Keep up ap­pear­ances

The pres­tige SUV’s show­room glow can be costly to sus­tain

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - gra­ham.smith@cars­guide.com.au THE sec­ond-gen­er­a­tionBMW X5 re­ceived rave re­views when it was launched. Road testers ex­tolled the big wagon’s per­for­mance and han­dling. The new model re­leased in 2007 looked much like its pre­de­ces­sor but it was big­ger and fo

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mag­ne­sium dash­board sup­port and im­prove­ments to the four­wheel-drive.

The en­gines wereBMW’s best: a 3.0-litre in­line six petrol slurper, a 4.8-litre V8 and a 3.0-litre turbo diesel. The V8 went like gang­busters but had quite a thirst for pre­mium un­leaded, mak­ing the smaller petrol engine and the turbo diesel the sen­si­ble choices. Of th­ese, the diesel was best choice over­all. It was the most eco­nom­i­cal but still had suf­fi­cient per­for­mance and it was rated the best bal­anced of the new bunch on the road.

A slick shift­ing six-speed auto was the main gear­box choice, up­graded to an eight­speed self-shifter in 2010. Noth­ing was lack­ing when it came to the cabin— it was roomy, the seats were com­fort­able and it had ev­ery­thing you could want.

NOW The X5 looks like a win­ner in the show­room but drive it away and the story isn’t so glow­ing.

BMW’s be­he­moth re­ceives mixed re­views from the trade, with re­ports of nu­mer­ous is­sues that could tar­nish the own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence. The body and un­der­ly­ing me­chan­i­cals— the en­gines, gear­boxes and

driv­e­lines— are rea­son­ably ro­bust and re­li­able but the boltons are not nec­es­sar­ily so.

Rear tyre wear is an is­sue. The wear is more pro­nounced on the in­ner half of the tyre tread and it can’t be ad­justed out— there sim­ply isn’t enough ad­just­ment avail­able. It be­comes an is­sue when you have to stump up a con­sid­er­able sum to re­place those mas­sive run-flat tyres. At the rear the outer bush in the lower con­trol arms wear, even­tu­ally need­ing to be re­placed, while at the front, the caster bar bushes wear out.

In a rather poor de­sign, the air­con­di­tion­ing drains on to the drive shaft from the cen­tre trans­fer case to the front diff and can cause the shaft to rust.

Starter mo­tor bushes wear out lead­ing to the re­place­ment of the starter mo­tor.

The al­ter­na­tor is a com­plex wa­ter-cooled de­vice with a plas­tic bush that wears and breaks up. As with the starter, re­place­ment is the only op­tion.

Plas­tic hoses and fit­tings in and around the engine bay go brit­tle and fall apart re­quir­ing re­place­ment. Door locks and win­dow reg­u­la­tors reg­u­larly fail. The dash and con­trol panel dis­plays fade and the panels have to be re­placed.

To make mat­ters worse, re­place­ment parts are very ex­pen­sive. Aus­tralians pay two to three times the Amer­i­can rate for the same BMW-branded fac­tory re­place­ment parts. The ex­act parts, made by the same sup­pli­ers such as Bosch but with­out the fac­tory brand­ing or pack­ag­ing, can be ob­tained by as­tute me­chan­ics for less than the fac­tory equiv­a­lents.

Any­one con­tem­plat­ing buy­ing a used X5 should think long and hard about it. Buy­ing a car with high kays on the odo — 100,000km or more— runs a real risk of their dream be­com­ing an ex­pen­sive one. The best car to buy is the one that’s just come out of lease— th­ese gen­er­ally have low kays and have been well ser­viced.

Be­fore buy­ing an X5 con­sider where it would be ser­viced. BMWdeal­ers will charge you the most (for labour and parts). An in­de­pen­dent spe­cial­ist will charge much less and is likely be able to find cheaper parts and in some case be able to re­pair parts in­stead of re­plac­ing them.

Don’t jump in. Have your pre­ferred car checked by an ex­pert be­fore you buy.

SMITHY SAYS

The X5 is a great driver but parts and ser­vic­ing can be very ex­pen­sive as the kays climb.

GRA­HAM SMITH

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