BMW i3 Years to Avoid and The Best Years

BMW i3 Years to Avoid – If you’re considering purchasing a BMW i3, it’s essential to be well-informed about the different model years and their respective strengths and weaknesses. While the BMW i3 is renowned for its eco-friendly attributes and innovative design, like any other vehicle, it has undergone iterations over the years.

This article aims to guide you through the specific BMW i3 years to avoid, ensuring you make an informed decision and select the most reliable and suitable model for your needs.

BMW i3 Years to Avoid

Understanding the significance of choosing the right BMW i3 model is crucial, as it directly affects factors such as performance, range, and overall satisfaction.

By identifying the years with known issues or limitations, you can navigate the market with confidence and make a purchase that aligns with your expectations.

BMW i3 Years to Avoid

BMW i3 Years to Avoid

Understanding the model years to avoid is crucial to ensure a seamless ownership experience. While the BMW i3 is celebrated for its eco-friendly nature and innovative design, it has undergone several iterations over the years.

It is important to recognize the significance of choosing the right BMW i3 model, as it directly impacts crucial factors such as performance, range, and overall satisfaction.

2015 Model Issues

The 2015 BMW i3, while offering potential cost savings compared to newer models, comes with a few issues that prospective buyers should be aware of. These include:

  • Limited Features: The 2015 model may lack some of the advanced features available in later years. Buyers should consider whether the absence of certain convenience and luxury options is a deal-breaker for them.

2017 Model Concerns

Although the 2017 BMW i3 boasts improvements over previous years, cautious consideration is still warranted when contemplating this particular model. The following concerns should be taken into account:

  • Reliability Rating: Consumer reports indicate that early BMW i3 models, such as the 2014 edition, may have experienced reliability issues. While the 2017 model incorporates enhancements, potential buyers are advised to thoroughly research its reliability track record before making a purchasing decision.

Furthermore, exercising caution when considering used BMW i3s from earlier years is advisable, as wear and tear, as well as accumulated mileage, may affect performance and reliability.

Focusing on these later years can enhance the ownership experience while mitigating potential issues present in earlier iterations.

Read Also: BMW 3 Series Years to Avoid

BMW i3 Best Year

BMW i3 Best Year

When delving into the realm of used BMW i3 vehicles, certain model years emerge as prime choices. For those seeking the utmost value, the 2015, 2019, and 2020 models stand out as the most advantageous options in the lineup.

2015 BMW i3

This particular year model offers excellent savings and typically boasts lower average mileage compared to its newer counterparts. While it may not encompass all the cutting-edge features found in the 2020 model, the 2015 BMW i3 presents most of the sought-after features available through the 2019 iteration.

Thus, it stands as a solid choice for those seeking a pre-owned electric vehicle that combines affordability with a comprehensive feature set.

2019 BMW i3

Serving as the final year before a significant redesign, the 2019 model showcases updated features and technology, akin to those found in the 2021 iteration. Striking a desirable balance between cost-effectiveness and modernity, the 2019 BMW i3 offers abundant value for discerning buyers in search of a used vehicle.

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2020 BMW i3

Although slightly higher in price compared to the 2015 and 2019 models, the 2020 BMW i3 presents the pinnacle of technological advancements and features within the i3 series. It represents the epitome of innovation, incorporating the latest advancements from BMW.

It is important to note, however, that significant improvements in terms of range should not be expected when comparing it to earlier models.

Each model year within the BMW i3 lineup boasts its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, the 2015, 2019, and 2020 editions stand out as particularly enticing options for those considering the purchase of a pre-owned BMW i3.

BMW i3 Reliability Problems

BMW i3 Reliability Problems

1. Steering Complications

The BMW i3, an electric hatchback known for its compact size and maneuverability, unfortunately, faces certain steering-related issues that have been reported by owners. Among the commonly encountered problems are stiff steering and squeaking noises during steering wheel rotation.

Stiff Steering Experience

Some owners have faced difficulties maneuvering their vehicles due to the steering becoming unexpectedly stiff, particularly when the car comes to a stop. If you encounter this issue, it is advisable to first check the tire pressure, as low air pressure in the front tires can contribute to a stiff steering wheel.

If tire pressure is not the cause, examining the steering fluid level should be the next step, as it may be depleted in rare instances.

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If neither of these factors is at fault, it is possible that the issue is related to the vehicle’s electronics or software. Attempting to resolve the problem by turning the ignition off and then on again can help reset the software and various electronic systems of the car.

If the problem persists despite these initial measures, it is recommended to visit the nearest BMW service station for further investigation and resolution.

Squeaking Noise from the Steering

If you notice squeaking or squealing noises while turning the steering wheel of your BMW i3, it is likely that you are experiencing this particular problem. The source of the noise can be traced to the steering spindle, specifically when the wheel is turned.

The primary cause of this issue is the inadequate or absent lubrication of the plastic bearing in the steering spindle sleeve. Proper lubrication of this component is crucial to address the squeaking noise effectively.

To lubricate the plastic bearing, you can follow these steps:

  • Remove the front luggage compartment well.
  • Lubricate the plastic ring of the sleeve located on the steering shaft.
  • Use a universal plastic lubricant (BMW P/N 81 23 2 327 735) for this purpose.
  • Turn the steering wheel left and right to ensure even distribution of the lubricant.

Repeat this process, and finally, lubricate the under-dash part of the steering spindle.

If you prefer professional assistance or are not comfortable with do-it-yourself procedures, it is advisable to take your BMW i3 to a service station where experts can efficiently resolve this issue. Typically, the cost of addressing this problem should not exceed a few hundred dollars in the United States.

Read Also: Are BMWs Hard to Work on?

2. Range Extender (REx) Problems

The BMW i3 offers an optional range extender (REx) in both of its available models. The REx, functioning as an auxiliary power unit, is designed to extend the vehicle’s range and provide additional power when necessary, primarily in situations where the battery charge is low.

However, it is important to note that certain reports have highlighted a significant problem with the range extender system in i3s manufactured in or before 2016. This issue affects the vehicle’s acceleration when transitioning from battery power to the gasoline engine, leading to a potentially hazardous situation.

Numerous owners who encountered this problem have taken legal action against BMW, emphasizing the severity of the issue. When the range extender malfunctions, the vehicle may enter a limp mode during driving, resulting in a lack of acceleration. In some cases, even the brake lights may stop functioning properly.

To rectify this problem, it is essential to visit an authorized BMW service station where trained technicians can diagnose and resolve the issue effectively.

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3. Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Issues

Certain BMW i3 electric hatchbacks manufactured in or after 2018 have been associated with problems related to the printed circuit board (PCB). This issue can result in a sudden loss of power or complete shutdown of the vehicle’s motor.

The PCB, a critical component of the Electric Motor Electronics (EME) module, is responsible for maintaining electrical contact within the system.

When a lack of electrical contact occurs due to this problem, the EME module shuts down the high-voltage electrical power, leading to the loss of propulsion power. This malfunction has affected over 135 BMW i3 REx models and approximately 25 i3 BEV vehicles.

The REx models built-in or after January 2018, and the BEV models built in or after January/February 2018, are particularly at higher risk.

While BMW has issued recalls for most vehicles manufactured during this period, it is advisable to inspect your i3 if you own one that was not included in the recalls.

Detecting this issue without professional assistance can be challenging, so consulting BMW experts for an accurate diagnosis is recommended.

If abnormal loss of propulsion power is detected, it is highly likely that the printed circuit board is the underlying cause. In such cases, BMW dealerships will replace the Electric Motor Electronics (EME) module at no cost.

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4. Motor Mount Failure

Owners of BMW i3s worldwide have reported issues with the motor mount, primarily in models manufactured before 2016. The plastic motor mounts used in these earlier versions of the i3 are susceptible to severe damage or breakage under harsh conditions.

Typically, this problem occurs when the rear wheels spin and suddenly regain traction. Unfortunately, this not only damages the motor mount but also impacts other electronic components and wires.

If you hear a loud thud sound while passing over a bump, it is an indication that the motor mount may have failed, rendering the vehicle immobile.

Addressing this issue involves replacing the motor mounts with stronger alternatives. In some cases, the newly replaced mounts can also fail, leading to a recommendation by BMW to use aluminum mounts with larger bolts.

Additionally, a software update has been released by BMW to reduce the motor’s torque when the rear wheels hit a bump, preventing strain on the drivetrain.

Repairing this problem can be costly, especially if your vehicle is no longer under warranty. In the United States, the approximate cost of repairing and replacing the motor mounts ranges from $5,000 to $6,000. It is crucial to update the car’s software to prevent future occurrences of this issue.

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5. Slow Charging

If you find that the charging rate of your BMW i3 is slower than expected, it is likely that the charging rate is not set to the maximum level. Therefore, it is essential to check the settings for the appropriate cable. Different settings exist for the “AC rapid charging cable” (7 kW) and the “Standard charging cable.”

After verifying the charging rate settings, if you still experience slow charging with the 7 kW cable, it is possible that your charger is faulty.

Older models of the BMW i3 are equipped with two separate 16-ampere charging circuits, providing a combined 32 amperes single-phase charging capacity.

In newer models, three 16 ampere charging circuits are available, which can operate either independently for 16 amperes 3-phase charging or in pairs for 32 amperes single-phase charging. If any of these charging units fail, the i3 will charge at 16 amperes/3.7 kW, resulting in slower charging speeds.

To accurately diagnose whether the charger is at fault, you can try using someone else’s 7 kW EVSE charger or locate a public charging station near you that operates at 7 kW. Once you confirm the charger’s problem, replacing it with a new one will eliminate the issue of slow charging speeds.

In the United States, the cost of a new charger for your BMW i3 can range from approximately $250 to $600, depending on the quality and power output.

6. Problem With Airbags

This particular issue is limited to the 2014 and 2015 models of the BMW i3. Due to a manufacturing error, the internal components of the frontal passenger airbags were not correctly assembled by BMW. As a result, i3s manufactured during this period may have faulty airbag inflators that fail to deploy in low-speed collisions.

Fortunately, this problem only affects the frontal passenger airbags and not the rear ones. However, if this issue is present, it can be potentially life-threatening.

BMW identified this mistake and initiated a recall for most vehicles to address the problem. However, if you suspect this problem in your BMW i3, it is crucial to visit a BMW service station as soon as possible.

To resolve this issue, BMW will replace the entire frontal passenger airbag module.

Read Also: BMW X1 Years to Avoid

7. Fuel-Vapor Problem

This problem can occur in extended-range (REx) models of the BMW i3 and poses a significant risk of potential fire caused by fuel vapors.

REx models of the i3 are equipped with a small petrol engine that charges the battery pack, offering greater range compared to the standard BMW i3. Over time, the vent line of the fuel tank in these models can rub against the ribbed wire protection sleeve of the battery’s positive cable.

Continued rubbing can damage the vent line, leading to the development of cracks and holes. These defects allow fuel vapor to escape into the engine bay area, creating a fire hazard.

Although BMW has issued recalls for most i3 models manufactured between 2014 and 2017, it is important to closely inspect the vent line if your vehicle was not included in the recalls.

If you identify any damage, such as holes or cracks in the vent line, it is essential to take your car to a BMW dealership for immediate resolution.

The dealership will likely fix this issue free of charge and may also install a clip to prevent the vent line from rubbing against the ribbed sleeve in the future.

How long will the BMW i3 battery last?

The BMW i3 battery is covered under an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty. However, the actual lifespan of the battery can vary depending on various factors. With proper maintenance and careful driving habits, the battery can last beyond the warranty period.


When considering a used BMW i3, it’s important to be aware of potential issues that may arise with certain model years. The steering system, range extender, printed circuit board, motor mounts, airbags, fuel vapor, and charging speed are among the areas that have been reported to have problems in specific i3 models.

To mitigate these concerns, thorough research and inspections are recommended before making a purchase. It’s crucial to understand the potential risks associated with each model year and weigh them against your preferences and budget.

Consulting with BMW experts or visiting a service station can provide valuable insights and solutions to address any issues that may arise.

Remember, while there are years to avoid due to reported problems, the BMW i3 has also seen improvements and updates over time.

By being well-informed and considering factors such as reliability ratings, feature availability, and technological advancements, you can make a more informed decision when selecting the best BMW i3 model year for your needs.

In the end, it’s essential to prioritize reliability and safety when choosing a used BMW i3.

Thoroughly researching and understanding the specific issues associated with different model years can help you avoid potential headaches and ensure a more satisfying ownership experience.

So, when searching for a BMW i3, make sure to educate yourself on the BMW i3 years to avoid making a more informed decision and find a model that best suits your needs.

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