Category Archives: Car Care

What to Do When Your BMW’s Engine Overheats

Beloved by car enthusiasts but not necessarily mechanics, BMWs raise some real questions about the legend of German reliability.

Running hot is a problem cars from all marques face, and BMW is no different. If you thought that trim panel was expensive, you’ll split a wig when you see the price of new motor components for your beamer. So if your car is running hot, be quick about identifying the issue and implementing a fix. It could make a five-figure difference in your bank account. Here’s what to do.

Know How to Recognize Overheating

Modern BMW engines are water-cooled and do a pretty good job of staying at operating temperature — unless something goes wrong or you’re running the car very hard. Depending on how new your vehicle is, a gauge will indicate the head and oil temperatures of your engine in the central cluster, and you might have a digital readout that displays an error code if it gets too hot. In analog gauge clusters, the needle should never touch go past the halfway mark on the dial.

If you see this happening, don’t continue driving the car because you can do severe damage to the engine. Pull over and call a tow truck. You can repair the issue once a mechanic has had a chance to take a look at things, which may cost a few hundred dollars, but it will save you the price of replacing an engine.

Fixing an Overheating Engine

Now that you know that your engine is overheating, you need to repair it. If the car overheats during regular use, your set of suspects will include your electric fan, water pump and thermostat. You should be able to observe your fan switching on and off. If you can’t, look at the thermostat and if that doesn’t do it, check your fan and fusebox.

If the car overheats at idle, you’re probably dealing with a busted water pump. Make sure you have clean, high-performance oil in the car, as allowing it to degrade or running a cheap motor oil can increase your chances of heat soak.

All these are relatively cheap to replace, and some BMW models are known for having less-than-stellar fan or water pump performance. Your mechanic will know just what to do. If the car has been overheating for some time, you’ll want to check the expansion tank to see if it has become weak.

For drivers who frequently track their cars or engage in spirited driving that causes heat soak, something more serious is needed. Consider upgrading your car’s plastic cooling system to a metal one with a larger fan and radiator. Change your factory oil for something with a higher boiling point, like a full synthetic. This will ensure fewer metal shavings enter your motor and provide better performance in the long run, as well as defend against heat soak during track days. The truly extreme can look for ventilated bodywork, a higher-volume intercooler and turbo plumbing.

Beamers have their fair share of unique issues, but overheating isn’t one of them. These problems have been faced time and time again by the automotive community, and as long as you get to them quickly, they’ll be cheap and easy to fix. Don’t wait until your head gasket breaks. Pay for the fix now, and you’ll be glad your car isn’t down for the count tomorrow.

Make 2019 the Year You Work on Your BMW Yourself

Did you make a new year’s resolution for 2019 yet? If not, here’s one for you — make this the year you start doing repairs and maintenance on your BMW yourself.

Why Work on Your BMW Yourself?

So, why should you start doing your own repairs and maintenance? If you have a BMW, you probably love it — there’s a reason bimmers have attracted so many loyal fans around the world. Working on your own BMW, even if it’s just basic maintenance, will help you:

  • Appreciate Your Vehicle: You’ll learn more about how it works and get to see some of its inner workings firsthand.
  • Relax With Friends: Working on a car is also a great way to relax and spend time with family and friends. If you’re new to DIY car repairs, you may be able to get a more experienced friend to help you. If you’ve already spent some time working on cars, you can probably find another BMW fan to work with or enlist an enthusiastic newbie who wants to learn more about them.
  • Save Money: Another major draw of DIY BMW maintenance is the potential cost savings. Your Mechanic, Inc. ranked BMW as the most expensive car make to maintain and estimated a cost of $17,800 over 10 years. This is mainly because BMWs are more expensive, higher-quality cars to begin with and, therefore, the parts are more expensive too. The labor can also be more expensive, especially if you a more advanced model such as one in the M series. Doing this labor yourself, however, can result in significant savings since labor costs account for a substantial portion of the price of a visit to the mechanic.

Tips for BMW Maintenance, Repairs and Modifications

Say you’ve decided to start working on your car yourself this year. How should you approach this new task? Here are three tips to help you get started.

1. Start Simple

If you’re not experienced in working with cars, start with some of the simpler maintenance tasks. Some great tasks for beginners include:

  • Changing your oil and oil filter
  • Changing your windshield wipers
  • Changing your air filter
  • Replacing spark plugs
  • Replacing your drive belts

As you get more comfortable with your car, you can move into more involved jobs include a range of maintenance and repair tasks and even some custom mods. That being said, you should probably leave the most advanced jobs, such as transmission repairs, windshield replacement and bodywork, to the professionals.

2. Make Safety Your Top Priority

Safety should always be your top priority when working on your car. Before you get started, make sure you’re in a safe environment. Clear the area of any potential hazards, and if you’re working in a garage, ensure the garage door is working correctly and won’t come down on your workspace. If you’re running your car, leave your garage door open and face the tailpipes toward the outside to prevent hazardous fumes from building up.

While working on your car, wear safety goggles, avoid loose clothing and tie up long hair. If you’re working on the underside of your vehicle, make sure you use high-quality floor jacks that can support your car’s weight and blocks for the wheels. Ensure that you’re working on a level surface and never use makeshift materials as car jacks. You should also have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit nearby and easily accessible.

Also, make sure that all children and pets stay clear of the area unless they’re under direct supervision. If you’re letting your kids help or watch as you work on your car, give them a basic safety lesson first.

3. Invest in Quality Tools

In addition to your floor jacks, you’ll also need to invest in some other basic tools. Make sure they’re of decent quality — you don’t want your tools breaking mid-maintenance, as this would be quite inconvenient and could cause safety issues. Your BMW deserves high-quality tools. Many BMWs come with a small set of tools, so check what you have in that kit.

Some of the basic tools you’ll need include:

  • Phillips and flathead screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • An adjustable wrench
  • A torque wrench
  • A socket and ratchet set

If you’re a BMW owner, make 2019 the year you start working on your bimmer yourself. You’ll save money, learn more about your car and have a good time doing it.

Four Car Issues Every BMW Owner Should Know

BMWs might be known for being some of the most reliable luxury cars on the market, but like everything designed by human minds and built by human hands, problems can crop up. Some of these issues are minor, while others can leave you stranded on the side of the road if you don’t address them quickly.

Addressing these problems can help you optimize your Bimmer for the most ideal drive no matter where you take it. Let’s look at four of the most common BMW problems and how to prevent them — or repair them when they do occur.

1. Power Window Failure

One of the best parts of owning a modern car is the convenience of power windows — at least, until they fail and end up stuck open or closed. Any BMW equipped with the E46 window motor and regulator might experience problems.

The regulator clips can break, which means your windows will move slowly — or not at all. These problems are easy to fix, but they do require taking apart the entire affected door to access the window regulator.

2. Oil Leaks

Oil only works if it’s able to stay in the engine compartment. BMW’s have a habit of developing oil leaks once you pass the 55,000-mile mark. Some are easy to repair — the valve cover gasket and the oil filter housing gasket being two of the most accessible oil leak related repairs — while others, like the rear main seal, may require the assistance of a professional.

You can repair some small leaks without disassembling the engine by using products that act as stop-leaks. However, while being a temporary mechanic might be convenient, it won’t work for larger or more complicated leaks.

3. Cracked Rims

Many BMW models come equipped with 19-inch run-flat alloy rims. While these rims look amazing, they are prone to cracking — and a poorly placed crack can puncture your tire, leaving you stranded.

It is important to note that this is only a problem for Class Series vehicles sold between 2009 and 2012 — BMW settled a class action suit in 2015. Although there’s not much you can do to prevent this other than driving safely, it is something to be on the lookout for if you’ve got a Bimmer from those years with the original rims.

4. Coolant Leaks

This BMW problem is specific to the BMW 3 series, but that is a great variety of cars to choose from. Regardless of the year, coolant leaks always manage to crop up. These can have many different causes, from a cracked radiator cap to a blown head gasket to a hole in the radiator itself.

No matter what the reason is, it is something you need to repair quickly. A lack of coolant could cause the engine to overheat — plus, the coolant is toxic to animals and the environment.

BMWs are, by far, one of the most reliable brands on their market — but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their share of problems. Being aware of these four common problems can help keep your car running and prevent you from ending up stranded on the side of the road.