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Blog : BMW Repair

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.

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BMW of the Week – 1998 528i

It never ceases to amaze me how fast someone can make a $45,000 car turn into a total pile of shit.

I got to work pretty early yesterday morning, a little before 7am . . . I like to get to the shop early.  It’s quiet and I can get a lot done before the phones start ringing and the cars start coming in.  I was greeted by this little number sitting dead smack in front of the gate, a 1998 BMW 528i, or e39 in BMW lingo, and I already know it’s a total pile of crap.

BMW Car of the Week

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The BMW CPO and Extended Warranty – What’s the deal?

OK, so you’re at the car dealer and there are two different warranties that may apply to a pre-owned BMW.  The first is a Certified Pre-Owned Warranty which is only available through an actual BMW Dealer.  This warranty comes ‘free’ when you buy a Certified Pre-Owned BMW.  The second is an Extended Warranty which is available from what I call ‘B-Dealers’ and it is issued by a private company not owned by BMW.  These warranties can be a good thing and you can make them work for you.  But here are some basic things you need to know before getting all excited about the fact that you are ‘covered.’

BMW Warranty info

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Customizing your BMW – Wheels

The aftermarket BMW parts business has been steadily growing over the past 10 years with more and more products available to the public, at cheaper and cheaper prices.  In California especially, many people love to do things to their BMW that sets them apart from the rest.  From wheels to stereos to cold air intakes, I’ve seen just about everything imaginable on a BMW — some of it good, some bad, and some indifferent.  Unfortunately, the aftermarket parts industry is not based on what is good for your car, it’s based on what will sell, and the margins said product will produce.  Here are some things to consider before you take the plunge on those 20″ wheels and a new set of tires.

Don't do this!

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Spark Plugs are Spark Plugs on a BMW, Right?? WRONG!

If you are inclined to change your own spark plugs on your BMW there are some things you need to know before heading out to the local auto parts store . . . just cause it’ll fit, doesn’t mean that it’s correct.  There are many areas of the auto parts industry where quality and sound advice has taken a back seat to marketing and profit margins.  One of these areas is the good old spark plug.  I’m going to attempt to keep this simple and not too technical, which basically means you’ll have to trust me. (trust me, now that’s  mechanic line if I’ve ever heard one.)

When you go to the auto parts store and order spark plugs for your 1985 535i they will have a neat little diplay that has about 5 different spark plugs ranging from what looks like a normal plug to one that looks like a space probe on the end.  The guy behind the counter will tell you your options, all of them with code numbers that make no sense and he’ll eventually tell you how great the platinum ones are with the 4 prongs at the top.   STOP!  You need to go in there knowing exactly what you need, and getting only that item.  Most people will get the platinum spark plugs by the way.

BMW Service San Diego

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The Cooling System – Killing your BMW

I got a phone call from a guy once in regard to his 2002 3-series.  Here’s how it went:

Guy – ‘Hi, yesterday I was driving on the freeway and all of a sudden I lost my power steering, the battery light went on and then I noticed that the temperature gauge was in the red.  So I pulled it over and had it towed to my house and I’d like to tow it over to you to see what is wrong’

Me – ‘Well, what most likely happened is that the water pump failed and you lost the belt that operates your power steering and alternator.  Unfortunately, with the car over-heating, you are most likely going to need a new engine in the car as those engines cannot survive an overheating without major damage.’

Guy – ‘Well, it runs fine except that in the morning it runs pretty rough for about 30 seconds and then it’s really smooth.’

Me – ‘You are definitely going to need an engine, but feel free to tow it in.’

This is the number one killer of BMWs built after 1999.  The Cooling System.

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Buying a BMW – or any car for that matter

One thing that I consistently witness is people buying used cars that they can afford the payments on, but cannot afford to maintain.  The main problem is depreciation, and how it applies to BMW’s on a whole.  Within 5 years, a 750Li will be purchased for nearly $90,000 only to be sold for a mere $25,000.  The guy or girl that suffers is not the original owner — they obviously had plenty of money to be able to drive it off the lot and the loss won’t kill them.  The big loser in all of this is the guy who saw the car at the San Diego Auto Show five years ago, and has wanted it ever since.  It never fails.   A customer will come to the shop extremely excited about their new acquisition and I have the unpleasant duty to inform them that the car, while it looks shiny and new, needs over $3000 in repairs/maintenance.  Hard pill to swallow.

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Check Engine or Service Engine Soon – Now what???

Right around the late 90’s BMW decided, for some reason, to change the ‘Check Engine’ light to read ‘Service Engine Soon’.  One problem I have found on the consumer level is that most people see ‘Service Engine Soon’ and feel as though it is time for an oil change, which makes sense.  Check Engine has been the standard for years throughout the automobile industry, so I’m not quite sure why they changed it, and I’m not going to call and ask.

BMW Service, Service Engine soon, Check Engine

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Car Abuse – Killing your BMW and Oil Changes

I feel as though my first duty to everyone is to get them on the right track as far as maintenance is concerned.  Let’s talk about Oil Changes.  BMW is now telling it’s customers that they only need to change their oil every 15,000 miles.  DO NOT follow this maintenance schedule!!!  You must change your oil every 5,000 miles, or twice a year if you put fewer than 10,000 miles on your BMW.  My first encounter with the end result of this program came on a 2001 BMW 525it with 86,000 miles.  It had a leaking valve cover gasket, so we removed the valve cover and uncovered what is now a growing problem:

BMW Service San Diego

BMW Repair San Diego

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