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BMW 3-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • selmselm Posts: 122
    Good point with the mileage and speed. On my ED experience just last week with my 325i, manual transmission of course, I put on 650 miles, averaged 45 mph (was consistently driving between 80 and 90), and averaged 27 mpg.

    I asked the representative upon delivery about the break-in period and he pulled out the owners manual and showed me <=100 mph, <= 4500 rpms. Hope this helps, Timny.
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    1) Your engine isn't broken in yet. I've always found that the mileage on my cars gradually improved for at least the first 10,000 miles.

    This I have considered, so thank you for that validation. Here's to looking towards 10K!

    2) I'm thinking that you are driving too slow. My former 328i and 530i both got their best mileage well north of 70 mph.

    This I hadn't considered. But I should add that, while I don't know how valid it is, the analog mileage/fuel efficiacy guage at the bottom or the taco (or is it the speedo?) shows the highest efficiancy right around 62-63mph, which is where I have been driving. But I am sure I'll hit 70 eventually and see myself!

    Thanks for the input.

    Best Regards,
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    What do you understand the break-in period to be? 1000miles? 1250miles? (The latter is the # I heard from the dealer, but he acknowledged that he wasn't sure).

    I would keel over if I ever saw 27mpg!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    IIRC, the Owner's Manual calls out 1,250 miles for the break-in period. Regarding your MPG, you should easily be able to get over 30 with a manual transmission on a highway trip, and might even get about 30 with an automatic. In the case of my two former BMWs, my 1999 328i routinely got over 32, flirting with 35 a few times. My larger/heavier and more powerful 530i was still able to return 31ish at 75mph, and 24ish with the cruise control set north of 120 mph (in Germany).

    Best Regards,
  • timnytimny Posts: 142

    I must be doing something wrong - enlighten me, please. Here's the situation. I am driving along in an unfamiliar area and want the Nav to tell me the nearst CVS, say. I can't seem to get the Nav to do this. I can't find an alphabetical listing of businesses for instance. What the Nav. will do is display businesses within say a 0-3 mile radius around me, but these are organized into geographic proximity; even if I had the time to do so, scrolling through a list of businesses in ascending order by their proximity to me doesn't help me to find THE business I am looking for, if you follow my meaning. Myhand-held $400 Garmin PDA's built-in nav offers this level of functionality, so I am assuming this $2000 dvd-based BMW Nav should do the same but that I am doing something wrong. Insights anyone?
  • Thanks, rhmass for the response. The $240 quoted was per side, so total $480. Quote was from Mavis Tire (Mount Kisco, NY). I went in to have them do a $15 job - fix a flat tire that was in my trunk - and when the guy came and got me in the waiting area he had the car on a lift, every wheel off the car, and was quoting me $1200 for various maintenance (pads, etc.). I said, "put the f---ing wheels back on my car." And he said, "we always do a safety check for every car that comes in." Unbelievable.

    An indie, though, suggested don't even bother replacing the spring if you don't notice any problem with the handling. Which I don't.
  • rhmassrhmass Posts: 263
    I kind of agreeing with the indie's suggestion to you as I detected no difference in handling after the replacement. If anything the car was much noisier for some reason. May be it really depends on how long you plan to keep your car. My car sustained significant water damage and was totaled less than a year later, so I think I could have saved the expense.
  • davidd3davidd3 Posts: 582
    My gas mileage has been in the mid-20s for mixed driving and near 30 for mostly highway driving. I've got 1,000 miles on it now. Seems hard to do in only 3 weeks, 8 days of which the car has been the in shop to address the malfunctioning adapative headlights. It does seem as though gas mileage gets better the faster you go (i.e., 80mph on the highway does better than 60mph).

    Have you been using the mpg feature on your on-board computer? Does it show only 19mpg? I have used mine and found it to be fairly accurate (with actual mpg being slightly better than what the computer shows).
  • Your car with such low mileage doesn't make sense. If your car is a certified pre-owned go back to the dealership! If it is not, check the battery. If it is a starter problem, I would definitely go to the dealership. I, also live in southern california and only go to BMW of San Diego. (GREAT SERVICE DEPARTMENT)
  • Everything you stated makes lots of sense! My first BMW was a 1995 E36 3251. I learned to live with some of the minor problems (gas gage worked when it want to,etc...), because overall it was a great car. I traded it in after being 10 years old with approx. 120,000 miles. I fell in love with a 2001 E46 330CIC. It has a slight squeak that occurs on every so often. Something I'll learn to deal with as this is the most fun I've ever had driving a car.
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    I have two reports from my on-board computer. The one on the dash (controlled from the signal-light switch off the steering column) reports 19.6 as my average to date (888 miles, exactly); the calculation I see from trip computer I can view from the same screen as the Nav registers 19.2. This is an improvement over the 18.4 I was seeing last week. This refers to mixed driving. As I crest 1000 miles and rack up some more highway miles (of actual driving; not sitting on I95 and I495), I will report back the findings. Once I am over 1000 miles, I will probably open it up a bit more (70 mph instead of 60, etc.).
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    I am definitely not seeing anything close to that sort of mileage. If after 1000-1250 miles are on the car and I am still seeing the sub-20 mpg, would you think this is something I can have corrected by BMW? I know the cars are electronically fuel-injected, but perhaps the mixture is somehow too rich anyway (???).

    With gas prices being what they are, there's certainly motive ... .!!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Another member of TownHall bought a used 2002 530i, PP, SP, 5-Speed Manual, which is very close to the configuration that I had on mine. He was reporting that his best highway mileage was only about 24 mpg while the rest of us over on the 5-Series board were reporting peak MPG readings well in excess of 29. His dealer and his independent mechanic all told him that he should be happy with his fuel economy, while the rest of us kept telling him not to give up his quest for better mileage. In the end he finally agreed to pay his local BMW dealer (not where he bought the car) to re-flash his On Board Computer (OBC) for something like $125. Bingo! Problem solved. His mileage immediately shot up into the 30ish range for his next road trip.

    Having said all of that, the 3.0 liter mill in my 530i is substantially different from the 3.0 unit in your E90. Differences aside, my reading of the internal architecture of the new engine suggests that, if anything, mileage should be improved over the old version. Until the engine is well and truly broken in I wouldn't sweat the mileage too much, especially because you are keeping your speed down so low.

    Speaking of your speed, why are you driving so slow? BMW simply recommends that you keep it below 100 mph for the break in period. Keeping your speed slower than that will provide you with zero benefit, and might actually be to your new engines' detriment. In the case of my 530i, I picked it up in Germany and immediately headed out on the two lane back roads where I would routinely hit 100 between small towns. Zero to 100 to 35 to 20 to 35 to 100 to zero, rowing the gears all of the time, lots of fun.

    True story, back when I was kid growing up in the Detroit area, any number of my friends' fathers were engineers for the "Autos", and to a one they all swore that by breaking in their new cars in while limited to second gear (of three) for the first few hundred miles, that they got better power and better economy. True? I have no idea. Fast forward to 2002 when I got the 530i and drove it hard for the first 1,250 miles, after which I drove it even harder (cruise control set at the speed limiter (just over 132 indicated)) for several hours.

    When my car made it over to our side of the pond my selling dealership kindly upgraded the firmware in my OBC to the latest revision (gee thanks). The car was virtually un-drivable as a result. The throttle would lag, and then come on all at once, and then drop out at weird times. :P Finally during a conversation with a technician (I'd moved to a different state and so this was at a different dealership), said technician told me, "They all do that."

    "Oh really? Well mine sure as hell didn't do it when I picked it up in Germany. The problem didn't start until I got back here to the States."

    "Really?!? Hmmm, when did you pick the car up in Germany and when did it get over here?"

    "I picked it up in April in Germany, and then picked it up again in New Jersey in May."

    "Hang on a minute." He then took my car into the shop and connected it up to his computer. A couple of minutes later he reported, "The firmware in your car is dated mid-May, so obviously it has been changed since it got over here. As is so happens, we received a new version of code last night, do you want to try it?"

    "Hell yes!" Problem solved.

    While we were testing the car after the software upgrade we drove up a long on-ramp to a freeway and while I was running the car at full throttle up through the gears he said, "Damn, this thing is fast, way faster than any other 530i I've ever driven."

    It didn't feel any different to me so I asked, "Yeah, but most folks get an automatic transmission. You're probably just used to driving around behind a slush box."

    "Mr. Shipo, I drive dozens of 530i(s) per week, and many of them are sticks. I'm telling you, your car feels like it's in 540i territory."

    Was my extra acceleration due to how hard I drove the car during break-in? Who knows. Was the excellent mileage that I got due to the same thing? Couldn't tell ya.

    My suggestion; drive the car, and drive it as hard as the manual says you can. Oh! Have fun too! ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • davidd3davidd3 Posts: 582
    You might want to add your mpg concern to your list for the service center. I have 1,300 miles on my car now. I'm getting 23.5 to 24.5mpg for mixed driving, which is about what I expected based on the ratings. There has been no noticeable improvement since passing 1,000 miles.

    My family's 2004 Honda Odyssey suffers from sub-standard gas mileage, and I never got the bottom of it. I get only 17mpg for mixed driving, though 21 or 22 is to be expected. I'm good about doing the maintenance (as per the owners' manual) and regulating the tire pressure. When I expressed my concern to the service department, they didn't even offer to check anything. They just dismissed my concern by telling me that 18/25 is just an indication and that actual gas mileage could be better or worse depending on many variables such as driving style, weather, etc.

    Anyway, if I were you, I'd raise the mpg concern early on and ask them to look into it. As computerized as this car is, maybe they will actually find something that can be corrected.
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    Alright. I'm sold. Since I am near 1000 miles anyway, time to ramp up the accelerator (mind you, in the NY/CT territory, the speed limit's a wee lower than the Autobahn. The car definiitely wants to move ... !

    Reflashing the OBC? Hmm ... my dealer seems challenged enough at installing floor mats! But I'll keep it in mind, especially as I apy attention to the mileage in the weeks ahead.

    A friend of mine has the previous model 530 and gets mileage close to 28 he tells me. That blows my mind. I know the engine in the E90 has a little more juice to it, but the 330i's a much lighter car, isn't it? So I agree with you -- if anything, I should be getting better mileage (or at least mileage closer to what BMW says I should!)
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    I'm of the change oil every 3000 miles mindset. I know the party line about BMW and there being no need for oil changes until 16,000 miles, but I want to opt to change it earlier. Of course, that means paying for it myself.

    Here are my questions:

    1) Assume I have the oil changed at 3K, 6K, 9K and 12K ... will BMW still change it at 16K for "free"?

    2) Do I have to go to the dealership where I bought the car for said service?
  • davidd3davidd3 Posts: 582
    Yet another coincidence. I used to be of the same mindset - change the oil every 3,000 miles no matter what the auto manufacturer's maintenance schedule calls for. But I've slowly come to accept that today's cars are much improved and no longer need such frequent oil changes for their well being and longevity.

    You might want to re-think the extra oil changes on your new 3, because (1) they are probably unnecessary and (2) they are costly for a BMW.

    You can go to any BMW dealer for service, no matter where you purchased/leased the car. They all have to honor the warranty and free maintenance, though the dealer you bought the car from might show you some favoratism when it comes to scheduling appointments, loaner cars, any special requests, etc.
  • sunilbsunilb Posts: 407
    hey shipo-- that is an interesting story... I've got an '01 330i (stick) and have been getting ~ 24mpg in mixed use. Always thought I should be getting higher mpgs on road trips (but, even with those I get 24mpg)... do you think I should get the software updated to improve my gas mileage?

    Outside of the cost, is there any negative to getting this updated? (you did mention that the first update actually made the car drive worse).

    note: I have a roof rack on my car, which could affect gas mileage.
  • irnmdnirnmdn Posts: 245
    I am looking in to a '01 325iT with 100k miles. What are the possible problem areas?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I've written about this quite often over the years, so the following is a cut and paste job from several of my previous posts:

    When I started turning wrenches on cars back in the 1970s, 3000 miles was a good time to do an oil change. What with inefficient carburetors, leaded fuel and by today&#146;s standards VERY low-tech dino-juice in the crankcase, a car of that era could easily expect to see the far side of 100K miles. In my case, my 1966 Valiant with the 225 Slant-Six went 211K on the original motor before I rebuilt it (it burned oil) and my 1970 Dodge Challenger with the venerable 340 made it to 187K when it was stolen.

    Fast forward 35 years and we now have very clean burning fuel (less particulate matter to suspend in the oil), electronic systems to manage the fuel injection and ignition timing to make the combustion process even cleaner (even less particulate matter to suspend in the oil) and even good old dino-juice has been beefed up to last longer and protect better. What does that all add up to? Longer intervals between oil changes.

    Now consider the current crop of BMW engines:

    These engines are efficient enough to be certificated as Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) or better, which reduces the combustion byproducts and as a result reduces the particulate matter that the oil must hold in suspension, yielding even longer oil change intervals.

    BMW is using synthetic oil right from the factory; said oil has far greater abilities to keep contaminates in suspension with no appreciable loss in lubricity. Couple that with the ability of Synthetic oil to shrug off the effects of water (older Dino Juice used to react with water and form acids) without any loss in lubricity, and you have an oil that can withstand longer oil change intervals without ANY additional engine wear. Yup, you guessed it, the OCIs just got longer again.

    BMW has also seen fit to nearly double the amount of oil the engine holds in its sump when compared to other comparably sized engines. Twice the oil means twice the already prodigious capacity of synthetic oil to hold particulate matter in suspension, lower oil temperatures (spends more time in the sump cooling), fewer passes through the oil galleries getting the #$*^%~!@ beat out of it, and a much greater margin of error for low oil. I could say it again but you get the idea. ;-)

    Modern engine oil (once again, specifically Synthetic) is far more stable in extreme environments (high engine temps, high RPMs and extreme cold) than conventional oil, as such, it breaks down at a FAR slower rate when compared to the old stuff. Ditto on the OCI thing.

    If all of this is not enough, when I was working for MBUSA in the mid 1990s, MB was testing a number of cars with Synthetic oil (IIRC they were W210 E-Class cars marked as E420s with the new three valve, twin spark 4.3 liter V8 engines that ultimately wound up in the E430s). A few of those cars only had the oil changed when the chemical analysis of the oil indicated that it was starting to degrade below acceptable minimums. Do you know what the average mileage was between changes on those cars turned out to be? Glad you asked, 25,000 miles.

    Based upon the above items, I would not be surprised if the oil in latest generations of ULEV and ULEV-II certified BMW engines could last 30,000 miles under normal driving conditions. Having said that, I will not be the first to raise my hand to try and find out, 15,000 miles is just fine by me.

    Best Regards,
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, 24 mpg in mixed use and 24 on the highway. What were you doing on the highway, 130? ;-) My first gut reaction is that your tire pressure is low, or your roof rack is enormous, or you are driving around in third gear. Under the assumption that I'm way off on these three, I would consider asking for a free re-flash (I&#146;m thinking that they&#146;ll be far more likely to do it for free if you are also doing something like the Service-II at 60K miles or something like that). Your car and my former 530i have essentially the same engine, mine with a much later flash than yours is likely to have and I was able to easily coax 30 mpg out of it (I just had to keep it over 70 and under 80). At this point I wouldn't worry too much about losing performance, by now the code for the former 3.0 liter mill should be pretty stable.

    Best Regards,
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "A friend of mine has the previous model 530 and gets mileage close to 28 he tells me. That blows my mind. I know the engine in the E90 has a little more juice to it, but the 330i's a much lighter car, isn't it? So I agree with you -- if anything, I should be getting better mileage (or at least mileage closer to what BMW says I should!)"

    Interestingly enough, while the E39 530i is definitely a larger car (almost three more inches in wheelbase and 10 inches in overall length), it only weighs in at a scant 77 pounds more than the new E90 330i. Go figure.

    The reason that I believe that the mileage on the new E90 should be measurably better than what I got on my E39 is because the new engine does not have a throttle body. Your engine simply "throttles" the valves, and as such, most engineering reports indicate that at any given throttle setting, (i.e. any given amount of air and fuel), the new engine should produce something like 18-20% more power (or economy if you are tooling along at a nice steady speed). Unfortunately I seem to have been expecting much greater mileage from the new line of engines than folks seem to be getting. :-( I'm at a loss to explain how the extra power at any given throttle setting does not in actuality translate to better economy. Having said that, I absolutely believe that you should easily be able to see 30 if not more on a trip. Don't forget, most of my 30+ mpg trips were from southern New Hampshire (just north of Boston), down through your neck of the woods, across the Throgs Neck Bridge and out into Long Island, so if my 5er could do it, your 3er should most certainly be able to do it.

    Best Regards,
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    Don't forget, most of my 30+ mpg trips were from southern New Hampshire (just north of Boston), down through your neck of the woods, across the Throgs Neck Bridge and out into Long Island, so if my 5er could do it, your 3er should most certainly be able to do it.

    Well, then, I will definitely speak to my service department if matters don't improve in the coming weeks. I was a little more heavy-footed on the drive home yesterday, and did see a 0.2 mpg improvement (not much of an improvement but better than a loss!).

  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    As I posted before, I've heard the dealer's line about "the car will tell you when it needs service" (e.g., 16,000 miles for first oil change). What about regular "tune-ups" and inspections, etc. The dealer didn't tell me anything about that schedule, nor is it anywhere in my manual, etc. 10,000? 20,000? 30,000? Anyone know?

    (2006 330i and 2005 X3).
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Try 100,000 miles before the first tune-up.

    Your cars need oil service every 15K. The major Services (I, II, III & IV) occur every 30K mles. You will also need to take them in for a brake system flush every other year and a cooling system flush every 3 or 4 years (I don't remember which). IIRC, the information you seek is somewhere in the packet of manuals that you got with each car, I just don't remember where.

    Best Regards,
  • timnytimny Posts: 142
    Something "odd" I notice about the headlamps on the new 330i

    Let the following represent the headlight configuration (i.e., if you were facing the car's grill, the headlamps would be numbered left to right as 1, 2, 3,4):

    [OO OO]
    1 2 3 4

    - if I push the appropriate column lever forward to hold the "brights", the lamps 1 and 4 illuminate with greater intensity (as expected), but 2 and 3 do not come on at all
    - if I pull the appropriate column lever towards me (i.e., to "flash" the "brights"), lamps 2 and 3 illuminate, while 1 and 4 remain the same

    What I find odd about this is as follows:
    - lamps 2 and 3 are not xenon (should they be?)
    - lamps 2 and 3 do not illumniate when the I put on the "brights" (shouldn't all four lamps be on when the 'brights" are on?)
  • Shipo, looks like you were spoiled by those old Chrysler products ;) . The old Slant-6 was virtually indestructable, and was a 100K+ engine even if you left the old oil in it indefinitely. And other engines of theirs were similarly over-engineered for the times. Even to this day, if you drive around and look at some of the old "beaters" on the road, most of them seem to me to be old land-cruiser Plymouth Furies and such.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    1 and 4 are your bi-xenons and rotate left/right for adaptive lighting. These lights have a 'cover' that reduces lighting for regular lighting conditions. When brights are activated, the 'cover' is removed, allowing the full power of the bi-xenons to shine forward. You're thinking in terms of halogen 4 bulb systems.

    2 and 3 are your halogen bulbs used for daytime running lights and flash to pass.

    That is how it is supposed to be.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I'm getting spoiled by my new(er) Chrysler products as well. I'd love to justify a new car based upon the fact that the old 1998 3.8 GC will hit 100,000 in early November, however, I just checked the oil at the 4,200 mile mark since the last change (still using Mobil-1), and wouldn't you know it, the damn thing only used a half of a quart. :P At this rate, it seems that it could easily last another couple of hundred thousand miles. FWIW, I've used Mobil 1 5W-30 (or there abouts) since it was new, and changed the oil every 7,500-10,000 miles depending upon how much highway driving it had done on that crank case full (the greater the highway miles, the longer the OCI).

    Of course having said that, I feel that the modern crop of BMW engines are easily as well engineered (if not significantly more so), and as such, my bet is that using the OBC's OCI recommendation will easily allow these engines to see life well north of a quarter of a million miles before requiring a rebuild.

    Best Regards,
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