BMW X3 Problems: 7 Most-Common Issues (Explained)

BMW vehicles are renowned for their ultimate driving experience, and the BMW X3 is no exception. It has all the qualities you expect from a luxury compact crossover from BMW, but it also has a few common issues.

On this page, you will find the 7 most common issues with the BMW X3.

Check also: Common problems with the BMW X1 models.

1) Engine Oil Leakage; Worn Out Valve Cover & Gasket In The BMW X3

Oil leaks are a major problem for any vehicle. The BMW X3 used vehicles were reported to have oil leakage by the drivers.

The X3 has a plastic valve cover which was said to be the reason behind the leakage.

That is because the plastic valve cover wears out more easily than other materials. Another reason for this issue can be deteriorating valve cover gaskets. 

Both of these issues can cause the engine oil to leak.

Since both the valve cover and gaskets are exposed to a lot of heat and stress, it’s no wonder that they may wear out if proper maintenance is neglected.

Removing and replacing the gaskets is easy and cheap because you don’t have to do it very often.

But if you notice any cracks on the valve cover, or perhaps it’s worn out, take the vehicle to a mechanic for a valve cover replacement.

In addition, here are a few reasons that could also cause engine oil leakage in the BMW X3:

  • A worn-out oil filter can cause oil leakage because the filter is responsible for preserving the engine against contaminants in the oil. If the filter is faulty, it can damage the engine.. Hence, it’s best to take the vehicle to a mechanic for inspection.
  • Another reason oil leaks from the engine is a broken filler cap. Sometimes the filler cap is slightly loose, which lets the oil out. It’s very easy to tell whether this has happened or not because there are oil puddles either underneath the BMW X3 vehicle or around the engine itself. However, fixing this issue is very easy, either readjust the cap filler or buy a new one.

2) Sunroof Problems: Rattling & Leakage

The sunroof might rattle on opening it. Although this issue is most common in the first generation BMW X3 vehicles, it might happen in newer models too.

This sunroof problem creates a jarring sound that gets in the way of enjoying driving a BMW X3.

Even though this engine doesn’t mess with the vehicle’s drivability, it can still interfere with a smooth driving experience. Fortunately, the repair is free for those with a factory warranty.

If not, it’s an easy fix that you can do at home. Get some felt tape and add it to the areas that are causing the rattling.

Another problem that accompanies the sunroof is water leakage during rain. While replacing the sunroof is an option, you can also clean the drains and reseal the vapor barrier.

Here are other reasons why this might happen.

  • The flexing on the roof panel stiffeners is another contribution to the rattling.
  • The sunroof glass might be loose.
  • There’s a problem with the sunroof mechanism; it might be jammed.
  • Driving over bumps or uneven surfaces can cause a minimal rattling noise.

If you cannot locate where the rattling noise is coming from, perform a test drive with the sunroof in tilt and fully open position.

The sunroof of the BMW X3 vehicle often jams during the tilting or opening operation. It could be because of some screws that are loose and cause the rattling.

You can take the vehicle to a mechanic for sunroof fixing or any possible replacement.

3) Timing Belt Guide Failures

Most vehicles like the BMW X3 have plastic-made timing chain guides, while others have metal ones. That is because metal-on-metal contact is problematic for any engine.

Although the timing chain guides are plastic, they can still cause many issues for the BMW X3’s engine.

The timing chain is connected to the crankshaft and camshaft with the help of these guides. But the X3 guides are made of plastic which might be prone to breaking.

The breakage can throw the engine timing off during driving and result in excessive damage to the engine. It might also bring up the need for a new engine due to the damage.

The result depends on how soon you catch the problem. If it’s early enough, all you would have to do is change the guides and correct the engine timing to prevent any major incidents from occurring.

If you continue to drive with a thrown-off timing, it could result in a total engine failure mid-journey, and the repair costs will be as hefty as $5000 or more.

In addition, here’s how you can tell if the engine’s timing is jacked up:

  • The vehicle cannot drive as smoothly as before. For instance, rough idling, poor handling, etc.
  • The X3 engine makes a loud whining noise while driving.
  • There’s a significant lack of power in the engine, which results in poor acceleration and the driver’s inability to power it up by stepping on the gas pedal.
  • A knocking or rattling noise is coming from the engine.
  • Oil leakage is another major indication that the engine timing is off.
  • If the engine misfires, there might be a problem with the timing chain or timing chain guides.
  • The engine makes a ticking sound created from within the motor.
  • You may hear the engine engage as you turn the key, but it won’t be able to start if there’s an issue with the timing belt or its guides.

While most vehicles have a timing belt failure indicator light, that’s not the case with the BMW X3.

You can take the vehicle to a mechanic for possible fixing before it causes more damage, and you have to replace the whole engine.


4) Window Regulator Malfunction

Another common problem in the BMW X3 vehicle is the window rattle or window regulator malfunction.

Although the replacement is not that costly, it’s always safe to know why it happens and how to prevent it from happening.

You can tell if there’s a problem with the window’s regulator if they either do not close or open. The noise coming from the door seals every time you try to open the windows can be another indicator of a regulator malfunction.

When the door seals collect dust and dirt during driving, they might loosen up a little bit, which can result in excessive vibrations, and it may seem as if the sound is created by the windows.

Sometimes the issue can be fixed by cleaning the door seals with some kind of cleaning additive.

Here are some other reasons why the windows of the BMW X3 could be rattling:

  • The weatherstripping is compromised. Sometimes, when the window is not airtight, it can make a rattling sound due to the high wind.
  • The window sash no longer fits its track. A loosened sash causes the windows to rattle during driving.
  • Loose window glass is another reason why windows rattle.

You can either tighten the loose parts yourself or get the entire window replaced if you fear there’s more damage to it.

5) Overheating Problems & Coolant Leaks

An engine overheating can be stressful, especially when you don’t know why. Although the BMW X3 has an impressive six-cylinder engine with high-thrust power, it may sometimes overheat.

The main reason behind this overheating could be a cooling system malfunction. For instance, if there are coolant leaks under the vehicle, it might be the culprit causing the engine to overheat.

Cooling system failures are usually due to bad housing or a faulty thermostat. Sometimes, a bad radiator may be the issue.

Moreover, it is never safe to drive a vehicle with an overheated engine. Pull over and get the vehicle towed if you fear the engine is overheating.

Here are some additional reasons why the engine would overheat:

  • The faulty thermostat is not cooling the engine down effectively. The thermostat can be stuck open or not opening/closing at proper intervals.
  • The vehicle may not have a factory-recommended level of coolant; it might be completely low.
  • The water pump that pushes the coolant toward the engine might be broken.
  • The overheating might be due to a broken fan. If the vehicle continuously overheats while idling, it may be an issue with the fan’s functioning.
  • To cool down, the coolant flows through the fins of the radiator inside the engine bay. The fins might get clogged, preventing the coolant from reaching the engine. You can remove the debris that blocks the radiator fins to maintain the coolant’s proper flow.
  • If you don’t ensure that the air pockets are out of the entire cooling system after flushing the coolant, it might cause the whole system to jam. That results in the BMW X3 vehicle’s engine overheating. Check the maintenance manual for instructions on how to properly bleed the coolant from the vehicle.
  • A busted radiator cap can cause low coolant pressure, which messes with the coolant flow toward the engine. It can result in the BMW X3’s engine overheating.
  • Although it’s very rare to happen, a low oil situation can prevent the coolant from doing its job. Hence, to keep the engine from overheating, fill the oil to a factory-recommended level.

Take the above-mentioned measures for inspection if the vehicle seemingly overheats during driving. Take the vehicle to the nearest service station for proper solutions.

6) Steering Problems In The BMW X3: Heavy & Difficult To Control

Some drivers of the BMW X3 with a sports steering feature report that the steering often becomes difficult to control and feels “heavy”.

As the X3 is known for its incredible idling, a steering problem can be a major obstacle in the way of that.

In addition, heavy steering would not allow you to make any turns on the road with traffic, increasing the risk of accidents.

Although replacing the steering is always an easy solution, here are some reasons why the steering might become stiff.

  • Low power steering fluid or leakage can cause the steering to become stiff.
  • If the serpentine belt breaks, it can cause the steering to be stiff and result in difficulty while turning the vehicle. A crack in the belt may also have the same effect.
  • A damaged power steering pump may also prevent the steering from turning over.
  • The steering rack can be damaged from exposure to road dirt and very high temperatures. It may also interfere with proper steering.
  • The steering fluid can often get thicker, causing the steering wheel to jam. Replacing the fluid will help with the steering.
  • The steering system may also get misaligned, making the steering wheel feel heavier to operate.

7) Loss Of Brake Power & Turbo Issues

The BMW X3’s brake vacuum pump needs a lot of lubrication. Otherwise, it could lose power.

The manufacturers recommend that the brake vacuum pump is lubricated regularly. If you fail to do that, it may result in an expensive repair.

Here are a few reasons why the X3 vehicle might suffer the loss of brake power.

  • Vacuum hose failure.
  • There might be electrical issues inside the unit.
  • Another reason the vehicle might experience a brake power loss is broken belts.

There are some ways to tell if the vacuum pump is failing, such as vacuum leaks. Other issues include:

  • Poor fuel efficiency can be another indication that there’s something wrong with the vacuum pump. Often there’s a hissing sound from the place with the vacuum leak indicating a pump failure.
  • The brake pedals become hard to press due to excessive pressure build-up inside the brake lines.
  • The oil leakage from the left or right side of the engine can indicate a vacuum pump failure.
  • If the AC unit of the BMW X3 suddenly stops working, it means there might be a pump failure.

In addition, the BMW X3 might develop some turbo-related problems.

The main indicator of this is the smoke coming out of the exhaust every time the oil drips from it.

It could be because the turbo seal is blown. The issue can be fixed by replacing the blown turbo seal.

Engine Stalling Issue

One of the most common issues with the BMW X3 is that its engine stalls due to a problem with the fuel tank.

It could be that the engine isn’t receiving enough fuel to function properly. Other reasons why the X3 engine may stall are:

  • The vehicle has a bad battery.
  • There’s an electrical problem within the car that’s preventing the engine from running.
  • A bad torque converter is another reason why the engine won’t crank up.

General Pros And Cons Of The BMW X3:


  • The interior of the BMW X3 feels and looks extremely luxurious.
  • The vehicle has good rear-seat spacing.
  • With its advanced driving modes and sporty handling, it offers both the choice of a diesel and petrol engine.
  • The brakes on the vehicle are easy to modulate.
  • Easy-to-use controls on the dashboard
  • The X3 has an extra cargo space.


  • Engine oil leaks
  • Steering might become a little stiff
  • Window regulator malfunctions
  • Engine overheats
  • Cooling system problems

What Do The Reviews Say?

“The acceleration is strong, and the steering is highly responsive. Nothing feels superfluous, although if you have the opportunity to upgrade to premium sound, I would. Mileage this far has been terrific.”

Source: (

“Due to supply chain issues, most BMWs are missing a wireless charger, mine did not come with one. Inside, everything feels premium, from all the buttons to the new 10-inch screen.”

Source: (

What Is the Resale Price of a BMW X3?


Year Mileage Price
2018 22.96 Mpg $44,300
2019 23.23 Mpg $37,994
2020 23.36 Mpg $58,980
2021 23.76 Mpg $60,700

For more on the X3, take a look at our article about the best and worst years for the BMW X3.

Problems for every BMW model


2022 BMW X3 Consumer Reviews (

BMW X3: Well-built but with some problems (

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.