All posts filed under: BLOG

Buying a Used BMW X5?

Here’s what to look out for So you’ve decided to buy a used BMW X5? While a Japanese make such as Lexus would bring more peace to your life, you’ve decided to eschew logical adult reasoning and take on the challenge of owning heavily depreciated German steel to enjoy all of the pleasures it will bring. The driving experience, heated surfaces, envy from the neighbors. Your idea of the spice of life is not knowing when the next water pump or window regulator failure will hit, sucking up your only free time on weekends for the foreseeable future. All kidding aside, the X5 is a good SUV if you are an enthusiast who enjoys performing a good deal of DIY work. After all, if you’re reading this blog, you are likely a BMW enthusiast. Besides, the initial purchase price of a used X5 is going to be much less than that of a Lexus GX or some comparable Japanese suburb-crawling baby-hauler. My best advice for owning a used X5 is as follows: You MUST own …

X3 and X5 BMW Transfer Case Actuator Gear Replacement DIY

This one little gear will save you over $4,000 USD The BMW X3 and X5 are known for their incredible x-drive all wheel drive systems that power through stormy winter conditions and keep you safe on the road. They’re also known for being incredibly robust, rarely having any major failure of the transfer case systems, as they are typically overbuilt by design. The X5’s ATC 500 transfer case is particularly robust. However, one small detail was overlooked on the design by BMW mechanical engineers: the small plastic gear inside the transfer case actuator motor. This small gear typically fails between 90,000 -120,000 miles in the X3 and X5. When it does fail, it throws the car’s computer systems into disarray and will show the trifecta of lights: Brake, ABS, and 4×4 DSC lights will all illuminate on the gauge cluster. Perhaps this is a planned failure, kind of like BMW’s version of planned obsolescence. If millions of X3 and X5 suffer this failure, that means millions of new reasons for customers to either pay heavily …

E53 BMW X5 Buyer’s Guide

What to look for when buying the first generation BMW X5 SUV In 2020, even the newest E53 X5 is 14 years old. The E53 production ended in 2006 which makes BMW’s first generation SUV almost a classic. This is the SUV or “SAV” as BMW likes to call it, “Sport Activity Vehicle” that started all of BMW’s US manufacturing of SUV trucks that dominate the roads today. In 2019, SUV’s outsold cars 2:1; meaning that for every one car sold, two SUV’s were sold. BMW is no exception as buyers have chosen to abandon cars and wagons in favor for gas-guzzling high-riding safe trucks for their commutes. BMW now makes an X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6 and recently launched an even larger X7 to satisfy every demand of the global consumer today. So where does that leave BMW’s original SAV that started it all? Well, these cars still provide a great value relatively speaking, if you can handle the maintenance and repairs yourself. The 3.0i with straight six cylinder M54 engine is the …

Why is My BMW AC Blowing Warm Air?

As we drive through the peak July heat of Summer, one question I’ve been hearing a lot from my subscribers is about your BMW air conditioning system issues. There are three really common issues across all BMW’s with respect to inoperative or weak AC problems: The center control knurled stratification wheel knob is poorly adjusted The electric auxiliary fan behind the front bumper has failed The AC freon leaked out and needs a recharge of 134a The first place to start diagnosis is the easiest: check your center control knurled stratification wheel knob in the center of the dashboard. Every BMW since 1980-something has one. And it may be the most misunderstood HVAC control knob of any German car out there – even today! Here’s a background on how this HVAC control knob works and why it could be causing you to have warm air blowing in the Summer and air too cool blowing in the Autumn and Winter. The often overlooked stratification knurled wheel for the center vent is often the cause of heating …

The Best Used BMW to Buy in 2020

So you’re in the market for a used BMW? In this post I’ll share with you what I think is an incredible undervalued buy on the used luxury German market right now. This car also happens to be one of the best BMW’s ever made: my all-time favorite BMW, the luxurious and reliable E39 530i. In this post I’ll go over why the E39 is the best used BMW to buy today in 2020. Search for used E39’s on the eBay market here. First, let’s chat about the glorious piece of engineering that is the E39. I have created over 100 DIY videos on this fourth generation 5 series sedan over the last five years of creating on YouTube, so it is fair to say I know them pretty well. My E39 buyers guide here outlines exactly what to look for when considering the purchase of one of these fine machines. A midsize sedan, this five series was available in 525i, 528i, 530i, 540i and M5 configurations here in the US. Manufactured from 1995 to …

How to Get FREE BMW Oil Changes for Life

Not long ago BMW offered four years or 50,000 miles of free maintenance when purchasing a new BMW, which included free oil changes. They did this in part due to the reputation their German engineering had earned over the years for being costly to maintain; with ownership came frequent trips to the local BMW dealership. They eased this pain point and reinforced the idea that they stand behind their vehicles – reliable vehicles- so much so that four years of service was included. The most expensive BMW’s tend to be leased at a greater volume than they are purchased outright. In fact, more than half of all BMW’s sold are leases. For high rolling BMW lessees, knowing the total monthly costs and keeping them at a fixed amount without enormous service bills popping up was a great draw. This was a strong marketing pitch for BMW to sell and lease new cars. Sadly, BMW announced in 2016 (for 2017 model year cars) their maintenance plan was reduced to 3 years or 36,000 miles and would …

The Correct Pronunciation of BMW

Last week while researching German to English translations and brushing up on my German I had an epiphany that took 17 years of BMW ownership to realize: the correct way to pronounce BMW is not how I’ve been saying it! That’s right, for the last seventeen years of fanatical BMW ownership I’ve been saying it completely the wrong way. In fact, the official BMW website now has a page dedicated to pronouncing their brand’s name so you don’t have to make the same mistake I did. They share video pronunciations in a variety of languages from French to Mandarin and everything in between. You can visit that page here. While working on translations and designs for my new brand, I realized that the W in BMW is actually spoken as “Vee” in Germany. I knew that the W was pronounced as a V as part of the entire word, but hadn’t previously considered the individual letter itself or the letter as part of a name such as BMW. Therefore, everyone in Germany, Austria and most …

The Best BMW Wheel Cleaner?

There are a ton of choices available when it comes to wheel cleaner detailing products and sprays. Everyone has a favorite, and they are without a doubt an essential part of BMW ownership thanks to those dusty factory organic brake pads stuffed into every production BMW out there. Ceramic brake pads are known for their low or zero dusting, coupled with excellent braking bite under spirited driving at high brake temperatures. I have tried several aftermarket brands of high performance ceramic brake pads over the years, and never really liked any of them more than the BMW factory pads. The factory pads dust a ton, but their bite is excellent for a daily driven car and they’re also very quite. 

BMW M Tech Sport Steering Wheel Trim Removal and Replacement DIY

  One of the most common wear points in a car is the steering wheel, since it sees a ton of use and abuse over the life of the car. The M tech sport steering wheels in particular have a way of wearing and peeling badly that BMW didn’t really plan for. Original versions of the sport steering wheel trim have a black coating that peels and scratches off over time, revealing the white bare plastic beneath it. Updated versions now available seem to be from a black plastic, which should wear better instead of peeling over time. Updated trim is available here. One of the cheapest and best upgrades you can make is to replace this trim piece, which is about $75 or so online here. I recently replaced the trim piece specific to the E53 sport models, and detail the steps on how to remove the steering wheel so replace the trim in this new video below. Most sport package cars require the airbag and steering wheel to be safely removed before the …