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first BMW...what do I do?

Discussion in 'E36 (1992-1999)' started by UCLAkish, May 10, 2008.

    UCLAkish guest

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    Hi everyone....new member here.....Also, just bought my first Bimmer 97, 328i....just wanted to know if anyone could tell me if there is anything that I need to do to make sure everything is good to go since you never know how the person before you took care of the car. I'm afraid to take it to a BMW dealership or mechanic and get ripped off since I know absolutely nothing about BMW's. Any help is appreciated...Thanks!
    • Member


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    Get a maintenance schedule from Mike Miller (Tech Talk - Roundel Magazine)

    He will outline everything.

    Find a good independent BMW mechanic in your area.

    007Z4 guest

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    Your 1997, 328I

    My 1st Bimmer was a 1997, 328I. It was green with tan leather:) I would suggest same,
    find a great local repair person and save big on repairs!

    Good luck with your new ride!:cool:


    UCLAkish guest

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    Thanks! I'm really excited with my new Bimmer...it's white with tan leather! :p

    So how do you know if you've found an honest BMW mechanic or if he is going to try and rip you off? Or do you only have to worry about that with a BMW dealership?

    Thanks again! This forum is AWESOME!:D

    oh, BTW...I've e-mailed Mike Miller, just awaiting a response....
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    Brian A

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    It takes a bit of effort to find a good shop

    I think it is good advice to put a lot of effort into finding a good shop. There are a lot of earnest people out there who want to do a good job and don't want to rip anyone off. If you're in a major metropolitan area, there will be several. Ask at club events, check feedback on the internet, talk to the shop owners etc.

    The difficulty is that you can't really "second guess" a shop: they tell you what's wrong, they fix it, and you pay the bill. You don't negotiate, ask them to cost cut or otherwise haggle. The way they do it is the way it gets done.

    I've learned the hard way. In the first years of ownership I took my 1987 325i to a list of places, primarily motivated by trying to save money. I discovered labor rates are basically plus/minus 30% but work performed was massively inconsistent; some shops what to replace everything anytime anything is a little amiss; others don't do enough and use low quality replacement parts to save costs.

    Ultimately, I discovered the good shops had been staring me in the face all along. They are the ones that attend club events; their technicians are enthusiast BMW drivers and advertize in the local BMW Car Club Newsletter. If I were you, I would go to a local club event and ask people which shops they like.

    In recent years, I have intentionally made it my hobby to try to fix my own car. It's not for everyone, but if you can do-it-yourself it saves a huge amount of money. This spring I managed a major overhaul of my drive train for which I am very proud.

    thosem guest

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    1st bimmer advice

    I've just finished my first year with my 2001 330Ci that had 35,000 mi when I bought it; now has 44000. Here's what wasn't obvious to me:

    * Low profile tires (sport package) are susceptible to road hazard damage, so keep the car out of potholes and away from sharp edged road features like curbs!

    * Synthetic oil recommended by BMW supports extended change intervals and is not required if you change more frequently. The long change intervals indicated by the built in monitoring system (~15000 miles) assume synthetic oil, but you can reset the system whenever you like (see shop manual suggestion below or search the forums for methods).

    * Control arm bushings tend to fail early, leading to steering looseness and clunking noises, but beware of claims that the entire control arm with ball joints needs replacement, as that comes later.

    * It is very helpful to have a shop manual, and there are inexpensive ones that are adequate to be an intelligent customer, e.g. the Haynes series 3 manuals, which now extends through 2004.

    * The "independent" BMW mechanics charge as much as the dealership does in my area (Annapolis). It works for me to use a local mechanic with a professionally run operation. They know when to send me to the dealer and when they can tackle things themselves. They charge about half price for what they can do, which is anything but major surgery.

    Hope this is helpful. I have benefitted from these forums very much so searching them is the final tip!

    UCLAkish guest

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    Thanks everyone....

    Thanks everyone for the fantastic advice, tips, and answers to my questions. I've only had my 328i for seven days so, last night I must have searched these forums for about three hours trying to learn as much as I could about BMW's and what it takes to maintain them.

    I live in the Los Angeles area so I will start asking around about local BMW mechanic shops and see what I can find. I hope I can find an honest mechanic, however, I will learn as much as I can about my new investment so I can try and work on minor things myself.

    This forum is awesome....Thanks again my new Bimmer family...:p

    morea3ic guest

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    Welcome to the forum UCLA & thosem.

    Personally, I've had great results with synthetic oil (Mobil 1) & have used it since it first came out. I've had engines with 150k mi smog like new - ie: little to no internal wear. It is more slick & much less prone to failure at higher engine operating temps than traditional oil.

    Not using a QUALITY Synthetic oil is not a good way to save money - imo.

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    Like BrianA said, one of the absolute best places to find out about a good independent shop is through the local chapter. I've found that the better shops (particularly the ones that cater to club members) tend to be long-time advertisers in the local newsletters and the ones that don't do such a great job, seem to go away pretty quick. Check with your newsletter editor to see who the long-term advertisers have been.

    Going to club events and talking with members face-to-face is definitely the best route though.

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