Is the Ultimate Driving Machine worth the ultimate maintenance costs?

 

 

Let’s rip off the Band-Aid. On average, BMW owners can expect to pay between $150 to $400 per service every 10,000 miles. A major service can cost $1,000 to $3,000 or more. At the end of the day, owners pay about $1,000 to $1,700 per year for maintenance and repairs – higher than most brands. 

If you’re nervous about ownership costs down the line, you can always get an extended warranty – either from BMW or through a third-party service contract. An extended auto warranty won’t pay for standard BMW maintenance costs, but it will cover expensive parts more likely to fail over time.

There are many options to choose from for extended coverage, so we’ve sifted through the market and picked out a few of the best third-party warranty providers. These are companies that performed well in areas like cost, reputation, and customer service. We recommend getting quotes from several providers to compare costs and coverage.

 

In this article:

BMW Ultimate Care

BMW Ultimate Care is a free maintenance program only available to the original owner. Model years 2015-2016 came with 4 years or 50,000 miles of the BMW maintenance plan, while models from the year 2017 and later come with 3 years or 36,000 miles. Ultimate Care covers the following items:

  • Engine filter
  • Engine oil
  • Cabin microfilter
  • Brake fluid
  • Spark plugs
  • Engine air filter
  • Vehicle check
  • Remote control and key battery
  • Fuel filter (diesel only)

This plan will pretty much cover everything you need up to your third service. BMW’s maintenance schedule is based on 10,000-mile intervals, and sensors let drivers know what needs to get fixed at each point. So, if you drive your 3 Series hard and use the turbo any chance you get, you’ll have more items to repair when you go into the shop. 

Standard BMW Maintenance And Repair Costs

According to RepairPal, BMW owners pay an average of $968 per year on repairs and maintenance. What do people spend that money on? Here are a few common services for a BMW 328i:

Repair/Service

Cost

Oil change

$149 to $174

Engine filter

$88 to $116

Spark plugs

$144 to $295

Wheel hub assembly replacement

$235 to $595

Windshield wiper motor replacement

$612 to $679

Turbocharger assembly replacement

$2,328 to $2,481

 

Keep in mind, if you go into your dealer for an oil change, they will probably perform a full engine check, which can add to the cost. One way to save money is to do some maintenance work yourself. If you go this route, you need to be confident in your wrench skills. Make sure to consult a professional if you have any doubts, and err on the side of caution. You definitely shouldn’t do work yourself if your car is under a factory or CPO warranty. 

Repair Costs: BMW 3 Series Vs 5 Series Vs M4

As we mentioned above, BMW is known for its high maintenance and repair costs. Let's remember that those two things are different. Maintenance involves engine oil and oil filter changes, tire rotations, brake pads, and replacing other parts that wear out regularly. On the other hand, when parts break unexpectedly or fail during regular use, that’s when you make repairs. 

Now let's take a closer look at some different BMW models using Edmunds.com’s True Cost to Own data. Exact costs may vary by zip code.

For this comparison, we're going to look at the 3 Series, 5 Series, and M4. We're looking at 2019 BMW vehicles first – specifically the maintenance and repair costs you would pay over the next five years if you bought a 2019 model today. We’ll compare the 2019 BMW 330i, 2019 BMW 530i, and 2019 BMW M4.

Cost

BMW330i

BMW 530i

BMW M4

2019 Vehicle Price

$44,699

$55,897

$79,577

2019 Vehicle Maintenance For Next 5 Years

$7,948

$7,394

$7,904

2019 Vehicle Repairs For Next 5 Years

$2,609

$2,609

$2,609

 

BMWs are built well, and you shouldn't expect many repairs in the first few years. BMW's factory warranty extends for 4 years or 50,000 miles and it's pretty comprehensive. However, right after it ends, drivers start paying about $1,000 to $1,700 per year on repairs. 

In this next table, we’ll compare the 2015 BMW 328i, 2015 BMW 528i, and 2015 BMW M4:

 

Cost

BMW 328i

BMW 528i

BMW M4

2015 Vehicle Price

$15,924

$19,987

$34,664

2015 Vehicle Maintenance For Next 5 Years

$10,700

$11,926

$15,961

2015 Vehicle Repairs For Next 5 Years

$8,842

$8,842

$8,842

 

 

As you’d expect, costs have grown compared to 2019 models. You can see that maintenance costs also grow as you move up model types. M4 owners pay more than 3 Series owners, in other words.

BMW 3-Series Vs Audi A4 Vs Nissan 370Z Vs Lexus IS

The 3 Series is one of the most popular BMW models. We decided to compare its maintenance and repair costs to models from a few other brands: the Audi A4, Nissan 370Z, and Lexus IS. Like before, we’ll look at five-year costs for owning 2019 and 2015 models. 

First, we’ll compare the 2019 BMW 330i, 2019 Audi A4, 2019 Nissan 370Z, and 2019 Lexus IS 300: 

Cost

BMW 330i

Audi A4

Nissan 370Z

Lexus IS 300

2019 Vehicle Price

$44,699

$44,752

$29,319

$36,616

2019 Vehicle Maintenance For Next 5 Years

$7,948

$7,344

$4,952

$7,973

2019 Vehicle Repairs For Next 5 Years

$2,609

$2,149

$677

$1,140

 

For 2019 models, there’s not much difference between the BMW 330i and the Audi A4. The Lexus IS 300 is right up there for maintenance costs, but repairs are much cheaper. But the Nissan 370Z wins the battle with the cheapest maintenance and repairs. 

Now, let’s look at the 2015 BMW 328i, 2015 Audi A4, 2015 Nissan 370Z, and 2015 Lexus IS 250:

Cost

BMW 328i

Audi A4

Nissan 370Z

Lexus IS 250

2015 Vehicle Price

$15,924

$18,342

$20,529

$21,373

2015 Vehicle Maintenance For Next 5 Years

$10,700

$8,118

$7,244

$10,044

2015 Vehicle Repairs For Next 5 Years

$8,842

$7,291

$2,514

$3,208

 

You’ll notice that ownership costs for BMW are the highest out of these models. In fact, YourMechanic found that BMW owners spend $17,800 over 10 years to maintain and repair their vehicles. That’s more than any other brand surveyed, including Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, and Audi. However, Porsche wasn’t included in the survey, and that brand actually gets a worse score from RepairPal for reliability: BMW scores 2.5 out of 5, while Porsche scores 2.0 out of 5. 

You’ll also see that the Nissan and Lexus models are considerably cheaper to repair over time. While the 370Z is certainly a luxury sports car, Nissan isn’t a luxury brand. Plus, repairs are cheaper because it’s a Japanese car. 

Lexus is a similar story. Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota, and many Lexus and Toyota vehicles share the same parts and engines. The Lexus IS 300 and 250 have their own engines that require premium fuel, but the LX, ES, and GX have the same engines as other Toyota models. Toyota is one of the most reliable brands, and Lexus vehicles share that benefit. 

Comparing BMW maintenance costs to that of other brands is useful. On the other hand, we’re sure many owners would agree that there’s something electrifying about driving a BMW. It’s in a class all its own. Maybe you’ve sat in the driver’s seat and have decided that BMW 328i maintenance costs are worth it. Just don’t borrow against your house to pay for them. 

Lastly, here’s how all these brands rank according to annual repair cost (via RepairPal):

  • Nissan: $500
  • Lexus: $551
  • BMW: $968
  • Audi: $987

How Can An Extended Warranty Help With These Costs?

There’s no question that you’ll pay a lot for oil changes and other standard maintenance items for a BMW. However, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for repairs when they come up. 

BMW’s extended warranty options can cover up to 7 years/100,000 miles, but they are a bit expensive (the dealer does all repairs, of course). Plus, many BMW drivers take good care of their cars. You might find a car that’s in great condition with only a few miles but is past the warranty period. Once the factory warranty ends, you can’t add an extended warranty from BMW. 

Besides dealer extended warranties, you can also get extended protection from third-party providers through vehicle service contracts. Many come with perks like roadside assistance and trip interruption benefits, as well. One main advantage is that third-party vehicle service contracts can extend to 200,000 miles and beyond. 

Best Third-Party Warranty Providers For BMW Repairs

Those extra miles of coverage can be a lifesaver and can let you enjoy your BMW for a long time. If you go with factory extended coverage, you’ll have to purchase a plan before the 4-year/50,000-mile limit is up. But third-party providers allow you to add coverage at almost any point in time. 

Even though you aren’t required to go to the dealer when you have a third-party plan, many companies will let you, if that’s what you want to do. That means you can still get BMW-certified technicians to work on your car. 

Companies like EnduranceCARCHEX, and CarShield offer a number of different coverage options, from basic powertrain security to bumper-to-bumper plans. The best thing about third-party providers is that you can get free quotes online without having to go in and talk with a dealership. Check out our top picks below. 

 

FAQ: BMW Maintenance Costs

Is BMW maintenance expensive?

Yes, BMW’s maintenance cost after the warranty is more expensive than many other brands – luxury or not. A BMW can cost about $5,000 more to maintain over a 10-year period than a Mercedes-Benz, and $12,000 more than a Toyota. 

Why are BMWs so expensive to maintain?

Maintaining a BMW is expensive because it’s a German car with specialty parts and technology. It’s engineered for driving enthusiasts – it’s not just a car to get people from point A to point B. For example, a battery change can cost $400 because the mechanic needs to register the battery to the engine control module. If not, the car won’t “know” how to charge the battery and the battery could die prematurely. 

Also, the Digital Motor Electronics (DME) system connects thousands of sensors and switches in the car. What is a simple fix on another car can be a complex procedure on a BMW, and that means more labor costs.

Is it expensive to maintain a BMW 3 Series?

Yes, it’s expensive to maintain a 3-Series BMW once it’s outside of the factory or CPO warranty. It’s not uncommon to pay $1,000 to $1,700 per year for maintenance and repairs on a used BMW 3-Series. 

How much does it cost to change the oil in a BMW?

According to RepairPal, an oil change for a BMW 328i can cost between $149 and $174. However, you might pay more than that depending on your location and BMW model.