BMW Z4 Care and Maintenance

ClairesClaires Member Posts: 1,222
Talk about maintaining and caring for your Z4.


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  • mdw1000mdw1000 Member Posts: 171

    I am thinking of buying a Z4 roadster (or perhaps a 3 series convertible)sometime in the next couple years, but I just thought of something that might prevent me from doing so. I have some health issues that won't allow me to wash the car on my own, so I'd have to rely on automatic washes. But I was thinking this might be a problem with a convertible top. I have no experience with convertibles.

    Any advice? Would I be ok with automatic washes, or should I forget about the soft top convertible route?

  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 227,842
    I don't know about a Z4, but I run my 3-series convertible through an automatic car wash... It is the best car wash in town... I've seen Porsche Carrera convertibles go through there...

    The key is not to use any of the wax or "paint sealant" treatments... Just opt for the basic wash.. Soap and water only..

    Ask around... and find out where the BMW and Mercedes owners take their cars... There is a lot of variance in quality and care between the car washes..

    Ask the BMW dealer.. mine gives free hand washes on Saturdays, if you don't mind the wait..

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  • habitat1habitat1 Member Posts: 4,282
    I had a Honda S2000 and now have a 911S Cab. In both cases I was specifically told not to take the car through automatic car washes and, when hand washing, not to use soap on the convertible top. Most dirt and even bird droppings are able to be washed off with just fresh water and a little elbow grease. I kept the S2000 for 2.5 years (3 winters) parked outside and the top looked like new when I traded it.

    The "no car wash" recommendation I got was probably overkill. It didn't bother me, because I like to wash the car by hand about once every week or two, and have a hose handy in front of our house. But that would be an unfortunate reason for you to have to forego a convertible. So you might want to check BMW's recommendations and see what they say. And, as the Host suggested, there are a fair number of dealers that offer free hand washes if you buy (or get service) from them.
  • bdr127bdr127 Member Posts: 950
    Here is the "Cleaning and care of the convertible top" section of the 3-series convertible owner's manual (downloaded from BMW Owners' Circle ;) ). It's lengthly, but complete:

    The appearance and life of the convertible top are highly dependent on its proper care and operation. You should pay particular attention to the following instructions if your car has a lightcolored top.

    Protect the vehicle from exposure to intense sunlight whenever possible by parking it in the shade. This will help to prevent the paint, rubber and fabriccovered parts from being worn out.

    Never stow the convertible top in the convertible top compartment when it is wet, dirty or frozen, since this can cause mildew stains and chafe marks.

    To prevent mildew stains, do not keep the convertible top enclosed in the convertible top compartment for any extended period of time.

    If the vehicle will be parked for lengthy periods in an enclosed space, be sure that the convertible top is dry and that there is adequate ventilation.

    Clean off bird droppings immediately, since they attack the convertible top and cause the rubber seals to swell due to their caustic characteristics.

    Besides water, treat rubber seals only with talcum powder, rubber care products or silicone spray, particularly when they feel dry or tend to stick.

    Eliminate noises such as squeaks with lubricant spray.

    Depressions and discoloration may occur in the convertible top as a result of improper maintenance and cleaning or due to loading from excessive use. The convertible top and its seams may also develop leaks. These occurrences
    are not covered by the warranty. For repairs, please consult your BMW center.

    You can wash your BMW at an automatic car wash. Brushless systems are preferable.

    If a brushless car wash is unavailable and a brush car wash must be used, modern systems with soft brushes are preferable. Do not select the wax finish option. The small amount of beading wax always used in automatic car washes will not harm your vehicle's finish.

    In the case of more extensive dirt, which is definitely visible on lightcolored top materials, clean the top with the BMW Convertible Cleaning Set. Please proceed as follows:

    Spray the convertible top with the cleaning agent and then rub with a well-dampened sponge using circular motions until a foam develops. Then you can finish washing the vehicle in an automatic car wash. After washing your vehicle 3 to 5 times, you should treat the convertible top with a special convertible top impregnating spray. Please follow the instructions on the spray can.
  • mdw1000mdw1000 Member Posts: 171
    Thanks for the advice, everyone! Now, another question...

    How are the BMW convertibles (3 series and/or Z4) in the snow? Ideally I will keep my 4wd pickup and get the convertible as well, but that may not be an option. I live near Chicago, so snow has to be a consideration. I'm concerned mainly about the RWD of course, but also about excessive cabin heat loss.

    Thanks again!
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 227,842
    Heat loss is no problem.. My 3-series is my wife's daily driver..Be sure to get heated seats... that will extend your top down driving by about ten degrees.. The one thing you will notice: Noise... Every car and truck next to you on the freeway will sound like it is buzzing in your ear (even with the top up)..

    I can't really speak for snow buildup, as we haven't had more than an inch this year... but, the cars are designed as a 4-season car.. (ground clearance may be a problem in a Z4, in heavier snow). I have winter tires on mine (and on my previous 3-series sedan). I heartily recommend them...

    As you can see from the BMW literature copied above.. a black top is much easier to keep clean and stain-free...


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  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    You will be pretty close to a six cylinder engine in either the Z3 or Z4. The cabin should stay pretty warm.

    RWD in snow has issues but is manageable. Keep the traction control on and take it easy when accelerating.

    If you are real concerned, you may want to get winter tires. If you have a truck, winter tires seem like an extravagance to me.
  • fastlanez4fastlanez4 Member Posts: 1
    New Z4 owner, what a car!
    What is the best way to keep the flat black interior looking like new? Should I be using the car care equipment that BMW list in the book or use just plane water and very mild soap when needed? :)
  • avaughanavaughan Member Posts: 2
    I have some pretty bad stains on my Z4 soft top. They're probably from a cat which took to sleeping on the roof for a while (unbeknown to me at the time). I'm having real trouble removing them - in fact no success at all. Any suggestions?
  • omegagenomegagen Member Posts: 67
    I have a 2005 Z4 with about 6500 miles. I haven't had it serviced because the CPU says service isn't due until about 10000 miles. I've had the car since Oct. '05!

    I know since most people don't drive these cars often I'm sure I'm not the only person who has encountered this issue.
  • avaughanavaughan Member Posts: 2
    My handbook recommends either to service at the mileage interval or every two years whichever comes sooner so it sounds like you're due a service in October! I've had mine four years and only serviced every two years with loe mileage and it's no problem.
  • roadsterz4roadsterz4 Member Posts: 12
    I only put around 3k miles a year on my Z4, but I have the oil changed once a year. In fact BMW will cover the an annual oil change even if your not hitting your mileage.
  • geodanversgeodanvers Member Posts: 5
    I broke my Back and after I started to walk again I though it time to buy the 2005 Z4 I love the trunk alot of sport cars dont have any trunk Solstice is a pice of junk manual top and no room I could not pass the Z4 up the heated seates help my mack .You should see the looks I get when parking in a hand cap spot until I get out to walk I will be this way for a long time Even the handy cap can drive a BMW Z4 The Z4 rides great and geting in and out is a little slow but it worth the effort
  • lmayfieldlmayfield Member Posts: 1
    Is anyone having black marks appear on the top of a tan convertible top, caused by rubbing on the rubber gasket in 1 place on both sides, when the top is lowered? Dealer promised to remove marks when car was bought used (their own loaner) last year, but cannot get them off. They are refusing to replace the top, because they say the marks will just come back; they even showed me another Z-4 with a black top where the top is wearing badly in the same two spots. BMW of North America won't use the word "defect", but admit it's a problem with that model. They offered to pay 1/2 to replace top, but dealer refused to pay the other half. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • schlumbebschlumbeb Member Posts: 2
    hi, the automatic convertible top seems to fall free on the front when closing-- causing quite a impact on the front as it comes down-- is there an adjustment-- did not do it last week !!! it used to be a rather slow closing to the front of the car.. anyone has encountered this problem!!!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yep, got a TSB on this problem, although the factory fix does seem a bit Mickey Mouse to me---you judge for yourself---This repair should be on the house.

    SI B54 14 07
    Special Roofs

    November 2007
    Technical Service

    Soft Top Slams Down on the Cowl when Closing

    E85 (Z4 Roadster)

    When the soft top is being closed, the front section of it slams down on the cowl.

    Toward the end of its travel, the soft top is moving too quickly.

    Install 2 elastic straps to the soft top frame.

    These elastic straps run from the rear bow (just above the rear window) to the main bow (in the middle of the closed soft top)

    Each strap is secured to each side of the rear bow using the same fastening hole as the tension strap, and secures to the main bow using the outermost headliner fastening point.


    Install 2 elastic straps per repair instruction RA 54 34 217.

    ^ It may be helpful to remove the soft top canvas cover, but this is not necessary for the repair.

    ^ It is necessary to remove the front half of the headliner. This also allows for the necessary access to feed the elastic strap from the rear bow to the main bow.


    Part Number Description Quantity
    54 34 7 184 482 Elastic Strap 2


    Covered under the terms of the BMW New Vehicle Limited Warranty.

    Please refer to the latest KSD for all applicable labor operations and allowances.

    If the appropriate labor operation is not contained in KSD, then a work time labor operation should be used.

    Defect Code: 54 31 13 01 00
  • schlumbebschlumbeb Member Posts: 2
    thanks for your help-- will go to the dealer next week...
  • nalannalan Member Posts: 1
    Too bad I just joined up for the chat. I was having the same problem same time year ago. NOT a defect, all they had to do was properly align the scissor hinges that expand and collapse the top. Although i was told same story about inherent problem. My dealer also refused to do anything after they rubbed holes in my top trying to remove the spots, probably not before the gasket would have, I had to leave my car uninvited at the dealership restricted parking area for three weeks and continually called them only when one of the owners relatives finally made it good. Also same dealership has left some kind of blemish eg: scratch , stains, tear, almost every time I have left my car for some kind of service. Funny how they make a record of all those blemishes coming in but ignore new ones coming out. By the way the top was replaced at no charge after an ordeal. When I buy a bmw a higher standard is expected, and that's why I did not capitalize their name.
  • apinkusapinkus Member Posts: 1
    The motor on my Z-4 won't lower the top. It will opens the locks but won't lower the top. If I open the top manually the motor will close the top Is this fixable or do I have to change the motor. I hope some one cane is me some info.
  • z4inmoz4inmo Member Posts: 1
    anything special about replacing the z4 brake pads? my z4 has about 90000 on this set of pads. vast majority of miles are highway
  • tantoptantop Member Posts: 1
    I noticed the same exact problem and found that the marks were actually worn areas penetrating the first layer of the top. My car is an 07 and out of warranty. Did you have the same problem and was it resolved? Thanks.
  • reidlavalleereidlavallee Member Posts: 3
    I have heard from more than one person, that Z4's are notorious for taking in water. I am feeling this pain now. This is my 2nd Z4 and I had no problems with my first one, but this one has been a disaster. Soon after buying the car one of the power top motors died and it needed to be replaced. The next problem that I faced made this first problem seem small. I had my air bag warning light go off and I needed to have this corrected prior to my annual state inspection due this May. I brought in into a reputable repair shop that specializes in German cars. They quickly identified that all of the electronics below the passenger compartment were all corroded. The damaged sensor for the SRS system was sitting in water and everything else in the area was about to have the same problem. Rather than fleece me until the money dried up, the repair shop explained everything to me and admitted that they were afraid to keep digging for fear of what they would find.
    I find it hard to believe that the dealer had not noticed any water issues when they changed out the motor about 9 months earlier.

    Has anyone else out there seen any similar problems? Any ideas what it would cost to rewire the entire car from the firewall back (including all electronic components). It doesn't seem worth the cost. The current value of the car isn't that high. Even if I change out the electrics, it will only come back if I can't stop the water from getting in. The car has never been driven in the rain since I have owned it.
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