BMW F10 5 series (2010 – 2017) – Buyers guide & Common problems

The BMW F10 5 series is now almost two years out of production and it’s been 9 years since it was first announced. The 5 series is still one of the most popular premium sport-orientated luxury sedans. This makes it very attractive for second-hand buyers. It still looks insanely good and it drives the same as it looks, great. Here is the verdict on all its problems and recalls. This is based on our analysis of owners’ forums and BMW official announcements.

Major faults

  • The older N47 diesel engines have problems with the camshaft tensioners and chain. The problem is first identifiable by a ringing noise from the engine. If the problem is ignored it can lead to serious engine damage. The same problem is present in the BMW F30.
  • 2.0 diesel engines experienced an intrusion of diesel fuel into the engine oil (oil dilution). This happens during the DPF regeneration cycle. It happened mostly with BMW F10s that are driven only in cities and the DPF regeneration was not possible because of low RPMs and constant cancelation of the regeneration process. This can be easily misdiagnosed with faulty and leaky fuel injectors.
  • Many owners of the BMW F10 5 Series report problems with failing automatic transmissions. Symptoms of transmission problems include jerking when downshifting, sudden loss of speed, rough gear changes, gear slipping, and loud clunking metallic noises. Some transmissions only suffer from software-related issues which can be easily fixed but others do develop serious mechanical faults that are not cheap to repair. Please see our articles on transmission problems and why a transmission starts shifting hard.
  • In our review of the BMW F25 X3, we talked about the serious issues with the N20 petrol engines made before 2015. The BMW F10 5 Series also suffers from the same issues. Read more about it here.
  • Although rare, there are reports of engines overheating in the BMW F10. These overheating events are mainly caused by a clogged or contaminated cooling system, faulty water pump, coolant leaks, and wrong coolants. Make sure that the F10 you are buying has had these problems taken care of.
  • A number of owners report premature failures of the belt tensioner of the F10 BMW 5 Series. These tensioners should last almost 130,000 miles but most owners tend to have them replaced even before these cars reach 60,000 miles. A faulty belt tensioner will make all kinds of noises, making sure you know something is wrong. Ignoring these weird sounds is not a good idea as a complete failure of a relatively inexpensive belt and tensioner can lead to major engine damage

Other and minor faults

  • A large number of owners report heavy wear on front tires.
  • Many owners report damage to the climate control condenser due to road exposure. The condenser is exposed to rocks and pebbles.
  • Early 2010-2011 models are prone to steering system problems, causing the car to pull on one side of the road. Owners also reported strange noises when rotating the steering wheel.
  • Some petrol-powered F10s experienced a sudden loss of power and engine failure warning signals appeared. This was due to a fault in the high-pressure fuel pump.

Body and interior problems

  • Early model wagon versions of BMW F10 experienced early rear air suspension failure. The rear suspension needed replacing before reaching 60,000 miles.
  • Many owners with chrome trims report unusual wear and chipping of chrome parts.
  • There is a problem with the quick-wear of interior and dashboard buttons.
  • Owners report bad quality of trunk lining.
  • Many owners of older BMW F10 model years report water leaks in the interior. The faulty part is a worn-out seal of the steering column that allows water to enter during rain and washing. This usually leads to soaked passenger cabin floors. Keep in mind that excess moisture can lead to mold. Replacing the steering column cover is the only solution.
  • Many owners of BMW F10s report problems with malfunctioning heated seats. There is usually a problem with the relay and the fuse that is responsible for the heated seats.
bmw f10 back

Electronic problems

  • Earlier models are experiencing light module problems. Most of the time replacing is necessary. The problem occurs due to corrosion.
  • Many owners report rear reverse camera failures.
  • Owners report the remote key functions not working during hot weather.
  • Due to high energy consumption, while the car is locked and turned off, many owners complain of quickly drained batteries.
  • A large number of owners complain about the slow responsiveness of the gas pedal.
  • Some owners are complaining about constant iDrive system problems and other multimedia features not working properly.

Official recalls

  • 27th of April 2012. Recall because of a fault on the coolant pump.
  • 26th of September 2012. Recall because of engine problems (only for M5). For cars made between July 2012 and October of 2012.
  • 20th of December 2013. Recall because of problems on the towing hitch. For cars made between June 2013 and November of 2013.
  • 28th of July 2015. Recall because of potential problems with the VANOS system. For cars made until December of 2011.

Our recommendation

When it comes to big luxury sedans there will always be some problems. These are big cars with plenty of components that are bound to fail as the car ages. The BMW F10 is actually a really reliable and well-put-together car compared to the Audi A6 that is his main German competitor. We would advise you to avoid the dreaded N47 or the 550i and go for the later models that have most of the early problems solved by the factory. Do check our used car buying guide before coming to a decision.

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