fuel Problem

A bad fuel pump, no gas, plugged fuel filter, or a defective, bad fuel pump relay can result in a cranking problem.

Mechanical Problem

There can be a broken tooth on the flywheel or a defective timing belt. Some of these mechanical problems are caused by old engine oil or lack of engine oil.

4. Automatic Headlights Not Working

Problems with automatic headlights are reasonably common in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i. Common issues involve the headlights turning on when it is not required, or it won’t turn on when needed.

Failure in the automatic headlights system may cause the battery to drain quickly and impair other electronic systems in the car. In most cases, the issue only remains with the automatic headlights while the DRL’s working totally fine.

Detecting this problem can be hard, especially when the weather is sunny. However, malfunctioned automatic headlights could be the reason if you’re having battery drainage problems very often.

The most common cause for automatic headlights not working is the defective rain/light/solar sensor. If that’s the case, then replacing the sensor is the only solution to this problem.

5. Oil Leakage Problem

Oil leak problems are widespread in BMW cars, and the BMW X3 Xdrive35i is no different. You can expect to find similar oil leak issues in the xDrive28i or in just about any generation of BMW X3.

The cause for this problem is mainly the cracks in valve covers and deteriorated valve cover gaskets.

The rubber gasket in BMW degrades over time from regular wear and tear, thus leading to the oil leakage problem from the engine. While in the case of the valve cover, it is made out of plastic and exposed to continuous stress and heat. It can develop cracks easily over time, thus causing oil to escape into the engine bay.

This problem is most common in BMW X3 Xdrive35i, which are old and have high mileage. That is why commonly, this issue arises after the car hits the 80,000 miles mark.

Luckily, this problem is mostly caused by the valve cover gasket, which costs approximately $30-$40 in the US. Moreover, it is easy to replace the gasket at home by yourself. However, if you are not a DIY person, going to a repair shop to fix the leaks can cost you around $500.

On the other hand, replacing a cracked valve cover can cost around $400 in the United States. Moreover, fixing the valve cover is not as easy as fixing the gasket; thus, you would need to visit the repair shop to replace the valve cover.

6. Issue with Timing Chain

Like most cars, the timing chain on the BMW X3 Xdrive35i is made up of metal. Since metal-to-metal contact is not preferable, timing chain guides are made from plastic and designed to connect the timing chain with the camshaft and crankshaft. Due to its plastic build, the guides are prone to damage, resulting in unsynchronized engine firing timings.

If the timing has malfunctioned, the vital engine components in BMW X3 Xdrive35i can get severely damaged, ultimately resulting in a failed engine. This problem can be detected if there is a loss in power or acceleration, a condition of poor idling, rattling, or knocking noises from the engine. 

This problem is most common in BMW X3 Xdrive35i, which have clocked more than 100k miles. As a preventive measure, it is recommended by BMW to replace the timing chain guides every 100k miles or so.  

If ignored, this problem can cause total engine failure very soon, and your car might need a new engine as well. To solve this problem, you would need to replace your plastic guides and set the engine timing. In the United States, repairing this problem can cost you anywhere around $500. In case of severe engine damage or failed engine repair cost can shoot to $5000 or more.

7. Window Won’t Close or Open

Detached cable, overheated motor, or failed window regulator can cause this problem in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i. We’ve similar problems from the owners we asked in the BWM E90 as well.

Detached Cable

The common cause for the windows not working properly can be the detached cable in the window regulator.  The system is made up of pulleys that tend to detach. When this happens, the regulator can’t work properly, causing the window not to close or open properly. Routine maintenance and servicing of the regulator system will prevent this issue from happening.

Failed Window Regulator

A malfunctioned window regulator hinders the proper functioning of the electric windows in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i, leading to windows not closing or opening properly. This problem with the window regulator usually occurs when the temperatures are below 30 degrees.

While it is most common in older BMW X3 Xdrive35i, which can handle more miles than some other BMWs, it can also occur if the window regulator freezes either with the window frame or the moving parts in the regulator freezes together. When this happens, rolling the windows down or up can stress the entire mechanism, leading to more wear and tear.

To detect this problem causing the windows not to operate properly. It is wise to listen to any unusual sounds when trying to operate the car’s window. Cranking or grinding sounds are most common when the window regulator faces a problem.

Repairing the window regulator can cost you a couple of hundred US dollars, including labor. 

Overheated Motor

As per the condition of your BMW X3 Xdrive35i, the motor powering the window might get overheated at times. If this happens, it will cause the motor to stop working, making the window stuck. However, once the motor cools down, it might start functioning properly as usual.

8. Coolant Leaks

Coolant leakage is another common problem in the BMW X3 Xdrive35i. In case your BMW gets heated frequently, you might spot coolant on the floor underneath the car. This means that your vehicle has a failure somewhere in the cooling system.

On the BMW X3 Xdrive35i, the most common culprits for this problem are the coolant expansion tank and the radiator. Additionally, this problem can also be triggered by a bad thermostat or housing.

Fixing any of these does not come cheap. At the same time, a lousy radiator will cost you in the triple digits. On the other hand, repairing the expansion tank would cost four digits.

While of this is expensive, it’s still a small price to pay compared to the overall cost of a BMW, regardless of whether you buy in the US or Europe.

If your BMW X3 Xdrive35i is overheating, driving it around is not recommended as it can damage vital internal parts due to excess heat. Therefore, you might have to tow your car and take it to the service station. 

Closing Thoughts

In wrapping up, the BMW X3 xDrive35i, while a performance-oriented, luxurious and popular BMW model, has its share of commonly reported problems. These include electronic glitches, potentially arising from defective fuses or wiring, fuel pump failures, and issues with the automatic headlights.

The vehicle can also face difficulties starting, oil and coolant leaks, a faulty timing chain, and problems with window operation. All this will increase the cost of owning your vehicle in addition to regular maintenance and premium fuel costs that come with owning an X3 in the first place.

While not all X3 xDrive35i models will encounter these issues, understanding these potential problems aids in making informed maintenance decisions and underscores the importance of regular check-ups and timely repairs. It also helps explain why this model rarely makes it over the 200,000 miles mark.

Ultimately, the joy of driving a BMW comes hand-in-hand with a commitment to attentive care and upkeep.

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