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.

7 Ways to Drive Improve Your BMW Driving

Driving is a great experience, but there are always ways you can make it better, especially if you’re enjoying a luxurious ride behind the wheel of a BMW.  If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck.  We’ve gathered a list of seven things you can do to drive your BMW a little better.

  1. Don’t Drain The Tank

This is especially important for the BMW 3 series, but you should keep it in mind for all of your BMWs — don’t run the car until the fuel tank is empty. There are much better ways to get some weight reduction. The fuel pump itself is inside the tank and is cooled by contact with the fuel — running the tank empty damages the fuel pump and can lead to an expensive and time-consuming repair.

  1. Eco Pro Mode for Winter Driving

We all love the traditionally turbocharged BMW engines, but that extra torque and spin put you at risk for getting stuck on snowy or wet roads.  No one likes the Eco Pro mode for standard driving — it makes your gas pedal feel heavy and you don’t accelerate as fast — but it’s ideal for wet or snow-covered roads.  You might accelerate a little slower, but it keeps you from spinning off into snowy oblivion.

  1. Pick the Right Shoes

Believe it or not, the shoes you wear can affect how you drive.  A good pair of driving shoes should securely fit on your feet but remain thin enough you can feel the car as you shift the pedals.  A good pair of Dockers will do the trick, and won’t break the bank either. They’ll allows you to get more responsiveness out of your car by providing tactile sensation and information through the bottom of your feet.

  1. Drive Defensively

When you’ve got the power of a BMW at your fingertips, it can be tempting to drive aggressively — speeding, accelerating quickly or braking heavily — simply because you can.  Not only does this put you at higher risk for an accident, but it’s also actually compromising your fuel economy. Studies have shown this type of driving lowers your fuel efficiency by up to 30 percent on the highway and up to 40 percent in city traffic. Drive safely and defensibly to improve your car’s fuel efficiency.

  1. Don’t Grind Your Gears

A manual transmission can take your driving experience to a whole new level, but only if you actually know how to drive it.  Grinding your gears, in addition to humiliating yourself, damages your transmission.  Shift properly, and avoid things like engine braking — shifting to a lower gear at high speeds to force the engine to slow the car down without pressing the brakes.  Yes, it is effective at slowing the car down, but it damages the car and leads to premature breakdowns.

  1. Stow the Cell Phone

This should be a no-brainer but it happens so often it bears repeating. Don’t mess around with your cell phone while you’re driving.  Distracted driving leads to more than 1.5 million accidents every single year — you can’t drive your BMW better if you’re watching a junker tow it away after you’ve totaled it. Stow the cell phone and if you absolutely need it, such as for navigation, use it in hands-free mode and stick it on your dashboard.

  1. Take a Class

If you’re like most of us, it’s been a while since you had a driver’s ed course — so you could probably use a refresher.  You can look into performance driving schools if you want to learn how to get the most out of your BMW, or you can simply look into your local DMV’s defensive driving course. Either way, you’re getting your skills refreshed, learning new skills and as an added bonus — many defensive driving courses qualify you for lower insurance rates!

Getting behind the wheel of a BMW should be something you enjoy — so take the time to become a better driver so you can enjoy it for many years to come.

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.

The Ultimate BMW Forum