BMW 7-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • objexobjex Member Posts: 1

    Just wanted to say 'thanks'. I've just purchased a 1996 BMW 740iL (my first BMW) and am pretty excited. She's got 86,000 miles on her and a clean bill of health from the local Florida BMW service department.

    This thread has given me lots of useful information to pull from - I really appreciate it.
  • mediastevemediasteve Member Posts: 5
    FYI, dealer said dirty brake fluid could have contributed to seizing of calipers. I haven't owned the car long enough to know whether the fluid had ever been changed.
    Dealer didn't want to cover the calipers under extended warranty, but a call to BMW NA fixed that in five minutes. My position was that if the dealer couldn't tell me what caused the problem, they could not deny coverage of a possible defect.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I never heard of dirty brake fluid causing a caliper to jam on a car that is working every day. I have heard of calipers jamming because the brake pads become so thin that the caliper pistons expand beyond their normal range. This sometimes happens when the brake wear sensor fails to alert the driver. Were the pads paper thin?
  • trimastertrimaster Member Posts: 163
    Hi Mr. Shifty, I'm hoping you can help me.

    I have an 88 735i. I was driving on the highway and the long metal chrome strip on the front of my car flew off. It's the chrome strip right below my headlights & right above the license plate frame. I don't know the name of the part & I couldn't find it on the bav auto website. The part can come off because it has little grooves on it & can be adjusted.

    Do you have any suggestions as to where I can purchase the part? Think I'll have to go to the dealer? Thanks for your help!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yeah, I think with trim parts on the older cars it's either the dealer or a salvage yard. You might price it at the dealer. Sometimes BMW will surprise you with reasonable prices---not often, but sometimes.

    Otherwise, get on Google and search away. I've found good stuff on Ebay, too. Now and then I'll find an old 7 series that someone is selling for "restoration" and of course nobody buys it. Then I mail the guy and ask if he wants to sell pieces off it. That has worked on a few occasions and I got good deals. But of course that takes time and is really a last ditch effort.

    Sometimes it's just easier to go to the dealer, bend over and get your kick in the pants.
  • mediastevemediasteve Member Posts: 5
    Sorry, don't know the condition of the pads. What upset me the most was that the dealer could not have cared less about what actually caused the problem. I still suspect the DSC system. Time will tell.
  • norms75norms75 Member Posts: 6
    Help!! I have a 1990 750IL that has a starting problem. It has a hard start. I used to be able to turn the key and the car would start right up without me having to push on the gas peddle. Any suggestions on how to fix my problem.
  • wjkelley2wjkelley2 Member Posts: 1
    Recently purchase a 2000 740ia, wife began smelling rather strong gas smell near the engine area. This was day after a fillup. Not certain of cause, took vehicle into BMW service center. They indicated that they could find a gas leak ro source of smell. Does anyone have any other thoughts
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    1990 750 --- I'm thinking the cold start injector isn't working or the temp sensor that triggers it isn't working. So your computer thinks the engine is warm when it isn't.

    Your gas pedal of course isn't really a gas pedal, it's just a flap that signals the computer where the throttle position is. This really shouldn't affect cold start and as you say you shouldn't even need to press on the gas.

    2000 740i -- the dealer might want to check the evaporative control system that is supposed to vent excessive fuel to a closed filtration cannister. Perhaps a hose is leaking there. Common problem.
  • wntabmrwntabmr Member Posts: 4
    Hello all, I would first like to say it's a pleasure reading in the forum. All of you are full of a great deal of info. I'm interested in buying a 1995-750il the veh. only has 69,000mls.

    The veh. is in pristine cond., So just curious on any feedback on this model.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Fabulous car but very high maintenance, especially out of warranty. The word here is "caution", go in with eyes wide open and a realistic idea of maintenance and repair costs.

    If you are biting because the price is so low, there is a reason the price is so low. Many buyers are shy of the car. You have to have the financial means to take on a car like this, but if you do, it can be very rewarding.
  • wntabmrwntabmr Member Posts: 4
    I would really like to say thank you for the input. The veh. is being sold at a dealership for $13000. I'm going to go look at the veh. in-person, this dealership only sells highend veh.
    And they service all of these types of veh.

    i'll keep you apraised of the status.

    thanks again Mr.Shiftright..
  • norms75norms75 Member Posts: 6
    Thank you for the info. Any idea as to how much this would cost to repair this sensor?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    No, I really don't know what the part costs, but it's pretty hard to get out of a BMW dealer without a $300 bill--LOL! So that's my guess.
  • richierichrichierich Member Posts: 1
    Help me please. I am looking at a 94 740IL and I was wondering what major questions I should ask the dealer about the car. The amount of miles is still unknown because they won't email me back but the sticker price is $7995. Two weeks ago it was $9995. Do you think they're trying to move it out quickly or what? I'm not familiar with the BMW world so I'm hoping you can help me out with any information I should know when dealing with the seller as well as the car. Thanks.
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Member Posts: 1,150
    Mr. Shiftright, you are right on to urge caution to the person looking at the 10 year old 750. Mr. Richierich, should be even more cautious: the car he is looking at is even older. I think that somewhere engraved on every BMW service writers desk is a sign: "Minimum Invoice for 7 Series Must Be 6 Hours Labor".

    Let me add a thought. The non authorized "high end dealer" usually has IMHO the sleeziest practices in the industry. Look at where he fits in: He has to buy his cars at auction, cars that the authorized dealer doesn't want, because he doesn't get in any trades and as a result he pays more for them than the authorized dealer who "trades". Moreover, he has no knowledge of the car's history, his mechanics don't specialize enough to be thoroughly competent, and whatever parts he does put into them were bought at close to retail. Finally he is selling cars to people who are driven by status reasons. They really want to drive a Bimmer, Range Rover, or Mercedes but can't afford to pay the going price of admission. So, they cheat and pick up a used 7 Series or a used Range Rover for 15K and think they got a steal when all they got was an unending headache until they dump the car on some other status insecure person. I call it the "We Get To Get Even With Interns (and other cash poor, aspirants to the good life) Industry".
  • mike519mike519 Member Posts: 16
    On an unrelated topic, is anybody else having difficulty keeping their 7 series alignment tracking true? The dealer tells me the weight of the car is the reason.
  • mike519mike519 Member Posts: 16
    Is anyone else finding difficulties in maintaining alignments on the 2001 7 series?
  • mike519mike519 Member Posts: 16
    Is anybody else having problems keeping a good alignment on model year 2001 740i? The dealer suggests vehicle weight is the problem. Hmm.
  • tlcmantlcman Member Posts: 220
    no need to post three times we get the question after one thanks
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well the dealer might be right. The trick is to align the car, THEN drive it around for a while and then check the alignment once the car has settled itself. I have the same damn problem with my Porsche 928. They are so hard to align because only a few shops know how to do it. You must road test and re-check or it probably won't be right.
  • wu8wu8 Member Posts: 6
    Just purchased my first BMW. I've always owned Japanese brands in the past but when I drove the 740i (2001), I just kept coming back. The deal I got also helped in making the switch...paid $26K with 48K miles. Car runs like it's brand new. An inspection 1 was performed on this car by a dealer in August 03 when the car had 32K miles.

    Since this is my first venture into a BMW, I'd like to know up front if there are going to be any common problems that may arise with this 2001 740. Any feedback would help.
  • wntabmrwntabmr Member Posts: 4
    I finally got a '95 740i, the car is in excellent condition. But the rear brake light on the driver side does not work. I changed the bulb & nothing, so I alternated sides(put the new bulb on the pass. side) and the bulb works fine, any ideas before I go to the dealer for this prob.???
  • mediastevemediasteve Member Posts: 5
    For what it's worth, having bought a 2000 740i (51,000 mi.) two years ago, the smartest thing I did was to buy a certified pre-owned car from a BMW dealer with the extended warranty. Between a brake problem, cam timing sensor and broken radiator neck, I have saved well over $2,000 in parts/service and paid just the $50 warranty deductible on three occasions. I very easily could have bought a BMW from a non-dealer and would have had to shell out 100% for the same work.
  • wntabmrwntabmr Member Posts: 4
    Mr. shiftright I filled the tank yesterday and the fuel gauge stopped at only a quarter of a tank. It's working properly going down to zero, now the needles reading 0 and the warning light is on. Any suggestions? thanks for the help WNTABMR.. (1995 740I-107,000MLS) P.S. THE TANK IS STILL 80% FULL.
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Member Posts: 1,150
    OK, so far so good. But I think that right now you have just broken even, not saved any money. A CPO 7 Series is at least a 2K premium over a non CPO. Incidentally, I know that the factory charges the BMW Center $1200 to certify an X5 (plus whatever the Center has to put into it in parts and labor). I don't know if this same $1200 holds for all BVMW vehicles.
  • mellis1mellis1 Member Posts: 12
    Steam is coming from my vents when the heat is on, not always from the same vent. Sometimes is will come from the bottom and usually it will come from the front windshield. I think that there is a leek in the heater core. How much will this cost to fix or can I fix this problem?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    MELLIS :

    is this warm steam or a cold kind of mist? Does the windshield fog up? Do you smell anything sweet? Check your floor mats where the transmission meets the firewall, under the dash. Any moisture there, is the carpeting wet either by the gas pedal or the passenger foot well?

    WNTABMR: Have your mechanic or dealer check out the sending unit in the gas tank. This is usually a pretty easy test.

    WU8 -- mediasteve mentioned a few problems which I have certainly heard of before on a 7 series, but these are not things you can really prevent or guard against, so......
  • mellis1mellis1 Member Posts: 12
    In response to your questions about warm or cold kind of mist (yes). This happens sometimes when I start up. The mist is cold then it changes to warm. But it does it whenever it is hot or cold. But than again it does not do it continuously all the time. As an example I might turn it on and it'll start to come out and than stop. (go figure why would it do that?)

    Also I mentioned that it sometimes comes out the back vents, is this all tied into the heater core system?

    The windshield does fog up. I do smell a sweet odor like anti freeze.

    The floor mats and the carpet do get wet with moisture by the gas pedal and on the passengers foot well.

    Are these all signs of a leaky heater core?

    And if it is how much would a job like that cost or could I do it myself. I heard nitemares of how complicated it is in this type of dash to replace things.

    I would appreciate it if you, could help me with some insight to this problem. I like my car, but I don't like this problem.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yeah, it does sound like a heater core. I have no idea on labor costs but I'm going to guess 6-8 hours + parts. I think you could be looking at a $1,000 repair here, but really I'm only guessing. Maybe the heater core is more accessible than it is on other models I'm more familiar with.

    I don't think you should tackle it yourself unless you had step by step instructions. It's not the type of job that is very intuitive, as things interlock and often come out in a specific sequence.

    Why don't you get a few quotes from say the dealer and from an independent shop that speializes in BMW and let us know what they say.
  • mellis1mellis1 Member Posts: 12
    Thank you for replying to me. I will get a price quote like you said from an independent mechanic, and one from the dealer. Then compare the pricing. Was there ever a re-call from BMW, on this, from what you know. Because sometimes the manufacture won't post it but if you go in and complain they will fix it. This had happen to me when I went in to the dealer about moisture in one of my head light lenses. The dealer had said that BMW would fix it, only if an owner would come in and complain about it. But they wouldn't post it. This was also true for a cat. convert, my mechanic was going to install a new one for me and I called the dealer for curiosity, and they fixed it, because they had extended the warranty to 80K, and I was under that limit at the time. So I'll let you know the outcome. Thanks again for the insight.
  • mike519mike519 Member Posts: 16
    I wish you nothing but the best with your BMW 740i, same one I have. I was smooth sailing until 52,000 miles when a head gasket started leaking, then a power stering hose leaked, then front brake pads and rotars, rear pads, front bushings, and another alignment. Ouch. I'm hoping this is it but disappointed to be told the V-8's are high maintenance. Not the impression I had going in. But hey, great ride.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well rotors pads and alignment are not the car's fault, but that is too bad about the head gasket. I think that's pretty unusual. The front bushings are a chronic wear point though.
  • eric312eric312 Member Posts: 71
    I was told by a dealer that transmission oil change is not necessary for

    the life of 2001 740i. Did anyone hear otherwise?
  • wu8wu8 Member Posts: 6
    high performance equates to high maintenance i quess. What year is your 740?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    eric, I would check your owner's manual on this. I am skeptical that this is true but I don't really know for sure.
  • psyran1psyran1 Member Posts: 27
    I have a 1998 740iL. Recently had new Yokahoma's put on it (forget the name, but were definitely right for the car). Had a local independent BMW shop install, balance and align. About two weeks after the install, notice major shimmy of steering wheel at 53 or 54 MPH. Took it back to place where had tires and alignment. They balanced tires again put it up on rack but said everything looked fine. Didn't check alignment because "couldn't be out already". Mentioned possibility of "bushings or suspension" but after a cursory look couldn't detect any problems there. Car continues to shimmy. Any thoughts?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Sounds like the tires. They should put a new set on and see what happens.
  • rafc1rafc1 Member Posts: 4
    740 il sport, 55k, bought used with good clean history, took it to my mechanic <indy specializing in bmw, porsche, jag, etc>, and had brakes done. all was well until heavy rain and deep puddle led to lighting of brake light to red in dash. brakes checked and brake relay changed, no help. Is there a brake pad sensor that could be bad or is the problem in computer? sorry for length of post.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, sensors should be changed with every brake job but if your dash light is RED I don't believe this is the brake pad wear sensor. Have you checked the little plunger (like in your toilet bowl) that checks the fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir?
  • rafc1rafc1 Member Posts: 4
    Ironically, as soon as problem posted, it went off, is the plunger possibly intermittent in malfunction? Also should this be part of brake job? if not does it get replaced or simply adjusted like the float in the toilet? what should this cost? obviously I am not a mechanic.

    thanks for your input, happy holidays
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    No it's not part of a brake job but if say the fluid reservoir is drained completely during a brake job, the little plunger may drop down further than it is used to and stick. See how it goes. This is an any device to check if the problem re-occurs. Just unscrew the filler cap to your brake fluid reservoir and the plunger is usually attached to the cap on some models. I don't recall exactl how your car measures brake fluid level but obviously there is some measuring device that knows how much fluid is in there. Often you can just

    just pull the wires off the measuring device and see if the light goes out. When the plunger drops (inidicating low fluid) it makes a connection, lighting the light. So dropping plunger = a light and rising plunging = no light.
  • fikfik Member Posts: 1
    I have a BMW740IL, 1997

    It was a cold night last nite. Suddenly no heat inside the car with the fan on and "low coolant level" sign came on but the engine temperature gage showed normal. I noticed coolant was coming out thru the radiator releif valve. I tightend the releif valve, but it still leaking. And still no warm air in the car with the fan turned on to max heat.

    Please, tell me what could be the problem and what do I need to do.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Sounds like the thermostat is stuck!
  • vpresteravprestera Member Posts: 1
    I have a 735 that has been sitting quite awhile and now the locks won't work. Any hints for getting into the car?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think if you are careful you can still open the doors with the key regardless, but it will be hard. But please don't force it!
  • nevanishnevanish Member Posts: 3
    I am a new couple weeks 2000, 4.4 740iL owner

      It has about 114K miles which may be a bit different from your problems but consider this.. This car stacked a lot of miles and the guy, (Biloxi lawyer) sufficed with the usual 10-30 oil off the shelf. The owners book sez use synthetic 5W-40 so I hunted it up at an oil dealer. It ran rough,so with the recommended plug change being 100K miles I guessed the plugs were never changed. Wrong, new and correct plugs were put in at about 53K miles and these were well coked. All plugged up.. shorted and the car ran rough. New plugs and presto, smooth as silk.


    It is not hard for a novice to check and if necessary do the plugs and buying them from Advance Auto or something like that at $6.00 beets ( :) ) the hell out of BMW Bosch. Adv also had the NGK or whatever was in it before or can order in a day or so. Get a bit of advice on plugs and alum heads as they are a bit more fragil. Put a couple drops of oil on the threads...for next time and don't overtorque...


    Bosch and net info tells that the wrong oil contributed (possibly) to the coking of the plugs and possibly low octane gas..Will check on the gas quality soon. To be sure, use premium till you get the problems ironed out but I think a look at the plugs would be a start. Seemed to turn off my check engine light.

    228 863 8688 for non professional (no fee) conversation on the thing.


    An independent garage possibly can do you some good if they have diagnostic stuff... and probably not at the BMW price. BM is tight with their tech info. Sorry on the Buck Rogers stuff as I am just getting familar with this high tech stuff.
  • nevanishnevanish Member Posts: 3
    Same car as #151. 2000 4.4 740 iL. Car is clean and now runs very smooth.

     Like I said there, the 114,000 mile vehicle was not particularly subject to 'high end' maintenance...wrong oil and possibly regular gas. Sludge in valve covers is a giveaway. Plugs had only 60K on them and were foul foul fouled. Coked. Ran quite rough. New proper 4 prong plugs made it run veeery smmmmooth. Phew!

    Only have about 120miles on the proper synthetic

    oil and no visable leaks or consumption but after a trip and a shutdown, on re-start it puts out a pretty impressive cloud of blue/white smoke. Wife complains. Since I have only a couple weeks fooling with the thing I have limited knowledge of the exact internal engine assembly but does this suggest worn or aged valve seals??

    If so, can they be replaced without pulling the heads?? (I could live with this if it stays like this) I have yet to find things like engine specs, drawings, instructions, torque specs and such.. Where can this be obtained particularly if I eventually have to get into the thing???


    If things get bad, will a Chevy engine fit?

    (hea, just kidding!!!) How can I check tranny oil?


    Anybody know how to eventually locate a runout but not destroyed 4.4 that can be had for a rebuilt project?



  • nevanishnevanish Member Posts: 3
    Hmm...nobody home here in 24 hours. I have another problem! 740 doors are like on a tank. Figure I can squirt various oils and lubes on the hinges but think this vehicle should have a more reliable method to grease/lube the door hinges.. . Any thoughts??




  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, it does sound like worn (or gummed up and hardened) valve seals and you should be able to fix them without pulling the heads---but it still won't be a cheap job by any means. You have to consider also that with the lesss than perfect maintenance that your valve guides are worn, and that will cost a considerable sum to rectify.
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