How Reliable Is the BMW E63 M6?

Is the BMW E63 M6 a Reliable Car?

With plenty of examples selling for 15 to 20 grand, the E63 M6 is certainly tempting to most enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the affordable price tag doesn’t mean much if you then have to spend $5,000 a year just to keep it running. So the main question is, how reliable are these GTs, and are there ways you can lower maintenance costs, maybe with a BMW 6 Series repair manual, for example?

Well, there is some good and some bad news. The good news is that the BMW E63 M6, just like the E60 M5, is ultimately a reasonably reliable car. The bad news is they have acquired a terrible reputation, mainly because of rod bearing issues and a couple of other common problems.

However, provided you take care of those, or even better, one of the previous owners already has, you shouldn’t have to worry. I have hardly ever come across an M6 or an M5 V10 owner that’s got bad things to say regarding reliability.

Continuing with the good news, you can repair virtually all common problems with some solid DIY skills and a BMW 6 Series service manual. 

With that said, let’s go into a little more detail about some of BMW’s V10 issues.

BMW E63 M6 General Reliability

Although the internet is full of people saying the S85 engine is unreliable, reading posts by people who actually own them paints a different picture. Truth be told, most had to address the same issues, but after that, most have been driving their M5s and M6s for years without problems.

However, if you want the same experience as those owners, one crucial thing to consider is the car’s history. Indeed, while a poorly maintained Toyota may eventually run into problems that will leave you stranded, with a V10 that revs to over 8k RPM, that’s a guarantee. Furthermore, even though today the E63 M6 costs almost nothing considering everything it offers, the parts and labor costs are still at par with a $100,000 vehicle.

If you know your way around tools, one way to save money during your M6 ownership is to maintain it yourself. But don’t forget that you are essentially dealing with a supercar engine. Doing so without respecting tolerances, torque specs, and the manufacturer’s recommendations may do more harm than good here. Honestly, unless you have extensive experience with E63s, it’s best not to touch anything besides oil changes before looking at a factory BMW 6 Series repair manual.

BMW E63 M6 Rod Bearings

Rod bearing issues aren’t reserved only for the M6 and M5 V10; the later E46 models and the E92 335i also shared the same problem. In essence, BMW messed up the clearances, which led to insufficient lubrication of the rod bearings. Since this problem can lead to total engine failure, it drives many people away from these cars.

The bearings usually fail at around 80,000 to 90,000 miles. If there are no records they have been replaced earlier, you shouldn’t consider buying one unless you don’t plan on replacing them right away, that is. However, once you do, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you can cover that same mileage again.

However, since replacing rod bearings doesn’t come cheap, it’s definitely something you want to keep in mind when shopping for an E63. Indeed, a set of new OEM bearings will set you back 800$. Alternatively, you can also dish out 1000$+ for upgraded aftermarket ones with better clearance, which is probably a better idea.

Moreover, although replacing rod bearings without removing the engine is possible, you can expect to pay over $2000 for labor. However, if you have some repair experience and access to a car lift, you can easily replace them. Still, don’t forget to get your hands on a BMW 6 Series repair manual to ensure you got the tightening pattern and torque specs right — you really don’t want to ruin a $2000 job just because you eyeballed torque specs.

SMG Transmission Problems

If you are lucky enough to find a manual M6, you have already avoided another expensive problem. Otherwise, it would be best to look for any signs of a malfunctioning transmission. Some symptoms, like slow gear changes, can indicate a bad SMG pump.

Luckily, the prices of new pumps have decreased significantly, from several thousands of dollars to around $1000 or even less. They are also pretty straightforward and easier to replace than rod bearings. Still, following the manufacturer’s recommended replacement procedure found in a BMW 6 series repair manual will significantly speed up the process and save you another $1000 on labor alone.

Since these are quite complicated cars, you should always do an OBD scan before purchasing. The hydraulic SMG pump isn’t the only possible issue with the transmission, so make sure you do all the necessary checks first.

BMW E63 M6 Throttle Actuators

The V10 in the M60 has two throttle actuators. Unfortunately, they don’t come cheap, although the prices have decreased slightly in recent years. Still, a single OEM actuator goes for around $700 to $750, and since it’s recommended to change them in pairs, the total comes to $1500.

Also, it’s impossible to repair them since the cause of failure is small plastic bits inside breaking off. That said, replacing them is a pretty surface-level job that you can easily do at home with only basic tools. However, they are hidden under the giant intake plenum and between the cylinder heads, so they are definitely not as straightforward to reach as they would on a small hatchback.

So, to ensure you don’t forget or damage anything, it’s highly recommended to consult a BMW 6 Series service manual and follow the step-by-step instructions. Not sure where to find a repair manual for your E63? Have a look at eManualOnline — you’ll thank me later.

Last Words

In essence, the E63 M6 and the E60 M5 are reliable cars, provided they are properly maintained and common issues are taken care of. Indeed, although owners will sometimes complain about high service bills, they don’t complain about reliability per se.

So, if you want an E63, ensure it’s in good condition and that you can either afford the labor costs or do the maintenance yourself. However, if you plan to maintain your car on your own, only do so with the help of a service manual — professional technicians do the same when repairing your BMW 6 Series!

However, if you don’t plan on wrenching on an engine that rivaled Lamborghini and prefer to leave that to the pros, make sure to at least keep an eye on the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals found in your BMW 6 Series owner’s manual, so you know when it’s time to bring your beast to the shop.

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