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BMW 1-Series common problems (2004-2013)

BMW 1-Series

BMW was already shoving family car stalwarts such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra out of the way with its 3-Series, and wanted to do the same further down the ladder. So, the 1-Series was born, with cars such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf in its sights.

Buyers liked its unusual styling and the fact it was rear-wheel drive, although it didn’t make the same inroads into an established marketplace as its bigger brother.

The first-generation model is now a bargain-priced buy, and is of a vintage that makes it a prime candidate for the home mechanic. And that’s where Haynes comes in, because we’ve stripped down and rebuilt a 1-Series Mk1, so we can guide you through every repair task. Just buy a manual once, and it’ll help you out on every single job. Bargain.

BMW 1-Series problems solved with Haynes

What recalls has the BMW 1-Series been subject to?

BMW has been forced to recall the 1-Series on a number of occasions. One recall involved more than 181,000 cars that had faulty wiring for the blower regulator. The wiring and affected components had to be replaced.

More faulty electrics caused another recall of 311,848 cars, because it could cause the dashboard lights to flicker.

Then almost 11,000 cars were recalled to have a faulty driveshaft universal joint replaced.

A dodgy fuel filter heater caused another recall because there was a risk of fire.

Then 701 cars were recalled to have the steering box replaced, and a small number of cars were taken to dealers to have replacement sound-deadening fitted because hot gases from the seatbelt pretensioners could ignite it.

What common problems does the BMW 1-Series Mk1 have?

BMW 1-Series cars that have an automatic gearbox can develop an issue that prevents the gear selector being moved out of the ‘P’ position.

Some owners have also reported that their diesel-engined 1-Series models can start to generate a droning noise from up front. The issue is a faulty exhaust flexpipe.

A grinding noise from your engine is never a good sound, but that’s what some 1-Series owners have heard. The issue lies with the timing chain and associated paraphernalia.

If you have a manual gearbox in your 1-Series, being able to change gear is rather vital to your ability to carry on your journey, but some cars have suffered clutch seizure, which precludes this.

And if your BMW 1-Series emits a squeak from under the bonnet when you start it, and when you turn the steering wheel, then you’re not alone.

BMW 1-Series common problems

Does the BMW 1-Series have automatic gearbox problems?

Okay, you buy an automatic so you don’t have to move a gearlever, but you still need to be able to move the selector from ‘P’ to ‘D’ and ‘R’ every so often. Unfortunately, the BMW 1-Series sometimes stops you from doing this.

Two possible causes rear their ugly heads. Firstly, if you connect a fault-code reader and it shows a code, then the fault is to be found in the gearbox interlock solenoid. You’ll need to change it for a new one.

However, if no code is present, the problem is that the gear selector cables are out of adjustment. But worry ye not – just look up your Haynes 1-Series manual, where we show how to remove and replace the cables.

BMW 1-Series Mk1 problems

Does the BMW 1-Series have exhaust problems?

The BMW 1-Series is good fun to drive, and part of that is the fact that its engines sound good – even the diesels. However, if you suddenly notice that your 1-Series is starting to make a droning noise from somewhere ahead of you, it’s going to take the edge off the driving enjoyment.

The problem lies with the exhaust flexpipe, which can become damaged over time. BMW has issued an improved part, and once you’ve obtained it you’ll need to look up the relevant section in your Haynes 1-Series manual, where we show you how to get the old part off and the shiny new part on in its place.

BMW 1-Series Mk1 common problems solved with Haynes Autofix

Does the BMW 1-Series have timing chain problems?

Starting up your BMW 1-Series only to hear a grinding sound being emitted from the engine is the stuff of nightmares. Financial nightmares.

The issue is that one some models the timing chain guide rails, tensioner and tensioner rail can be faulty, causing the untoward noise.

If your car has less than 50,000 miles on it, then you’ll need to replace the upper chain tensioner, the timing chain lower guide rails and the guide sleeves. If it has more than 50k you’ll also need to replace the upper and lower timing chains, the upper and lower guide rails, and the high-pressure pump cog.

It’s a big job, but we’ve done it as well for the Haynes 1-Series manual, so as long as you’re patient, take real care and follow every step you’ll have the job done in a day. No more grinding noises!

BMW 1-Series problems fixed with Haynes

Does the BMW 1-Series have clutch problems?

Swapping cogs is one of the fundamental parts of an enjoyable driving experience, so suddenly being unable to do so will certainly take the shine off your drive. Coupled with the fact that you’ll more than likely be stranded at the side of the road.

The problem is that the clutch in the BMW 1-Series fall victim to seizing up on occasion. The problem is usually that the dual-mass flywheel is faulty, and so will need to be changed for a new one.

The good news is that we’ve covered the procedure in depth in the Haynes 1-Series manual, so you should have few concerns about following the steps. It’s a big job, but an immensely satisfying on to carry out.

However, if the dual-mass flywheel isn’t at faulty, you’ll need to swap the clutch, which we’ve also done.

BMW 1-Series common issues

Does the BMW 1-Series have accessory drive problems?

Squeaks can be some of the most infuriating noises to hear in a car. And it’s worse when they emanate from somewhere outside the cabin, because it usually means something’s going wrong.

That’s the case with the BMW 1-Series, which can emit a squeak on start-up, and if your car is fitted with hydraulic power steering, when you turn the wheel, too. Cars with electric power steering don’t suffer a squeak when the wheel is turned.

The issue is a dodgy auxiliary drive belt and pulley. BMW has issue improved parts (drive belt part no: 11 28 8 512 069; pulley part no: 32 42 8 514 565), and they’ll be very simple to fit.

The procedure for this is contained within your Haynes 1-Series manual, so just look it up and away you go.

BMW 1-Series problems solved by Haynes