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BMW maintenance: cost, plans and service schedule

Are BMWs expensive to maintain?

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    Audi, BMW and Toyota
    a mechanic using a screwdriver on a bmw

    BMWs are fairly expensive, so it’s not unreasonable to expect higher upkeep costs on them as well. But are the maintenance costs actually higher than average?

    We took a close look at what you might spend maintaining and repairing a BMW to help you understand how BMW compares with other automakers, how you can budget for these costs and what you can do to potentially save over the long term.


    Key insights

    • Maintenance and repair costs for BMWs average $968 per year, according to RepairPal.
    • However, new BMWs come with a 4-year/50,000-mile factory warranty and complimentary maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles.
    • Once those benefits expire, prepaid maintenance plans can save you money on scheduled maintenance, and extended warranties can shield you from repair bills.

    So, are BMWs expensive to maintain?

    BMWs tend to be some of the more expensive automobiles to maintain and repair. Not only are their parts expensive, but BMWs often have quirks that require you to visit a qualified BMW technician for repairs.

    RepairPal estimates that the average BMW racks up $968 per year in maintenance and repair costs. That’s well above the $652 industry average and even higher than the $908 per year Mercedes-Benz owners spend on upkeep. (Though it’s still a bit more affordable than Audi’s $987-per-year average.)

    MakeAverage repair and maintenance cost*
    BMW $968 per year
    Honda $428 per year
    Toyota $441 per year
    Ford $775 per year
    *According to RepairPal

    It’s worth mentioning that the above figures aren’t entirely reflective of what you can expect to spend keeping a BMW running, though. Upkeep costs can vary significantly from model to model, so it’s worth looking up your model on a site like RepairPal to see a more specific estimate.

    We pulled annual maintenance and repair cost estimates for three popular BMWs to show how these costs can vary and included them in the table below.

    ModelAnnual maintenance and repair costs*
    BMW X5 $1,166
    BMW X3 $1,034
    BMW 428i $1,229
    *According to RepairPal

    These figures combine repair costs and maintenance costs, which makes things simple but not as helpful if you’re trying to actually set a budget. While maintenance costs and regularly scheduled expenses tend to be lower, repair costs are higher — and these more sporadic expenses are harder to plan for. We’ll go into more detail on each so you have a better idea of what to expect.

    BMW maintenance schedule

    Newer BMW models are equipped with a maintenance reminder system, so you don’t necessarily have to know your maintenance schedule if you own a newer vehicle. Your BMW’s display will show your progress toward the following maintenance tasks:

    • Engine oil change (by date/miles)
    • Front and rear brake pad replacement (by miles)
    • Vehicle inspection (by date/miles)
    • Brake fluid change (by date)
    • 1,200-mile running service for M vehicles (by date/miles)

    If you want to do your own maintenance, just be aware that the following service tasks may be combined with the “Engine Oil” notice:

    • Engine air filter replacement
    • Cabin microfilter replacement
    • Spark plug replacement
    • Final drive oil change (M vehicles)

    If you prefer to see your maintenance schedule the old-fashioned way, here’s one provided by BMW of South Austin. Just be aware that your vehicle’s maintenance needs may be slightly different depending on what and how you drive.

    ServiceInterval
    Multipoint vehicle inspection, including fluids, brakes, cabin air filter and wiper blades Every 6 months or 5,000 miles
    Tire rotation Every 6 months or 5,000 miles
    Engine oil and filter change Every 12 months or 10,000 miles
    Coolant change Every 12 months or 10,000 miles
    Replace fuel filter Every 24 months or 20,000 miles
    Replace brake fluid After 36 months or 30,000 miles, then every 60,000 miles
    Replace transmission fluid (manual transmissions only) Every 36 months or 30,000 miles
    Replace engine air filter Every 72 months or 60,000 miles
    Replace spark plugs Every 72 months or 60,000 miles
    Replace transmission fluid (automatic transmissions only) Every 72 months or 60,000 miles
    Replace timing belt and hoses Every 108 months or 90,000 miles

    BMW maintenance costs

    Once you know what kind of maintenance your BMW needs and how often it needs it, you can budget for maintenance costs relatively easily. Just look up what your local mechanic or BMW dealership charges for maintenance services and map those costs out over your maintenance schedule for the foreseeable future.

    However, you may not need to budget for maintenance if your BMW is under 3 years old. All BMW vehicles made since 2017 come with BMW Ultimate Care, which covers maintenance performed by authorized BMW service centers for the first three years or 36,000 miles of the vehicle’s life, whichever comes first.

    Example: 2019 BMW X5 maintenance costs

    The exact cost of maintaining your BMW will depend on your vehicle and what prices are like in your area, but to give you an idea of what BMW maintenance costs might look like, we got the following estimates for a 2019 BMW X5 in Austin, Texas.

    ServiceCost*
    Tire rotation $73-$93
    Oil change $228-$248
    Transmission fluid change $524-$609
    60,000-mile service $1,505-$1,777
    Front and rear brake pad replacement $1,173-$1,313
    Spark plug replacement $427-$497
    *According to RepairPal for a 2019 BMW X5 in the 78705 ZIP code

    BMW repair costs

    Repair costs are harder to estimate than maintenance costs because you don’t know when, how or how often your BMW will break down. However, you can look at other BMW owners’ experiences to get a rough idea of what to expect.

    RepairPal ranks BMW 30th out of 32 automotive brands in terms of reliability based on user data, and this data also shows that BMWs average 0.9 visits to a repair shop every year, which is more than twice as often as the industry average (0.4 visits per year). RepairPal also claims that the chance of your BMW’s problem being severe (i.e., significantly more expensive) is 15%, which is higher than the industry average of 12%.

    New BMW vehicles come with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty that can help you avoid repair bills, but if you plan to keep your BMW outside of the factory warranty period, you should have a plan for when your car eventually breaks down. Let’s take a look at a selection of BMW repair costs to give you an idea of what to expect.

    » LEARN: What is a manufacturer’s warranty?

    Example: 2019 BMW X5 repair costs

    Here are a few of the most common issues for the BMW X5 and what they may cost you to fix, according to RepairPal. Just be aware that your BMW may not suffer from the same problems — and your mechanic may charge differently.

    IssueService neededEstimated cost*
    Valve cover gasket leaks Valve cover gasket replacement $1,311-$1,631
    Failed water pump Water pump replacement $1,608-$1,783
    Broken window regulators Front window regulator replacement $944-$1,069
    Radiator leaks Radiator replacement $1,963-$2,198
    Torn outer CV boots CV boot replacement $884-$1,069
    *According to RepairPal for a 2019 BMW X5 in the 78705 ZIP code

    Other BMW repair costs

    As part of a separate investigation into how much major automotive repairs cost, we surveyed mechanics from around the country to get quotes for our sample vehicles — one of which was a BMW 740i. We’ve compiled the results for that BMW below.

    ServiceAverage cost*
    Head gasket replacement $5,459.10
    Axle repair/replacement $597/$2,325
    Radiator repair/replacement $725/$1,826
    Catalytic converter replacement $2,309
    Alternator replacement $1,629.42-$2,656.10
    Fuel pump replacement $452.68-$745.21
    Transmission replacement $6,647-$7,151
    *For a 2018/2019 BMW 740i

    The important takeaways here are that BMWs aren’t the most reliable vehicles, and when they do break down, they can cost a lot of money to fix. That means you should probably have several thousand dollars set aside if you want to be financially prepared for when your BMW needs repairs. However, there are other options.

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      How can an extended warranty or maintenance plan help?

      If you want to save money on maintenance and repair costs, consider a prepaid maintenance plan or extended warranty, both of which are available from BMW.

      BMW’s prepaid maintenance plans can help you save up to 30% on scheduled maintenance for up to four years, and they can even help protect you against rising labor costs and inflation since your price is locked in when you buy the plan.

      BMW’s extended warranties, called BMW Extended Service Contracts, can keep you from paying for covered repairs, but they’re relatively expensive, so you might be better off with an extended warranty from a third-party warranty company. Just make sure you get multiple quotes and research the pros and cons of extended warranties so you can make an educated purchase.

      » MORE: Car warranty vs. car insurance


      ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page. Specific sources for this article include:
      1. BMW, “DIGITAL OWNER’S MANUAL.” Accessed March 7, 2023.
      2. BMW of South Austin, “What is the BMW Recommended Maintenance Schedule?” Accessed March 7, 2023.
      3. BMW, “The BMW Maintenance Program.” Accessed March 7, 2023.
      4. BMW, “BMW Maintenance Programs.” Accessed March 7, 2023.
      5. RepairPal, “BMW Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed March 30, 2023.
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