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.

1.  Find an independent BMW Service facility that you can trust or that was recommended to you by a friend.  Independent Facilities will save you a lot of money, but they can also take you for a ride so proceed with caution.  Visit http://www.bimrs.org.  This website hosts a network of Independent BMW Service Facilities across the world and will most likely have a member shop in your area.  I can’t vouch for all of them, but this is a great starting point in finding a good Independent BMW Service facility.

2.  Get an oil change!  Chances are you’re way past due.  Sticking to the 15,000 mile oil change policy is a great way to kill your BMW.  After that oil change, get your next one done “on the fives”  This will make things easy for you as your oil changes will be done at 55, 60, 65, 70k, etc.

3.  Get your BMW detailed.  Keeping the paint and interior clean and fresh will keep you happy to drive the car.  No one wants to drive a car that some kid fingered the words “Wash Me” on the rear glass.  Clean cars look good, detailed cars look incredible.

4. Plan ahead.  During your first visit to an Independent BMW Service facility, get a list of things to expect in the future, with estimates, so you know what’s coming down the road.  In general, people like surprises, but not the ones that clean out your bank account.

Customers always ask me if they should keep their cars.   There is always a balance to strike between age of the car and the costs associated with it compared to owning a new one.  While the comfort of a new BMW with a blanket warranty is nice, it is not always an option.  BMWs still remain to be a great car that can run forever, they just need a little more help than they did in the 80’s.  If you are out of the warranty period, and you’re going to keep the car, try to get on these four things as soon as possible for smooth sailing in the future.

Chris Keefer

Independent Motorcars

5836 Autoport Mall

San Diego CA 92121