2023 BMW X5 Issue Analysis

Electrical system, engine, and powertrain issues are the main cause of complaints according to our research

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Originally launched in the U.S. in 1999 as a 2000 model, the BMW X5 is a mid-size luxury sports SUV that has had consistently good reviews. According to BMW, this new model has “everything it needs to maintain worldwide market leadership in its segment.” Maybe it does, but it has problems too, including electrical issues, battery problems, and acceleration malfunctions. Affected owners are not impressed!

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022

Most Common Problems

Close to 70% of consumer complaints to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) about the 2023 BMW X5 highlight problems with the electrical system, engine, and or powertrain. Problems range from the X5 not accelerating or losing power to vehicles that accelerate randomly. There are also transmission problems and issues that implicate the battery.

Complaints to the NHTSA are filed in 12 categories: forward collision avoidance, fuel/propulsion system, lane departure, service brakes, steering, suspension, tires, unknown or other, and vehicle speed control, and those mentioned above.

One of the relatively minor complaints relates to suspension. An owner from Pennsylvania states that 600 miles, which was two weeks after delivery, the left front air strut broke. There was no warning before the owner heard a loud noise, which was the strut breaking. A warning light came on afterwards indicating an issue with the chassis. BMW towed the car away and replaced the strut under warranty. Another one-off complaint tells how the sunroof of the X5 spontaneously exploded while driving at 60 mph.

There are also four recalls that affect the 2023 BMW X5.


The recalls relate to the powertrain, seats, and visibility and affect a range of BMW vehicles, not only the X5.

  1. Visibility: The windshield may not be properly attached, which could allow water to enter the vehicle and contact electrical components. If there is a short-circuit because of this the risk of a fire increases.
  2. Seats: The driver’s seat backrest might be missing a bolt. While only four vehicles are said to be affected, these unfortunate owners may find occupants aren’t properly restrained if the vehicle crashes. This, of course, increases the risk of a crash.
  3. Seats: Second-row head restraints of hundreds of X5s may not have been manufactured properly. The recall warns they may not have locking tabs in the guide sleeves. This is another crash risk.
  4. Powertrain: This recall warns that transmission gears are in danger of seizing because of the risk of transmission oil leaking into the control unit. If this happens, it can result in a sudden loss of drive power, increasing the risk of a crash.

Acceleration and Loss of Power Problems

Complaints relating to loss of power and/or acceleration are listed as either engine or powertrain problems. To confuse acceleration issues, there is also a complaint in the Unknown or Other category that a 2020 BMW X5 accelerates on its own. There is also an unknown/other complaint about drivetrain failure. In this case, the complaint states that the car “stutters” while driving but hasn’t broken down. Since the drivetrain is the specific set of components within the powertrain that handle the power transfer, it can probably be regarded as a powertrain problem.

Vehicles Losing Power

In a complaint filed under Powertrain, an owner from Alabama reports how the X5 lost power while driving and shifting from Drive to Neutral. As it turns out, this may well have been an electrical system problem affecting charging of the battery.

The complaint states that the “system” was down and he had to “change to Charging Mode, which shows when (the) power (is) off.” He had to push the start button a couple of times to turn the X5 back on again. After it had happened three times, he took it to a dealership where a BMW service tech updated the software. When he picked the SUV up, there was an error message that stated, “four-wheel drive limited.” Then the engine stopped again and the system changed to Charging Mode again. “I had to push the start button to turn it on.” At the time of this complaint, the issue was unresolved.

In a complaint filed as an engine, electrical system, and steering problem, an owner from California describes how the car stalled. There was no power and no power steering. “I put it in Park and tried to restart in sport (ICE) mode and nothing happened. After a few tries it did start to limp and I cleared the intersection and pulled over. I was still unable to restart in sport mode and kept getting red screens, or blank screens. After a few minutes, the car was able to start as if everything was normal, and I continued to drive. It was a very dangerous situation, and there were no further warnings or alerts. I was able to drive it home and to the dealership where it is now.”

Lack of Acceleration

Another complaint filed under Powertrain by an owner from Colorado is also regarded as an engine and fuel/propulsion system issue. Like some other complaints, it is associated with battery problems.

“I was accelerating from a green light in electric-only mode, once nearing 25 mph. I felt a single, strong jolt that caused (the) acceleration to pause.” At this point, the “hybrid mode automatically kicked in and acceleration continued under engine power.”

According to the complaint, several warnings and alerts were displayed: Stop Carefully, Power Supply Drivetrain Malfunction Continued Driving possible, Drivetrain Electric Drive Limited. “I was fortunate enough to continue driving the final 1/2 mile to my parking lot at work. After work, the engine started with the same errors as above and attempted to move. But the engine was making strange cycles of revving high and low. I called Roadside and as I idled waiting for a tow truck to arrive, the gas engine began revving high again, then low. Then (it) sputtered, then shut off and would not turn back on, leaving me in the cold.” At the time, there was about half a tank of fuel and the battery was at least 30% charged.

The tow truck arrived and tried to restart the X5 to drive it up the tow ramp. “But the 12v battery ended up depleting in the process so it had to be winched. Jump box (was) required to get it into Neutral.”

An owner from Tennessee also “suddenly lost all engine acceleration power and was steered to the side of the ramp so traffic behind could proceed. Vehicle stayed ‘on’ but no engine response from the accelerator pedal being depressed, just idling of the motor.” Like so many others, the vehicle eventually restarted, and “function resumed as normal.”

Random Acceleration

Categorized as unknown or other problem, an owner from Illinois states that his X5 was “accelerating on its own. I was able to control the speed with the brakes, but once I took my foot off the brake, the vehicle would accelerate again,” traveling up to 50 mph. “I did shut off the vehicle at a stop light to disengage any possible system. (But) the car continued to accelerate once I let off the brake.“ According to the complaint, when he got home the garage “smelled horribly of burnt rubber from riding the brake pads.” During the incident, there were no system dashboard notifications.

The dealership took the vehicle for inspection but couldn’t find an issue. National BMW then sent an engineer out. “They told me there was nothing wrong with the vehicle and it was user error! I refused to take back the vehicle. No one ever drove the car to try to reproduce the unintended acceleration issue. Overall, (this is) very concerning that the vehicle will (now) be sold to an unsuspecting driver.”

Electrical System Problems

Electrical system problems are varied, and complaints include a faulty car computer, vehicle rollaway, and concern that the electrical system isn’t protected from water spillage. Of course, the lack of acceleration and loss of power incidents are all related to battery issues, so they may also have been electrical system problems, just not recognized as such.

Electrical System Complaints

An owner from Florida spilled a small amount of water on the console of a brand-new 2023 BMW X5. It was a silly mistake that shut down the car and led the owner to complain that “the electrical system is not protected at all. It sits under the shifter – right by the drink holders – and because I squeezed a water bottle and some water got onto the console, it shut the car down. I believe this to be a safety issue. Once I got to the dealer the car would not shift into park.”

The dealer confirmed that the water had seeped into the electrical compartment and said that a new part was needed. But there was a 5-week wait for the (unnamed) part so, in the interim, they simply took it out and dried it off.

Another complaint describes how the X5 rolled away after the driver had left the vehicle with the transmission in Neutral but without the parking brake applied. “This negligent design flaw is because BMW has chosen to not revert the vehicle to Park if the door is opened like other car manufacturers. A simple software update or design change could prevent a potentially fatal incident caused by BMW’s negligence in this matter.”

There is another electrical system complaint but with very little information. An owner from Washington, DC states that the “car computer stopped working. Prior to this, (the) computer would not recognize either of two keys.”

Lemon? Get Help

If you are unlucky enough to have bought a BMW X5 with any kind of problems, if these recur or affect your use of the SUV or its value, you might want a lemon lawyer to assess the problem for you.

Lemberg Law has been helping vehicle owners assess these kinds of problems for many years. As a result, we have negotiated many settlements on their behalf. If you’d like us to assess your case, free of charge, contact us by calling our Helpline or filling out a contact form. The law says that BMW must pay the legal fees for lemon law cases, so you’re not going to have to pay legal costs.



Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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