Category Archives: Car Care

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.

Driving Your BMW in the Winter

Bavaria in January can see below-freezing temperatures, and in other parts of Germany, it’s even colder. Right now, a large chunk of the United States is seeing sub zero temps, with highs barely getting above zero. If you’re concerned about driving your Bimmer in the cold, you can feel confident it’s built to perform in any condition.

However, just because you have a high-performing car, you shouldn’t drive as if nothing has changed. To ensure your BMW has a long and rewarding life, you should take steps to be safe during the winter months and protect your car from the harsh effects of salted roads. These tips are easy to follow, but they make a world of difference.

Protecting Your Finish

If you’re like many BMW owners and want to keep the paint on your car looking as shiny and new as possible, winter weather is no fun. Snow and rain can strip wax from your car’s finish, but that’s only the beginning of your problems. Particularly for older models, you’ll want to ensure oxidization and rust do not set in.

The first step you should take to protect your car from the elements is to keep it inside. A clean, organized garage is the best place to do this. Make sure the garage seals well, has proper insulation and that the door is in good working order. A running car you can’t back out doesn’t do you much good.

Storing your BMW indoors will go a long way toward improving your winter driving experience. Allowing the battery and engine fluids to stay warm will reduce the effort needed to start the car, prolonging battery and accessory life.

The warmer indoor environment will also keep ice from clinging to underbody components. This step is critical in preventing rust, as expanding water can cause small cracks in metal components where rust can begin to eat away at your prized vehicle.

Driving in Snow and Ice

Some BMWs come equipped with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system, but if you own a rear-wheel-drive model, you can still enjoy it when there’s snow on the roads if you take the right precautions. To maximize traction, you should install a set of snow tires. Consider having a second set of wheels, so you can keep the snow tires mounted and install them when the weather turns bad.

No tire can stop you from making bad decisions on the road, so use caution. If you’re not sure how much traction you have, drive slowly and remain in control. Avoid making sudden or jerky movements.

Lastly, be prepared for anything. You could end up stuck in the snow and the cold, so it’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car. BMWs often come with toolsets — however, you should also put together a kit containing, at minimum, a few snacks, water, a flashlight, a space blanket and flares. You should also carry a set of jumper cables.

It might sound like a lot, but these small things will allow you to drive your BMW all through the winter. That’s an easy choice compared to winding up stuck in a snowbank.

How to Keep Your BMW From Getting Scratched

Purchasing a BMW is an investment, whether you’re buying one new off the lot or getting one secondhand. The last thing you want on your new, or new-to-you, BMW are scratches on that beautiful paint job. How can you keep your BMW from getting scratched, even if you drive it every day?

Don’t Skimp on the Car Wash Supplies

It might be tempting to wash your new BMW with whatever you have on hand — even if that’s just dish soap and an old washcloth.

Stop right there — especially if your car is a darker color.

For one thing, dish soap is designed to be a degreaser. It’s good for getting baked-on food off your favorite pans, but not so good for your car’s finish. It will strip away anything that’s protecting your paint job.

Invest in some good car wash soap, and use high-quality microfiber cloths to wash your car. If you’ve got two buckets handy, set one up for your dirty rinse water and one for your clean soapy water. That keeps any dirt or debris you wash off the car from sticking to your washcloth or sponge and scratching the paint.

Dark cars are the worst for this sort of thing — it doesn’t take much to get myriad cobweb-like scratches on your car’s surface. Be careful, and don’t be cheap with your supplies.

Be Sure to Apply Wax

A good car wax is a must to keep your paint protected. Think of it as sunscreen for your car. You wouldn’t go to the beach without protecting your skin, so you shouldn’t take your car out without protecting it as well.

Pick a good-quality wax you like and make sure you reapply it a few times a year. If you’ve got a black or darker-colored car, look for a wax that’s designed for darker paint. Not only does it protect better, but it’s also formulated to make your car look downright stunning.

Be Smart When You Park

Be prepared to walk — your parking skills might be great, but you can’t vouch for anyone else in any given parking lot. Instead of putting your paint job at risk by parking close to the store, park further away, where there are fewer cars. Sure, you’ll have to walk a bit more, but it’s worth it to keep some random person from knocking into your bumper or dinging your car door when they open theirs too hard.

This is especially important when it comes to long-term parking, such as at the airport. If you’re going to park for a while, make sure you pick a reputable parking lot, and put a good layer of wax on your car before you take it in. It might not be able to stop a determined vandal, but a good layer of wax can shrug off an accidental door ding or other minor contact damage.

Empty Your Car

This should be something you do no matter where you park. If your car is somewhere that is frequented by people, make sure you take all your valuables and belongings out of it before you park. Thieves aren’t trying to protect your paint job when they’re breaking into your car to steal your phone, tablet or laptop because you left it in plain sight.

Take everything with you — even chargers. If you absolutely must leave your valuables in your car, place them in your trunk or somewhere else completely out of sight. You can also opt for a car safe that you can use to lock up your belongings while you’re away.

Sometimes, taking care of your paint with a good wash and wax is all you need to do to keep your BMW from picking up a few stray scratches. It won’t prevent humans from intentionally damaging your car, but it does wonders to protect against accidental damage and regular wear and tear so you can drive your favorite BMW anywhere and everywhere.