Changing your oil is a necessary part of routine maintenance for any car. While most car owners can get away with a cheap $15.95 oil change from their local repair shop, BMW owners are often charged upwards of $100 at a reputable shop. My local BMW dealer charges $109.95 for an oil change special on the E39. To be fair, some BMW filters can be a little more expensive and most modern models require fully synthetic oil in larger than normal quantities.
Some of the best upgrades you can make to maximize the fuel economy of your BMW include: replacing the spark plugs, keeping correct tire pressures, and replacing old oxygen sensors. The oxygen sensors before the catalytic converters – located in the exhaust manifolds – play a large part in controlling the fuel mixture for the engine. When they have high mileage or have failed they no longer send a clear signal to the engine’s computer, at which point the computer defaults to a base line map designed to protect the engine. This default map is a rich fuel mixture (extra fuel) which causes sluggish performance and decreased fuel economy.
Replacing the spark plugs and coil packs on your BMW is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to increase performance and enhance fuel economy. This job can be completed with just a few basic hand tools and an hour of your time. Factory Bosch ignition coil packs cost about $29 each and NGK platinum factory spec plugs cost about $7 each. At only $36 per cylinder, that puts a full tune up at $216 for a six cylinder and $288 for an 8 cylinder.
Last week I replaced my intake camshaft position sensor, which finally resolved the random stalling issue my E39 was experiencing. It’s very common for these sensors to cause stalling at traffic lights or during slow speed driving when they are starting to fail. Since my car has 135,000 miles on the original sensors, it is recommended that both the intake and exhaust sensors are replaced together. If the intake side failed, logic says the exhaust side is probably not far behind it.
Over the past seven months or so, I’ve had an intermittent issue with my E39 where it randomly stalls at slow speed. Thankfully the issue only happened a few times spread out over several months. The difficult part about this issue was that the service engine light never came on and provided codes as a starting point for diagnosis of the issue. I suspected that either the camshaft position sensors were starting to fail, or that the MAF was starting to fail. Both were very plausible considering the symptoms and original mileage on those parts, which is 135,000 miles.
Changing the alternator in your BMW doesn’t have to be an expensive trip to the repair shop. One of the biggest barriers to entry for owning a used BMW is the cost of repairs and service, which I admit, is too high for most people. If you love the driving dynamics of a BMW as much as I do, then rolling up your sleeves to do the service work yourself is a worth while tradeoff.
If you drive an old BMW like I do (15 years old to be exact), it’s likely that your factory BMW BBS wheels are in poor shape. Rarely do the original wheels survive a decade or more of daily driving and curb abuse. If you’re lucky, you may have a perfect condition unused spare in the trunk- which is where my idea came from.
The dreaded DSC problem with the E39, E46 and E38 model BMW is an extremely common one. The main symptom is that your DSC – or dynamic stability control- light may come on for a few minutes and then go away at random times. Eventually, the DSC light will stay on, no matter how many times you turn the car on and off or push the DSC button. You may also have the ABS or BRAKE warning lights on at the same time.
Changing the front brakes on your BMW is one of the easiest mechanical repairs you can do yourself. If you take your car to your repair shop, not only are you paying twice as much for the parts, but you’ll pay hundreds of dollars in labor, shop fees, sales tax.
Auto detailing has been a hobby of mine for the last 13 years, since purchasing my first car in 2003. That car was a Zinnoberrot E30 sedan, which was a true diamond in the rough. My dad convinced me that the dry, faded looking paint was nothing to be concerned about. “It will come right back with polish”, he said. After discovering how paint polish applied by hand brought the paint back to a rich glossy shine, I was hooked on that process of transformation.