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KiwiTT

How reliable are BMW electronics?

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I have been reading that some cars electronics will break down long before the mechanical and body issues will come to light.  How reliable are BMW electronics on average.

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Depends on:

  • Model
  • Age
  • Environmental exposure,
  • Mileage

Generally I find BMW Electrics rather good, newer stuff tends to have module failures so that is a debatable issue. Older stuff (pre 2000) is typically the most logical and simplistic type, using separate wires for each function linked to relays and sensors. It's easier to modify and change around IMO.

Newer stuff, early 2000s on, went to a CAN bus (or similar) system that uses single wires between modules to communicate, basically like a Ethernet system within your car. If you have the means to use BMW diagnostic software it's pretty awesome at solving problems and getting live telemetry from the cars sensors so you could argue it's better than the older pre OBD2 CAN systems. However the complexity does go up with that. 

I personally like the older style as it's all fairly straight forward, if maintained properly, would last for decades. E30 / E34 era etc. 

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E34 was the high mark for the analogue systems imo, had the benefit of better quality late 80s components as opposed to the 70s tech in earlier cars, very very few failures. 

So far I'm super happy with the e46 as a digital car, still owner maintainable. 

You just don't hear a lot about module failures, maybe there is one module that is troublesome per car, e38 lkm, e46 gm5, etc but usually the Internet will find a solution or upgrade path to eliminate the weak link. 

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Totally agree Richard.

E46 is prob my favorite. No too modern, not too old. 

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E34 still the most reliable BMW built, hands down

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Well between 8 and 10 years of age my E61 had a TV module die and a bluetooth module die. Also had a completely dead car due to a boot waterleak. Based on my experience I'd rate BMW electronics poorly.

 

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