BMW E87 1-Series Problems (2004-2013) – Buyers Guide & Reliability

BMW E87 1-Series Problems: BMW was able to blend into the hatchback market with the introduction of the 1-Series. The first-generation five-door hatchback car was introduced in 2004 in the small family hatchback segment where Volkswagen Golf was dominating since the beginning of time. Since then, BMW has been able to capitalize on the market and win many auto fans by developing a hatchback that can deliver both BMW driving dynamics and provide users with a premium feel.

This model, however, fell short of the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3. The rear-seat passengers may find this hatchback uncomfortable due to the limited space for their legs and heads. To make matters worse, the boot space is also quite small. After years of sales, problems began to emerge. Some problems were caused by technical flaws, prompting the manufacturer to issue recalls.

In this post, you will find the most common problems you need to watch out for if you’re planning to get a BMW E 87 1-Series. If you already own one, keep scrolling to find the faults and problems that should not be ignored. 

BMW E87 series 1: Overview

Since they started making this hatchback, this series has given users the same pleasure and excitement as the other cars in the BMW lineup. Being one of the biggest German automobile manufacturers, BMW had no plans to back down from fighting against the Audi hatches and Civic hatchbacks that already marked history with their lineups. 

While the hatchback segments are normally front or four-wheel drive, the 1 Series sends the power to the rear wheels. This gives the vehicle better balance while cornering, and the high-powered models can steer more accurately than their competitors. Thanks to the driving fun and blend of class, the ride is quite firm. 

The steering wheel adjustment and front-seat space have enabled most drivers to enjoy a comfortable driving position. Being in production for almost a decade does not mean this series is short of problems.

Common Problems of BMW E87 1 Series (2004 – 2013)

Engine Stalling Problems

The Series 1 model was recalled numerous times, as the engine tends to cut off often. The problem was caused due to the defective electrical wiring that affected the engine and other electrical components in the dashboard. Some users reported lights flickering on the dash. Meanwhile, others noticed the headlights switched off while the engine turned off. 

The problem was caused due to the defective electrical wiring that supplied power to the distribution box. During recalls, BMW made the necessary changes. 

Bosch coil pack problems on the petrol engines

Due to faulty Bosch coil packs, certain owners face BMW E87 1-Series Problems with a rough idle, engine li,p mode, heavy vibration and an overall lack of power. The source of the problem was faulty Bosch coil packs that were replaced by BMW for free. If you are buying a low mileage E87 1-Series, make sure the coil packs have been replaced.

N47 Engine timing chain failures

We talked about the dreaded N47 diesel engine in our reviews of the BMW X3 F25, E90 3-Series, the E60 5-Series and the F10 5-Series. This problem has sadly affected the E87 1-Series as well. Replacing the timing chain is neither easy nor cheap. When buying a car with the N47 engine, make sure that the timing chain has either been replaced or that there is not a 2-second rattle at cold engine startup.

Due to carbon buildup, the same N47 engine also faced issues with carbon deposit buildups on the intake manifold swirl flaps. This caused the swirl flaps to become jammed or to break off and get sucked into the engine. Not something you wish to experience. If you do buy a diesel E87 1-Series make sure to check the condition of the intake manifold once you buy it.

Water leaks and soaked rear seats

Due to blocked rear air vents/filters, water starts draining out of seat belt bolts and adjacent holes. This causes the rear seats to be completely soaked with water. There are two bolts under the car where this water can be drained and you will need to inspect the rear filters to fix the underlying cause of the flooding. For more information, refer to this forum thread.

E87 Rear Axle Issue

The BMW E87 1-Series hatchbacks manufactured between May and September 2004 faced issues related to the rear axles. The control arm was not fixed properly, causing the control arm connections to become loose over time. As a result, the exact wheel alignment could not be guaranteed. BMW had to make a recall to fix this issue. 

Malfunctioning Power Steering

Owners reported multiple issues for cars manufactured between June 2007 and December 2011 concerning their power steering system. The steering wheels lose power when the ECU in the integrated control module fails. 

At times, the EPS dashboard light starts to illuminate on its own. This model also caused directional control issues, which had to be maintained with driver input. BMW recalled most cars that faced this issue. 

Clutch Judder problems

A large number of E87 owners report problems with a juddering clutch when taking off in the first gear (manual transmissions only). This is happening on cars with clutches that are in good condition, so it is not a case of premature clutch wear necessarily although a new clutch does solve the problem for some time. However, to combat this problem BMW did release a software fix that did not fix the problem for the majority of people. 

Door Handle Issues

Do you notice issues with any of the door handles where it does not return to its original position after use? The door handles sticking out of the mounting after use is a common issue faced by most BMW series 1 model. This happens due to the failure of the catch and the door handle. 

To fix this issue, you will have to replace the door handle and the catch, which is costly. While replacing, make sure to get the handle of the same color, or you can try to get it painted in the same color as your car. 

Faulty ABS pump module issue

A number of BMW E87 1-Series owners report problems with the ABS pump module. As the ABS pump module fails, the ACS/DCS traction control warning light ignites and it cannot be disregarded until the underlying issue is solved. Diagnostic tools also reveal the “5E20 – HYDRAULIC PRESSURE SENSOR INTERNAL” error code.

BMW E87 1-Series Problems back picture

PDC unit problems and water damage

According to many owners, the reason for the flooding of the PDC unit is placed in the back of the vehicle (under the tail lights in the trunk). The flooding is a result of wrongfully fitted rear vents that let in water and condensation. Drying out the PDC unit can resolve the problem in some cases. As the flooding happens, a PDC error warning light comes up on the dashboard.

Random clock and mileage reset

Many E87 owners are faced with random clock and trip mileage reset with no further explanation by the car. However, it was later discovered that is the E87’s way of telling the owner that the battery is failing. Another symptom of this is a nonfunctioning Start/Stop system that should kick in once the engine is warmed up.

Fuel Pump Problems

One of the common BMW E87 1-Series Problems faced by most BMW Series 1 hatchback owners is fuel pump failures. With the pump being vulnerable to failures, they malfunction due to multiple reasons. The most common one is the lack of sufficient nickel-plating in the fuel pump. The petrol you use to juice your car has lots of chemicals. 

Some of these harsh, toxic chemicals can damage the entire fuel system and other components. This is why you must treat the fuel pump properly with a nickel coating to avoid failure. If you encounter this issue, you will have to change the defective fuel pump and get a new one soon.

Uneven tire wear

Another common BMW E87 1-Series problem comes as a consequence of the unnecessary camber alignment pins, many BMW E87 1-Series owners find themselves dealing with uneven tire wear, especially on the outsides of the tire. We say unnecessary camber pins because many owners decide to remove those pins and find all of their issues are gone. Easy fix.

Final Thoughts 

When the BMW E87 Series 1 was initially launched, it took over the spotlight from the 3- series and was known as the most economical hatchback in the market. This led to this series being high in demand due to its excellent drivability, and sporty looks. Most of the BMW E87 1-Series Problems are not as serious as it seems, avoiding the problematic N47 diesel engine and looking for cars with a full-service history will prevent major headaches in the future.

Throughout the years, it enabled the drivers to enjoy a consistent ride quality even with the rear wheel power set up. However, just like any other vehicle, it is not devoid of rattles and is known for numerous issues that arise over time. 

If the issues are rectified on time, it will not affect the overall reliability of the hatchback. In some instances, the defects remain unresolved due to the following reasons:

  • When the users ignore the manufacturer’s letter for recall.
  • The users were not aware of the recall at all. 

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