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BMW 3-Series 2005 and earlier



  • Hello:

    I bought two 2003 325xi's in Mid-December. Both cars have the premium package and rain sensing windshield wipers. The night I picked up my car, it was pouring down rain, and the wipers worked perfectly. They went from a slow intermittant when stopped, to a steady medium speed when the rain wasn't too bad, and went to the fastest speed when rain really picked up. I was amazed it worked so well.

    However, about a week later, there was another day of very heavy rain, but this time while driving (55 mph), the wipers would not go faster than the "medium" setting. I had to physically raise the lever to get the fastest wipe speed. It would not do it in the auto setting. I ensured the sensitivity knob was full forward (where I had left it from the last time), but it didn't work.

    I went home and got in my wife's car and took it for a drive. Sure enough, her's worked fine. Just like mine had the first time it rained. I got back in my car to make sure I had everything set correctly (it's not that complicated...), and it was. Still would only go up to the medium speed. The wipers would not go to the super fast speed unless I physically raised the lever out of automatic.

    I made an appointment at Passport BMW in Maryland (where I bought the cars) to have a tech look at it. They told me it was working fine. I asked them if they were actually able to test the different speeds of the auto setting, and they said, "no". They said their was no real way for them to test it unless it was raining (it wasn't).

    Anyway, I'm now driving a BMW with a feature that doesn't work right, and no way to fix it. Can anyone out there give me any advice to get them to take this a little more seriously?
  • The auto sensor on the wipers will never put them in the overdrive speed--the fastest speed. If it is pouring rain and you are on the highway then you manually put them on the fastest setting.

    I may be misunderstanding you though. When it is pouring rain and you have them on automatic they should work continuously without delay between strokes, but they will never increase the speed of the actual swipe unless you manually set them on the high speed. When you say that yours were working at the medium speed do you mean that there was still a delay between strokes?
  • Actually, in my wife's 325xi, the speed varies from the slowest intermittent at a stop, to the same fastest speed you get when you move the lever all the way up. All this without changing the lever out of automatic. It's great.

    My car did this also the first time it rained. Now it doesn't. I wouldn't believe it myself if I didn't have both cars to compare side by side.

    Do you have the auto sense wipers? Yours do not go to the fastest speed? Maybe my wife's car is the one that's broken...I appreciate your responses.

  • Today I talked to 3 different dealers & emailed 2 others to get info on the 2004. Finally I called the BMW Customer service 800 number. had a 30 minute talk. He said BMW is waiting to officially announce details on the 2004. They are afraid dealers may be stuck with 2003s (and maybe have to discount them even??? lol) He wouldn't say if MSRP would be going up, but said he wouldn't be surprised if it went up slightly. Said probably might not be any ED on it for the first few months because of domestic demand. I asked if he knew what the Automatic Climate Control update is on the '04. He didn't know. The picture I have of the new 330ci looks nice, but I also love the looks of the '03 325ci. I plan on keeping the car a long time so not worried about buying the last of the current model. Decisions ... decisions
    I currently have a quote of $1575 over invoice for '03 325ci w/ sport pkg, moonroof, xenons with metallic...also made sure it includes floor mats and wheel locks.
    Going to stop by one dealer that is closer to see if they are willing to match or do better.
  • I have recently began to notice a slight whine coming from the rear of the vehicle when traveling at steady speeds. This seems to occur in both highway and city driving. Adjusting the throttle up or down can usually make it go away. The car has 1,500 miles on the odometer and is equipped with the Steptronic transmisison. I did not notice this when the vehicle was first purchased. The noise is at a level that is more annoying than alarming but I am still concerned that something may be wrong.

    I have also observed that while driving in manual mode, the downshift to 1st gear often makes a "clunk" noise. I plan to bring both of these issues up with my dealer's service department but I was wondering if anyone else had experienced these issues.

    The final noise that has surfaced is a rattle in the interior right rear deck area. I have heard about a rattle issue with the Harman Kardon speakers but my vehicle is equipped with the standard stereo system. Any suggestions would be appreciated here as well.
  • Man, "watever," that REALLY sucks to hear they might not be doing European Delivery for the first couple months. I'd REALLY like to do that. That's EXTREMELY frustrating.

    I have the same reservations about a 2004 as you do, I think. The cars will definitely need to be compared in person for me. And I'm definitely interested in this silver grey.

    I popped over to the Santa Monica BMW today and they were very tight-lipped and it makes sense now after reading your post. And after seeing the current 325Ci with those wheels... in steel gray... with the wood trim... I was about ready to sign anyway.

    As far as $1575 over invoice, I know a dealer in the Bay Area who's closing for as little $100 over invoice just to keep the cars moving. The dealer is owned by some larger company that apparently prefers volume over individual profits. You may want to check elsewhere. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to dangle the idea of waiting for a 2004 in front of them either.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The auto wipers in my car travel at the same speed at the low setting. It's the delay between wiper strokes that I notice when I have it on auto.

    In addition, I've noticed at night, I have to turn the sensitivity up. Also, when I leave the wiper position in auto, the auto feature deactivates when the car is shut off, until you "jigger" the stalk. Sort of like a safety feature to prevent damage in a car wash, when the wiper is left in auto.
  • Wow $100 over invoice, I would never have expected that. Anyone else seeing those kind of figures?
  • Sorry... didn't check my "spelling." $1000.
  • tenet1tenet1 Posts: 354
    Are you sure that the outside area of your widshield where the auto-wiping sensor is located is clean? I am sure you know this but it doesn't hurt to check. I have heard that this can be a problem if there is heavy dirt or salt build-up in the area.
  • I just took delivery of my new 325i with Steptronic 1,700 miles ago. I have noticed when I leave the house in the morning and get to the first stop (about a half mile away)it downshifts to first gear with a 'clunk'. After the car is warm it never does it. I, too am going to bring that up when I carry it in for service. With the cold weather we have had lately I haven't been too alarmed about it but my wife's 2001 325i doesn't have this problem.

    Speaking of her '01, she has 25,000 miles on it and is due to get new tires. Living in NW Arkansas we really don't have an problem with snow and ice. Can anyone recommend a good set of tires to replace the mediocre ones that come on the car?
  • nerdnerd Posts: 203
    Go to and shop 'till you drop. I have ordered three sets of tires from them and received exceptional service every time. Ask for Bruce (x289) if you have questions; he has helped me a great deal.
  • denkdenk Posts: 75
    I too have noticed the hard downshift for the first stop or two in the cold weather but assumed it was because the idle is still high while you are bringing the car to a stop. Let us know if you find it is something that should be serviced.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    When I owned a manual the shifting was horrible in cold weather until the engine and tranny warmed up. I think that is the nature of the beast.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    kdshapiro... Think you're absolutely correct. Thinking about the last 5 or so manual-transmission cars I've had. All but one were not garaged. Each was less easy to shift in cold weather than warm. Once they warmed up...

    If people expect cars to perform flawlessly in winter conditions, they should (1) garage the car (2) buy & install various engine block and component heaters to keep the fluids warm.

    If you don't, then be gentle on the car till she warms up. You can't expect summer performance immediately in the dead of winter.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    riez - hit the nail on the head. During these single digit days in the northeast, my car has been outside whiie I'm at work. At night the car is garaged.

    The feeling of the car is the morning was much looser than at night, after the car was sitting outside for 10 hourse. At night it felt the car finally loosens up after driving about 7 miles. You can feel it when it does.
  • hgeyerhgeyer Posts: 188
    My low-coolant warning light went on the other day on my 2002 330i. I stopped by the local dealer and picked up a gallon of BMW-spec anti-freeze. I mixed it 50:50 with water and used about 1/4 gallon to top off my car.

    I decided to check my wife's Toyota Sienna and noticed that she's about 1/4-1/2 gallon low as well. I would like to add some of the mix that I made with my BMW anti-freeze to her car.

    Common sense tells me that this should be OK, but I thought I'd check with some experts. I really don't want to have to go buy some Prestone and have a second 1/2 gallon laying around my garage.

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    If it were my car, I would just add it. Don't know about mixing it with water though. Is that what BMW recommends?
  • hgeyerhgeyer Posts: 188
    You're supposed to mix it 50:50 with water for "normal" operating temperatures, 60:40 for extreme hot/cold conditions. Instructions are on the back of the container.
  • hippo168hippo168 Posts: 115
    Some people suggest warming up the car, but some are against it. I do warm up my car before driving in cold weather.

    -It usually takes a couple minutes (compare to almost 10 with my old 89 Accord), wait till the rpm drops a little bit; by that time, the temp gauge will slowly start to move up as well.

    -Start driving, but keep the rpm low(er), i.e. upshift earlier, until the temp gauge is at the normal operating range. Don't red-line it right away. :)

    Any other suggestions?
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The coolant on my 330 was low. I bought some Prestone and added it straight out of the container until the gauge was fully extended.

    I probably added maybe a quart of straight anti-freeze. Interested about mixing it with water though. I've never done that.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Thought I read in Consumer Reports and some other sources that have studied the issue that starting the car up and then letting it idle for 5-10 minutes was NOT recommended. That is hard on the car. Better to just start it up and drive it gently until it warms up. Key is no jackrabbit starts, overreving, hard shifting, etc. Watch the gauges and after a few miles and minutes she'll be ready for more normal use.

    One thing to remember is to NOT use the heater initially. One, you essentially just get cold air for first 5 minutes or so anyway so it isn't doing much for the front windows or interior temperature. Second, it bleeds heat from the car's engine, making it take longer to warm up.

    Better solution: Dress warmly. Wear gloves. Carefully scrape windows off from outside. Never use windshield wipers to remove ice or snow. AND (most important?) buy a BMW with both heated seats and heated steering wheel! My wife is jealous of my 540i6's heated steering wheel. She wants one so bad in her 323ia. But ya can't get in 3 Series.

  • cecilt1cecilt1 Posts: 74
    What do people use to clean the dash, entire door, shifter area, armrest and seats? Picked up an '01 330i with leather seats and want to clean it all up. Thanks
  • nerdnerd Posts: 203
    Do NOT mix the red/orange color (long life) antifreeze with the green color (standard) antifreeze! They are not compatible. The red antifreeze uses carboxylate chemistry to inhibit corrosion, and the green antifreeze uses the classical silicate chemistry. Even Texaco, who developed the carboxylate chemistry, will tell you not to mix them. Some manufacturers (like Ford for the engine in my Mazda pickup) specifically say not to use the red antifreeze.

    I recommend that you check your owner's manual to determine which antifreeze to use. BMW uses the red, at least that is what is in my wife's 325Ci.

    If you want to convert a vehicle to the red antifreeze, I would confirm that the manufacturer approves its use. Then, ensure that the cooling system is flushed thoroughly before adding the red.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I looked down the filler tube with a flashlight, the color seemed to be green. Can anybody confirm 02 330 has red or green anti-freeze.
  • hgeyerhgeyer Posts: 188
    The BMW anti-freeze that I put in is definately Green/Blue. The anti-freeze that was in there is not red!

    When I bought the stuff at the dealer, I confirmed that there is only one type of anti-freeze for all BMWs (I was aware of differing types, but unfamiliar with the details).
  • hgeyerhgeyer Posts: 188
    The instructions also state that you should not exceed an anti-freeze/water ratio of 60:40. For only one quart, I wouldn't worry, but in the future, you will always want to dilute the stuff based on your climate conditions.
  • cecilt1cecilt1 Posts: 74
    What do people use to clean the dash, entire door, shifter area, armrest and seats? Picked up an '01 330i with leather seats and want to clean it all up. Thanks
  • Last week at 2,900 miles I noticed a persistent clunk on the 2nd to 1rst downshift when slowing for a stop sign.

    Plan to call BMW soon. Any body else experience the same?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Check out Patrick Bedard's column in the June 2002 issue of Car & Driver. Titled "Top if up with green? Or orange? Which antifreeze?"

    He talks with David Turcotte, techncial director of Zerex. Turcotte does point out that if you just drain coolant or use a hose, you might really only get up to 60 percent out. Best machines might only get 85 percent out. So as Bedard writes, "Old coolant 'hanging up' in the system is a real concern."

    Bedard point out the different types "the old technology, a.k.a. 'conventional', a.k.a. 'inorganic,' is green in color" versus "one of the new types is 'organic acid technology,' or OAT. It's orange." Mentions that GM pioneered it. Ford used it in some models for a while but has since "backed away from it" and that "VW, Audi, and Porsche are OAT users, too, but most others have resisted."

    Bedard then points out that there are other types. Or as he says, "most new cars use a 'hybrid' antifreeze that's formulated with both OAT and the silicate inhibitors from green. It comes in too many colors to pretend this type is color-coded."

    Bedard then follows up in his July 2002 C&D column titled "Dr. Turcotte writes a few coolant prescriptions." Talks about OTR long-haul truckers using Extended Life coolant. Racers using "Racing Super Coolant". And discusses the current state-of-the-art material: G-05. It "started off as an 'exotic European fluid. VW changed to it early, followed by more companies, include Mercedes for both gas and diesel engines." In America, DC (2000) and Ford (2001) now using it as their "long life" coolant. Interesting discussion about the proper proportion of water and anti-freeze. America's 50/50 mix called "a one-size-fits-all solution" since any American car might travel to Arizona in summer and Alaska in winter.
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