BMW maintenance tips & advice
If you are a BMW owner or are considering to buy one there are a few things that you must know.
These tips will help you save money on BMW maintenance and hopefully help your BMW last longer. If you have a tip that will help BMW owners, please feel free to add it in the comments section below.
If you love your BMW you are already using synthetic oil. Besides using a synthetic oil make sure to use a quality filter or even better use a BMW MANN Engine Oil filter or Genuine BMW oil filter. BMW oil filters are inexpensive when bought online.
A mistake that many BMW owners make is using the original BMW Synthetic oil, but going for a cheap oil filter. Filters that are designed to be used with conventional oil tend to restrict oil flow and becomes ineffective after 3,000 miles. It's definitely worth it to spend an extra five buck for the right oil filter.
BMW and other luxury vehicles require premium gasoline. You shouldn't cut corners and use regular gas on it. The premium gasoline requirements aren't there because you are rich and BMW wants you to be poor. It's there because your BMW engine needs it to run at its best. BMW engines run hotter than Honda, Toyota and Ford engines.
To avoid pre-detonation of gasoline a higher octane (91 or 93 Octane) fuel is required. You may get away using regular fuel a couple of times, but use regular fuel for an extended period, and you are sure to shorten the life of your BMW engine. When you start hearing the BMW engine start knocking you will regret saving a few bucks at the pump.
Most people think that BMW cars are too expensive to maintain. People think this because "BMW parts are too expensive". Contrary to popular belief, BMW parts aren't much more costly compared Honda, Mazda or Toyota parts.
As long as you are a smart buyer and know how to shop for BMW parts online. The hourly rate at BMW dealerships is similar to that of Ford, Honda, Toyota dealerships. To be fair, the main reason that BMW cars seem more "expensive" to maintain is that they are more sophisticated than the Japanese cars not because they aren't reliable.
More sophistication means more things to go wrong on a car. But some of us love that sophistication, and that's why we buy BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars instead of Japenese.
Out of warranty? Find a BMW Indy
If you love to fix your BMW yourself great, but if you don't we strongly recommend that you find an independent BMW mechanic. There are several reasons for this:
1. They have lower labor rates than the dealers.
2. They are more likely to provide a service that the dealer doesn't. If your instrument cluster pixel is burned out, an independent shop may know where to get your cluster issue fixed. BMW dealerships are only going to replace the cluster which can cost you over $1000 vs. a $150 fix.
We would discourage you from trusting your BMW to a mechanic who only touches one BMW a month. No offense intended. They are less likely to know the common BMW problems and to be honest, may take longer at doing the same repair compared to an experienced BMW tech.
To find an independent BMW shop in your area visit Bimrs which provides a list of auto repair shops in North America that specialize in BMW.
Install Quality Brake Pads and Rotors
BMW are called the ultimate driving machine for a reason. Part of that reason is that they have the best braking system. One of the key reasons why BMW stop so well is because they use softer brake pads. Softer material means quicker wear.
The brake pads are going to be frequent routine maintenance item for many of you. You know who you are. You should plan on replacing the rotors at the same time.
Most BMW shops will not recommend just installing new brake pads on old rotors. You may be able to get away with turning the rotors once but make sure to replace them at your next brake service. If you want to save money buy BMW brake pads and rotors online.
Next time you see the brake wear indicator on the instrument cluster, it means it is time to order the brake pads. Don't forget the wear indicator which should be replaced at the same time as well.
See instructions on how to change BMW brake pads yourself.
Consider A Warranty
If your BMW is still under warranty that's great. Not much to worry then. But if the car is out of warranty, you should think about what you are going to do if it breaks.
Do you plan on fixing everything yourself? If not, consider an extended BMW warranty offered by the BMW dealer or third parties.
The way that many BMW owners drive, it is not uncommon for original tires to only last 25,000 miles. Even though they are meant to last 50,000. Replacement tires for BMW can be expensive.
Don't try to walk into a tire shop like Mr. Tire, NTB or Discounted Tire because your pocket may be 8 x $100 bills lighter. Instead, you can save several hundred dollars by buying the tires online and then shipping them to your favorite tire shop, even the ones we mentioned.
You can save hundreds on the BMW tires this way. As you compare tire prices online keep in mind that it will cost an additional $20 per tire to mount, balance and install them by the local shop. Still, this is a lot cheaper than the alternative.
One place where you can get cheap and quality tires for your BMW is TireRack which is preferred by many BMW owners.
Manual > Automatic Transmission
Choose wisely here. Are you are going to get a manual/stick shift or automatic transmission? Just in case you didn't know BMW manual transmission have always been more reliable than the automatic and the steptronic transmissions.
Oh, and transmission are a lot of fun.
Get a Repair Manual
If you love messing with your BMW make sure to get a BMW TIS + WDS + ETK / EPC repair manual for your BMW.
These manuals are available for 3-series, 5-series, 7-series, X3, X5, etc. They show diagrams, step-by-step instructions, part number and a lot more. A shop repair manual will save you time and headaches.
You can find BMW repair manual here.
Keep it stock
If you are determined to modify your BMW, you are going to do it regardless of what we say.
Let's be honest, these cars are tuned for best performance (and fuel economy) at the factory. Even if you install a Dinan performance chip, Fabspeed headers, intake, exhaust, you aren't going to add much horsepower. Adding a twin turbo is a different story.
Keep the resale value in mind as you make these mods.
Get a BMW OBD2 Scanner
The single best and most important investment that you can make is to get a diagnostic scanner that is BMW specific.
Don't worry if you have never used one before or have no idea what it is. A multi-system BMW scanner can be plugged into the OBD-II port found under the dashboard on driver's side and can scan your BMW for any fault codes.
Don't waste your time with a $20 OBD2 scanner. They can only read the check engine light codes. At the same time, you don't need to spend thousands on a professional BMW dealer scanner.
There are a few scanners on the market that range between $100-$200. These BMW/Mini scanners allow you to scan, read and erase fault codes from multiple systems including ECU, transmission, SRS/restraint, EPB reset, SAS reset and a lot more.
Learn more about some of the best BMW OBD2 scanners.
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