14 Best & Worst BMW 3 Series Years | 2023 Data

Everyone knows that BMW is a high-end, performance-oriented brand. One particular model that has really shown the company’s dedication to making high-quality sports cars and sedans is the 3 Series. But even the most lauded car companies occasionally release models that can produce models that fall below expectations.

The worst years to avoid BMW 3 Series are 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. The best years to buy BMW 3 Series are 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. This result was concluded from trustworthy sources such as NHTSA, Edmund, Car Complaints, J.D. Power, and Kelley Blue Book.

This article will examine the 3-Series from the past 20 years, focusing on their best and worst years.

Worst BMW 3 Series Years To Avoid

No definitive answer can be given to this question because people have different ideas about what makes a certain BMW model year desirable or undesirable.

However, based on popular customer reviews, the following are the BMW 3 Series years to avoid:

  • 2000 BMW 3 Series
  • 2005 BMW 3 Series
  • 2006 BMW 3 Series
  • 2007 BMW 3 Series
  • 2008 BMW 3 Series

5. Worst Year: 2000 BMW 3 Series (3.99 Rating)

Source: autoevolution

There were several complaints of automatic transmission problems on E46 cars manufactured in 2000 and earlier. The cooling system and suspension of the BMW E46 3 Series had their share of problems this year. Keeping these things in mind is crucial if you’re thinking about getting a 2000 model.

Reverse gear not working was the most prevalent complaint. Additionally, chassis problems, such as cracks at the mounting locations for the rear subframe, were more common in these E46 cars before the facelift. Leaks in the cooling system are another potential issue that necessitates regular servicing. You can avoid a lot of trouble by avoiding this model.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

4. Worst Year: 2005 BMW 3 Series (3.95 Rating)

Source: car magazine

When shopping for a used car, stay away from the 2005 model. In its first year, the new generation encountered several challenges. There were numerous issues with the electrical system and the engine’s reliability. Common issues with this model included oil leaking from the engine, coolant leaking from the engine and radiator, plastic engine fittings breaking, worn suspension bushes, and replacing brake pads frequently.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

3. Worst Year: 2008 BMW 3 Series (3.80 Rating)

Source: Edmunds

Once again, this was a challenging year, with complaints about everything from engine reliability to suspension noise. For the 2008 BMW 3 Series, things only get worse. NHTSA is still receiving reports of engine difficulties, and Consumers Reports‘ reliability rating has dropped to 1. The frequency of electrical problems is likewise quite high for this model.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

2. Worst Year: 2007 BMW 3 Series (3.59 Rating)

Source: newcartestdrive

The 2007 3 Series is an exception to the rule that manufacturers often iron out first-year issues when the following model year’s vehicles hit the market. Owners report more engine problems to the NHTSA, and Consumer Reports lowers the reliability score to 2.

The N54 engine was the initial turbocharged engine that BMW mass-produced. Despite its great performance, it developed several serious problems over time. The N54’s early fuel pump failures were a typical problem that caused the engine to go into limp mode or not start at all.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

1. Worst Year: 2006 BMW 3 Series (3.19 Rating)

Source: car magazine

If a brand-new model receives a high volume of complaints in its first year, it’s prudent to skip that model. With over a hundred engine problems reported to the NHTSA, this model year is definitely not one to be considered.

One of the most prevalent problems with this model year, among other electrical faults that might arise with time, is the steering lock problem. When the lock on the steering column gives out, you’ll be unable to turn the wheel or start the vehicle.

Owners frequently had to replace the entire steering rack because the steering lock would break long after the warranty had expired. There were a lot more complaints for this model year because of the notorious Takata airbag recall, which caused metal pieces to burst onto the faces of passengers upon deployment.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

Best BMW 3 Series Years To Buy Used

What year of the used BMW 3 Series is considered the most reliable depends on many factors.  Here are the BMW 3 Series years that stand out as exceptionally reliable.

  • 2012 BMW 3 Series
  • 2013 BMW 3 Series
  • 2016 BMW 3 Series
  • 2017 BMW 3 Series
  • 2019 BMW 3 Series
  • 2020 BMW 3 Series
  • 2021 BMW 3 Series
  • 2022 BMW 3 Series
  • 2023 BMW 3 Series

9. Best Year: 2020 BMW 3 Series (4.11 Rating)

Source: carview

Even after its facelift last year, the 2020 BMW 3 Series remains one of the most prestigious compact luxury sport sedans on the market. Even though it’s three inches larger and 1.5 inches wider than the previous generation, this seventh-generation vehicle is just as nimble and solid over rapid corners.

Keeping with the previous model, this one has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gets a little more power and more torque at low RPMs. And the new M340i, with its six-cylinder engine choice, is back for 2020. Surprisingly economical for its performance, the 330i xDrive achieves 28 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

8. Best Year: 2021 BMW 3 Series (4.14 Rating)

Source: expansion

As a compact luxury vehicle, the 2021 BMW 3 Series excels in handling, has a powerful engine selection, gets above-average gas mileage, and has a roomy cabin. The G20 generation of the BMW 3-Series was completed in 2021 with two new models: the 330e PHEV and the most recent version of the legendary BMW M3.

Introduced in 2020, the performance-oriented M340i also received a new mild hybrid system that improves acceleration and makes the stop-start system smoother. In 2021, Android Auto was also made standard, following Apple CarPlay’s 2020 standardization.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

7. Best Year: 2019 BMW 3 Series (4.16 Rating)

Source: PakWheels

The 2019 BMW 3 Series is a fantastic option for a used luxury compact car. The BMW 3 Series is available in three distinct body styles, and it boasts potent engines, responsive handling, a comfortable ride, and good fuel economy.

Its cabin has two spacious and supportive rows of seats and many essential and optional devices. There is a lot of space for cargo in it. But compared to its rivals, the 3 Series falls far short regarding interior quality and infotainment system use.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

6. Best Year: 2013 BMW 3 Series (4.25 Rating)

Source: motor beam

For the 2013 model year, Consumer Reports‘ reliability rating fell to 3, but still it is one of the best models in terms of reliability. No matter which trim level you choose, the 2013 BMW 3 Series is a fantastic all-arounder and a lot of fun to drive. The 2013 BMW 3 Series has a complete redesign from the previous year, adding standard power front seats, a new M Sport option line, and the return of the xDrive all-wheel-drive technology.

Additionally, a new 320i trim level is available exclusively in sedan body form and is priced lower. In the meanwhile, 2013 sees the introduction of the ActiveHybrid3 sedan, which is both incredibly expensive and offers a combined 28 mpg.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

  • Edmunds: 4.0/5.0 consumer reviews.
  • J.D. Power: 79/100 consumer ratings.
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5/5.0 consumer and 4.2/5 expert ratings.

5. Best Year: 2012 BMW 3 Series (4.33 Rating)

Source: lrnc.cc

Even though it doesn’t have the most cutting-edge design or amenities, the 2012 BMW 3 Series is nonetheless a fantastic car to drive. Aside from being the most boring vehicle ever made, this one had no real flaws. A famous automotive website, Edmunds, picked this year as one of their best-used cars.

Its exceptional performance is the result of its premium suspension and hardware. BMW is only releasing the new sedan for this year. The only change is that the coupe, convertible, and wagon—all of which come highly recommended—now come standard with a few more items.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

  • Edmunds: 4.4/5.0 consumer reviews.
  • J.D. Power: 81/100 consumer ratings.
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5/5.0 consumer and 4.2/5 expert ratings.

4. Best Year: 2023 BMW 3 Series (4.39 Rating)

Source: car buzz

The seventh-generation BMW 3-Series got some subtle exterior upgrades for the 2023 model year, like new wheels, bumpers, headlights, and grille. The new curved display, which takes up two-thirds of the dashboard and merges the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with the massive 14.9-inch infotainment screen, is even more remarkable.

It also has the most recent iDrive 8 software, which has improved speech recognition and now lets you control the sunroof and windows. The 330i 2.0-liter inline-4, the M340i 3.0-liter inline-6, the 330e plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, and the top-of-the-line M3 are the four basic trim options to pick from.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

3. Best Year: 2017 BMW 3 Series (4.40 Rating)

Source: caricos

With the 2017 BMW 3 Series, the practice of giving high marks persists. With a top rating from Consumer Reports and minimal user complaints elsewhere, this model is highly recommended for shopping. Its engine options provide power, smoothness, and fuel economy, and its handling is crisp without being overly harsh.

The 2017 mid-range 3 Series vehicles get a more powerful four-cylinder engine and a rebranding (the 328i is now the 330i). The 340i now comes standard with the M Sport package, but you can swap it out for the Sport or Luxury package at no extra cost. The 328i continued to employ the N20 engine until the 2017 330i debuted, which had an upgraded version of the B48 engine with greater power.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

2. Best Year: 2016 BMW 3 Series (4.40 Rating)

Source: motor trend

The 2016 3 Series is one of the rare vehicles to receive a perfect score of 5 from Consumer Reports on reliability. And there is zero evidence from any other source that suggests otherwise.

In addition to aesthetic and functional upgrades, more dependable engine options were added to 2016 and later versions. It features a more powerful engine and comes standard with a 16-speaker radio.

The 330e plug-in hybrid has replaced the ActiveHybrid 3, which has been withdrawn. New features include LED headlights, a navigation system that can be updated remotely, and a package called Track Handling that takes the place of the Dynamic Handling package.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

1. Best Year: 2022 BMW 3 Series (4.40 Rating)

Source: caranddriver

Among the various recent and vintage BMW 3 Series cars, the 2022 model year stands out as the most dependable year. As a result of its high reliability score, it is considered a very dependable automobile.

Turbocharged 330i, plug-in hybrid 330e, M-tuned M340i, and high-performance M3 variants are available for the 2022 BMW 3 Series. Both come standard with rear-wheel drive, whereas BMW offers an optional all-wheel-drive technology called xDrive.

Considering its performance, the 330i xDrive’s 28 mpg combined city/highway rating is quite impressive.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

Common BMW 3 Series Problems

Over the years, the BMW 3 series has had a few issues, such as these:

  • Problems with oil leaking
  • Turbocharged engine and cooling issues
  • Problems with the timing chain
  • Failure of the serpentine belt
  • Infotainment system problems
  • Electrical issues
  • Problems with fuel injectors
  • Accumulation of carbon
  • VANOS problems
  • Breakdown of the fuel pump


Is the BMW 3 Series a reliable car?

Owning a BMW 3 Series is a risk-free investment due to its high reliability. The exceptional reliability ratings given by Consumer Reports for the 2020–2023 model years are 4 or 5. J.D. Power bestowed a reliability rating of 81 out of 100 on the 2022 model year.

What is the maximum mileage for a BMW 3 Series?

A BMW may not be the most reliable vehicle, but it is sturdy and can go up to 500,000 miles (804672 km) on a regular maintenance schedule.

Which generation of BMW 3 Series is the most reliable?

The best 3 Series model to date is the fourth-generation E46 BMW 3 Series. It sold over 3.2 million cars throughout its decades, making it the most successful BMW model ever.

What are the other alternatives for the BMW 3 Series?

  • Audi A5
  • Audi A4
  • BMW 4-Series
  • Acura TLX
  • Infiniti Q50
  • Genesis G70

Wrap Up

This BMW model series has been around since 1975 and is still going strong now. It is now in its sixth generation, and buyers agree that it is one of the best options for the money. The greatest issues with this model were in 2006, 2007, and 2008. However, the BMW 3 Series 2022 model is a highly reliable model year.

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