Any automobile can have "frequent" problems, whether made by Ferrari, NASA, or BMW. I have owned five BMW's, driven them beyond 100,000 miles, and never had problems aside from the ritual replacement of the water pump at 60,000 miles. I recommend an upgraded water pump for E36 and E46 models (made by EMP Stewart Components) that can be purchased from Bimmerworld.com.
CHANGE YOUR OIL! For mineral oil, change every 5,000 miles; for synthetic oil, change every 7,500 miles. I have laboratory tests that back up these intervals as acceptable with good TBN (Total Base Number) additive remaining after use. DO NOT follow Service Interval indicators (we enthusiasts call them idiot lights). Flush ALL fluids every 30,000 miles.
BMW's are great cars meant to be driven! Take care of them, do not take shortcuts, and they will take care of you.
On my 2006 and 2009 3-series cars I had a series of fuel injector problems. They were repaired under warranty, but were a nuisance when traveling. I've had problems with the run-flat Michelin tires in the 2009 car: there is no spare tire provided with this car. Twice I've had flat tires when traveling in the hinterlands of Georgia and had the problem of finding a tire to fit the rim to get back home. These tires will run flat, but if you're a long distance from a major tire service, you're in trouble without a spare. I now carry a spare in the trunk, and it takes up most of the space.
We bought a 2003 330i for my wife in 2005 with 25,000 miles. At 40,000 miles in 2007 the power steering pump went out. BMW replaced it, 17,000 miles later the pump went out again. Although everyone I talked with at BMW agreeed that even 40,000 miles is too soon for a power steering pump to go out and 17,000 is unbelieveable they would not replace it. But would do it for $1,000
instead of $1,200. (thanks a lot) They also found the gasket and o ring for the oil filter housing leaking. $70 in parts $750 in labor. Also was told that the lower control arm bushing need replacment ($731.91) Total estimate $2,800 for a car with 57,000 miles EASY miles. My wife hardly goes over the speed limit. WOULD NOT BUY ANOTHER ONE AND SUGGEST YOU DON'T EITHER (I have since found out that all three of these are common problems, wish I knew that ahead of time.
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