really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,541 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2013 BMW X3 engine problems

engine problem

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2013 BMW X3 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #32

Dec 032018


  • 90,000 miles


Vehicle had poor acceleration when driving on the road. Brought it into BMW service center and was informed that the timing chain and oil chain had failed and I needed a new engine. No prior problems before this. Only 90000 miles on the vehicle.

- North Aurora, IL, USA

problem #31

Sep 102018


  • 77,000 miles
Driving the car on the highway when the screen on the car flashes a ¿drivetrain malfunction error¿, no prior issues or warnings and it said to drive moderately, no other warning or to stop. I pulled into the nearest dealer which was less than a mile away and turned the car off, the service manager came out and tried to turn the car back on and couldn¿T, so they replaced the battery and were able to start it except they couldn¿T get the car out of park, the car was flat bedded to the BMW dealer and after a month they let me know that my car had complete engine failure due to the timing chain breaking which caused the ¿catastrophic engine failure¿. I have read hundreds if not thousands of other stories that mirror my experience to a tee, some however were not as lucky as I was to be able to get out of the middle of the highway/road before their car completely locked up and did not move. BMW admits that these cars have issues with the timing chain material they used, which happens to be plastic; however, due to the cost of replacing all of these parts in the known cars that they would cost BMW na more $500 million. If the NHTSA does not step in and force them to fix these faulty parts they will end up having one of these BMW's with the N20 or N26 engines fail while driving on a road and someone is going to end up getting killed because of it. BMW is hiding the severity of these failures in their parts and because nobody has died or faced an injury they will not take the initiative and issue a recall, they just extended the warranty for the replacement of these parts for an additional 10K miles because they know the plastic timing chain lasts on average to about 70K which is why the warranty is now for 7 years/70K miles or whichever comes first. In closing, my car engine faced engine failure and completely seized at 77K miles.

- Palm Harbor, FL, USA

problem #30

Nov 092018


  • 96,000 miles
Faulty timing chain and guides. BMW is already aware of this issues with the N20 type of engine and extended out a warranty many of the vehicles but most of the timing chain fail just after the 70K mile limit imposed in the extension. BMW offered me no help in this matter and I had to pay out of pocket for a repair on a vehicle that should have been repaired.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #29

Oct 182018


  • 98,000 miles


Drive train light came on as I was on parkway and car lost power going from 55 to 30 mph. Informed that there is a timing chain issue

- Melville, NY, USA

problem #28

Sep 292018


  • 60,200 miles
At approx. 60,200 miles, I was driving down a secondary road, moving at about 45 mph and received the drive train warning and as I was pulling over, I received the low engine pressure warning. I was able to pull over and turn off the engine and have my vehicle towed.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #27

Sep 162018


  • 85,000 miles
I have a 2013 BMW X3 with 85K miles and was driving on a 4-lane highway at 55 mph when a warning light came on indicating a drivetrain malfunction and that I should ¿drive moderately¿. within seconds, a second warning light came on indicating low oil pressure and that I should ¿add a quart of oil¿. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road where the car shifted into neutral without me touching the gear shift. I turned the car off to check the owner's manual about the drivetrain warning light, and the car would not restart. The entire scenario lasted about 10-15 seconds, and prior to this, I had no problems with the car and was diligent about performing routine service according to the manufacturer's instructions. The car was towed to the closest BMW dealership. I received a call the following day notifying me that catastrophic damage had occurred to the engine and that I needed a new engine! apparently, the timing chain guide broke, the pieces fell into the oil pan and lodged against the screen that keeps debris out of the engine, and starved the engine of oil. While I am concerned about the $12,000 repair bill, I am equally concerned about the danger that is posed by the sudden and complete disablement of the vehicle that could result in injury or death to the car owner or to another driver who encounters the disabled car on a busy highway. This is a recurring problem. I spoke with 3 service advisors at 3 different dealerships, and the service advisors said ¿it is a recurring problem¿. I also reviewed NHTSA and carcomplaints.com websites and found numerous complaints about the same problem. I anticipate more incidences of timing chain guide failure more drivers reach 75K plus miles.

- Isle Of Palms, SC, USA

problem #26

Sep 042018


  • 75,000 miles


Various failures in power train including transfer case, turbo, high pressure fuel injection, and transmission. Failures have happened while traveling on California freeways. Failures sometimes require towing. Sometimes caution driver to proceed at lower speeds.

- Arroyo Grande, CA, USA

problem #25

Jul 212018


  • 86,000 miles
While driving on the highway at 60-70 miles, the low oil pressure light came on, immediately followed by a drivetrain malfunction indicator light then car completely lost all power including breaks and steering. Luckily was able to pull over to a service lane. The car would not restart and had tow to the dealer. Dealer performed an oil analysis and found lots of metal shavings/particles in the oil which caused the engine to seize. Meanwhile the oil was just changed 3 weeks prior. Clearly this is manufacture defect. BMW North America does not want to acknowledge this even though there are numerous class actions suits regarding timing chain failure which causes the engine to seize due to failure of plastic timing chain guides. Had to pay out of pocket to repair defective engine. There needs to be a recall as this could have been catastrophic if someone was seriously hurt or even killed. BMW does not value the safety of their consumers nor do they stand by their products. This is totally unacceptable. In good conscience, I would never recommend this "ultimate driving machine" to anyone!

- Livingston, NJ, USA

problem #24

May 012018


  • 80,300 miles
Digest: - engine stopped operation suddenly when running on a city street, I felt dangerous since the vehicle behind me honked loudly. - the engine was seized. The dealer and BMW customer center determine that reason is lacking in engine oil change. - the true root cause is that the car has no engine oil level warning message or sign shown on either cluster or control display. Description: When I was driving the car on city road the engine suddenly stopped. There was a near accident since the car behind honked loudly. Since the engine oil is related the critical safety issue, I believe all passenger car should be equipped with engine oil warning feature (I see it in FMVSS requirement). BMW owner's manual describes "the oil level is monitored electronically during driving and shown on the control display" (see attached 1), but my car did not show this kind of warning. There are two possibilities: (1) the function of warning defected or (2) this function was not actually equipped originally (manufacturer lies to consumer). Each way, there is a design defect. By the way, I checked the engine oil level after the engine malfunctioned. The control display shows green "engine oil level is ok (see attached 2) I believe that same defect exists in multiple models of BMW car. There are potentially more drivers will miss the engine oil change because there is not engine oil change warning. Therefore there are high potential highway accidents happen in the future since this defect. BMW should immediately recall all models with this defect. I see there is a recall case in NHTSA website due to "lack of driver warning for low engine oil pressure", recall number is 13V592000.

- Northville, MI, USA

problem #23

May 252018


  • 83,000 miles
Engine failure while driving on the freeway at 10pm during inclement rainy weather 350 miles from my home. First, the oil pressure warning reduce speed appeared. While trying to safely get off the freeway the drive train warning appeared. At that time, vehicle lost all power and I pulled to the shoulder immediately. After vehicle was towed to the closest european car mechanic, the mechanic diagnosed the vehicle and indicated the timing chain broke which caused engine failure. The timing chain is only warranted up to 70K miles. Vehicle has 83K mile. There are numerous complaints about engine issues with this vehicle and BMW should offer a recall for failed components. Unacceptable to have a failed engine and I plan to take this issue to BMW corporate.

- Bend, OR, USA

problem #22

Nov 082017


  • 47 miles


I own a 2013 BMW X3 and I received a notification of a timing chain issue from BMW. Apparently, this was an issue only for the 2013 N20 engines, where the timing chain guide is prone to breaking due to the use of a soft metal, which typically results in a complete engine replacement. BMW will reimburse you on this repair if this breaks prior to 7 years of ownership or 70K miles. I¿D hate to get to the point where I have to be broken down, get the car towed and pay for repairs so I wanted to know if this could be fixed while still under the limited warranty covered by BMW, which they stated they would not as it is not a recall. The fact that this issue can result in 'catastrophic engine failure', is not a recall, and bwm is not willing to proactively replace a known defective part tells me they are not concerned with the safety of their owners or to stand by their own manufacturing mistakes.

- Brooklyn, CT, USA

problem #21

Jan 262018


  • 106,000 miles
I was driving down the interstate at 75mph and put the car into sport mode, it suddenly went from 2000 RPM cruising to 6000 RPM and back to zero. The car had lost complete power. I pushed the gas and nothing happened; luckily I was able to coast to the side of the road and pull over. I tried to restart the car but nothing happened. The radio, air, and windows still worked but nothing else. I had aaa tow the car to the closest BMW dealership. The BMW dealership called me to ask if I had a dead battery; I told them batteries do not die driving down the interstate. BMW then called me back to tell me that the engine seized and it was total failure, but they could not tell me anything specific when I asked. They said I could pay $6,000 in labor to have a mechanic rip it apart to find the exact cause and then pay the additional cost to have whatever was broken replaced or that I could go ahead and pay $10,000 upfront to have the engine replaced. A 2013 car, that has routine maintenance should not have this happen. I could have been in a serious accident from this, and now I have no car to drive.

- Little River, SC, USA

problem #20

Jan 182018


  • 105,000 miles
Vehicle stalled on the highway due to the timing chain guide breaking, I was told it is made of plastic and damaged other parts of the engine that needs to be replaced as well totaling $7,000. After extensive research this issue seems to be recurring on 2013 BMW X3S. Additionally, the reports I have researched online include new vehicles to older bmws ranging from 30,000 mileage to 100,000 mileage. I purchased the vehicle used at about 57,000 and was never told about this issue. I am awaiting for a call from BMW North America to see if there is anything they can do. I was told there was an extended warranty for these parts when they identified they were faulty but since I had purchased the vehicle used I never received this notice.

- Hanover, MD, USA

problem #19

Dec 132017


  • 2 miles
While driving in a low speed street the engine with any notice, lost all the power suddenly and did not accelerate. It showed a message on the screen indicating a total lack a power; the throttle did not work and despite the engine kept running it stayed at the minimum RPM. It happened twice in a three months period. The first time (October 2017) the local import service shop did not find any abnormality and just reset the computer failure signal. The second time in December they identified a failure in a regulator of the admission system. The car is still at the shop because we wrote to BMW headquarters in germany and are still waiting for a response. We consider that failure as a major and hazardous quality issue and have requested a full repair despite the warranty is already due. The local dealer refused to do it so. The vehicle is BMW X3 2013 with 42.000 kms and all the official warranty checks and maintenance at the official BMW dealer. Despite I live in panama and the car was bought here and not in the us and maybe it is not your jurisdiction, I think the failure is extremely risky and could cause a fatal accident if it happens in a highway at high speed and in the middle of heavy traffic such as trucks and haulers. BMW sells the same car in the us and other models with the same engine.I think it would be of your interest to investigate if the same failure has occurred in the us territory or accidents with these vehicles have happened due to a sudden loss of power. I have the quotation for the repair issued by the local dealer in us dollars. If you thinks it is important I am fully available to send it to you. As I do not live in the us I am writing with my sister´S address in Florida. My home address in panama is: Calle fontana # 23. Ph costa serena. Costa del este. PanamÁ city. Panama. Zip code 11111. Mobile phone: (507) 6249 8159. Home: (507) 3941823

- St. Augustine, FL, USA

problem #18

Aug 302017


  • 52,000 miles
Engine coolant pump and thermostat failed at 52000 miles. It's 2000 miles after the warranty expired. It was failed way too early by any measure for any on road vehicle. I had engine overheat warning, possibly due to coolant pump failure. However, the oil temperature gauge on the dash showed normal temperature. After vehicle stopped, tried to inspect the vehicle with hood opened. With oil temperature gauge saying normal temperature, coolant was over heating, which could cause the injury from confusion. One temperature gauge saying normal while the coolant was over heating. BMW should address this issue on their own. They ignore this problem and passes to customers. This should be seriously considered for recall.

- Glenview, IL, USA

problem #17

Jun 082017


  • 81,000 miles
Driving (2013 X3 28I) vehicle without concerns, incidents or warnings until the oil pressure warning" light came on. Slowing down to try and make it the mile left to make it home. After the "oil pressure warning" came one, less than a minute later there was a "drive-train malfunction" warning. Now looking for a place to pull over, it was less than another minute when car locked up and stopped in the middle of the road. Living on a curvy road, I was in a very bad situation, due to being between two curves, just after dark. Car would not start or go into neutral. It has been 10 weeks and car diagnosis has not been determined. Without warnings and total engine failure. I was not hurt in any way, and thankfully someone stopped to block the curve so people would slow down. I was stuck waiting for help for an hour. Tow-truck driver couldn't get into neutral to load on his truck. I did buy this as a 1 owner, lease return, and put the top asc warranty on it. The owner of a quality import repair shop says he has no idea and has never come across anything like this before. Short of pulling everything apart to try and figure out a specific problem, he does not want to try and repair it. Going to have to tow it to the dealer and hope they will give some answers. 10 weeks and no closer to an answer than on day one.

- Troutville, VA, USA

problem #16

Aug 082017


  • 47,650 miles
When my husband was driving on the highway at 10:30 a.M. on the 8/8/2017 the car lost power as if it ran out of gasoline. Thank god he was able to pull over to the service lane without getting into a major accident (he is always cool under pressure as he retired as a captain in the army). He shut off the engine, and restarted a few minutes later when "drive train malfunction" message came on. He called the dealership service and was told to bring the car in on 8/10/2017 in the morning. He told them what happened and was told he will receive a call back that evening. He was never contacted, and 3 days later went to check what happened. He was told that the timing chain has to be replaced and it will cost at least $2,700 plus... almost a year ago I went to them because I had white smoke coming out of the tailpipe. So they were aware there was a problem already and they should have changed the timing belt at that time (while the car was still under warranty.) instead they totally disregard people's safety and security and create unnecessary hazardous conditions. I spent more than $50,00 0 on the brand new vehicle and it almost killed my husband, reading through your website I saw many others had the same problems something must be done before someone gets killed.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #15

Jul 142017


  • 30,300 miles
The contact owns a 2013 BMW X3. While driving approximately 35 mph, the low oil pressure and drive train malfunction warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle lost power and then stalled. The contact coasted the vehicle to the side of the road and had it towed to the bill jacobs BMW dealer (located at 2495 Aurora ave, naperville, il 60540). The dealer diagnosed that there were metal shavings in the oil, causing it not to have compression. The dealer stated that the engine needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired due to the repair cost. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and stated that they would pay half of the repair fees. The contact would be responsible for the other half. The approximate failure mileage was 30,300.

- St Charles, IL, USA

problem #14

Mar 312017


  • 100,000 miles
Earlier this year while driving my 2013 BMW X3 on the highway it broke down with little warning. Fortunately I was able to get to an exit ramp before my car completely failed. After having it flat bedded to a mechanic who had to push the vehicle into the shop they verified that the vehicle would crank over and not start. It was relatively clear from the sound the engine was making during the starter engagement that the camshaft timing was off. The valve cover was removed and the mechanic verified that the timing was indeed off. The timing chain had jumped time on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. The timing was off due to excessive slack in the timing chain due to a failed chain tensioner. This should not happen on a 2013 BMW with mainly highway miles. I was told I need a new engine that will cost upwards of $15,000 or buy a slightly used one for approximately $9,000. I've reached out tot he dealer and BMW na with no relief. Similar issues have been identified in the X5 and other BMW cars which were recalled but for some reason no recall was sent out on the N20 engine for the X3. From a quick internet search there are many X3 owners that have the same or similar problems. Something needs to be done to get relief for these owners. Unfortunately this once proud vehicle maker that no longer backs the longevity of the luxury car they build.

- Melville, NY, USA

problem #13

Jun 262017


  • 50,000 miles
I have a 2013 X3 28I that was purchased fairly new with 15K miles on it and has had all BMW recommended maintenance at a BMW dealer. I have exactly 50K miles on the car. A couple of days ago, with no warning the timing chain broke and blew the engine. I had just taken it to the dealership a couple of weeks prior for maintenance and they said everything looked great. The dealer first told me it was going to cost over 20K to replace the engine. BMW got involved and now I'm told it will cost just over 15K plus taxes. I started checking online and noticed that BMW has had a lot of problems with the timing chain, however they don't list the X3 as one of the cars with the problem. At 4 years old and 50K miles, I would think the timing chain shouldn't break, and definitely shouldn't cost 1/3 of a new car to repair.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

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