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      05-12-2016, 10:14 AM   #1
Genevagear
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BMW Long-Term Quality

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What is the long-term quality of BMWs these days? Iíll start with some background of my current experience, and the car I drive. I drive a 2003 Honda S2000. The car has been wonderful and very enjoyable over the years. It is my everyday car. I just passed 270k miles, so Iíve been averaging 20k miles per year. It has been a very reliable car. I can say that because Iíve never been stranded. It has always started and run every time I turn the ignition. It still has the original clutch, brakes typically last 100k (I replace both pads and discs at 100k), the engine still sounds and runs smoothly, and Iíve never had any fluid leaks. Items that stopped working or developed problems include, power door locks @200k miles (replaced myself for $100), interior dashboard switch bulbs (replaced myself), airbag control module @250k miles (dealer replaced for $400), serpentine belt idler pulley @150k miles (dealer replaced $200). Other than those items all other maintenance costs were routine wear/tear which includes oil, brakes, coolant, AC refrigerant, valve adjustment, tires, serpentine belt, battery, brake fluid, and manual transmission fluid.

Reaching 100k miles without a fault which disables the vehicle or results in damage, is no longer a benchmark for quality/reliability. In my opinion that was the 80ís, and maybe the 70ís. I would say todayís benchmark is 300k to 400k because quality and materials have improved. We drive more today as well, so cars have to be able to run reliably over longer periods of time and distance.

I keep cars for a long time and do my best to make them run reliably. The cost of maintaining a car when it is normal wear and tear is understandable and predictable. Throwing money at problems due to poor design is frustrating and a waste of money.

One day I will be stranded by my car. As it continues to age something will break and the car wonít start, or operation will result in damage.
I have to start looking for a new car and Iím curious about BMWs. I am cautious however because Iím not sure the experience Iíve had over the years will be as good. Thoughts and experiences are appreciated.
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      05-12-2016, 12:10 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Genevagear View Post
What is the long-term quality of BMWs these days? Iíll start with some background of my current experience, and the car I drive. I drive a 2003 Honda S2000. The car has been wonderful and very enjoyable over the years. It is my everyday car. I just passed 270k miles, so Iíve been averaging 20k miles per year. It has been a very reliable car. I can say that because Iíve never been stranded. It has always started and run every time I turn the ignition. It still has the original clutch, brakes typically last 100k (I replace both pads and discs at 100k), the engine still sounds and runs smoothly, and Iíve never had any fluid leaks. Items that stopped working or developed problems include, power door locks @200k miles (replaced myself for $100), interior dashboard switch bulbs (replaced myself), airbag control module @250k miles (dealer replaced for $400), serpentine belt idler pulley @150k miles (dealer replaced $200). Other than those items all other maintenance costs were routine wear/tear which includes oil, brakes, coolant, AC refrigerant, valve adjustment, tires, serpentine belt, battery, brake fluid, and manual transmission fluid.

Reaching 100k miles without a fault which disables the vehicle or results in damage, is no longer a benchmark for quality/reliability. In my opinion that was the 80ís, and maybe the 70ís. I would say todayís benchmark is 300k to 400k because quality and materials have improved. We drive more today as well, so cars have to be able to run reliably over longer periods of time and distance.

I keep cars for a long time and do my best to make them run reliably. The cost of maintaining a car when it is normal wear and tear is understandable and predictable. Throwing money at problems due to poor design is frustrating and a waste of money.

One day I will be stranded by my car. As it continues to age something will break and the car wonít start, or operation will result in damage.
I have to start looking for a new car and Iím curious about BMWs. I am cautious however because Iím not sure the experience Iíve had over the years will be as good. Thoughts and experiences are appreciated.
I'm not going to lie, but they are as reliable as the maintenance you do on them from what I hear.

Preventative maintenance on parts that commonly fail (waterpump, fuelpump, belts, ball joints etcs..) and it should be fine.

My ball joints in the rear recently started squeaking terribly and had them changed under warranty.

Just keep up to date with oil changes and fluid changes and I think you'll be fine.
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      05-12-2016, 04:20 PM   #3
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German cars are much heavier car. Even my Honda Accord Sedan need to replace control arm, ball joints too.
Heavier cars' wear out ball joints and breaks much quicker too.
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      05-12-2016, 09:02 PM   #4
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I can speak to this a bit. My wife and I had a 1989 E30 bought new in Nov. 1988. We also had a 1989 Acura Integra (1st gen) bought new in March 1989. The E30 was her car from new to 125,000 miles (when I took it over as my daily driver in 1997). The Acura was mine. I drove the Integra to 230,000 miles, while the E30 reached 120,000 miles in the same relative time. The Integra's miles were 90% highway. The E30 was mostly mixed city/highway. The E90 lived in NYC and commuted out to Yonkers for 18 months. We had both cars to 230,000 (the E90 went to 256,000 before I sold it to a neighbor, who took it to 292,000. I DIY'd all maintenance on both cars.

Both cars needed timing belts (toothed rubber) and valve adjustments (both had solid tappits). At 230,000 the BMW was in better shape than the Acura. The BMW was a car you wanted to keep money into it to maintain it at high mileage, the Acrua wasn't. The integra lost 2 left halfshafts and an igniter that left it stranded. The BMW lost the thermostat housing that left it stranded. Both cars had 1 recall. The E30 had a bit more maintenance than the Integra, but the Integra wasn't perfect. The Integra needed a clutch before 200,000 miles, the BMW needed its clutch at 220,000 (keep in mind the E30 had NYC miles on it). IMO BMWs are better to keep long term.
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A manual transmission can be set to "comfort", "sport", and "track" modes simply by the technique and speed at which you shift it; it doesn't need "modes", modes are for manumatics that try to behave like a real 3-pedal manual transmission. If you can money-shift it, it's a manual transmission.
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      05-13-2016, 11:03 AM   #5
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If we are talking about the early naughts (since your S2000 is from that era), Honda vs. BMW is no comparison.

That era was Honda's high water mark for reliability; the only real issue was their automatic transmissions tended to implode, but I avoided that issue by selecting Honda's excellent 6MT on my '04 TSX (which I drove for a decade with exactly one out-of-pocket repair; the cruise control switch of all things). BMW's of that vintage suffered endless issues with the cooling system combined with the infamous E46 rear subframe issues, countless electrical gremlins, suspension issues, etc.

That said, we are now entering an era of DI turbo engines, and BMW had a head start on virtually everyone in this area. Honestly, I'd probably trust the N55 or N20 much more than Honda's new 1.5 and 2L turbo engines, considering the disaster that was Honda's last foray into forced induction (the original RDX). Honda probably is still more reliable for non-engine components, FWIW.

Personally, I wouldn't own any German make out of warranty, except maybe a naturally-aspirated Porsche. The entire appeal of driving a Toyota or Honda is that you know it'll be reliable well into 6 figure mileage, it'll just bore you to tears in the meantime (S2000, NSX, and GT86 excepted).
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      05-14-2016, 10:09 PM   #6
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I had 92 accord lx, acura 2.5 tls, 2002 acura tls and acura 2008 tls. The best car was the '92 accord. acuras had constant brake and transmission issues.

330i has been awesome so far, actually superior to acuras with preventive maint. all 3 acuras had bad transmissions and were never abused. The 08 tls had complete engine failure. I can't even imagine what would have happened on track.
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      05-15-2016, 11:59 AM   #7
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135i has been wonderful. It has been far better than my old Honda V6 6MT which loved to eat front half shafts and belt tensioners.

Only 72.5k on the car, but I've never been stranded, and haven't had to replace anything on the car that I didn't break myself.
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      05-20-2016, 06:13 PM   #8
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Efthreeoh, thank you for detailing your experience. Do you feel those late 80's BMWs were designed better or worse than the current BMW's? (more finicky electronics for sure)

The_phew, I agree with you in many ways. Acura and Honda are making fewer American market vehicles in Japan. That might explain the drop in quality, but I can't say for sure. I believe it is best to keep the design and engineering in the same plant, or country, as the manufacturing. Cars designed in the home country and built in an another, using local/regional parts, always seem to have long-term quality and reliability issues. I would not buy an Acura/Honda built not built in Japan, or a BMW not built in Germany.

I went the other day and test drove the M235i. Drove great and I appreciated the heavy steering and good feel through the chassis and steering. I did not like the lack of spare tire, light steering at low speeds, engine sound through the speakers, no dip stick, and the driving modes.

The other thing that concerns me is the issue with contamination (carbon) build-up in the intake. This makes no sense to me. Routine maintenance is a replacement, or modification, of a part/materials before they cause performance degradation. The build-up of contamination in the intake is not a routine maintenance issue. A performance car should not experience gradual degradation in performance through its design-life until it requires maintenance to correct the problem.
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      05-20-2016, 06:26 PM   #9
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Without discussion of a particular model, it is difficult to have an objective discussion about bmw reliability. Here are just some of the factors that have changed and continue to change with each generation:

Electronics in everything
Safety systems including radar and collision prevention
Weight
Dual clutch transmissions
Carbon fiber reinforced plastic
Aluminum
Enormous braking systems
Turbochargers and 'overboost' functions
Tires and increasing sizes

Then consider the modifications that everyone likes to do, especially those who choose poor quality parts.

The S2000 was conceived in the 90s and your AP1 barely has any of these considerations. I think the answer to your question is, we have no idea about the long-term quality of these modern cars. We could make an educated guess based on the manufacturing philosophy of the auto maker.
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      05-21-2016, 10:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Genevagear View Post
Efthreeoh, thank you for detailing your experience. Do you feel those late 80's BMWs were designed better or worse than the current BMW's? (more finicky electronics for sure)

The_phew, I agree with you in many ways. Acura and Honda are making fewer American market vehicles in Japan. That might explain the drop in quality, but I can't say for sure. I believe it is best to keep the design and engineering in the same plant, or country, as the manufacturing. Cars designed in the home country and built in an another, using local/regional parts, always seem to have long-term quality and reliability issues. I would not buy an Acura/Honda built not built in Japan, or a BMW not built in Germany.
Interesting comment. Generally cars are assembled using the world-wide automotive supply chain resource regardless of the country the cars are assembled in. There are some local sourcing of parts from US suppliers, but those suppliers also supply parts for other out-of-country assembly plants. An observation I have is BMW's pant in South Carolina. We own a 1997 Z3 1.9L and a 2008 Z4 3.0si Coupe. Both were built at Spartanburg. The Z3 was built October 1996 and the Z4 built May 2008 (ironically the last three digits of each cars VIN are the same). The assembly quality of the Z4 is far superior than the Z3. The Z3 interior was really at fault for the build quality, but all E36's of that era were known for poor interior build quality regardless of country of final assembly. The Z4 Coupe is of as good build quality as my '06 E90 built at Regensburg in April 2006.
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A manual transmission can be set to "comfort", "sport", and "track" modes simply by the technique and speed at which you shift it; it doesn't need "modes", modes are for manumatics that try to behave like a real 3-pedal manual transmission. If you can money-shift it, it's a manual transmission.
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      05-21-2016, 12:07 PM   #11
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Better then a mustang, better then an Porsch, better then an Benzo, better then an japanese brand, reliable and balanced car that allows you to get groceries aswell as hit the track at the same day. Just make sure the car is well maintained and you are good to go
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      05-22-2016, 01:51 PM   #12
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