Tag Archives: BMW

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.

How to Not Crash Your First BMW

Congratulations — you just signed on the dotted line and got to take home your first BMW. It’s so tempting to put the pedal to the metal and see what your new car can really do — but the last thing you want to do is crash your new car right after you pick it up! Here are a few tips and tricks to help you keep your new BMW on the road.

Know Your Car

Before you get behind the wheel, make sure you do some research on your new car. What is its top speed? How fast can it go from 0 to 60? What about stopping distance? If this is your first time owning something quick, you might be shocked at the difference between this and your old clucker.

While you probably won’t be trying to break that speed record, it’s still a good idea to know what your car’s capabilities are before you start driving it. It lets you know what to expect when you take off from a stoplight or have to slam on the brakes to avoid a distracted driver in front of you.

No Lead Feet

The BMW M5 30th anniversary edition can do 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 199 miles per hour. Even if this isn’t the model that’s sitting in your garage, chances are your BMW has more power than you’re used to in a car. Take off your lead boots and drive smart — you’re not going to hit that top speed on your daily commute or anywhere else unless you’re on a track, so stick to the posted speed limit when you’re on public roads. It can be tempting to push it on a straight highway, but remember you’re not the only one on the road.

No Distractions

It’s important to remember this anytime you’re driving, but it’s especially important if you’re behind the wheel of a powerful car like a BMW — be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let an accident on the side of the road, your favorite jam on the radio or a lovely sunrise distract you from driving. In this same vein, leave the cell phone in your pocket or your glove compartment. Distracted driving was responsible for 3,450 fatalities in 2016. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 83,000 accidents each year are the direct result of people driving while sleep-deprived. Driving without sleeping for 24 hours slows your reaction times — it’s roughly equal to a 0.10 blood alcohol level.

Don’t Show Off

Just search YouTube for “BMW Show Off Fail” and you’ll find hours of footage that is fun to watch but not so fun to be a part of. If this is your first time in a fast car, you might be surprised at how many people want to race you at a stoplight. It might seem like a fun challenge, but the pride you get from beating someone off the line isn’t worth the dozens of things that could go terribly wrong.

Getting your first BMW is an awesome experience, but you want to make sure you’re driving safely. The last thing you want to do is have to tow your BMW to the shop because you crashed it. Don’t speed, don’t get distracted and don’t open up that throttle unless you’re on the track. BMWs are powerful, but that power can be dangerous in inexperienced hands. Other than that, enjoy your new BMW and the fantastic comfort and security it offers — you’ve earned it.