Category Archives: DIY

What to Look for When Buying a Used BMW 3 Series

Owning a BMW is a fantastic experience, but for most of us, buying a new one off the lot isn’t an option because of the cost. Luckily, plenty of used BMWs are on the market just waiting for you to pick them up. If you’re want to purchase a used BMW 3 series, what should you be on the lookout for? Here are four things.

  1. Cooling System Problems

The BMW 3 series is an excellent line of vehicles, but it’s notorious for coolant system failures between 80,000 and 100,000 miles. The 3 series has three main failure points: the expansion tank, the thermostat and the water pump.

If you’re getting a BMW that has more than 100,000 miles on the odometer, find out if the cooling system has ever been serviced, and how long ago the service happened. If it hasn’t been, expect to replace all three of those parts at the same time to prevent cooling system failure.

  1. Frame Damage

Older cars are always at risk for rust or frame damage, and 3 Series BMWs are no exception. If you’ve found a good car you’re interested in purchasing, make sure to have it inspected at a BMW shop or a shop that has a BMW specialist on staff.

It isn’t a deal-breaker — especially if you’ve found your dream BMW — but it is an expensive repair, so make sure you keep that in mind.

  1. Too Many Stickers

The fact that stickers are on the car isn’t going to be a huge deal. However, it could be a clue into how the car was handled in the past. If the car is covered with racing stickers, chances are it was at least autocrossed. Again, this may not be a bad thing if it was done right, but it could also mean the car was driven hard. If the car has a snarky “eat my dust” or middle finger bumper sticker, chances are it wasn’t driven at exactly the speed limit everywhere it went.

Don’t worry, though — with the right tools, removing decals and stickers is simple. All you need is a razor blade and an adhesive remover. Slide the razor blade under the edges of the sticker, then spray beneath it with the adhesive remover. Repeat as necessary until the label comes off, then use the adhesive remover again to get rid of any remaining residue.

  1. Car History

This is a given for any used car — you should always write down the VIN and research the car’s history before you buy it. A site like CarFax or other similar resources will help you discover how many owners the vehicle had, whether the mileage is accurate and how well past owners have maintained it over the course of its life. It will also let you know if the car has ever been damaged or totaled. If anything in the car’s history doesn’t add up, you know this is probably a car you should avoid.

Picking up a used BMW 3 Series is a fantastic way to get your feet wet, so to speak, in the vast pool that is owning a BMW. Just do your research before you sign on the dotted line to make sure you’re getting the most for your money and aren’t buying a piece of junk.

How to Take Your Car to Its First Show

Car shows offer a fantastic way to see some amazing cars or show off your own car, but if you’ve never gone to one before, taking the plunge to present your car at its first show can be intimidating. Whether you’ve got a classic BMW that you want to showcase or a modded race car that you want to show off at the track, it’s essential to find out what you need to do before you take your BMW to its first show.

Wash Everything

If you’re going to show your car — no matter what model of car it is — you want it to be as clean as possible. Give the car a good wash to remove any dirt or debris and make it look shiny and new. Don’t neglect the interior of the car or under the hood. If you’re showing your BMW, you’ll want to give your engine a good cleaning. It doesn’t have to appear off-the-assembly-line new, but you want to make it look like you at least made an effort!

Once everything is washed, add a good coat of wax, and polish your car so that you’re sure it looks its best when you’re on the showroom floor.

Pick Your Class

Before you enter a show, you’ll want to make sure you pick the right show class. There are generally three classes — street, stock and modified — but each show might have its own classes. Be careful to read up on the individual show before you enter.

Stock cars are cars that, other than being in good shape, are basically the same car that rolled off the assembly line when it was new. It might have some replacement parts, depending on the car’s mileage, but it hasn’t been modified at all.

Streetcars fall in the middle and might contain some aftermarket parts or paint jobs. They still look like their classic stock counterparts, but they pack a few extra secrets under the hood.

Modified cars, as their name suggests, have been heavily modified and may have a lot more power than street or stock cars.

Keep All Your Paperwork

It’s not just the car that the judges are going to look at. Make sure you have all your paperwork in order, including your license, registration, proof of insurance and receipt for your entry fees. You can and probably should also have some process photos of your car, especially if you’re entering in the modded class. Having some before and after pictures can help show the judges all the work you’ve put into your favorite BMW.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is to have fun — win or lose, car shows are a great place to network and find some new friends or reconnect with old ones while you enjoy a few brews over the hoods of your favorite cars. You can enter your BMW in nearly any car show, but you might want to pick a BMW-only show if you really want some competition.

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.