What BMW Z4 Years to Avoid

The BMW Z4 might seem like a cool sports car to buy with both roadster and coupe options, but many drivers over the years have experienced issues with this pricy model of car. 

Considering the Z4 has been around since 2002 and has had three generations, there are of course going to be some year models with more issues than others. 

Keep reading if you want to find out which models of the BMW Z4 you should avoid if you’re looking to buy this car used! 

  • 2003 BMW Z4 – First Generation
  • 2011 BMW Z4 – Second Generation
  • 2020 BMW Z4 – Third Generation
  • 2005 BMW Z4 – First Generation
  • 2007 BMW Z4 – First Generation
  1. The 2003 BMW Z4 – First Generation

First up, we have the 2003 BMW Z4, which was part of the first generation of the vehicle and was the second ever model year of the car. This is one of the worst offenders for safety and reliability out of the Z4 cars, and it’s not hard to see why. It is often the case that the first model year or two of a vehicle has the most defects because they haven’t had as much user feedback about what to fix. Also, for the 2003 BMW Z4 in particular, this model year is now 18 years old, so it would be pretty hard to find a used version of this car without a high mileage, multiple owners, or other wear-and-tear.

Looking at the 2003 BMW Z4 on car complaints, this model year has had a whopping 445 complaints from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The most serious of these complaints include issues with steering, fuel system problems, and a faulty cooling system. There is not a lot of data about how much these issues cost to fix, but the steering problems present are considered very severe and huge safety issue. There have also been reports of convertible top malfunction, which costs an average of $1,800 to repair.

  1. The 2011 BMW Z4 – Second Generation

Next, we have the 2011 BMW Z4, which was part of the second generation of the vehicle. Since this car belongs to the second generation, there are much fewer complaints than vehicles in the first generation since the automaker was able to make updates and iron out some kinks. That being said, the 2011 Z4 is still a model year that you should avoid when looking to buy a used car, as it still has some issues that make it not worth the purchase.

The 2011 BMW Z4 has a total of 35 NHTSA complaints, which range from problems with the wheels to brake and engine issues. While problems with the wheels and hubs aren’t as dangerous or costly to fix as some other issues, they are still annoying to deal with and happen on average at just 37,405 miles. This model has also suffered problems with its service brakes, which is a very severe issue that is costly to fix and has a high likelihood of contributing to a crash.

In addition to receiving so many NHTSA complaints, the 2011 BMW Z4 has also been subject to four different recalls. One of these recalls occurred in 2013 and affected over 500,000 vehicles, and it concerned loss of electrical power and stalling. This is a really dangerous issue to have, as it greatly increases the likelihood of a crash if your car stalls unexpectedly. Another recall took place in 2017 and affected over 700,000 vehicles. This recall involved the PCV heater short circuiting, which increased the risk of a spontaneous fire in the vehicle, even when turned off. Though owners of the 2011 Z4 had their vehicles fixed for free following these recalls, they illuminate some deep issues with the way this model of car was constructed.

  1. The 2020 BMW Z4 – Third Generation

Next up, we have the 2020 BMW Z4, which is part of the third generation of the Z4 vehicles. You may be surprised that such a recent model year has been included in this list, but there is reason to believe that it wouldn’t be the best purchase to make. One of the main reasons why the Z4 is a model year to avoid is that for its hefty price ranging from $53,380 to $66,040, there are simply other cars with better performance for the same price. When auto enthusiast James Taylor test drove the 2020 Z4 for six months, he said, “It was a perfectly nice car, sure, but a memorable one, a thrilling one? Nah, not really.”

Another reason to avoid this model year of the Z4 is because it has already had 7 NHTSA complaints and 3 recalls in the short time since it has been released. The complaints include problems with the brakes, steering, engine, suspension, and body/paint. As far as the recalls go, two of them were very minor only affecting a handful of vehicles, but one recall at the end of 2019 affected more than 250,000 cars. This recall was due to a lack of image in the back-up camera display, which can increase the risk of a crash when backing up your vehicle. 

  1. The 2005 BMW Z4 – First Generation

Up next we have the 2005 BMW Z4, which is part of the first generation of Z4 vehicles released by BMW. While this model year is unique in that it has not had any official recalls, the vehicle still has a whopping 200 NHTSA complaints, which isn’t too promising. The main complaints involve issues with steering, though there have also been complaints about the body and paint of the vehicle as well as electrical problems. 

The main complaint about this Z4 vehicle is that the steering sticks in place and becomes difficult to correct, an issue that becomes even worse when the weather is hot. This is a pretty severe issue as it can greatly increase the risk of a crash, and it happens at an average of just 50,300 miles. One BMW driver experiencing this issue said, “I could not believe a car that cost this much would have a steering problem.”

  1. The 2007 BMW Z4 – First Generation

Finally, we have the 2007 BMW Z4, which was also part of the first generation of the vehicle. This model year of the Z4 has a whole host of issues, and car complaints has stated that although the 2003 model has more individual complaints, the 2007 model is even worse because of high repair costs and more severe issues being reported. The 2007 model has received 43 NHTSA complaints and one severe recall, and it seems to be an expensive and unsafe car to maintain. 

The main complaint about this vehicle is that it has steering problems, including the car drifting while steering as well as issues with the electric power assist system. To fix the issues with drifting, an owner must replace the vehicle’s steering column, which costs an average of $5,100 to fix. This vehicle also had a recall affecting more than 700,000 vehicles in 2017, which involved increased risk of fire due to a melted PCV valve. Because of all these issues, the 2007 model is the BMW Z4 year that you should most avoid when looking for a new vehicle.


Overall, while some years of the BMW Z4 series would make for great purchases, it’s best if you avoid these five model years due to issues with safety and reliability that are expensive to fix. 

Though there are vehicles from all generations with problems, if you have your heart set on buying a used Z4 series, it would be best to stick to cars from the second or third generation for the highest reliability.

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