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BMW 7-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • 92735i92735i Posts: 25
    I am the original owner of a 92 735i that now has 210,000 miles and running strong. I did a top end freshen up at 160,000 miles. The only other major work is the front end ball joints, struts etc. $1400. The a/c evaporator and other components $1400. None of which I really mind since the age of the car. My son drives it now 30,000 miles/year.
    Had a 2004 745i. Loved it, lost it due to corp. reorg. Just bought a 2001 740iL w Spt Wheels. Very nice car. Has 55,000 miles, I purchased the EZ Cap to run till 2010 plus another 20,000 miles for $2000. I now drive about 3-4k miles a year, so I believe I got good value for the extended warranty. I purchased the car for $28k w 55k miles - again, I believe a good value. Some minor signs of wear on the driver front seats. Wondering if I can find a OEM heated seat as replacement or if too expensive is it realistic to have a leather shop re dye (Black)?

    Anyone have experience with re working leather upholstery on these cars?

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Thanks for that interesting report on your 7s.

    What do you mean "reworking" the leather? You mean revitalizing or replacing?
  • 92735i92735i Posts: 25

    I did some checking around. Apparently there are specialty shops that recondition worn leather seats. They can clean, strip, and re dye to original color, fix cigarette burns, cracking etc.

    One shop said that most of the time, it is staining that has embedded into the grain. Deep cleaning and a re dye typically is sufficient to restore if no tears.

    Planning on doing it. Will let everyone know the result.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Dyeing can work but they had BETTER know what they are doing, and it won't work on badly stained leather because the dye won't take evenly. But sometimes it looks pretty good. You can always tell a re-dye though.

    Still probably a lot cheaper than the alternative....gulp.

    BTW it takes 5 cows to cover a car like that. I read that somewhere :)
  • mevandemevande Posts: 190
    BMW 740i(and il) are hot items. Most BMW dealers that get a 740i or il see them sell in a day or two. I think the reasons are many are not happy with the 2002+ styling and the "I Drive", hence 1998-2001's are selling at a premium. I think the Carmax deal sounds good!
  • My '98 740i has 65,000 miles on it. Recently it started losing power, and it is getting worse. If I try to accelerate even moderately, the engine sounds strained, and then I find myself running on what must be 5 or 6 cylinders. That continues until I turn the engine off. When I start it up again everything is smooth - until the next acceleration or hill.

    Does anyone have an idea of what might be causing this? Thanks!
  • lobdelllobdell Posts: 9
    I have a 2001 740il with 49k miles and still under factory warranty. I was feeling good until the radiator and water pump had to be replaced under factory warranty a week ago. Now I am considering an extended warranty. I am reading the fine print and a lot of things are being excluded. The warranty has a total maximum of $10k. The cost of the warranty is between $3k and $4k depending on company. I am strongly considering not buying the warranty and taking the risk. I know it is simply an insurance policy, and most consumer advocates advise against extended warranties in general. We are maintaining the car and driving it carefully. I have to decide before I reach 50K miles which will occur in the next week or so. The car is in excellent condition and has been checked by the BMW dealer and independent garage, and no problems can be found. Any comments?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    This sounds like an ignition break-down of some sort, (miss under load is sort of classic ignition symptom) but you've have to pull codes to learn more I think.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Well you can see where the insurance company is hedging their bets on this car, by exclusions and by putting a cap on it. This "warranty" sounds crummy. Shop around for something of more value. $10K would barely cover an engine overhaul.
  • joshcjoshc Posts: 2
    I am in the process of buying a 1999 740IL with 104,147 on the dash. car needs breaks rotors, heater core, rear window regulators. is the car worth 10,000? I am very skeptical because of how expensive maintainence is on these vehicles. please give me some advice. i have heard so many different oppinions from a lot of people but would like to hear from an expert.

    Josh! HELP
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Hmmm...marginal value. A 7 series in "average" condition with 104K might retail at $15,000, and you are going to eat up most of the difference between your buying price of $10K and the retail of $15K with those repairs so I would think you should just go buy an already clean, totally fixed up car.

    I just don't see the point in buying a car like these with these sorts of needs. You aren't going to end up paying any less in the long run .

    Obviously the previous owner got an estimate and is bailing out.
  • joshcjoshc Posts: 2
    so you think it will run me up to 15k to repair including purchase amount? every where i look i can not find a 99 with 120k or less on the dash for 10-15k. more advice please. i really do like the 7 series model. this one is black on black....
  • lobdelllobdell Posts: 9
    Can you explain what EZ Cap is and where I can find more about it? Is it a type of extended warranty?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Well spend more if you have to, but don't buy a cripple. Why won't the seller just fix the heater core and the brakes and charge you more?

    Sure, brakes could run you $1,200-$1,800, and the heater core requires a LOT of shop time, as do the window regulators. And then you've torn the whole dashboard/console off the car---what if something gets unplugged in there?

    And if your heater core is corroded, what does that say about the radiator?

    You can absolutely find a '99 BMW 740il with under 100K in the $15K-$17K range. I found a lot of them online in a quick search at

    If you like the car, make the owner fix everything or get an estimate from BMW dealer on making the car "100%" and deduct the BMW dealer's estimates from a $15,000 price. That'll be fair then and you'll also know all about the car.

    But really I'd just go buy a clean one and pay the extra money. You're going to be paying it anyway.

    You aren't actually buying a $10,000 car. You are buying a $15,000++ car. That's the reality of the "deal".
  • baltojoebaltojoe Posts: 1

    Just read your complaint in #170 (sunroof wind noise). I have the same problem in a
    740iL. Had my kid put his ear up to the sunroof and we're pretty sure that's where the "whistling noise" is coming from.

    This weekend I'll try to check any adjustments that can be done, talk with some sunroof installers, or maybe see what a weather strip can do.

    Did you get your problem resolved (your message is dated in Feb. 2005).


  • I have a 2000 740i and took out an after market Warranty from Warranty Direct. they are the ONLY company that after reading the small print covered items if they wore out or borke down do to "wear & tear" Thya have already paid over $1,000 in repairs.....I got a 4 year up until I hit 100,000 (car ahd 41K on it) with a $200 deductible for about 2500 which included the needed Emmisions coverage.
  • markinlamarkinla Posts: 1
    Hi Josh,

    I've got a 1998 740i with 128k miles on it. A friend 'gave' me the car a year ago. It had 124k miles when I got it. In the last year I've done almost every light bulb in the car (laugh but they're typicaly $15 or $20 each and there are a lot of them!) belts, hoses, a 'major' or II service, and had the water pump go (that was a cool unexpected grand - but I was on Wilshire in Beverly Hills near the BMW dealer when it blew to at least I didn't incurr a tow bill) and many other minor but expensive trim peices have broken, failed, etc. This car was not pampered and has been driven hard by my buddies now former spouse. He dumped her and the car in the same week. (good decisions, both!)

    The car has a rough idle, sucks premium gas like a fiend, and needed new catalytic converters in the last year @ $1800 for the pair. For me, the price was certainly right - i.e.: free. But the cost of keeping this beast on the road is a bit much. I've owned MBZ's for years and thought a BMW would be at least as good and maybe better than the newer Mercedes. I was wrong.

    Oh - one more thing... every instrument display from the radio and DSP sound system to the dash warning panel and the A/C controls has various numbers of LED's burned out. The "fix" is to replace the entire panels - even when it means a total disassembly of the dash (and that's labor at the dealer at nearly $100/hr PLUS the cost of the part(s) themselves) - which varies from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

    When the car runs well, it's a nice luxurious auto. Heavy. Powerful. But the trim, the electronics, and the AC are all mediocre - and this was a car with a high 80's or low 90's sticker price even back in 1998 when it was new. I know this is the wrong place to say anything unkind about a BMW - but this one is a nightmare. If we drove much or needed the car to be dependable, I'd be in trouble. My advice is to save yourself a huge headache and avoid the 7 series cars all together. No one I know who has one is happy with it. It seems the engineering was a little light but the prices don't reflect anything other than Bavarian Perfection - which it fails to deliver. (Hell, it fails to even come close!)

    When your service writer at Beverly Hills BMW sends you holiday cards and calls you and introduces you to his replacement when he's going out on two weeks leave for surgery - you know you're spending far too much money and time there. My guy at BMW of Beverly Hills has done both this past year!

    BTW: I'm hardly some kid with unrealistic expectations about any car. I'm a 54 year old physician and like I said - solidly in the MBZ camp for decades (until the late 90's when they began to disappointment with their degrading quality and increasing prices.) Honestly, I'm going to dump this thing as a trade-in or send it to the auction. It's cost per mile (I put maybe 4000 miles on it last year) has been absurd. I wish someone made a car that would last, provide decent reliabilty, a little bit of panache and style, and remain serviceable for more than 100k miles. Let's see ... the last time that happened was the 1985 MBZ 300 series turbodiesels, I think. Anyone know of anything else that's still running in droves after 20 years?

    Mark in LA
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Porsches! Benz 300E wasn't bad either.

    But really, BMW 3 and 5 series have performed better overall, you're right.
  • sadonesadone Posts: 3
    I am the sad owner of a 02 745i. The vehicle has been to the dealer 5 times to fix the A/C. Each time the dealer fills the freon and installs die. A few weeks or months later the problem occurs again.I have not spent 1 summer season with A/C since I bought the car. I am totally disgusted with BMW. I am a 4 time Lexus owner and am I sorry I switched to BMW. The car is at the dealer as I am typing this message. They still have not found the problem so it might be another fill up and die. My next call is to the EPA for leaking freon into the ozone while they know there is a leak, this is clearly an EPA matter. The problem should be fixed! not just filled up and wait for the next warm day to find out I have NO A/C. In addition each time the car comes back the radio memory stations are gone, the memory seats do not work with the keys and the door locks do not lock automatically. That is another trip back to correct these items. I spend more time at the dealer than I do in the car. Am I the only one with an A/C problem on the 7 Series or are there others? I contacted BMW of North America, LLC 3 days ago and have not heard back from the as of yet. Someone please help me. I also own a 330 ci which has serviced me fine but the 7 has made me real sour towards BMW

    John the sad one
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    John this sounds like a dealer competence issue not the fault of the car exactly. Any competent AC specialist should be able to detect and track down a leak in your AC system. If you are no longer in warranty, you may wish to consult an AC specialist. Find out where the best repair shops in your area send their AC work.

    Forget the EPA, you are wasting your time complaining to them about this. Focus your energies on solutions that can help you in the short term. There is no Federal law about not being smart enough to fix a car, so you can't punish anyone for that...good thing, too, or our jails would be overflowing.
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