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      10-27-2011, 10:59 PM   #1
Turbolader
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Should I keep the car? Long-term reliability questions ensue...

I've had my 135i for just about a year now. It has been a very bipolar relationship I must say. I absolutely love the way the car drives and feels, but lately several little things have been really bothering me about the car.

Placing those little annoyances aside (I've owned over thirty cars so far and have yet to find one that I really like) I think my biggest concern is the long term reliability of these rigs.

I've got quite a bit of my warranty left, but that's only because I consciously take my other car quite often. If I drove the 135 exclusively, I would throw on about 25-30,000 miles a year, and my warranty would be gone in a year. I refuse to buy an extended warranty because, to be completely honest, I plan to increase the power (Like cobb s2+ FMIC) and those things would kill the warranty quicker than I could break the tires loose with the aforementioned mods. So that leaves me with footing the bill for the repairs down the road.

I'm not an ASE mechanic, but I know my way around cars quite a bit, so many technical things I am capable of, however we all know that sometimes the tools cost tens of thousands of dollars when you need a full-on code scanner or special gadgets for dealing with vanos and blah blah blah.

From reading lots of posts on here, it looks like I can look forward to the following things falling apart after warranty:

1. HPFP
2. Vanos bolts shearing off
3. Vanos other issues
4. Brake caliper pistons crumbling
5. Individual coils going bad
6. Individual injectors going bad
7. Water pump dying
8. (much more expensive) Battery failing
9. Other "sensor guessing" by BMW parts-swappers in efforts to fix weird engine problems
10. BMW software-updates for non-recall, but persistent problems (TSBs and such)

Seems like typical repairs here seem to be in the thousands-of-dollars range, when paying out of pocket. When I had the software update done at my local BMW dealer, the two or three repair invoices were from $2k to $5k.

I've read comments made by a well-respected tuner on here stating they wouldn't own a n54 for a long time without a warranty because of their estimation of the reliability of the n54/n55 engine.

Granted I realize that if I want reliability, get a Honda, but on the same note, there are far more cars out there that have excellent performance without the (seemingly) lousy reliability of these new-model BMWs.

If you have a high-mileage n54, and you've been out of warranty for a long time, what are your thoughts? Are you glad you kept the car, or with 20/20 hindsight, do you wish you would have sold it.

For those of you in my boat (in warranty, but looking into the future) what have your thoughts been?

Thanks for your thoughts!
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      10-28-2011, 01:02 AM   #2
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      10-28-2011, 05:42 AM   #3
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Sounds like you are ready to move on ...over 30 cars?! Questions; where have you heard about vanos problems on the N54 and135i? I am familiar with the cam bolts shearing off on the old e46s? Does the 135 have the same vanos design and model? Is this something we have to fix before certain mileage? It's not that difficult but takes time and I don't have the recalibration/timing instrument to reset the vanos. I assume BMW would charge you a small fee for this service

That said...I did buy this car knowing I would abuse it and have fun. That's the fun part versus my previous 325 and 328. Thus, i purchased an extended warranty. However, I have grown to like this car for the fun-factor and mod-factor so I am taking better care of it than first expected and will continue so I can enjoy it for a few more years. Besides, just updated to Cobb Stage 2 and wholly shit! Worth every penny

This 135 will hold me over b/c my next two cars...are e92 M3 and Porsche turbo and/or 911 variant
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      10-28-2011, 05:55 AM   #4
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I have 70K miles on my car and I plan on keeping the car until the chassis cracks.

I will go through your concerns 1 by 1

1. HPFP - I didnt have any real troubles in the 55K miles that my original HPFP was in. I had it done under warranty and new one hasnt peeped - 70K miles on the car now.

2. Vanos bolts shearing off
3. Vanos other issues

VANOS, replace your solenoids like theyre spark plugs, that usually does it with VANOS. The N54's only VANOS problems so far are basically jammed solenoids. I had this. Spent a few bucks and replaced them myself in about a half hour. Its easy.

4. Brake caliper pistons crumbling That only happens during overheats, just take the proper precautions if you track, if you dont you have nothing to worry about.

5. Individual coils going bad I assume you mean ignition coils? If so I havent heard any issues

6. Individual injectors going bad These are also covered under a recall. Dont worry about it. Also, these arent hard to replace either, you just need the proper socket.

7. Water pump dying You shouldnt have bought a BMW if this was an issue. theyre a 100K service item, treat them as such.

8. (much more expensive) Battery failing It hasnt happened to anyone I know. Buy a duralast battery if your worried about it. They give you free replacements when they break, or simply die, at autozone

9. Other "sensor guessing" by BMW parts-swappers in efforts to fix weird engine problems Noone I know does that, dont buy a preowned car if your worried about mods?

10. BMW software-updates for non-recall, but persistent problems (TSBs and such) Why does this worry you? Theyve stopped their big thing against power and my car does feel a lot better than when it was new.
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      10-28-2011, 06:06 AM   #5
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Given your MO with 30+ cars (to which I can relate myself), forget the 135 and look for a new adventure....not so much because of reliability, but because of your revealed preference for trying new cars out.
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      10-28-2011, 06:36 AM   #6
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I was taking a ride with the service foreman from my dealership as one of my turbos decided to stop working due to a blown fuse and a sheared wire under the hood and I was expressing my desire to buy the car when the lease is up but have fears about long term reliability. He almost busted out laughing and said "I don't want to influence you but the N54 is by far our most unreliable and finicky engine." Vacuum hoses all over the place, hard to work on, etc. He did say that the N55 is a massive improvement and that the M3 is and has been their most reliable vehicle. Food for thought since I'm going through the same dilemma.
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      10-28-2011, 08:21 AM   #7
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Owned my 135 Vert for less then a year and I've already had two tops replaced, one for a hole that formed due to bad folding mechanics, the other because the rear defroster stopped working. HPFP recall and tail light issue. This is my first BMW and I'm starting to question the long term reliability. Owned nothing but Japanese cars prior to this and I'm not used to visiting the dealer every couple of months for a problem.
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      10-28-2011, 09:00 AM   #8
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I have owned BMW's since 1972. For the most part I say they are very reliable.

The last 3 BMW's had 275k, 162K, and 183k miles when sold. None ever left me stranded.
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      10-28-2011, 09:18 AM   #9
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Threads like these make me regret selling my E46 330 ZHP. What a great NA 3.0 inline 6 it had, besides the vanos issue its a pretty reliable engine. Unfortunately turbo motors are a bit more complex and have more parts and stuff.
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      10-28-2011, 12:42 PM   #10
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I agree that it sounds like you have already moved on. But I have to say, if reliability is a major worry for you you shouldn't have bought a BMW. Not that I think they are terribly unreliable, but it's for sure not as realiable as say a Toyota.
I don't get people who worry so much about reliability that they forget to enjoy the car. I know people out there have had horror stories, but that happens with nearly every car.
If you want to keep the car, keep it! Buy an extended warrantee if you're that worried. Or, as I think I'm going to do when the warrantee is gone, just put a bit of money in a savings account and don't touch it except for maintenance issues.
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      10-28-2011, 02:34 PM   #11
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I think every car has it's horror stories, but this car seems pretty solid to me so far. Mine has just over 30k miles on it with no HPFP issues. The only thing I had an issue with since I bought it over the summer, was when I put a headlight cover on poorly and needed the headlight and control module replaced. Lucky for me my service adviser loves 135's and is super cool about repairs. He always tells me that if he can't prove 100% that I caused something, then it looks like BMW will just have to pay for it.

With that said, if it's not one thing, it's another with a different car. I came from an Evo IX, and I had almost every thing you could have at one point or another. I had a grinding 5th gear, clutch issues, traction control unit failed, clunking struts, burnt out lights inside, seats wearing badly, etc etc. A blown transfer case was just about the only thing I hadn't dealt with, but I'm sure with my luck, it would have happened sooner or later. I am ok with issues if the car gives me the enjoyment I want. I wouldn't modify sporty cars if I was worried about 100% reliability. I think the BMW repair people complaining about all the lines in the motor, are just not used to dealing with turbo motors. Obviously the N/A motor in the M3 will be easier to track down issues with.
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      10-28-2011, 08:57 PM   #12
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Thanks guys for the honest advice. When I bought the 135i, it was either that or a MY2006/2007 Porsche Cayman S. After reading about the horrible problems with the M96 (or is it M97) engine (Intermediate shaft failure = $15k new engine) I really was biased towards the 135i. I test drove a few Cayman S cars and the clutch pedal was harder than I card to deal with in the horrible traffic I deal with every day. The shifting mechanism that was praised by every car mag I could find, felt rather floppy to me. I even tried two different (used) Caymans, and both felt the same so I'm guessing they all feel bad after a few miles are on them. I drove the 2009 new DI engine (Without a intermediate shaft) and the excellent PDK, but there was no way I was going to pay $65k for a used car.

Other than a few VW's, I am new to German cars. I know on average they are not as reliable as others, and I even knew about the HPFP problems before I bought it. I didn't expect other stuff to break so often and cost so much to fix. I also own a Lexus IS350, and Lexus charges a tonne for parts, but the BMW is even higher.

I still have the itch for the Cayman S, but that isn't as practical as a 997 Carrera S. But I would be a fool if I thought that would be any more reliable. The catch is that I also have my eye on a c6 Z06, which is extremely reliable. A little rough for daily driving, but that's how I roll

I don't reget buying it, like I said I really love the car, but I'm miffed about the reliability issues. I'm leaning towards keeping it because I really don't like most of whats out there right now.
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      10-28-2011, 10:40 PM   #13
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I very much agree with what you've said here. I'm looking at the Z06 as well but my cousin just sold his after a would-have-been $4,000 computer issue (car wouldn't recognize "smart" key and would not start). I love EVERY aspect of my 1er, reliability aside, and ordered it exactly as I wanted and in my eyes, it's perfect. I just have this giant looming gray cloud of the reliability conundrum.
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      10-29-2011, 09:01 AM   #14
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I owned an 03 VW 1.8T, many considered it to be the most unreliable car ever....
I treated her with respect, gave her 45 second to 1 min in the mornings to warm up, and took it easy on her for the first mile or so. Used high end oil and over all kept her very clean and garage kept. In 120k....tires, brakes, one IG coil (had to have all 4 replaced) and oddly two cracked down pipes which cost me $400.

Respect the car you intrust your life with and it will respect you back. If you do respect it and treat it with respect and it lets you down.....send it back get another. Once trust is lost it will never be found again.
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      10-30-2011, 12:06 AM   #15
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KingOfJericho - I have to ask (Hope you don't mind). Why did you sell the Lotus?

My buddy has a 2005 or 2006 Exige S (Whatever the first year was). I've actually had the pleasure of driving it in winding canyon roads as well as "the streets" track @ willow springs.

Definitely tough for a fat guy like me to deal with every day, but man, pristine oneness with the car. I felt like the Lotus knew my next move a little bit before I even did. My buddy is a huge sector 111 fan, and he's done a few things to lighten her up even more. My buddy rarely drives her, so I'm curious if the older british-car tendencies (specificly with regards to finnickyness and reliability) come through....or if the strong reliability of the yamaha/toyota powertrain shine on that particular car.

One of the other cars on my bucket list is an Elise. Why? Because if I can take the roof panel out, then getting in is much easier for my heft + bad lower back. I know you can do that with the Exige, but my buddy told me that the supercharger can overheat because you loose the snorkel when you remove the roof panel.
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      10-30-2011, 12:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbolader View Post
I've had my 135i for just about a year now. It has been a very bipolar relationship I must say. I absolutely love the way the car drives and feels, but lately several little things have been really bothering me about the car.

Placing those little annoyances aside (I've owned over thirty cars so far and have yet to find one that I really like) I think my biggest concern is the long term reliability of these rigs.

I've got quite a bit of my warranty left, but that's only because I consciously take my other car quite often. If I drove the 135 exclusively, I would throw on about 25-30,000 miles a year, and my warranty would be gone in a year. I refuse to buy an extended warranty because, to be completely honest, I plan to increase the power (Like cobb s2+ FMIC) and those things would kill the warranty quicker than I could break the tires loose with the aforementioned mods. So that leaves me with footing the bill for the repairs down the road.

I'm not an ASE mechanic, but I know my way around cars quite a bit, so many technical things I am capable of, however we all know that sometimes the tools cost tens of thousands of dollars when you need a full-on code scanner or special gadgets for dealing with vanos and blah blah blah.

From reading lots of posts on here, it looks like I can look forward to the following things falling apart after warranty:

1. HPFP
2. Vanos bolts shearing off
3. Vanos other issues
4. Brake caliper pistons crumbling
5. Individual coils going bad
6. Individual injectors going bad
7. Water pump dying
8. (much more expensive) Battery failing
9. Other "sensor guessing" by BMW parts-swappers in efforts to fix weird engine problems
10. BMW software-updates for non-recall, but persistent problems (TSBs and such)

Seems like typical repairs here seem to be in the thousands-of-dollars range, when paying out of pocket. When I had the software update done at my local BMW dealer, the two or three repair invoices were from $2k to $5k.

I've read comments made by a well-respected tuner on here stating they wouldn't own a n54 for a long time without a warranty because of their estimation of the reliability of the n54/n55 engine.

Granted I realize that if I want reliability, get a Honda, but on the same note, there are far more cars out there that have excellent performance without the (seemingly) lousy reliability of these new-model BMWs.

If you have a high-mileage n54, and you've been out of warranty for a long time, what are your thoughts? Are you glad you kept the car, or with 20/20 hindsight, do you wish you would have sold it.

For those of you in my boat (in warranty, but looking into the future) what have your thoughts been?

Thanks for your thoughts!

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      10-30-2011, 04:48 PM   #17
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The cars reliability is crap, mine didn't even make it to 35k miles. I have a major love hate relationship with the car too because I love to drive it but it never works. Also my list of problems thats double yours. I have been in and out of the dealership 27 times since I bought it march 2010.
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      10-30-2011, 08:30 PM   #18
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If you guys were in the market and had a choice between a 06 E46 M3 or a 2011 135i M Sport Package, which one would you guys go with?

I ask this because I'm in the market right now. Been lurking the forums for sometimes now and threads like this gives me the chills. Please give me some input.
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      10-30-2011, 10:57 PM   #19
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well, that's kind of apples to oranges if you ask me. the e46 is probably going to have more problems sooner, but handle a little crisper. for similar money you can get a 135i and spend maybe the difference in price on getting some e93 m3 components (front sway, control links, etc) and then you have a whole new beast! factor in a warranty on a newer car and i think that might help solve your dilemma!
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      10-31-2011, 12:40 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktang View Post
If you guys were in the market and had a choice between a 06 E46 M3 or a 2011 135i M Sport Package, which one would you guys go with?

I ask this because I'm in the market right now. Been lurking the forums for sometimes now and threads like this gives me the chills. Please give me some input.
I think you have to decide what is more important:
1. More race car than street car (e46 m3) -or-
2. Ease and efficacy of Modability (e82 135i)

Sure both can be improved both ways, but IMO the e82 will never handle like the e46 m3, just as you're never going to be able to get the power out of the e46 m3 like you can (easily, mind you) with the e82 135i.

As much as I like to think the roads are my personal racetrack, they are not. Not only is it illegal, but it's unsafe because most drivers sadly do not know how to react properly. Because of that, I went with the 135i. If my daily commute included a few laps on a track....well....then I'd be in something else

I'm not well versed in BMW's (As I said in the beginning, this is my first) however I would not be surprised if the e46 has its own set of reliability issues. Not knocking the brand, just being honest.
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      10-31-2011, 01:28 AM   #21
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I've had more stupid issues with my 1er than any of the other 3 cars I've had in the last 3 years, and one of those was an 06 Range Rover. Figures the first car I buy new, I have issues with. Would sell it if I wouldn't take a huge hit on it.
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      10-31-2011, 02:55 AM   #22
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Why ask?

Seriously, you have to ask yourself, why exactly am I asking this question. It seems to me that you have made up your mind already and just need confidence in your decision. A forum is bad place to find statistically reliable information due to the bias and relatively small sample size.

Own up to your decision and move on.
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