When you buy a brand new BMW you also receive a factory warranty that is good for the first 50,000 miles or four years of the car’s life, whichever comes first. This bumper-to-bumper warranty covers pretty much every problem under the sun so it’s great while it lasts, but once your warranty expires how much is your BMW maintenance going to cost you?
BMW maintenance costs skyrocket within a few years after the warranty has expired. Within a few years after the warranty has expired the average BMW owner pays approximately $1,000 a year to maintain their vehicle. Maintenance costs outside of warranty are even higher for 5 and 7 Series BMW owners.
The $1,000 a year number is a general number, however, there is plenty of variations amongst different BMW models and years. There are also different options that a savvy BMW owner has in reducing their out of warranty maintenance costs.
Is BMW maintenance after the warranty period really that bad?
No, BMW maintenance cost is not that bad. If you have read some of my other articles you have probably noticed that I am a fan of BMW, even though I find myself frequently criticizing the company. BMW maintenance is expensive, but as you will see it is not much higher than other luxury vehicles in its class, and there are ways a savvy consumer can reduce their costs.
It’s true that new BMWs on average have one of the highest maintenance costs in the automotive world. The first few years of warranty coverage only tends to cloak BMW’s true cost of ownership. BMW artificially decreases its vehicle maintenance cost by offering a 50,000 mile/4 year warranty. At the same time, the warranty is least helpful for the consumer because cars rarely have serious problems early on in their lifespan.
On the other hand, BMW is a luxury German vehicle, and maintenance costs are going to be higher compared to a Honda Civic or a Toyota Camry. But even compared to other luxury vehicles such as Mercedes Benz and Audi, BMW does not do so hot.
Below is a table with maintenance data collected from Consumer Reports. The table indicates how much a ten-year-old vehicle will cost you to maintain over a 12 month period. The reason I used a ten-year-old vehicle is because up until year 5 or 6 most vehicles have very few maintenance costs to compare.
|Car Brand||12-month cost to maintain (10 years old)|
As you can see BMW performs the absolute worst in this 12-month cost to maintain table. As a disclaimer, I would like to mention that Consumer Reports data is not always exact in terms of pinpointing a dollar amount. I stated above that BMWs five years or older typically cost more than $1,000 a year to maintain and I stick by that.
Consumer Reports number is likely a little low, but it is in line with the fact that other studies have found BMW to be the most expensive vehicle to maintain after the warranty period expires.
BMW maintenance outside of warranty varies by model
There is also a lot of variation amongst different model BMWs. Generally, you can expect to pay more for a 5 or 7 Series out of warranty than what you would be paying for a 3 Series out of warranty. A V8 in a 7 Series is by its very nature going to require far more maintenance than a turbocharged 2 cylinder 3 Series.
Edmunds.com is another survey website and it puts a far higher price tag on BMW maintenance in it’s “cost to own index” than Consumer Reports. Below is a table with data compiled from Edmunds. In this table, we compare different BMW model maintenance costs over a five year period. To control for the four-year warranty, we are only comparing 2015 model BMWs.
|2015 Model BMW||Maintenance Cost Over 5 Years|
|2 Series 228i||$11,490|
|3 Series 328i||$9,725|
|4 Series 428i||$9,725|
|5 Series 528i||$11,0006|
|6 Series 640i||$14,132|
|7 Series 740i||$15,853|
As you can see, according to Edmunds the 7 Series is by far the most expensive to maintain over a five year period, followed by the M3, 6 Series, and X5. This is unsurprising because the 7 and 6 Series are considered BMW’s luxury models, and the M3 is BMW’s sports car.
How can you decrease maintenance costs after your warranty expires?
It is clear from these tables and information that BMW is not a cheap car to maintain outside of warranty. So what are some things that you can do to reduce your costs?
Get an extended warranty
One option is to extend the factory warranty on the car. Trust me I am not trying to sell you an extended warranty, far from it, I myself am generally quite suspicious of these kinds of warranties. But they do have their value, and they make sense for some BMW owners.
If you purchase a brand new BMW, you can add the extended warranty immediately or anytime until the warranty expires. There are two ways to play the extended warranty game, you can get one from BMW directly or you can get a third party extended warranty.
BMW offers three different extended warranties.
- Powertrain Plus– Gives limited coverage of major components such as the engine and transmission. Fuel and cooling systems, engine, transmission, and differential all receive limited coverage.
- Gold– Covers everything under the Powertrain Plus, but also covers steering, antilock brakes, and a/c system.
- Platinum– Covers everything from the first two plans, but also covers audio, entertainment, and navigation systems. It also includes limited coverage for the vehicle’s interior and exterior.
How much do these plans cost? There is no hard and fast number for any of these plans, unfortunately. The cost of each plan varies based on the year, model, and mileage of your vehicle. You should also be aware that price quotes can vary by BMW dealership. Generally, buying an extended warranty directly from BMW will cost you between $1,000-$1,500 a year, but this can vary by location and vehicle!
Third-party extended warranties are also an option and might end up saving you money compared to a BMW warranty. Third-party warranties are often more flexible and inexpensive than BMW’s extended warranty.
Something else to consider is that BMW’s extended warranty might not be a great idea if you don’t have any dealerships near you. BMW typically wants you to take your vehicle to the dealership and ONLY the dealership, and this can prove extremely inconvenient.
Another benefit of third-party warranties is that many of them will allow you to purchase one after the original BMW factory warranty has expired.
Take your BMW to an indy mechanic
In my experience, BMW dealerships suck. They charge too much for labor, they overprice their parts, and you can often find more competent mechanics at good independent shops. Unfortunately, BMW is finding more and more ways to force owners to ditch their independent mechanics and settle for the dealership. But a good independent mechanic can still diagnose and repair most issues you bring to him.
If you live in a decent size city you are likely going to have plenty of independent import shops that are more than qualified to work on your vehicle. Do some research on Google and check the reviews of anyone before you bring your vehicle to a shop. Once you find a shop you like, you will likely be pleased with the cost difference compared to a dealership.
Do some of the maintenance yourself
Another way to reduce maintenance costs after the warranty expires is to just do some of the repairs yourself. If you are interested in doing some DIY work and you have the time, there are plenty of small and easy repairs that are well within the skill of an entry-level DIYer.
One of the nice things about BMW is that there is an enormous community of BMW enthusiasts and DIYers. There are several excellent forums and YouTube channels that can help you save a lot of money on maintenance costs.
Overall, it’s true that BMWs are expensive vehicles to maintain after the warranty expires. But it’s also true that you can reduce that cost by extending the warranty, going to an independent mechanic or doing some of the labor yourself. Choosing one of the less maintenance-heavy models will also go a long way toward reducing your maintenance costs.