Hello there and welcome to the BMW Car Club of America.

If you are a BMW CCA member, please log in and introduce yourself in our Member Introductions section.

Maintenance Schedule

Discussion in 'Warranty questions' started by captharley, Nov 13, 2010.

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    I need someone to explain to me why maintenance of our BMW's needs to be couched in terms of yesteryear. Why should a 2006 or a 2011 BMW need the same maintenance schedule as an '84 318i? With all the advances in technology, it would seem logical that less maintenance would be needed. For example, does anyone remember the need for tuneups that included replacement of points, rotor, cap, wires, plugs, etc? It is a technological fact that oil, especially synthetic oil, lasts much longer than 3000 miles. It is a fact that materials used to build a vehicle lasts much longer than what was used 20-30 years ago. On the other hand, if you drive your BMW "like you stole it" all the time, certainly one will put stresses on any vehicle which will then require more maintenance regardless of age. So, unless you fall in the latter category, why do we need "old school maintenance schedules?"
    Mike
    M3 vert
    X5 35d
    Street Glide
    Concours 14
    F150
    • Member

    Satch SoSoCalifortified

    Post Count: 2,187
    Likes Received:64
    Good point, amigo!

    It's been a long time since I've packed a wheel bearing or squoontched grease into a Zerk fitting, too. Your point is well-taken-and I'm glad the points have been taken out of the distributor. . . along with the distributor itself.[FLOATLEFT] View attachment 3057 So many parts. . . and all of them need clean oil![/FLOATLEFT]

    Pistons and rings still go up and down inside the cylinders, however, and crankshafts spin in soft metal bearings. So they need lubrication and some way to remove abrasive residues.

    Oil itself has improved exponentially in every way but aroma (yes, I'm preaching to the Castrol R choir here). As I have said before, the guys at Red Line tell me I'm wasting money if I change oil more often than every 7,500 miles, and they say that in many cases 15,000 miles is a reasonable interval.[FLOATRIGHT] View attachment 3058 The S54 engine may be among BMW's most sophisticated devices, but it still has certain elemental requirements for proper maintenance.[/FLOATRIGHT]

    However, I prefer to err on the side of cleanliness. My reason for changing oil every 5,000 miles is primarily to remove contaminants. Since it's so easy to change the filter on the S54 engine, I may buy a case of filters and start changing the filter every 3,000 miles and change the oil with every other filter. Yes, it's certainly overkill, but I have seen too many engines over at Uncle Carl's place-uh, that would be La Jolla Independent-that are filled with gooey sludge, engines that have been maintained with 15,000-mile oil-change intervals.[FLOATLEFT] View attachment 3056 With the oil filter mounted on top of the S54 engine, it's easy to swap out the filter whenever you want.
    [/FLOATLEFT]
    I change coolant every two years and brake fluid every year. Coolant contains anticorrosives which should prevent erosion in the aluminum cylinder head; brake fluid can be contaminated with moisture.

    I change transmission and differential oils at 30,000 miles because these units, too, are devices from the Dark Ages, and I want to keep them happy. :D
    • Member

    Steven Otto

    Post Count: 52
    Likes Received:1
    Amen. Oil changes every 5-7K are so ridiculously inexpensive compared to a spun bearing. Likewise for brake fluid, coolant, tranny and dif fluid changes. My car just turned over 50K. Had I followed the CBS, it would STILL be on only oil change number 3!!!! Instead it's on number 10. Since I keep my cars well into the 200K+ milage territory, $90 and 45 minutes of my time every 5K is well worth it.

    "Maintenance Free" is a marketing concept foisted upon those who don't know any better. I learned to do all that stuff by watching my dad back in the 60's. Incredibly, we're now into a generation of folks who not only can't perform simple maintenance, they don't even know it needs to be performed.

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    Just for the record, I did not just fall off the turnip truck. I have restored many automobiles including '65 & '66 mustangs, '70 camaro, '68 vw's, '72 240Z, 318i, '64 Impala SS and a '62 coupe. Ben riding and working on motorcycles (metric and HD) for the past 46 years. Yes I am a senior citizen at 64. I am still not convinced, even though it is inexpensive (relatively speaking), that more frequent fluid changes are necessary.
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,265
    Likes Received:5
    Different people are going to have different ideas about maintenance.

    It's like starting an argument over what the best color is.

    Personally, with all due respect to your knowledge and expertise with those classic automobiles, comparing an S54 engine with 40+ year old engine technology is not a fair comparison. Even motor oils have changed since those vehicles you listed were produced. BMW hasn't produced a carbureted vehicle in over 30 years.

    Different engine technology, different oil formulations, even the way auto manufacturers build these vehicles has changed.

    A 15,000 mile oil change interval may work fine for a 64 Chevy Impala or a 72 Datsun 240Z. No insult intended, but those engines are literally devoid of computer technology and would be too "stupid" to know the difference between a 5,000 mile interval and a 15,000 mile interval. But try to go that long on a double-overhead-cam VANOS technology, computer-controlled engine like an S54, and you may find yourself clogging parts those 40 year old cars had never even heard of.

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    The point that I was making regarding those "older vehicles" was that they needed a lot of maintenance to keep them running properly. Everyone is entitled to do what they think is best for their families, their jobs AND their vehicles. I still do not have the answer to my original question. Why do we need to do more maintenance on modern engines and trannies as compared to the ones from 30+ years ago? All car companies have increased their recommended mileage/time interval for "required" maintenance, including BMW. So lets say that I buy the extended BMW warranty from BMW on my 2011 X5 35d for total of 7 years of BMW maintenance and warranty to 75000 miles And I run the crap out of it (not really:D ). In 7 years, you can certainly put your vehicle through hellacious torture and, because the maintenance schedule is so poor, everything covered under warranty breaks down. Why would BMW put themselves in that position given the number of vehicles they sell each year? Just a question. I have owned only 5 BMW's and currently two so I class myself as a recent BMW convert. Furthermore, I am US Navy Retired and, as in the first part of my life, I will continue to defend the rights of every American and support the rights of all others including changing their oil every 3000 miles;)
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,265
    Likes Received:5
    More sophisticated and complex engines means more parts capable of breaking

    As I said before, these engines are not the Chevy 283's of the 1960's. They're a lot more sophisticated, more complex, smaller, and run at much higher compression ratios. Sure they can make more power from smaller engines and get better gas mileage, but their complexity simply means that proper maintenance is even more important.

    Vehicle technology back then generally weren't bothering with such things as fuel injection, variable valve timing, 4 valve per cylinder engines, coil on plug ignition, VANOS, high compression ratios, etc.

    It's like the difference between a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle (old engine) and a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle (modern engine). More pieces means more stuff that can break.

    BMW generally isn't designing cars to suit you or me. They're not interested in customers who appreciate simpler cars because we're not their market. BMW is selling to a technologically savvy customer, someone who wants to be pampered with lots of comfort and features, and has the wherewithall to pay for it all. Even my 23 year old 750iL doesn't resemble what they're selling today. BMW doesn't want today's customers to be able to do their own maintenance. No, they want you to come on into their air-conditioned waiting room and pay $250 and up for an oil change! And for those who keep putting off their oil changes past the service schedule? Guess what? They're lining themselves up for a VERY profitable (for them) and expensive (for us) service bill!

    So go ahead and swallow that maintenance-free fluids BS that salesman is trying to sell you. They're trying to sell you a car. They're trying to sell you convenience. But most of all, they want to sell you a very lucrative and profitable business relationship, gambling that you're going to be completely reliant on their high-priced service department to keep your vehicle running. Until it's time to sell you another even higher priced car.

    Think about it. Why would BMW encourage you to do what would likely result in you keeping your existing car LONGER (BMW loses an opportunity to sell you a new car to replace your existing model) with responsible maintenance, vs. just having you replace your older vehicle with a newer one. Encouraging regular maintenance would cost THEM the opportunity to sell YOU a much more expensive vehicle than for you to keep your existing model running as it ages and its maintenance needs increase.

    Follow the money!

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    I guess it's time for my confession. I agree with all of you. The truth is that I am a car whore. Keeping any vehicle, be it a BMW or a Harley beyond 4-6 years is something I cannot do. I get bored and I want something new. Although in my younger days in the military and with a growing family, I could not always indulge in this fantasy. In my "old age," I am able to and I like to indulge myself in my "vice." Enjoyed the back and forrth.
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,265
    Likes Received:5
    Then I recommend taking care of what you have for as long as possible

    Those "excessive" oil changes could pay off in lower maintenance costs and higher resale value until you can dump it onto someone else on your way to your next ride.

    Good luck.
    • Member

    MGarrison

    Post Count: 2,831
    Likes Received:144
    I think the basic premise of the 'old-school maintenance' is not that newer families of BMW engines need more maintenance than prior iterations, but that there is a healthy skepticism based on long-standing experience (if not, by now, direct observation) whether BMW's newly-recommended maintenance/fluid schedules are optimal for maximizing the service life of the particular components.

    I think this skepticism is added to by BMW, at the same time, going to comprehensive FREE-maintenance-included up to XX-many-miles, and featuring that heavily (for, presumably, competitive reasons) in their marketing. So, although, yes, this coincides with BMW switching to synthetic oils, suddenly BMW is now recommending oil change intervals at more than twice the mileage than ever before, and the heady-sounding claim that transmission and differential fluids are "lifetime", with the implication that they'll last forever.

    Well, that all sounds great coming from the marketing department, but for anyone concerned with maximizing the life of their vehicle and a familiarity with long-term vehicle maintenance, they are going to be skeptical and out there calling "foul"! It's a bit too much of a coincidence that extended to non-existent fluid change intervals pop-up at the same time as BMW opting to foot the maintenance bill for the first 50k miles or whatever.

    So, is there an actual need for 'old-school' maintenance? That depends on you, what you're doing or want to do with your vehicles, and what you believe or are willing to believe. There is a diagnostic available, one can draw samples of their oil(s) and send it off for analysis, and gain a sense of how it's holding up, for all the specifics of their own situation, car, conditions, driving, etc. - if you want to really get particular about it.

    Given that BMW is a for-profit company, I think it's reasonable to suggest that, even with pressure from competitors including maintenance and using that as a sales tool, whatever maintenance program BMW uses and markets, is going to be setup and stacked in BMW's favor to, on average, not harm BMW's bottom-line. For your example of the extended-warranty, that would likely statistically fall outside what BMW experiences as average usage over that time period. I would suspect BMW would have figured out, from long experience, what's likely to wear out, fail, and when, and tailor both their standard and costs of extended warranties to remain profitable for both the dealer and BMW corporate for whatever time frames are involved.

    Times have changed - my 320i had a 12 month-12k warranty; imagine an automaker doing that today.

    If you're not keeping your vehicles long enough to potentially be facing the maintenance costs much after the warranty period, whatever BMW includes or recommends, may be adequate for you, even if it's possible that is less than optimal for the engine, transmission, or differential service-lives. It's a valid point that above-average maintenance could help resale value on the private market; however, if you just opt to trade-in each prior vehicle to your dealer, I'd be surprised if you can argue the dealer into much additional trade-in value above book. Never hurts to try, though. ;)

    M3Driver guest

    Post Count: 619
    Likes Received:3
    See this thread:

    http://bmwcca.org/forum/showthread.php?t=7314

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    For trades to the dealer: Whatever the Black Book or Blue Book or NADA says for "FAIR CONDITION" is what you get for the vehicle. Of course, you can haggle the overall price of the new vehicle.
    Doing more maintenance than the book says to get more when selling privately is but a dream. If you hike your price up, why should a potential buyer get your vehicle no matter what you say about how it was babied when they can go to a dealer and get an extended warranty, financing and the ability to trade their hunk of junk in on the "new used vehicle."

    As I said, I believe in extra maintenance if you are going to keep a car for 300,000+ miles. But if you are going to trade, like I do, vehicles with less than 100,000 miles on the odometer-does it really matter? I have heard many folks who say that their maintenance schedule is less than "puny." They don't change any fluids with the exception of an oil filter change every 15-20000 miles and a topoff of oil to the proper level. And their cars are still running. A miracle? I can't believe it either. But I just don't think that our BMW's need to be babied more than the Fords and Chevies and Cadillacs.

    For M3
    Your "read this" was very informative and the bottom line of that discourse is what I am saying to some degree. Yes I baby my M# more because I push it harder; my X5 diesel is driven but with a different "pedal" effort and my other BMW's were driven easier as well and maintenance was less. Bottom line is that we really don't need to change oil evry 3-5000 miles; tranny fluid can last, at least, up to 30-50000 miles; coolant should last, at least 3 years. Hey, if anyone wants to do it more frequently, go for it.
    • Member

    MGarrison

    Post Count: 2,831
    Likes Received:144
    I think that is arguable, based on the premise that the cleanest, lowest-mileage, best-maintained vehicles can command a premium above something comparable with higher mileage &/or less maintenance. Who doesn't want the the best vehicle they can find? I would suspect most who strive to maintain their vehicles pristinely or beyond oem-recommended minimums are not primarily motivated to do so by the thought that they might ultimately have a higher resale value. At best, that likely would be a secondary, or even lesser, motivation.

    Well, that's assuming potential buyers want anything a dealer might offer; there are plenty of shoppers who have no interest in extended warranties, dealer financing, or trading-in via the dealer.

    Your own point of what dealers will offer for trade-ins shows one reason why there are private sellers - a clean, well maintained, realistically-priced used car can command a premium above typical dealer trade-in value.

    That's why I said it depends on you - I think you've expressed your viewpoint clearly in your last post.

    For the first 80-100k, that might well be the case; it would be an interesting comparison as to the various needed repairs, maintenance items, and costs between those vehicles for 100k upwards, just for curiosity's sake.

    Hey waaaaaait a minute.... if you already had your mind made up, why'd ya ask in the first place?? :p;)

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    For the first 80-100k, that might well be the case; it would be an interesting comparison as to the various needed repairs, maintenance items, and costs between those vehicles for 100k upwards, just for curiosity's sake.



    Hey waaaaaait a minute.... if you already had your mind made up, why'd ya ask in the first place?? :p;)[/QUOTE]


    That would be a very interesting comparison. For example, my daughter bought a 2000 Taurus and her husband just traded it in on a new vehicle. The car was well used with just under 200,000 miles on it. It was still going strong but the air conditioner needed to be replaced (compressor, dryer, etc) and the cost exceeded the value of the carso it was traded. The important concept here is that my daughter and her husband are not car people with concerns to exceed the "required maintenance" other than following the book requirements. And that is why I cannot believe that our BMW's being head and shoulders above a Ford (that's right I said it 'cause I believe it) could not have the same fluid life expectancy that the lowly Ford has.
    • Member

    granthr

    Post Count: 1,583
    Likes Received:2

    That would be a very interesting comparison. For example, my daughter bought a 2000 Taurus and her husband just traded it in on a new vehicle. The car was well used with just under 200,000 miles on it. It was still going strong but the air conditioner needed to be replaced (compressor, dryer, etc) and the cost exceeded the value of the carso it was traded. The important concept here is that my daughter and her husband are not car people with concerns to exceed the "required maintenance" other than following the book requirements. And that is why I cannot believe that our BMW's being head and shoulders above a Ford (that's right I said it 'cause I believe it) could not have the same fluid life expectancy that the lowly Ford has.[/QUOTE]

    BMW gets much more performance out of its engines and drive trains compared to other manufactures. One way to look at this is to compare power output per liter of engine displacement. BMWs have a much higher output. So the engines are more stressed and IMHO would benefit from more maintenance.

    The thing is this debate is very close to "what type of oil to use". People are wired different ways. I very much enjoy working on my BMWs and doing "preventative maintenance". Keeps me out of trouble and keeps me in touch with what is going on with my older cars. I know there are a lot of people who believe that the engine and trans should only last as long at the paint and interior or view vehicles as a consumable that are to be used up and then replaced. I am not saying either frame of mind is correct, its just a matter of opinion and how one views cars.

    Excuse me now, I have to go change the oil and filter on my 88 M3, it has been about 1000 miles and one year since the last one. :D

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    BMW gets much more performance out of its engines and drive trains compared to other manufactures. One way to look at this is to compare power output per liter of engine displacement. BMWs have a much higher output. So the engines are more stressed and IMHO would benefit from more maintenance.

    The thing is this debate is very close to "what type of oil to use". People are wired different ways. I very much enjoy working on my BMWs and doing "preventative maintenance". Keeps me out of trouble and keeps me in touch with what is going on with my older cars. I know there are a lot of people who believe that the engine and trans should only last as long at the paint and interior or view vehicles as a consumable that are to be used up and then replaced. I am not saying either frame of mind is correct, its just a matter of opinion and how one views cars.

    Excuse me now, I have to go change the oil and filter on my 88 M3, it has been about 1000 miles and one year since the last one. :D[/QUOTE]

    With all those "old Beemers," I certainly understand your lack of time to get "in trouble.":D
    Seriously, I can identify with you in enjoying doing the preventive maintenance, but, in my case, being an "original owner" would never happen as I get bored with "changing oil once a year" whether it needs it or not.;) Your contention that a Ford engine needs less attention than a Beemer engine due to the latter's sophistication is arguable. An engine that is better made (an "ASSumption") should not need more maintenance than the lowly Ford 6 cylinder.
    • Member

    granthr

    Post Count: 1,583
    Likes Received:2
    It depends where the technology was placed. BMW is putting its effort towards high performance and efficency. BMW engines have extremely tight tolerances and leave little room for error. This is why it is so difficult for BMW Tuners to get even more power out of BMW's engines, the likes of Dinan, Alpina, Hartage, etc.

    Just an FYI, Beemers are Motorcycles and Bimmers are cars! :D

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    Appreciate the clarification:eek: Never liked those BEEmers.:D
    • Member

    Greg E34

    Post Count: 16
    Likes Received:1
    15K oil changes FTL! These pictures were taken of an E46 maintained at BMW recommended oil service intervals.

    captharley guest

    Post Count: 59
    Likes Received:0
    And the mileage on this motor was...? And the oil used was...?And the vehicle was driven like it was stolen/a taxi/5 miles a week? There are so many variables that the picture alone is not exciting. There are so many vehicles now under conditioned-based service like Volvo's Cadillacs, VW's etc., there has to be something said for the state of technology. Hot cars like Cobras, Cadillac 2 seater, Corvettes, etc are following the new theory. Getting away from oil, let's go to brake fluid. Why is it necessary to replace the fluid by the book every 2 years and, by some folks here, every year? Do Bmw's suck up more water vapor in their brake fluid than other vehicles? I don't have an answer except to say that each individual decides what they need to do for their vehicle. My initial question was to find out what the Tech Experts regarded as absolutely necessary to keep your BMW in top shape.

Share This Page