2012 BMW 3 Series Review, Problems, Reliability, Value, Life Expectancy, MPG

The 2012 3 Series can last over 200,000 miles even with some cooling and electrical issues. At $12,729 – 20,472, it’s an excellent entry-level German luxury sports car.

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The Good

Performance is outstanding, cabin materials are high quality and the steering response is very tight.


The Bad

Ownership costs are high, the backseats are cramped and the infotainment system is tricky to use.

Is the 2012 BMW 3 Series a Good Used Car?

  • Yes, 2012 is a good year. Owners really like the luxury, dependability, and overall styling.
  • Reliability ratings are very good. Avoid models from 2007–2010 which have more engine issues than 2011 and newer models.
  • Performance is great from the 4 and 6-cylinder engine options.
  • BMW 3 Series is a safe car earning a perfect 5-star rating in government crash tests and a Top Safety Pick Award. A rearview camera is the only optional safety feature.
  • Fuel economy is good at up to 27 MPG combined.

Positive Owner Reviews


Bria W

Comfortable luxury vehicle.

Power steering is squeaky at times. I enjoy the performance of my vehicle especially after visiting my manufacturing dealer. My engine performs better after an oil change of course. I am comfortable with my interior. The leather on the driver’s seat has cracked slightly from frequent and long drives. All other leather in the car is intact.


Fiazel S

We all know BMW is a car that known for both comfort and performance.

As far as I am using my car I do not face any major problem. My car has 240 horsepower,turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder. This series car is praised for its driving dynamics which are well balanced between comfortable and agile. In the city it gives 35 mpg on the highway by diesel engine. And gas mileage is much better at 31mpg at city and 42 mpg highway.


Fre P

This sapphire black BMW 335i.

Extremely reliable, very fast and cool looking. It is black on black on black with chrome trim. The engine is the heaviest that was made in the 3-series and it is a little race horse. Leather chairs, sunroof and a fantastic sound system. Love my car.


Justin R

A pleasure everyday drive experience.

When it comes to performance it is an absolute pleasure to drive. Very satisfied with my experience so far. It is as much reliable as I could have asked for. Very comfort for my everyday transportation. There are no significant problems worth mentioning.


Susan P

Best car on the road. Wouldn’t want any other car.

I love my car it is a white BMW. I have always loved that car and always wanted a BMW. It is very expensive for me but tell worth it. It is reliability is excellent, it already has 98000 miles on it and it has never given me a problem and I absolutely love the leather interior. If I ever buy another car it would have to be a BMW again.


Lena S

My car is extremely fuel efficient.

I have no complaints about my car! It is very fuel efficient and drives like a dream. It is also reliable and big enough for when I want to start a family.


Erik W

Memory of my BMW. It helps me to use time properly. It makes my past interesting.

Vehicle:BMW. Series:3 series. Model:335i sedan. I bought this BMW in 2012. I really love it. I am satisfied with my BMW 335i. That time it was reliable to me. I feel comfort and pleasure when I traveled with this. Some features of my car made me happy. Sometimes I got problems with my BMW like low fuel, tire puncher, over eating fuel etc.


Emily F

Of its warming seats and nice sunroof.

I like my car by the fact of how comfortable and reliable it is. Just how it’s looking is very beautiful and easy to drive. It’s a really good car with a nice sunroof and warming seats for that cold day in the winter which you are freezing. It just feels nice and warming.

Negative Owner Reviews


Amanda A A

BMW 328i luxury model nightmare.

The vehicle used to be reliable until the extended warranty ran out and all of a sudden it started falling apart which led to expensive maintenance issues that were covered and required out of pocket costs. It has been difficult to keep up with repairs and has become virtually a money pit of an ‘investment.’.


Paul R

It drives great. It handles curves perfectly However, it costs a lot for repairs

The cost of maintenance is very high. I love the style though and how it handles



The BMW is fun to drive but not worth it



Janeiro H

What’s wrong with the BMW

Overheating, parts are hard to find for this vehicle and sometimes the window motors go out and the rust under the fender and the parts are very expensive the brakes and brake pads and the brake rotors are expensive. I think that the BMW is a great car but I think there are more cars that are reliable


marvin B

The very best on the market.

Great car love it no issues runs great travel all over NYS love the stereo love the south driving. Had this since it came out and will have it until it can’t run anymore very special to me. In time will upgrade love BMW very good car very good everything love BMW.


Anamaria Degollado D

It’s very safe and comfortable ride. Great on gas.

I love the color and comfort of my vehicle. My dislike would be electronic sensitivity


Dakota M

Luxury and Comfort, yet affordable

Compact and easy to drive Comfortable and reliable. Even when maintenance is required. Has turbo in engine so it is faster like a sports car but gets gas mileage like a smaller car. The seat warmers are great in winter and the trunk size is extra large as well


Murphy S

The interior was nice and comfortable.

This cat was extremely comfortable. It operated at a nice performance level and ran very smoothly. It was reliable however always a pain to get fixed because the parts were expensive. However with good upkeep I was able to not have to take it in as much

What Do Critics Say About the 3 Series?

  • Consumer Reports finds the 3 Series to be a high-quality luxury car, but the long-term owner satisfaction scores are below average.
  • Edmunds rates the 3 Series 4.4/5, liking the responsive ride and handling, but noting limited storage space.
  • Kelley Blue Book users give the 3 Series a 4.5/5 and like the nimble driving experience, but say it feels hard to handle on wet roads.

What Common Problems Does the 2012 BMW 3 Series Have?

The problems in the 2012 3 Series include cooling system issues, electrical failures, seat problems.

Cooling system failures including worn-out water pumps, are a problem at around 60,000 miles in some vehicles. Replacing the water pump costs about $1,500 depending on local labor rates.

Electrical system problems are mentioned at around 40,000 miles from some owners. The problem involves the vehicle stalling while driving, and is usually caused by computer issues. Repairing the problem costs around $650.

Seat issues are another complaint from owners at around 15,000 miles. There are problems with the restraint system which were addressed in a recall and are repaired for free.

There are 7 recalls, and the most serious include a loss of brake assist, and the PCV heater which can increase the risk of a fire.

How Long Will the 2012 BMW 3 Series Last?

A properly maintained 3 Series can last over 200,000 miles, which is around 50,000 miles longer than other luxury rivals including the Volvo S60. Regular annual maintenance costs are expensive, according to Repair Pal, at $821 per year.

As a 3 Series ages, owners should prepare to replace the A/C evaporator for $2,000, valve cover gasket costing $700, and the camshaft position sensor which costs $310.


Sara P

It is a very reliable car, as long as you keep up with its care. The only problem I have faced is, no Bluetooth connection with the aux cord.


Amber F

It is very reliable. It has problems from me wrecking it and it not getting fix correctly and it still got me all the way to Georgia and back!


Kay N

In the beginning, it was reliable. As the car has gotten older, it has been having more and more problems. It’s becoming more expensive to maintain than it is worth.


Jen D

Yes it is been an extremely reliable for me and my family. We have had no problems so far, and don’t anticipate any in the near future.

How Much Is the 2012 BMW 3 Series Worth?

Blue book values range from $12,729 – 20,472 making the 3 Series similarly priced to an Infiniti G37 or Mercedes C-Class. When new, the price range was $34,900 to $60,800. Depreciation is worse than other cars losing about 15% of its current value per year.

What are the Different Models of the 3 Series?

The BMW 3 series is available as a sedan, coupe, wagon, or convertible and is offered in 2 main models. Technology is good for the era with the latest infotainment update in 2011, but there’s a full redesign in 2013.

328i is the entry-level model with:

  • 17-Inch Alloy Wheels
  • Cruise Control
  • Dual-Zone Climate Control
  • Fake Leather Vinyl Upholstery
  • 6-Speaker AM/FM/ CD Stereo System With Bluetooth And AUX Connectivity

335i is a more performance-oriented model offering:

  • 18-Inch Alloy Wheels
  • Xenon Headlights
  • 8-Way Power Adjustable Seats

Options available on both models include:

  • iDrive Navigation System
  • Sport Seats
  • Premium Harmon Kardon Stereo System
  • Heads-Up Display
  • Heated Front And Rear Seats

What Engines Come In the 3 Series?

  • The base engine found in the 328i model is a peppy 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo making 240 horsepower.
  • The engine found in the 335i is the powerful 3.0L 6-cylinder turbo which has 300 horsepower and takes only 5 seconds to do 0-60.

What Colors Does the 3 Series Come In?


How Big Is the 3 Series?

The 3 Series is a compact car similar in size to rivals including the Acura TSX and Audi A4. The front seats are comfortable, but the passenger room is cramped in the backseats of all of the models.

Cargo space is average with 13 cubic feet of room in the trunk of the sedan, and up to 48.9 cubic feet of room in the wagon.

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How Does the 3 Series Compare to the Competition?

The Mercedes C-Class is a very close competitor in the same price range. Where the C-Class stands out is with better interior materials, but the BMW is more responsive and fun to drive. We recommend the BMW because there are fewer mechanical problems.

The Audi A4 is another rival costing about $1,000 more. The A4 offers standard all-wheel drive, but the 3 Series is more responsive and fun to drive. Long-term, the BMW is a better choice, with lower ownership costs.

Ranks #8 Luxury Small Cars by Owners










Do Owners Recommend the BMW 3 Series?


Sara P

I love this vehicle. It has great gas mileage and easy to drive. I can drive anywhere in this car for long periods of time and do not mind it at all. I feel so luxurious.


Maddie M

Yes, I love my car. After I drive my husbands Chevy I am thankful to be back in my BMW. It is smoother, faster, luxurious and feels better.


Barbara L

It is an okay vehicle, but nearly as fast with as much get up and go as I would like. I wish it was a little speedier and more slick.


Stephanie M

Yes. It has been extremely reliable, and not had any major problems since I have owned the vehicle. The maintenance program & warranty that came with the car were both excellent as well.