Muffler rusted through @ 85K miles.
Plastic interior pieces cracked @ 50K miles.
Headliner unglued @ 105K miles.
Door lock actuators broke every year it seems.
Break light circuit switch malfunctions once a year.
Coolant expansion tank cracked at 120,000 miles.
Front strut busted at 90,000 miles.
Minor leaks on valve cover gasket at 115000 miles.
Burned out dashboard lights- 85,000 miles.
Belt tensioners went bad at 80,000 miles
Control arm bushings replaced at 75000 miles.
Overall a good car. I bought it in 2002 with 48,000 miles. I drove until May 2008 and had 125,000 miles. A drunk driver plowed into the car and totaled it. Thankfully, no one was hurt. These cars are well built structurally.
Gets very good highway miles. Driving under 70mph on the interstate I would get over 30mpg. Over the life of the car (since 2002) it averaged about 23mpg.
The plastic parts do not last- Especially any plastic trim pieces exposed to sunlight. UNSAT!
Superb brakes! Handles very good. Excellent steering feel.
BMWs are not made to last any longer. They are very nice cars, but I would hate to own one beyond the waranty period. BMW's prior to the 90s were built to last and used high quality trim pieces. Newer cars- starting with the E36 build, used poor quality plastic trim and questionable material for mechnical parts.
The GM designed 4 speed automatic is prone to failure. If you have a 5spd manual, nothing to worry about. The automatics were difficult to service and not an easy task to accomplish at home. Mine made it to the end. But I made sure to replace tranny fluid every 30K miles as the book recommends.
Regular maintenence is easy, and for the most part all of my money was sunk into this area. The car never left me stranded. So I must admit it's completely reliable in my case.
I was only very disappointed with the quality of materials used in the car and some of the exterior trim. I did not replace these parts, simply because replacement parts didn't last and most were too expensive to justify replacing. I simply sunk my money in preventative maintenence and left it at that.
I loved the rear wheel drive and wish everyone would go back to it. I think it's one of the reasons the BMW is such a good handling car. Only wish mine had a limited slip differential.