Dependable & Reliable Sporty Vehicle?


Asked by Sep 19, 2013 at 12:08 PM about the BMW M5

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I'm in search of a sporty 4-door vehicle along the lines of S4's, M5's (E60), C63's etc.,
but I'm really concerned about reliability & dependability.  I'm coming from a nearly 10
year old Toyota that's only needed a clutch replacement (at around 81k) since I've had
it.  Its never given me any issues and I'm hoping to find something just as reliable.

It makes sense to me to pay a little more for a 'sports car', but I'm not looking to sink
thousands every year just to keep it running.  Two different coworkers shared their
BMW experiences with me and urged me to reconsider based on their experiences.  
(One was used, one was new via European Delivery) I've read a lot of horror stories on
various BMW forums of people having issues as early as 12k miles (VANOS lines,
SMG, SMG pump, crank bearings etc.) on a brand new car.  I see a *lot* of SMG M5's
up for sale, but only a few manual transmission M5's.  (Ratio is literally something like
one MT for every 50-65 SMG's) This gives credence to the idea that SMG's are
problematic and manual transmissions are so awesome, no one wants to let it go.

And that's just the BMW's!  I haven't even hit up the Audi and Mercedes forums for their
'common issues'.

Obviously, its one thing if I'm driving the car into the ground, and putting some serious
load on it:
- racing light to light
- participating in heavy 'spirited driving' all the time
- slamming into corners and hairpin turns at 90mph
- frequent burnouts & redlining etc
But that's not my driving style.  I've got a family, so I won't be doing anything foolish.

Is it wrong for me to want, and expect, relatively low maintenance, almost no serious
issues, reliability and dependability from a car of that caliber used as a daily driver?

I'm really interested in your feedback.  I want to make as informed a decision as

9 Answers


buy a honda or toyota.


Thanks wlogan for the response. Unfortunately, neither brand has really made a sports car in a while. The Scion FR-S is the closest thing to the Toyota brand, and Honda doesn't have anything really, except if you want to modify a Civic Si. I'm looking for something that's going to be quick & powerful but not cost me $5k a year to maintain. Some options I've considered are the 535i/xi and recently the 550i at someones suggestion, but This doesn't make sense to me: Toyota, Honda & Nissan all make luxury (Lexus, Acura and Infinity respectively) and non-luxury cars and they're all generally alright. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VW, as far as I know, only make the one line of cars and yet they seem to have serious, costly, issues and just apparently aren't seen as that reliable. If the German automakers are focusing on just their one line, they should be just as reliable as the Japanese automakers, who seem to have no issues with both their lines, right?


it is wrong of you to expect the cars you say you want to perform in the manner you describe..they will be the exact opposite.

Michael Branan

You are going from one extreme to another. Toyota's are gutless and reliable because they are built to do "that" job. When you get into German vehicles, it is best to start with a more basic ride, unless you have a very good understanding of the German engineering process. Parts wear out. Lightness contributes to performance, hence the use of ABS for many components under the hood. They become brittle and fail. A high performance vehicle, which is what they are with luxurious trimmings on some, requires maintenance. If you are planning doing it yourself, which is what I recommend, then you can truly appreciate and afford to drive one when the average dealership shop rate is over $165/hr. Start with a 3 series and work your way up. You might be able to buy a5 series for the same money, but the electrical additions will cost considerably more. Trust me on this one. And in NO WAY do you want the repair bill on a V- 10.

Best Answer
Michael Branan

Also, if you think I am being rough on BMW, I am being honest having owned 5, including an R60 Mini Countryman S. I would NEVER own a Mercedes! The systems are redundant, thus more parts and more expense. Far from lean and mean.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Scott Robson

Buy an E39 M5 and DIY. Done deal. Forget the rest. Otherwise, maybe buy a Cadillac CTS-V or ATS. Those cadi's seem decent.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Wow brilliant responses from Michael and Scott - Thank you - this is very helpful. Conventional wisdom tends to follow "you get what you pay for": usually, the less you spend (the cheaper product you buy) the more likely you're going to have a bad experience or have to rebuy because of issues. I recently wanted to save a few bucks on a spray bottle for pretty much a single use application (at best, use it once every 6 months). I found a bottle at a dollar store so I picked it up. I had a need for it 2 weeks later and the bottle was total junk: spilling from the head, leaking from the nozzle, I only get 1 spray every 7 pumps. Completely. Worthless. Go to a Home Depot (or Lowes - whichever) however and spend 12x more, and get myself a darn good spray bottle. This was sort of my approach for BMW's & MB's etc: "Ok so I spent 'little' (comparatively speaking of course) on my Toyota, and I got something that works rather well. Surely, if I spend more on a BMW/MB (brands that only focus on making 1 car) then the experience should be that much better/rewarding!" @Michael: I appreciate the honesty, and I'm certainly a DIY'er with a friend who owns a shop which makes it super handy. @Scott: Yeah I have access to an E39 M5 with about 100k miles that'll probably be a good place to start. On some of the BMW forums they have 'master threads' for former E39 owners who jumped to E60's and many of them regret the move or simply miss the E39.

Amy Albright

I have owned several BMW's ...I would sell one and think I wanted a Toyota or Honda only to regret my decision and go back to a bimmer. NOTHING drives and handles like one. I have owned 3,5,and 7 series. However my fave was a Z3 roadster with the Mpackage....omg that was a GREAT car!!!! I am currently driving a 525 2001...LOVE IT!! as far as maintenance it has been a non issue. Make sure to do your home work and buy one with all books and records and then keep up with all services and you are good to go.....your only regret will be not buying one sooner!!! I NEVER want another Toyota or Honda after driving a BMW..:)

Scott Robson

join and there are a lot of DIY guides to tackle maintenance and common problems. It is the best forum on the interwebz.

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