BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010
BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010. Click image to enlarge

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BMW 6 Series Owner Reviews

Review by Justin Pritchard

Sleek, sexy and powerful, the last-generation BMW 6 Series was a four-seat coupe or convertible that offered up luxury and performance to discerning, well-heeled shoppers. This was a machine with all the leading bells and whistles, and one that was engineered and designed to make drivers look and feel like a million bucks.

Look for top-notch luxury and technology features – including heated and chilled seats, navigation with voice command, a premium audio system, keyless engine start (after 2006) and plenty more. As pricey BMW models tended to go, the 6 Series packed world-class equipment levels as standard, though several option packages were available with increased equipment levels.

2004 BMW 645Ci Cabriolet
2005 BMW 645Ci
2007 BMW M6
BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010. Click image to enlarge

Power came from one of two V8 engines. Earlier 6 Series models wearing a 645i badge got a 4.4L unit with 325 horsepower. From 2006 and on, a 4.8L V8 with 360 horsepower was fitted instead, facilitating a nomenclature change to 650i.

Look for rear-wheel drive on all models. A six-speed transmission was available in the driver’s choice of automatic or manual as well.

What Owners Like: According to a limited number of owner reviews posted online, it seems that a combination of styling, power, luxury, comfort, technology and exclusivity were among the most enjoyed aspects reported by drivers. Steering and handling dynamics were said to be top-notch, as was seat comfort. Many drivers claim their 6 Series sticks to corners like glue, and is more than happy to provide hours of relaxing driving on a long road trip. Good headlight performance was also noted.

What Owners Dislike: Many 6 Series owners wished for a roomier back seat, better gas mileage and easier-to-use controls. In particular, many a driver talks about a less-than-ideal relationship with the complicated iDrive system, and more than one professional reviewer has called the system “overly complicated.” Many owners report that BMW’s iDrive central command interface overcomplicates manipulation of even simple vehicle functions.

Common Issues: Shopping for a convertible 6-Series? Be sure the motorized roof operates smoothly in both directions as outlined in the owner’s manual. Note any binding, excessive wear or self-reversing of the top or power windows during roof operation. Duct tape is a bad sign, too. A variety of sensors and motors work the roof mechanism, and if any are faulty or failing, problems may result. Cycle the roof through a few open and close operations to be thorough.

Approach your test drive of a used 6 Series looking exhaustively for signs of electrical or electronics-related problems. The 6-Series is a complicated car – meaning a virtual rats-nest of wiring, sensors, modules and computers lies within. You’ll want to ensure these are all talking to one another effectively. If that’s not the case, a tremendous range of problems could result – from niggling and infrequent to obvious and annoying. Spend some time playing around with everything inside the 6 Series that runs on electricity, confirming proper operation.

Particularly, make sure the iDrive system, climate control, navigation and driver computer all work as expected. Try the motorized seats, all lights, and all accessories – including the key fob and paddle shifters, to be sure they’re functioning properly.

Also, note that numerous frustrating electrical faults could be caused by a ‘weak’ battery, loose battery terminals or a bad alternator. Without proper voltage, the 6 Series’s countless electrical systems can malfunction. Your best bet against these problems is hooking the battery up to a ‘battery tender’ or similar device when you aren’t driving the 6 Series, especially for extended periods. As this is a car somewhat often used for short, occasional trips, maintaining a full battery charge can be difficult.

BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010
BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010. Click image to enlarge

Be wary of any model with features that aren’t working, or any model with warning or ‘check engine’ lights illuminated in the instrument cluster. Be sure to have any non-working systems or warning messages checked out by a BMW mechanic ahead of your purchase. Don’t take the sellers word for it that it’s not a serious problem – as they could be trying to pass an expensive repair bill off to you in the sale.

Avoid a model with the Active Steering system, which some online discussions suggest is overcomplicated, questionably reliable and not tremendously beneficial to the 6 Series’ driving experience. A malfunction with the Active Steering system could trip a warning light or cause the steering wheel to sit slightly sideways when travelling straight down the road.

Listen to the engine idling with the hood open. A rattling sound, possibly accompanied by a check-engine light, could be caused by a leak in an oil line that drives the variable valve timing system.

Look for signs of oil leakage from the valve covers on the 4.8L engine as well. Numerous owners have reported oil leaks from the valve covers, which would result in a puddle of oil beneath the vehicle. Look for this telltale sign, noting that oil may also leak from other seals in the engine, too. Here’s a link with some information on possible oil leaks.

BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010
BMW 6 Series, 2004-2010. Click image to enlarge

A few other notes: First, avoid any model with extensive modification. Typically, performance modifications like intake and exhaust systems are safe, so long as the quality of the installation and parts are sound. Models with altered engine management software, nitrous, forced-induction or suspension changes (i.e. lowering, camber) should be avoided by shoppers that aren’t very familiar with the vehicle. These can add to driving enjoyment, but they can also cause tremendous headaches down the road.

Be sure to have the 6 Series’ tires, brakes and suspension checked over ahead of your purchase. If these parts are worn out or show excessive signs of abuse, it could be a sign that the unit you’re considering has had a hard life. Finally, budget for a full fluid change and tune-up if you’re unfamiliar with the service history of the model you decide on.

The Verdict: Shop patiently, looking for a low-mileage model, as much as your budget allows. Remember, too, that the looks, performance and overall driving experience are the big draws to the 6 Series as a used car buy, and that low running costs and gas mileage are not.

Skip 6 Series models with excessive, complicated options where possible. Opting for extended warranty protection and a pre-purchase mechanical inspection for your investment at a BMW garage are strongly advised.

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