When it was launched in 2004, the BMW 1 Series took the mantle of the 3 Series as the manufacturer’s most economical car. As a result, these cars are rather well pursued on the desirability front, combining good looks with great driveability.
With a real sporty feel behind the wheel and the classic BMW styling, this is a great car that will keep its value for years. Even with the rear wheel drive set-up it manages to offer a consistent ride quality throughout its years. However, like all vehicles, it is not completely rattle-free and there are many known issues to watch out for when purchasing a second-hand model.
Have a look at your potential purchase’s front tyres. Is the wear uneven across the pair? If this is the case then the most likely cause is a reported problem with a faulty steering rack, which is known to throw out the tracking on the front wheels. Also, several cars were recalled during the period between June 2007 and December 2011 where the integrated control module was not up to specification and could turn the power steering off.
Keep one eye out for an excessive amount of smoke coming out of the engine upon acceleration when you are taking this BMW hatchback for a test drive. Known issues with the turbocharger are the likely origins of this problem, which is prone to failure and will need replacement.
If the BMW 1 Series you’re looking at was manufactured during March 2006 then it could be subject to a problem with a seal on the brake system, which means that the brakes won’t operate at the maximum level of effectiveness. Make sure that you try an emergency stop procedure with any car you want to buy from this period, and check that it slows down under normal stopping distance.
Cars from the second quarter of 2008 were known to suffer from airbag problems, which means that the bag will not deploy properly in the event of a crash. This is due to faults in the BMW hatchback’s seat belt tensioner and the wiring harness, which may cause it to fail. Once again check the service history to see if these parts have been replaced.
If you are thinking of purchasing a 1 Series that suffers from a very stiff gear change when the car is first motoring on the road, be aware that this isn’t a fault. The car simply needs a little time to warm up and normal service should be restored when the vehicle is out on the open road.
Is the BMW 1 Series you’re thinking about purchasing stamped with a date of manufacture between May and September 2004? If so then it could be prone to a rear axle fault that leaves the back wheels out of alignment. Check both tyres for uneven wear and you may even feel the car pulling to one side on a test drive.
There is a known issue with the door handles on the 1 Series. Try all the handles around the car. Does any single unit stick out of the door when you close the door? If so then the catch and handle could be broken, requiring a complete replacement of both parts.
Can you smell petrol in the cabin of your potential purchase? Throw some rough running of the engine into the mix and sudden changes in engine temperature and you could well be looking at an ignition coil failure.
When it comes to used cars the BMW brand will always carry a little bit of class and weight and is a general sign of good engineering. This little hatchback is good buy for all the right reasons, offering long distance motoring and comfort in a package that’s more economical than its bigger brothers.
For cheap guaranteed replacement engines, gearboxes and more, see our new and used BMW 1 Series parts page.