BMW Grievances

Interesting, Others | February 26th, 2015 by 22
Love BMW 750x500

BMW is a very “Love’em or hate’em” kind of car company. Of all the enthusiasts I’ve spoken to during my short time here, I’ve yet …

BMW is a very “Love’em or hate’em” kind of car company. Of all the enthusiasts I’ve spoken to during my short time here, I’ve yet to meet one who is lukewarm on the Bavarian brand. No one says “Ehh, they’re okay.” It’s either a “They suck!” or “They’re awesome!” kind of thing.

It makes sense, as BMW has a very distinct driving style, even more so than its German brethren. Now I, as well as most of you I’d presume, am a big Bimmer fan. But there are some things I don’t like about BMW, and I’d like to share them with you kind folk. Then, maybe if there are some of you who don’t want to ready your pitchforks and light your torches at me, some of you can share what you don’t like as well.


bmw sticker 750x485

This is by far and away my biggest grievance. BMW insists on using an “a la carte” style of pricing options. This wouldn’t be a problem if the options weren’t so damn expensive. $2,150 for navigation, in 2015? That’s a preposterous price for something my cell phone can do for free. You want Bluetooth? That’ll cost $500.

In 2015, Bluetooth should be standard on every single electronic device in the world, nevermind every car. But for the sake of argument, let’s say Bluetooth is better as an option, why make it $500? That’s too much for technology that some toasters have. Sure there are some packages that bundle many features together. But those packages usually cost the same as a decent-condition E46 3 Series.

In all fairness though, the other premium automakers are doing the same thing.

I love you, BMW, but you gotta take it easy on the price tags.


bmw x5 edrive hybrid test drive 31 750x500

I’m not talking about the number system that seems to get everyone’s panties all in a bunch. I really don’t care if the 4 Series isn’t still called the 3 Series coupe. What does bother me is all the cute little names BMW has to give every one of its technologies. There’s iDrive, xDrive, eDrive, TwinPower and Efficient Dynamics. Why does everything need a pet name? I get that branding is important, but TwinPower, really? What’s wrong with turbocharged? I know that the turbo is a fancy kind of twin-scroll turbo, but does it really need its own nickname? I feel like it turns a very prestigious, historic and well respected automaker into the lady with too many cats with silly names. But maybe that’s just me.



Okay so this one isn’t BMW’s fault. It’s mostly some of the neanderthals that drive BMWs who are to blame. As someone who owns a BMW, I know that not all Bimmer drivers are presumptuous, egotistical, no-blinker sociopaths. However, that is the image BMW drivers are often saddled with, sometimes unjustly. Even surveys profile BMW drivers in a certain way.

Obviously, BMW doesn’t have anything to do with that. The folks in Munich have no control over who buys their cars and what they do in them. So I’m not blaming BMW, rather discussing something that bothers me about BMW ownership. If someone asks me what car I drive, and I say BMW, they always give me a look, like “Wow, look out for Mister Fancy over here, I bet he doesn’t use his blinker.” Which isn’t fair. I use my blinker every single time, people.

So those are some of the things that bother me about BMWs. Minor grievances, of course and nothing to cause me to stop buying the brand. But nobody’s perfect so BMW is bound to have some mistakes.

Let me know what, if anything, bothers you about the brand.

22 responses to “BMW Grievances”

  1. realtrevor says:

    But these are not issues limited to BMW, some other brands suffer the same, so they’re motoring industry issues.

  2. jcatl says:

    My problem, and why I abandoned the brand, is that the F30 3 Series felt like a significant downgrade from my E90 335i. I had one as a loaner for 3 weeks, a 328i Sport Line. The engine is terrific even if not an i6, returning 34mpg on long trips, but the interior was not up to par for the prices that BMW charges, and while ubiquitous in the car industry now, the loss of hydraulic steering made the car feel like just about any other sedan.

    The main knock though is the poor quality of the interior materials. Large swaths of cheap plastic, and questionably real leather – the center console was like a giant hollow void of cheapness, worse than a Honda Accord. While the materials in my E90 were not perfect, the car felt like a solid chunk of vehicle. The F30 felt looser, sloppier, and just decidedly “un-premium”. And still suckers buy them like hotcakes, abusive pricing and all.

  3. jason bourne says:

    What bugs me about the brand?

    1. Dilution by diversifying: X-series, GTs, Gran Coupes… Bleah.
    2. Too much tech compromising simplicity and reliability: No oil dipstick? Really??
    3. Frozen Paint. An abomination. Stupid idea.
    4. Run flat tires. Give me back my spare, even if it’s a space saver.
    5. Did I mention Frozen Paint?

    • I agree, the lack of oil dipstick is a bummer.

    • SF Dede says:

      1. I don’t mind the diversity of vehicles if BMW continues to serve its core market very well. Unfortunately that hasn’t always been the case and the trend is in the wrong direction. BMW NA also makes the most bizarre choices. Can I say again please bring the 1 series hatch?!!!
      2. My issue with the lack of a dipstick is that the replacement solution is significantly less usable. Car has to be on flat ground for the e-dipstick to work and it takes forever to measure. Also, the warning that you might be low is very binary. It’s either “oh my god stop to avoid damage” or “everything is awesome.” Never “you’re beginning to trend towards low.” There’s no yellow light only bright red or bright green so to speak.
      3&5. Frozen paint – meh. You don’t have to buy it.
      4. Run flat tires – I am okay with this because my wife drives the car too…
      6. Pricing of options is crazy. Couldn’t agree more.
      7. Why do the new versions of cars always have to get bigger?!!! I don’t buy the argument that it is to make more room for the bottom end. I shouldn’t have to move down the model line (with its downgrade in options, etc) in order to fit a new BMW in my admittedly small garage (hey, it’s very expensive to live in San Francisco).
      8. FWD – I’m not as concerned about this given that I used to own a MINI. But BMW has made their own bed and will have to prove to the market it will still be a drivers car. They’ll also have to figure out how to keep good proportions. Why does the front overhang need to be so long when it was so short on my 2002 MINI?
      9. Naming – really terrible proliferation. Delete the word “Drive” from the names. In my mind they should only get to keep this if BMW starts making flying cars. You’d be able to get an xDrive model or xFly model (quadracopter). The other names (efficient dynamics, etc.) are merely names to a strategy. Mazda has the same problem with Sky Activ.
      10. Sales people – why should I know more about what BMW sells than they do? All I do is read the marketing material and forums. If they can’t add value, they shouldn’t earn a commission or be part of the process. If they are simply managing the transaction, call them Transaction Associates which is what most are, and give me the benefit of 90% of what would have been their commission.

  4. Mike Vella says:

    I don’t care about things that don’t affect me, but as noted here – frozen paint is extremely lame.
    I agree on the pricing model.
    Do not like run flat tires. I guess you could roll the dice and replace them with standards when the time comes, but I’d rather not..

    • jason bourne says:

      Back in the day when I bought my E30, I had a choice of tires… And the tire of choice was Pirelli P6s.

      • Mike Vella says:

        I hate P6’s. I had those as OEM on my A4 quattro and couldn’t wait to replace them.
        FWIW, the best all season tires I’ve used for a sporty car were Nitto Motivo’s. And they are made in the USA, AND they are reasonably priced..
        Hankook Ventus are good, too.
        We put the Nitto’s on my wife’s GTI last year as well (since traded) and they just about transformed the car.

  5. John Johnson says:

    I’ve owned four Bmw cars and eight motorcycles. After 52 years of driving a Bmw was the most flawed unreliable car I’ve ever owned. The other three had at least one major problem that was difficult to get them to fix. One problem was never fixed. Their arrogance is stunning! I’ve been told by Bmw that the problem was caused by bad American gas,bad American roads ,bad California air and ultimately. There couldn’t be anything wrong there German masterpiece. Same thing with their motorcycles. I have plenty of friends with the same kind of stories. Sometimes I get owners in denial. Claim nothing wrong with their vehicle. When I question them further , the truth comes out. Yes, a certain percentage of Bmws are trouble free. Luck ,I guess! Stop drinking the kool aid!!

    • Horatiu B. says:

      I believe all brands have lemons, so I understand it happens. From my point of view, I owned 4 new cars in the last 15 yrs and none had major issues.

    • I’ve only had one, but have been in a family of BMW’s and none of them have had any significant issues until well over the 200,000 mile mark.

    • jason bourne says:

      I’m on my sixth BMW in 30 years and I’ve only had one major reliability issue: my 1994 E36 diff blew after 60K miles.

      Sure, there have been some recalls and whatnot, but they were all handled quickly and reliably by the dealership.

  6. Badboy35 says:

    I had an e46 and now have a 2010 Clubman. Both wonderful driving vehicles but reliability and repair costs have been appalling and I will never buy another BMW product. Relatively problem free in warranty period but problems and costs escalate as the cars age. At over 100k miles, the E46 was no longer affordable. $2-3K in annual repairs were too much to bear so hot rid of it. Mini now has 70k miles and costs to repair are too much to keep this car.

    And I am not alone, look at the perennial position of BMW/Mini in JD Power rankings, mid pack to bottom.

  7. Kommodore says:

    All these things are dependent on how much you give a shit. The sooner you become more picky about what you actually care about, the sooner none of that crap matters.

    Does the car make YOU smile? Does it bring your car friends together regardless of if they like it or not? It’s what you make of it, not what the angry stranger thinks of it.

  8. Otto says:

    “Obviously, BMW doesn’t have anything to do with that.”

    So tell me WTF the M3/M4 “Smokey burnout” is meant for and for whom?

  9. Crux says:

    Love it.

    Problem is Reliability.

    Actual ‘Real’ ///M models tend to have less issues than their regular numbered siblings. At least that’s the word on the streets.

    Just really bad lately.. An example is the High Pressure Fuel Pump which they lost in a class action suit. Under CPO your bimmer will be great but it’s like a russian roulette when that warranty runs out.

    @BMW need to get back to your roots and focus instead of launching mass models for your SHAREHOLDERS.


  10. Pedro says:

    Btw bluetooth IS standard in all 2015 models, both phone and streaming, the $500 option is for Enhanced bluetooth capabilities, like messages and mobile office..

  11. Pgmark says:

    Agree with the pricing thing. I also like to add that they raise the price to much every year. I just sold my 3 series. When it was new in 2002, it cost $32k. To buy a comparable car today, it would cost like $50k. A 56% increase doesn’t sound right. The difference between that and a 5 series isn’t that much when it comes to price.

    Ultimately, the cost of the options is why I chose not to buy another BMW. For less money, I got way more options on my new car than I ever would have gotten on a 3 series.

  12. Vinod Sharma says:

    I bought my first BMW X5 in October 2015, was quite satisfied till I had to cross a knee deep water that was being crossed by so many other Indian vehicles and I could not because the water was sucked in through air intake pipes that are located in the front grill and the engine hydrolocked. Surely for people of India who need an off road vehicle for Indian condition this is not the right buy.

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