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BMW 3-Series Maintenance and Repair

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,619
    Someone once said "The problem with regarding yourself as an expert is that this immediately closes your mind to new ideas".

    There is some truth to that---one can in fact have all kinds of credentials and still have bad judgment. NOT SAYING in this case---just throwing out the idea that I myself have retreated from once-sacred ideas about what to do and not do to a car.

    MODERATOR

  • I just recently found that I had a bad battery in my 02 325ci. I went to Autozone and purchased another battery, but the battery light is still on. How can I turn it off or is there possibly another problem?
  • Now my transmission is 111k, so it was short of a maint?
    Please provide link to where ATF now needs to be serviced at 60k from BMW.
  • rhmassrhmass Posts: 263
    Shiftright, I can't agree with you more in having a broader mind even being considered an expert in one's specialty. In this case of the transmission fluid change, though, there are so many opposing opinions that one can only result to what the manufacturer's recommendations. I actually was making an appointment with an independent BMW technician and was going to have him change the transmission fluid and the filter. Upon hearing my seeming transmission issue (the problem light came on, then went away after following the manual), he was also against the idea saying that oftentimes, transmission problem has emerged after the fluid change and transmission destroyed. He basically suggested that if the car runs well now without problem, I should leave it alone. This is the second person (the other time was the dealership) who could have made money by doing what I requested, but suggested otherwise. In this case I simply have to use my own judgement to go along with what BMW suggests for the transmission maintenance. This technician also said the problem light could have been a glitch, as sometime sensors do.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    edited August 2011
    Did you think for a moment why a Master Technician would advise against recommending a service that would mean more work which would equal to more money?

    I sure did. The self-described "Master Technician" doesn't trust his shop to do the job properly. Or else he missed the BMW training session that addressed the new ATF change interval.
    And why does my BMW dealer perform an ATF service -without hesitation- at my request? And for a very reasonable price?

    I mean after all if he has earned the Master Technician status, he probably knows a little bit more than you do, since he has earned the status of "Master Technician" and not too many technicians get that.

    The term does not impress me one bit. Results count for more than a title on a name tag. As for relative knowledge, I've only owned, wrenched on, tracked, and competed in BMWs since 1983- owning nine in the process. So he might know more than me, but based on what I've already been told about him I kind of doubt it.

    Does he not get a benefit of being placed higher up than an avg. joe technician and avg. driver?

    No.

    Now let me explain, why:

    Have at it; my comments follow.

    1) Most all BMW since mid to late '90s come with lifetime transmission fluid.

    Initially BMW did consider ATF to be a lifetime fill, but no longer. See below.

    ATF is available for servicing however, it is recommended that be used only to replenish the lost fluid due to leaks and for repairs.

    Wrong. See below.

    Also if you were to look in the owners manual for service, it does NOT require AT service.

    Well, you are half right. The information isn't in the owners manual; it is found in the Service and Warranty Information Booklet. On page 8, in the case of my 2004 E83(fitted with a GM A5S 390R). It states "Replace ATF every 100,000 miles"

    While I may not fully agree with this practice by BMW, the fluid does contain several modifiers added in the standard Dexron III fluid to maintain the viscosity and other characteristics of the fluid through the life of the transmission.

    BMW uses several different AT fluids:
    Esso ATF LT 71131
    Texaco ETL 7045E
    Texaco ETL 8072B
    And a few more, no one knows why there are so many "flavors" save BMW, GM, and ZF...

    The only issue is BMW and others do NOT disclose what they consider "lifetime" of the transmission in miles or years of service. So that is anyone guess.

    That's simple; when the transmission fails BMW then considers its "lifetime" to be over...

    I hope I answered your question, and please keep in mind next time you or anyone who reads this on forum, if you are going to take your vehicle to a repair facility, if you do not trust your repair facility, then don't go there.

    Which is essentially what I said in my earlier post.

    BUT if you do then give them some respect as you would want to be respected in your chosen profession.

    I most certainly DO respect my Service Adviser as well as all of the technicians at my BMW dealer. They perform first class work at a very fair price.
    To summarize, the "Master Technician" that generated this discussion either does not know that BMW now calls for a 100,000 mile fluid change or else he lacks the knowledge and ability to perform an ATF service. In either case I would be wary of any other "expert" advice he may provide.

    Finally, a couple of anecdotal data points:
    My old E39 528i had the ATF changed at 100,000 miles and the last I heard the current owner had put another 100,000 miles on it with no ATF issues. My E83 received an ATF change at 56,000 and 113,000 miles. Now at over 120,000 miles, the automatic transmission continues to perform flawlessly.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,246
    edited August 2011
    for this, and it didn't disappoint.

    It's fun (in an odd way) to watch newbies poke at the lion (or bait the bear), but even more interesting to observe the result.

    luckybelly -- if you think you or your "Master Technician" knows more about BMWs than some of the people on this board you have another think coming (as my mother used to say).
  • So are you and Mr. Shiftright saying BMW is now recommending to perform ATF service on E46 era 3 series built transmissions.?

    Since the original question was about a transmissions installed on a E46 and NOT a E83.

    Perhaps a BMW TSB # and/or link from BMW to support this statement would be most enlightening and add to this discussion.

    :D
  • Most are over-opinionated on most forums including most master-technicians - but that was not my point.
    My point was avg. driver/technician should NOT discredit a statement and/or information dispensed by a technician who has gone through the years of training and earned the Master-Technician status.
    Perhaps roadburner has significant knowledge and experience however, he has no first hand experience with the master-technician that was in question to discredit him.
    I chose higher road than he did. I gave the information accurate and about the fact that on E46 transmissions it was not recommended to change AT fluid. (Also I did not say that I support that practice ). And not discredit someone I have no first knowledge about.

    So no I don't have another thing coming to me. :D
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    So are you and Mr. Shiftright saying BMW is now recommending to perform ATF service on E46 era 3 series built transmissions.?

    Yes.

    Since the original question was about a transmissions installed on a E46 and NOT a E83.

    I take it that you aren't aware of the fact that both vehicles(2003 325xi Touring and 2004 E83) use a GM A5S 390R automatic transmission.

    Perhaps a BMW TSB # and/or link from BMW to support this statement would be most enlightening and add to this discussion.

    Perhaps rhmass can check his Service and Warranty Information booklet and tell us what BMW recommended for the car that you said didn't require ATF changes.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    Perhaps roadburner has significant knowledge and experience however, he has no first hand experience with the master-technician that was in question to discredit him.

    What more do I need to know? You esteemed "Master Tech" recommended against performing a service that BMW specifically recommends.

    I chose higher road than he did.

    I stand in awe of your magnanimous gesture.

    I gave the information accurate and about the fact that on E46 transmissions it was not recommended to change AT fluid.

    No you didn't. You stated:
    1) Most all BMW since mid to late '90s come with lifetime transmission fluid.
    and
    Also if you were to look in the owners manual for service, it does NOT require AT service.
    But now you say you that you were only referring to the E46. Right.

    And not discredit someone I have no first knowledge about.

    One more time- "Master Tech" recommended against changing the ATF fluid, period- even though BMW calls for a change at 100,000 miles. He didn't say "Wait until the 100,000 mile service. He said don't do it. He was wrong.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    edited August 2011
    Herewith a page from an E46 Service and Warranty Information booklet:

    image

    BMW changed from "Lifetime Fill" to a 100,000 ATF change interval in 2002.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • roadburner - Your highness - I stand corrected if it is from a 02 E46, - I think you should discredit someone who you don't know. I personally don't know that Master Tech in question but please go ahead and continue to dispense your opinions, after all its an open forum.

    BTW: Interesting how you highlighted all but failed to read MOST. In my statement. Hmmm. OK.
    It seems you only read and listen what you want. But thats ok. I am bored of this conversation.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    I am bored of this conversation.

    Look on the bright side, at least we both now agree that the Master Technician in question gave incorrect advice!

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,246
    edited August 2011
    of the people who post on the internet are questionable in terms of their background and/or knowledge, some actually know what they're talking about.

    New posters are liable to be considered somewhat guilty until proven otherwise, unlike people who have been posting here for a decade or more.

    Try not to make incendiary statements. This is a lesson it took me a number of years to learn, and I still have a number of "slips." There are many people on Edmunds who still won't respond to my posts, based on stuff I posted 8-10 years ago.

    One sleeps in the bed one makes.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    Try not to make incendiary statements. This is a lesson it took me a number of years to learn, and I still have a number of "slips." There are many people on Edmunds who still won't respond to my posts, based on stuff I posted 8-10 years ago.

    Really? You've always struck me as being pretty easy going. You do have a low tolerance for BS and incompetence, but then so do I...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,619
    edited August 2011
    The best thing you can do for Master Tech is to show him the BMW notation---in this way, he dispenses better advice or at least evaluates the notation for validity. No one can be right 100% of the time, not even Einstein.

    The technician you want to avoid is not the one who makes the occasional mistake, but the one who insists that you can't teach him anything new.

    Come back and tell us what he says about all this.

    The whole point of these forums is to help make your car run safely and reliably.

    MODERATOR

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    No one can be right 100% of the time, not even Einstein.

    Agreed, but what concerns me is that this guy is still relying on a service regimen that BMW abandoned almost 10 years ago.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,619
    Well he apparently didn't get the memo. It's so hard to keep up on everything these days, what with all the new tech, so things are bound to fall through the cracks---even obvious things. I mean, look how long it has taken the general public to accept longer oil changes. And some of the people who are most adamant about changing oil at 3,000 miles are very smart, very educated.

    So it's a question of taking the time, (or HAVING the time) to read up on the latest evidence and saying "oh, I see...the basis for my info has changed".

    MODERATOR

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Personally, I understand where Roadburner is coming from.

    There is no shortage of postings on forums where posters are asking for answers which can easily be found in the owner's manual. The obvious reason is that they are too lazy to look it up for themselves.

    Even when an appropriate answer is given, quite often someone wants to argue about it's correctness... Again, often based upon one's "understanding" of the facts, which really is no understanding at all.

    Beats me why one would spend so much on an item, yet refuse to learn anything about that same item's functioning, until it's forced upon them.

    It's one of the main reasons I have all but stopped responding to questions posed on forums.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    edited August 2011
    Well he apparently didn't get the memo. It's so hard to keep up on everything these days, what with all the new tech, so things are bound to fall through the cracks---even obvious things.

    It isn't limited to BMW, by a long shot. Back in 2007 there was a topic on VW Vortex concerning the fact that more than a few VW dealers weren't even aware that the DSG required servicing at all. Here's my contribution to the thread:

    I called the three dealers in the Louisville, KY area(a 50 mile radius). In each case I asked for the service department. Once I was connected I asked how much it cost to service the DSG in a new Golf GTI. Here are the results of my informal survey:

    Bachman Volkswagen, called on 2/28/07- "The newer transmissions are sealed and don't need service. Everything is done through the computer." Huh?

    Neil Huffman Volkswagen, called on 3/1/07- The first person in service who picked up asked me what a DSG was. I was transferred to a second person who stated that there was "no recommended service" for the DSG.

    Clapp Volkswagen, called on 3/1/07- "The service costs $339 and is performed every 40,000 miles." Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!!!

    So...
    Kudos to Clapp VW, which has the only service department in Kentuckiana that appears to know the service requirements of newer VWs.

    OTOH, if ignorance truly IS bliss, then Bachman VW and Neil Huffman VW must have the happiest service departments in the area...


    I wonder how many DSGs have failed because some lazy techs in VW service departments didn't do their homework? In any event, that was one of the primary reasons that -four months later- I spent my "hot hatch" budget on a new Mazdaspeed 3 rather than a GTI...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    There is no shortage of postings on forums where posters are asking for answers which can easily be found in the owner's manual. The obvious reason is that they are too lazy to look it up for themselves.

    I agree, but in this case I wasn't blaming rhmass; after all, he actually requested that the ATF be changed.

    Beats me why one would spend so much on an item, yet refuse to learn anything about that same item's functioning, until it's forced upon them.

    I sympathize; I'm not too inclined to respond to a question if the answer can easily be found in that mysterious little book in the glove box.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • rhmassrhmass Posts: 263
    Hi, roadburner, I thought may be I should post my thoughts concerning the issue which unfortunately I had brought up and had led to much controversial discussions. I posted to check if anyone had the same experience as having the orange transmission light shown indicating the malfunction of the transmission. Upon checking the manual and did what it suggested, the light went away and the car had run smoothly since without any detectable transmission issue. it might be worthwhile to note that in the manual, it doesn't say to bring the car to the dealership, as it usually does, if the light goes away after following the instruction. So obviously it wasn't a significant issue in itself. I, however, happen to be very meticulous about maintaining my car and to keep it at top shape, thus posting the question to see if other might have experienced the same issue. Obviously there isn't anyone who had encountered the same issue.

    In the manual, 2002BMWxiT, it does say no need for transmission oil replacement. However a few years ago the service manager of the dealership said to me that BMW has changed their stance on this and would have the transmission oil changed every 100,000 miles. My car has 63,000, so theoretically has not reached to that level. As a CCA member for over 10 years and an avid reader of the Techtalk column by Mike Miller, I have followed what he always recommends. He does recommend to have transmission oil replaced at 50-60,000 interval. However dealers I know appear to be reluctant to do this particular service. May be they are concerned that the customer might blame them, had any issue develope upon oil replacement. This is so true as even Mike said it was somewhat an unknown outcome. Of all the BMWs we have owned (6), other than the 86 325E in which transmission oil was replaced, none of our other ones had transmission fluid replaced before we replaced the car without issue. One did have transmission failure, after we drove through a heavily flooded area at 78,000 miles. Hard to say if it was due to water got in or it was due to the lack of transmission oil replacement. What I am trying to say is that this matter is, I believe, an individual decision and he will then shoulder the consequences.

    You have been a very good resource for many with questions and I recalled you actually had answered one of mine previously. However, I have noticed some posters have the tendency to kind put down those with questions. I recalled once I asked the question concerning the inside tracks of my tires wearing a bit more than the outside, while there seemed be no alignment issue as the car tracked straight. One poster answered me saying that I should just run the car backward for a few thousand miles to even out the wear. Not only this was not helpful, but the sarcasm also was very unfriendly. You do occasionally sense this kind of attitude and generally they tend to be new BMW owners/leasers.
  • puffin1puffin1 Posts: 276
    I never read the manual except to change from
    daylite savings time back to normal and I still do it every year. I did read up on the oil viscosity and the damn run flats. I had to read it for the Blue tooth.I screwed that up somehow.I'm a visual learner and when I buy my cars it seems the salesman doesn't spend enough time explaining all the dodads and I end up bringinging the car in for service thinking they know best.I put Mobile 1 in it and it's suppose to last a year.However, I change it every 6 months.I know people that never change their ATF. I figure you spend 50 k for a car the service mgr should know whats best,as all the records are on a computer electronically filed,same as your medical records these days.
    Also, I'd never keep a BMW over 50k because of repairs that might incurr. However that's just me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,619
    edited September 2011
    No it's not just you. A lot of people bail out of a car in the 3-5 year bracket. The loan is mostly paid up, the warranty is mostly over, depreciation has occurred but the car still has value as a trade-in, --so it's not an irrational decision by any means.

    MODERATOR

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    edited September 2011
    Whatever floats your boat. My wife's 2004 X3 has 121,000 miles on it and it was paid off in 2007. Since the 50,000 mile mark the repair and maintenance costs(including 1 set of four tires) have amounted to $3998- a bit less than six cents per mile, or $83 per month. And note that $427 of that figure represents more frequent oil, ATF, and transfer case changes than BMW calls for. As I said in another topic, I guess I really should buy a new car and saddle myself with $40k-$50k in consumer debt so that I can save some real money...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,619
    Well as the car ages the maintenance per month will go up, and you aren't very typical since you DIY a lot.

    I always tell people that a used BMW out of warranty is going to cost you about $150/month to keep healthy, presuming of course a) you average that out over a long period of time and b) there is no catastrophic failure.

    These days, as you know, an engine failure (rather unlikely on a BMW) would total most used Bimmers valued under $10K.

    MODERATOR

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,386
    On the X3 the only DIY work I've done are the oil changes between the scheduled services- @$227. All other service(excluding tires) has been performed at my local BMW dealer. I suspect that running costs will still be averaging less than $100 per month at 150,000 miles. Even so, lets assume the costs do increase to $150 per month; I'm still $3600-$4800 per year ahead of the guy who is leasing(AKA renting) a BMW for 3-5 years.
    And let's face it- a lot of dealers actually encourage the "you'll need to take out a second mortgage to maintain a BMW out of warranty" foolishness, as it provides the dealer with a steady stream of rubes who want to flip their car at the 50,000 mile mark...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Well, they don't sell those extended warranties at a loss....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,619
    True, they are betting your car doesn't break and you are betting it does.

    That way, when your engine blows up, you get to say WHUPPIE!

    $100 a month may be optimistic, but I hope you make it.

    MODERATOR

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 28,057
    ... I agree... that's a pretty good estimate for average maintenance/repair on an E46/E83 model..

    Of course, saying that is average, means quite a few people will have higher costs...

    When I bought mine, I decided it was worth it.... to actually enjoy what I drive..

    MODERATOR
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