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The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A BMW

When you’re in the market for a new or used luxury BMW, you’ll eventually wonder what a BMW generally costs in terms of maintenance. In this blog, we’ve done our absolute best to give you a complete rundown of the costs and what you can expect for different models and model years. Let’s start with a quick answer:

BMWs are the most expensive cars to own in terms of maintenance which costs an average of $968 per year. This is much more than the $646 average for all car brands. BMW parts are more expensive than average to replace, and they need to be replaced frequently. This means BMWs are more costly than other luxury car brands such as Mercedes-Benz ($908 per year) and Lincoln ($879 per year).

However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below, we’ll start by looking at the annual maintenance cost of the most popular models and their corresponding model years. Furthermore, We’ll look at the eight most common service points and discuss what a BMW costs you in this regard. We’ll also compare the annual maintenance cost of a BMW to 23 other car brands and discuss why a BMW is considered cheap or expensive in maintenance. Read on!

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

How Expensive Are BMW Models To Maintain?

First of all, we feel it’s essential to better understand individual BMW models. For this, we’ve created the table below. In this first table, you’ll see the X3, X5, and X7 and the annual maintenance cost per model year that we found on Repairpal.com.

Maintenance Cost X-Series

We immediately see that all the X-cars have relatively high maintenance costs. Most of them quickly end up in the $1,000 per year category, which is worrying. The fact that newer models already start at $500 – $700 per year indicates that BMW seems to be quite expensive.

We have to say that the models we’re looking at here are rather large SUVs. These tend to have higher maintenance costs in general. However, other sources implied that both the 3-series and 5-series also have maintenance costs in the $800 – $1,000 range. Furthermore, SUVs of other carmakers tend to end up in the $600 – $800 category unless they have a structural problem. Therefore, these are worrying signs to start with.

YearX3X5X7
2021 $574 $642 $658
2020 $680 $748 $764
2019 $850 $917 $934
2018 $1,120 $1,118x
2017 $879 $1,134x
2016 $1,004 $1,157x
2015 $1,070 $1,045x
2014 $1,032 $999x
2013 $1,125 $1,216x
2012 $1,011 $1,185x
2011 $1,049 $1,218x
2010 $951 $1,114x
2009 $985 $1,146x
2008 $928 $977x
2007 $756 $850x

Also read: How Many Miles Can A BMW X3 Last? (Answered)

Maintenance Cost 3-Series And 5-Series

Now, let’s look at the two most popular sedan series that BMW sells in the United States. Arguably, it was more challenging to gather data on these series. That’s because many 3-series and 5-series cars have been reintroduced on the North American market only recently.

As a result, many cars haven’t had time yet to gather data. For this reason, we’ve data on selected cars within each series. However, this does give us a good indication of the annual maintenance cost of a particular series.

Year320i328i335i528i535i550i
2021 x x x x x x
2020 x x x x x x
2019 x x x x x x
2018 x x x x x x
2017 x x x x x x
2016 $833 $744 x $697 $892 x
2015 $911 $664 $1,081 $849 $1,027 x
2014 $1,017 $677 $1,078 $797 $877 $936
2013 $948 $736 $1,049 $882 $1,003 $1,050
2012 x $774 $988 $844 $1,006 $1,092
2011 x $821 $1,022 $886 $975 $1,083
2010 x $739 $1,038 $738 $993 $947
2009 x $752 $923 $849 $1,023 $1,150
2008 x $726 $888 $778 $950 $956
2007 x $626 $784 x x $   888

We found that especially some 3-series cars seem to be relatively affordable in terms of maintenance cost (compared to other BMW). Especially the 328i seems to be solid model with maintenance cost at or below $800 per year. The same can be said about the 528i, which also keeps maintenance costs at a reasonable level.

To no one surprise, especially the 535i and 550i carry higher maintenance costs. However, this is a more luxurious version of the basic 5-series sedan which means it has more advanced components that are more costly to repair. Therefore, this is kind of logical, although not preferred.

Also read:

Are Parts And Service Expensive For A BMW?

Besides knowing the annual maintenance costs per model and model year, we feel it’s also essential to give a cost estimation of the most frequently carried out maintenance tasks. This is because this gives you an understanding of how expensive BMWs are when it’s time to replace some of their key components.

When reading the subheading below, please keep in mind that BMWs are generally larger cars which means their maintenance cost and the replacement costs of certain elements will always be higher. This is a factor that comes into play.

Also read: This Is Where BMW And MINI Are Made

Oil Change

The average cost for an oil change in a BMW is between $168 – $272. The BMW 5-series costs the most, with an oil change costing between $249 – $272. The BMW X5 has the most affordable oil change costing a maximum of $198.

On average, an oil change costs $40 – $60 for conventional oil and $60 – 120 for full synthetic oil. What type of oil your BMW needs depends on the model; however, most BMWs do need synthetic oil. This means oil changes for a BMW are much more expensive than average.

Brake Pads

Replacing the brake pads on a BMW costs between $334 – $642, depending on the model you have. The brake pads cost between $200 – $440 per axle, whereas the rest is labor. The BMW X7 is the largest car of them all and therefore also has the most expensive brake pads. Replacing them on an X7 costs between $602 – $642.

On average, brake pad replacement costs between $150 – $300 per axle. This means that BMW uses brake pads that are much more expensive to replace. This is partly because they’re large SUVs or sedans.

Filters

There are numerous filters that need to be changed from time to time on a BMW. The fuel filter is arguably the most expensive one. Replacing this filter costs between $190 – $312. Replacing an air filter costs around $80, and replacing the cabin air filter will set you back $120.

Typically, replacing a fuel filter costs between $80 – $150. This means the replacement cost of a BMW fuel filter is very expensive compared to the average cost.

Battery

Replacing the battery of a BMW generally costs between $250 – $500. BMWs tend to have expensive batteries, and labor costs for such a task in a BMW also add up quickly.

On average, replacing a car battery costs between $120 – $240, meaning that BMW have very expensive batteries. This is once again mainly due to their size.

Timing Belt/Chain

Replacing the timing belt or chain on your BMW doesn’t need to happen too often, but it is fairly expensive to do so. Expect to pay between $500 – $1,000 to have a timing chain replaced on a BMW.

On average, replacing a timing belt will cost between $500 and $1,000. This means that replacing a timing belt or chain on a BMW is a pretty standard prices.

Tires Rotation And Replacement

Tire rotation will happen just as frequently on a BMW as it will happen on any other car brand. Expect to pay around $50 for this. However, replacing tires is a different beast. Replacing tires on a BMW will generally cost $150 – $300 per tire, excluding labor. However, some larger SUVs (such as the X7) will have tires that can cost between $400 – $600 per tire.

On average, a single tire costs $50 on the low end for sedans and smaller cars, whereas it can cost up to $500 per tire for SUVs and trucks that require a premium tire. BMWs aren’t budget-friendly, but they also aren’t that expensive.

Spark Plugs

Replacing the spark plugs also needs to happen from time to time. For a BMW, you can expect to pay between $201 – $409 to have a set of spark plugs replaced. The BMW 5-series is the most expensive BMW for this; replacing a set of spark plugs costs $306 – $409.

On average, it costs $75 – $250 to replace a set of spark plugs. Once again, BMWs are very expensive compared to what an average price would be.

Headlight Bulbs

Headlight bulbs generally last 3-5 years before they burn out. Replacing them costs between $140 – $350 per set of headlight bulbs on a BMW. The X5 seems to be the most expensive car to do this on, costing between $220 – $350.

On average, replacing headlight bulbs costs between $100 – $150 for a set, making BMWs more expensive than average.

Are BMW More Or Less Expensive To Maintain Compared To Other Brands?

We also feel it’s important to know how expensive BMWs are compared to other car brands. To get this clear, we compiled data from Repairpal and put it in the table below. This table compares the average maintenance cost of all BMW and all model years to that of 23 other car brands.

We saw that BMW is the most expensive to maintain on an annual basis. On average, a BMW costs $986 per year to maintain. This is higher than Mercedes-Benz ($908 per year), Lincoln ($879), and Cadillac ($783 per year).

BrandAverage Annual Maintenance Costs
Honda $428
Toyota $441
Mazda $462
Hyundai $468
Kia $474
Nissan $500
Acura $501
Mitsubishi $535
Lexus $551
 Buick  $608
Subaru $617
Dodge $634
Jeep $634
Infiniti $638
Chevrolet $649
Volkswagen $676
GMC $744
Volvo $769
Ford $775
 Cadillac  $783
RAM $858
Lincoln $879
Mercedes $908
 BMW  $968

Why Are BMW So Expensive To Maintain?

After reading the information that we’ve written above, we think it’s safe to conclude that BMWs are expensive cars to maintain. But why is this the case?

First of all, as mentioned earlier, BMWs are generally larger cars which means they need larger parts and/or parts that can carry a heavier weight. Furthermore, wear-and-tear on the cars is harsher, meaning replacement is needed quicker. It wouldn’t be fair to conclude BMWs are extremely expensive when car brands like Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln, arguably BMWs closest competitors in the US market, have similar maintenance costs.

Furthermore, BMWs are luxury vehicles which means they have newer and more complex components (such as electronics and engines). This means that replacing them isn’t easy and that this requires skill and time, which increases the amount of money that needs to be spent.

Finally, BMWs do have a history of unreliability. On this blog, we’ve written extensively about the problems of the X3 xDrive28i, xDrive35i, and issues of the X5 xDrive35i. These problems mean that these cars need to visit the dealer more often, making them cost more to keep them on the road.

Sources