The BMW X3 made its debut in 2004 and is regarded as the world’s first compact luxury crossover.
Since then, the X3 has been lauded by experts throughout its three generations for its driving dynamics, technology, and quality.
If you’re researching the X3 you might be wondering about its average lifespan and reliability.
We’ll cover all that and more in this article, read on to find out…
Here is the short answer to how long BMW X3 last:
The BMW X3 can last on average between 150,000 to 200,000 miles with regular servicing, proper maintenance and conservative driving habits. Based on an annual mileage of 15,000 miles per year, this equates to 10 to 14 years of service before it will require major repairs or break down.
How Many Miles Can You Expect from a BMW X3?
German vehicles are highly rated for their quality craftsmanship and engineering excellence – and the BMW X3 is further proof.
A testament to the X3 is that we still see many first-generation models on our roads today. This BMW model is a robust vehicle that provides a premium driving experience and just about everything you could want in a luxury compact SUV.
During our investigations, we uncovered many reports of owners clocking up more than 150k miles with their X3’s original engines and transmissions. Although this was dependent on meticulous and thorough maintenance.
Once the odometer has surpassed the 150,000-mile threshold however, big-ticket components are much more likely to encounter problems and costs for major repairs and parts can become uneconomical.
The quality and design of the X3 plays a big role in its longevity however it will be up to the owner to ensure it lasts a long time.
The life expectancy of your X3 will be cut short if you avoid:
- Service appointments
- Routine oil changes
- Tire rotations
- Changing air filters
- Driving smoothly
- Checking fluid levels
As a general rule, BMWs are no different than other cars, just often more expensive to maintain.
Do BMW X3s Rust Easily?
Due to the use of higher quality materials and the under-body of the car being galvanized and sealed, BMW X3s are not expected to rust easily. There have been relatively few rust-related consumer complaints and many owners have reported how impressed they are with the rust-resilience of their X3.
To back up their rust-proofing treatments and paint quality, BMW offers a 12-year/unlimited mileage corrosion warranty against perforation by rust.
The Warranty does not cover corrosion caused by neglect, accident damage, stone chips or other external influences.
There have been some isolated rust issues reported in the following areas:
- Exhaust pipe and lower suspension arms
- Around the drainage openings at the bottom of the doors.
Rust problems are much more common in humid climates, places where roads are aggressively salted during the winter and coastal regions due to salt in the air.
If you live in a high-risk area, we recommend taking extra precautions, however rust-proofing an X3 is often not advised due to the high standard of rust proofing that takes place during manufacturing.
Tips to keep your X3 rust-free:
- Clean: Regularly wash your car (and its underside) especially during the winter to remove the salt that causes rust.
- Don’t allow paint chips and scratches to rust: Exposed metal will oxidize, if it’s beyond a DIY fix speak to your local body repair shop.
- Storage: Park your X3 in a garage if you have access to one, to keep your car dry and protected from the harsh weather elements and bird droppings.
- Waxing: Wax your car twice a year. Not only will this make your X3 look amazing, it also gives a protective coating against rust.
You may also be interested in our article: BMW X3 in Snow & WInter Driving
What is High Mileage for a BMW X3?
A BMW X3 with 100,000 miles is considered high mileage and therefore a riskier investment. Regardless of age or mileage, you should always be thorough when assessing the vehicle, especially its overall condition and service history.
Buying a used X3 with over 100k miles will not necessarily equate to a bad purchase, there are many instances of X3s lasting almost double that however, it’s important to do your due diligence.
Quite a few BMW buyers look for used vehicles in states (at least in the US) with little or no snow and moderate temperatures.
Full-service history is essential regardless of where the car has been driven, and you’ll find a lot of people in forums who swear by their rule that they’ll never buy a BMW out of warranty.
Some important considerations to make:
- Maintenance history. Check that the car was properly serviced and the owner can provide proof of this.
- Get a second opinion: Have it inspected by a mechanic.
- Check the CarFax. This doesn’t guarantee anything but can help give a clearer picture of wear and tear. Make sure it has minimal damage, if any. Analyze the information to make sure if something did happen, it wasn’t transmission related or mechanical.
- How long you are planning on keeping the car. If you’re planning on keeping the car for a long time, you should evaluate whether the short-term savings outweigh spending a bit extra into something more reliable.
- Number of previous owners. As a general rule, less is better. More owners usually means more wear and tear. If one family owned it and drove the full 100k miles and serviced the car, then you can almost guarantee they took good care of it throughout ownership.
Related: Where Are BMW X3 Made?
How Long Do BMW X3 Last Compared to Similar Car Models?
The following X3 comparisons will give you a better idea of its longevity, reliability, and ownership costs in relation to its competitors.
BMW X3 vs. Audi Q5
BMW’s X3 was the first premium compact SUV, and Audi followed suit with its Q5 model in 2008, both of these models lead their manufacturers’ SUV sales figures.
The Audi Q5 can last between 150,000 – 200,000 miles or 10 – 13 years, which is on par with the projected lifespan of the X3.
According to RepairPal’s website:
- The Q5 scores a below average reliability rating of 3.0/5, which places it 11th out of 14 luxury midsize SUVs.
- The X3 scores a below average reliability rating of 2.5/5 placing it 10th out of 11 luxury compact SUVs.
- The Q5 has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $928 vs. $1,034 for the X3.
Both SUVs are prime examples of German quality with slightly different interpretations of luxury.
Buyers will choose either of these models based on styling and brand affiliation, but the X3 pips the Audi for sporty appeal.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Audi Q5 Last?
BMW X3 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLC
The Mercedes-Benz GLC is another German compact SUV and is one of their best-selling models in the United States.
A well-kept Mercedes-Benz GLC can last between 200,000 – 250,000 miles or 13 – 17 years of service, slightly longer than the BMWs projection of 150,000 – 200,000 miles.
There is no Reliability Rating for the Mercedes-Benz GLC due to insufficient data
According to CarEdge,
- The GLC has a below average reliability rating when compared to SUVs in its segment, with an average score 3% lower than its rivals.
- The X3 also scores a below average reliability rating of 15% worse than its segment rivals.
- The GLC’s annual average repair and maintenance cost is $1,039 vs. $1,034 for the X3.
While the GLC is more expensive to repair, it is generally more reliable than the X3.
These models offer the same performance and features, but buyers have chosen the GLC over the X3, according to sales figures for 2020.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Mercedes GLC Last?
BMW X3 vs. Volvo XC60
The Swedish automaker Volvo is synonymous with creating the safest vehicles.
The XC60 SUV carries on this proud heritage for the brand, which was first launched in 2008 with a second-generation following in 2017.
The Volvo XC60 can last between 200,000 – 250,000 miles, this is slightly longer than the X3s 150,000 – 200,000 miles.
According to RepairPal,
- The XC60 has an above average reliability rating of 4.0/5 and is ranked 4th out of 11 luxury compact SUVs.
- The BMW X3 scores a below average reliability rating of 2.5/5 placing it 10th out of 11 luxury compact SUVs.
- The XC60 has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $746, vs. $1034 for the X3.
Buyers of the XC60 will select this vehicle for its safety, reliability and lower maintenance costs, but will select the X3 over the XC60 for its sportier driving dynamics and brand prestige.
Please also read our article: How Long Do Volvo XC60 Last?
Is the BMW X3 Reliable?
The X3 pioneered the compact SUV sector, and is one of the top picks in the segment however it is not well known for its reliability. Our investigation concludes that the X3 is a reasonably dependable SUV.
- The Kelley Blue Book consumer rating index gives the X3 a reliability rating of 4.3 out of 5.
- RepairPal gave the X3 a below average reliability rating of 2.5 / 5.0 which places it in 10th place out of 11 luxury compact SUVs.
- JD Power rated the X3 with a quality and reliability rating of 79 / 100 .
- UK car website WhatCar, ranked the X3 11th out of 14 luxury compact SUVs in terms of reliability.
Research has shown for many X3 owners, reliability isn’t at the top of their criteria, whilst a car that looks good and has excellent performance is, and on these fronts the X3 delivers.
How Reliable is the BMW X3 Compared to Other Luxury SUVs
In this section we compare the X3 to the other luxury SUVs, this is based on data collected from Repair Pal.
As you can see, it sits quite far down the table.
|Lexus RX 450h||4.0/5.0|
|Lexus RX 350||4.0/5.0|
|Lexus GX 640||3.5/5.0|
|Land Rover LR4||2.0|
|Average score for |
Midsize Luxury SUVs
The Best and Worst Years for BMW X3
Like any vehicle on our roads today, the X3 has had its good and bad years…
Worst Model Year
According to Car Complaints, the 2013 X3 was the worst model year and was infamous for engine problems. This complaint occurred at an average mileage of 83,000 miles and cost an average of $3,400 to repair.
The 2013 X3 received 36 complaints – the highest across all model years – with problems ranging from broken timing chains and suspension faults to transmission troubles.
The worst complaints were related to the engine, specifically:
- Broken timing chain guides
- Engine shutting down while driving
- Engine failure
Car Complaints rated the following as the worst X3 problems:
|Problem||Model||Cost to Fix||Average Mileage|
|#1 Broken Timing Chain Guide||2013||$6,600||80,000 miles|
|#2 Faulty Sun Roof||2005||$4,000||95,000 miles|
|#3 Transmission Failure||2004||$3,500||134,000 miles|
Best Model Year
The 2020 model has so far not received any complaints and is our top choice thanks to its next-generation engines, advanced technology, and the addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain – dubbed xDrive30e.
The 2020 model has also scored the Top Safety Pick + award with “Good” and “Superior” safety ratings from the IIHS.
This applies only to vehicles with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights
Notable mentions also go to the 2017 X3 which has been dubbed the most reliable version with Consumer Reports issuing it 4 / 5 for reliability.
Model Year and Number of Complaints
Here are the number of complaints for each X3 model year, from the Car Complaints database:
|Model Year||Number of Complaints|
|2020||0 (Best Year)|
|2013||36 (Worst Year)|
What About Recalls for These Models?
The BMW X3 has a total of 35 recalls across all model years.
Recalls are manufacturing faults repaired at no charge to the consumer.
Here are the total number of recall campaigns per year for the BMW X3:
- 2021: 2
- 2020: 8
- 2019: 5
- 2018: 5
- 2017: 4
- 2016: 4
- 2015: 0
- 2014: 3
- 2013: 2
- 2012: 0
- 2011: 1
- 2010: 0
- 2009: 0
- 2008: 1
- 2007: 0
- 2006: 0
- 2005: 0
- 2004: 0
- 2003: 0
BMW X3 Model Year List
Here are all the model years for BMW’s X3:
First Generation (E83):
- 2003 BMW X3
- 2004 BMW X3
- 2005 BMW X3
- 2006 BMW X3
- 2007 BMW X3
- 2008 BMW X3
- 2009 BMW X3
- 2010 BMW X3
Second Generation (F25):
- 2010 BMW X3
- 2011 BMW X3
- 2012 BMW X3
- 2013 BMW X3
- 2014 BMW X3
- 2015 BMW X3
- 2016 BMW X3
- 2017 BMW X3
Third Generation (G01):
- 2017 BMW X3
- 2018 BMW X3
- 2019 BMW X3
- 2020 BMW X3
- 2021 BMW X3
- 2022 BMW X3
Are BMW X3 Expensive to Maintain?
According to RepairPal, the BMW X3 has an annual repair cost of $1034, while the average for luxury mid-size SUVs is $652.
BMWs are generally regarded as being expensive in terms of ownership costs due to their specialty parts and technology.
|Model||Average Annual |
|Frequency of |
|Probability of |
|Lexus RX 450h||$540||0.5||7%|
|Lexus RX 350||$550||0.4||8%|
|Lexus GX 640||$770||0.8||9%|
|Land Rover LR4||$1,241||0.9||15%|
|Average score for |
Midsize Luxury SUVs
How Long Do the Brakes Last?
The brakes pads on a BMW X3 are expected to last between 30,000 to 70,000 miles or 2 to 5 years, depending on driving habits.
- If you drive in a lot of stop-and-go traffic you can expect your brakes to wear out faster.
- Using smooth controlled braking will help your brakes last longer.
- Full and complete stops from a high speed are the #1 cause of premature brake pad wear.
How Long Do the Tires Last?
The stock tires on a BMW X3 will last on average between 50,000 – 60,000 miles before requiring replacement, this will see owners changing tires every 3 to 5 years.
- Have your tires rotated every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear.
- Check your tire pressures every few weeks to make sure they’re at the correct tire pressure.
- Inspect your tires if you notice a change in handling, noise, or vibration.
How Long Do the Transmissions Last?
BMW X3 transmissions can last 150,000 – 200,000 miles with proper care and maintenance.
The first two generations of the BMW X3 (from 2003 to 2017) were equipped with manual and automatic transmissions.
The most recent generation, produced from 2017, is solely equipped with an automatic transmission.
How Long Do BMW X3 Batteries Last?
BMW X3 batteries usually last on average between 3-5 years. This can vary, depending on factors such as climate, driving habits, the type of battery, and more.
Four tips below to help prolong your X3 battery:
- Keep your battery tightly fastened: The vibrations of your car can loosen the connections, potentially resulting in short circuits and internal damage.
- Limit short rides: Quick car rides prevent the battery from fully charging. The Stop/Start system is also known to hinder the recharging of X3 batteries. To help maintain battery power, drive your X3 frequently and for extended periods.
- Storage: Keep your X3 stored indoors away from extreme changes in temperature.
- Control Corrosion: Clean the terminals (toothbrush dipped in baking soda and water mixture) and keep them free from build-up.
X3 batteries are located in the right side of the luggage compartment, under the carpet trim.
How Long Do the Spark Plugs Last?
BMW X3 spark plugs will requiring changing every 60,000 miles.
They are usually inspected and if needed, replaced when you go for routine maintenance.
What About Insurance Cost?
The BMW X3 has an average cost of $1,562 for full comprehensive insurance coverage per year, or $130 per month. Older year models cost less to insure.
Insurance costs can vary from person to person; be sure to shop around to find the best possible deal.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do BMW X4 Last?
Tips to Prolong the Life of Your BMW X3
- Adopt smooth driving habbits, this includes accelerating and braking, the less stress you put the engine under the longer it will last.
- Keep up to date with factory-recommended maintenance, use only a reputable mechanic or BMW service center.
- Always read the owner’s manual to learn the location of important components, what your X3 needs and what quantity and to understand the symbols and dashboard warning lights.
- Regularly wash your X3 to remove dirt and grime to protect the paint and undercarriage from rust developing.
- Check your BMW X3’s engine oil, coolant, brake, and transmission fluid levels and top them up when required.
- Your X3 can handle gravel roads and snow-filled roads, but you should always drive it carefully off-road.
- Storing your X3 in a garage will help to protect it against the weather’s elements and bird droppings.
- Don’t tow loads heavier than is recommended.
- Pay attention to warning and information lights on your vehicle’s instrument panel.
- Keep on top of repairs to prevent them from developing into larger problems.