Car fans, especially those who like German cars, say that BMWs, especially the older ones, are expensive to maintain.
But is this just an old story that American car fans and manufacturers may have spread to scare people away from these choices?
Are BMWs really so expensive to keep up?
One of the most expensive cars to keep up is a BMW. BMWs are a luxury brand with complicated engineering that often needs to be fixed by mechanics with special training and high-quality parts. Even though BMWs are very reliable and rarely need major repairs, even simple maintenance costs can add up quickly.
RepairPal says that BMW is 30th out of 32 car brands for how often and how much it costs to fix.
How much it costs to maintain a BMW will depend on:
How well the car model works
Parts that need to be fixed or replaced are available.
Where parts come from
The auto shop or mechanic who will fix and maintain the car
BMWs tend to be more reliable than other brands of cars.
This is because a lot of the parts, platforms, and electronics of different models are the same.
Let’s take a look at why BMW maintenance costs so much and how much each series costs on average to keep up.
Why Are BMWs Expensive To Maintain?
This is the main reason why BMW maintenance costs so much.
The way the car is made is complicated and over-engineered, which makes it hard to fix as it gets older.
The company relies heavily on complicated onboard computing, proprietary parts, and electronic sensors, most of which need special scan tools.
For example, if the battery in your Z4 dies, you can’t just go to the local auto store and buy a new one. In this case, all modern BMWs need to be registered to an onboard engine control module before the battery can be changed (ECU).
This just means that you can’t go to any auto repair shop to get a new battery.
You have to go to a BMW dealership to get a new battery, which makes maintenance much more expensive.
Fewer Independent Mechanics and DIYers
Due to BMW’s over-engineering, there are less people who fix their own cars and work as independent mechanics.
All BMW series have become more complicated over the last 15 years, making it hard for people to work on these cars.
They made cars with Idrive, no dipstick, and a lot of complicated and high-tech electronics.
For all of these changes, do-it-yourselfers need to use special tools and diagnostic equipment that can be expensive to buy.
This and the fact that they have to learn a lot to understand how computer diagnostics work have completely pushed DIYers out of these areas.
Independent mechanics are forced to send cars to BMW dealerships, which charge more.
This is because diagnostics for the brand require BMW-specific scan tools, which independent mechanics don’t have.
Because there are fewer independent mechanics and do-it-yourselfers, there are fewer ways to fix things.
The demand and supply rule means that people will have to pay more to fix and maintain their cars.
Premium Brand Parts and Technology
BMWs are made for people who love cars, so they have high-tech features and special parts to improve the driving experience.
When a part, like a bad battery, needs to be replaced, a skilled BMW mechanic must register it to an engine control module (ECU).
Because of these steps, the owner will have to pay $400 just to change the battery.
For BMWs, you can go with original parts, which are very expensive but are sure to last a long time and work well.
You can also choose OEM parts, which are a little less expensive than genuine parts but are just as good.
If your budget is really tight, you can use aftermarket parts, which are less expensive than the other choices.
But you have to be careful because some of these parts aren’t very good and could end up costing you more in the long run.
What Are BMW Annual Maintenance Costs?
RepairPal says that BMW owners spend an average of $968 per year on repairs and maintenance. The average cost to maintain a car in the industry is $652, which means that BMWs cost a lot to maintain.
But most German luxury brands, like Audi and Mercedes-Benz, have it as standard, and it costs $987 and $908, respectively.
These costs depend on the type of vehicle, though.
Maintenance costs will be higher for the brand’s high-performance M series and SUVs than for their regular commuter cars.
People like the BMW 3 Series because it costs less to keep up than the other models in the brand.
RepairPal data comparing how much it costs to fix a few different BMW models
The good news is that some BMWs come with a period of free maintenance.
Under BMW Ultimate Service, cars from 2015 and 2016 will be taken care of for four years or 50,000 miles.
Models made in 2017 and later come with BMW Ultimate Care, which covers maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles.
The difference between the two plans is that the BMW Ultimate Service covers more wear-and-tear and maintenance than the BMW Ultimate Care.
You save a lot of money at first because of these two plans, but you have to be ready to pay for repairs after the coverage ends.
What Determines BMW Maintenance Costs?
The cost of maintenance will depend on how often it needs to be checked and on any problems that come up.
You might have to choose between repairs that are cheap and ones that are expensive.
Service schedules also change based on the type of car.
You can find out what your car needs from the owner’s manual, but it probably has a monitoring system that will let you know when it needs service.
Here is an example of a maintenance plan for a BMW 3 Series:
RepairPal says that BMW owners go to auto shops twice as often as owners of other cars.
This makes it much more likely that you’ll run into a problem that needs fixing.
It also says that these are the most common problems BMW owners have to deal with:
Leaking engine oil
Blower motor resistor doesn’t work
Window regulator doesn’t work
Are All BMWs Series Expensive to Maintain?
During the course of a year, different series and models are made.
Even the model with the lowest maintenance costs, like a Toyota Camry, costs more to keep up than the average car.
In the last twenty years, some series and models have been made.
But BMW owners agree that it costs less to maintain older models than newer ones.
This difference is because, in the past, the company used better quality parts than they do now, in order to save money.
Older models don’t have as many electronics as newer ones, so they didn’t need to be fixed as often.
Models from the 3 Series like the E36 and E46, which were made until 2006, are getting old but are still in great shape.
These cars would be worked on by BMW fans and independent mechanics.
The owner can save a lot of money and time on their car because the parts are cheap.
The BMW E90, which was made until 2011, is another great example of an older model that has held up well in terms of how much it costs to keep it running.
Even though there have been problems in the past with different kinds of vehicles, no vehicle is perfect.
It is still one of the best Performance BMWs on the market that is “low maintenance.”
Maintenance Costs Compared to Other Luxury Brands
Let’s compare the Audi A4, the Nissan 370Z, and the Lexus IS 300 to the BMW 3-Series, which is the most popular BMW model on the market right now.
For the next five years, these brands’ 2019 models will cost the following to fix:
Look at how much it will cost to own a BMW over the next five years.
In terms of repair and maintenance costs, the Audi and Lexus, which is Toyota’s high-end brand, are also up there.
On the other hand, even though the Nissan is a luxury sports car, it costs much less to fix and keep up.
This means that the costs of maintaining luxury brand-name cars are higher all around.
Can an Extended Warranty Help With BMW Maintenance Costs?
The best way to avoid spending a small fortune on car repairs is to get an extended warranty.
The extended warranty on a BMW can last for up to 7 years or 100,000 miles.
Most BMW owners usually take good care of their cars, which is a good thing.
But keep in mind that once the factory warranty is over, BMW won’t let you add an extended warranty.
Aside from extended warranties from the dealer, you can also get vehicle service contracts that give extended protection to third-party providers.
Some of the perks of these third-party warranties were trip interruption benefits, roadside assistance, and service contracts that covered up to 200,000 miles and more.
Is BMW Maintenance Expensive?
Yes, BMWs are often more expensive to fix than other cars, even after the warranty is over.
A Mercedes-Benz will cost about $5,000 and a Toyota about $12,000 to keep up and running for a decade.
Why Are BMW Parts So Expensive?
BMWs need the most advanced car technology, which means that replacing parts will cost a lot of money.
Because BMW is a well-known brand, the prices of the parts needed are often inflated artificially.
Even though parts cost a lot, they are worth it because you know they will be good and last a long time.
Why Are BMWs So Expensive to Insure?
Yes, because they are a German luxury brand that focuses on performance and are made with fine specialty technology.
They needed to be taken care of by skilled mechanics and, most of the time, equipment from a BMW dealership.
Simple repairs become hard and expensive because of this.
Do BMWs Break Down a Lot?
Statistics are used to figure out how much it costs to insure a BMW.
The car is a luxury brand, so thieves and accidents are more likely to happen.
The insurance premium rates will go up if there are more claims about the brand.
How often do BMWs break down?
Most BMWs, especially the older ones, are very reliable cars. If the owner takes good care of their car and drives it carefully, it shouldn’t break down too often.