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BMW X5 Diesel: 7 Common Problems & Reliability Issues

BMW X5 Diesel: 7 Common Problems & Reliability Issues

What kind of problems does a BMW X5 normally have? In this blog we’ve outlined all the most important things you should keep an eye out for when you’re in the market for an X5. However, let’s first start of with a quick answer:

Most commonly the BMW X5 has problems with a stalling engine due to a fault in the fuel system, electrical malfunction or timing chain failure. Furthermore, problems with the air mass sensor and transmission are common. Finally, the car has coolant or sunroof leaks and the battery can wear out prematurely.

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

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Also read: Types Of Gas A BMW X5 Can Use (Explained)

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!

1. Engine Stalling Problem

Engine stalling is amongst the most widely reported problems with the BMW X5 Diesel. Many owners have reported this issue with various models of the X5 from 2001 to 2017. This problem happens with cars having high mileage, 80,000 miles or more.

The engine stalling problem usually occurs when the vehicle is at idling or trying to accelerate. Although sometimes, it is possible to restart the engine with some momentum. But if the car unexpectedly stalls again. Then it clearly indicates a fault that is crucial to fix since engine stalling can be very dangerous, especially in traffic or on highways. 

Multiple reasons cause the engine in the BMW X5 to stall. Commonly, this is because of some breakdown in the electrical circuit or sensors that hinders the engine from working properly.

Moreover, fault with the fuel supply or improper combustion also leads to the engine stalling problem. While, in other rare cases, the problem was found in the exhaust system that was causing the engine stalling problem in the BMW X5.  

Fault In The Fuel System

Proper running functioning of the engine in your BMW X5 requires a precise amount of fuel and air. Any problem in fuel quality, fuel supply, or the fuel injector can hamper the proper working of the engine.

Bad fuel in your tank can cause the engine not to work efficiently.  Whereas a fuel with contaminants or water can result in misfiring, ultimately leading to the engine stalling problem.

Furthermore, if you live in a colder region, the engine stalling and misfire can also occur if the glow plug in your BMW X5 Diesel engine is faulty. A bad or dirty glow plug can lead to an engine stalling problem. In the worst cases, your engine won’t start at all. Usually, the glow plugs should be replaced after 100,000 miles or so, and replacing the glow plugs is an inexpensive process and a common part of maintenance in a wide range of vehicles.

A failed fuel pump can also cause the engine of the X5 to stall. In case of a problem with the fuel pump, your car would need expert attention.

Also read: Types Of Gas A BMW X5 Can Use (Explained)

Timing Chain Failure

An issue with engine timing would lead the engine to misfire or stall.

3.0-liter Diesel BMW engines, namely M57 & N57 used in the BMW X5 from the make years 2006 to 2012, had a severe design problem with the timing chain. The engine timing chain in these engines was reported to be very weak – it stretches over time and ultimately breaks.

When the timing chain snaps, the exhaust and inlet valve collide with the pistons, resulting in severe engine damage that leads to engine stalling. To make things worse, the timing chain is located at the rear of the engine bay, making it quite hard to check and repair.  

Thus repairing this issue is an expensive and labor-intensive job. If incurred, replacing the timing chain can cost up to a few thousand dollars in the United States, depending on the severity of the issue.

Electrical Malfunction

Often faults in the electrical components, sensors, or circuit restricts the BMW X5 from starting, leading to the engine stalling problem.

Simple problems like a discharged battery would cause the engine not to start. It is possible that the battery terminals are loose or have corrosion which interrupts the charging of the battery.

While another common electrical fault that causes the engine to stall can be a bad alternator, if this the case, then chances are the battery indicator light would be illuminated. Changing the alternator with a new one can cost approximately $1200-$1400 in the United States, including labor costs.

The battery of your BMW X5 should be changed after three to five years, and this would typically cost around $300-$500 in the US.

2. Problem With Air Mass Sensors

Another common problem in the BMW X5 that is widely reported is the issue with the air mass sensors. This problem occurs more frequently in older BMW X5 diesel models, typically before the make year 2013.

The air mass sensors determine the mass of air entering into the fuel-injected internal combustion engine. The data from these sensors also help the ECU (engine control unit) regulate the amount of fuel going to the engine.

If the air mass sensors in your BMW X5 goes bad, you might notice all or any of the following symptoms –

  • The engine struggles to start or does not run as expected
  • Poor acceleration and reduced throttle response
  • The engine runs louder than usual
  • Engine misfires occasionally
  • Engine shuts down during idling

The above-listed signs are a good indication of faulty air mass sensors.

To fix this issue, you would have to take your car to the service station. The technician will confirm the problem in the air mass sensors by running a complete diagnostic test. If found faulty, replacing the air mass sensors can cost you around $300-$450 in the United States.

3. Transmission Problems

The BMW X5, after the year 2013, is known for its transmission problem. Many BMW X5 owners complain about issues, including erratic shifting and illuminated transmission warning lights.

When low on transmission fluid, the BMW X5 will jump into limp mode. Usually, the low transmission fluid problem is caused by the bridge seal adapter or the mechatronic sleeve. The transmission fluid would occasionally leak from the sleeve connector coming from the transmission unit. This would cause the level of the fluid to drop.

Also, the seal adapter might crack, causing every sort of transmission issue in the BMW X5. To resolve this problem, your BMW X5 would need to replace the transmission or repair the faulty one. The cost can be as high as $5000 in the United States to fix this problem. 

4. Water Leaks From Sunroof

Similar to its smaller siblings, the BMW X5 is also infamous for its leaking sunroof problem. Occasionally the water would leak from the drain tubes of the sunroof. This can happen during a car wash or in a downpour of rain. When the water does not drain properly, it will find its way into the vehicle.

Most of the time, the leaking water would accumulate in front of the rear passenger seats. But if someone isn’t that lucky. Then water could reach the electrical components of the vehicle, ultimately ruining them. The leaking water would mess with the car’s vital electronics in the worst-case, causing the SUV not to start.

Once the water dries up, these systems might start working normally. But most owners report the electronics of their car either getting toasted or making it extremely expensive to repair.

To fix this problem, clear the drainage channels coming from the roof of the vehicle, look for any blockage or crack. Additionally, check the seals surrounding the sunroof for any blows, holes, or damage. 

5. Coolant Leaks

BMW X5 Diesel is notorious for its problematic coolant system, which can develop leaks over a period of time. Although this problem is most common in the older BMW X5 (E53), it can occur in other models of the BMW X5 Diesel as well.

The primary function of the coolant system in the BMW X5 is to keep the temperature of the diesel engine within the optimal range. Being a vital component of the vehicle, the coolant system helps in the engine’s proper functioning and other parts.

In case of any leakage in the coolant system, the engine will overheat. This can lead to expensive repairs and severe damage to the engine and other vital components of the BMW X5. 

Some common reasons that can cause the coolant system in the X5 to leak are –

  • A damaged radiator
  • A blown head gasket
  • Spoiled hose attachment points
  • Broken auxiliary fan
  • Cracked expansion tank

If the coolant system in your BMW X5 is leaking. The first indication of this problem can be an illuminated warning light indicating low coolant levels, although it can be solved by adding more coolant. But, if the warning light illuminates again, then your car is experiencing a more significant problem.

To check for any coolant leaks, look underneath your car for any puddles or traces of coolant. Moreover, the vehicle can sometimes fill with a sweet smell similar to a heater syrup. If neither of these two things happens, and yet the warning light (indicating low coolant level) is on, then you have a leakage problem.

Because the coolant in the x5 runs through many hoses, tubes, gaskets, and containers, the leakage problem can lie in any of these. Commonly, a damaged radiator, blown head gasket, or hose attachment points are the culprit of this problem. But in some cases, the valley pan (where the coolant collects) can corrode, developing cracks and holes leading to coolant leakage.

To solve this problem, you should immediately take your car to the service station. Driving with the coolant leak can result in engine overheating, which can lead to other serious problems.

A coolant leak repair might cost you approximately $400 if you have a blown head gasket. Replacing a spoiled hose will run you between $40-$70 for the entire process. Whereas replacing a damaged radiator can cost you around $350 or more depending on the severity of the problem.

6.Issue With The Steering

If any vehicle steers in unexpected ways making the driver feel uncertain, it is a serious safety concern. The 2019 BMW X5 reportedly has many steering issues submitted to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

In temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, when going at any speed, the steering of the BMW X5 jerks back and forth, making the car difficult to control. Even disabling advanced features for safety like lane-keep assist won’t help to solve this problem.

If experienced, you would need to update your X5’s software issued by BMW to fix this problem. Or else, take your vehicle to the BMW service station.

7. Bad Battery

Along with the other problems, the luxury SUV from BMW, i.e., the X5, suffers issues with the dead battery. Usually, the battery in your X5 would last for three to five years. But at times, the battery would fail to work properly prematurely, leading to various problems.

The following symptoms are a good indication of a bad battery in your BMW X5 –

Engine Not Starting

If your vehicle is taking a bit longer than usual to start or the engine does not crank properly, then it could be a sign of a faulty battery.

Illuminated ‘Check Engine’ light

Although there are numerous reasons why the check engine light is ‘on,’ a dead battery could be one of them.

Clicking Noise

The starter in your BMW needs a current to start the engine. When the current supply is low, the starter doesn’t work properly, resulting in a clicking sound from under the hood. This indicates a weak or dead battery.

If you notice any or all of these symptoms, then chances are you have a faulty battery. Also, in case of an entirely dead battery, you would experience improper functioning of various electronics in the car, including headlights, air-conditioning, radio, interior lighting, etc.

To fix this issue, first, check all the battery’s wirings and make sure the terminals and the wires are correctly connected. Besides, check the terminals of the battery for any corrosion. If it corrodes, then the flow of current is interrupted from the battery.

If the battery is found guilty, replacing it with a new one is the only option. A new battery for your BMW X5 can cost around $500-$600 in the United States.

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