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  #1  
Old 11-02-2010, 08:44 AM
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Two of the Top Ten Surprisingly Unreliable Cars are BMWs

There are some cars you buy, expecting a certain degree of mechanical fallibility. In some cars, it's part of the character of owning one. In others, it's an inherent design issue that's well known and you learn to work around it. No one really buys an old Alfa Romeo expecting it'll never have wiring issues. People with a Citroen SM-Maserati didn't purchase it for it's Swiss Watch durability. Only the truly misinformed expect an old RX-7 to spend more time on the road than making the lawn look pretty.

But some vehicles have an absolutely baffling reputation for reliability in the face of considerable evidence. These are cars that people buy because their reputation leads them to believe they'll enjoy a few years of trouble-free motoring, and it's an unpleasant surprise when their wallet bleeds itself dry keeping them on the road. Here are a few to keep an eye out for that you might not have been aware of.

BMW N54-powered vehicles
This was the original idea behind this post. For those not well-versed in BMW-ese, the N54 is BMW's 3.0L iron-block straight six, fitted with twin sequential turbochargers that is fitted to almost all of BMW"s range in various states of tune, including the 1, 3, 5, and 7 series, as well as the X5, X6, and Z4. When it came out in 2006 as a replacement for the M54 3.0L engine, the automotive press and consumers alike were ecstatic. The N54 made a ton of power (306bhp) with almost no discernible turbo lag, a silky straight-six roar, and returned respectable fuel economy. Finally, the 3-series had the power to not get embarrassed by Infiniti G35's!

Problems arose pretty quickly, though. It shouldn't have been surprising; the N54 was BMW's first gas-turbo engine since the 745i in the mid-eighties with it's 3.2L M102 straight six. The issues weren't really related to the turbochargers themselves, so much as the direct injection system and it's high pressure fuel pump (HPFP) that supplies the ridiculously high fuel pressure needed to run the injection system. No one really knows what exactly causes the high frequency of failures with the HPFP, but some third parties suggest it's related to the low-pressure fuel sensor. Regardless, since the motor came out in 2006 the fuel pump has been through 6 different designs in the last four years, and owners on BMW boards are still reporting pump failures after only a few thousand miles.

After a few years of dodging warranty claims and calling it user error or attributing it to regional gasoline quality (a trend we'll see again), BMW issued a voluntary recall that covers 160,000 BMWs powered by the N54 engine. Considering the failure of the fuel pump can lead to the engine stalling and the loss of power steering and power brakes, it's a legitimate safety concern. If your twin-turbo BMW is exhibiting symptoms like an unwillingness to crank over in cold weather, stalling or sputtering at idle, or a check engine light and limp-home mode, then your HPFP could be dying. BMW is now covering this part with a 10-year, 120,000 mile warranty, so that helps.

BMW M60 V8
Another BMW engine snafu. The M60 was BMW's first modern V8 engine, which replaced the M30 "big six" in the 5 and 7 series lines. It was quite a high-tech design for the time: aluminum block, aluminum chain-driven twin-cam 4-valve heads, forged crankshaft, magnesium valve covers, direct ignition, all the works. Also new for the M60 V8 were Nikasil cylinder liners, which were made of a combination of Nickel, aluminum, and silicon rather than the traditional iron cylinder liners. This proved to be an issue.

The Nikasil liners suffered significant corrosion when low-quality gas with high sulfur concentration was run through the engine, leading to cylinder liners failing near the top of the piston and allowing for significant compression loss. Over time, it would literally cause the motor to not start at all. Since Nikasil was a spray-in liner, it wasn't possible to simply bore the block and sleeve it with iron liners, so the only solution was to replace it with a short block using the later Alusil lining, which didn't suffer from the corrosion issues that Nikasil did. Although the only regions that really suffered from this issue were America and Brazil, it still did not reflect well on BMW, who extended a 6-year 100,000 mile warranty to engines made with Nikasil liners.

Read the full story here - http://www.carthrottle.com/10-surpri...reliable-cars/
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  #2  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:58 AM
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Funny I see no statistics on that site.
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  #3  
Old 11-02-2010, 12:20 PM
TRS550 TRS550 is offline
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Not sure what statistics are required. N54 problem is recent (well...since 2007)and well documented.

The Nikasil V-8 issue is old news to those of us who've been driving these cars for the past 20 years.

E46 M3's regularly bit the dust until the marketing weenies backed off the 8000 RPM mandate.

BMW's pattern of deny deny deny and then blame bad gasoline is nothing new.
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  #4  
Old 11-02-2010, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRS550 View Post
Not sure what statistics are required. N54 problem is recent (well...since 2007)and well documented.

The Nikasil V-8 issue is old news to those of us who've been driving these cars for the past 20 years.

E46 M3's regularly bit the dust until the marketing weenies backed off the 8000 RPM mandate.

BMW's pattern of deny deny deny and then blame bad gasoline is nothing new.
For them to state they are the TOP TEN worst reliable they need some statistics to back that up. Can't just name what you THINK are the top ten and then say it is fact.
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  #5  
Old 11-02-2010, 05:32 PM
TRS550 TRS550 is offline
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Originally Posted by Mk23 View Post
For them to state they are the TOP TEN worst reliable they need some statistics to back that up. Can't just name what you THINK are the top ten and then say it is fact.
Still no statistics required. The article doesn't say TOP 10. It's titled 10 Surprisingly Unreliable Cars. I think the OP might have misread that as well.
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  #6  
Old 11-02-2010, 06:40 PM
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Iron block

Who makes iron blocks anymore
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  #7  
Old 11-03-2010, 10:50 AM
sdbrandon sdbrandon is offline
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The difference between the most reliable car and the worst is negligle although JD Power would like you to believe that there is a huge difference between an average of 1.5 defects per car (Lexus), and BMW with 2.5 for example.



The reality is if BMW were as bad as some suggest, I am confused by the strong sales. I am cofused by them not needing a bailout during the recession. I am confused why they did not recall 10 million vehicles like Lexota.

but oh yeah, Toyota is the best. BMW sucks, and people are plain stupid for even considering a German car.
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  #8  
Old 11-04-2010, 12:28 AM
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I'd like them to one day make a 5-series touring where the tailgate doesn't rust. You'd think that would be pretty simple to do - no moving parts and all.
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  #9  
Old 11-04-2010, 09:39 AM
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The E46 M3/S54 engine issue is also well documented. BMW, as usual, condemned the owners instead of admitting there was a problem - one it knew about all along but refused to admit.
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A bimmer with forced induction should have a proper manual gearbox. Anything less is like french kissing your sister.
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  #10  
Old 11-04-2010, 09:44 AM
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At least get your facts straight. The N54 is not an iron block. It's aluminum.
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  #11  
Old 11-04-2010, 09:58 AM
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It has iron *liners*, which is what I suspect the OP meant.
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JUST...LOOK...UNDER...THE...CAR....for Chrissakes....it`s like checking to see if a dog is male or female....
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Originally Posted by smolck View Post
A bimmer with forced induction should have a proper manual gearbox. Anything less is like french kissing your sister.
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  #12  
Old 11-04-2010, 11:19 AM
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And I quote: "For those not well-versed in BMW-ese, the N54 is BMW's 3.0L iron-block straight six,"

Seems pretty clear what he said. If he meant "iron liners" then why didn't he just say so?
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  #13  
Old 11-05-2010, 09:41 PM
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To the reposter of the article: Why repost an article full of inaccurate statements and unsubstantiated conjecture (and get the title wrong)? As previously stated, the N54 has an aluminum block. Also, I'm fairly certain that the N54's turbo setup is parallel, not sequential.

Also, reposting an article that cites "owners on BMW boards are still reporting pump failures" as anything but support for real data is propagating the same type of hearsay posting that clutters the E90 board on bimmerfest. I have an N54 (no failures) and am VERY interested in actual numbers, but this article is just another poseur.

I usually wouldn't respond this bitingly, but please avoid posting garbage like this on bimmerfest's front page--it's inaccurate on several counts, poorly written, and lacking data for its assertions.
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  #14  
Old 11-10-2010, 02:03 PM
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The last M60 was sold about 15 years ago, and this comes out in an article now? Does it include the Pinto and Oldsmobile 350 diesels as well??
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  #15  
Old 11-10-2010, 02:37 PM
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This article is like those "top ten combat rifles" type of shows that compare the WW I Mauser K98k with the M16; entertaining at best but nothing else beyond that.
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  #16  
Old 11-13-2010, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TED13B View Post
The last M60 was sold about 15 years ago, and this comes out in an article now? Does it include the Pinto and Oldsmobile 350 diesels as well??
Cant forget about the breaking motor mounts with Chevy in the late 60s...lol
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  #17  
Old 11-14-2010, 03:02 AM
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BMW's pattern of deny deny deny and then blame bad gasoline is nothing new.
Blame it on bad gasoline is the standard disclaimer among many manufacturers. My wife's V6 Highlander with 42K miles was running like crap under any load. No power, no codes. IT was always worse when the temp outside was 75+. Brought it to dealer and with no codes, they said.... must be bad gas, that will be $90 please for the diagnosis. Well it was not the gas, and another trip to the dealer with this issue did not get resolved since it was cool out and the issue never showed up when cool. In the end I carefully cleaned the MAF with CRC MAF cleaner and it has been perfect since.
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Old 11-14-2010, 03:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Jsborn View Post
To the reposter of the article: Why repost an article full of inaccurate statements and unsubstantiated conjecture (and get the title wrong)? As previously stated, the N54 has an aluminum block. Also, I'm fairly certain that the N54's turbo setup is parallel, not sequential.

Also, reposting an article that cites "owners on BMW boards are still reporting pump failures" as anything but support for real data is propagating the same type of hearsay posting that clutters the E90 board on bimmerfest. I have an N54 (no failures) and am VERY interested in actual numbers, but this article is just another poseur.

I usually wouldn't respond this bitingly, but please avoid posting garbage like this on bimmerfest's front page--it's inaccurate on several counts, poorly written, and lacking data for its assertions.
Resale value of the 335/535 speaks to the fact that these are not reliable power plants.
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  #19  
Old 11-14-2010, 10:08 AM
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The HPFP issue is well documented by now, so much so BMW has issued a recall.

Our cars aren't perfect guys, so shoot the messenger all you want, the problem is real.

FWIW, I've always avoided turbos, unfortunately, it appears BMW will be banking on turbos for years to come, having announced a new single turbo.

Sigh ...
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  #20  
Old 11-14-2010, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdCT View Post
The HPFP issue is well documented by now, so much so BMW has issued a recall.

Our cars aren't perfect guys, so shoot the messenger all you want, the problem is real.

FWIW, I've always avoided turbos, unfortunately, it appears BMW will be banking on turbos for years to come, having announced a new single turbo.

Sigh ...
Everyone is moving to turbos for their potential for lower emissions and fuel consumptions, combined with modern engineering that allows power delivery to be smoother and more usable. With ever stricter emissions and fuel consumption standards, big engines just really weren't the way to go.

One of the coolest examples I want to sample is the VW 1,4 TSI Twincharger engine, both a super and a turbocharger.
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  #21  
Old 11-14-2010, 10:56 AM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdCT View Post
The HPFP issue is well documented by now, so much so BMW has issued a recall.

Our cars aren't perfect guys, so shoot the messenger all you want, the problem is real.

FWIW, I've always avoided turbos, unfortunately, it appears BMW will be banking on turbos for years to come, having announced a new single turbo.

Sigh ...
They've kinda been forced to... Between all the other manufacturers selling entry level cars with 300+ HP (hell, you can get a Camaro SS w/ 425hp for $30k) and the federal mandate to raise average fuel economy, forced induction is really the only logical choice.

With that said, I think the reliability issue is more due to the direct injection than it is to using turbos. I wonder how reliable the N53 engine in Europe is (N/A direct injection 6. 272hp... not bad for a 3-liter that only spins to 7k)
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  #22  
Old 11-29-2010, 05:54 AM
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The HPFP issue is a big deal... the way BMW has handled it for years, from an owner's perspective, is atrocious. ABsolutely reprehensible. I was told several times that i was "driving my car wrong" and that I "ran over something". That was several fuel pump versions ago. I would NEVER recommend purchase of an N54 vehicle.
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  #23  
Old 11-29-2010, 06:44 AM
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The X3 has been rated as one of the most reliable.

BMW X3: Most reliable vehicle on Germany's roads


The BMW X3 has finished first in the ADAC quality ranking for the second time in succession.

In the ADAC breakdown statistics, the BMW X3 was the model which last year made least work for the ADAC roadside assistance mechanics, known in Germany as the "Gelbe Engel".

As in the previous year, the Sports Activity Vehicle was awarded the renowned ADAC "Gelber Engel" prize in the "Quality" category.

Germany's automobile club thus once again deems the BMW X3 to be the most reliable vehicle on Germany's roads.

The "Gelber Engel" award is based on an evaluation of some 2 million cases drawn from ADAC breakdown statistics as well as a customer satisfaction study by the club magazine "ADAC motorwelt". 43,000 readers participated this time.

500,000 units of BMW X3 have been supplied as of November 2008.

http://www.autospies.com/news/BMW-X3...s-roads-40910/
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  #24  
Old 11-29-2010, 07:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
They've kinda been forced to... Between all the other manufacturers selling entry level cars with 300+ HP (hell, you can get a Camaro SS w/ 425hp for $30k) and the federal mandate to raise average fuel economy, forced induction is really the only logical choice.

With that said, I think the reliability issue is more due to the direct injection than it is to using turbos. I wonder how reliable the N53 engine in Europe is (N/A direct injection 6. 272hp... not bad for a 3-liter that only spins to 7k)
A 6.2L pushrod V8 putting out 425hp does nothing for me. I honestly can't believe Chevrolet is still building pushrod engines.

BMW was building OHC inline 6 engines in 1918.

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  #25  
Old 11-29-2010, 11:22 PM
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A 6.2L pushrod V8 putting out 425hp does nothing for me. I honestly can't believe Chevrolet is still building pushrod engines.
Ford gets 412 hp (approx?) out of a 5.0 liter DOHC V8 that redlines at 7,000 rpms in the '11 Mustang GT, whose base price is around $30k. Yes, the car's crude compared to a BMW but 400 plus horsepower for 30k. And more than 0.9g on the skidpad.
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