BMWs get a bad reputation for reliability and quite unfairly. There is good reason for many peoples fear of German cars in general, but generally BMW and Mercedes have been pretty solid cars and, at least used to, have a good reputation. It’s been tarnished, though, by the fact that some other brands might not be as reliable as some would want. For example, Volkswagens are often cited on car research websites as having reliability issues.
BMWs, though, are much more reliable than some would let you believe. The thing with BMW, and any premium car for that matter, is that they require maintenance. If you want to own a BMW you’re going to have to take care of it as if it were a child. They require oil changes done at the right time, using the correct oil and not knock off brands from Walmart. If you maintain your BMW it will last forever. At least the engine will.
The problem with BMWs is all the little stuff. This, admittedly, can become frustrating. In older models it’s stuff like window regulators and door locks. But in newer models it’s electronic gremlins that get you.
Certain models are more reliable than others, also. For instance, as an E36 owner I can tell you that it isn’t a very reliable car. Sure the engine is bulletproof; it has 239,000 miles on it and runs like a champ. However, the two front windows don’t roll down. And the driver’s side door handle just broke. And so did the heater core. And the fuel pump. Basically some important stuff and some not so much. Granted a car with almost 240,000 miles is allowed to have some things break and not be called unreliable, so maybe I was being hard on it.
But that comes with owning something that’s been built to meticulous standards, it needs meticulous taking care of. And that’s fine, just take care of your BMW and it will last forever. A BMW inline-six is one of the more reliable engines out there, so just change the oil and fix the little crap. Also make sure you use a good body shop with experience in fixing high-end cars, or if you have a BMW dealership nearby, use them, you will get the expertise from working on many BMWs over the year. That way your bimmer will last for many years and provide a driving experience better than most.
Plus if you buy a Volkswagen and some older Audis, you’ll be paying more to fix it than if you needed a heart transplant.