All posts by Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington writes all over the internet about cars. He was (probably accidentally) interviewed to be the host of the next Top Gear USA.

How to Film Your BMW

If you’ve gotten your hands on a BMW that is in good condition, or one that you’ve restored to a good condition, you don’t want to keep all that beautiful German engineering to yourself. Filming your car is a great way to showcase your BMW, especially if you don’t have the time or the money to travel to car shows across the country. If you want to film your BMW, where should you start? Here are a few ideas, tips and tricks to help get you started.

Choose Your Angle

How do you want to shoot your car — from the inside as the driver or from the outside as a spectator? Depending on what you’re doing, the answer could be both, so you need to take both angles into account.

Are you planning on photoshopping or editing your video after you film it? If so, you need a camera that has digital capabilities so that you can upload the unfinished video to your computer for editing or finishing. This is useful if you’re shooting both inside and outside your car because it allows you to splice the video together into a finished product digitally.

Once you’ve figured out your angle, it’s time to start thinking about equipment.

Choose Your Weapon

Step two is to pick your weapon of choice. For professional — or professional-esque — videos, you’re going to need a camera, a microphone and some mounting equipment to hold your camera steady while you’re driving or filming from the outside.

A good roll bar mount for a GoPro, or other cameras can capture some fantastic images of the road as you drive, or your competitors if you take your BMW to the track. You can use these inside or outside the car, depending on where your roll bars go.

GoPro cameras are often the camera of choice for this sort of filming, but they’re expensive. You can create a decent video with a high-quality camera on a cell phone if you can hold it steady enough. If not, consider investing in a tripod.

Choose Your Location

Finally, choose your shooting location. Choose a place where no one will disturb you — unless you want to include the local color in your video. Think about your lighting — do you want to showcase your car in direct sunlight, indirect sunlight or even on a cloudy day.

Figure out what you want to do with your filming. Are you showcasing your car or showing off what it can do? That will determine the kind of location you choose for your shoot. You can shoot nearly anywhere as long as you have permission. If you’re interested in shooting on private property, ask the property owner. Chances are they’ll say yes, but it’s always better to ask permission first.

Show off Your Baby

Filming your BMW is a great way to show off your automotive baby, as long as you do it right. No one wants to see a grainy, low-resolution video of your car, whether you’re driving a BMW, a Mustang or a beat-up old Honda. Invest in a good camera and learn how to use it and you’ll make fantastic videos as long as you own your car.

How to Autocross Your BMW

It might not be the fastest race in the world, but autocross is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door — so to speak — in the world of racing. Autocross is an amateur race where all you need to enter is a driver’s license, a vehicle and a helmet. If you’re interested in auto crossing your BMW, here are all the tips and tricks you need to know to get started.

First, Pick up a Helmet

Bicycle helmets won’t cut it for an autocross race. Your helmet has to be DOT rated, but only class M for motorcycles or class SA for special applications are allowed on the track. You can take the visor off if it interferes with your vision, but you have to keep your head covered. If you don’t have your own helmet, show up early — most tracks offer a limited number of helmets for rent, but they’re first come first served, so you need to show up early to make sure you can get your hands on one.

Pick the Right Class

There’s a variety of different classes of autocross races, so it’s important to make sure you pick the right class. Street category requires street tires and limits the number of bolt-on modifications allowed. Street Touring still requires street tires but allows more bolt-ons. Street Prepared allows racing tires and bolt-ons, while Street Modified allows more internal engine modifications. Prepared and Modified categories have higher allowances for mods.

There are also classes for classic American muscle cars, vintage cars and karts.

Walk the Track

Autocross isn’t just a race — it’s an automotive obstacle course. The nice thing about autocross races is that you don’t have to have a dedicated track for a race. As long as you’ve got enough space, you can set up an autocross track in a parking lot, an empty field or anywhere that’s flat and open — as long as you have permission, of course. Grab some cones or some easily removable parking lot paint, and you’re good to go!

Once you’ve arrived, take a few minutes to walk the track and figure out where the curves and tricks are to give you an advantage once you hit that starting line. If you need some help, ask — chances are, you’ll make a new friend in the process, and you may even learn something that gives you an edge.

Get Inspected

Before you can take the track, you’ll need to get your car inspected. Make it easier for your inspector — open the hood and take all loose items out of the car. You’ll also need to take the driver’s side floor mat for safety reasons. The inspector will check things like the lug nuts, wheel bearings, suspension and battery, as well as the seatbelts or harnesses, brakes and accelerator. The goal is to make sure your car is safe and ready to race, whether you’re racing in the street class or one of the modified ones.

Once the inspection is complete and you get your numbers, it’s time to get into the lineup and race!

If you want to try your hand at racing but don’t have the skills to get into a professional racing circuit, autocross is a great place to start. It’s competitive, but in a casual sort of way, and if you’ve got a helmet, a driver’s license and a car, you’ve got everything you need to enter. Make sure your car is in good shape, learn your track and whatever you do, don’t forget your helmet!

Easy Repairs You Can Do on Your Own BMW

Having a BMW is awesome, but it can be costly to maintain if you take it to the shop or the dealership. Luckily, there are plenty of easy repairs you can do on your own. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few things you can do in your own garage or driveway to keep your BMW running smoothly.

First, Have Somewhere to Work

The first thing you need to do is make sure you have somewhere to safely work on your car. If you have an attached garage, that will be ideal, but if you’re like most of us, your garage is probably a catch-all for everything you don’t have space for in the rest of your home. Before you get started working on your car, take some time to sort through your junk and organize your garage. Not only does this give you somewhere to keep your car while you’re working, but it also makes your work area safer and less cluttered, too.

Change Your Oil

Changing your oil is one of the most straightforward repairs you can do — and it can save you a lot of money in the long run. You need:

  • Fresh oil – Check your owner’s manual for the correct oil.
  • A new oil filter.
  • Tools – A wrench or socket to remove the drain plug and an oil filter wrench.
  • An oil catch pan for your old oil.

Jack the car up and place it on jack stands. Never work under a car that’s only up on a jack. Locate the oil pan and position your catch basin under it. Remove the drain plug and let the old oil drain out. Set the old oil aside and replace the drain plug.

Use the oil filter wrench and loosen the old oil filter. Remove and discard it. Put a little bit of fresh oil on the gasket on your new oil filter and screw it into place — not too tight, though. You don’t want to use the filter wrench to tighten it. Then, refill your oil to manufacturer’s specs, check for leaks and you’re done.

Replace Your Drive Belt

A broken drive belt can leave you stranded. For cars that use serpentine belts, it runs your alternator, your power steering, your air conditioner and your water pump. Replacing them is simple, though. You’ll need:

  • A replacement belt.
  • Tools – A socket wrench with a long handle or breaker bar.
  • Belt map – Usually located on a sticker under your hood or in your owner’s manual

Remove the broken drive belt. Study your belt map and locate all of your pullies. Thread the belt through the pullies as detailed on the belt map until you reach the belt tensioner. Use your socket wrench and breaker bar to pull the belt tensioner back until you can place the belt over the tensioner, then slowly release it to place tension on the belt. Done!

Replace Your Battery

This can be a little trickier, depending on where your battery is located. Some BMWs have their batteries in the trunk or under the back seat. The only difference between these and batteries under the hood, though, is that these have a vent that needs to be placed correctly.

You will need:

  • A replacement battery.
  • Tools – Open-ended wrenches or sockets.
  • A car memory keeper

First, plug in your memory keeper. This helps to keep a charge in your car’s systems to prevent problems with the engine’s computer — as a bonus, it also keeps you from losing your pre-set radio stations! It isn’t required for all cars, but it is recommended.

Once you’ve located your battery, remove your terminals — negative first, then positive. Then loosen and remove your battery hold-down. Finally, remove the battery itself, replace it with the new battery and reattach your terminals in reverse order. Unplug the memory keeper, and you’re good to go.

Taking care of your BMW is easy if you have the right tools and plenty of space to work. Take some time to organize your garage and pick up a few tools, and you’ll be turning wrenches in no time.