BMW Z3 Maintenance & Repair

spirollispirolli Member Posts: 50
I just purchased a 2001 Z3 2.5i factory demo. 15k Miles, Sienna Red Metalic w/ Black Power Top and Black leather interior, Manual Trans, Premium Package, Harmon Kardon Premium Sound system with Single CD and Chrome accents. I paid $29k even.

Wow, is this a great car.! I got lucking with the factory demo. It seems the factory demo (unlike dealer demo's) have never been titled, therefore as far as BMW is concerned, they are treated like new. Full warranty, full road side assistance, free scheduled maintenance, ect. Plus, this car was simply in immaculate condition. Not a scuff, scratch or blemish in the paint, interior, tires or rims. The tires are Continental ContiSport Contacts. They seem very well suited for this car.

I have only a few gripes. 1. The plastic rear window is pretty lame. BMW should really incorporate a glass window. The BMW Executive who drove my car must have never put the top down. There is no creases or scratches on the platic window. (Compared to others I have seen) 2. The stereo system, despite the fact that I have the upgraded Harmon Kardon system, is OK at best. It's certainly under powered and I believe that is it's biggest problem. 3. I wish it had a 6 speed manual instead of a 5 speed manual. Once you hit 70MPH, that 6th gear would come in handy. At least that's the case with the 2.5i motor, not sure about the 3.0i 4. Gas Tank- the car gets pretty good gas mileage but the tank is so dam small, that I am getting only 200-240 Miles out of a full tank of gas. Therefore, I am stopping for gas more than I'd like.

Since the purchase 3 weeks ago, I have added some extra's to the car via HMS Motorsport ( ask for Kael and tell him Steve Pirolli sent you. They are great to work with. I purchased the BMW wind deflector which works great, a black leather arm rest which I can believe BMW doesn't just include when you buy the car, a rear truck lid organizer for additional storage, a KN Air Filter (supposidly increases horse power 3-10hp, the black magnetic stone guards (which look sort of cheesy) and the felt rear plastic window protector for when the top is down.

At some point I will probably purchase the Cool Air Intake and possibly the software upgrade. I am looking at the Shark and Dinan versions of the upgrade.

I plan on taking it back to dealer soon for some quirks that arose in the past 3 weeks. I noticed a very annoying rattle in the passenger seat, my cigarette lighter light seems to be possessed as it blinks on and off when it wants to and there is also a rattle in the passenger door that you car hear when you open and close the door.

Other then those items listed above, I am more then impressed with the power, handling and styling of the 2001 BMW Z3. And by the way, this car turns heads !

Steve Pirolli
Bucks County, PA


  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    I think it makes good sense that you opened a general Z3 repair and maintenance topic. I don't think we had one before, even with the BMW-Z3 owners club.

    As a follow-up on the other topic ("Z3/Inspection II"), I started the maintenance myself. I did about the first half today, and it has been very easy so far. As I suspected, the Z3 is actually a very easy car to service.
    However, I will give a complete report once I'm done.


    Yes, the Contis are great tires. I have the 4-cyl. model, and while the gas tank is the same size, I have roughtly a 350 mile range. When I got the car almost two years ago, I compared it with the 2.8 version. I liked the wider rear fenders and the engine, but in the end the difference didn't justify the price. Also, while I prefered the I6 over the I4, I liked the Getrag transmission better than the ZF in the 2.8.

    Interior rattles: My advice is to learn to live with them. My car is still under warranty, but even with all the repairs at the dealer, the interior never became completely rattle and squeak free. The rest of the car however is rock solid.

    Other than that, the way the car drives easily makes up for those nuisances.

    A 2001 Z3 turns heads ? Maybe in PA. Here in CA you need something more. An M3 convertible, maybe ? But would you really want the attention when you can just enjoy the drive ?
  • spirollispirolli Member Posts: 50
    Yes, this site was in desperate need of a "Repair and Maintenance" discussion group. I am looking forward to more input and other owner experiences related to engine add on's, software updates, etc.

    Wow, that is a substantial difference between the 4 and the 6 cylinder engines in terms of "distance to empty". (350 vs 240 miles to empty). Again..., it needs a larger gas task.
  • lm_lm_ Member Posts: 2
    hi all ... it's been a while since I've chatted at any of the Edmunds sites, but when I read your message, I had to respond.

    I've read that the Z4 is going to have a glass window and the 3.0i is going to have a 6 speed manual tranny. I have a 2000 2.8 and love it. The plastic window doesn't bother me ... neither do the marks from putting it up and down ... after all, it is a convertible with a plastic window. I have some good plexiglass cleaner that doesn't remove everything, but makes the window pretty good for when I have to top up, which isn't all that often ... usually in the rain ... then I have raindrops to look through anyway ... no biggie to me. I've accepted the plastic window for what it is. Also, it's my understanding that the window is fairly easy to replace should the need arise.

    About accessories ... check out The map pocket cupholders are fabulous!!

    Gas & mileage ... I get about 260 on a tank - 240 without worrying where the next gas station is (only when I'm out wandering those back winding country roads and haven't thought much about gas) I believe I get somehwere around 23 mpg.

    You sound like you got a beautiful car and a great deal! Enjoy your drives ... and if it's not everything you wanted ... trade it in for a Z4 - they sound pretty awesome too.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227

    I still have too much warranty left to try a KN Air Filter, but I would be interested if it made a noticable difference on an engine that had no other performance modifications. Also, if you notice the impact, at what RPM range does it become noticable ?

  • spirollispirolli Member Posts: 50
    Do you mean if I install the KN Air Filter, I break the bmw factory warranty ? I only have 15k miles on a 2001 Z3. I too have "a lot" of warranty left.

    Anyone know if this is true ?

  • spirollispirolli Member Posts: 50
    Is it true that the BMW 325 has the same exact (185) horsepower as the 2.5i engine found in the Z3 ? Obviously they are both 2.5 liter but do they have the same output is the question.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    I would have to look at my warranty agreement to see if such an airfilter would void it. But that would probably be beside the point anyhow, because it will probably depend on how much slack the BMW dealer will give you in case of a warranty repair.

    Overall, performance enhancements are where many manufacturers and dealers draw the line. But that line is very fuzzy. There is a difference between using Bosch Platinum plugs vs. OEM plugs or dropping in a supercharger.

    Usually, I would contact the shop or manufacturer of that part, to see if it's use was approved by BMW.

    That being said, I would assume that a KN Filter on a stock engine would have very little effect overall.


    Yes, it appears that the 2.5 liter engines are identical. (If they are not, they have exactly the same specs.) However, the gearing of both the transmission and the final drive seem to be different in the two cars.
  • spirollispirolli Member Posts: 50
    When I purchased the 2001 Z3 about 1 month ago it had a plastic tab/clip missing from the CD Radio. The sales person and manager assured that they would order the clip direct from BMW and mail it to me. To make a long story short, he called me a few days ago and told me that he couldn't order the clip, that I should bring the car into the dealership and they would replace the entire radio.! I thought that was excellent customer service.

    I am also going to see if they can take care of a few other items. 1- When pressing the auto-up drivers window...the window will go up to about 1" from the top, stop and go back down to about 4" from the top. Something is faking out the safety sensor in the window. It's something in the roof or molding in the roof since it only happens when the top is in the up position. 2- There is a mean rattle in the passenger seat. It actually sounds as if the seat is loose or something. 3- The cigarette lighter light blinks on and off at will.

    I did have a wobble in one of the front tires at 69MPH. I had all 4 of the tires speed balanced and sure enough, one of the front tires was slightly out of balance. However, I am starting to feel a wobble at 79MPH instead of 69MPH. It's an ever so slight wobble but still a wobble. I'm thinking that either the tires were not balanced properly or it's just me.

    Does anyone else feel an ever so slight wobble at a given speed.?

    Other than that, the car is a great piece.

  • vjoe_udovjoe_udo Member Posts: 30
    haspelbien, did you do your own inspection II?

    I did a bunch of stuffs (engine oil, spark plugs,

    fuel filter, air filters, etc..) and then took

    it in and paid $300 for the dealer to do the rest.

    I'm going to do all the inspection myself from

    now on. Try this message board for your questions.

  • spirollispirolli Member Posts: 50
    I popped the cover off of the sub woofer today and noticed that there is no snorkle tube like I have read about. I bought my car used and I am wondering if anyone knows if all 2001 H&K sub-woofers have the snorkle tube ?

    If so, I'll have to call the dealership where I purchased it.

    Please advise.

  • spirollispirolli Member Posts: 50
    I heard back from the dealer. Apparently, there are some (earlier) 2001 Z3 with the older style sub-woofer (no port tube) and the newer style with the port tube. I must have the older style. I can not confirm weather or I have 2 sub's or 1. When I pop off the H&K cover, I only see 1 speaker looking me right in the face. Not 2.

    Can anyone confirm this or shed some light on this issue.

  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    Yes, I did the inspection myself. Actually, with the change of the plugs, air filter, oil change and fuel filter, you were almost there.
    (Changing the large fuel filter is a real peach, isn't it ?)

    I further changed my coolant, replaced the transmission fluid, inspected the brakes for wear, lateral runout and cleaned them. Plus a whole list of smaller items, like servicing the battery.
    Overall, being the first time, it took me about half a day to complete the service. But I also didn't exactly try to set a speed record.

    I further wanted to change the rear differential fluid, but the fluid is BMW specific. The dealer sells it only in that they call "the bucket", meaning that you'd get 5 gallons worth for $300, when you actually need about a quart.
    However, the service advisor simply told me that they don't even touch the differential until 100K miles. So, I left it alone.
    Maybe it's just me, but I found the service advisors and parts people at the dealers highly cooperative, and they more than once told me 'not to worry' when I was ready to 'overservice' my car again.

    I did however read that in BMW's with traction control, a special tool is required to properly flush the brake system. So I had that done at the dealer, which set me back about $110.
    I further paid around $60 for a the service light reset tool, which worked like a charm.

    Overall, I probably paid around $400 less than what it would have cost me at the dealer.

    P.S.: I just spent an upsetting $140 on special tools just to service my Benz, but that is a different story.
  • luauluau Member Posts: 3
    Hello all,

    I am just about to purchase a 1997 6-Cyl Z3 with 25K Miles on it and I don't have access to its service records yet (or the Owners Manual).

    It is pretty cherry and I am excited about the prospect of owning it, but I was wondering what to expect in the way of annual operating costs (expecting to put 3-5K per year). In addition, are there any issues I should look in to on the car before purchase.

    I'm reasonably handy with a wrench, and will probably tend to the simple stuff, while taking it in to the dealer for the rest...

    So, what do you learned (and newer Z3 owners) think? I hope to be back in this section with my first impressions of ownership.

    THANKS for your input.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    That really depends on the condition of the vehicle. The Z3's weak spots are mostly the interior and (as with any convertible) the top and its seals. The windows and the top will probably need some adjustment from time to time. If you don't want to do it yourself, you're looking at BMW labor rates.

    Other than that, here is the list of the problems I've encountered in 1.5 years of ownership:

    - Glovebox latch replacement
    - Seatrail replacement (driver's side)
    - Replacement of all seals of the convertible top
    - Replacement of convertible top latch (passenger side)
    - Replacement of shift linkage seal on transmission
    - Replacement of numerous minor fasteners in the interior

    A major service will cost you around $600 at the dealership and should come up around 30K to 36K miles.

    If it wasn't for the warranty, I probably would have around $1500 in that car, and that does not include the depreciation.

    That being said, it has been a very enjoyable car, which shines through its handling and powertrain, and disappoints through the interior quality.

    I hope this helps...

    P.S.: The service records are normally stored electronically in BMW's service network. Depending on how the previous owner performed the service, you may have a mix of electronic and paper records.
  • luauluau Member Posts: 3
    Thank you Haspelbein!

    I have been talking with other owners as well and they have similar experience with the Z...

    Should find out this weekend if it's mine...
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    And I hope you'll enjoy your Z3 !
  • larry_z3larry_z3 Member Posts: 2
    I am seeking suggestions on the best possible luggage rack for my trunk.

    The BMW rack has a puny weight limit of 40 pounds. From the web, I have discovered that is selling a Fapa rack for $195. Classic Carriers has one for $395.

    Does anyone have another suggestion or an opinion. I would appreciate a direct email to me at: [email protected]
  • bmww1bmww1 Member Posts: 1
    Its time to buy new tires. Any suggestions?
  • ynowakynowak Member Posts: 2
    hi. my husband and i recently purchased a 1998 BMW Z3 with 90,000 miles. We had a local mechanic look at the car. We were told by the mechanic that the car never needs a transmission fluid change. is that true? we were also told by another mechanic that getting it changed at 100,000 was a good idea. should we take it to a BMW dealership to have the fluid changed? how much would that service cost? thanks for any advice. [email protected]
  • roadkinghogroadkinghog Member Posts: 1
    I just purchased a 97 Z-3 with 119K miles on it, runs great and looks like it just rolled out of the factory (rear window excluded) Any thoughts on maintenance I should do?
  • jmbillonjmbillon Member Posts: 2
    I have three BMW (a 1995 318I, a 2000 Z3 and a 2000 323Ci) and would like to start making basic maintenance services such as oil and filters change, spark plug, which are very expensive when done by the dealer without coupon. I am seeking advice on the inspection reset tool to buy. I would also be able to check the codes myself to avoid to the $95 diagnose fee when my airbag light goes on. I found a R5/FC X11 universal tool that could cover all the three cars but I am not sure this would also reset the inspection light and would like to know if there would be a better alternative.Thank you for your help and advises
  • jmbillonjmbillon Member Posts: 2
    Do you know of any reason why I could not use one of the vacuum existing on the market to drain the oil on these cars instead of getting underneath the car to remove the drain plug and draining the oil woul not work? Dealing with the jack, stripping the drain plug every now and again, and spilling the used oil is a pain to me.
  • brewejwbrewejw Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for your message regarding the work you have done on your Z3. Where did you buy the service light reset tool? I want to do my own oil changes, at least, and would like to have the tool. I have just bought a '98 Z3 after owning old Porsches for years, and am slowly learning about it. Any information would be appreciated.

    Wayne Brewer
    Auburn, AL
  • brewejwbrewejw Member Posts: 4
    Does any one have experience with a hard top for their Z3? I am considering buying one for my '98 Z3 and would appreciate any comments on the pro''s and con's of using one.

    Wayne Brewer
  • openairinohopenairinoh Member Posts: 2
    I bought a hardtop for my 02 last fall. I love it. I keep it on untill the end of April just because it's quiet, secure and looks cool. The trick is getting the right installation kit (about$450) from BMW. It took some research but was not beyond a shadetree mechanics ability.
  • leanne1980leanne1980 Member Posts: 1

    I bouught my '99 Z3 in Dec '07, and it came with a spare hard top. I have put it on for winter, it is great! Much warmer and gives the car another cool look. From the back it now kind of looks like a porsche!
    The only issue I'm having is the leaking around the windows with heavy rain, but other than that I can highly recommend it. Easy to put on - a 2 person job, but just clips in place.
  • rocky42rocky42 Member Posts: 2
    Z3 2001 Roadster 3.0L soft top.
    It says it is pre-wired for a CD changer. That is what I want to use to hook up an iPod to the radio. I took a quick look in the trunk and pulled up the trunk floor that is velcro'd over the tool kit and battery, but did not find the wire that is used to hook up the CD changer/iPod.
    Can anyone give me directions on where this is so I don't have to remove every cover in the truck to find it?
    Has anyone done this already and do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks for any help.
  • brewejwbrewejw Member Posts: 4
    The driver's side power window in my '98 Z3 slows down a lot as it gets near the end of the open cycle. It seems normal going up, and the passenger side window works fine. Anyone out there with a similar problem and/or solution. Many thanks.

    Wayne Brewer
  • dgregsdgregs Member Posts: 1

    I saw your message about your slow power window. I have a 97 with the same problem. It works, but the drivers side slows down as it gets toward the closed position.
    Did you ever get an answer from anyone? If so, I would like to know a solution.

    [email protected]

    <img src="
  • lhs2milerlhs2miler Member Posts: 3
    Have you come up with any solution? Here's my window problem:
    Driver side, can go down, but can only go up after going down all the way, or using the "auto-up" by pushing the button a little harder. Window also seems slow to go down too. I'm not sure if it's a window regulator, or a window motor. Any thoughts?
    [email protected]
    z3 coupe, 1999
  • allwonkieallwonkie Member Posts: 1
    We just bought a 2002 Z3. It doesn't have remote keyless entry. My husband is very handy around cars and has installed a keyless entry system in another car we had. Any ideas on how easy/hard would it be to install one in our Z3? If not complicated any suggestions on where a system could be bought on the internet?
  • gkagesgkages Member Posts: 2
    I'm looking at a 2001 2.5 with 120K miles on it. Are you still having good luck with yours? I'm trading in a Honda CRV with 69K on it, in good shape and a pretty sensible car for Chicago weather. So, I'm a little worried that I may be making a less than sane decision (just got divorced, and I don't really need a 4 door CRV anymore.)
  • rocky42rocky42 Member Posts: 2
    I only have 30000 on my Z and it is running great.
    I live in Wisconsin so know what it is like to have this car in the winter. I drive it all year round and lucky for me we have not had a whole lot of snow. Some people think I'm crazy to drive it in the winter, but it handles very well. Remember it is rear wheel drive so it will handle different than your front wheel drive.
    Since we do get snow you will have to decide if you can live with the Z. If it is your only car I am not sure if I would go that route. I have a second car to depend on if and when it does snow hard since if you get more than a couple of inches just before you have to get to work you may not get there with the Z. Being a 'sports' car it does sit low to the road.
    I love the Z and am glad I purchased it. Good Luck with your decision.....
  • gkagesgkages Member Posts: 2
    Thanks- I've read (on a Canadian Z blog) that the DSC helps in winter driving. The enjoyment I'm anticipating from driving the Z3 (my ex-wife's car was a beetle 5-speed convertible, and while no where near a Z3, it was a fun car to drive) will probably make me forget the convienience of the 4 wheel-drive CRV.
  • bsschaadbsschaad Member Posts: 1
    I had the same problem on my wife's 97 Roadster.
    Lubricate the window guide inside the door with silicone and the problem goes away. The guide is tight and guess it gets dry and drags.
    Carefully remove the bottom of the door panel and spray away.
  • brewejwbrewejw Member Posts: 4
    Many thanks. I will try your approach.

    Wayne Brewer
  • autotoolautotool Member Posts: 1
    Autosky science and technology co.,ltd
    Email:[email protected]
    MSN: [email protected]
    Yahoo: [email protected]
    Product Name: BMW OPS
    Part No.: A101
    Net Weight: 5KG

    On vehicle models from the E65 on, BMW is for the first time using fibre-optic cables as standard for communication between control units.The optical buses are notable for their high data transmission rate and they are not susceptible to electromagnetic interference. The optical buses in question are the MOST bus, primarily used for in-car entertainment electronics, and the byteflight bus, which serves predominantly safety-critical functions.

    OPPS has been designed for encoding, individualising and programming (CIP) via the Software Service Station (SSS) and envisaged for use as part of the BMW diagnostic system (DIS) from DISPlus and Group Tester One (GT1). It is intended for testing and programming tasks from the E65 series, taking the place of the diagnostic head.

    OPS is intended for rapid programming of control units.When operated at the SSS, no diagnostic or technical measuring pro-cedures are possible, as no measuring technology is incorporated; in this instance, OPPS / OPS is used predominantly for programming control units (flashing). Communication with the vehicle can be performed both via the MOST and via the OBD interface. The OBD interface is required for the power supply to the OPPS / OPS and has communication properties via which the vehicle can be identified and the data to be programmed can be determined. From CIP version 7.0, it is possible to delete fault code memories via OPPS / OPS.

    Standard Configuration:
    1. OPS multiplexer
    2. OBD-II diagnostic cable
    3. LAN cable
    4. OPS MOST cable
    5.120G HDD with preinstalled SSS V28 for IBM T30
    6.120G HDD with preinstalled DIS V53 for IBM T30
  • salty7salty7 Member Posts: 3
    I have 1 or 2 inches of play in my seats do I need new seat rails or will bushing kit fix it? CD holder is missing so when I get one there are no buttons showing cd player?How much should I expect to pay for a new conv top?Installed?And is a felt rear window protector really necessary? Thanks Salty 7.
  • lhs2milerlhs2miler Member Posts: 3 cts_id=8

    that's the vendor I used, but I noticed eBay has added some new vendors. This should correct a little slide, but 2 inches is a lot. I have a feeling it is only 1inch and the bushing kit will fix it. If it's larger it could be something else.

    Not sure on the answers to the other questions.
  • salty7salty7 Member Posts: 3
    Thank you 1" sounds better.Ordered 2 sets of 4 bushings for $30 from whalen shift machine.
  • salty7salty7 Member Posts: 3
    1996 1997 BMW z-3 some are roadsters and some not but what is the difference?
  • sessman1sessman1 Member Posts: 3
    Rather than dropping the $30.00 for the plastic bushings, I made my own. My plastic recycling bin uses .011" thick hard plastic material. To fix my driver's seat, I simply cut four 1" round plugs from my recycling bin using a hole saw, drilled the proper size hole in the center, traced the outline of the threaded adjuster nut onto the plug, and cut them out with my bandsaw. Two bushings on each rail filled the .022" gap in the adjuster. They fit perfectly snug!
  • sessman1sessman1 Member Posts: 3
    Rather than dropping the $30.00 for the plastic bushings, I made my own. My plastic recycling bin uses .011" thick hard plastic material. To fix my driver's seat, I simply cut four 1" round plugs from my recycling bin using a hole saw, drilled the proper size hole in the center, traced the outline of the threaded adjuster nut onto the plug, and cut them out with my bandsaw. Two bushings on each rail filled the .022" gap in the adjuster. They fit perfectly snug!
  • chrism7chrism7 Member Posts: 1
    Have enjoyed reading all the posts and from what I gather there are 2 fuel filters on a Z3? Does anyone have pics of how to replace these? My wife's car seems like it is not getting enough gas and shuts off now and then, that is the reason for my looking.

    Thanks in advance for the replies.
  • cmoralescmorales Member Posts: 1
    My brother borrowed my 2001 BMW z3 (yes I know!!!!), and when he returned it it had overheated bad (!!! yes I know!!!) needles to say, we are not on speaking terms, but... now I need to remove the the valve system, but and when I attempt to take out the injection system, even though all the screws are removed, it has something that does not let it come out and instead it pops back in. Please if anyone knows how to remove this and want to share I will REALLY appreciated.
  • tooltrashertooltrasher Member Posts: 2
    does anyone know where a belt diagram for a 1998 Z3M is located on the web?
  • tooltrashertooltrasher Member Posts: 2
    Has anyone experienced a problem with mounting the Falken 912's on the front rims of a 98 Z3M. My local tire shop mounted the rear tires sucessfully but could not get the front tires to seal on the rims.
  • techsharktechshark Member Posts: 1
    Ten Key LimitI just found out that BMW has a 10 key limit on all its cars. That means that you can only ever have 10 keys made for any particular BMW over the life of the car unless you pay BMW $1000 to put in a new ignition and then pay the dealer for the keys. If anyone else has suffered this problem, please send me a note at [email protected] Thanks!
  • philspilphilspil Member Posts: 2
    I had this problem with the passenger window. It only was a problem after it had been humid for a while. The window would only go down about an inch and would stop. I fixed the problem by spraying silicone into the grove and on the window itself and putting the window up and down on a dry day. That fixed the problem for about two years. It's time to do it again. Cost: $10. ;)
  • z3formez3forme Member Posts: 1
    My 98 z3 engine light has come on . when I started the car it seemed to have a shake,I had to drive it home it seemed fine but the light stayed on. I had it checked at a local garage. They said it had to do with the sensor to the cam and needed more tests. I was not sure they knew what they were doing and did not want to spend any more if the test were not conclusive as they indicated. I do not know of a reputable mechanic and the dealership here is not good. They had my car three different times to fix the same minor problem. Can anyone shed light on what the problem might be so I have a clue when I take it to a mechanic. I have only had the car 2 years have hardly driven it . i am about ready to dump it , it only has 68,000 miles.
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