Reader Question: BMW Timing Chain Issue?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Gus asks: Has BMW resolved their timing chain issue? I’m considering buying a new X3 but not if it’s still a problem. My other choices are the MB GLC 300 or the Toyota RAV4. I need to do some light towing and get good everyday mileage. American assembly is a big plus.

My reply: I’ve heard of this issue with the diesel four cylinder engine, which BMW no longer offers in the U.S. Apparently, the timing chain is prone to excessive premature wear and – worse – the engine is a “crasher” type, so a failure can result in major engine damage. I’d avoid this engine for that reason myself.

The X3 and GLC are rear-drive with AWD optional; the RAV4 is front-drive with AWD optional. The Toyota is a very popular, very reliable small crossover but its layout isn’t as sturdy for towing as the other two. Most trims are only rated to pull 1,500 lbs. – although the new TRD version is capable of handling up to 3,500 lbs. and so might meet your needs.

It’s also obviously thousands of dollars less expensive than either the X3 or the GLC.

Which would I personally pick?

If I rarely needed to pull more than 1,500 lbs. or so, the RAV4 would be my hands-down choice – not because it’s so much less expensive up front but because it will almost certainly be much less expensive down the road. The BMW and Mercedes are luxury vehicles that not only cost more to buy but will cost much more to service and repair, due to more complex systems and more expensive parts, etc.

Also, you will take a broadside hit on depreciation with either while the RAV will hold its value much better.

. . .

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