84,000 km on BMW X3: My first diesel car is now 7.5 years old

It has been a lovely car to own and drive with its 30d engine being the star of the show.

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7.5 yrs - 84,000 kms update

It's been a really long time since I've posted an update. So here goes. Roughly 7.5 yrs into the ownership, the car is at 84,xxx kms currently which translates to about 11,500 kms annually. I had taken an extended warranty package for years 3 to 5. I have posted about a few items that were covered under warranty in previous posts.

The cost of warranty for 6th year was quite high so I opted out. Luckily no issues cropped up in the 6th year. The regular services have been carried out periodically as per the iDrive prompts - 10,000 kms or 1 year. My usage pattern nicely matches this duration.

The front tyres (Yoko Advan V 105) are nearing the end of their service life. They were installed at around the 48,000 km mark. Still got some life left after about 32,000 kms of usage. The rear yokos wore out in about 20,000 kms and were replaced with 275/40/19 Michelin PS4s. The Michelins seem to be better than the Yokos in terms of their wear rate. Hope they last a bit longer.

I usually slap on the OE 18 inchers for our annual trips to Sirsi where we like to visit various interior villages and nature spots. We usually encounter rough roads during these trips, so I make it a point to slap on the Pirelli 18S (Tubeless) which still have good tread depth for these trips. These BBS alloys were hard to source initially. I am sure there is no way I will be able to get a single piece if I happen to crack one of these on such trips.

19" BBS Rims

The 19s are great for my usual Bangalore - Belgaum NH runs. The difference between the 19" BBS rims + low pro tyres and 18" OE rims + Pirelli tyres is quite stark. The car feels very agile and light with the 19s. The steering feels more responsive and the car feels eager to change direction like a hot hatch. It hardly feels like a heavy family SUV. Usually, bigger rims + low pro tyres are heavier than smaller rims + higher profile tyres. But these CI-R rims from BBS are flow-formed alloys specifically designed to be lightweight.

19" tyres hardly make the ride stiffer, but the positive effects in handling and agility are very much evident. I am very happy with these rims and tyres and they go a long way in making the car feel special both in terms of looks and performance.

Wheel bearings replaced

The car had been running smoothly without any issues until a couple of months back when I noticed mild humming from the tyres. Since the tyres were getting old, I thought the humming was from the old tyres. But over time the intensity increased and the sound seemed to be going up and down in sync with vehicle speed. I had a similar experience in one of our earlier cars and it was diagnosed to be a result of worn or damaged wheel bearings. I was pretty sure this was the same thing. The sound was coming from the rear axle.

I called up my trusted SA who has been servicing the car from day one at Navnit Airport road service center. He asked me to bring the car in and after a short test drive he was of the opinion that it is most likely to be bad wheel bearings or possibly some problem with the rear differential (expensive). They kept the car and diagnosed it to be wheel bearings only. The parts were not in stock, so they had to be ordered. I was advised not to take the car out in the interim as bad wheel bearings could potentially cause the wheel to get stuck while running and pose a serious safety threat.

So I left the car with them while we waited for the part to arrive. The parts took quite some time to arrive and I got the car back after nearly 20 days. BMW parts are not cheap and the cost of replacing the bearings for both the rear wheels came to about Rs. 31k. They gave the car back all washed and cleaned. But I later realised that they might have parked the car under a tree in their yard as there were remains of bird-dropping stains on the bonnet. I hate leaving the car with service centers when we have to wait for parts for precisely such reasons.

The X3 has been a lovely car to own and drive. The 30d engine is the star of the show. The car simply revels running on fast highways. Miles are dispatched effortlessly with the engine turning over at lazy RPMs in 8th gear delivering dollops of instantaneous torque at the slightest nudge of the A pedal. The car is rock solid at speeds, with superb feel from the steering and highly reassuring brakes. The chiller of an AC, comfy and widely adjustable front seats, adjustable dampers (in stiff setting) and the immersive HK sound system all team up to make highway drives an absolute delight.

I am not a diesel fanboy (this is my first diesel car), but the diesel economy and resulting range is hard to ignore. I am yet to see a single digit figure kmpl during my usual drives to Belgaum. There is no need for any special diet. Tank up at a decent bunk (70L fuel tank capacity) and you can keep going on and on. In the interest of long-term health of the engine, I am using BMW's diesel additive quite regularly now (every 3rd fill or so). The engine does seem to run smoother and quieter when the additive is added.

The crossover + AWD platform has been very useful as well. This is a family album on wheels - as a wise man once remarked about his own steed. We travel to Sirsi (Uttara Kannada dist) every year and the locals suggest new places to explore every time. Initially, I used to be hesitant to take the X to these places. But now I have enough confidence to do so.

To remap or not

I have had endless debates in my mind about this. I always believed that I'd be getting a remap once the extended warranty expired. It's been nearly 2.5 years since that happened and still no remap. On fast expressways, the car is mighty fast in stock form (Max 258 PS/ 560 NM at decent rpms). No matter what gear, what rpm, there is always power on tap. My default setting on the highway is:

  • Chassis (suspension + steering) : Sport mode
  • Drivetrain (Throttle response and engine map) : Comfort
  • Transmission : Normal mode

In this setting, I can cruise all day at high triple-digit figures. If I need more power, I switch the drivetrain also to Sport mode. This gives faster throttle responses plus the engine seems to have 15% more punch. This setting is enough to leave pesky wannabes in the dust. If I still want more, I then shift the gear lever to the left for transmission sports mode. In this mode, the gear shifts are super fast with later (in the rev range) and faster (shift time) upshifts accompanied by those characteristic thumps on every upshift. This is the full-on beast mode. When I am in my default mode, there is always the option of stepping up to two levels of higher performance if I want to. But the fact is that 95% of the time, I am in my default mode, cruising smoothly and happily. I keep asking myself " Do I really need that remap?"

AWD Grip

I am not into offroading and rarely drive to places that regular 2WD cars wouldn't be able to manage. So I didn't think much of AWD and nor did any research much about it when I bought the X3. It is one of those features that happened to come by default with the car, and not a must-have. I just thought AWD will be useful when driving in remote and rural areas over slushy or loose rocky roads. Something that would prevent the car from getting 'stuck'. I least expected X drive AWD to transform high-speed highway manners of the car!

The X drive system is an intelligent AWD system. It is rear-biased, so it gives you that RWD shove-in-the-back kind of feel, but can transfer power between the front and rear axles in a fraction of a second depending on levels of traction. It is quite complex stuff, but the result is unbelievable levels of grip while taking curves or making lane changes. You always feel like you are in total control no matter the situation and the car always behaves in a predictable manner. I have now got used to hitting the throttle to get out of tricky situations, rather than hitting the brakes. Just point the steering wheel in the direction you want and hit the A pedal, the X drive does the rest. No skids, no screeches, no drama, no fuss. I might have posted this old video from BMW before.

I am so happy I picked the 30d variant when it was available. The only reason I don't feel the need to upgrade is this beautiful 6 cyl diesel motor. Silent, refined, silky smooth power delivery are some common adjectives used to describe this motor. It has been quite reliable till date. A stuck EGR actuator is the only blemish in its track record thus far. 85,000 kms done and it feels exactly the way it did on day one on all parameters. No sign of fatigue or age whatsoever.

Negatives - A few misses

  • Rear seats tad too upright with hard cushioning.
  • Spacesaver eats up luggage space.
  • Would have loved the drive mode selector button somewhere on the steering wheel. Have to look down to make that switch
  • No seat belt warning chime for passengers.
  • Ride quality at slow speeds a bit edgy even in comfort mode.
  • Non-LED turn indicators look too old school now.
  • Android Auto missed, but embedded screen layout in dashboard is a perfect fit to place the phone with G maps on.
  • I would like the current gear displayed in regular D mode (like it does in VWs)
  • Would like the good old oil dipstick to check oil level and quality.


I am continuing to service the car at Navnit Motors Airport road facility. I am a happy customer, they've taken good care of my car. I never had BSI, but have religiously followed the iDrive service recommendations to the T. Post 5 years, BMW offers discounts on service parts and labour proportionate to the age of the car. I think I got about 18% discount on my last service bill. Brake pads and discs also seem to have a decent life. I am averaging 25K kms per pad change. Both front and rear discs have been changed just once in the ownership period thus far. Service bills average about 40k p.a., which is not bad for this class of car.

The infamous F series door handle issue

The X3's build quality is top-notch. Interiors look and feel like new even now, except for the driver-side door handle rubber trim that seems to have given up. Quite a common issue with the F series BMWs. No squeaks or rattles otherwise. I periodically apply some lubricants over the door rubber beadings and that seems to keep them from squeaking. I also pamper the steering wheel with some leather cleaner and conditioner every now and then to keep it fresh. Suspension is holding up fine as of now. That may be the next big ticket service item as it is the adaptive type.

What next?

Very tough question. Cars with similar or more power cost a lot of money these days. The X3 is fun, fast, spacious, fairly comfortable and reliable. What it misses out on is modern gadgetry - Android auto, ADAS, this assist, that assist blah blah. It has all the must have safety features I need and I am not a gadget freak.

New cars coming out these days hardly feel like a step up for me. They cost big money and are ugly looking. I believe I've got BMWs best diesel mill + GB + AWD all wrapped in this one superb package. I don't think I will ever get bored of this one. The F25 X3 belongs to that generation of classic BMWs that you know is a BMW even from a distance in your rearview mirror. Not the case with modern BMWs. You wonder whether it is a Hyundai, Kia or Skoda until it is quite close to you.

Some latest photos after a wash

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