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Used BMW 1 Series review: 2011 to 2019 (Mk2) - Reliability and common problems

There are a few things to be aware of, but the 1 Series should be about as reliable as its main rivals

Carbuyer Rating

3.3 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Reliability and common problems Rating

3.5 out of 5

The BMW 1 Series has been praised by owners for its reliability, although it doesn’t have a spotless record. BMW has a reputation for making quality products, and while the BMW 1 Series may be the most affordable model in its range, there’s no evidence of cost-cutting. 

The interior should feel solid and we’d expect it to be a reliable car overall, and it’s also equipped with the latest safety technology and has been highly rated for protecting its occupants in a crash.

How reliable is the BMW 1 Series?

The BMW 1 Series came with a three-year warranty from new, so there won’t be any Mk2 models with any significant amount of this left over. That’s pretty normal, though, and all of the car’s main rivals shipped with the same warranty cover.

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Servicing costs will be higher than for more mainstream models such as the VW Golf, but there are fixed-price packages available from BMW to make it more consistent. Intervals are variable depending on the model you choose, and as a general rule the high-performance M135i and M140i require more careful care to keep the engine in top condition.

Are there any common problems or things to look out for?

There are a handful of common issues with the BMW 1 Series to look out for. Leaves can get into the drains around the engine bay, which can cause water build-up and electrical issues. The lights are also prone to water getting in and misting up. 

The doors can rattle, which requires an overhaul to sort, and the suspension can sometimes knock and need replacing. As with all turbocharged cars, look for excessive smoke from the exhaust, which indicates an expensive fault with the turbo.

What about recalls?

There have been some key recalls to be aware of too - make sure all the relevant ones have been carried out on any car you’re thinking of buying. There was a recall in 2013 to sort a potential clutch failure, then in 2015 there was another to cover an issue with the fuel pump. In 2016 there was a recall to fix a problem with the power steering.

These were followed by recalls in 2017 and 2018 to sort out concerns regarding the electrics, driveshafts, rear seats and the exhaust.

What do owners think?

The BMW 1 Series was rated above average for reliability in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK. Of the owners who responded, 16.5% reported experiencing a problem with their car at least once.

The one category that owners were least happy with was that of running costs. Although fuel consumption of some models is impressively low, some owners of older diesel BMWs have faced big repair bills when parts such as turbochargers, injectors or exhaust filters have failed out of warranty.

The car was also able to finish 46th out of 75 in our 2021 survey, by which time it was no longer for sale as a new car but it was clear owners were satisfied with their Mk2 model even a few years on from when it was new.

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