BMW F30 – 3 series (2011 – 2019) – Buyers guide & Common problems

The BMW F30 has said its goodbye from production in the first half of 2019. The earlier production models from 2011-2014 are becoming very reasonably priced. This is making them more attractive with each day to the used car buyer. The F30 was a big success for BMW and is a popular option for the used car buyers. Here is the rundown of all its faults and problems we discovered through BMW’s official recalls and owner forums.

Major faults

  • The 2.0 N47 diesel engines (316d, 318d, 320d, 325d, and 330d) that were in the cars until the facelift (until 2016) 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.
  • Following the N47 diesel problems is the common early dual-mass flywheel damage in cars with a manual transmission. This requires the replacement of the flywheel and clutch. This cost around 1000 EUR or 1200 USD. The first signs of a bad flywheel are the rattling noises when starting up the car and the unpleasant vibrations when switching gears. Some owners report harder than usual upwards and downwards shifting as well.
  • This is logical but many of the owners of cars with an automatic transmission reported that the regular service interval for oil and filter changing seems too long. Some stated that the transmission wasn’t working smoothly anymore before reaching its first service. So keep track of the oil level and condition, this is an easy task for the mechanic.
  • We already talked about the BMW N20 engine problem in our review of the BMW F25 X3. Please see that article to learn all the faults of the N20 engines. Avoiding the N20 engine before January of 2015 is what you need to know.
  • Just like the X3 F25 BMW, the F30 also suffers from noisy and vibrating steering column problems that can be incredibly expensive to repair (up to 3700$). Most of the noise and vibration of the steering column can be felt at low speeds (35-45 mph).

Other and minor faults

  • Owners who drove their diesel-powered F30s mainly in cities and in short distances reported blocked EGR valves and DPF filters. If the blockage is identified early enough only cleaning will do, otherwise changing these valves and filters is the only way to go.
  • All F30s are known for early engine starter faults.
  • Cars equipped with electronically adjustable suspension systems tend to make strange rattling noises around the back suspension. It is not an indicator of a fault but the noise tends to get annoying.
  • A large number of owners report damaged climate control condensers. This is probably due to exposure to damage during driving (small rocks hitting it).
  • Owners also report unusually fast wear of the original brake discs and pads.

Body and interior problems

  • Some cases of water leakage inside the cars have been reported from both sedan and wagon body styles. The leak is caused by a damaged seal around the rear lights.
  • Some owners report loud wind hissing inside the cabin at higher speeds.
  • The BMW F30 is known for sensitive body paint (fast chipping from small rocks and pebbles).
  • Many owners report small but annoying sounds coming from the door panels and dashboard. There are also several reports of rattling noise coming from under the armrest.
  • Many owners also report problems with cracked center console buttons on the F30 3 Series. Replacement buttons cost around 60$.
  • In early pre-2012 models of the BMW F30, there are problems with rust forming on the front seat frames. Post-2012 models have received a corrosion protection treatment.
  • F30s with sunroofs and panoramic roofs are prone to develop water leaks especially if they were involved in accidents. Replacing the seals should resolve the issue.
bmw f30 3 series from the back

Electronic problems

  • A large number of owners report unwanted activation of the safety feature that protects you from your hand or something caught in the side windows. This problem is avoided by cleaning and lubricating the window seals. In some cases, a factory reset of the function is needed.
  • Earlier model BMW F30 has problems with the multimedia system causing the screen to go black, the system to freeze, and the parking assistant to not work. The problems are usually solved with a factory system reset.
  • BMW F30 Hybrid models have a common problem with the charging control unit (KLE unit).

Official recalls

  • 5th of July 2013. Recall because of a fault on the transmission. For cars made between February and July of 2013.
  • 6th of January 2015. Recall because of safety belt issues. For cars made between September 2014 and March of 2015.
  • 8th of June 2015. Recall because of a fault on the fuel pump. For cars made between September 2013 and April of 2014.
  • 4th of October 2016. Recall because of the steering system problems. For cars made between January of 2015 and September of 2016.
  • 20th of August 2018. Recall because of a problem on the crankshaft sensor. For cars made between May of 2018 and June of 2018.

Our recommendation

If the BMW F30 is still too expensive for you we would recommend buying a late model BMW E90. They both have quite a few problems but buying a cheap BMW F30 is certainly not a good idea. And the E90 still looks insanely good for its age! Check out our E90 buyer’s guide.

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