Category Archives: Car Care

Take Your BMW Wrenching to the Next Level

Working on your own car is one of the joys of ownership, and many BMW owners have some working knowledge of how to repair their cars, but just how comfortable are you turning wrenches when the stakes are high?

Mechanics spend years learning the ins and outs of specific BMW models, so when you begin life as a Bimmer enthusiast, don’t feel bad if a few trips to the shop are required. Over time, you can work on enhancing your skills. Stay with it, and a few years down the road you could be bolting whole cars together in your garage!

Entry-Level Jobs

No matter what kind of car you drive, saving money on maintenance and repair bills is an attractive idea. This is why many car enthusiasts choose to perform small jobs like oil changes and spark plug swaps on their own.

You will need a basic set of tools to pull off even these tasks — your car is not a snap-together model. For a few hundred dollars, you can pick up a basic set and a crawler to allow access below the vehicle. Don’t forget a quality set of jack stands — without them, you can’t raise the car off the ground safely.

Stepping Your Game Up

Once you’ve learned the basic layout of your BMW and how to find everything when the car’s in the air, you can begin to tackle tougher jobs. Maybe you’d like to install some upgraded suspension components or change out an old and failing radiator.

The more advanced jobs you’ll take on will require better access to the car. To give yourself better access and visibility when performing these jobs, a lift makes a great investment. If you know you will use it, you will recoup the money on jobs that would have required a mechanic’s facilities down the road. In some cases, you can even use a lift to add some parking space.

Advanced Procedures

When you’re comfortable making changes to individual components and performing routine maintenance, you can begin to consider doing more advanced jobs. There are classes available both for BMW-specific applications, and general engine work, you should attend if you’re going to do these jobs.

More advanced work might include complicated engine repair such as changing a camshaft or bottom-end component, or it might be making considerable modifications. Many enthusiasts talk about wanting to do an engine swap on their BMW, and while it’s certainly possible, you’ve got to know what you’re doing.

You Should Also Buy Some Orange Clean

Or GoJo — whatever pumice-derived cleaner you like best — because when you achieve this level of mechanical knowledge, all your friends are going to come around wanting your help. Hey, you live this stuff anyway, right? And if times get tough, you can always find work at a shop.

There are many reasons to begin doing your own work on your BMW. Start today and become a part of the movement keeping these timeless cars alive and well on the world’s roads.

When to Replace Your BMW’s Suspension

BMW may stand for the ultimate driving machine, but even the ultimate driving machine is subject to the wear and tear that comes in the course of everyday motoring. Depending on how often you drive your bimmer, your attitude behind the wheel and the road conditions your car sees, it will have different maintenance needs.

While most suspension components aren’t typically considered wear parts like your brake pads or clutch, they will need replacing if you keep your BMW for a long time. How do you know when it’s time to swap your worn suspension components out for new ones?

Signs of a Worn Suspension

The easy answer is when it feels sloppy and disgusting. Of course, there are varying degrees of slop that a driver will live with depending on their needs for the car. What one person might interpret as bad, another could view as an extra plush ride.

Your car’s springs control forward and rearward motion, while shock absorbers locate the wheel and help the body roll left and right. A car that rocks fore and aft when performing mundane maneuvers like a simple stop is likely in need of new shocks, springs or both.

Why a Warn Suspension Is Risky

While some authorities will tell you to replace shocks at a particular mile mark, that isn’t entirely accurate. It’s more about how the shock absorber performs, and performance will degrade more quickly in a car that is driven more or carries heavy loads frequently.

If you choose to keep running suspension components that are on their way to the scrap heap, you could end up doing more harm than good. Bottoming out and overloading suspension components can cause damage to your car’s bodywork or sensitive mechanical bits.

If you’re not sure what your car needs to resolve unacceptable suspension behavior, go to a professional mechanic for advice.

OEM or Aftermarket Replacements

It’s safest to replace the equipment on your BMW with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts because they are the same ones BMW used in the original design. However, some owners will want to use different parts to imbue their BMW with a more performance-oriented ride. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to do your homework to make sure the parts you get will deliver what you want.

Often, people choose to install coil-over suspension kits that ride more stiffly and can alter the ride height of the car. These upgrades will give a more aggressive look and increase the vehicle’s grip when cornering, but the tradeoff could be a harsher ride during your daily commute.

The internet is a great place to do your research if you think you want to tweak the way your car handles. While shocks and springs are some of the most critical components, there are also additional suspension components that may wear down, or that you might want to replace. These include anti-roll bars, A-arms, rear trailing arms and even bushings.

If you’ve waited to maintain the suspension on your BMW, get the job done right so you can be safer and more confident on the road.

Will the Sun Damage Your BMW’s Paint?

There’s nothing quite like rays of summer sunlight glinting off your car’s freshly waxed paint job, but that sunlight isn’t just good for pictures — it could be damaging your BMW’s paint job. How can you keep that stylish paint job in good shape without relegating your car to night driving?

Wash, Dry and Wax

The best thing you can do to protect your car’s paint job is to treat it well. First, wash your car with a soft cloth and a paint-friendly soap. Don’t use dish soap or any other suds-generating product you might have lying around the garage. These products are perfect for cleaning your dishes, but they contain abrasive qualities that can damage your paint’s clear coat and expose the paint to harsh UV rays.

Once you’re done washing and rinsing, dry your vehicle off with a chamois or microfiber cloth. Chances are, you’re not washing your car with filtered water, so leaving your car to air dry could also be leaving deposits of minerals or other contaminants to dry on your car.

Finally, put a good coat of wax on your car — in the shade or preferably in your garage. Putting wax on your car is akin to putting sunscreen on your skin. It protects your paint from the UV rays that can cause it to fade, weaken and peel. Just like sunscreen, you need to reapply it frequently to get the best protection possible.

Over time, sun exposure will damage your BMW’s paint. Treat your paint job like your skin and protect it as best you can from UV exposure.

Park in the Garage

We all love to show off our cars by parking them in the driveway or on the street, but parking them in the sun increases the exposure to UV rays. The solution to this is to park your car in the shade, but if that shade comes from a tree, you might find yourself washing your car more often than you’d like, due to pollen and sap falling from the branches.

Carports can be a good alternative, too, but keep in mind that carports won’t fully protect your vehicle from sun exposure. The best option is to park your car in a garage — but we get it. If you’re like most of us, your garage is full of clutter that has no other place in your house, and you just haven’t gotten around to sorting through it.

Need a good reason to clean out your garage and move your car inside? Here are a few. Not only does parking in the garage minimize sun damage to your vehicle, your garage also protects your car from would-be thieves or vandals. Keeping your car out of your driveway even helps improve the curb appeal of your home.

If you don’t have a garage, adding one to your home to protect your BMW and any other cars can be a worthwhile investment. Surveys have found an attached two-car garage can add upwards of $30,000 worth of value to your home, while a one-car attached garage or even a detached one can add between $15,000 and $20,000 in home value.

Keeping your BMW out of the sun all the time isn’t going to be an option — and we wouldn’t want it to be. Enjoy driving your car in the sunlight. Just make sure you take the time to protect your investment from the UV rays. A good wash and wax can do just that, but parking in the garage when you’re not driving is easily the best step you can take.