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thefys 01-14-2013 09:12 AM

Want to purchase an X3 - Scared out of my wits
Hi everyone,

I'm a newb on the forum but this will be my 3rd Bimmer preceded by a 318ti and a 325xi. I did a few cosmetic mods to my E46 all because of the generosity of people posting a myriad DIYs on E46fanatics, so in turn, I did several posts of my own. I'm so glad to find this forum from jdauria from Bimmerforums !

I really want [madly, desperately, in love sort-of] to get a '04-'06 X3 but the first two we test drove both had mold in the rear foot rest area. After spending about 6 hours reading forums I'm honestly freaked out! It seems really scary and expensive to buy an X3 and potentially have to deal with a permanently leaking moonroof and have no real definite fix, short of covering the roof with clear 3M tape!

I now know will have to run a hose test on these, to be sure they are ok, but I'd like to hear from some experienced forum member on what I can do to minimize my chances of buying a future Koi pond (as one member said). I'm also scared that the sunroof leaks are possibly permanent on some models ! Yikes :banghead::banghead::banghead:!!!

I'm forever grateful for any advice. The X3 drives amazingly and I really hope I can find the right one! I just want to make sure I'm well versed in the surprises that will come my way and buy with a logical mind, instead of my heart. :whip:


sjladopoulos 01-14-2013 09:47 AM

just find a good car and not a lemon,

all the rest will be fine.

I have NO problems with mine at all.

Every vehicle has its horror stories, but those are the exception, not the rule.

The X3 will need a couple of things (transfer case etc) at some point, but nothing to fear of if you find a well taken care of car.

sjladopoulos 01-14-2013 09:49 AM

A close friend has a E46 coupe, and when he power washes the car, he gets water inside from the passenger window seals.

Ask 100 other owners, i doubt there is a 2nd or 3rd that share that problem.

codog2 01-14-2013 09:55 AM

get a late year 2005+ x3 - the pano roof was redesigned (check the vin numbers)

thefys 01-14-2013 09:57 AM

Thanks very much guys !

How would I know if the pano-roof was redesigned using just a VIN ?

UncleJ 01-14-2013 09:58 AM

It may not be the sunroof that is causing the problem - - although they are known to. It might be the vapor seal in the doors that is allowing water to enter and wind up in your footwells. Of course, the car could have also have been in a flood too so you need to check very closely! I would look for another one.:angel:

x3brian 01-14-2013 11:07 AM

Scared? reason for that. These are probably the best cars on the market...and I would encourage you to add 07 and above to your search in the 6sp mt format.

The most common reason for footwell water is the vapor barrier wasn't reinstalled properly when a window regulator was replaced. Easy fix with a blow dryer and fresh butyl tape.

The pano is a secondary concern but the newer the better. I'm at 107k and mine hasn't been an issue in my 09, but I rarely open it...I just leave the cloth divider open because I like the open feeling.

thefys 01-22-2013 02:47 AM

Thanks for the tips guys!!

I've settled on one X3, 2006, under 100,000kms. Looked at carproof, ICBC papers plus got the complete warranty repair history from the BMW dealer.
It passed my personal soak test but for one vapor barrier.
Service records look totally fine, no transfer case issues, no leak issues. One weird thing in the service records, battery was draining due to small current draw in panoramic sunroof. Dealer replaced sunroof cassette all is well.

Taking it to a BMW dealer for the full test ($365) and in independent sunroof repaid facility for a soak test and sunroof appraisal ($150$

I stuck my nose right down to the carpet, scratched and sniffed everywhere, zero mold.

Anything else I should be aware of?

UncleJ 01-22-2013 07:04 AM

The early ones had problems with broken pigtails on the coil springs. I think the '06's might be OK, but check. My '06 front strut failed (oil leaking on driveway) at about 80K miles but don't know how you would check for that -- until it goes. Anyway, it is about a $1500 repair for both with assorted hardware. You do need to do both at that mileage too. Just stand by with a dedicated "repair fund" to avoid surprises and you should be OK. If you don't use the fund -- then spend it on yourself~!:D

shendrick 01-23-2013 11:38 AM

You should look for signs of oil leakage on the struts, splatter if a drive shaft book is cracked, and VCG leakage. The strut and VCG issues are common. Dealer did my struts for $1,500 and I was only at 65K miles. If a boot goes, you're looking at about $1,000 for a new CV and remanufactured drive shaft. However, it only takes a couple minutes to spot any of these issues if you open the hood and crawl around a bit under the front end with a flashlight. Any excess oil on parts or grease splatters are a sign of maintenance issues to come.

I also 2nd the motion of pano roof problems (leakage or breakage) and vapor barriers. Sounds common although I have avoided by simply not using the pano roof.

Other random thoughts. TCM can drain battery if you have one (mine did and new battery needed every year untill it was properly diagnosed). Also, check under cabin air filter for crud in the drain holes (takes 15 seconds). If your drains get blocked you'll end up with a traveling swimming pool.

madurodave 01-23-2013 11:47 AM


Originally Posted by thefys (Post 7329118)
I stuck my nose right down to the carpet, scratched and sniffed everywhere

Hopefully the previous owner did not step in dog poo!

911 01-26-2013 06:36 AM

Don't be scarred.
I have a early 2005 I bought new (European Delivery) and I have no issues with anything, driven over 90K miles so far.
Get a PPI before you buy and enjoy.

mama_jo's 01-27-2013 06:29 PM

My '08 with pano roof developed a nasty glass on metal rattle during cold weather and certain rough road areas. very noisy. had it adjusted under warranty. has been fine for 2-3 years now and has never happened again. My biggest problem was with jerky throttle control and shifting of the auto transmission since new. finally paid for a software upgrade (about $200) last summer at 50k miles. Best thing ever! the torque curve dropped into the 2500-3000 rpm range and now the car drives smooothly. Love this car for its fabulous laser accurate steering, smooth 6 cylinder engine, love the torque on hills with no shifting required, good a/c, good heater, nice seats, quiet running, great handling, great in snow and ice, good visibility. The nav, the radio, the cupholders, and the cruise are a little quirky but i have gotten familiar with them. Michelins last a long time and wear very evenly. most expensive repair? a new radiator at about 55k for $800. Didn't see that one coming!

UncleJ 01-28-2013 07:12 AM

+1 on the PPI! Very important -- the X3 is no better and no worse than any other BMW. If you like it, get one. They will break and they will be expensive to repair, but as long as you are comfortable with that -- go for it.:angel:

thefys 02-03-2013 08:15 PM

Turns out I have water in the rear foot well area. Did not see it when I inspected the car, maybe the dealer was vacuuming it daily - who knows.

Small leak in the rear trunk, turns out the hose for the wiper fluid has a break in it (not the connector) and I will have to replace the hose that leads to the exterior nipple.

Pulled apart the floor carpet (rear right) and pulled out the front passenger seat and wiggled off center console. A fair bit of water under there but guess what? There is NO connector for that hose under there !!! Everyone says the hose connector must have come apart, it doesn't exist !!! It's a 2006 pre-facelift X3
We ran the rear wiper while spraying water and nothing showed up in the water pipe. My guess is that all that water got there via the broken vapor barrier. I can see no other way for the water to get there. No rust at all.

Fixed the vapor barrier, tested, no incoming water any more, so I hope that was it. This week I guess I will put the carpets back together.
QUESTION: if the carpets are damp (I did not completely remove both seats and the rear carpet -- seems like a crazy amount of work) will it eventually dry off if no more water is incoming? It seems like the foam holds a lot of water (which I squished out by hand) it should eventually be okay no?

thefys 02-06-2013 06:25 PM

More leaks
Turns out the rear right door vapour seal was leaking as well. It was odd, I've fixed 4 of these now, but this one was really troublesome. The butyl tape just wouldn't stick no matter how much I warmed it up with a hairdryer, so I slowly scraped it off and replaced it. (It's been raining here so I was hoping that simply warming it up and massaging it would have worked for me (it has in the past)

As far as drying out the car (in the rain) I bought a DeHumidifier from HomeDepot $200, and ran a small heater plus an additional fan for extra circulation. A word of advice, if you are going to do this, make sure you run TWO extension cables one exclusively for the heater minimum 10A rating per cable . The current draw is large and you can melt your extension cable (before your 15A hourse breaker resets).

With the carpets lifter up, I ran this setup for 3 days non -stop. Works like a charm ! I will run in for another day just in case there is more moisture to be removed.

Photos to follow...

Dkrawitz 02-07-2013 11:01 AM

I would focus on;
1) one that is still under waranty, so that the things that "scare" you can be taken care of by BMW.
2) or at least an 08 that includes the upgraded horse power.
I bought an 08 still under waranty off lease and I don't regret it.

UncleJ 02-08-2013 12:46 PM

The 'increased horsepower" arrived with the 6 speed A/T (and its attendant problems) in MY '07. Although, having driven both the later and earlier versions I felt the '06 was much quicker off the line and more responsive overall than the later versions. This was with the A/T and I suspect the M/T versions of the '07 on you would actually feel the added HP. Just my personal observation and experience however -- others will have their own opinions. A warranty is vital IMHO and I regret not getting the extended BMW offering when I had the chance. Mine is currently in the shop (again) with yet more problems -- fuel transfer valve (again), two O2 sensors, drive belt replacements and oil change. The latter two are of course routine maintenance. I have just turned 90K miles.:tsk:

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