The 7-Series was first introduced in 1977 and has been BMW’s flagship sedan ever since.
It’s not only large, luxurious and comfortable, but every new generation also showcases BMW’s latest and greatest automotive technology and features.
In this article, we’ll examine some of the most common issues and problems 7-Series owners have encountered.
Table of Contents
1. Excessive Oil Consumption
The N62 and N63 V8 engines used in E65 and F01 generation of the 7-Series are quite notorious for their excessive oil consumption.
This problem is extremely common in the 2002 to 2015 model years of the 740i, 745i and 750i.
By 2013, BMW updated the N63 engine to improve its overall reliability but many owners continued to experience oil consumption problems until the 2015 model year of the 7-Series.
Similar issues were also reported for other BMW models that were equipped with the same powerplant like the 5-Series and X5.
Here’s how a few 7-Series owners described their experience on the BimmerFest.com forum:
- “Just bought a 2012 BMW 750i with 53,000 miles. I got a message on my idrive advising me to add 1qt oil during normal operation. Car leaks absolutely no oil. “
- “I was putting a quart in every two weeks and had zero evidence of an oil leak on my garage floor at home or my parking spot in the garage at work. I guess it was all going out through the exhaust. Mine is a 2009.”
- “I purchased a 2013 750i in April 2016. It had 15000 miles. It is now Dec, 2016 and I have 26000 miles and my low oil light has come on at least 6 times, since my purchase. I was told that I would have to put 2 quarts in every 2500 miles.”
For BMW, as well as many other manufacturers, losing 1 quart of oil every 1,000 miles is considered normal.
Engines also tend to lose or burn more oil as they get older because the engine internals, seals and gaskets wear out and let oil into places where it shouldn’t be.
In such cases, the only way to fix this issue is to rebuild the entire engine to refresh all the seals and worn out engine components.
However, many 7-Series owners lose a lot more oil every 1,000 miles and constantly have to top it up even before the car has reached 50,000 miles.
BMW eventually lost a class action lawsuit and agreed to repair the problematic engines of the fifth generation 7-Series, also known as the F01 and F02 models.
Most owners just regularly top up the oil when the oil level in the vehicle settings gets a little low.
If you want to prolong the life of your engine, don’t wait for the low oil warning to go off and keep at least quart of oil in the car for emergencies.
If the car loses or burns an excessive amount of oil, check for leaks inside the engine bay and underneath the car.
If you’re not mechanically inclined, a dealer or a BMW specialist should be able to determine if the engine has any major problems that need to be addressed.
2. Worn Valve Stem Seals
The N62 and early N63 generation examples of the BMW 6-Series eventually end up with leaking valve stem seals which requires an expensive engine out repair.
This is a very common problem in the 2002 to 2012 model years of the 740i, 745i and 750i.
Problems usually show up after the car has passed 100,000 miles, but can occur at lower mileages if the car hasn’t been properly maintained.
Other BMW models that use the same engines like the X5, 5-Series and 7-Series also have similar issues.
Common symptoms of worn valve stem seals include:
- Bluish white smoke after idling for a while
- Excessive oil consumption
- Low oil warnings
- Premature catalytic converter failure
Here’s how two owners on BimmerForums.com described their experience:
“I have a 2007 750li that has smoking at 135k due to valve stem seals. I hear of too many people having the same problem with this car and this should not happen to a $100,000 bmw.”
“I’ve got an 03 745i and the notorious blue smoke started around 90k, since then I’ve tried all remedies to avoid the only true proper fix which is to change the seals. I’ve tried additives – autorx, ATP205, etc. Tried different oil weights, heavier does seem to help but don’t use it in the winter if you’re up north. AutoRx did seem to help but it was short lived.”
Another user on BimmerFest.com had this to say:
“After receiving my $10,000 quote for Valve Stem Seals for my 50,000 mile 07 750, I truly cannot believe that this would happen to a BMW at such low mileage.”
Replacing the valve stem seals can cost around $5,000 at the dealer to fix because the valvetrain basically has to be rebuilt.
Independent BMW specialists often use aftermarket solutions to lower the repair cost to around $2,500 and get similar results.
3. Oil Leaks
BMWs are notorious for developing oil leaks as they get older as their engine’s seals and gaskets wear out.
In the 7-Series, various leaks can start occurring at around 50,000 to 100,000 miles.
This issue affects all model years of the 7-Series, starting from the first generation up to the latest one.
Common sources of oil leaks in the modern 7-Series include:
- Valve cover
- Oil filter housing
- Alternator bracket
- Timing chain cover
- Oil pan
- Front and rear main seal
Here’s how a few owners on BimmerFest.com described their experience:
“I have 08 750li and just started pouring out oil yesterday. Mechanic just called back it’s the alternator bracket seal and some valves.”
“I took my 2006 750li to dealer for broken hood cable and they told me I have a leaking gasket at the alternator bracket as well as a timing cover gasket leak. They quoted me $3500. for repair.”
“Had my 2008 750i (62,000 miles) in for an oil change and was told that I needed 1) Valve cover gaskets 2) upper timing chain gasket 3) battery 4) Vacuum pump and alternator bracket leaking.”
Most common BMW oil leaks like the valve cover and oil filter housing gaskets aren’t very difficult to replace even for a novice mechanic.
Some gaskets like the one for the alternator bracket are much harder to replace and can cost as much as $2,000 if you have it done at a dealership.
An independent BMW specialist can usually do the same job for around $500 to $1,000.
If your car already has over 50,000 miles and you’re already taking it in to get an oil leak addressed, it’s a good idea to have the other gaskets replaced even if they’re not yet leaking so you can save on future repair costs.
4. Coolant Leaks
BMW uses a lot of plastic pipes for its coolant lines which are notorious for getting brittle and cracking even before the car reaches 100,000 miles.
Coolant leaks affect all model years of the BMW 7-Series and can start appearing at around 50,000 miles.
Some of the more common sources of coolant leaks in lots of BMWs include:
- Hoses and pipes
- Expansion tank
- Parts of the radiator
- Water pump
- Turbo coolant line
Here’s how a few owners on BimmerFest.com described their issues:
“Experienced a coolant leak in my 2016 750i xdrive at 37,000 miles. Still under factory warranty. Dealer did a system pressure check. Found coolant leaking lines for turbocharger leaking. “
“I drive a 2016 BMW 740i (G12) with a May 2016 build date. The expansion coolant tank developed a crack and the auxiliary coolant pump failed. The very first symptom of a problem was low coolant warnings after warm starts, followed by sporadic then no interior heat.”
“I have a 2001 740iL and my coolant is leaking from somewhere but i dont know where because i have to keep on adding coolant all the time. Every time i get on my car the check coolant level display comes on. I took a look at it and i can see water leaking from under the right top hose on the side of the radiator.”
“My 2007 750Li is leaking coolant. I took it to my local BMW dealer, Gebhardt in Boulder, and they are telling me my crossover tube and valley pan are leaking. They want $1350 to replace the valley pan gasket, $2445 to replace the crossover tube (using AGA replacement tube) and $665 to replace the water pump (recommended by BMW) for a whopping grand total of $4460.”
Many coolant leaks can be easily traced and fixed. However, some leaks can only be fixed by tearing apart the engine and it’s not unusual to see repair bills amounting to several thousand dollars.
The N62 V8 and N74 V12 engines in the fourth generation 7-Series in particular eventually develop leaks at the coolant transfer pipe which is underneath the valley pan or the V-shaped cavity between the cylinder heads and requires quite a lot of work to get to.
Once the car nears the 10-year mark, you’re going to see more and more cooling system failures so many owners try to address the most common sources of leaks as part of their preventative maintenance.
It’s also a good idea to routinely check the car’s 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.
5. Transmission Issues
The 6-speed automatic transmission in the E65 generation of the BMW 7-Series doesn’t have a very good reputation for reliability.
One of the most common transmission issues for this generation of the 7-Series is a faulty mechatronic unit. This assembly houses the valve bodies and solenoids which control the flow of hydraulic fluid inside the transmission.
The mechatronic seal adapter and sleeve can fail and cause issues such as:
- Erratic shifting
- Delayed shifting
- Transmission slipping/hesitation
- Harsh or rough gear shifts
- Unable to shift out of park
Here’s how owners on BimmerFest.com described their issue:
“I’m getting ready to change my mechatronic sleeve and adapter. My 2006 750li is in transmission fail safe mode. The car goes into Park as soon as I switch it to Drive Reverse or Neutral.”
“2006 750LI went into fail safe mode and I had to creep to the house which wasn’t far away. I recently took it to a Indy who states the computer report states the mechatronics is bad and needs to be replaced at a $4k estimate (3.3K parts/800 labor).”
In most cases, the transmission issues can be fixed by replacing the mechatronic adapter seals. If this doesn’t fix the issue, you may be in for an expensive transmission rebuild that costs several thousand dollars.
To avoid future issues, you should change the transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
Draining and refilling the transmission fluid a few times can also fix many gearbox problems.
6. Fuel System Problems
The V8 and inline-6 engines of the fifth generation 7-Series have a tendency to suffer from fuel pump and fuel injector issues.
The N54 engine used in the F01 generation 740i from 2008 to 2012 was plagued with fuel pump and injector issues.
In addition, the N63 V8 engine in the 750i from 2008 to 2015 also suffered from faulty fuel injectors.
Symptoms of fuel pump or injector issues include:
- Engine stalling
- Rough running/idling
- Reduced power
- Check engine light
- Drivetrain Malfunction error
Here’s how a few owners on BimmerFest.com described their issues:
“I bought a 2011 750 LI with 30k miles last year, I put 10k miles on it and now my fuel injectors need replacing.”
“I have a 2013 750LI with 25K miles on it. I had my first injector failure back in January of 2015. The issue left me stranded and the car had to be towed to the dealer. While I was taking my family out to lunch after the surgery I had another injector failure. Luckily I was only 2 miles from a dealership and I had the car towed.”
“I had similar problem…was intermittent at first then degraded to engine running in limp mode. Wasn’t injectors. Was one of the high pressure fuel pumps (I’m told there are two on the 750). An expensive repair as the high pressure pumps are buried down deep in the engine module.”
“My 2012 750li has had all 8 injectors replaced twice and I barely have 30k miles on it.”
BMW eventually updated both the fuel pump and fuel injectors in affected vehicles and had several service campaigns to replace the old ones in affected vehicles.
BMW also extended the warranty of the problematic parts to 10 years or 120,000 miles.
Replacing the fuel pump isn’t too difficult or expensive even if you’re already outside the warranty period.
However, if your car is still using the older injectors and are just starting to experience issues, you’ll have to replace all of them. This can easily turn into an expensive repair as each injector costs around $200 to $300.
If the injectors are just a bit dirty, you can try using a fuel system cleaner or having them professionally cleaned to save on repair costs.
7. Soft Close Door Issues
Many 7-Series owners have had issues with the car’s soft close doors not working properly or even opening on its own.
The Comfort Access Soft Close Door option became available starting with the fourth generation 7-Series in 2002.
It’s more problematic in the fourth generation 7-Series from the 2005 to 2008 model years, but newer generation cars can also suffer from the same issues.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience on BimmerFest.com:
“My driver side door on my 2013 750i will attempt to pull the door in with soft-close, appear to be successful then reject the latch. I can hear the motor going as this happens.”
“So I take my 2007 750Li to independent shop to fix my soft close door. $869.00 later the door closes but no ‘soft close’.”
“My car a 2005 with comfort Access and soft close has decided to open my left rear door by itself when I come to a standstill. This doesn’t happen when I drive but is rather annoying. I had to lock the Interior doors.”
BMW eventually announced a recall in 2018 to address the door issues for the 2005 to 2008 model years of the E65 and E66 fourth gen 7-Series.
In most cases, the latch for the doors is the culprit. Although it sounds simple enough to fix, dealers usually charge over $1,000 to get it fixed.
8. Faulty Air Suspension
Lots of examples of the 7-Series are equipped with air suspension to provide a more comfortable ride, but are also very expensive to maintain as the car gets older.
It’s not unusual for the suspension components to wear out and fail even before the car reaches 100,000 miles.
Issues can occurs in all model years of the 7-Series that have the air suspension option, but the sixth generation G11 and G12 7-Series from 2015 to 2022 in particular has had lots of premature failures.
Here’s how a few owners described their issues on BimmerFest.com:
“I have a bmw 740e, I seem to have an issue with the air suspension. It’s dropping slowly while parked up.”
“My 2016 740i just started having issues where the right side of the car drops down when the car sits overnight. After the car starts and I start to move, it raises back to the normal height.”
“I’ve had to change out 2 of these air suspension struts(one rear left and front left) this past year. I was able to get one refunded that was under the BMW letter warranty that I received because I was under the 80,000 miles, the other I had to pay out of pocket this past week because I have 89,000 miles on it now.
Another user on the 7Post.com forum had this to say:
“I’ve got a 2016 G11 750i I’ve been enjoying since last March, however, I haven’t had the best experience with the air suspension. I’ve run into a few problems with it so far and have had to deal with the headache of taking it back and forth to the mechanic for the past month and a half. Some days the air suspension works for a week, then the next day I’ll see it raised all the way up or sitting on the ground.”
BMW extended the warranty for the air suspension struts in the sixth generation 7-Series to 8 years or 80,000 miles due to the number of complaints they received.
Dealing with air suspension problems can be very expensive since a new OEM air shock can cost over $2,000 at the dealer while an OEM compressor is around $1,000.
Aftermarket or rebuilt air struts typically cost between $500 to $1,000 and work just as well as the original parts.
Some owners simply swap out the air suspension components for regular shocks and springs to avoid having to deal with the expensive repairs in the future, but the conversion can still cost a few thousand dollars.
9. Carbon Buildup
The N54 engine used in the BMW 740i from 2008 to 2012 is prone to excessive carbon buildup which is basically sludge that can significantly affect engine performance.
Carbon buildup is a common issue in pretty much every direct injection engine so it’s not exclusive to the BMW 7-Series.
The updated N55 engine, as well as the bigger V8 and V12 can also develop carbon buildup issues, but it’s more common in the N54 inline-6.
Excessive carbon buildup can lead to:
- Poor fuel economy
- Rough idling
- Stuck valves
Here’s how one owner described their experience on BimmerFest.com:
“My car has 38k miles. Last night it started to shake while idling and the Drivetrain Malfunction message came up. I made it to the closest BMW dealership. They ran a diagnostic on my car and said the engine has massive carbon buildup. They said they would have to drop the engine and decarbonize it along with changing all spark plugs and injectors. They quoted me $17,000!!!”
It’s not unusual for cars to have excessive carbon buildup at around 50,000 miles especially if it’s only driven for short distances where the engine doesn’t quite reach operating temperatures.
In most cases, problems caused by carbon buildup can be fixed by cleaning out the carbon through walnut blasting which costs a few hundred dollars.
Most independent BMW specialists offer a walnut blasting service for a few hundred dollars to remove the carbon deposits because it’s such a common issue for BMW engines from the mid 2000s to the early 2010s.
10. Amplifier Issues
The fourth generation 7-Series had lots of reports of amplifier failures that resulted in static noise or just no sound coming from certain speakers.
These issues were prevalent in all variants of the 7-Series from the 2002 to 2008 model year.
The main amplifier for this generation of the 7-Series is called the ASK unit, short for Audio System Controller, and is part of the head unit/CD player.
Many cars also had an optional Logic 7 or L7 amplifier for the subwoofers, but this also had lots of failures.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“My 2006 750I BMW E65 amplifier #65126920461 appears to be gone. Only one side of my car has music coming out the speakers. It even affected my bluetooth. The amplifier unit is located in my trunk on the driver side. I want to change it. A new one cost about $1250.00.”
“My problem was that I had no sound at all from the left front door speakers and the 2 rear door speakers were very distorted. But I had very strong bass. Once I installed the ASK unit the D/S front door speakers sounded great but the 2 rear door speakers were still distorted. After restarting my car a few times I had no bass. I suspect I need to program the new ASK unit.”
My car had the same thing where my subs would cut out at louder volumes, but at lower volumes sounded just fine… the dealer replaced everything, subs, ask, l7… nothing fixed the problem.”
New OEM amplifier units cost over $1,000 which is a pretty steep price just to get the sound to work properly.
Fortunately, there are aftermarket repair kits available online that can fix a lot of the common issues that these BMW amplifiers end up having.
You can purchase the repair kit and have an electronics technician do the soldering for you. Going this route will only set you back a few hundred dollars at most.
If you choose to simply replace the ASK unit or the Logic 7 amp, you’ll also have to get them reprogrammed to work with your car.
11. Active Grill Shutter and Air Flap Problems
The sixth generation 7-Series has active grill shutters and lower air flaps that tend to go bad in just a few years.
The active grill shutters and flaps open and close depending on the speed of the vehicle to help with engine cooling and aerodynamics.
However, they can easily stop working and get stuck in the open or closed position and cause a check engine light to come on.
This is a common issue in the 2016 to 2022 model years of the 7-Series, as well as other BMW models like the X3, X5, 5-Series and 6-Series.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“The front grill vents on my 740IX used to be closed when the engine is not hot anymore .
Now they don’t close anymore , they always stay open.”
“Been having problem with Active Grill. My 1st encounter was back in July (right after my 8K service) CEL came on with fault code P05A0, Active Grill Malfunction. Dealer order the parts and have it fixed in 2 days. Now another 8K miles later, I realized the Active Grill didn’t open or close every now and then so I took it in to have them check and do another 8K service.”
Due to the number of reported failures, BMW extended the warranty for the active shutters and air flaps to 15 years of 150,000 miles.
New OEM actuators usually cost around $100 each while the grill shutters and air flap assembly go for about $200 to $300, which isn’t all too expensive if you have to replace on your own.
BMW 7-Series Pros & Cons
- Refined and luxurious interior
- Powerful engine options
- Excellent ride comfort
- First to get BMW’s latest tech
- Packed with features and creature comforts
- Available all-wheel drive
- Poor resale
- Maintenance costs
What Do The Reviews Say?
“This 7 Series is one of Edmunds’ top-ranked large luxury sedans. It is loaded with all the latest technology BMW has to offer and is impressively spacious and comfortable.”
“There’s an astonishing amount of power and acceleration here. Right when you think you’re really hauling, the 750i has another gear that vaults it into triple digits with ease. This car is built for the autobahn after all. It’s a shame it’ll only ever use a fraction of its power on American highways.”
“It’s a big car with a big cabin that’s nearly impervious to any sound or feeling that would indicate there’s a world outside the windows. “Bank vault-quiet” is an overused descriptor, but from one of the cars that coined that cliche, it’s true here.”
“The seats are exceptionally comfortable, with loads of adjustability and quick heating and cooling, although our rear passengers weren’t as impressed with the massage function. This experience is world-class luxury cruising all day.”
“The semi-automated driving features are a boon for commuters, although the lane keeping assist makes pretty aggressive steering corrections even when you are paying attention.”
What’s the Resale Value of a BMW 7-Series?
Here’s a quick look at used car pricing for the 7-Series on Edmunds at the time of writing.