The motorsport division of the manufacturer specifically designed the BMW M3. They took the BMW 3 Series and gave it many upgrades to stand out.
As expected, it was a hit among racers. It is certainly a beast on the road with a better engine, handling, and even aerodynamics.
The M3 was launched in 1992, exactly two decades ago. Although it has had a fairly reliable history, some models have caused issues for consumers.
This article will be focusing on all of those best and worst years for BMW M3. It is recommended to read this article completely as the information here is pretty vital.
Let’s list down all of the models before we continue.
Best Years for BMW M3:
Worst Years for BMW M3:
Did you know that out of all of the best models on the above list, none of them had any complaints. This shows you just how different BMW is compared to all other manufacturers.
Even the worst models are top-notch and can be bought without any hesitation. You will know more once you read in detail.
So, let’s get straight into it!
List Of The Best Years For The BMW M3: What Years To Buy
Starting with the best years or the perfect years, these models of the BMW M3 have been known to have no reliability issues. The list covers many models, which means it can cater to people of all budgets.
#1 Best Year: 2017 BMW M3
The number one contender on this list is one of the more recent models of the M3. The 2017 BMW M3 is the best sports car model you can buy.
Thanks to its turbocharged engine, it has one of the best accelerations in the game. The ride quality of this model is also top-notch.
The fact that the shape of the M3 remains the same as the 3 Series but with sports-focused improvements makes owning it a lot more interesting.
As expected, this model is packed with features such as a large infotainment system, which offers a ton of features. Even the seats are extremely comfortable, making this vehicle perfect for long rides.
#2 Best Year: 2016 BMW M3
Coming up next is the predecessor to the winner of this article. This one also features a similar turbocharged inline engine that is almost impossible to beat on the road.
It provides an amazing acceleration. It can reach 60 mph in a mere 3.9 seconds, which is fast. After all, it does produce more than 400 HP.
The 2016 BMW M3 has all the features that one would expect with a premium vehicle. Although the steering wheel does not have a traditional feel, it is extremely responsive and allows for precise handling.
From antilock brakes to airbags and stability control, it will protect you, in the event of a crash, as much as possible.
#3 Best Year: 2015 BMW M3
I think you may understand the trend here. With each model of the M3 so good, only the successor has beaten it.
The same is the case with the 2015 BMW M3. It comes close to the 2016 model. This model tried to balance performance and luxury, which surely achieved that.
BMW offers two transmission options, catering to all types of enthusiasts out there. A similar 3.0L turbocharged inline engine is found with this model. The fuel economy is decent, at 20 mpg, but not outstanding.
It has the best-in-class safety features, including many cameras and a front collision protection system. The cabin is similar to the 3-Series. It was so good that BMW did not need to change it.
#4 Best Year: 2013 BMW M3
If you are on a bit of a budget and want a more traditional engine rather than a turbocharged one, then the 2013 BMW M3 is the one you should buy.
It is a performance beast with a tried and tested V8 engine under the hood. The vehicle provides excellent handling. The only drawback is that this model’s fuel economy drops a bit.
The 2013 M3 has all the features one may expect to find with a high-end car. Despite being almost a decade old, it is packed to the brim with safety features. The iDrive infotainment system is still decent and gets the job done.
#5 Best Year: 2010B MW M3
The 2010 BMW M3 is an amazing vehicle. It features a V8 engine, similar to the one found in its three-year-old counterpart.
The engine is extremely powerful and allows for an unmatchable experience on the road. Coming up next is the first model on this list over a decade old.
As expected, the build quality of the cabin is excellent. The ride quality and handling of the 2010 M3 is just as good as their latest counterparts.
It has all of the best features in the 2013 model, such as safety ones. The only caveat with this model is that there is little to no space to store phones and wallets, which can be frustrating.
#6 Best Year: 2009 BMW M3
The 2009 BMW M3 comes close to its successor, in all regards. It is a class apart when compared to the regular 2009 3-Series.
It features a V8 engine that can output 414 HP. The engine provides a top-of-the-line driving experience. Combine this with the amazing handling of the vehicle itself, and you are getting an unmatched driving experience.
From the 10-speaker audio system to the heated seats, the 2009 M3 is pure luxury, even for today’s standards. There is no lack of safety features and high-quality materials in the interior.
Its acceleration from 0 to 60mph is very decent, at 4.6 seconds. Yes, this is slower than the latest releases, but you should not forget that it is an older model.
#7 Best Year: 2006 BMW M3
The 2006 BMW M3 has taken the seventh spot on this list. It was an excellent model and had many features which made people love it. It has scored a lower spot because BMW offered features such as power seats at a premium, which many people disliked.
The 2006 M3, when it came out, became one of the best performing coupes on the market. Yes, it can produce 333 HP, which is about 100 less than the newer models, but it should not be forgotten that it is more than a decade old.
It does have a ton of safety features and an aggressive interior, which many people have come to love.
#8 Best Year: 2003 BMW M3
Finally, coming in last place is a model approaching the two-decade mark.
The 2003 BMW M3 is perfect for those who want a high-performance vehicle but don’t have the budget. Just like its successors, it has excellent handling, looks amazing, even to today’s standards, and is a beast on the road.
Due to this model being old, there are things that you are compromising on, such as an infotainment system or other technology.
But, for the price, the 2003 model of the infamous sports car is perfect. The interior is great, and there is even an aluminum interior trim, which just looks dashing.
List Of The Worst Years For The BMW M3: What Years To Avoid
On to the worst models of the BMW M3, the list is not what you might be expecting.
The sports car has had such a reliable past that you can choose any one of these and be extremely pleased.
Let’s look at them and see why they have been placed on this list!
#1 Worst Year: 2008 BMW M3
The 2008 model is the worst year of the M3 you can buy. It can be bought, but it did have some issues, which you should know.
Although it was as good as the models released before and after it, there were some engine issues that users reported. They complained about sudden engine failure or it not utilizing its full power.
The clutch on the 2008 BMW M3 was also known to become faulty. There were reports of it getting stuck, which prevented the vehicle from being used. Other than that, it is a great sports vehicle.
With many features and an amazing engine, it will provide you with a memorable driving experience.
#2 Worst Year: 2011 BMW M3
Two main issues found in the model came three years later. It was amazing to drive and had excellent handling, which was expected.
The first issue was that the navigation system would freeze. The touch would stop responding, and the only way to fix it was to turn the car off and then back on.
Buyers complained that the vehicle would die while driving, which is extremely serious and can result in a serious accident. There were a few reports of the engine dying too.
The 2011 BMW M3 model has many features, making it a compelling buy. The V8 engine has a pleasant drive and the vehicle, itself, provides excellent handling.
#3 Worst Year: 2012 BMW M3
Coming up next is the successor to the 2011 M3. The manufacturer made some improvements to the car, but the issue of the engine suddenly dying while driving was still present. It was a lot less reported, but there is still a chance of it happening.
Other than that, there were some airbag issues. The 2012 model of the BMW M3 featured Takata airbags, which were recalled. So, if you own the model, you should make sure that the airbags have been replaced.
Or else, there is a chance of them deploying unexpectedly, resulting in a serious accident. So, if you do buy a used one, you should get the vehicle inspected.
#4 Worst Year: 2005 BMW M3
The 2005 BMW M3 was better than the previous three models on this list.
Although it was mostly pretty reliable, there were transmission issues. The transmission would get stuck in a neutral position, which prevented the vehicle from being driven or started.
There was also the issue of exhaust whine on this model, which many people found unpleasant. BMW also charged a premium for features such as powered seats and an alarm system, a downgrade.
Overall, it was a good vehicle, but these issues and lack of features helped it earn a spot on this list.
#5 Worst Year: 2004 BMW M3
The 2004 BMW M3 is another fantastic option for people on a budget but want to buy something powerful.
However, it checks all the right boxes, a few issues frustrated people. The mirrors would stop working, which would result in them not being able to be rolled up or down.
There was also a report for a rod bearing failure, which BMW recalled. The issue is serious, and if it occurs today, it can cause the repair to cost more than $3000 easily.
Even BMW’s new parts are provided, which means they can still fail. So, this is why the 2004 M3 has earned this spot on the list.
#6 Worst Year: 2002 BMW M3
The 2002 BMW M3 is better than its newer counterparts. The only problem users had with this model was that BMW did not include a spare tire in the trunk, which is surprising because even budget-oriented vehicles featured it.
This also meant that they had to spend extra to get one, which no one wanted to do. The 2002 M3 model is the only one on this list that had a rough ride.
This does fall on personal opinion, but there was no similar complaint with any other model of the BMW M3. With a beefy engine, it is an amazing performer on the road. Other than that, it is as good as all premium vehicles can get.
#7 Worst Year: 1999 BMW M3
The 1999 BMW M3 is next up on this list. This model is more than two decades old and is a beast in terms of reliability. Buyers had little to no complaints about it.
The only caveat with this model was that the M3’s interior space was constrained, which was not liked by many people. There were some complaints about the cooling system failing too, caused by a leaking radiator.
The problem can be fixed, but it can cost a lot. Apart from this, the M3 is a fantastic vehicle, and you will have a memorable driving experience with it.
#8 Worst Year: 1998 BMW M3
The final model on this list is 1998 BMW M3. This vehicle model is the oldest one on this list and is the best of the worst ones too. It had the same issue of the constrained interior, but other than that, there were no other issues with it.
The issue of the radiator leaking was not present in this model, which means it is more reliable than its successor. Although the 1998 model has started to show its age, it is an option to consider if you want to go old school.
What Are The Most Common Problems With The BMW M3?
With all of the important years of the BMW M3 now discussed in detail, it makes sense to discuss the common problems that users have faced over their generations. These problems have been picked based on their frequency rather than their severity.
Let’s get started!
1. Engine Failure
Although this problem is the most common out of all, it still has an incredibly low chance of happening. Owners of the 2008 models of the BMW M3 complained that their vehicle’s engine would fail, which would prevent the vehicle from working entirely.
As there have been little to no reports of the cause of the issue, there are no repair options out there. It was reported that the problem could only be fixed by replacing the entire engine.
BMW did issue a recall, but it is not valid now. So, an engine replacement is the only option to get the vehicle back in usable condition.
2. Faulty Transmission
According to many unfortunate owners, the transmission going into neutral is one of the worst problems on this list. The fact that it remains in a neutral position means that it will not be able to move at all and not start.
As BMW did not offer any recalls or issue and service bulletins, owners have to fix it out of their pocket if owners face this problem.
As transmission issues can get pretty expensive, especially when it involves a BMW, you can expect to pay a lot of cash to get your BMW M3 back in usable condition.
3. Radiator Failing
One of the most frustrating issues on this list is the failure of the radiator and the AC system.
Owners reported that the entire cooling system would fail, which would result in a fix that requires you to pay more than $3000. This is perhaps one of the most annoying problems because people living in extreme conditions cannot drive without it.
The problem is most noticeable when the vehicle has been driven for more than 100000 miles. The problem can also be related to the electrical system, but that has a fairly low chance of occurrence.
The issue was mostly found in the 1999 model of the sports car.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How Long Will A BMW M3 Last?
A maintenance schedule can greatly affect the life of your vehicle. A fully maintained BMW M3 can last for 200000 miles easily.
This is a great number, and it means that you can expect the vehicle to run superbly for a decade or even more, with 15000 miles driven annually.
If a proper maintenance schedule is not followed, a person can expect the vehicle to last for 150000 miles, with reduced performance.
Related: How Long Do BMW’s Last?
Q2. What’s Faster, 335i Or M3?
Although the BMW 335i easily beats the M3 in terms of speed, there is no doubt that the overall drive quality of the M3 is better.
You can feel the speed of the M3 as the reading on the odometer increases. This is perhaps due to a better suspension system that allows for a smoother drive. The handling of the M3 is also far better.
Q3. Is BMW M3 Expensive To Maintain?
Yes, they are. This is the case with all premium vehicles on the market. Their maintenance costs are significantly higher than the average of $651.
In the case of the M3, the annual maintenance cost is around $1161, which is almost double the average. But that maintenance allows the vehicle to perform in a stellar fashion, which is a win for all.
Q4. Which Is Better M3 Or M5?
It depends on what your use scenario is. The M3 is focused more on aggressive drivers that need to make sharp turns and need excellent handling.
The M5, on the other hand, has been designed to output as much power as possible. So, the M3 wins. The final factor to consider is the price, with the M5’s starting price being $30000 more than the M3.
Q5. Is BMW M3 A Sports Car?
Yes, it is a sports car by all definitions. The BMW M3 is considered one of the most successful sports cars ever released.
From the turbocharged engine found in the latest models to its unparalleled handling, the M3 will blow your mind away when you take it for a spin. As it is also used in sporting events, the BMW M3 is a sports car.
The BMW M3 has been a beloved vehicle for many years, and it looks like the 2017 model is the one that leads the pack. With the vehicle in production for three decades, it has proven, multiple times, as one of the best sports cars for the money.
Regardless of the model you buy, it will provide you with a fantastic experience on the road. The high-quality materials, combined with a top-notch engine, means that you will never want to sell this vehicle if you finally decide to buy it.
I hope this article, of the best and worst years for BMW M3, helped you decide which model is suitable for you.
Hi there! I am Tahir Azam, and this is my blog. WVDOT Automotive is a website dedicated to creating high-quality content for car enthusiasts. I am also an avid car driver. I own and drive a Porsche for my daily tasks. It is the perfect vehicle for my family. I am a proud father of two boys. I spend my mornings and evenings catering to clients at my very own software hub. After getting home, I dedicate a few hours of my time to create an article every day. Well, this is a short introduction about me and I am also a publisher on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading through my articles, and I also hope that I may have helped you choose an upgrade for your vehicle.