The BMW X5 was first introduced in 1999 and has subsequently become one of the most popular midsize luxury SUVs ever made.
Throughout its four generations, it’s always been praised for its nimble handling, luxurious interior and spacious cabin.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the common issues BMW X5 owners have had to deal with and different ways to fix them.
Table of Contents
1. Excessive Oil Consumption
BMW X5s with V8 engines have had lots of reports of excessive oil consumption.
It’s more common in the 2007 to 2013 model years of the X5 which were equipped with the N62 and N63 V8 engines. However, newer generations equipped with the updated N63TU engine can also suffer from excessive oil consumption.
Oil consumption is quite normal in most high performance engines. BMW considers burning 1 quart every 1,000 miles as normal, but many owners go through 1 quart at just over 500 miles.
Symptoms of excessive oil consumption include:
- Low oil warnings in between oil changes
- Blue or white smoke from the exhaust
- Engine misfires
- Lack of power
- Poor gas mileage
- Fouled spark plugs
Here’s how a few owners described their experience on BimmerPost.com:
“My 2014 50i burns some oil , usually get about 2700-3000 miles before it asks for 2 quarts but my last time it was 2,000 miles and it needed 2 quarts again.”
“My previous 2013 E70 50i-N63 needed 2 quarts between oil intervals after the first year of ownership.”
“We bought a 2012 50i about 4 months ago. It does go though a little oil. Slow enough don’t notice in the exhaust but in 4 months and maybe 3000 miles have had to add two quarts.”
Excessive oil consumption is often caused by worn out piston rings. This causes oil to enter the combustion chamber and get burned up in the process.
However, in the case of the X5’s V8 engines, oil consumption issues are often caused by premature wear of the valve stem seals. Once the seals are replaced, oil consumption becomes negligible. This repair can cost you roughly $2,000.
If you’re worried about excessive oil consumption, it’s best to get oil changes every 5,000 miles.
You can check the oil levels via the vehicle settings on the dash or infotainment system and top it up before it gets too low.
2. Water Pump Failures
Second and third generation BMW X5s have been known to have early water pump failures.
It’s more common in older models from the 2007 to 2010 model years which were equipped with the 3.0-liter 6-cylinder N52 engine. But it can also happen in newer cars with the N55 engine which was used until 2018.
Water pumps are typically considered wear items and are usually replaced at around 100,000 miles. But the X5 models mentioned above have electric pumps that can fail without warning at just over 50,000 miles. Some only last 30,000 to 40,000 miles.
Here’s how two owners described their experience on the XOutpost.com forum:
“Water pump on my 09 X5 3.0i failed at 72k miles.”
“I’ve had mine fail at 55k miles because I’m mostly in city traffic and miles. Others who have had the water pump fail at 80k miles or higher typically have highway miles.”
When the water pump fails, your engine is going to start overheating. If you notice higher engine temperatures, it’s best to pull over and let the engine cool down before driving off again.
If you keep driving with an overheating engine, you could warp the cylinder heads and cause more expensive engine damage.
BMW water pumps are not very expensive and usually cost around $300. This can be easily replaced by most qualified mechanics. Most people also change the thermostat when replacing the water pump to avoid future engine cooling problems.
3. Oil Leaks
Oil leaks in the BMW X5 are fairly common as the seals and gaskets wear out after several years of use.
Some engines like the M54, N52, N55 and N63 are more prone to developing oil leaks than others.
Common areas where oil can leak include;
- Valve cover and gasket
- Oil filter housing
- Oil pan
- Front and rear main seal
- Turbo oil return line
Here’s how one owner on the XBimmers.com described their issue:
“I’m starting to have some issues with my 2011 N63 X5. I have an oil leak that was diagnosed as possibly the upper oil pan. but I have also seen some evidence that says it could be the oil return pipe from the turbo chargers.”
Aside from visually checking the engine bay and underneath the car for leaks, you should regularly monitor your oil levels.
Only the first generation BMW X5 (E53 model) has an oil dipstick under the hood. In newer models, oil levels can be checked by going into the vehicle’s settings via the dash or the infotainment system.
If the car is losing a lot of oil, a mechanic should be able to figure out where the leak is coming from. If you can’t get it addressed immediately, top off the oil regularly to make sure the engine is properly lubricated.
Fortunately, most oil leaks are fairly easy to fix and new gaskets only cost a few dollars.
4. Air Suspension Issues
Many BMW X5s are equipped with the optional air suspension system which offers a more plush ride but is also significantly more expensive to maintain.
Here’s how a few owners described their issues:
“We replaced the rear air suspension on both wheels last year on the 2015 x5d which had 145k miles at the time. The cost was 2k.”
“My X5 is a ’16 model with only 35K on the clock and the car is not driven hard at all. One bag went out last year and it was $204 for the bag, $240 for labor at my Indie garage.”
“Well, rear of car started sagging last night. Open the tailgate and I can hear the compressor kick on, few seconds later I can hear air hissing from underneath somewhere. So it’s leaking.”
Common air suspension parts that can fail include:
- Air bags
- Air compressor
- Air lines
- Ride height sensor
In some cases, a faulty ECU can also cause air suspension problems, but this is relatively rare.
Getting your air suspension fixed at the dealer can be very expensive. Fortunately there are much more affordable aftermarket options, especially when it comes to the air bags, that are highly rated and are just as reliable as the OEM parts.
An experienced mechanic should be able to diagnose and fix most air suspension problems as they are fairly common in other luxury vehicles. Ideally, you should take your car to a mechanic or garage that specializes in BMWs.
5. Fuel Pump Failures
Some BMW X5 models are more prone to have fuel pump failures.
Symptoms of a faulty fuel pump include:
- Hard starting
- Engine shuts off after a few minutes of idling
- Check engine light
- Drivetrain Malfunction error
- Reduced power and acceleration
- Engine stall
Fuel pump issues are common in X5s equipped with early versions of the N55 engine. This engine is the updated version of the N54 which had similar problems.
The second generation BMW X5 (E70 model) started using the N55 in 2011 up until 2013. With the introduction of the third gen X5 (F15 model) for the 2014 model year, BMW updated the fuel pump design.
Fuel pump failures are also common in the diesel models of the third generation BMW X5.
Here is how a few owners described their experience:
“I have a 2015 X5 diesel. The fuel pump failed at 17k miles sending metal particles through the fuel system.”
“I purchased my used X5 in Dec. with 59K on it, not CPO. Last week the engine malfunction – reduced power code was thrown and I am now told that the HPFP needs to be replaced.”
“2011 BMW X5 xDrive 35i. Engine light on and also seen engine malfunction message. Took my X5 to dealer and he just called and told me that they like to replace High Pressure fuel pump and spark plugs.”
If you suspect that your fuel pump is failing, it’s recommended to perform a diagnostic scan for trouble codes to confirm the issue. A replacement fuel pump typically costs a few hundred dollars and can be installed with relative ease by an experienced mechanic.
BMW also recalled approximately 6,000 2014 to 2018 diesel X5s to address the potential sudden loss of power caused by a faulty fuel pump.
6. Plastic Cooling System Parts
Like most modern BMWs, the X5 uses a lot of plastic parts for its cooling system components which can become brittle and crack over time.
When the cooling system starts to leak, you could potentially run out of coolant and cause the engine to overheat.
Some of the critical components you’ll want to keep an eye on include:
- Hoses and pipes
- Expansion tank
- Parts of the radiator
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:
“I woke up this morning to a coolant leak under my X5 50i. I didn’t notice it leaking when I parked it last night so not sure when it occurred. I popped the hood and found coolant around the reservoir tank.”
“Had the warning pop up on my wife’s 2016 X3 28i. Pulled over and restarted the car still had same warning so drove over to the dealer. The reservoir was empty and it took almost 3/4 gallon to fill up.”
Checking the coolant levels regularly every few months instead of waiting for the low coolant warning to pop up is recommended. If the engine overheats, pull over and have it towed to prevent further damage.
As the car ages and approaches the 10-year mark, it’s common to have more cooling system component failures. But these don’t usually fail all at once and you can replace them as they break.
7. Transmission Problems
The 6-speed transmission used in the second generation BMW X5 has been known to develop issues at higher mileages.
The ZF 6-speed transmission was used in all X5 models from the 2007 to 2013 model years. In 2011, the xDrive35i and xDrive50i switched to the ZF 8-speed which didn’t suffer from the same issues as the 6-speed.
The mechatronic unit in the 6-speed transmission can start having problems at 50,000 to 100,000 miles. This assembly houses the valve bodies and solenoids which control the flow of hydraulic fluid inside the transmission.
The mechatronic seal adapter and sleeve are usually the components that fail and cause shifting issues such as:
- Erratic shifting
- Delayed shifting
- Transmission slipping/hesitation
- Harsh or rough gear shifts
- Unable to shift out of park
Here is how one owner described their issue:
“My e70 X5D with 100k was hard shifting from 2nd to 3rd. It happened more often when the car was cold, but it still hard shifted from time to time when warm.”
Fortunately, mechatronic failures don’t require replacing or rebuilding the transmission. There are many shops that specialize in rebuilding the mechatronic units which can cost you $600 to $1,000.
In some cases, you might just need to drain and fill the transmission fluid a few times to fix the issue. It’s also often recommended to replace the transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles to avoid major issues.
Related: BMW X5 Beeping? (11 Common Causes)
8. Steering Wheel Noise
Some early models of the fourth gen BMW X5 (G05 model) have issues where the steering wheel makes a squeaking or grinding noise when it’s turned.
Here’s how a few owners on BimmerPost.com described their issue:
“I have 2 000 miles on my 2020 G05. When the car is hot, my steering wheel began to creak when turning. The noise is directly from the steering column behind the wheel.”
“Purchased a 2019 X5 back in June and immediately noticed the same squeaking. Similar symptoms as well, not from cold, but after about 30 minutes of running the engine.”
“My MY22 has this issue as well. Exactly as previously stated, only can hear it after it’s driven for a little while.”
Many people who have taken their cars back to the dealer to investigate the issue have reported that they needed to get their steering rack replaced.
The sound is likely caused by a part rubbing against the steering rack, but most dealers usually choose to replace the entire electric power steering system.
BMW also announced a recall for the 2019 to 2020 model years of the X5 to address an improperly attached steering column shaft bearing plate, which could be what’s causing the noise. However, owners of newer model years have also reported having the issue, so the verdict is still out if there is another underlying issue.
BMW X5 Pros & Cons
- Good handling for its size
- Cutting edge tech
- Luxurious interior
- Refinement and build quality
- Powerful engine options
- Comfortable ride
- Spacious cabin and cargo area
- Third row seats
- Out of warranty maintenance can be expensive
- Base models lack many standard features
- Some models/engines have known issues
What Do The Reviews Say?
“The X5 does a lot of things well. It’s comfortable and spacious, and it offers loads of in-car tech. You can even get it with a third-row seat, albeit a small one, to give you seven-passenger capacity in a pinch. There are a few engines to pick from as well, from a fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid to a high-performance V8.”
“We tested the xDrive40i. The six-cylinder engine is suitably powerful and responsive enough for the daily commute. Whether you pick this engine or the V8, the X5 is one of the quickest of the non-performance-oriented SUVs available. BMW also offers an optional off-road package that enhances the X5’s capability to take on dirt roads and trails.”
“Fitted with its optional air suspension, the X5 rides fairly smoothly, but harsher impacts and pavement seams can still be felt in the cabin. Sport mode is stiffer and transmits more of the road surface into the cabin, but thankfully the X5 isn’t ever uncomfortably harsh. At highway speeds, road and wind noise is minimal.”
“The X5 has a technologically advanced interior, but the mass of buttons on the center console and the fiddly climate controls are difficult to learn.”
“The X5 is priced on the high side of the segment, and that’s before loading it up with options and features. But we think the build quality and capability are worthy of the price. The durable leather, excellent use of soft-touch materials, tight gaps in all interior panels, and a general feeling of solidity are BMW hallmarks. It also comes with significant towing and hauling capability.”
What’s the Resale Value of a BMW X5?
Here’s a quick look at used car pricing on Edmunds at the time of writing.