The 5 Most Reliable BMW 3 Series Models You Can Buy

The 5 Most Reliable BMW 3 Series Models You Can Buy

Hey you. Come over here. I got a secret, yeah you, come on over, I got a secret for you. Come here closer, do you want to know what the most reliable 3-series BMW is? I’m gonna share that with you right now. Okay everybody, we’re gonna review my top picks for most reliable 3-series BMWs today that money can buy. Now generally as a rule let’s get to this, there’s certain things you want to avoid for sure without even talking about specific models to buy, certain things you want to avoid in the 3-series marketplace, v8 motors, SMG transmissions, DCT transmissions, all wheel drive systems, turbos, those are all things that add complexity to an engine and unfortunately a lot of the modern F30 and F80 engines have numbers of features and as a result the F30 and F80 cars ,they’re still fairly new, so it’s kind of hard to judge them right now, but they themselves may have a lot of issues as time goes on, so as a rule I’m not saying don’t buy the F30 and F80 series of 3-series. That’s the newest stuff. Basically what I am saying though, if you’re going to buy them, make sure you get the latest and the greatest, then hopefully you have some warranty, you’re satisfied with the service history, and that overall the miles are reasonable, after all these are the latest from the brand and they can’t all be bad. It’s just that time will tell which ones are weaker than other ones. So as a rule if you want the later cars, don’t necessarily feel free to shy away from them, I’m just going to give you what I know as the most reliable three series BMWs. Now let’s go on another thing that you want to be watching out for, our transmissions. So you’ve got to understand that BMW has used different variations General Motors or ZF transmissions along the way. ZF is the primary used transmissions throughout the series, they still use them today in many or more capacities, as an example the new m5, but they use ZF transmissions way back in lauded the 3-series cars in the 80’s, 90’s, and such and you’ve got to understand that they are actually very robust. So as a rule they shift well, they work well, and if well-maintained, are very, very reliable. That being said an automatic transmission is not a bad choice in busy cities and stop-and-go traffic, but at the end of the day a manual transmission is always the more sporting touch, as well there’s less moving parts, so likely you’re gonna have less issues in the long run with a manual gearbox. It’s just generally more fun that way, so before we get into our list of the top five choices that I have for you, you make sure that you hit the subscribe button of the channel. Don’t forget the notification bell so you know when the next great video comes up as well as like and I’d love to hear your comments down below. So let’s get moving, the first choice of most reliable, we’ll start with the oldest most reliable 3-series BMW goes to the e36 325i, and that is equipped with a manual gearbox, so that run would be in the 1991 to 1995 years, and was actually a very sporting car in its day. Still to this day it has a very spunky engine with a hundred and eighty nine horsepower in a manual gearbox, this car was guaranteed to provide lots of fun. Now some of you guys might ask what about the 328 that came later, well no the 328 was actually a different engine type, and actually had issues with high sulfur content, would tend to eat away on the NICUs aligners that you found in the 328 cars and because of that NICUs all started eating away from high sulfur content back in those earlier years, that’s why I would primarily recommend a 325. It was relatively bulletproof and you didn’t have those issues, it was actually a different generation of engine than the 328, and I would be more than satisfied with a hundred and eighty nine horsepower provided. So my second choice goes to the e46 330i, 330CI, or even better the 330 ZHP which is the the extra performance oriented car that they actually BMW bumped up the power a wee bit, and added a whole bunch of track rated suspension bits and pieces, as well or some cosmetics like spoiler up grades and things, but in essence it was an upgraded 330ci and the zhp package was a really, really nice performance version. That being said, we’re really essentially talking about reliability and the 330 had the 3 liter inline 6 engine that was more or less the same as what you found in the 325 of the same generation, which was the m54 motor that shared the same bore as the 325, but had an increased stroke over the 325, and therefore created a wee bit more power up from the 189 you had. Now it had 225 horsepower. So my third choice in terms of top reliability for three series BMWs goes to the e46 325i, as you can tell, but the XI you’ll notice the XI on there, that’s the all-wheel-drive version I would probably be without that unless you really need the all-wheel drive or CI or any of those variations of the 325, which also uses the basic engine architecture that you found in the 330 and it’s the m54. The reason I say this is the most reliable, is because it’s the tried and true, the silky smooth inline 6 engine that BMW is so well known for, in this guys in the 325 in the e46 variation, it produces a hundred and eighty nine horsepower again, same from you would find in a e36, but again just in a slightly newer skin, but that 325 engine was one of the most reliable BMWs ever produced, and when you coupled that with a manual gearbox, there was almost nothing you needed to worry about, other than standard maintenance. Yeah you could still have water pump, so you could have leaky valve cover gaskets, I mean those aren’t necessarily uncommon tasks for any BMW, but really that was about all you had to worry about, everything else was pretty basic, the car was fun to drive, and it just kept on going, and they had such a strong reputation, and were very, very popular for many many years. So my fourth favorite and most reliable 3-series BMW, again that silky smooth inline 6, goes to the e90 328i, this time the 325 is actually still a great engine, but because the 328 now uses the same engine setup as the basic 330, which is the m52 engine, and it has been vastly improved upon over the previous 328, it’s actually based on the previous generation 330 in the e46, the new n52 has proven to be far more reliable than the previous 328 engine. It’s as good as anything the 325s or the 330s from the 46, and this time it produced about 231 horsepower and about 200 foot-pounds of torque, and again there’s a common theme here, straight-6 engine by BMW, buttery smooth, super reliable. And so the fifth choice for the most reliable 3-series BMW goes to the e90 330i, that shares the same n52 engine as you find in the 328, the difference is some slight fine-tuning. This engine of course N52 as a rule took advantage of some upgrades from exhaust tuning, DME tuning, as well as intake manifold is upgraded from the previous generations of 330, and 325. That’s how they extracted more power, but now the 330 in the 90 produced up to 268 horsepower, and they produce these cars in 2005 to about 2013, so that would to me would be the most, the newest version, of a reliable silky smooth inline six BMW that money can buy, with performance in mind of course. Don’t forget after that BMW all of a sudden started adopting turbochargers and went with smaller engines, as you saw a previous review idea of a newer 330, it actually had a turbocharged inline-4, again yet to be verified or proven how reliable they are, time will tell, so that’s my top 5 most reliable BMWs, the common theme here, you have to understand everybody, is they were all inline sixes. That truly is BMWs benchmark engine series. So hope everybody enjoyed that video, please make sure if you haven’t already subscribed, make sure you d,o as well don’t forget to check the most unreliable 3-series BMW, a previous video I just recently posted. Don’t forget to check that one out, so if you don’t want one of these cars, just make sure you don’t fall into the trap of one of those other cars, unless you’re prepared to spend the cash. So thanks again everybody for coming out. I’m glad you watched the video, I hope to see on the next one, and we’ll see you real soon everybody. Bye bye.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Is the 316 Ti Compact 2001 a reliable car? I found one in great condition with 83k miles in it! I dont know if i should buy it or not! Plz help☺️

  2. The thing that most folks don't understand about about BMW, is that they're much more reliable compared to anything else WHEN PUSHED to their performance limit on an everyday basis. Plenty of manufacturers produce a car that is much more reliable IF you drive them like a Prius; however, none have proven more reliable if you drive hard & abusive, every day, & at any chance you get. The more "commodity priced" cars from other manufacturers that are often praised for their reliability & durability, will quickly start degrading into a pile of scrap if you're incessantly abusive on the throttle, brakes, & steering wheel every chance you get, where you barely even get mediocre performance when things haven't yet gone to shit from the abuse…

    If you're wanting a fuel efficient commuter car that's dead nuts reliable for 20K+ miles between any needed maintenance, BMW is NOT what you should be looking for, AT ALL. However, if you're wanting as much reliability as you can get in a daily driver that also serves as a trackable & fairly capable "hobby race car" every weekend (or on your daily commute to work everyday like I do), then you'd be HARD pressed to find something more reliable & durable than a BMW 3 series.

  3. So I want to buy an E36 I should go for the 325i and basically the engine and transmission is bullet proof as long as I keep up regular maintenance?
    What parts should I immediately check on and or change once I've purchased one?

  4. E92 330i from 2007 (N52 engine). I bought it in 2013 with 100k km (62k miles).

    Two problems: 11 years old battery had to be replaced in 2018 (cost 100 euros where I live); rear parking sensor stopped working in 2016 (don't need it, won't fix it).

    Now with 145k km. Touch wood.

  5. What are your opinions on the e46 4 cylinders? The 316 and 318? Im thinking of buying one, im not too concerned about the power since it will be a daily driver, i just love the look of it but will it be reliable enough?

  6. Does the Manual transmission have that much of an advantage over the automatics?
    I'm looking to buy either an e36 or e46 325i, but I really prefer auto transmissions as I am quite lazy of a driver.

  7. Is a bmw 328i 2013 f30 with 86k miles on it a good choice for 12k it is fully loaded and I would like to know if it will be reliable to last me about 3 or 4 more years without major problems. It is has been inspected and is in pretty good condition

  8. 330 ZHP 310k kms, just wrecked my matching 330 M Sport with 345k km, super reliable cars and fun as balls. M54 oil ring design did have consumption issues sometimes, but generally a livable, self limiting condition.

  9. Would be helpful if you use dates of the models .
    to go along with the platform. Not everybody knows BMWs by the platform numbers

  10. Glad the e90 330i is there. I'm interested in a 2011 330i which is just 30k kms and looks in great shape. Costing me 14.5k$ What do you say guys?

  11. 330ci E46 …. 142,000 miles and 13 years old, still a silky smooth engine, only issues been suspension (cheap easy repair) and oil leaks (cheap gasket replace).

  12. Are the F30 335’s reliable? I’m looking to get one as a long term daily (5+ years of ownership) but I’m afraid it’ll cause me to stress a lot. Please help

  13. Hi, please don’t take this the wrong way, I would recommend that instead of the N52B30 engine, the N53B30 one. The N52 seems to be plagued by valvetronic issues. The N53 was not.

  14. YOU SURE DID YOUR HOMEWORK. Our 97 E36 z3 roadster is simply stunning. Also done almost 400 000km s and still same basic engine. An engineering master piece indeed.

  15. Yes I'm glad you said the 328i is super reliable, I'm thinking of buying a used 2008 328i but don't want it to fall apart as soon as I drive it

  16. Got my '87 E30 325 new. It's on its 3rd battery, each lasting about 13 years. Just replaced the original clutch @240k miles. These things are pretty solid IMO.

  17. I bought an 09 e90 328 with 48k miles and within 2k miles I've had 4.5k in repairs (most repaired for free under SULEV warranty). Honestly scared of this car now.

  18. Avoid the f30 with the N20 engine, I4 turbo petrol. Chain tensioner goes bad very early on those, it’s a factory fault but was improved on cars made right before facelift or after the facelift

  19. I'm looking to purchase a 2009 328i with 130k. No major mechanical issue but found out through the interwebs that the water pump, thermostat and cooling system commonly fail. Any input or advice ?
    Btw the video was informative and detailed. Keep the vids coming.

  20. I drive a 2004 E46 ZHP sedan in Imola Red (usually an M series only color) on brown leather. I have 88k miles on it and still love the way this thing drives and handles twisty mountain roads. Such a blast to drive!
    So far my biggest issue is the upgraded Xenon headlights. They give off so little light that I can see my cars shadow in front of me when a car is driving behind me with its headlights on too. Add in a rainy or snowy night and they’re dangerous. I cant afford to spend $2k to replace them (and that’s just the parts cost, it doesn’t include installation fees).
    Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can affordably correct this problem?

  21. Hi; I drive a 2002 325ci coupe. I don't drive it much. It only has 70k miles on it. So far the fuel pump, spark plugs, the electric window switches, ignition coils, Mass air flow sensor, the valve cover gasket, window washer fluid pump, The air conditioner resistor (not sure if that's the correct name), The car battery, Then there are the normal wear and tear items, the oil filter, oil changes, cabin air filter, engine air filter, driver and passenger airbags replaced (dealer cost), Control arm bushings. Presently, I hear a light thumping sound when the car is in idling. I can't determine where the sound is located. Any ideas?

  22. Another great video with important and very objective knowledge for the BMW lovers. Tanks for the tips. I keep my eyes open when I buy one BMW. Don't stop to send us your experience! Thanks a lot.

  23. 2011 BMW 328i Xdrive sedan, here.
    75k miles.
    Oil and service and everything reported with car fax since birth.

    No major issues as of yet.

    Crossing my fingers.

  24. Glad he mentioned the two cars I own E36 325I coupe (Automatic) and a 330ci auto also , but i wish yanks would either NOT wear a cap when giving advice or worse …wear it backwards… but he knows his stufff

  25. Top 5 Bmw models? Um None. Dont buy a bmw unless you want to be broke. For a 'luxury' German car you would think those engineers would make a reliable vehicle. Nope.

  26. Just bought my first BMW last week. It's a 2008 328xi 6spd Manual with 80k miles, all service history done at the dealer, it was a 1 owner car (a woman in her 50's). I paid $7600 but I got it at a dealer so after taxes, registration, and dealer fees(bs $599),and insurance, it cost me $8900 "out the door" and I could not be happier!

  27. Would love to see a video on the most reliable inline 6 cyl. engine from ANY and ALL car makers. My top vote goes to my previous daily vehicle which was a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with the 4.0L straight 6. My jeep, which I still actually have, has 270k miles on it and it still fires right up every time. Jeep spent many years perfecting that engine and unfortunately stopped making it in 2006. Who knew a Chrysler product could be so bulletproof?!?!

  28. I have the 325i 197k miles. I’ve been stressing about repairs because I don’t have typical bmw driver money.😂

  29. Rip to me :/ I love my 2011 n55 just hit 75,000 miles no problems to report yet! Miss my my 2005 e46 tho, it got totaled at 155,000 miles ):

  30. Got my first ever bimmer this month and it's a 2005, 325i E46. I love it more after watching this video. And it's a manual shifting. Enough said.

  31. Got me E92 330i m sport and I absolutely love this car. Naturally aspirated engine 272 bhp. Beautiful

  32. Sir, how about 318i model? Is it still reliable and good at maintaining? Any big issues or problems ? Thanks sir. Much appreciated

  33. Had an e90 328 back in 2017 only problems I had were all the of the recalls that happened that year unfortunately car was totaled but I'm getting an e92 328 this week

  34. How reliable is 318? automatic 2011 105kw 2L – Should I buy? or not? My use is home to office to home inside the city, halting once in every 30 seconds.

  35. In my opinion, e46 is one of the most reliable cars and also the most beautiful lines in BMWs, and even compared to other makes as well.

  36. I still drive my 1982 320 coupe 6cyl in line with manual 4 shifts made totally in Ger. I dislike the new versions. Thank U….

  37. I have a 330cd e46 293bhp 478ftlbs here in the 🇬🇧. It’s my second I had a saloon 330d that was on 191,000 miles and it’s still going!

  38. Hey new sub & I Stumbled on your page recently in the midst of checking out some BMWs . Looking at the x5 as well as the 6 series. Basically looking for as much get up and go for 12k as possible while not buying the first POS to break down at the same time. I've owned a 3 series manual in the past and ABSOLOUTLY loved it. You actually get to drive the car and when you ask for the power , it produces. I know this is about the 3 series but couldn't see any reviews on the 6. Anything to stay away from? Much appreciated.

  39. My 8 year old E90 with an N52 has been very good to me. The only issue I've had with her so far is a broken sport/manual mode. They designed it in such a way that it puts strain on the wires every time you use sport or manual mode causing them to break over time (it's repairable though so no biggie). After 5 years and 80k km of thrashing, she's still going strong. Keep up with your maintenance and you've got nothing to worry about, they're tanks.

  40. E46 325 or ci 2.2 convertible wish i never sold it pxed it and bought a R129 280 spent over 3k on it owed me over 10 k and sold it for 4 to get rid of THROTTLE BODY from Mercedes-Benz was over 2k ALONE and they had to make me one lucky i got a second hand cost 300 pound uk but very expensive cars cool vid bro

  41. Here in Brazil we have few BWM, they are quite expensive, even buying used. Due to the high value of the car, I am researching a lot before purchasing one. I am looking for a second hand sedan, something between 2006 and 2012/13 my biggest concern is the durability of the car.

    I had VW Golf from older generations, Toyota Corola, Honda Civic, which despite having their problems the mechanics are extremely sturdy, the Corola and Civic easily run 500,000 km (approximately 311.000 miles, when measuring distance from you). without any mechanical problems, leaks or anything, just basic maintenance, fluids, brakes, shock absorbers. They are cars that do not break, are not auto mechanics, they are very resistant to motor and gear.

    As I said, I started researching a sedan, I was frightened by how much negative feedback from customers of that company. This here in Brazil we have few running and with much complaint. That's when I decided to look for information from other countries where there are more BWM's running. That's when I really got scared. Hard that I love this car, the design, its lines are very beautiful, really would like to have a sedan of them.

    I understand English well to read, but to hear with the speed, the slang, is very complicated. I tried to use the automatic translation of the videos, but they get pretty meaningless, complicated to understand.

    I am trying to get in touch with the people I understand to see if they can give me a light and say which BMW models are not the headache, the ones that are the most durable, the ones that don't break. I think they must have some line, model, series, year of manufacture that they can build good cars and that's one of those I'm looking for.

    Can you help me with information from the best years / models, finally, something that goes on for many, many years without a headache? Would you have any or a few models to point me to BMW's durable or unbreakable sedans?
    My biggest concern, as I said, is the durability of the vehicle. If you can help me, I'd be very grateful.

    Thank you very much, a big hug from my friend from Brazil.

  42. We have a 2012 bmw x5 and has around 90,000 miles and still haven't had any problems. Still runs smooth. It's a tank.

  43. I'm looking at buying a used 3 for my teen son and greatly appreciate your insight. Very informative, thank you!

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