The E53 was BMW’s first generation SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle). It was produced for seven model years and you’ll still find plenty of them on the road today. Price, style and functionality all make this an attractive vehicle to own.
I have created a list of the top ten repairs any BMW X5 owner or potential buyer should be aware of on this vehicle. For added convenience, I’ve linked directly to many of the exact replacement parts discussed below, and remember, you can always browse our extensive online catalog of BMW parts for any of your other BMW maintenance and repair needs. We offer a wide variety of kits that include well-researched collections of BMW parts including both genuine OEM parts as well as premium BMW aftermarket parts.
1. Coolant Transfer Pipe
X5 models with the N62 engine have a coolant transfer pipe that runs from the front to the rear of the engine located under the intake valley pan. The front seal fails over time causing a coolant leak from the weep hole by the timing cover. The original design is a one piece tube with a seal that can take up to 20 hours of labor to replace.
We offer an updated style transfer pipe (11141439975R), which saves on labor since it does not require removal of the timing cover. We also sell a complete kit (100K10125) with all the correct, necessary BMW parts included (same transfer pipe, intake gaskets, and new valley pan).
For those that have the updated transfer pipe, but need new seals, eEuroparts also has you covered with those parts for your BMW, (111414399752).
2. Exterior Door Handle Carrier
If any one of the doors will not open, then chances are the door handle carrier is broken. There is a plastic piece that tends to break, which allows the cable to hang loose and prevent the door from being opened. A replacement carrier is the only fix. As a cost-effective alternative, we offer our eEuro Preferred BMW aftermarket door handle carriers.
3. Plastic Cooling System Components (M54)
The BMW X5 M54 engine uses the same parts that the E46 models used with this engine. Our BMW cooling system kit (100K10097), includes the expansion tank, cap, water pump, and thermostat. Each of those BMW parts fail because they are made of plastic. The constant expansion and contraction of these plastic components coupled with the heat of the engine compartment and you can start to see why this BMW system requires frequent maintenance. The original water pump has a plastic impeller which is prone to breaking apart, so this kit also includes the upgraded parts for that – a Hepu water pump with a metal impeller.
The BMW X5’s timing chain guides should be replaced every 100k miles as maintenance. If left too long, the parts can separate and material can become lodged within the chain or gear. The timing chain can also jump teeth without proper tension on it which would cause catastrophic engine failure.
5. Self-Leveling Suspension
Air suspension systems are complex and include many different parts to make them work. BMW suspension systems will include air struts, air springs, compressor, accumulator, lines, and sensors. Because of this complexity one item isn’t more prone to failure than another. There can even be variations in parts so it’s always best to call in with the VIN for proper application fitment.
6. Front Control Arm Bushings
While bushing life is attributed to driving habits and road surface, some do bear a greater load than others. The front control arm bushings, also referred to as a thrust arm bushing (31126769715), is a common failure point. That BMW parts typically only lasts between 60-80k miles. The bushing itself is a rubber housing filled with hydraulic fluid. Failure can occur by the rubber tearing and fluid leaking out, or vibration in the steering wheel at speeds around 50mph. For more convenient repairs and maintenance, we also offer pre-assembled parts kits with the bushing pre-installed into the control arm driver side (3112676717) and passenger side (31126769718).
7. Tail Lamp Assembly Repair
A faulty tail lamp assembly may trigger a “Check Rear Lamp/Brake Lamp” message on the dash. Always inspect the bulb first and then turn your attention to the tail lamp assembly. The control module will detect a malfunction by monitoring the resistance of the bulb circuit. A bad bulb connection at the tail lamp circuit board, which is usually caused by corrosion, will trigger the malfunction indicator.
BMW part numbers will vary since there is a chassis split at 10/2003, and also if your vehicle has white or clear turn signal lenses.
8. Transfer Case Actuator Motor Parts
Over time from engaging and disengaging, the teeth on the black plastic gear inside the motor will eventually wear down to the point where the motor will not engage. This will also illuminate some lights on dash such as the ABS and 4×4 indicators. You might also hear a clicking noise when turning the vehicle off.
eEuroparts has remedied this by offering a nylon actuator gear with carbon fiber reinforced material (27107566296GR). This makes the gear stronger and less prone to failure. For those looking to upgrade, we’ve linked to a PDF below with instructions on how to install the replacement actuator motor parts.
If a complete motor assembly is needed we have you covered there also, with genuine BMW replacement parts for the Transfer Case Actuator (27107566296).
9. Auto Trans Valve Body Sealing Sleeve Leaking
BMW uses a sealing sleeve (24347588725) to keep transmission fluid from leaking onto the electrical connector which connects the transmission control unit to the valve body. This can be checked by inspecting the transmission where the harness enters the transmission. Oil found on the outside the transmission near this point can indicate the sleeve needs replacing.
10. Rear Subframe Bushings
While the BMW X5 (E53) won’t experience the same failure as the E46 models, the rear subframe bushings will wear on any rear wheel drive vehicle. Symptoms that indicate you would need to replace these BMW parts would be a clunking noise on acceleration and the rear end not tracking straight at highway speeds.
For convenience with repairing your BMW, we’ve assembled a complete subframe and differential bushings replacement kit (part#100K10251). We also recently added a Powerflex option, PFR5908X4, which will be significantly more durable (ie, lifetime warranty) and be easier to install as well.
BMW’s X5 became a very popular vehicle, so I hope this outline helped you get acquainted with the most common areas that will probably need replacement OEM or other aftermarket BMW parts. Don’t forget you can browse the BMW X5 parts section of our catalog for any other part number your X5 might need that I didn’t link to above. If you are having X5 shifting problems, such as erratic auto trans shifting, banging, holding gears, and downshifting randomly, check out this article, where specifically X5 transmission faults are described.
If you ever need anything else for your X5, any other BMW in your garage, or any Swedish or German car, please browse our parts catalogs or feel free to contact us!