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How Many Miles Can A BMW 3 Series Last? (Answered)

How many miles can a BMW 3-Series last? When you’re in the market for a new or second-hand 3-Series that’s of course a very reasonable question to ask. After all, you’re probably looking to get the most bang for your buck. In this blog we’ll look at this question in great detail but first, let’s start with a quick answer:

On average a BMW 3-Series lasts between 200.000 – 230.000 miles. A 3-Series needs to go for to the garage for unscheduled repairs about 0.95 times per year with 12% change of the problem being severe. Furthermore, BMW 3-Series owners spend an average of $773 per year on repair costs.

Having said that we’re certainly not done. Below we’ll first explain in more detail how many miles a BMW 3-Series can last. After that, we’ll also show you how much a 3-Series costs per year and which production years are most and least expensive. Furthermore, we also discuss the common problems that the car can have. Read on!

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Also read: How Many Miles Can A BMW Last? (17 Models Analyzed)

How Many Miles Can A BMW 3 Series Last?

In order to find how many miles a BMW 3 series last, we have made extensive research on many platforms. Just to name a few, we have looked through the database of websites like Autotrader, Edmunds, repairpal, etc. In the case of the BMW 3 Series, we have compiled a list of many different factors.

In this research, we have made sure to give you all the factual data that has been accumulated with time, and not the ideal conditioned data that the manufacturer gives. In this table, you will see how many miles a BMW 3 Series achieve before it was put on sale. We have seen that 4.36% of the 3 Series had crossed the 150k mile mark which is really good.

For a reliable car, we expect the result to be more than 3%, and we have got more than 3% in the case of the BMW 3 Series. This indicates that the 3 Series does have a relatively long lifespan.

Amount Of MilesPercentage Of Cars
Cars With 150.000+4.36%
Cars With 100.000 – 149.00012.03%
Cars With 45.000 – 99.99931.86%
Cars With 0 – 44.99951.75%

We had looked through the database of 10,395 units of 3 Series that were up for sale, and 453 of them had crossed the 150k mile mark, many of them were even above 200k. 12.03% of them were in between 100k-150k, while 31% of the database had the 3 Series in between 45k-100k miles. And the remaining 51.75% of the cars were below the 45k mile mark.

Did you know that the BMW 3-series is our top pick for first-time car owners that want a BMW? Read more about that here: Are BMWs Good First Cars And Which Is Best? (Explained)

How Reliable Is A BMW 3 Series Compared To It’s Competitors?

We can’t just rely on one type of test, our testing is rigorous and we aim for the best possible factual answers that can help you make your final decision with complete satisfaction. It’s valuable to know how the BMW 3 Series competes with its competitors in terms of reliability. So where does it stand on the list of reliability? Well, it seems to do pretty well against its rivals.

Here we see that the Lexus LS is the most reliable one followed by Mazda 6 and then coming right after the Mazda 6, we have our BMW 3 Series. Then comes the Audi A4 which is followed by Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the last spot goes to Acura TLX, not because TLX is unreliable, it’s just that, it didn’t have time to cross the 150k mile mark as it was released in 2015 and it is yet to see the 150k+ miles on the gauge cluster.

ModelSample SizeCars With 150.000+ Miles% Percentage Of Cars With 150.000+Highest Mileage
BMW 3 Series103984534.36%250000
Mazda 629151896.48%290000
Lexus LS145220013.77%350000
Mercedes-Benz C-Class97631591.63%150000
Audi A439631152.90%250000
Acura TLX3782401.06%140000

Do you want to know more about how this car compares to other cars regarding the expected miles it can last? Read more about that in this article: How Many Miles Can A Car Last? (156 Models Analyzed!)

How Reliable Is A BMW 3 Series Compared To Other BMWs?

We have compared the BMW 3 Series not only to its competitors but also to its own brethren. Here you can have a better understanding of how a mileage percentage can give us an idea of how much a vehicle can last before it goes to heaven.

ModelSample SizeCars With 150.000+ Miles% Percentage Of Cars With 150.000+Highest Mileage
BMW X15.587631,13%160.000
BMW X36.1921702.75%230.000
BMW X57.6951351,75%250.000
BMW 3 Series14.5264072,80%270.000
BMW 5 Series7.7522042,63%270.000

How Much Does Maintenance Cost Per Year?

It’s important to know how much you would be spending on your car annually because even a vehicle with the worst reliability can pass the 150k miles, given that lots and lots of dollars were spent on maintenance and repairs. So, we need to know how much we are expected to spend on the 3 Series to keep it running.

On average you have to spend $773 annually on maintenance, which is more than a Toyota or a Honda but less than a Mercedes or a Porsche. We have seen the 2011 model to have the highest maintenance cost, mainly due to a common engine leak problem that was prevalent in these models.

Model YearAnnual Maintenance Cost
2009$752
2010$739
2011$821
2012$774
2013$736
2014$677
2015$664
2016$744

Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A BMW

BMW 3 Series Common Problems

NOTE: Before buying a used car, I always like to make sure the car isn’t having any problems that I should be aware of. The easiest way to do this is by buying an OBD2 scanner. These scanners can easily be plugged into any car you’re interested in, and they’ll give you a rundown of potential problems.

Personally, I like this one on Amazon because it has a lot more functions than basic OBD2 scanners. This particular one also runs tests on your emission system and tests if you’re fuel mix is optimal (or if your engine is misfiring), so you have a complete understanding of how the car’s performing.

Oil Leaking From The Lower Side Of The Engine

This problem has a well-known culprit that has affected millions of BMWs, the valve cover gasket. The gaskets are notorious to wear out a lot, and this leak is related to the valve cover gasket. It is one of the most expensive ones to fix, and you would have to spend somewhere around $700 when you have this leak on the lower side of the engine.

This problem usually occurs when you see 60k miles on the clock, that’s when you have to set aside like $700 to be safe.

Also read: Types Of Gas A BMW 3-Series Takes (Explained)

Blower Motor Resistor Fails That Is Responsible For The High Setting

Another common problem that occurs with the BMW 3 series is an electronics-related problem, which causes the blower motor to stop working according to what you have asked. There is a resistor that is responsible for maintaining that order where it listens to you. When this blower final stage fan resistor goes to heaven, you have to spend about $90 to get back in the order you want. This problem might also cause the fan to not turn on at all

Vibration And Noise From The Air Conditioning

If you are hearing a noise that sounds like a drone, right after you turn on the air-conditioning and you keep on hearing that noise, later on, and it goes away when you turn off the A/C. if this is what you experiencing then you are low on refrigerant, and you need to recharge it. In this case, you have to spend about $200 to get back smooth soundless A/C. 

Lots Of Rattles

This is a big problem if proper maintenance isn’t carried out like a total perfectionist. In a poorly maintained 3 Series, you will be hearing lots of rattles that have accumulated one by one and were perfectly ignored. These rattles are due to hardening plastic, and in the case of BMWs, a whole lot of plastic.

You need to make sure that parts are being lubricated wherever necessary and the clamps are not broken that hold the hoses/pipes in place. These broken clamps are also the cause of rattles.

Side Mirrors Fold Out Too Much

This is a very common problem that is prominent in the earlier models, 2008 and previous ones. This problem occurs when the ECU fails to recognize whether the mirror is in the open condition or in closed condition and whenever the car turns on the mirror goes out, supposedly to the outside normal place, but to our surprise, the original spot is no longer in the brains of your car so it messes it up every time you turn it on.

This problem can be solved with the help of a reset and ideally a software update. You would have to find a dealership or an auto shop that can do the procedure to reprogram the ECU.

Oil Leaks

This is a very common problem that the BMW 3 Series owners face. It happens mostly due to failed gaskets, and the gaskets need to be replaced. If not replaced, they can cause serious damage later on. First, your engine will lose pressure and your mpg will go down. If the oil gets really low at an alarming level, your engine will seize causing a whole bunch of dollars to fix.

Also read: BMW 3-series (F30): 17 Most Common Problems

Is BMW 3 Series A Smart Buy?

A BMW 3 Series depreciates about 55% after 5 years, which is good news if you are looking for a used 3 Series. On the database, we have seen that more than 50% of 3 Series on sale have less than 45k miles on them, which means a 5-year-old BMW can give you a whopping 100k mile window without giving you any worries of major problems.

Make sure that there are no rattles and absolutely no leaks. Asking for the maintenance records is also a good practice but you can guess whether the car has been kept with care or not by just looking at how neat it has been kept by the owner. If the owner knows about the frequent gasket replacements, then it’s a huge plus.

Its definitely a fun car to drive and it’s not a bad deal, but make sure that the one you are going for has the least miles on the clock and it has been kept with care and there are no rattles, oil leaks, bumpy ride or anything of that sort.

BMW 3 Series Maintenance Schedule

Before/On Every 10,000 Miles

  • Before every 10k miles, you have to change the engine oil, preferably, before 7k miles to have the best possible performance and reliability.
  • Brake inspections
  • Tire pressure check
  • Diagnosis for any check engine lights
  • Oil filter replacement
  • Check for any oil leaks

Before/On Every 20,000 Miles

  • Power steering check
  • Exhaust system check
  • Transmission fluid level check
  • Fuel lines inspection to make sure that there is no leakage

Before/On Every 40,000 Miles

  • Change fuel filter
  • Flush and change hydraulic fluid
  • Service fuel injectors
  • Inspect the valve cover gasket, and replace it if necessary.
  • Inspect the timing chain whether it’s in sync or not.

Note: If you regularly add extremely high-quality can of petroleum in your gas tank, you can save some bucks on servicing of internal components as the petroleum would do the cleaning job, without needing to open anything.  You can look up the term Sea Foam or something similar, of any other brand of your choosing, and by adding that in your tank, the internals of your engine will remain happy.

Before/On Every 60,000 Miles

  • Replace the spark plug if the spark is orange
  • Rotate or replace the brake rotors as per requirement
  • Clean the fuel system. But if you regularly use the sea foam, you can save some bucks.
  • You might consider changing the timing chain at this point, as in most cases, by this time, the timing chain starts jumping, and that is not good, you will also hear a lot of rattles from the engine if the timing chain has lost its synchronization and has worn out.

Other Maintenance Tips

Keep a set of gaskets with you at all times as you needing to change them frequently. BMWs are notorious to leak oil from worn-out gaskets, and you don’t change them regularly, you would be losing lots of pressure that keep up the power of the engine, so you will see engine bogging and low mpg. Add a catch can to your BMW, it will redirect that pressure and you will face fewer oil leaks.