BMW X5 Problems to Expect
Hey guys and welcome back to another video on the SimpleCarGuy channel. Today, we will look into some common problems you can expect on the 3rd generation BMW X5 which is also known as the F15. We’ll discuss the best year AND model to buy if your main concern is reliability and which version to avoid, if any.
In this generation there were a few different versions of the car. There was the BMW 35i that came in RWD as well as AWD configuration and had the same N55 engine. The more powerful version of the X5 was the xDrive50i powered by the N63 engine which is what this car has as well as my BMW 550i, so I’m pretty familiar with this one. The last version was the xDrive 40e with the N20 engine combined with a hybrid system. I don’t know much about the diesels or the X5M, so I will not be talking about those versions here.
Before we continue, don’t forget to hit that like button for YouTube Algorithm and leave a comment letting me know which version you’d want to own.
Now let’s talk about some common issues across the range that are not dependent on the engine. We will get into the engines shortly. Of course, each car is different and even though some of these are common issues, they may never happen to your car, but then again you can easily have multiple issues I talk about here as well, even if you take good care of your car.
The most common issue people have reported is leather cracking on the side of the seat. Just something to look out for as it can cost a decent amount to repair if you’re out of warranty.
Another commonly reported issue is squeaks coming out of the steering column as well as the rattles from the tailgate when driving on rougher terrain and wind blowing through the driver’s door seals at high speeds. The latter one can be fixed with a simple door adjustment, but still something to be aware of.
A little less common, but some X5 cars will have water leaking from the drain tubes in the sunroof after a heavy rain or car wash. If you are looking to buy a BMW X5, check the roof liner and the rest of the interior to make sure there is no water damage.
If car has rear air suspension, the bags can develop little pin holes or leak air in other ways as well. Not only will the car sag after sitting for some time, but that also means the compressor will have to work overtime and can fail prematurely. A lot of them come with springs, but if you have the 3rd row seats, there is a chance you have air suspension.
I have also seen a lot of people reporting issues with the car not shutting down on the first press of the start/stop button, this isn’t something you can fix at home and a dealer visit is required.
BMW xDrive35i/sDrive35i (2013-2018) N55:
Now let’s break it down to specific models. We’ll start with the BMW sDrive35i and the xDrive35i that were available from 2013-2018. The difference between the two is that the xDrive version is of course all wheel drive. These cars come with the n55 engine and I’ll start by saying that this will be the most reliable engine you can get in this car. Does this mean you won’t have any issues? Of course not, but luckily BMW had pretty much figured out the N55 engine by 2013 and any issues they had in the early years were mostly solved. Most notably the rod bearing issues that the early n55 engines suffered from have been taken care of. If you’d like to see what kind of damage that can cause, check out my BMW N55 engine rebuild series!
Some issues you CAN expect to have on these N55 engines would be the oil filter housing gasket leak, which in itself isn’t that big of a deal, but if the oil goes onto your serpentine belt, it can cause all kinds of issues. It’s best to replace it as soon as there is any noticeable seepage.
Another issue that seems to be common and not fixed by BMW is the plastic charge pipe that can crack and cause boost issues. It’s a very popular upgrade for anyone with the N55 engine, even if they are not seeking more power or thinking of tuning.
BMW xDrive50i (2013-2018) N63TU:
Next let’s take a look at the xDrive50i with the n63tu engine produced between 2013 and 2018. This is the car we have here and of course the most fun out of the bunch with lots of power to play with. If you Google issues on the N63 engine, you will get a list long enough to make you cry, but luckily, most of those posts are about the original N63 engine which is not what this car has. The X5 has the updated version, the n63TU, which is a very important distinction. Not only does it have 40 more horse power, but it’s also much more reliable and does not suffer from the same issues.
I’ve done a lot of research on this engine as I have the exact same engine in my BMW 550i and all things considered, this is a pretty reliable twin turbo V8. Personally, I have not had any issues with the engine and I’ve only had to replace the ignition coils and spark plugs on mine. The owner of this X5 has also had to replace a couple ignition coils as the engine was misfiring.
Oil consumption is normal if thinner oils are used or not changed as often, but if you see some smoke out of the tail pipes, it could be much worse. This X5 has had its Valve seals replaced at just (See miles) miles. That’s a VERY expensive, over $10k, job from the dealer, that luckily for this owner was done under warranty. If you go with an indy shop, it can cost as much as $5000 to do.
Of course, there are other minor issues that can creep up on this engine, but nothing too excessive. I’ve seen reports of leaking oil pump gaskets, oil pan gaskets and maybe a head gasket leak here and there but nothing engine destructive. I recommend this engine if you like power and luxury all built into one car.
BMW xDrive40e (2015-2018) N20 Hybrid Combo:
The last model we will take a quick look at is the xDrive40e that was available from 2015 to 2018 and is using a hybrid combo system with the n20 engine. This is heaviest of the bunch and the most complex out of the X5s. While it’s using the updated n20 engine, these are known for timing chain and timing chain tensioner issues as well as rod bearing issues. I’m sure this engine is not very stressed with the help of the hybrid system, but it is a very complex vehicle. The only consistent issue I saw people complain about is the issue with charging at home where it fails to initiate randomly.
While BMW’s X5 is a very fun SUV that provides luxury and sportiness and is overall a great package, just like any other BMW, there are some problems to expect and I hope this video has helped you make a better decision or prepared you for ownership. So, which model should you go with? As far as reliability, I would say the sDrive35i with the n55 engine will most likely give you the least amount of trouble, but the xDrive50i with the n63tu engine is not a bad buy either and a lot more fun to drive. I would avoid the xDrive40e due to complexity and the less reliable N20 engine. The production year difference is pretty much negligible as there were no updates through the production run. That’s about it for this video, thank you for watching, don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the channel for a lot more car content and I’ll see you in the next one!