I was looking for a new SUV and wanted to pamper myself a bit. After a lot of searching, I settled on a 2012 BMW X5, bought used in 2015. It was the most expensive car I’d bought, and I wasn’t sure it was worth it, but it was fun to drive.

I slightly regretted the purchase in the first year, as I got about 22mpg and the diesel version would have gotten 27-28mpg. However, driving the two was night and day. The twin turbo, despite a little lag, was fun.

Six Years Later

It’s been six years. I ordered a Tesla to replace this car, and I thought I’d spend a few minutes thinking about how I feel about the BMW. It’s aged, getting older, but still works well.

I find that the BMW works well, but it seems to regularly have some sort of maintenance issue. Or at last more than a few. Some examples.


The top view/side view cameras were quite a system in 2012. I liked the idea of seeing the lines in parking spaces. I bought the car with a bit of warranty left (3yrs). About 2 months after this expired, the left side view mirror camera failed.

This was, and is, a $400 part. That’s a bit ridiculous. This is common technology, and should cost $100 at the most. I see them on Ebay for $140, and haven’t bothered yet, mostly because I don’t use this.

However, when I back up, if you click the multi-camera view, it throws an error.

Very annoying.

Parking Brake Hold

One thing I used about a year after I got the car was the “hold” feature on the parking brake. When you turn this on, and come to a stop in gear, like as a stoplight, the car holds and doesn’t creep. When you touch the accelerator, the brake releases and the car moves forward.

Quite a few places have noted that a plastic gear in the parking brake assembly fails. The assembly is $1000+. The gear is a $5-30 part, but it can be complex to replace. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to try, but I’m tempted.

In any case, this started to fail about 6 months after I regularly used it, with a constant error on my dash for 5 years.

I think the fact BMW under-engineered this part is incredibly annoying.

Water Pump Failure

I had the water pump fail while driving a friend home. The entire process took a few hours longer than expected. I had it replaced for about $400, and got a recall notice a month later.

Shit happens, and this one didn’t bother me so much.

Drive Belt

I’m not sure what this is, but the main belt in the engine broke while I was going through the Eisenhower Tunnel. I got a “check engine light, and drove down to Silverthorne. Things seemed to work, but less power than expected.

We stopped at a place and they said they’d fix it. It was a hassle, and when they replaced it, things still didn’t work well. Apparently when this belt brakes, the engine can suck in part of the belt into the engine itself.

I go the car back, it still wasn’t right, and $3000 later, my local mechanic had fixed it.

A big design flaw, in my opinion. Sucking in the belt, which could break alter in the car, is a problem. This one still bothers me 2 years later.

Tire Sensors

Not something I have a repair problem with, but TPMS sensors are fairly generic items. They’re on every car out there. The BMW ones were $80 each when I got a new set of wheels for winter.

That’s ridiculous.

Even now, after 6+ years, the main TPMS sensor in one of my summer wheels is failing. I get an error every time I get in the car. They’re still $40 for knock off ones.

Fucking BMW. These should be a $20-30 part, easily available for many manufacturers. A pre-programmed set of 4 for a Lexus is $55-60.

This is one reason I think I’d never buy a BMW again.


This somewhat works, but when it’s 90F/32C, it doesn’t keep up. I asked my mechanic and he suspects a leak in the evaporator, which is inside the fash. US$2k in labor to replace a $300-400 part.

Fucking BMW.

I bought a self-recharge kit for $40 and it shows normal pressure. Not sure what to do, but certainly not paying $2k for new AV.


I’ve replaced headlight bulbs. Replaced rear brakes once, myself, and it wasn’t bad. I flip tires every fall/spring to a second set that I got for $800.

I bought a new passenger door lock motor that I need to replace. Mostly haven’t wanted to take apart the door while I don’t have a spare car. This lock fails in hot weather, and won’t lock, or worse, won’t open.


I really like driving the car. It’s tight, quick, and performs well. Long term, I think I’m getting about 21mpg in my life. I enjoy driving it.

Heat works well, the main heat, the seats, and I love the steering wheel heat. AC, well, see above, but overall it’s good in CO most of the time.

Riding as a passenger, it’s less comfortable. I get why my wife and kids sometimes complain about my driving. The stiff suspension isn’t great when you are a passenger.

I’ve had some scratches and paint peeling, but for an almost 10yr old car, I can’t be too upset at that.

The car is nice, and I do like it, but lots of little things the fail or partially fail, are annoying. I have a 20yr old Surburban, with 230k miles, and it’s been less trouble than this car.

I should have bought the Lexus RX 350.