BMW’s 3 Series range has long been one of the most popular model lines for the German car maker and has, through the years, been offered in a variety of body styles from coupe to estate……the reason why I wanted to experience one.
E90 arrived from Japan mid November 2016 but it wasn’t until January 2017 that it was in my driveway. When I took possession, it was sitting at 95,000 kilometers. My first encounter with E90 goes a little back……The year is 2011 on South Africa’s most dangerous road…the N2. The drive took us from eastern cape’s capital of East London to the city of Durban before we ended up below the Drakensberg mountains. The car was just two years old, performing at its best and still on a motor plan.
This car, has since come to Kenya and since it belongs to my friend, it has given me an great opportunity to compare two cars and learn some of their common problems. Starting with Japan, a common market for many of African countries for used cars……if you are importing a European car, I would advise you to stay away from Japan. Most of european cars running in Japan are not well maintained after the motor plan expires. Things as simple as engine service are not done and by the time you get the car, there are a thousand and one things for you to take care of.
Servicing the car should be the first thing you do especially if you are importing the car from Japan, as I said, they just have a problem of doing it after the motorplan expires and while they are thinking of selling the car, they are still driving it. Then you will have to check the leaks in the engine. I wasn’t lucky with this because by the time I was ready to do it, I had to replace the top cover gasket, Solenoid seals, Vacuum Seal Kit, Sump Gasket and the Oil Filter Housing seals.
Then I started loosing my coolant, when I arrived home one afternoon I wondered why there was smoke arising from the hood. I couldn’t figure it out until I drove to the dealer and I was told I needed to replace my connector. Comparing two of the same cars I have found of the common problems on E90. On some cars, it will be the airbag signal. The car is designed not to activate the carbag at the passenger side during an accident IF there is no passenger occupying the seat. Something happens under the seat or on the switch and you are stuck with the warning light.
Despite impressive build quality, glitches do crop up including the tyre pressure monitoring packing in and the run-flat tyres wearing unevenly. On that note, all these cars have run-flat tyres as standard, which means a firm ride (and no spare wheel). But if you are used to carrying a spare tyre and wheel spanner with you, am sorry to break your heart.
Other problems to look for include a leaky power steering system, flat spots on Efficient Dynamics models and the possible failure of the 320d’s turbocharger, evident by a smoky exhaust under acceleration. Finally, if a towbar is fitted, check that the electricals all work properly; the BMW’s multiplex wiring is easily upset by bodged auto electricians.
Five recalls isn’t a disaster. Issued between 2006 and 2012, they covered potential problems ranging from failure of the power steering and airbag glitches to the brake servo failing and the rear or side windows falling out and thanks to BMW’s talented men in white coats, even the smaller units are smooth, punchy and economical.