Used BMW 3-Series Saloon (1998 - 2005) Safety & Reliability

Review by Parkers on
In the closely fought compact executive market, one model stands out from the rest: the BMW 3-Series. It has history stretching back to the 1980s and has built a solid reputation, and is the car of choice for every young middle manager.
4 out of 5



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  • Adult Occupant Rating

    4 out of 5
  • Pedestrian Test Rating

    1 out of 5

Alarm and immobiliser are standard, as is remote central locking; satellite tracking is an option. All models have six airbags, including side airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and ABS. Safety is assured with a four star Euro-NCAP rating - excellent for its age, but beginning to be left behind by the latest models.

4.5 out of 5


Overall, 3-Series is well built, dependable and has excellent reliability – continuing the notion of great German build-quality. Serious problems are rare and although we have heard reports of the occasional niggle, these are unlikely to be anything that won't be quickly sorted by the dealer. As ever, regular self maintenance and keeping to the service intervals will be of long-term benefit.

Car check problem points


Stone chips from excessive motorway work.


No major faults, but suspension issues have been reported. Needs full BMW service history.


Scratched or kerbed alloy wheels, accident damage; wiper motor; central locking mechanism.