I agree with the comment above. It's not just BMW, but a lot of other brands known for quality which can and do suffer build and reliability issues just like everything else.
My brother-in-law has just sold his Audi A4 TDI Quattro which has needed over £1,500 worth of dealer attention in the past 18 months outside of routine servicing. A leaking windscreen, juddering clutch, weeping heater matrix, a temperature gauge fault and worn bushes in the front suspension. This car was four years old with just 44,000 genuine miles on the clock. He had owned the car from new.
Parts prices on German cars are a joke too. Nearly £700 for the clutch kit for example. Plus fitting and VAT!
The Germans build very solid cars with a lovely "over engineered" feel, but never assume they are any more reliable than the mainstream manufacturers. Some are, some aren't. It's the luck of the draw.
I bought a 2001 M5 as my first new car (and my 11th car ever). Within a few months I had to replace my rear tires because the wheel wells ate the tires, BMW rolled up the wheel wells a bit and told me it happens. They insist my car's ride height is correct, but I doubt it.
After about 20k miles I had to have my engine replaced (free) - the story? I noticed that sometimes the 'service engine' light would come on and my car would enter 'limp' mode wherein my 400hp car would pretend to have 200hp - restarting the car fixed it, but I took it in to service to check it out. They advised me that cylinder 1 misfired and it happens. Over the course of 18 months this happened with increasing frequency and eventually the dealer acknowledged their may be a problem. They found that due to a manufacturing defect some metal bit found it's way into cylinder 1 and chewed it up. They gave me a new engine free and broke and replaced the windshield in the process. Also the hood has never sat properly since (it's crooked now).
There is a long list of minor problems the car has always exhibited for example the rear passenger window makes a loud clacking sound whenver it is closed from fully open. Also the AC tends to whistle loudly as does the transmission (ever since the engine replacement).
With my new engine came a 2 year warranty which expired a few months ago. I took the car in to buy an extended warranty which required a pre-sales inspection. They found about $2500 worth of work that had to be done first - all of it related to leaking fluids. It turns out that I brought my car in for a fluid replacement/inspection service a few months before the engine warranty expired and they found nothing wrong. I am told by the service rep that these leaks take years to develop and are somewhat unusual for a car with 34k miles (the engine has 1/2 that many!) - clearly these three leaks did not develop in the 3.5 months between my fluid service and my pre-warranty sale inspection.
This car is my 3rd BMW and probably my last. I am extremely disappointed in the build quality and even more disappointed in the way BMW is handling it. It should not take 18 months to convince them that a repeating engine failure as indicated by their diagnostic system is indicative of a problem. They should admit that they intentionally or through incompetence failed to notice and correct warranted problems prior to warranty expiration that they noticed thereafter and volunteer to pay for the repair.
I have a 2000 BMW 318ci, and recently the car has been having problems starting. The problem only happens when the car is warm. As you start the car the starter motor is turning over, but the rev counter starts to go up and down without the car even started. Also the telltale light comes on and off, but the car just won't start until it's cold again.
If anybody could have any ideas on to repair this problem, I would really appreciate it!!
I own a 528I, and I'm replacing the engine as we speak! I didn't realize that the E39's had so many problems, but I've found out first hand. This has cost me over 3600k to fix and I know there are more problems to come. I do love the M5s' and may get one someday, but I'll have to rack up some money before making that decision.
I bought my BMW M5 brand new in 2008, at 90k! I've owned it for 2 and half years now, and right before I hit 50,000 miles, the engine malfunctioned and BMW decided to give me a brand new V-10 engine, shipping straight from Germany!! While it took them 6 weeks to put the engine in my car, I felt very upset with what they gave me to drive during that 6 weeks! I was planning on buying a new 2012 model when they come out, but now I think I just might just buy a Cadillac CTS-V! Yeah, I know it's not a BMW, but have you driven one of them!
By the way my M5 was a 6 speed manual transmission at my request, and the Cadillac CTS-V 6 speed manual BLOWS EVERYTHING ELSE AWAY! 210lbs of torque extra than the M5 equals insane quickness! Except it's not faster than the Porsche 911/twin-turbo!