BMW Service – Understanding Your Bill

No one likes to spend money on their car, I hate it as much as you.  However, it’s a fact of life that all cars will at least need gas and oil changes in order that they continue to serve you on a daily basis.  BMWs require more than the average car, but less than others.  Needless to say, luxury cars usually produce luxury maintenance bills, as they are of a higher performance and have more electronic gagets that can break or fail for no apparant reason.  When customers bring their BMW to my shop in San Diego, I feel as though my number one job is to make them understand what they are buying and why.  To me, that’s just as important as fixing their BMW properly.

So, lets just say you brought your BMW to get it serviced and it was recommended that you have an Inspection II performed and your control arm bushings needed repair.  The service advisor tells you that the total cost will amount to about $1000.  Do you know what you are getting?  Did you understand what he or she told you?  Did you just say ok?  Stop.  I see a lot of past bills provided by customers, and in many cases I’m a bit shocked as to what they were charged for, and even more shocked about what things were not done to the car that should have been.  In addition, these bills are extremely difficult to read and are chock-full of words and sentances that just seem to fill the page and nickle and dime the poor bastard up to a $1000 with not much being done.  Call it illegal, call it un-ethical, but that poor bastard was the one that approved it all.  No wonder mechanics have a bad name, they’ve earned it. (more…)

BMW Microfilter – A Breath of Fresh Air

Having a clean and functioning microfilter in your BMW is extremely important as it promotes clean air circulation throughout the cabin while running your A/C or heater.  This filter should be changed during the Inspection II service or major tune-up on your BMW.  In San Diego we see many of these filters completely clogged with dust, dirt and debris.  With the wildfire season upon us in San Diego and Southern California clean air is of utmost importance. (more…)

Your BMW Warranty has expired – What now??

Once the factory warranty expires on your BMW, it can be a scary thing.  If your philosophy toward car care is the old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” you’ll need to change your views on car maintenance or head down to trade it in for a new one.

Over the past 5 years I’ve noticed an incredible pattern with BMW owners.  They have little or no problems while under the warranty, which is not surprising as today’s automobiles are usually symptom free for the first 4 years or 50k miles.  They will have one or two little issues pop up from 50-70k miles which they will pay for out of pocket, and it’ll typically be expensive but not painful.   Things are honky-dory for the next year or so until 80k rolls around, then the car will basically need about $3,000 in catch-up work and they wind up hating their car.  Ouch! 

If your warranty expires today, here’s a few starters to keep the car going strong and to keep your wallet out of harm’s way. (more…)

Oil and your BMW – Which is the Best?

There really is no ‘best’ oil to pour in the engine of your BMW, after all, if there was one that shined completely above the rest you’d be buying it.  Engine Oil has always been a great debate for those that are a bit serious about their service.  I sometimes feel that debating about oil brands is much like squabbling over which Brewery produces the best Lager.  I love beer, and I’ve had some really crap beers (especially in college) and I’ve had some really good beers.  Same can be said for Oil.  Crappy oil is the stuff that is really cheap, has generic packaging and there is usually almost all of it still on the shelf – the ‘Natrual Light’ of oils.  Hopefully none of you are using that stuff, or worse yet, drinking that sort of beer.

I find that the most common oils in the great debate are Mobile-1, Castrol, Royal Purple, and Amsoil.  I should say that I am not a fluids expert, I’ve done no crazy amount of testing on any of these oils, nor have I read 15 different case studies that have — this is all based on experience (and opinion).  Aside from all the great things that oil does for any engine, modern BMWs need oil to feed both the Vanos unit(s) as well as the hydraulic lifters (if your engine has them).  Now for my super scientific test results. (more…)

BMW and Brakes – it’s not just the brake pads

If you have a BMW produced after 1992, and your brake lining light appears, you’ll need a brake job that will consist of new brake pads and new brake rotors.  I know, it sucks and it’s more expensive; but it’s not all bad.  This is the brake warning for newer BMWs equipped with iDrive (I’m starting to like iDrive), and it’s starting to cause some confusion . . .

Brake Pad warning from iDrive (more…)