Working on your own car used to be a big part of Americana, but with the increasing amount of computers, wires, and nifty engine covers, those days are gone.  However, there are some things you can do to keep your BMW running and looking good, and they are simple.

Check your oil!!! Add if needed.

1. Check your oil

Do this on the first day of each month.  You might want to stuff a rag in your trunk that you use only to check the oil level.  We sometimes put a spare quart of oil in our customers’ trunks so that they can re-fill if needed.  If you have a newer BMW without an oil dipstick, you can do an oil level check via the on-board computer — learn how to do this.  Proper oil level and oil changes are essential to the longevity of your BMW.

2. Wash it, clay it, wax it – or find someone who can.

It can be time-consuming and, depending on where you live, it might be illegal for you to do it in your driveway.  However, your paint is continually bombarded with dirt and environmental fallout that can destroy its finish.  I recommend that you have a complete detail done to your BMW at least twice a year that would include claying the car, followed by a waxing of the paint.  Buffing the paint can also be beneficial, but should only be performed by an experienced detailer.

3. Keep gas in the tank

“Quarter-tankers” are those who cruise into the gas station running on fumes and put a whopping $10 worth of gas in the tank to get them around.  Unless you are selling your car tomorrow, fill the damn tank up!  While Jackson Browne loves “Running on Empty”, your BMW hates it and will lead to future repair bills that can be avoided.

Don't run on Fumes!!

4. Check your tire pressure

Buy a tire pressure gauge and keep it in the glove box.  When you are filling up your tank at the gas station, check your tire pressure.  On the inside of your driver’s door, there is a rough guide for proper pressure.  Just because it looks like there is enough air in the tires, doesn’t mean there is.  Check it regularly to save your tires and maximize your handling and gas mileage.

5. Exercise your windows and sunroof

I replace a lot of window regulators (they make the window go up and down).  Usually I replace them on the windows that are used the least.  Opening and closing all of your BMW’s windows and sunroof on a regular basis will keep them lubricated and functioning properly.  Just don’t do it while it’s raining out.

6. Be careful in parking lots/garages

BMWs are low in the front, and have many plastic components that don’t get along with bumper strips in parking lots and garages.  I constantly see and repair torn bumpers and fender liners due to these bumper strips.  If you frequent areas that have these, park the car about a foot shorter into the spot as so you don’t introduce your plastic to concrete.

7. Use your A/C, even if you don’t use A/C

Aside from Freon in your air conditioning system, there is also a decent amount of oil to keep the compressor and other components working to full potential.  If they sit for too long without movement, it will lead to a noisy compressor ($$$) and dry seals.  If you live in a cold climate, at least turn the A/C on twice in the winter for about 5 minutes to get it moving.


8. Open your hood

Even if you haven’t a clue what you’re looking at, if you opened your hood and saw a bird’s nest in there you’d know it doesn’t belong (I’ve seen this happen).  You might actually see something amiss such as an oil leak or cracked belts and save yourself from a break-down.

9. Drive it, drive it, drive it

BMWs hate to sit around as much as a kid with a wicked case of ADD.  These cars were built to be driven hard, not abused, but driven hard.  If you are driving around like a grandmother on her way to Sunday mass, take it out on the freeway once in awhile and put the pedal to the metal and let it run free a bit.

10. Know your maintenance and keep a journal.

Understanding what repairs you’ve done in the past and what is needed in the future allows you to plan ahead and keeps your BMW running strong.  If you hear a weird noise that only happens once in awhile, write down when it happens, how fast you are going, time of day, etc. as it will greatly assist your BMW mechanic in getting to the root of the problem.

None of these things are difficult to do. Remember, I don’t have your car on a daily basis, you do.  Staying on top of these simple things will decrease the amount you spend on service per year, prevent avoidable damage to your BMW, and retain as much of the car’s value as possible when you decide to sell.

Chris Keefer

Independent Motorcars

5836 Autoport Mall

San Diego CA 92121