BMW F10 5-Series

BMW F10 5-Series: Common Problems Explained

The BMW F10 is part of the 6th iteration of the German automaker’s popular 5-series lineup, and though it may not be the newest, it’s still a decently sought-after luxury sedan in the used market.

But before you go ahead and get your hands on one, it’s important to recognize that the BMW F10 isn’t exactly flawless, and there are several common problems that can come about while owning it.

Thus, we’ve done our research and are now going to present to you the most common problems that affect the BMW F10 5-Series as well as its best and worst model years to buy!

What are the common problems of a BMW F10 5-series?

Common problems of the BMW F10 are engine overheating, timing chain issues, high-pressure fuel pump failure, a jerky transmission, and drive belt tensioner failure.

Other problems of the BMW F10 relate to various leaks, heated seats, brakes, PCV valve heaters, and various suspension components.

Engine Overheating


The BMW F10 has been reported to run into issues with an overheating engine, which also comes with a warning on the dashboard saying that the temperature is too high and you should drive at a moderate pace to cool the engine down.

There can be many different reasons why an engine overheats, but in the BMW F10’s case, we’ve managed to narrow it down to specific causes below.

Coolant Leakage

It’s no surprise that when your car is leaking coolant, its ability to maintain optimal engine temperature decreases, which is actually one of the most common causes of engine overheating on the BMW F10.

Coolant leaks on the BMW F10 usually originate from either a damaged radiator or a blown head gasket, so be sure to check for any cracks or damage on them and get them repaired or replaced right away.

Wrong Coolant/Antifreeze Used

Simply using the wrong type of coolant or “antifreeze” on your vehicle raises the chances of its engine overheating, as different vehicle models require specific coolants depending on the current climate.

Not only that, but using the wrong coolant can also corrode and damage the radiator components, the water pump, and potentially the engine in the long run. 

The BMW F10 owner’s manual states that the coolant to be used should be a mixture of water and additives, though it also mentions that not every additive is compatible with the BMW F10.

To be on the safe side, the best coolant to use for the BMW F10 would be a coolant manufactured by the automaker itself, such as the genuine BMW Antifreeze/Coolant (part #82141467704).


BMW Antifreeze/Coolant will be blue in color and needs to be added into a 50/50 mixture with distilled water to provide better cooling efficiency for daily driving.

Clogged Cooling System

Another common cause of engine overheating on the BMW F10 is that there is a clog somewhere in the cooling system, which renders any coolant that you’ve poured into the system useless.

With a clogged cooling system, the coolant will be unable to circulate throughout the different engine components, resulting in higher engine temperatures.

The clog can be caused by the buildup of debris over time or even a faulty thermostat that gets stuck closed and is unable to let the coolant flow into the radiator.

In this case, you will have to get your entire cooling system flushed, which involves draining the old coolant from both the radiator’s drain valve and the engine’s block drain, then pouring in some radiator flush mixture to clean the clog out.

Water Pump Failure


The BMW F10’s water pump is known to fail or become faulty, which means that it’s unable to play its role in properly circulating the coolant throughout the entire system as well, eventually leading to elevated engine temperatures.

Just like a radiator, a faulty water pump that has been damaged will also leak coolant underneath the car, so make sure to check if it is actually the source of the leak.

After confirming that the leak comes from a failed or damaged water pump, be sure to have the component replaced by a mechanic right away.

Timing Chain Issues


If you hear a whining noise from your engine bay, then chances are that you have issues with your timing chain, which is a common problem reported by BMW F10 5-series owners.

But apart from the whining noise, how do you exactly know if your BMW F10’s timing chain is failing? Well, there are several other symptoms of timing chain failure that you should also look out for.

Symptoms of a Failing Timing Chain on the BMW F10 5-Series:
The engine misfires and idles roughly check the engine light illuminates on the dashboarding chain is too loose/has a lot of play presence of metal shavings in the oilLoud whining and rattling noise from the engine

Timing chain issues on the BMW F10 mostly occur on 2011 to 2015 models equipped with the turbocharged 2-liter N20 I4 engine, making it quite a prevalent problem for the German luxury sedan.

To combat this, BMW has actually released a Service Information Bulletin that extends the warranty of the N20’s (as well as the N26) timing chain to 7 years or 70,000 miles (113,000 km), whichever comes first.

Furthermore, other than replacing the timing chain itself, the bulletin also essentially replaces the timing chain tensioner, tensioning rail, guide rail, slide rail, and the oil pump drive chain module.

While this N20 timing chain issue affected more than just BMW F10 models, the bulletin only covers the 528i sedan and xDrive sedan models only for the F10.

However, when we take a look at other F10 models that have this engine, we cannot cross out the chances of timing chain issues developing on the BMW 520i model as well.


Despite the bulletin’s release, many owners had unsatisfactory experiences with actually getting any sort of reimbursement for their expenses, which eventually led to a class-action lawsuit against BMW of North America regarding this matter.

But of course, since the due date to file a claim in order to be a part of this reimbursement has already passed, your only choice now is to pay out of your own pocket to get the timing chain issue fixed.

If you’re not that experienced working with timing chains, then you should know that replacing them is a very tedious process, which is why a lot of shops in the states charge you about $1,500 in total.

BMW F10 timing chain parts alone will cost you upwards of $400 on average. It’s a lot cheaper than having a shop do it, but you better know your way around timing chains and be ready to get your hands dirty.

High-Pressure Fuel Pump Failure (HPFP)


Certain diesel variants of the BMW F10 have been reported to have failing high-pressure fuel pumps, or HPFPs, which can cause the vehicle to exhibit the following symptoms below.

Symptoms of a High-Pressure Fuel Pump Failure on the BMW F10:
Engine stalling engine starting difficultiesSudden loss of engine power illuminated warning lamplighter engine temperatures increased fuel consumptionMetallic shavings inside the pump

According to a safety recall report by BMW, affected units include both standard and xDrive variants of the 535d from 2014 to 2016. The manufacturer counted a total of 509 units of the models that may exhibit the fuel pump issue.

Notifications for this recall were planned to be sent to owners of the affected units on September 20, 2021. 

Therefore, if you plan on buying a secondhand diesel BMW F10 from one of the affected model years, be sure to ask the seller if it has already undergone a recall for its high-pressure fuel pump.

Going by BMW’s own explanation behind the issue, the high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP) can fail due to the use of low-quality diesel fuel, which reduces the amount of lubrication needed for the pump to function correctly.

Furthermore, the reduced lubrication can prematurely wear the fuel pump and cause metallic shavings to accumulate inside the pump as well as a change in the normal fuel rail pressure.

If left to be, this chain of events can cause the pump to go into a “protective shutdown”, which also explains the sudden loss of engine power listed in the symptoms.

Jerky and Shuddering Transmission


Another common problem of the BMW F10 that could lead to potentially expensive repairs is a jerky and shuddering transmission.

Owners have reported several other symptoms that show up as the BMW F10’s transmission acts up.

BMW F10 5-Series Transmission Problem Symptoms:
Jerky when shifting gears (including reverse)Transmission feels like it skips gearsRougher and unpredictable ride qualityLoud clunking sound during shiftsA sudden decrease in speed while driving

You may be wondering why an “illuminated check engine/warning light” isn’t part of the symptoms listed, and that’s because, unfortunately, the system sometimes fails to notify you that there is a problem with the transmission.

Issues relating to the transmission have been reported in both the 6-speed manual and 8-speed ZF 8HP automatic option of the BMW F10.

The three most common reasons for these transmission problems are either because the transmission fluid is running low, the ECU needs a software update or reset, or the transmission is already mechanically failing.

The best way to accurately diagnose such transmission problems would be to obviously have your vehicle inspected by a BMW-certified mechanic or technician.

But regardless of the exact cause of the problem, it’s also good practice to make sure that you regularly check your transmission fluid levels to ensure that you’ve got enough lubrication for your transmission. 

Drive/Serpentine Belt Tensioner Failure


The BMW F10 has a drive belt (or serpentine belt) tensioner that tends to fail, which can cause all sorts of grinding or rattling sounds inside the engine bay.

The belt tensioner’s main role is in the name itself, which is to provide the right amount of tension to the drive belt or serpentine belt as it rotates around various pulleys at all times.

This issue can worsen as time goes by because you run the risk of having the belt completely fall off or break, as the belt tensioner is not able to keep it in place.

Once the drive belt falls off, then whatever accessory that it’s connected to can lose power, like the alternator. And we all know that losing power from the alternator can eventually leave you stranded where you are.

It’s important to mention that when you replace a belt tensioner, you’re not simply replacing just the tensioner itself.

The tensioner comes with its own pulley and spring, both of which are actually responsible for the grinding, rattling, or even screeching sound that you hear whenever the tensioner is already failing.

Furthermore, you will also need to replace the belt itself, the idler pulley (if applicable), and the bolts for both the tensioner and the pulley, which should have the right torque specs in order to not come loose.

If this whole belt tensioner issue sounds like a feasible DIY job for you, then we recommend following a more in-depth tutorial on that like the video below.

Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Cooler Leakage


Diesel-powered BMW F10 models from 2014 to 2016 are not exactly leak-proof, as owners commonly complain of leaks that actually come from the EGR cooler.

The EGR cooler is tasked to cool down hot exhaust gases that are being recirculated back into the inlet manifold to reduce emissions.

However, if the EGR cooler suddenly becomes faulty, it can start to leak coolant from the inside, causing the coolant to mix in with built-up soot inside the EGR and create a fire hazard, as described in BMW’s recall campaign.

The recall covers approximately 4,766 units of the BMW F10 535d and 535xd (xDrive) models from 2014 and 2016, all of which are equipped with the turbocharged 3-liter N57D30 inline-6 (I6) diesel engine.

If you ever experience a leaking or faulty EGR cooler, there are some common symptoms to look out for.

BMW F10 Faulty EGR Cooler Symptoms
Smell of exhaust gas from the engine bayRougher engine idlingLow engine coolant warning“Powertrain Malfunction” error is shownSmoke or white steam from the engine baySudden loss of engine power

Be sure to immediately bring your vehicle in for a check-up if you start to notice any of the symptoms above.

If your BMW F10 model is covered by the recall we’ve discussed, the dealership will replace both the EGR cooler and the intake manifold free of charge.

Faulty PCV Valve Heater (Blow-By Heater)


A component of the BMW F10 called the PCV valve heater (or blow-by heater) is known to malfunction due to manufacturing defects.

Quite the opposite of the last component we’ve discussed, the PCV valve’s “blow-by heater” ensures that the PCV valve doesn’t freeze in very cold temperatures, hence “heating up” the valve itself.

Though as we’ve said earlier, the heaters of affected models come with manufacturing defects, which come in the form of plastic material covering the heaters’ electrical contacts. 

This can cause a build-up of moisture on the blow-by heaters and create a short-circuit situation, which then leads to the malfunctioning of the entire heaters themselves.

With the heater out of commission, the PCV valve itself will not be able to regulate the flow of gases, which will cause an accumulation of engine sludge and oil contamination.

As with other issue-prone components we’ve already discussed, a faulty or failing PCV valve will potentially start showing its own set of symptoms.  

BMW F10 Faulty/Failing PCV Valve Symptoms
Oil leaking from the engine emission of black smoke from the exhaustIncreased fuel and oil consumption engine misfires during idle (rough idling)Decreased engine performance

To remedy this whole situation, BMW went ahead and issued a recall for multiple gasoline models of the BMW F10 that potentially had faulty PCV valve heaters.

Such BMW F10 models included in the recall are those equipped with the N52T engine from 2011, so if your BMW F10 falls under this recall, expect the dealership to replace the faulty heater at no cost at all.

Reduced Braking Power


Another weak point of the BMW F10 is its brakes, as multiple owners have complained of a sudden loss or reduction of braking power.

From what we’ve managed to find, there are two main culprits to blame for this, which are either prematurely worn-out brake pads or a lack of lubrication for the engine/brake vacuum pump.

Prematurely Worn-Out Brake Pads

BMW’s brake pads will usually last between 30,000 to 70,000 miles (48,000 to 113,000 km). However, the BMW F10’s brake pads can wear out prematurely depending on the owner’s driving habits or the type of brake pads installed.

Make sure to only use brake pads recommended by the manufacturer. Unless you own the top-of-the-line BMW M5 model, it’s also important to not treat your brakes as if they’re racing brakes so that they’ll last longer.  

Lack of Lubrication for the Engine/Brake Vacuum Pump


Another common cause of reduced braking power on the BMW F10 is not enough lubrication supplied to the brake vacuum pump, which actually already has its own recall by BMW.

The main culprit to the lack of lubrication is actually a defect in the intake camshaft, which reduces the oil supplied to the vacuum pump.

With this recall, both standard and xDrive models of the 2012 to 2013 BMW 528i sedan can be brought in for a free installation of either the intake camshaft, the vacuum pump itself, or both depending on the inspection.

Water Leaks from the Steering Column Cover


A lot of vehicle models that we make articles on tend to develop water leaks, and now we’re adding the BMW F10 to that list as well.

Water leaks are common enough on the BMW F10 that just about every model, from the entry-level BMW 520 to the performance-oriented BMW M5, can experience leaks after several years of wear and tear.

As simple as a leak may be, it can still potentially turn into a hefty repair bill if it ever gets into the electronics inside the cabin.

As for where the water most commonly leaks from, it’s actually from the steering column cover (pictured in yellow above) that slowly loses its adhesion over time, resulting in a not-so-water-tight steering column whenever you wash your car or it rains.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as the design of the firewall between the engine bay and the interior cabin is actually what causes water to reach the steering column cover in the first place.


It has been found that water can overflow from the “sound-proofing cover” of the firewall due to the lack of drainage.

In worst-case scenarios, the lack of drainage is so bad that the water that leaks through the steering column cover is enough to flood the entire cabin floor.

To permanently resolve this leaking issue, you need to replace the steering column cover itself and drill some holes in the firewall’s soundproofing cover, which will prevent water from overflowing into the steering column cover.


And if even that’s not enough to keep you confident, you can opt to apply another layer of waterproof sealant/adhesive on the new steering column cover to further prevent water from seeping in easily. 

Heated Seats Don’t Work


Another interior-related problem of the BMW F10 is that the heated seats sometimes do not work, which can be pretty frustrating during the colder months of the year.

Since the heated seats are, after all, part of the interior’s electronics, it’ll be worth checking their own corresponding fuse in the fuse box.

It’s important to mention that the BMW F10 comes equipped with two fuse boxes, so in order to locate the exact fuse, we recommend checking out this fuse diagram for the BMW F10 as well as following the tutorial below.

Do keep in mind, however, that BMW’s heated seats are controlled by a wireless bus system, so if you were to find no fuses blown, then you would have to take the vehicle to a BMW-certified mechanic for a proper diagnosis of this problem.

Otherwise, if you’ve found that the fuse that controls the heated seats is indeed burnt to a crisp, then simply replacing the fuse should put some heat back into the seats in no time.

Suspension Problems (Worn-Out Shocks/Struts)


BMW F10 owners commonly report that the car tends to become more unstable and vibrate more at higher speeds, which can actually be traced to the suspension system.

The suspension system contains a lot of components, but worn-out shocks and struts, in particular, have been to blame for the vehicle’s unstable riding quality.

If not replaced right away, the suspension shocks and struts can further worsen in condition and cause clunking noises, worse vibrations, and an overall bumpier ride that can become a safety hazard while you’re on the road.

For this reason, you should waste no time in getting your BMW F10’s suspension checked by a certified mechanic or technician and having any worn-out components replaced.

What’s the worst year of the BMW F10 5-series? (Years to Avoid)

The 2011 BMW F10 equipped with the N20 engine is considered the worst model year of the luxury sedan due to having the most number of problems reported out of any F10 model year.


Most of the problems associated with the 2011 BMW F10 relate to the timing chain on its N20 engine, and as we’ve already discussed, this is quite a prevalent problem for the vehicle even in other model years.

The water pump is another problematic part of the 2011 model’s turbocharged engines, and a recall has since been carried out to resolve this issue in 2015.

Which BMW F10 5-series years have the least problems? (Best Years)

The 2014 BMW F10 is regarded as having the least problems, as most of the reported problems in earlier model years have already been resolved by BMW’s “Life Cycle Impulse” update in 2014.


Lots of owners are fond of the 2014 BMW F10 in particular, as this is the time when BMW gave the F10 what it calls a “Life Cycle Impulse (LCI)”, which is basically the manufacturer’s own version of a mid-cycle update.

Because of the update, a lot of problems that were reported for the model from 2011 through 2013 have already been dealt with, resulting in a better and more reliable version of the German luxury sedan.