The BMW 2-Series is a small and sporty 2-door coupe that first debuted in 2014.
Although it’s an entry level BMW, the 2-Series still has lots of refinement and has loads of performance options.
In this article, we’ll discuss the most common issues and problems 2-Series owners have had over the years.
Table of Contents
1. Blown Charge Pipe
Older 2-Series models can suffer from a blown charge pipe, which is a common problem in a lot of turbocharged BMWs.
This issue is more common in the 228i and M235i which used BMW’s N20 and N55 engines, as well as the BMW M2.
The standard models were sold from 2014 to 2016 while the N55 powered M2 was available from 2015 to 2018.
The plastic charge pipes in these cars can turn brittle over time and just break at one point.
Adding boost and other mods will also create charge pipe problems even in cars with newer engines.
Symptoms of a blown charge pipe include:
- Lack of power
- No boost
- Service engine soon error
- Drivetrain malfunction warning
- Check engine light
- Loud pop sound
Here’s how a few owners on the 2Addicts.com forum described their experience:
“I bought my 2014 M235i a year ago and the charge pipe (stock) blew about 1,000 miles into my ownership (8,000 miles total). Car was stock and BMW replaced on warranty with a new OEM chargepipe.”
“It’s over 92K miles on MY2015 228ix. we’ve really had no issues with the car…other than regular maintenance, it has only blown the charge pipe gasket / seal.”
A new OEM or aftermarket charge pipe only costs around $100 to $200, and many enthusiasts typically go for aftermarket ones made out of metal.
Tuning and modding will also require a charge pipe upgrade as the power output goes up.
2. Timing Chain Failures
Early years of the BMW 228i were equipped with an N20 engine which can suffer from premature timing chain issues.
The 2014 and early 2015 models are more prone to timing chain and oil pump problems.
Some time in 2015, BMW updated the timing chain components which led to much less issues.
Premature failures of the timing chain tensioner and the plastic chain guides often led to:
- Play/slack in the timing chain
- Timing chain skipping teeth/gears
- Broken bits falling into oil pan
When the timing chain breaks, it usually leads to catastrophic engine damage.
Symptoms of N20 timing chain issues include:
- Whining noise when revving engine
- Low oil level warning
- Engine rattle
- ‘Drivetrain Malfunction’ error
- Engine misfire
Reports of actual timing chain failures in a 2-Series aren’t very common. But the very early N20 engines do have many cases of timing chain related problems in lots of other BMW models.
The N47 diesel engine found in other markets around the world has also had a history of timing chain issues.
BMW did extend the warranty for the timing chain on affected models to 7 years or 70,000 miles.
Replacing the timing chain, chain guides and oil pump sprocket with the updated BMW parts should prevent future problems from occurring, but this can cost you around $2,000.
It’s also worth noting that although there are many cases of timing chain failures, there are many more cars that haven’t had any issues.
3. Plastic Cooling System Parts
The BMW 2-Series uses a lot of plastic for its cooling system which can get brittle and fail as the years pass.
This is a common issue for pretty much every modern BMW made in the last 30 years so it’s not unique to the 2-Series.
Some of the critical components you’ll want to keep an eye on include:
- Hoses and pipes
- Expansion tank
- Parts of the radiator
If the cooling system develops leaks and your coolant gets too low, your engine could overheat and go into limp mode. In extreme cases, the cylinder head can become warped due to the excessive heat which calls for an expensive engine rebuild.
In most cases, you’ll get a low coolant warning on the dash before any major failures.
Here’s how one owner described their experience:
“2015 228i 85k miles. My coolant level sensor leaked and the reservoir needs to be replaced.”
“Right after I filled up the gas on my 14 m235i I noticed some white smoke coming off from my front grilles. Popped the hood real quick and found out one of the coolant hoses exploded and there was coolant everywhere . Luckily I was driving it when the hose broke on me. Car has 76k miles.”
Once the car nears the 10-year mark, you’re going to see more and more cooling system component failures.
It’s a good idea to routinely check the coolant levels every few months and not wait for the low coolant warning to appear if you want to keep your engine in great condition.
If the engine overheats, pull over and have it towed to avoid damaging it further.
4. Valve Cover Gasket
It’s pretty common for older models of the BMW 2-Series engine to develop valve cover gasket leaks.
When the gasket wears out, oil will start leaking or seeping out of the bottom of the valve cover.
Other symptoms of a faulty valve cover gasket include:
- Burnt oil smell
- Smoking around valve cover
- Oil on spark plugs
- Low oil warning
This issue affects early models from 2014 to 2016 the most, but even cars with newer B48 and B58 engines can eventually suffer from valve cover oil leaks.
Here’s what one user of the 2Addicts.com forum had to say:
“Had to change mine at 57k miles. This really is on the early side. It did not leak much so probably could have gone longer – but it was enough that I could smell the burning oil once in a while.”
In most cases, the oil leak from the valve cover is very small and doesn’t really completely drain out the oil from the engine.
Replacing the valve cover gasket shouldn’t be too expensive and any reputable mechanic should be able to finish the job in an hour or so.
5. Oil Filter Housing Gasket Leaks
Another common oil leak that affects lots of modern BMWs, including the 2-Series, comes from the oil filter housing gasket.
This is a common issue on BMW’s N engines like the N20 found in the early base model and the N55 which is used in the performance oriented variants of the 2-Series.
It can affect the 2014 to 2016 model years of the standard 2-Series models, as well as the 2015 to 2021 BMW M2.
If neglected for too long, coolant can mix with the oil and start causing other issues.
Here’s how one user on 2Addicts.com described their experience:
“Replaced mine this year at around 52k miles, minor leak around the housing. This was on a 2014 M235i. Thank god for the extended warranty, it saved me 1500 dollars.”
In most cases, it’s only the oil filter housing gasket that’s leaking and is quite cheap to replace and fix, but labor can cost a few hundred dollars.
The oil filter housing itself has also been known to crack in the B48 engine.
If you know there’s a leak, make sure you still have lots of oil in the engine and top it up if there isn’t any.
6. Water Pump Failure
Water pump failures are not unheard of even if a 2-Series is only a couple of years old.
BMW’s early BMW turbo engines had lots of premature water pump failures and it can still be an issue even in newer cars, but to a lesser extent.
It’s more common in the N20, N55 and S55 engines, but a few water pump failures have also been reported for the B48 and B58 engines.
Some signs that might tell you that the electric water pump is problematic include:
- Cooling fan constantly runs at high speed
- Engine temperature warning on the dash
- Trouble code for 2e83 or “electrical cooling pump, low power mode”
Here’s how one owner described their experience:
“My 17 M2 water pump failed out if blue last feb no warning before just warning lights on HUD.”
“Mine died recently and i’m at 58K, so anywhere around 60K sounds like a good idea.”
If you see a temperature warning on the dash, it’s best to pull over and let the engine cool down for around 30 minutes before driving off again. This will help prevent catastrophic engine damage.
Once you start experiencing symptoms of a failing water pump, you’ll want to swap it out for a new OEM unit before it stops working altogether.
A new water pump costs around $400 and installation is typically about the same.
When replacing the water pump, most people also install a new thermostat which is another common point of failure.
7. Moisture in Lights
Droplets of water getting inside either the headlights or tail lamps are a common problem for the BMW 2-Series, as well as other BMW models.
Some moisture or condensation forming inside the lenses shouldn’t affect visibility very much.
If it never goes away even when left outside in the sun for a few days, there might be a crack or leak in the light assembly.
These water ingress issues are common in both the first and second gen BMW 2-Series from the 2014 model year to the newer ones.
Here’s what few owners had to say on the BabyBMW.net forum:
“I bought a M2 10 months ago and both clusters had a lot of moisture (no idea if it was condensation or water ingress). They were both changed under warranty. 6 months later, the passenger side one has started to have moisture in it, in the fog light part and then in the main part.”
“Had the same in my 240 the reverse lens was always full of condensation, as I’m out of warranty I just retrofitted the lci versions which have been fine, some have had the lci units fitted through warranty I’d push for those if you can.”
Most manufacturers recommend simply turning on the lights for at least 30 minutes to help the moisture evaporate faster.
If you need to replace the lights out of warranty, new headlights for the 2-Series are quite expensive at over $1,000 a piece while tail lamps cost around $200 to $300.
8. VANOS Solenoid Failure
BMW’s VANOS variable timing system has always been a major maintenance item since it was first used in the mid 1990s.
Newer VANOS systems found in the first and second gen BMW 2-Series can still fail but they are much easier to fix.
In most cases, it’s usually just the VANOS solenoid that’s faulty and can be easily replaced without having to rebuild the entire VANOS unit.
Symptoms of VANOS related issues include:
- Limp mode
- Lack of power/hesitation
- Rough idle
- Lower gas mileage
- Rattling sound
- Check engine light
Each of the two VANOS solenoids cost around $150 a piece plus a few hundred dollars in labor.
In the newer B48 and B58 engines, the solenoids were moved to the back of the engine which makes replacement much more difficult.
If you suspect that you’re having VANOS related issues, it’s best to have it diagnosed by a dealer or an independent garage that specializes in BMWs.
In a lot of cases, simply cleaning out the VANOS solenoids can also get rid of the running issues.
9. Fuel Pump Recall
The high pressure fuel pump in the first model year of the BMW 2-Series was recalled due to issues with sudden failure.
This problem only affects the 2014 228i and M235i, as well as many other BMW vehicles for that year.
Symptoms of a faulty fuel pump include:
- Hard starting
- Intermittent stalling
- Reduced power or stalling
- ‘Drivetrain Malfunction’ error
Here’s what one M235i owner had to say on the 2Addicts.com forum:
“My fuel pump gave up after 4k miles. I had it replaced by the dealer. They did not mention any recall, neither the repair order mentions any recall. But they were not surprised that something was wrong with the pump so early.”
Fuel pump failures were also common in the early years of the N55 engine, which is well before the 2-Series was first released.
If your car hasn’t had the recall done yet, it’s best to take it back to the dealer to check if it can still be performed free of charge.
Once the recall is performed, you should have the updated part and have no more issues in the future.
A new OEM fuel pump costs around $300 and usually needs to be replaced every 100,000 to 200,000 miles.
10. Grinding Transmission
The manual transmission in the first generation 2-Series can have grinding issues when shifting from first to second gear, especially when the RPMs are high.
This issue is more common with the M235i and M2 models from 2014 onwards.
Aside from being hard to shift, it will also intermittently pop out of gear as the problem gets worse.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“When I accelerate briskly and shift into 2nd gear at around 5000-6000 rpm it sometimes grinds. It doesn’t pop out of gear, it still engages though.”
“My car is 2016 year, about 40,000 km now. The second gear grinds and pops out of itself on daily basis. Usually from a downshift. This problem got worse and worse from 20,000 km on wards.
It started with just a grind from first to second gear change on high RPM, now it would also pop out of gear from a high RPM downshift.”
“Dropped my ’14 M235i to get checked out for 2nd gear grinding. Dealer called about 3 hours later and said they ordered a whole new transmission for it. Swapping it out next week. Car has just over 20k miles.”
If the issue is detected while the car is still under warranty, many dealers would often just replace the entire transmission.
A new or remanufactured 2-Series transmission can easily cost $5,000 or more.
The grinding is usually caused by a worn out synchro, which usually means that the transmission has to at least be partially torn apart and rebuilt to fix the problem permanently.
11. Cramped Back Seats
If you’re planning on hauling a few passengers keep in mind the 2-series offers very limited room in the back seats that is often described as cramped and uncomfortable.
On top of this, getting in the back requires a good amount of flexibility that most adults simply don’t have.
If it’s just passengers in the front then the 2 Series is relatively spacious with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room.
BMW 2-Series Pros & Cons
- Small and nimble
- Fun to drive with rear-wheel drive
- Powerful higher spec engines
- Excellent overall reliability
- Ride comfort for a sporty vehicle
- Excellent BMW tech
- Good build quality
- Not as luxurious or refined as more expensive BMWs
- More expensive maintenance
- Lack of passenger and cargo space
What Do The Reviews Say?
“BMW’s foundation is built largely on its history of producing sporty compact luxury coupes, and that tradition continues with the 2023 BMW 2 Series. As other vehicles in BMW’s stable have gotten significantly larger over the decades, we’re pleased that the 2 Series is able to deliver the pint-sized thrills of its ancestors.”
“Overall handling and performance are excellent, though it should be noted that our 230i test car was equipped with the M Sport bits (suspension, steering, brakes and rear differential) as well as summer tires. We recorded a 0-60 mph sprint of 5.5 seconds. That’s quicker than the Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz CLA 250.”
“The 2 Series coupe isn’t the most comfortable compact on the road, but we’d say the ride quality and overall refinement are about what we expect from a sporty coupe. The optional M Sport suspension obviously firms things up, but overall it strikes a decent balance between comfort and performance.”
“The 2 Series is relatively spacious, at least for front passengers. There’s plenty of headroom, legroom and shoulder room. But the rear seat is a joke and won’t be comfortable for adults, even on shorter drives. Even getting in the back requires some gymnastics most adults simply won’t, or can’t, perform.”
“The 2 Series’ small size makes it feel fairly nimble even if the steering doesn’t communicate as much as we’d like it to. It’s not the fastest BMW on the road, but it’s no less entertaining to drive than some of its larger siblings.”
What’s the Resale Value of a BMW 2-Series?
Here’s a quick look at used car pricing for the base BMW 2-Series on Edmunds at the time of writing.