The 6 Best and Worst BMW 5 Series Years to Get! [Facts & Stats]

The 6 Best and Worst BMW 5 Series Years to Get! [Facts & Stats]

The BMW 5 Series can be your family’s luxurious haven of comfort, your second office while out and about, or simply the premier choice for you if there’s just not enough German engineering in the 3 Series to drool over.

Yet not every 5 Series model year gives you the same level of satisfaction, and if you’re going to spend a pretty penny to own something of this caliber, we reckon you’d want to get it right the first time.

This is where we come in to make sure you get the classy bimmer of your dreams, so buckle up as we reveal the best and worst years of the 5 Series to date!

What are the best and worst BMW 5 Series years?

The best BMW 5 Series model years are 2002, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2022, while the worst ones are 1997, 2006, 2011, 2012, and 2018.

The best and worst BMW 5 Series model years are based on their reliability reviews, consumer/expert ratings, noteworthy features, and reported complaints.

The BMW 5 Series has been a solid performer in the executive car segment for decades and goes toe-to-toe with the likes of the Mercedes E-Class (best worst years mercedes e class).

While earlier 5 Series models from the 70s and 80s can be regarded as “classics”, plenty more “daily-driveable” models can be had from the E39 to the G30 generation.

Such models are known to give a more balanced mix of luxury, comfort, and performance, which is why we’ll be focusing more on the best and worst examples of the 5 Series from these generations.

The best model years to consider include the 2002 model of the E39 (4th) generation, the 2008 model of the E60 (5th) generation, the 2015/2016 model of the F10 (6th) generation, and the 2022 model of the G30 (7th) generation.

On the other hand, you should avoid models from 1997 (E39), 2006 (E60), 2011/2012 (F10), and 2018 (G30).

There’s also the newest G60 5 Series for 2024, but of course, it’s way too early to be determining its best and worst years. On that note, let’s see what makes the earlier model years the best and worst to add to your wishlist below! 

What are the best BMW 5 Series model years?

The best BMW 5 Series model years include 2002, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2022. These years have a good mix of high consumer/expert ratings, good reliability, and fewer complaints regarding different issues.

2022 BMW 5 Series (G30)

2022 BMW 5 Series (G30)

If you have some money to spare and would like to get the latest tech and luxury bits with a side of proven reliability for your BMW 5 Series, then look no further than the 2022 model year from the G30 generation.

Still considered relatively fresh, the 2022 BMW 5 Series will be the most expensive model on this list in the used market on average. Still, there’s no lack of premium interior and exterior features to be had throughout its trim lineup.

Garnering ratings of 4.4/5 from KBB consumers, 4.5/5 from Edmunds consumers, 8/10 from Car and Driver experts, and 80/100 from J.D. Power consumers, the 2022 model is a well-trusted year for the 5 Series.

Problems are also kept to a minimum for this model year, with the 2022 BMW 530 variant, for instance, getting only 4 complaints (2 for equipment, 1 for the airbags, and 1 for the powertrain).

Despite receiving comments of being “less engaging” to drive compared to earlier 5 Series generations, the 2022 G30 5 Series is nonetheless very capable even with its base turbocharged 2-liter I4 engine.

With its potent engine options coupled with a sophisticated suspension system, it’s every bit as athletic and agile as it is smooth and comfortable during drives. 

Opting for the Dynamic Handling package further extends suspension fine-tuning to suit your preferences.

2015/2016 BMW 5 Series (F10)

20152016 BMW 5 Series (F10)

The 6th-generation BMW 5 Series F10 has two model years worth considering the most, namely the 2015 and 2016 models.

With a combination of having the highest consumer ratings out of all F10 model years and durable engine options, both the 2015 and 2016 BMW 5 Series models can be considered the most dependable examples of a 6th-gen 5 Series.

Consumers from KBB, Edmunds, and J.D. Power score the 2015 5 Series 4.4/5, 4.4/5, and 85/100, respectively. The 2016, in comparison, was rated an average of 4.4/5, 4.3/5, and 86/100 from the same sites.

Complaints for these two model years are relatively minimal in the case of the BMW 528, 535, and 550 trims, which total only 69 complaints combined on CarComplaints and CarProblemZoo, making them a lot less problem-prone compared to other years.

Either model year will sport a 2-liter I4 turbo engine as the base power plant, a peppier 3-liter I6 turbo option, a diesel-powered 3-liter I6 turbo, a 3-liter I6 hybrid, and a top-spec twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 for the 550i and M5 models.

While seemingly neck and neck, the 2016 model gains a few notable inclusions over the 2015 model, such as updated USB and Bluetooth features, and standard features like a power tailgate, Harman Kardon sound system, and satellite radio for the 550i.

However, this by no means makes the 2015 model any less generous in its standard features, which include 60/40 foldable rear seats, a nav system, xenon headlights, LED fog lights, a 10-speaker audio system, a moonroof, and many more for the upper trims.

2008 BMW 5 Series (E60)

2008 BMW 5 Series (E60)

Albeit not being the most flawless 5 Series generation, the E60 has had a few notable model years for those looking for less complicated tech while still avoiding bouts of unreliable motors, and the best of those years is the 2008 model.

The 2008 BMW 5 Series managed to dodge a bullet by not inheriting the problems that plagued earlier pre-facelift models from 2004 to 2007. Such problems included faulty safety equipment, engine issues, and numerous electrical problems.

Being the first model year to receive the “LCI” (Life Cycle Impulse) facelift, the 2008 5 Series comes with an updated front bumper, headlights, taillights, menu system, audio system, and iDrive system.

Consumers also give the 2008 model fairly high ratings such as 4.6/5 on KBB, 4.5/5 on Edmunds, and 81/100 on J.D. Power.

While such ratings are actually a bit lower than that of 2004 to 2007 models on average, these model years received a lot more complaints for particular 5 Series variants.

Having said that, we would still recommend avoiding the 535 and 528 trims for the 2008 model year, as these two tend to be the most problem-prone judging by the large number of complaints they received.

Your best bets for this year would be either a 525 or a 550 model, both of which racked fewer reliability complaints compared to the previous two trims.

2002 BMW 5 Series (E39)

2002 BMW 5 Series (E39)

The E39 generation has been a favorite among enthusiasts of the 5 Series, and you’ll find one of the best examples of it by specifically going for the 2002 model.

In general, the E39 5 Series is preferred for its more engaging driving dynamics, which the 2002 model definitely lives up to while still being considerably comfortable and luxurious for its time.

Further driving up the 2002 E39 5 Series’ reputation is consistently high consumer ratings such as 4.6/5 on KBB and 4.8/5 on Edmunds, the highest out of any 5 Series model year or generation discussed.

Even though it is the oldest model on this “best years” list, the 2002 BMW 5 Series has demonstrated impressive long-term reliability, with some owners crossing the 200,000-mile mark without any major issues.

What’s more is that for cheaper used prices, you still get a bunch of goodies on the 2002 model such as power seats, dual front airbags, optional (but free) rear side airbags, a 10-speaker premium audio system, and cruise control.

Helping the car achieve its reputation for confidence-inspiring handling are features like dynamic stability control (DSC), traction control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), 324mm front brake discs (for 6-cylinder trims), and different aluminum front suspension components.

What are the worst BMW 5 Series model years?

The worst BMW 5 Series years include 1997, 2006, 2011, 2012, and 2018. These years can have lower expert/consumer ratings, more reported reliability issues, or a mixture of both compared to other model years that offer better value.

2018 BMW 5 Series (G30)

2018 BMW 5 Series (G30)

The G30 model has generally been a pretty good rendition of the BMW 5 Series, though some model years are still less desirable than others, such as the 2018 model.

Consumer/expert ratings are still above average for this model year, such as 4.4/5 on KBB and Edmunds, 8/10 on Car and Driver, and 81/100 on J.D. Power. 

However, do keep an eye on specific models like the 2018 530, which has several reported issues with its airbags, seats, and seat belts.

In particular, the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid trim is also known to have quite a few electronic faults for the 2018 model year and has also been subjected to several recalls involving them.

The 2018 BMW 5 Series, while not terrible, belongs to one of the earlier model years of the G30, meaning that you’ll also be missing out on a lot of features that make the G30 a more polished all-arounder.

With a lack of Android Auto support, charging extra for Apple CarPlay at best, no input jack, and unenthusiastic handling, the 2018 model simply lags behind its newer counterparts that have more to offer in creature comforts and performance packages.

So while this model isn’t “bad enough” per se to avoid like the plague, better overall reliability, standard features, more options, and cornering ability that of a true sports sedan can be had when you go for the newer LCI/facelift models (2021 onwards).

2011/2012 BMW 5 Series (F10)

20112012 BMW 5 Series (F10)

It’s very common for initial model years to be one of the worst to buy for a given vehicle model, and both the 2011 and 2012 BMW 5 Series models from the F10 (6th) generation are two such examples of this.

The majority of problems reported for the BMW F10 5 Series typically involve the 2011, 2012, and even 2013 model years.

However, the 2011 model year, at least statistically, is the worst of the lot due to having the most complaints for any F10 5 Series across different trims, such as 146 complaints for the BMW 535 model, and 130 complaints for the BMW 550 model.

The 2012 model is right up there with it, receiving over 120 complaints for the 535 and 550 trims alone, though one of the most problematic trims for this year is the 528 model, which received 185 complaints.

Common problems for the 2011 5 Series are timing chain issues in the N20 engine, water pump failures, excessive oil consumption, fuel injector issues, and tire sidewall bubbling.

As for the 2012 model, it also had its fair share of faulty timing chains and excessive oil consumption in addition to an illuminated drivetrain malfunction light, a defective oil pump, and random engine shutdowns.

2006 BMW 5 Series (E60)

2006 BMW 5 Series (E60)

Another unreliable 5 Series model year to avoid is the 2006 model from the E60 generation, which in itself, isn’t particularly known for being as reliable as the others.

Over half of the E60 generation model years, namely from 2004 to 2007, are a notoriously unreliable bunch you should avoid altogether, though we picked out the 2006 model as the worst due to having the most reliability complaints reported.

Even with its high consumer ratings, the 2006 BMW 5 Series has garnered hundreds of complaints on CarProblemZoo across its 525 and 530 trims.

The 2006 BMW 525 model received a total of 137 complaints, with over a third of that relating to airbag malfunctions such as the airbag warning lights illuminating and the airbags either deploying for no reason or failing to deploy/activate.

256 complaints of the 2006 BMW 530 model also report a mixture of airbag issues and several electrical problems, such as faulty headlight wirings, faulty dashboard electronics, and other short circuits due to a separate rear cabin water leak issue.

1997 BMW 5 Series (E39)

1997 BMW 5 Series (E39)

It can be tempting to go for the 1997 5 Series since, for one, it’s an E39, which is one of the best 5 Series generations there is, and secondly, it’ll be the cheapest on average due to its age.

However, if the “best” model years are what you’re looking for, then the first model year of the E39 wouldn’t be it, at least when compared to the facelift models between 2001 and 2003.

Reliability-wise, the 1997 5 Series is still pretty decent overall, but you would have to be more keen on looking for pristine examples of it in the used market. That, and you’ll also have a more “bare-bones” E39 due to it being more outdated in features.

By features, we mean that you don’t even get a standard CD player in the thing, and even the succeeding 1998 and 1999 models already come with break-resistant windows, rear side-impact airbags, and other standard features to boot.

For not that much extra, you could opt for a better-equipped 2001, 2002, or 2003 model instead. Still, if you don’t care about all that stuff and are just looking to get the most fun out of the cheapest E39 there is, then the 1997 model would still do just fine.

BMW 5 Series Best and Worst Years Per Generation

Generation/Model YearsBest YearsWorst Years
4th Generation (E39) (1997 to 2003)20021997
5th Generation (E60) (2004 to 2010)20082006
6th Generation (F10) (2011 to 2016)2015 20162011 2012
7th Generation (G30) (2017 to 2023)20222018

Consumer/Expert Ratings for All BMW 5 Series Years

BMW 5 Series  Model YearKBB Consumer RatingEdmunds Consumer RatingCar and Driver RatingJ.D. Power Consumer Rating
20234.4/5 4.4/58/1079/100
20224.4/5 4.5/58/1080/100
20214.4/5 4.3/57.5/1079/100
20204.4/5 4.3/57.5/1081/100
20194.4/5 4.1/5 7.5/1080/100
20184.4/5 4.4/5 8/1081/100
20174.4/5 4.2/58/10N/A
20164.4/5 4.3/5N/A86/100
20154.4/5 4.4/5 N/A85/100
20144.4/5 4.2/5N/AN/A
20134.4/5 4.1/5N/AN/A
20124.4/5 3.6/5 N/AN/A
20114.4/5 4/5N/AN/A

What are the common problems of a BMW 5 Series?

What are the common problems of a BMW 5 Series

Common BMW 5 Series problems are timing chain issues, high-pressure fuel pump failure, cooling system problems, and airbag problems.

BMW 5 Series problems can depend on the generation. For instance, timing chain issues are more common in F10 models, while E60 models are more prone to airbag issues.

Timing Chain Issues

One of the most notorious problems of the BMW 5 Series is that of its timing chain, which is known to fail and break off, potentially causing damage to other engine components in the process.

Timing chain issues have been most prevalent in F10 5 Series models that are equipped with the N20 gas/petrol engine and even the N47 diesel engine.

Owners that run into this problem commonly observe that the timing chain guides break apart, which in turn causes the chain itself to slack and fail.

Some of the broken pieces can even fall into the oil pump and start clogging it, which not only causes it to fail but also causes a cascade of other issues such as low oil pressure and eventual engine failure.

Several common symptoms of a bad timing chain to look out for include engine misfiring, rough idling, and some rattling or grinding noises from the engine compartment. 

High-Pressure Fuel Pump Failure

The BMW 5 Series is prone to issues with its high-pressure fuel pump, with many owners complaining of suddenly losing power while trying to accelerate.

Most commonly observed in E60 models with the N54 engine and even some F10 models with the newer N55, failure of the high-pressure fuel pump has been traced to faulty wirings and connectors.

A failed high-pressure fuel pump can put your BMW in limp mode, which is supposed to be a feature to protect your engine from further damage while still ensuring you arrive home or at the nearest mechanic.

Nevertheless, it can undoubtedly put you at risk when it occurs at highway speeds. And what’s more, some owners even experience the engine completely shutting off due to the faulty fuel pump.

It’s also worth noting that this issue can occur with or without a malfunction light, which means you should look for other symptoms such as misfiring, starting difficulties, and the acceleration issues discussed earlier.

Cooling System Problems

Cooling system issues have been observed in certain BMW 5 Series E39, E60, and F10 models, and such issues can easily cause overheating problems and damage to engine components.

One of the most widespread cooling system issues is water pump and thermostat failures, which typically happen along with other symptoms like an “overheating” warning on the dash and, in some cases, the engine shutting off.

In addition, coolant leaks can also develop either as a result of the faulty water pump or other defective components such as the thermostat housing and the plastic hose fittings.

Moreover, it’s also worth checking for any signs of wear on the radiator and radiator hoses, as these can also be potential sources of coolant leaks that can eventually develop into the same overheating issue.

Airbag Problems

Quite a big safety concern in some older BMW 5 Series models from the E60 generation are airbag problems, which can do the opposite of what they’re supposed to be doing for the safety of the passengers.

Hundreds of complaints from 2004 to 2007 E60 5 Series owners talk about more specific airbag malfunctions such as the airbag light turning on randomly, the airbags deploying for no reason, or the airbags being permanently turned off.

A closer look into the issues, at least for the airbag warning light and airbag deactivation, reveals that the occupancy detection mat for the passenger seat is faulty. 

As stated in the manufacturer’s recall (08V384000) for this issue, the mat can develop small cracks when used over time, which can cause the mat’s sensor to malfunction, deactivate the airbags, and trigger the airbag warning light. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which BMW 5 Series is the most reliable?

There are several BMW 5 Series model years notable for being very reliable, such as the 2022 G30 model, the 2015 and 2016 F10 models, the 2008 E60 model, and the 2002 E39 model.

All the above-mentioned model years are LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) or facelift models from the latter half of their respective generations, equipping them with updates and features that also improved their reliability.

Is the BMW 5 Series cheap to maintain?

Whether or not a 5 Series is cheap to maintain will depend on the exact model and generation/year. For instance, the BMW 528i F10 has an annual maintenance cost of $825, while the BMW 525i E60 costs $626 to maintain over a year on average.

While both these models are cheaper to maintain than the BMW average of $968 per year, other models can still be more expensive than that, such as the diesel-powered BMW 535d F10, which costs $1,046 to maintain yearly.

You’ll also have to factor in other things such as the mileage of the vehicle, its condition, and even the shop that you choose to have it maintained at. 

Does the BMW 5 Series have a lot of problems?

The BMW 5 Series has its fair share of common problems such as timing chain issues, high-pressure fuel pump failures, faulty airbags, water pump failures, and coolant leaks.

Certain 5 Series models can also run into other issues like tire sidewall bubbling, water leaks in the cabin, noisy sunroof seals, and faulty air conditioning.

Does the BMW 5 Series last long?

BMW 5 Series models are known to last for about 200,000 miles (322,000 km) on average, with some examples even lasting over 300,000 miles when meticulously cared for.

However, its lifespan can also depend on other things like the generation or model year, your driving habits, how frequently you drive, and the driving conditions in your area.