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View Full Version : Considering X3, some posts giving me pause


Comdet
12-23-2007, 08:58 AM
Greetings all, and happy holidays. I'm presently shopping for a new car, and the X3 is on my short list. One step I like to take when researching a vehicle is to read posts from owners -- they are often more helpful than the "professional" reviews in giving you a feel for the pros and cons of the vehicle.

I'm drawn to the X3 for several reasons, and was very pleased with it during a test drive. I had a 330xi a few years ago and miss it dearly (it was allocated to the ex during a divorce. Don't miss the ex one bit, but that car was SO hard to part with). The X3 gives me much of the same feel, but also satisfies my need for cargo space.

But, I'm concerned about reliability. No vehicle brand is 100% -- no matter what you buy, there's always someone who has a problem. But some of the posts I've been reading are making me rather concerned about the X3. Transmission issues in particular seem to be a significant issue with many, and while BMW has released new software, it does not seem to fully fix the issue. A manual is not an option for me. Consumer Reports didn't do much for my peace of mind with their negative comments regarding reliability.

I regularly (i.e., monthly or so) make an 800 mile trip to visit relatives, and the idea of being stranded somewhere is not all that pleasant a thought, nor is the idea of having to bring the car in for service problems on a regular basis.

I'm not sure if this is an answerable question, but I'd love to hear from some X3 owners as to whether or not they have regretted their purchase. Would you buy it again? Any advice - be it encouraging or not - would be welcomed and appreciated. Thanks, and sorry for such a long post.

AzNMpower32
12-23-2007, 09:04 AM
I'll give you the same advice as I've given other potential X3 buyers. The later-build X3s (after 10/07) do not seem to have any gearbox issues, and the '07s and early '08s may or may not be affected. It is a bit of a gamble. If you want the new engine, look for a 328iT touring.

The best bet (since you cannot get a manual) is to look for a pre-owned one. Sure, you don't get the 260hp or the 6-speeds, but the older M54 engine is a terrific engine and the 5-speed automatic on those models do not have reliability issues.

MMME30W
12-23-2007, 09:08 AM
10K on ours ('07) with no faults. We have a May 2007 build, and have no tranny issues at all.

We absolutely love it. We replaced Mrs. Wingspan's 2000 Honda Odyssey, and looked at many many options before buying the X3. The trip computer indicates a steady 21.5 mpg (all city driving), it goes like a tank through local soft-road conditions, features and ameneties are very nice. Mrs. W. really likes the blue-tooth feature, and the swivel HID lights are tremendous.

We also looked at a 328i wagon, but the X3 won out due to perception of safety (which I think translates into a higher seating position for my wife) as well as best combination of mpg, space/utility, safety, features, reliability and price.

Evlengr
12-23-2007, 09:19 AM
Sorry to say but the X3 has been a love hate relationship.

The cornering and braking are reminscent of some of the better sports cars I had.

The mpg is better than all the previous sports cars I had.

Controls are just where I want them. And visibility good.

Transmission is one of the most unpredicatable and moody ever.

If they will gurantee a buy back should tranny problems arise I would get it otherwise with all the nice features you can't drive it if your dead in an accident due to it not shiffting approrpriately (see multiple posts).

No I may eat all that after Wednesday's service visit we shall see.

sayemthree
12-23-2007, 09:32 AM
how about a 328i sport wagon. handling and MPG of a car but with some extra room. we seriousely considered the X3 and now we are REALLY glad we didnt go the truck route, and got a 5 sport wagon.

Andrew*Debbie
12-23-2007, 10:19 AM
No regrets at all with our '07 X3. We took delivery in late September. One minor intermittent problem with the PDC. It hasn't recurred in over a month, so we haven't taken the car in. Other than that, it has been perfect. We do have the Manual though.

I absolutely would buy again. We may be moving from Atlanta to 30" snow a year. If we do, I'm considering getting a second X3 to replace the MX-5 when it comes off lease in July. Only thing I'd do different is get heated seats instead of PDC.


The 328ix has the same transmission and a detuned version of the engine used in the X3. There is even a service bulletin for similar transmission complaints. For some reason it is a less common issue. There are very few posts in the 3 series forum. CR shows red dots for transmission, indicating <1% trouble rate. The GM 6 speed has been in the 3er for a year longer than the X3, so if there was a serious problem, it should have shown up by now.


Not every X3 is affected either, but the rate does seem to be higher than the 328ix. CR says around 2%. An unscientific survey of Bimmerfest members says around 35%. Both surveys were taken before the latest software update. The update has fixed the problem for some bimmerfest members.


To confuse matters, problems with DSC sensors can have the same symptoms as the transmission issue. There is at least one case of a bad steering angle sensor. Another person reported turning off the DSC made the 'transmission' problems go away. I suspect but only have anecdotal evidence that X3 DSC problems are getting lumped in with the transmission problems. I also suspect (but have no evidence at all) that some BMW technicians just install the transmission patch and don't look at anything else.


More troubling with either car is the large number of power equipment and audio system problems.

Zoltar
12-23-2007, 10:32 AM
The transmission problems are the only black eye on what has been a great vehicle.
Not all X3's seem to have the problem. The software fix is a huge improvement but technically not perfect. It still acts up a little when cold.
My advice is to:
A. Make sure the X3 you purchase has the latest software and test drive it well at least a couple times. Re-applying accelerator from a rolling stop is one of its favorite hiccups.
B. Purchase a low mile CPO 2006 as they have the previous 5-speed and were not affected by this problem.

The only other problem I have had is lifter ticking in cold weather on short drives. This seems to be common to all of the latest valvetronic sixes. I am not sure it is a problem, just sounds a bit concerning when it is happening.

Too bad you don't want a manual as that is what I would do if I had it to do over.

UncleJ
12-23-2007, 11:03 AM
Although I have grown to really like my '06 X3 with the 5 speed auto I would not get another one, unless it was a diesel. My main problem is the hard ride over nasty pavement and potholed streets. There are many other great choices out there now. The new base Cayenne is nearly the same price and certainly handles as well as the X series, and has 290 hp. The new Murano, FX35, and even the V6 RAV are all vastly improved at a lower price. They may not stir the soul (except the Porsche!) like a BMW but they are decent machines. Look around and get what you really like. Which of course is what you will do anyway! Good Luck.

Comdet
12-23-2007, 01:21 PM
Thanks everyone for the feedback - very helpful and sound advice. I'm going to take another look at the 328 sports wagon once the holidays are over. I looked at one briefly, but my head was turned by the X3, so I really didn't give it serious consideration.

As pointed out by UncleJ, there are many great choices out there. That's the problem! It seems that as the years go by, the decision of which car to get takes longer and longer because there are so many good choices available. But, as problems go, that's not a bad one to have.

Thanks again!

MMME30W
12-23-2007, 02:35 PM
Thanks everyone for the feedback - very helpful and sound advice. I'm going to take another look at the 328 sports wagon once the holidays are over. I looked at one briefly, but my head was turned by the X3, so I really didn't give it serious consideration.

As pointed out by UncleJ, there are many great choices out there. That's the problem! It seems that as the years go by, the decision of which car to get takes longer and longer because there are so many good choices available. But, as problems go, that's not a bad one to have.

Thanks again!

No worries.

Here's a review I did just a short period after we got the truck, might be of interest:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=220172&highlight=x3

Evlengr
12-23-2007, 03:20 PM
A/D keeps quoting this 2% rating on Consumer reports. However he has left out that the same magazine has given it a very poor reliablity rating, and that author drivers at BMW car club America stated they loved the car except for the "Herky Jerky" transmission.

Here's the newest one. This evening when trying to get my daughter out of the car (she's three) The handle pulled out but the door won't open. It will open from the inside.

It's just one thing after another.

I'm glad they give such a good warranty and loaners. You need it.

I have used it once a month now after 9 months of ownership and 15k miles.

The 2008 is reporting the same transmission issues by owners and people test driving.

x3man
12-23-2007, 03:21 PM
The X3 is a great, GREAT vehicle. There were some problems but if you are looking at a new one, you should be fine.

zznalg
12-23-2007, 03:58 PM
There was a very recent thread about the 328xi Wagon Versus the X3. There's some good reading in it. It did pretty much boil down to: the 328 has better handling and is more up to date. The X3 has traditional SUV attributes while still driving better than many sport sedans.

For the record, my 2007 X3 with a manual has about 7,500 trouble free, smooth, refined, comfortable and sporty miles. I would highly recommend it. However, the auto tranny woes may influence your decision.

AzNMpower32
12-23-2007, 05:35 PM
The 328ix has the same transmission and a detuned version of the engine used in the X3. There is even a service bulletin for similar transmission complaints. For some reason it is a less common issue. There are very few posts in the 3 series forum. CR shows red dots for transmission, indicating <1% trouble rate. The GM 6 speed has been in the 3er for a year longer than the X3, so if there was a serious problem, it should have shown up by now.
I don't like the GM automatic transmission in my mom's '06 325i sedan very much. It locks up the torque converter earlier on (usually in 3rd) so it feels more connected. But at the same time, the upshifts are rarely seamless, the downshifts not so smooth (due to the converter lockup), and it's so reluctant to downshift 2 or more gears.

arcane
12-23-2007, 05:37 PM
My X3 has a build date of 11/15/07, and the jury is still out as to whether the transmission is still adapting or is f*****d. 400 or so miles, but from 4 different drivers, all of whom report unhappiness with this aspect of what is otherwise a nearly "ultimate driving" experience.

AzNMpower32
12-23-2007, 05:53 PM
My X3 has a build date of 11/15/07, and the jury is still out as to whether the transmission is still adapting or is f*****d. 400 or so miles, but from 4 different drivers, all of whom report unhappiness with this aspect of what is otherwise a nearly "ultimate driving" experience.
Not to hijack this thread, but if it's not working right at this point, it probably will not later on. Get it fixed.

The adaptation & learning process should not make a huge impact on the way the vehicle drives.

Havelcek
01-02-2008, 05:57 AM
You sure as heck should "pause" before buying a new X3....it almost got my wife killed last week with this transmission/DTC/whatever problem.

vrrooom
01-02-2008, 07:11 AM
I own 3 X3's of different vintages, and the reliability has been good as we have over 100 K on the fleet. Yes, there have been problems, but the dealer has been able to resolve them all at this time:thumbup:. In fact as one is comming off the 4 yr warentee, we have purchased the extended warentee for the car. The transmission is computer controled, need I say more. Those of us in the computer world know that the If>Then, logic is rather rigid and all the variables can not be anticipated and programmed for. I am not concerned for the safety of these cars as both my wife and daughter drive them daily. We do not however spend much time in Yersey with the bountiful stop and go traffic, so our transmissions are treated very kindly here in the boonies.

bobkap
01-02-2008, 08:08 AM
Took delivery of my 08 X3Si 12 Jan.
6M trans, PDC,Servotronic,Heated Seats, Silver-Gray Metallic. Love that DRIVING MACHINE!!
Others of mine: "80 635CSi euro and "72 Tii. Wouldn't have an AT Bimmer if they gave me one.........................well, maybe. Like taking a shower with clothes on. X3 gets 28.7 mpg highway at 65-75mph. Has some quirks like trying to remove front headrests to install sheepskins.....impossible so far, even the techs at the dealer don't know how.
Considered RDX and might have bought if it had a V6 instead of that stupid turbo.
I'd buy my X3 again in less than a microsesond.
Good luck and THINK STICK!!!:)

rda2w
01-02-2008, 09:45 AM
To keep the "fair and balanced" forum spirit alive, I fall into the completely satisfied category. I took delivery exactly one year ago and now have 11k miles. I had the reprogramming completed in October and all has been well since the adaptations occurred. The power, handling and braking are phenomenal for a vehicle in this class. It even tows my 2-place enclosed snowmobile trailer with ease. The transmission adapts to towing automatically and performs flawlessly. It seems to tow with less effort than my previous Chevy Avalanche. My only performance enhancer has been the addition of dedicated snow tires this winter. These are my experiences, YMMV.
-BA

Sans Nil
01-02-2008, 09:47 AM
Everyone has a different opinion on this as you'll see... Mine?

I got a 2007 X3 and it definitely has the transmission/acceleration issue.
As you noted, the most recent BMW fix resolved it about 85% of the way.
Apart from that, so far the quality and performance for every other part of the car has met or exceeded my expectations. If only the one problem area wasn't such a core part of a vehicle!

Overall I would say I'm about half-and-half on whether I regret my purchase. Sometimes I love the look of the car and the way it handles (espc. at higher speeds) and am pretty happy I have it. Sometimes I still feel the acceleration pause for longer than it should before kicking in at stopped or low speeds and think my $40k would have been better spent elsewhere.

Like many affected owners, I reached the point where I had to decide on whether to pursue a lemon law case and really give up on it, or whether it was okay enough to not be worth the time/effort involved. I kept it, but I will definitely never look at a BMW the same way again. Not from a performance perspective, not from a reputation perspective, and not from a customer service perspective. Don't get me wrong--it really does have some great qualities, but for the money and level of cars competing on that level, sadly the bottom line is it disappoints and underperforms.

When I'm buying new again in a couple years I will have many lessons learned to remember. At least that counts for something.

Evlengr
01-02-2008, 12:34 PM
Expensive lesson wouldn't you say?

vrrooom
01-02-2008, 02:56 PM
Oh