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BMW 7-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • solar1solar1 Posts: 3
    I was considering to buy an used 97-98, 740 iL; however, after reading the postings in this site I am somehow dicouraged. I was going to replace my 92, Z28 Camaro (160K miles) which I thought it required too much maintenance (I have spent about $1,500 in parts/labor in 4 years of ownership) and I was longing for the BMW engineering with its quality luxury ride handling and performance. Is it possible that I should be looking into the 5 series instead?
    Thank you for your comments.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    To be very frank about it, if you think spending $1,500 in parts and labor over 4 years is too much maintenance, you shouldn't go near a BMW of any kind. The BMW740 is a world class luxury car and cars like this are complex and expensive to operate, regardless if it's BMW, Lexus or Mercedes or Rolls or whatever---especially when out of warranty. If you can't see yourself spending $100-$150 a month for preventive maintenance and expendables repair (tires, brakes, shocks, etc.), you really shouldn't be going into cars like this, because that's exactly what it's going to cost you, averaged out over 4 years.

    If you meant you spent $1,500 PER YEAR on the Camaro, yes, that's too much for a car like that, but just about right for a BMW...if you want to really treat the car right and have it last a long long time.

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  • solar1solar1 Posts: 3
    Actually, I did not include any preventive items such as tires, brakes, shocks, fluids changes, spark plugs/cables, belt, hoses, etc. which are normal maintenance items associated with any type of car and you can take care before they fail; I only included unexpected repairs that could leave you stranded (ECM, ignition switch and distributor in my case), or that are annoying/recurring problems.
    Still, the 7 series is the car that appeals the most to me out of the BMW lineup, but if the 5 series has a better track record, I might compromise
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Oh okay I see what you're saying. Well the 5 series is a less complex car and is my personal favorite for a BMW, so I'm a little biased toward it. I find the 5 a good compromise for me. A 3 series is just too cramped and a 7, while a wonderful car to drive, is a bit big for my style of driving, which tends to be aggressive.

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  • solar1solar1 Posts: 3
    I think that I should follow your advice as my style of driving is also on the agressive side. Thanks for your help!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Well I like to really fling a car around and the 7 is a lot of work in tight turns---but it'll do it. It's more about the physical size and weight. It's like a train on the highway but she's no slim little ballerina. Your results may vary, so give the 7 a spin.

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  • djt21djt21 Posts: 13
    Mr. Shiftright. You seem to be well educated on various automobiles and I'm hoping you can shed some light on an upcoming decision for me. At 41 years of age I've been fortunate enough to have the ability to own several generation S Class body styles during the past 20 years. My most recent was a 2004 S430 4matic. Overall I enjoyed owning each of the cars. The S430's 4matic's sense of security was fantastic on the few days we had significant snowfall here in Ct. and I love the prestige of the MB brand and looking at that 3 point star on my hood. What I'm falling less in love with did'nt fall in love with was the some what "cheap" materials used here and there for interior parts and switch gear. From time to time I also felt myself craving a more engaging driving experience.

    I've come close to buying a 7 series several times but backed out at the last minute.I most recently considered the 745li when it first came out but was scared off by the reliability nightmares people were having. If I were to reconsider the 745 do you think a used 04 or 05 would match the reliability of the S Class or does the cars still have inherent electrical gremlins? Do you think a 745 with Blizzaks will get me through back roads during a Ct. winter or do I need to buy a 4x4 for snow days? (which would probably nix the deal) Do you find it to be as luxurious and satisfiying as the S Class?

    To further complicate things I've looked at the new Audi A8L and I find it to have superior craftmanship and materials on the interior to the S Class or 745Li, the only 2 problems are that it looks like a stretched A4 or A6 on the outside and I feel I would tire of its exterior looks very quickly and I dont know If my ego would allow an Audi in my garage.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Hmmmm....this is a tough question because there are so many variables.

    I think any car anyone chooses involves some compromises.

    It does sound like you are "ready for a change" so that much we have established.

    As for what a 2005 model BMW will do, that requires a crystal ball I think.

    As for the Audi 8, I think it's a fabulous car. Maybe not quite the "driver" that the 7 series is (a little numb in the steering perhaps?) but still a solid German car. I rather like the looks. One could argue after all that a 7 series is just a stretched 5 series. My only real concern with the Audi 8 are two: 1) the frame is aluminum and if the car is smacked not every body shop can deal with straightening and 2) I think the resale value is not as good as a BMW or Benz (higher depreciation).

    As for snow in CT, sure I think a competent driver with good snow tires and traction control is worth 75% of any AWD system. If you are skiiing every weekend in Vermont, then you might need AWD (or just rent something). Really a car rides on its tires, not its AWD, and relies on its driver, too. My argument is always the same----if two tires will skid on ice, so will four, or ten or eighteen.

    So that's how it works I guess...Benz for prestige, BMW for driving, Audi for craftsmanship and styling. Will any of these be as troublefree as a Lexus? Probably not. But they will be more interesting to drive, if you like to drive a lot.

    Sounds like you need to choose between the 7 series and the Audi 8, and maybe if you did extended test drives in both you'd come to some conclusion. I wouldn't sweat the snow part.

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  • Before I get into discussing the mods I have in
    mind, there are several questions I have about my
    BMW. I have a 1990 BMW 735iL that has a 3.5
    litre inline 6 and a standard automatic. I only
    have 1 key for this car, and I'd like to get a
    spare key and a "Valet Key." I'm not sure, but I
    think this has a transponder chip in the key. Do
    I have to call a BMW dealership and special order
    for these keys, or could I get these from a
    locksmith specially dealing in transponder keys?
    Would the ignition still work if you have a key
    that fits the lock, but has no transponder chip?
    Also, I'm not sure whether or not this particular
    year of this car has an alarm on it. Is the
    alarm remote inside the handle of the key or do I
    have to order that from BMW as well? As for the
    unlock codes for the BMW 7 series radio, does
    anyone know the factory issue codes? A guy who
    used to work for BMW says the codes are simple:
    1414, 4747, 3636, etc.

    Also, what is the approximate value of a car like
    this in very good condtion with a few dents,
    clean engine bay and well maintained vehicle with
    only 105,000 miles?

    As for the mods, I was thinking of either
    modifing or having a special made engine (M Sport
    intake and 4 valve/cyl. design and twin turbo or
    supercharged) with BMW parts and a stick shift.

    Is it possible for me to either mod the inline 6
    with parts from a M5 or should I upgrade to an 8
    cylinder? If so, would it be cost efficient for
    me to have a special made M Sport 8 cylinder or
    should I just buy an engine from a '95 540i or M5
    or an 8 cylinder from a 740i? Is there any turbo
    headers or supercharger manifolds available for
    this car or will that have to custom made? What
    type of turbochargers or supercharger can I use
    that is adjustable but provides top-end

    When mating the engine to the car, what types of
    chips and/or modules will I need to install or
    remove from the vehicle? The rev limiter and
    engine governor is the only 2 I can think of for
    now. If I remove these modules from the harness,
    will the car still run without these limiters, or
    will I need limiters from a M Sport Edition/
    manual transmission BMW? What about Dinan
    Performance Parts- - Do they have anything in
    performance upgrades for a 7 Series? How do I
    contact them?

    As I said before, I want to drop the automatic
    and go for the stick shift. How do I go about
    adding a clutch and gear shifter? I wanna
    install a getrag 5 speed manual from a BMW 5
    series, but I heard that these may have syncro
    problems. Is there any way to counteract this?
    Would the trans. from a 540i manual work best, or
    since they are rare, should I just get one from a
    525i or a 535i? As with these types of mods,
    what else can I add to this car to prevent
    excessive wearing or destruction of these parts
    during high speeds? Should I upgrade the oils
    and fluids to a different viscocity?

    Thank you for your input.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579

    Your question has been addressed already in detail in the Speed Shop Board. Try not to run duplicate posts if you can avoid it. We'll see you over in Speed Shop then, okay?


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  • aciampiaciampi Posts: 66
    I have just purchased a used 01 740 and was wondering if someone could help me in respect with the door locks. I remember in my 2000 740 when I turned off the ignition the doors would automatically unlock yet with my 01 this does not happen. Is there a way for it to be programmed? Or is this just something BMW discontinued? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • taichi2taichi2 Posts: 2
    I need to have a new engine put in for my 01 740i due to a cracked radiator and the car is still under extended warranty. The problem I'm having is that the dealership that I took my car to has informed me that I have to pay for it since I drove the car for an extended period while it was overheating and that was not the case. The cost for the new engine parts and labor is around 16k.

    I was on my way home from a 2 hour trip down south when the warning light "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL," came on. the temperature gauge moved close to the red zone on the temperature indicator and then moved back down. I stopped the car and waited for the engine to cool down to check the coolant. About two hours later, a road ranger came and asked if I needed any help. He poured some coolant in, but the coolant just went straight down the pavement because the radiator was cracked unbeknownst to me. I had the car towed in. The service writer did inform me that there was possible engine damage and the mechanics would have to run a few tests to make sure. 2 days later, I came to pick up the car and drove to work. Everything seemed fine. 2 days later, i had to take a long trip down south. When I turned the car on, it vibrated a little bit and the "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" and "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL" went on. I took the car back to the dealership. The mechanics took the car and replaced the coolant sensor, electric fan and a few other components. The service advisor informed me that the lights may come on again but he told me not to worry. He told me I just needed to come back for the spark plug which caused some misfires in the engine which in turn caused the "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" to come on. He assured me that it was not dangerous to drive at all. I took the car on that long trip. When I got back and as soon as I pulled into my drive way, the lights came on and when I opened the hood there was some hissing sound like something boiling in the engine. I had the car towed in again, but this time I asked if I could take it to another location (same dealership though). I was getting frustrated and wanted a second opinion from a more competent and knowledgeable mechanic They were okay with that. That same day, one of the mechanics called me and informed me that the head gasket was blown and there possible engine damage and they would have to take the engine apart to make sure. A few days later, one of the mechanics called me and informed me that the damage to the engine was just too severe to fix it. The heads and the block are warped. There's no other option but to replace the engine. The mechanic said that he had never seen the block got warped before. My questions are: Is it possible for the engine to sustain that much damage from the initial exposure to the heat? Has anyone else encountered this problem before? Based on my research, I shouldn't have driven the car when it got the blown head gasket. I did write a letter to BMWNA explaining my side of the story, but the representative that I contacted just brushed me off. I asked if I could speak to the regional rep directly, first she said she didn't have the number. Later on, she simply informed me that, "We can't share that information with you. You can speak to the service manager." That was not very pleasant from my end. I hope that I could get some inputs from here. Thanks in advance!

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    If the radiator cracked and caused the overheating, I think you have a plausible argument to be presented to the dealer by an attorney. Perhaps you can reach a compromise with BMW.

    Yes, once an engine overheats all kinds of mayhem can occur, quickly. While you may have helped to cause the damage, you also may not have---- a cracked radiator empties coolant pretty fast. Also, who's to say if it was the chicken or the egg that came first? Perhaps a defective head gasket or warped head caused the engine to superheat the coolant and burst the radiator? I have no idea.

    You need to fight for this one if you feel the decision is not just. $16K ain't pocket change. Get an attorney. Maybe a settlement can be reached.

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  • bucksbucks Posts: 3
    I own a 2001 330ci with similar wheel and steering problems. At 30 to 40 mph, when I let go of the steering wheel, it begins to moves back and fourth quickly (shimmy). When I accelerate past 40 mph, it stops. I just put knew tires on the car without an alignment. Took the car to BMW and they advised me the rear wheels were out of balance. They balance the wheels and told me the problem was fixed. That was a month ago . . . It sounds like my front wheels need to be balance or a four-wheel alignment is needed. Hopefully, it is not the suspension? Any suggestions?

    Buckeye Fan
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Well if you can accelerate past the vibration this is a classic tip-off for a wheel balance problem or an out of round tire. BMWs are also notorious for needed control arm bushing up front so you could check that, but I don't think that would cause quite the problem you are having. But if you have over 60K miles you should check them.

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  • taichi2taichi2 Posts: 2
    Thanks Mr. Shiftright! I did try to see if I could reach a compromise with BMW, but there was no use. "Blame it on the owner" is their motto it seem. I guess I have to go ahead and contact an attorney to get this situation resolved. Thanks again for your input.

  • stumped2stumped2 Posts: 4
    Thank you for this information. After several trips to dealership, I was wondering if this would ever get diagnosed correctly. Dealership wanted to replace, among other things, the "thrust arm bushing." An independent place said the bushings look fine. May I ask an approximate cost to replace both ball joints? Was an "alignment" also needed?
  • bucksbucks Posts: 3
    Thanks for the feedback. BMW checked the alignment and no problems. I will have the tire company look at all tires for defects.

  • kp2kp2 Posts: 2
    When I open my trunk with the remote or from inside the car, the lock does a few extra revolutions and ends up stopping in the worng position. So I am unable to shut the trunk until I've pressed the remote button a few extra times, so the locking mechanism ends up in the correct position. Has anyone had this problem and know how I can fix it? I don't want to take it to the dealership and spend hundreds of dollars on a seemingly minor problem. Thanks!
  • HELP!!!! I have a 1998 740iL with 112,00miles runs great bought it certified with 75,000 2 1/2 yrs ago.. I keep up with all maintanence......but check this out ...I stopped and got gas at this place ..drove about 3 city blocks cut the parked , cut the car off back in about 10 mins later started the car up and it was running rough and shaking like a 67 Chevelle...and the engine light was on....the car has lost no power but it has a whistling sound like a flute from the hood....this car is NOT running hot and has NOT lost power when I accelorate all shaking and sounds go away....I was wondering if anyone has ever heard of or experienced anything like this before>>> I am taking it to the dealer next week .....PLEASE RESPOND ASAP WITH ANY THOUGHTS OR SUGGESTIONS >>MANY THANKS!!!! Svnseriescoco
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Weird, but sounds like you have a large vacuum leak somewhere, like a hose popped off or something....certainly the symptoms are exactly like a large vacuum leak might exhibit.

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  • lobdelllobdell Posts: 9
    Are you satisfied with Warranty Direct? I have compared prices and Warranty Direct seems to be one of the best around as far as price. I just want to make sure that when you need them they will be there! The guy that does the work on my car has not heard of them.

  • There is a rumble by the right front tire, like a vibration, but it's only sound, no
    vibration. Also, there is another rumbling sound just under the front seats and an
    actual rumble near the backseat on the right side, but it is mild and it lags power
    when gas is pressed.

    During acceleration, it seems the left side picks up the power and there is no
    sound from the left, but by the right rear tire, it feels like the differential isn't
    producing enough power to the right side since I have to cut the wheel left to
    maintain driving straight. Is this just an axle or do I need a new differential? Or
    should I change out the driveshaft (since it sounds like its coming from just
    underneath the driver's seat)? It was in an accident, but it wasn't a major one and
    the car is structurally fine.

    I found on the left side 2 plastic, large diameter hoses and 1 on the right side,
    under the front bumper which are cut. Does anyone know where these hoses go
    to and what do they do? I also found what looks to be a small pump and part of
    the hoses connected to it in my trunk and don't know what that is. Is it the wiper
    motor for the headlight/ foglights? When I activate the windshield wipers, there is littlewater that sprays out of the hood sprayers, none out of the headlight or foglight wipers and there's alot of water that comes out from under the hood.
    When I activate the turn signals, is the side reflectors on the front fender and rear quarter panel supposed to blink or is this too old a model for it to have side blinkers? How do I fix this? Why didn't my diagnostic computer tell me about this?

    Also, does anyone know how to remove the rear window shade and brake light
    indicator from the back window? I have been trying to fix the window shade and
    replace the red glass on the indicator, but it doesn't seem that I have access to
    remove those panels.

    And lastly, where is the switch to activate the driver or passenger side vanity mirror
    lights? I have been trying to activate them, but I can't find the switches. As for the driver seat memory control, how do I program my memory selections in? Every time I try, they just go into some other selection. Any service information you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    Are you a current S-Class owner or 7-Series owner who is considering switching to an S-Class for your next purchase? If so, a reporter would like to speak with you about the new version of the S-Class and whether or not you would consider buying it. If you would be interested in speaking with this reporter, please reply to Pam Krebs, PR, at with your name, daytime phone number and the best time to reach you. Please respond by Wednesday, June 29. Thank you.”


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  • jackiebjackieb Posts: 4
    Mr. Shiftright,
    Are you aware of major problems concerning bushings (leaks) and rear main
    seal (leaks)? I just purchased this vehicle, a CPO with only 45k but am somewhat
    disappointed with these leaks. Otherwise, I like the power, comfort, responsiveness, safety features, and looks. My 528i ('97) had 105,000k when
    traded in on this 740il and I feel secure with the warranty. So, two trips to the
    dealer in 30 days is not good. Are leaks a major concern with this vehicle?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Not to my knowledge...the front end bushings yes, they wear on most BMWs and your radiator will probably crack on the upper hose connection, but never heard of a particular leak problem on a BMW. On new Porsches, yes, but didn't hear anything about BMWs in that regard.

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  • jackiebjackieb Posts: 4
    Thanks for the info. The radiator was replaced at 44k before I purchased the
    vehicle. The cooling fan and steering center link were also replaced before my
    purchase. What are some other potential problems down the road on this car?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Probably your only other potential issues will be electrical glitches....the driveline is pretty bulletproof and you've already addressed the most obvious (to me anyway) weak points.

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  • I know about the vanity mirrors. When the car is on the lights will turn on when the vanity mirror panel is slid open. I believe we have the same car so it should work that way. Maybe the bulbs or wiring connections? I'm not sure, I don't know anything about cars really, but my car does lag when you press the gas like when merging onto the freeway.
  • 745crazy745crazy Posts: 1
    First of all I must say that I completely love the way this car looks and drives. I am looking to buy a 02 745Li in the near future. Have been reading on this discussion board about problems with the car. Also have been surprised with some peoples experiences with BMWNA customer service ( post # 258 ) . My concern is that I am in my residency and currently own a 03 4runner which has been to the dealer a total of 6 times ( oil change and service ). I simply don't have the time to take a car repeatedly to the dealer for repairs.
    -How reliable is the '02 745Li ?
    -What are the most common problems with this car?
    -Which ones put the car out of commission for a few days and how often do they occur?
    -If you had your money back would you buy it again?

    Thanks for your input in advance.
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