All posts by Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington writes all over the internet about cars. He was (probably accidentally) interviewed to be the host of the next Top Gear USA.

How to Get the Most out of Your BMW’s Engine

BMW has always been known for powerful, high-quality engines, but no engine will keep running forever without a bit of maintenance and some TLC. What do you need to do to get the most of out of your new or new-to-you BMW engine?

Change Your Oil

Changing your oil is one of the most important things you can do to keep your engine running smoothly for as long as possible. You don’t need to change it every three months or 3,000 miles, though — that’s a sales gimmick to make you spend more money than necessary.

You might hear a rumor that you can go 15,000 miles between oil changes for a BMW, but this isn’t true either. While newer models can go up to 10,000 miles between changes, the manufacturer recommends an intermediate oil change somewhere in the middle to make sure everything is running smoothly. Plan on changing your oil every 7,500 miles or so.

Invest in Good Engine Treatments

A good engine treatment can give your oil an edge and help you get the most out of your engine.  Depending on the formula to the individual treatment, it can improve the lubrication of your engine oil, protect your moving parts from dirt and engine debris and even improve gas mileage.

It is important to note that not all engine treatments are created equal and there are tons of them on the market right now. Most auto parts stores have an entire wall dedicated just to engine treatments, so do your research to find out which treatment will work the best for your individual engine needs.

Don’t Buy Cheap Filters

When it comes to filters, you definitely get what you pay for.  Cheap filters clog quickly and have to be replaced more often, which can bog down your engine and, if left in place too long, potentially cause damage.

We’re not saying you have to drop a ton of money on a high-end reusable K&N filter or anything — just don’t buy the cheapest filters on the shelf, because you’ll end up regretting it. Think of car filters as you would shoes: you can spend $100 on a pair of sneakers that will last you a year or you can spend twenty bucks five times on cheap sneakers that hurt your feet and wear out after a month or two.

The same thing applies to filters.

Pick a Specialist, Not Your Neighborhood Mechanic

One of the best things you can do for your BMW is to drive right past your neighborhood mechanic and instead head to a local BMW specialist. Not only will they have a better idea of the kind of treatment your BMW needs, but they’ll also have easier access to the replacement parts and equipment you need to ensure your car keeps running for years to come.

A BMW is a good car to invest in if you want something that will see you through many years of daily driving — but no car can survive if you don’t take care of it. Keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your BMW engine.

Rolls Royce owner crashes into cage meant to protect his car

We go to great lengths to protect our cars.  Whether that means parking your car in multiple spaces, investing in a garage, or buying a cage to keep prying hands away from your favorite car, there’s one thing that remains the same — you need to park your car well in order to keep it safe. One car owner in Australia found this out first-hand, much to his chagrin.

An Exciting New Car

It’s a tale as old as time — or at least as old as money. A rich guy spends a lot of money on a car and then spends his nights worrying about keeping it safe. In this case, the car was a $645,000 (Australian Dollars) Rolls Royce Wraith. In U.S. currency that comes out to about a $400,000 USD Rolls Royce Wraith, depending on the day’s currency conversion rates.

The Wraith is a car that has no rivals in its class. Instead of being the classic ‘car to be chauffeured in’ it’s designed to be driven and driven well. The latter part is what the Australian owner apparently had trouble with.

Designed to Protect At Least In Theory

Our Rolls driver wasn’t content with the parking facilities near his home. It wasn’t like he was parking on the street. The garage he was using had Lamborghinis and McLarens and even had a totally secure gate like these one.  That wasn’t enough for him though. To ensure his investment was protected, he had a custom cage built around his parking space.

Yes, you read that right.  He put his $400,000 car in a cage like a farm animal or a misbehaving pet. In theory, this should protect his car.

The Results

Unfortunately, it takes some basic car navigation ability to move in and out of a caged-in parking space — and most people seem to be incapable of parking in regular uncaged parking spaces! This cage the Rolls owner had built to protect his car ended up being his downfall — he was unable to make his way in and out of the parking space and ended up crashing into the cage!

A low-speed parking crash might seem like a minor inconvenience, but in this instance, it turned out to be an expensive mistake. Not only was there body damage to the exterior of the car, but he also lost a rear marker light, and damaged the steering to the point that the car had to be towed away for repairs.

There is a lesson to be learned here — if you can’t park your car don’t spend the money to cage in your parking space. You’ll end up regretting it.

Tools You Need for Working on Your BMW

Making the commitment to work on your BMW rather than sending it to a shop is commendable, but even with the money you save in labor, you’ll need to make an initial investment in tools. We’re not talking about spending thousands of dollars for BMW-specific VANOS adjustment toolkits from Germany, just the basics.

There’s nothing worse than getting halfway into a job and discovering you haven’t got the tool you need to fix your car. With a little bad luck, this could mean undoing all your work so you can drive back to the auto parts store. Rather than have that happen, get these essentials in your garage before you get started.

A Socket Set

Many BMWs come with a small toolkit that folds down from the top of the trunk. In it, you’ll find around 10 basic tools you can use to do basic jobs on your car, including box wrenches. You only need to try removing a battery with a box wrench once to learn the value of a good ratchet and socket set.

A Torque Wrench

The service manual says those head studs should be tightened down to 100 ft. lbs., but, hey, if you guesstimate, what could go wrong? The answer is, quite a bit. Instead of being unsure and putting expensive BMW parts at risk, get yourself a torque wrench so you know when you’ve tightened things to the proper spec.

An Air Compressor

An air compressor is a particularly handy tool for cars that do weekend warrior duty at the track. It’s easy to let air out of your tires, but how do you air up without visiting a gas station? Install a compressor in your garage and you’ll be able to stiffen up those sidewalls before your track session. Just make sure you allow them to cool before letting air out — you could damage tires if you don’t wait.

A Multimeter

Why isn’t that new head unit you installed working? Should you be worried about the life left in your alternator? Is that broken window switch just not getting power, or is something else wrong? These questions and many more can all be answered by the handy electrical multimeter, a tool all car do-it-yourselfers should own.

A Work Light

Is a light a tool? We say yes. When the sun goes down and you’re still knee-deep in a project, a work light lets you get the job done. Besides, if you fail, all the people at cars and coffee are going to give you crap about BMW reliability. Actually, they’ll probably do that anyway — but the point remains, don’t be that Bimmer owner.

An Impact Gun

When you’re working on suspension components, wheels have to come off. When you’re working on other components, sometimes you need to get to suspension components. Impact guns make this easy, and they can remove or install a whole lot more than just wheels. Plus, they make the coolest sound of any car tool, so who wouldn’t want one?

This list will get you off to a good start, and there are many more wise additions to your toolset you can make from here. Equipped with a solid set of tools, your BMW repairs will be cheaper, your bond with your car will be stronger — and, most importantly, your bank account will be fatter.