fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
65,700 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
2012 BMW X3 steering problems

steering problem

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2012 BMW X3 Owner Comments

problem #3

Sep 222019

X3 28I 3.0L Inline 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


Steering is sticky and difficult to control when driving straight on the highway in warmer weather.

- Joseph P., Rye, US

problem #2

Aug 242015

X3 Xdrive 28i

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

I purchased this used 2012 X3 in August of 2015. I noticed the first time I drove it on the interstate that the steering wheel felt like it was sticking at top-dead-center. It was difficult to make the small adjustments needed to keep the vehicle driving straight. When the steering wheel got past the sticky point, it resulted in an over-correction, which I then had to correct back the other direction. This led to my wife asking 'What are you doing?'. I took it to BMW and told them about the problem. They said it was the run-flat tires tramlining, and that it probably needed an alignment. I saw the repair history on the vehicle, and noticed that the steering column had already been replaced. I asked the Service Rep why, and he said they hadn't done the work, and he didn't know why it had been replaced (I suspect that the first owner may have complained about the steering, BMW tried to correct it, it didn't work, and so the vehicle was traded in on a different vehicle).

Anyway, I replaced the run-flat tires and had the alignment done. The vehicle rode and drove better, but the 'sticking' problem remained. I took it to BMW again, and rode with the mechanic while he tried to duplicate the problem. However, it was late September, and it was before noon, and the air temperature wasn't high enough. It drove fine. I realized that the issue only manifests itself on warm days when you have been driving mostly straight, like on the interstate. It doesn't happen on cool days, or when driving in town where the wheel is constantly being moved right or left for 90 degree turns. I've kept the vehicle for the past five years, because most of my driving is done in town, and so the issue doesn't manifest itself. Also, I've learned to pull off the interstate whenever the sticking is bad, and to cycle the steering wheel all the way to the left and right a couple of times. That seems to reduce the sticking for a while.

All that being said, this is an annoying issue, but I know when it's going to be a problem, and I know how to manage it. I would not have expected this issue from a BMW, and I'd have expected their mechanics to be able to correct it. The vehicle is approaching 100k miles, and my extended warranty ran out earlier this month, so I'll be looking to trade it in.

That's my story, and I'm 'sticking' with it.

- Jeff F., Omaha, NE, US

problem #1

Jul 012018


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

My BMX X3 started to have sticky steering wheel when driving at high speed (>60mph) and during warm-to-hot weather. Once the engine gets warm, the problem becomes very pronounced. The steering wheel turns in notches and you really have to fight the steering to keep control of the car when driving at high speed.

The same issue had been broadly reported on the web for older BMW Z4 and this is apparently caused by poor engineering design of the steering column as a nylon part ages, it absorbs moisture over time, causing it to expand and result in sticky steering problem. This is why this problem doesn't happen when the car is new. This problem typically occurs after a few years, when the warranty expires.

BMW needs to fix this! This is a real safety hazard, especially if the problem kicks when maneuvering around sharp corners. Apparently, some people on the Internet managed to get BMW to pay for the repair (which requires placing the steering column) - but this should be a RECALL since steering problem at high speed is obviously a safety concern.

- Jackson H., Los Altos, CA, US

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