BMW X3 Common Problems

BMW X3SUVs and larger 4×4 cars have become incredibly popular over the last two decades and front and centre of this list is the BMW X3. A strong and stable vehicle that oozes power and German efficiency, if you want to make a statement on the road then this is a car that definitely demands a slice of attention.

You can pick up an X3 in good working order from a second hand BMW specialist or a used car trader, but you are unlikely to find one going cheap. With this vehicle demanding high prices, it’s always important to check for commonly occurring problems – so use our list to make sure you don’t get caught out.


Having some strange issues with your BMW X3’s transmission? If it seems to be incorrectly shifting and choosing the wrong gear for the vehicle’s current engine revolutions, then this could well be due to a reported problem with transmission computer. Usually this requires you to take the car to a BMW specialist to have the system reconfigured or reprogrammed entirely.


Does the X3 you’re thinking about purchasing have variable sports steering? If so then be extra vigilant on the test drive to ensure that the steering is working correctly as there is a known issue with the system, which could cause it to completely fail. To fix this problem you will need to go through the costly repair of installing a replacement steering rack.


Perhaps the most well-known problem in the BMW X3 is with the turbo. According to the owner’s manual, the vehicle should be allowed to cool down before the engine is completely turned off after a drive. Failure to adhere to this simple process causes the carbonation of oil in the pipes – requiring both the turbo unit and the oil feed system to be replaced.  Check the owner’s history to see if there have been problems with the turbo in the past.


Test the suspension on your BMW X3 by using a simple push on the body of the vehicle and checking how quickly it rocks back into position. The suspension system is known to suffer badly from off-roading and this will impact the overall ride quality. If you are having difficulties with the suspension then this will require an overall replacement of the shocks and bushes, which have to be changed in pairs.


This one is quite simple to spot. There’s a known problem with the passenger airbag light, which can engage even when there is no passenger in the front seat due to a faulty switch. This will leave the light illuminated at all times whilst the car’s electrics are turned on.


When the sunroof on the X3 is closed there should be no problems. But crack open this window to get some air into your BMW, and you may be beset by all kinds of creaking and knocking noises. Make sure you open the sunroof on a test drive to check for this fault, but equally be aware that this problem can be fixed quite cost effectively with a kit.

If you want a high quality four wheel drive SUV then the X3 more than fits the bill. Even as a second hand car this vehicle has the power to turn heads and the BMW badge is a real statement of engineering quality. Naturally as with all larger cars there’s a trade-off between safety and running costs, but as long as you are aware of the economics there should not be a problem.

For cheap guaranteed replacement engines, gearboxes and more, see our new and used BMW X3 parts page.

This entry was posted in Cars and tagged , on by Justin Smith.

About Justin Smith

As the man at the helm of BreakerLink, it is no surprise that its Director, Justin Smith, has always had a keen interest in cars, bikes and most things wheeled. Having spent over two decades in the car parts industry, Justin combines his passion that since 2002, has successfully united those looking for new and used car parts with the breaker that supplies them. Follow Justin on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: These articles are for guidance purposes only. If you have any questions regarding any matter relating to your vehicle we would recommend that you seek the advice of an appropriate professional. We accept no responsibility or liability should you suffer financial or personal damages in relation to the advice stated on this website.