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Blog : BMW Service San Diego

BMW 5 Series – Why I’m a 5 Guy

This weekend saw over 60 5 series cars at the Annual St. Patrick’s Day gathering for a bunch of guys and girls who feel much like I do – the best BMW Series over the years has been the 5 series.  It has great lines, is available in various formats and power ranges, and is the most versatile of the BMWs.  It was a great event organized by one of my customers and I got to see some great cars and to show off my latest project . . .

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BMW Body Designations – Which “e” is my BMW?

While at your BMW Service Center you might have overhead a lot of “e” words, and possibly some “f” and “s” words, but terms such as e36, e60 and e28 have a distinct meaning to BMW technicians and enthusiasts.  For instance, if you have a 2003 330i, it is termed an e46.  These ‘e’ terms are used to identify BMW Body style design depending on the look and year of your BMW.  E is short for “Entwicklung” which is the German word for development, or to link the ‘e’, evolution.

If all these terms are Greek to you, here is a list that should prove helpful in determining the code name of your BMW.

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Tires for your BMW and the Run-Flat issue

Buying tires for your BMW can be expensive, and with so many brands these days that it can be hard to find what’s best for you and your car.  In San Diego we have it easy; all we use are High Performance Summer tires and never really have to worry about wet weather or snow.  If you live in an area that is subject to foul weather, my first suggestion is that you pick up another set of wheels and have all-weather tires mounted and keep them in your garage for when the weather gets bad.

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High Gas Prices and your BMW

This is my car, a 2000 BMW M5, which I love, except the fact that all M parts are extremely expensive, especially for the M5.  The only other thing I dislike about it is that I have to measure my fuel consumption in ‘smiles per gallon’ as it gets about 12mpg around town and 22mpg on the freeway if I’m lucky. . .

BMW gas guzzler

 I’m going to fill up my tank this morning and I thought it would be fitting to speak about gas and your BMW.  With the average price of regular gas in California sitting at around $4.57/gallon many are feeling the pinch, especially those who have long commutes or vehicles that are not fuel efficient.  Luckily I only have a 4 mile commute, so I haven’t had too much to complain about.  However, I’ve seen many BMWs complaining over the past few months about their owners choices in gas.  BMWs have strict gasoline requirements, and this is what you want to know before deciding on your own that ‘regular should be fine.’

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BMW Inspection II – The Major Tune-Up

If you are driving around right now and the words ‘Inspection -3458 miles’ shows up, chances are that you are due for a major tune up or Inspection II.  This is another example of what I call the BMW language barrier.  I grew up in New Jersey.  In New Jersey when you need an ‘Inspection’ that means you’ll be heading to the local DMV testing station where they test your brakes, lights, and run an emissions test.  In California, ‘Inspection’ means nothing, so many ignore it.  What it should read is ‘Tune-Up.’   Some ‘places’ have an interesting philosophy as to what should be done during the Inspection II, these same ‘places’ also tell you that you only have to change your oil every 15,000 miles.  So, what exactly constitutes a proper tune-up on a BMW??

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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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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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Welcome to My BMW Blog

I began this blog in order that everyone can get a glimpse of what a BMW is all about.  Throughout, I’ll be covering all years of BMW’s in order that everyone can take something from this and it’s not a waste of bandwidth.  I am part owner of La Jolla Independent BMW Service, Parts and Restorations in San Diego.  I’ve been around BMW’s for about 11 years and have been professionally working on them for the last 8 years.  We are one of the National Technical Advisers for the BMW Car Club of America and we pride ourselves on top notch service, honesty and fair pricing.

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