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BMW 3-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I have never heard that BMW engines are broken in at the factory, I'm not saying that that is not so, I just have never heard of it. BMW does recommend keeping the revs below 4500 for more like 1,250 miles (it is in the manual), and then gradually increasing you peak RPM range over the next 750 miles or so.

    As for actual break-in events; older engines required a “Non-Ashless Dispersant Oil” for break-in. That oil would not hold combustion byproducts (mainly carbon) in suspension, thus allowing said byproducts to collect around the rings and stabilize them. The term for this is called “Seating the Rings”. Given that Synthetic oil typically keeps internal engine parts very clean, one can see why Synthetic oil was not used during break in. While I do not know for sure, my guess is that BMW (and other manufacturers that use Synthetic as the factory fill) has engineered their piston assembly such that the rings are deemed to be seated as soon as the piston assembly is punched into the cylinder, thus eliminating the “ring seating” step.

    Hope this helps.

    Best Regards,
  • 325i87325i87 Posts: 15
    BMW has had long oil service intervals at least since some 1987 models. My 1987 325i had service indicator lights averaging about 16,000 km intervals. The recommended oil grade was 10W50 for moderate climates. This is what I always used because I had a block heater and I plugged it in every time I could when it was very cold. It is with its third owner (a co-worker) and approaching 280,000 km now. Some things on it are showing signs of wear (noisy differential, some wheel bearings changed), but not the engine. It sounds as smooth as ever.

    I believe that it is just possible that BMW engineers spent the effort to methodically study the subject and actually determined the safe oil service interval. My new 330xi is projecting the first service at about 24,000 km, about 50% more than the older model. The new car uses synthetic oil whereas the old one had a built-in oil cooler. I am assuming that the BMW engineers know what they are doing and will follow the service schedule without the slightest worry.
  • Hi Shipo,

    Great, I will be careful for the first 1250 miles. As per the factory break-in, I am very sure it happens for the new engines. The BMW salesman told me about it first. Then two independent techs also confirmed it.

    hi 325i87,

    Your experience is very soothing for me. As I have the modernized verion of your same engine, I feel more confident that these new ones will hold on at least as long as yours. If you don't mind, would you mention your regular maintenance items to keep it running smooth ?

    PN, San Jose, CA
    2002 325 Conv.
  • 325i87325i87 Posts: 15
    For my 1987 BM, I basically had the scheduled service performed by the BMW service centre. I do not have the service book (current owner has it) but the service schedule was similar to my new 2002 car. It was basically (kilometers values are approximate, actual intervals as per service lights)
    16k: oil service
    32k: inspection I
    48k: oil service
    64k: inspection II
    The only exceptional precaution I took for a period of time was to ask them to change the air filter every inspection (32k) because I was driving a lot on dusty gravel roads. I also used 60/40 antifreeze/water mix because I was travelling to places with occasional weather below -40.

    I have done my share of repairing cars and equipment in my days, but on that car I did very little service/repair myself. Here are two items I remember below.

    On that particular model, the service interval/tach/odometer circuit had back-up NiCd batteries that went bad after 6-7 years causing the service lights and eventually other instrument cluster functions to act up. I took the cluster apart, pulled out the circuit card and replaced (soldered in) the batteries myself instead of forking out for a complete new circuit card.

    One time, the engine suddenly started to sound really rough. I discovered it was due to one spark plug shorting when hot. I bought and installed a new set of spark plugs and that was the end of it.
  • My 1999 323i is at about 44,000 miles and I've only had the oil & filter changed twice. I still have about 5000 miles left before my next change. I was concerned about the long interval, but after talking with a few technicians at BMW dealers, they are aware that BMW has done quite a bit of research on the oil intervals.

    It also made me a little nervous about the computer making calculations about when I should have my oil changed, but the computer is using the correct transient engine events to determine the interval (cold starts, acceleration and driving conditions).

    I can safely say that my engine runs exactly the same (if not better) than it did when new. I'm not too worried about the oil interval anymore.

    Also...oil changes at every 3k miles are completely unnecessary, given the amount of synthetics put into oils today (regardless of driving style). Back in the 60's or 70's, maybe, but not now. 5k miles is debatable. BMW uses a very high amount of synthetic in their oil, and frankly I believe the typical 15k mile interval.

    I don't really drive mine all that hard, but I do notice on my occasional 2/3/4 th gear redline shift and cross 120 mph, the interval will drop a bit faster.

    P.S. Don't buy Volkwagen!!!
  • mschukarmschukar Posts: 351
    How do you arrive at 3k or 5k oil changes? You mention 3k is better than 15k. 1k should be better than 3k by that logic.

    Have you run an engine for 6-7 years with 3k mile oil changes? If you have and the engine didn't fail, you probably could have used a larger interval and saved some money. I've used 5k mile intervals with no problems myself.

    My experience with filters (I work for an engine filter manufacturer) is that filters don't stop filtering when they reach capacity, the restriction goes up. A filter actually lets through more sludge when it's new vs. after some of the larger flow paths have filled up. In other words, changing a filter too frequently is more detrimental than changing it at recommended intervals.

    Bottom line, I'm confident that BMW has properly sized the oil filter and done accelerated testing to verify their change intervals. I'm certain they don't want engines failing left and right in 5 years.

  • I have a 2002 330ci. Any way to do this without drilling holes in the front bumper?
  • shap1shap1 Posts: 77
    My 325i has just over 4000 miles on it. I experienced this twice in the last couple of days, now it has me worried. Driving along on the highway when suddenly, without warning, it's like there's no gas getting to the engine. I had the gas pedal to the floor and the rpm's were about 1,000 and the car's speed kept diminishing. Even if I pumped the gas pedal -- nothing happened. Wonder if its the fuel pump??

    After a short while, the car would kind of jerk forward a little and it would be fine again. A bit later, same thing. No warning lights or the dreaded "Check Engine Light" came on.

    Wonder if I should be driving the car, even to the dealership (about 2 miles away)?
    First service appointment I could get was Monday, but they have no clue what this could be. Anyone have this experience or have a clue??
  • Hi everyone--wondering if anyone has any experience or insight about how an M3 fitted with four undersized snow tires would perform in the snow. Is it unrealistic to consider using this car in the winter in the Chicago area? Thanks in advance. MG
  • please help with advice!

    My car is a 1997 328i, which I bought as a CPO from a local dealer. My check engine light came on last week. I took the car to an independent BMW specialty shop (the dealer is running his usual 28 day wait for an appointment). He ran the codes, and said it indicated that the air pump was bad, as well as a potential oxygen sensor as well. The fuel mixture was off too, he said. Since it is still under warranty, he suggested I return to the dealer.

    My dealer ran the codes and reported only that the secondary air pump was reporting bad. They reset the light, and said to drive it and see if the light came back on, and bring it in if it does.

    This same dealer replaced the secondary air pump this past July, BTW. My concern: my independent guy says that I risk doing expensive damage to the car if I drive it with a faulty air pump. He said something about damaging the catalytic convertor due to the fuel mixture, as well as other potential failures.
    So ...

    Can I drive this until the light comes back on, or should I insist now that the dealer replace it? Any advice is most appreciated.
  • pnandapnanda Posts: 6
    This may be a little too late for a reply. But I have read users having exact same problem ( power loss ) int the's E46 forum. Please visit that site and they will have plenty to tell you about. Dealers must know by now.
    Not sure if its the thermostat/fan problem or the accelerator pedal/actuator issue.

    good luck
    2002 325 Conv.
  • nobeenobee Posts: 194
    Your dealer should of given you a kit for your license plate.
  • I just picked up my 01 Steele Blue 325iA with premium & sport packages, harmon/kardon, heated seats, xenon lights, and ski package. As soon as I pulled into my driveway I noticed the brakes squeaking. It has been doing to ever since and only squeaks when the brake pedal is depressed just enough to begin slowing the car, as I push harder the squeaking stops. Is this normal? The car was a Cert-preowned (as a demo) and had 15192 miles on it. It's very annoying and I don't think it should be doing it. Our 2001 740iL has never squeaked. Do I need to have the brakes serviced? Squeaking breaks is a pet-peave I have . . . I can't stand them! Other than that the care is a dream.

    Anyway, what should I do? It's fairly loud I can hear it inside the car with the stereo on and I see people turn their heads.
  • nobeenobee Posts: 194
    Cheap after-market pads? Try OEM pads.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    PBR/Repco Deluxe pads are quiet, inexpensive, and excellent for street use.
  • jsg27jsg27 Posts: 2
    I posted this question in the Dealer Service and Experiences forum, no one responded, I thought it might have better response in this forum.

    I need advice on what steps I may take or what other options I have, my car (325i, 2001, 15000 miles) has been in the dealership service station three times since september 2001. The thermostat was replaced twice and then the air flow meter and air sensor were replaced the last time. I have the car scheduled tomorrow for the same problem "Service Engine Soon" inidicator is ON which makes it the fourth time in 5 months. I am getting frustrated, this is not only affecting my schedule but also my confidence in this car. Would there be a limit as to how many times a the dealership will attempt to fix the problem and if it cannot be fixed, the whole system causing the problem would be replaced or the car will be classified as a lemon? Please advise.
  • gvytgvyt Posts: 14
    I just experience my first two, 6-days apart. $525 for parts and labor. I'm discussing this with BMW now. I've been lucky, they've lasted 5 1/2 years.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...are different from state to state. You need to check with your state dept of consumer affairs, or whatever they are called in the state in which you reside. No other answer or generalization works in these cases.

    And if you haven't contacted BMWUSA by now, get moving on that. Demand that the dealer's service dept get you in contact with the regional service rep, or whatever BMW is calling them these days. Get into your warranty and owner's booklet and check on the procedure for going after service and grievance problems. There should be a regional number to call to get help.
  • 1) Cargo cover squeaked badly from day one, when I lifted it out I realized how incredibly heavy it was and decided never to use it again to save weight on this already overweight car(it's in the basement now).

    2) Sticky accelerator pedal from day one and it gets worse when the interior of the car warms up. Dealer had never heard of this occurring before!

    3) Right rear of car sat 1/2" lower than left. Dealer replaced one spring, had no effect, after work was done rear suspension started making noises over bumps that previously didn't cause any noises.

    4) During hard acceleration the clutch (manual tran) squeals loudly with each gear engagement. Dealer replaced A/C belt but had no effect. This has occurred from about 2000mi (break in period).

    5)Window squeaks and rattles have been gradually increasing.

    6)During cold weather the stereo display becomes distorted with a strange pattern that resembles a circuit board, this goes away as the interior warms up.

    7)Windshield is optically distorted on the lower passenger side.

    Interesting that I haven't experienced many of the other problems discussed on this forum.

    I have not agressively persued most of these issues with my dealer because I have been recovering from heart surgery and I feel the clueless service department doesn't have the capability or desire to address these problems anyway.

    Despite all of this I still think the car is a blast to drive, and every time I pull into my garage and turn off the engine I think to myself, that was a hell of a lot of fun. I knew what I was getting into when I bought this car anyway, from reading all the BMW forums, great fun to drive but don't expect top notch reliability or service. Having owned all Japanese cars all my life I had a burning curiosity to see what it would be like to own a German car. It's about what I expected.
  • jsg27jsg27 Posts: 2
    My wife requested the dealership to rotate the tires on my 2001 325i during it's 15K service, the service advisor told my wife that BMW does not recommend tire rotation. I never heard of this before. Does anyone have the same experience?
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Yes, BMW advises against tire rotation. That said, I've rotated them on every BMW I've owned with no ill effects. FWIW, the OEM Michelins on my wife's 528iA sled have over 60000 miles on them, and I expect to get at least 7500 more before I replace them.
  • eugeug Posts: 46
    I've been receiving reports from Bill Stuart of BMWNA about the redesigned gas petal. I've received his latest update about 2 day ago. He said the new petal is not ready yet and he will call again in 3 weeks or so. If you've seen my last message here, it was suppose to be done this month. Apparently, BMW was not satisfied with the redesign, and will be making more mods. to fix the problem.
  • I own a 2001 330ci with 21k miles. I, too, am experiencing squeaky brakes. It's loud enough to cause friends to comment. I talked to my service advisor, who said to drive at highway speed and brake hard to remove any glaze buildup. I did that with no luck. (It sure was fun, though!) Then the advisor had me bring in the car. The technicians could hear no squeaking when they had the car for the day. (Of course!) Is it normal for the brakes to squeak like that? I'm going to bring it up again with the advisor, but I thought I seek some feedback here as well. Thanks for your help.
  • I did it as well, braking on the freeway to remove build up, and it worked temporarily (about two minutes) and then the squeeking returned. I'm not going to do it anymore, I really don't feel like destroying the brakes before I have the car serviced on the 26th.
  • Hi,
    How do I reset the "brake ligning" light? Do I have to take it to the dealer or is there an easier way?
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Two ways: either replace the sensor or simply cut it off and connect the two wire with a crip on butt connector. Of course, the second option eliminates the warning feature.
  • It sounds like an electric fuel pump. We only have 3300 miles on the car and I'm wondering if anyone else has had the problem. I'm also wondering if the fuel pump is about to quit and if BMW has been cooperative in fixing it under warranty (assuming that's what is wrong).
  • I bought a 2000 BMW 328I with only 19,500 miles on it a couple of weeks ago. Initially the car drove perfectly, but this weekend I noticed that it was difficult to shift into gear (it’s a manual). It didn’t grind, but it took a lot of effort to get into gear. I took it to BMW of Murray here in Salt Lake City, Utah and they said that the transmission is blown. I was completely shocked. They said that when they drained the transmission oil there were metal shavings and a burnt smell to the oil. The service advisor said the reason for it was the previous owner had abused the car. He also said that the 328I is a luxury car and isn’t meant to be driven hard like the M3. I know the guy that owned the car before me babied the thing. He didn’t abuse it and never red lined the car. My feeling is that there must be some sort of a defect in the transmission. Has anyone had this problem? I would so appreciate some advice. I called up four transmission shops in town and they all said that it is highly unlikely that the guy that owned it before me could blow the transmission especially with the mileage on it. The tires and the brakes are in great condition as well, so why would the transmission show signs of abuse and not other parts on the car? The car looks like new. Help!
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Well, if the service advisor really did say that that a 328i is not designed to be driven hard, he is either an idiot, a liar, or possibly both. As for the tranny failure, it's tough to make a long distance diagnosis. That said, a ham-fisted driver could have wrecked it. It could have been a manufacturing defect- or the PO could have put the wrong lubricant in it.
  • Even though my 2000 E46 does not have fuel pump noise, I noticed BMW owners complaining about it on

    My wife's Nubira has a very loud fuel pump noise (it has about 5000 miles on the odometer). I hear it when I start the car, then it cuts off.

    Some pumps must be louder than the others. I would not worry about it if you are certain that the noise is from the fuel pump.
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