By on October 19, 2016

CBS-Message

Manufacturers want you to believe that their vehicles are durable, but at the same time they want to make money. So, they make continuous improvements and updates in order to keep buyers coming back. Setting a hard limit for how long a vehicle should last would be detrimental to any brand, but soft limits — like the five-digit odometers of the 60s and 70s — made owners aware that they should dump their car before the 100,000 mile mark rolls around.

We’re well into six digit territory now, as the commonly accepted lifetime for vehicles has doubled to 200,000 miles. However, according to its service software BMW thinks its cars shouldn’t be on the road that long.

Starting around 2002, BMW implemented a system called Condition Based Service (CBS), which is a set of algorithms that calculates how often service such as oil changes should be performed. The system uses sensors and mileage to make the calculations, allowing them to increase the time between service intervals without any detrimental effects on the vehicle.

This worked out well for BMW and allowed the automaker to start offering free maintenance as a perk to dangle in front of potential buyers. This was initially offered for 4 years or 50,000 miles, but was recently reduced to 3 years or 36,000 miles. The timing of the free maintenance offer makes sense, as more than half of new BMWs are now leased. It also works in their favor since the CBS pushed oil change intervals to as long as a 15,000 miles.

The question of how long a BMW is supposed to last past this initial period has been answered partly by the software used to reset the service interval counter for the CBS system.

Owners and technicians have discovered that once a post-2002 BMW hits 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles), the counter no longer functions and owners will no longer be notified of their next service. While it’s smart to keep up with your own service and make sure to do it at regular intervals, BMW specifically designed this system to notify drivers and put them at ease, safe in the knowledge that their car will tell them when it needs service.

Another tell that these models are not meant to be touched by the customer is that most of them no longer have a traditional dipstick, instead employing an oil level sensor that displays the level in the instrument cluster after a few button presses.

E90 rear quarter, photo courtesy Michael Karesh

One E90 (2004-2012 3 Series) owner decided to make a case with BMW USA to see if they could patch the issue, but was unsuccessful. According to his reply on e90post.com, he states:

The software in the ECU is programmed to stop taking the oil quality data provided by the oil sensor. After 186,000 miles (300,000 KM) the CBS will start resetting the OCI at a lower level than the previous OCI (mine cut down to about 9,200 from a normal 17,000 miles). The next oil change the CBS will only reset the OCI to 0 (zero). Once that happens the CBS starts counting down from zero in negative increments. As of August 2013, when I discovered the issue, BMW reinstalled the latest software at that time with the “patch” that is supposed to take to oil change past due warning out of the engine start and engine shutoff routines so the CBS doesn’t constantly inform you that the engine is past due on an oil change.

My car now only notifies at engine start that the oil change is past due. The notification at engine shut down did go away. The CBS counts down in negative numbers. BMW recommends that once the car reaches this condition, to inform the customer to change the oil at regular intervals. I change mine now at every 10,000 miles (down from about 17,500 miles on average). Once the CBS gets to -10,000 I change the oil.

In August 2013 BMW NA opened a PUMA case on my car regarding the software not completely removing the oil change notice. I tried for about 16 months to see if BMW Germany was going to address the PUMA, but they never did. At the time in Aug 2013 BMW NA told my dealership that I had the highest mileage E90 in the USA and it was the first instance of the issue they had seen. Why BMW designed the software this way still remains a mystery to me. BMW has really moved on from me as a customer. I’ve found the Cadillac ATS as what I would consider a replacement for my 3-Series as it actually drives like a BMW and most of the 2014 and beyond BMWs drive like old model Cadillacs.

After 221,000 miles once the OCI only reset to zero, my oil consumption seemed to drastically change. Basically the engine at 221K used 1 quart of oil about every 10,000 miles. Now it’s down to about 6,000 miles. But the pan gasket had started to leak around that time too, but not terrible. In January 2016 I replaced the oil pan gasket. I’ve not kept super accurate records of oil consumption since the pan gasket change, but will once I change the oil at 300,000 (probably in 2 weeks). Attached is the BMW information I was given by my BMW Dealer who tried to solve the issue.”

SCBS_6006

Once the magic number is reached and the technician attempts to reset the interval, they will get a message saying a reset is no longer possible and that their only option is to partially remove the oil service warning. If the removal isn’t completed, the driver will continuously be alerted that an oil change is due during engine start and stop. If the removal is completed, the alert will only come on once the engine is started.

The instructional document tells the tech how to remove the warning and contains a small note to inform the customer that the vehicle must be serviced at fixed intervals in the future. Most mid-2000s models that employ CBS are affected by the limitation. We reached out to BMW to confirm why this specific limit was implemented and if their newer models have a longer service notification life but haven’t received a reply. For now, the only answer for affected high-mileage BMW owners is the partial removal of the service notification and setting your own service intervals.

[Image: CBS Message via r/justrolledintotheshop; Reset document via e90post.com]

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106 Comments on “BMW Basically Claims Its Vehicles Are Disposable...”


  • avatar
    Jagboi

    I suppose few vehicles will reach that mileage before something else breaks that make the car uneconomic to fix. Looking at cars in the junkyard, few are over 300,000 km, the exception being Panthers and some trucks.

    The highest I have seen was a Crown Vic taxi, with the odometer showing 600,000 km, and a sticker in the door jam saying the odometer was replaced at 800,000km, for a total mileage of 1,400,000 km!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I’ve seen, owned and driven vehicles with far more than 300k kilometers. Hell, try 300k MILES!

      My Taurus has 225k miles on its original drivetrain, my neighbor’s 1997 has 258k miles on its drivetrain. My dad’s 1999 F-250 has 330k miles, again original drivetrain. I have driven a 1990s Crown Victoria with over one million miles and rode in an F-350 with 1,034,xxx miles (was a one owner company truck).

      Maybe its the rust that keeps cars up north from reaching high mileage, or maybe you’ve been buying the wrong cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “My Taurus has 225k miles on its original drivetrain”

        Jesus, why don’t you just buy something nice like a new Corolla? You deserve it!

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It really all depends on where you live and how you use it.

        My brother used to work as a roads/bridges maintenance and construction supervisor. He averages a new truck every 2-3 years. They get too expensive to keep in service much beyond 100,000 km.

        I had an F250 that I kept for 15 years but only had 225,000 km on it. 15 winters and it was a rust bucket with a dying engine.

        I’ve heard of 1 million mile cars or trucks but all were from warm Southern USA states.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Your idea of “economic to fix” may be different if you are using the vehicle in taxi service than if you are just an ordinary owner.

      I’ve seen plenty of second-gen Prius taxis around Seattle and the Bay Area with over 500,000 miles. Those things are indestructible.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        It’s more like if you simply drive the car 24×7, they last a LOT more miles. I worked for a courier service in college that easily got 500K miles out of late 80s early 90s Ford Escorts. A true crapwagon if ever there was one. But if you could put 500K on them if you did it in three years.

        Time is actually harder on a car than miles.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        How many batteries do those Prii go through in 500K do you think?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Zero to one.

          NiMH batteries like being in constant use.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Cars in general like to be in constant use. See my example of 500K mile Ford Escorts back in the day.

            Toyota’s battery usage strategy for the Prius is to maximize battery life over everything else. It’s incredibly conservative. Which is why the Prius should never, ever be used as some sort of example of how batteries last when talking about pure electric vehicles – apples and oranges.

        • 0 avatar
          Lack Thereof

          Most of the ultra-high-mileages 2nd gen prii I know of are on their original battery pack, but at reduced capacity. Their batteries far outlast the Civic hybrid batteries, but are still outlasted by the Ford Escape hybrid batteries, which allegedly “never” go bad. I’m sure it’s all due to careful state-of-charge management, Fonda using all the available capacity, Toyota and Ford using considerably less. The same reason Volt battery packs show way less capacity loss than Leaf batteries.

          Most high-mileage Prii die from very traditional engine failures – thrown rods, dropped valves, etc. The Prius episode of Roadkill was intended to be a Prius vs. Gremlin comparo/matchup… but their 289,000 mile Prius threw a rod on camera after 2 laps of Willow Springs.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      In my recent trip to Greece, I’ve seen a number of 2003-2007 diesel MB E-classes with 600k-800k miles on the odometer (I’ve converted from km). Manual transmissions.

      All drivers claimed drivetrains are original.

    • 0 avatar
      robc123

      I did 600k in a dodge aries- then sold it to a pizza delivery guy. great car (bench seats).

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      One of my E32 BMW’s (1994 740iL) has 275,000+ miles, so high-mileage cars are out there, including BMW’s

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    COMPUTER: Your BMW has surpassed the 300KM mark, initiating self destruct in 10, 9, 8…

  • avatar
    NeilM

    This sounds to me like a Y2K type problem, where the system doesn’t provide data storage of sufficient length for higher miles. (And before anyone points out that 200K or 400K miles have the same number of digits, the ECU won’t be counting in decimal.)

    Not BMW’s finest hour either way, especially since they’ve long been considered cars that would go to very high miles with proper maintenance. I have a friend whose E36 track car’s miles are well into the 200 thousands.

    My wife use to drive an MB 300E with well over 200K miles on the odometer. She decided she wanted to keep it until it hit the quarter million mark, so I’d check it every now and again to see how she was doing. Since I didn’t drive it very often myself it was ages before I realized that the odometer had been stuck in the mid 230’s someplace for a long, long time… D’oh! We sold it for nearly nothing to a guy who had a half dozen similar models as parts donors for the one actual runner.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Maybe CBS should instead start displaying a message that suggests owners sell their cars to potential LeMons drivers, for $500.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    First BMW extended oil change intervals into the neglect sphere. Then they removed dipsticks so owners wouldn’t see how bad 15,000 mile old oil looks. Now it turns out that they didn’t anticipate the cars lasting longer than 186K miles. Where’s the mystery?

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      THIS.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Well this still doesn’t solve the mystery of why do buyers keep coming back?

      QUANDT: I vold hav gotten away with it too, if it ver’nt for you meddling commentators!

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        New BMW drivers love disposable luxury. Who wants to see their car’s twin in the ghetto? It isn’t much of an issue when the cars hold up like pastries. They’re leasing anyway, so 186K miles is about as relevant as half a million miles is to people who buy. As long as BMW can manipulate residuals by exporting enough off-lease cars to developing countries, short lived garbage is a feature for the conspicuous consumption muppets.

      • 0 avatar
        andyinatl

        $299 lease specials that makes BMW something that average person could potentially afford (even if it wouldn’t be smarter than simply financing a Civic instead) is why they keep coming back. As mentioned in the article/comments somewhere, more than half of BMW buyers are leasing, so they don’t care. As long as they get to drive a new car with prestigious badge, at price they can afford while they have their job, they’re happy.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      100% agreed. As if I needed another reason to avoid modern German cars, it seems they don’t even think of their vehicles as long-term. If I bought a new car, unless I grew to hate it for some reason, it would have far more than 186k on it when I’d get rid of it. They way I care for and maintain vehicles, it’d probably see 300k.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Just a reminder – mid-2000s Toyota Corollas and Matrixes (Matrices?) had odometers that froze at 299,999km. OBVIOUSLY Toyota didn’t think of those wretched heaps as long-term either.

      • 0 avatar
        andyinatl

        To be fair, i think this is BMW thing at the moment. I know MB takes great joy in trumpeting everywhere how they stock parts for some old models. They even have classic shop now where you can have the old MB restored by factory.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Nicely summed up Todd :)

      You’ll be on your second suspension rebuild and third round of cooling system “maintenance” (read: replacement) by that point anyways, might as well throw in the towel!

      To be fair, the cooling systems seem to be somewhat more durable these days, but stuff like Vanos-related issues and battery drain problems from running 70+ modules have eclipsed those previous woes. Control arm bushings seem to be as wear-prone as always. I helped my brother diagnose a poor-running ’09 X5 not that long ago. With 145k miles, the 3.0L motor stilll ran great and transmission shifted well, but all the ancillary stuff like active headlights, parking sensors, etc was on the fritz. The reason we were working on it was a stalling issue that turned out to be the MAF sensor (surprisingly affordable at $200 for a good quality aftermarket one). To actually fix all of the things that were wrong (a solid list of 15-20 ish trouble codes) would bankrupt most of the second hand owners of these things.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      When I leased my 320i last November, I was told the service interval was 10,000 miles. My car called the mother ship at 7,000 and asked for new oil, I’m guessing because I live close to work and she frequently doesn’t get fully warmed up before shutdown. I’m assuming they use a synthetic or synthetic blend, but I didn’t ask and really don’t care. Leasing is kind of amazing that way–and a stark contrast to the worry and self-planning required to drive my Grand Marquis for 11 years.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      BMW long since walked back the OCI for North American vehicles. For both of mine, ’11 and ’16, the OCI is 1 year, 10K miles, or when the computer tells you to change it, whichever comes first. For giggles, when my ’11 had it’s first oil change I sent a sample in for analysis – the lab agreed with the BMW computer that the oil could go to 15K+. I think they put the hard stops in simply due to all the uninformed b!tching about it.

      As for the dipstick – modern cars oil generally looks pretty black after 3-4K miles. But that has nothing to do with the actual state of the oil. BMW has an oil level sensor that is also an oil *quality* sensor, that checks the oil level before every start and then nearly continuously as you drive. Something a dipstick cannot accomplish. So I don’t blame them for eliminating it. And I don’t miss it in the slightest. Does anyone miss manual ignition advance?

      This 300K thing is a software glitch and nothing more.

  • avatar
    slap

    We’ve got two cars with more than 300,000 km –
    one with 347,000 km and one with 400,000 km. It’s no big deal to get a car that far.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    After 300k km, change the oil at regular recommended intervals instead of hoping that you can keep using it. This doesn’t sound like the end of the world.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Could you see the B&B hatred if the GM oil life monitoring system did this.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      GM told people it was okay to run their Lamdas with the 3.6L V6 for 10k (or was it 7500 miles) between oil changes and did not make it clear enough to only use synthetic. The result is timing chain stretch/failures on a massive scale from all the folks treating these like an old Impala with an overhead valve motor and taking them to Jiffy Lube for the $30 special when they happen to remember to.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Im just curious how the B&B would react if this were say….Mazda or Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I “accidentally” ran my Tribute 10K between changes (the miles slip past a lot faster when you’re driving 500 a week). Based on how much I paid for oil and filter and how long it took me to change everything, it might be cheaper just to have a shop do it in the future.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          I feel you, I generally go 7-10k on my mazda3 due to the mileage I put on it with my commute.

          For that one, I always go to a shop – conventional is cheap anyway. I do the S2k myself though, since synthetic changes cost double, and once a year I do the diff and transmission fluid while it’s on the lift, which would cost me $2-300 if I paid a shop to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      The odometer in my dad’s ’92 Cutlass Supreme displayed “Error” after it passed 199,999 km, but would still display the mileage in miles. They couldn’t be bothered to set it up to display values beginning with “2.” That’s pretty unimpressive, even in 1992.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Well at least the odometer still functions. A buddy of mine has a Honda CBR954 motorcycle and the digital odometer froze at 99,999km and wouldn’t roll over. He switched it to miles which worked until it too wanted to roll over. That was about 5 years ago, he goes by color and feel on the oil changes since.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      He should hook a bicycle computer up to the front wheel. For $15-30 he can get his odometer back. Plus cool things like recorded top speed :-)

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I’m impressed that your buddy ran those kind of miles. Over here people think their sport bikes are “high mileage” by 30,000 km or so, but that’s only because they don’t ride them.

  • avatar

    My 2003 330i has 329k. OK, the clutch is slipping and the frame has substantial rot and and I’m tossing a CE light for an air pump, but it still starts and goes.

    Oh well, I don’t like the F30 and most of the current cars anyway.

    I guess they don’t build them like they used to.

    Oh, and I always change my oil 5-8k…the oil monitors show about 20%, usually.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      My 04 545i just cracked 100k and has never been without an error warning or failure in the time I’ve owned it. Fix one oil leak, get a new one. Replace one part of the cooling system to have some other part of it let go. I could not imagine this car getting over 200k, much less 300k. I’d say you got a winner.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    It does seem awfully short-sighted that the end of life mode is a constant service reminder. It would make much more sense to just switch to a 7K mile fixed interval. I’ve seen similar BMW logic issues with the trip computer. If you don’t reset it for thousands of miles, you start to get nonsense or negative numbers.

    I used to be surprised that owners manuals only had maintenance charts up to 120K miles, essentially saying at that point to keep doing what you’ve been doing.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    My 1991 Citroen BX 16 TGI Break has more than 520,000 km on the clock. The bodywork is rapidly crumbling away by now, but the mill is still going strong. I’m probably going to invest into the welding needed to make it another TÜV interval (two years) … still regretting I didn’t do that for my previous 1987 Golf GTI 16V at 408,000 km.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    I’m guessing that after 300km, BMW didn’t want the computer speculating on when the next service or oil change is.

    If the system is anything like other manufacturers, the system has parameters that trigger the oil change light other than miles (cold starts, temperature, oil quality etc)
    They don’t know how the motor is going to wear at that point, and don’t want owners blowing engines from going to long between oil changes.

    • 0 avatar

      I can see that point of view but they should have put some sort of trigger in place instead of just shutting down the system. Maybe forcing the reminder to come on automatically every 7500 kilometers?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        When cars reach 185,000 miles, maintenance needs are going to vary greatly on a case-by-case basis. You wouldn’t want to trust an algorithm for that.

        Your desire to find some nefarious motive is just silly.

        • 0 avatar

          So are you suggesting that notifying owners to change their oil every single time they start their car is a better solution then coming up with some sort of mileage based trigger or allowing them to disable it fully after they hit 185k?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The image that you posted indicates that the service warning can be turned off.

            You’re on a snipe hunt with this one.

          • 0 avatar

            Pch, Please read above and pay attention to the part where I state: “If the removal isn’t completed, the driver will continuously be alerted that an oil change is due during engine start and stop. If the removal is completed, the alert will only come on once the engine is started.”

            The removal only half works which is why they labeled it as beta in the diagnostic software.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            So there is a glitch in the alert. Apparently, it is being fixed, hence the beta.

            Concluding that the OEM turns off the service light because it feels that the car is disposable is ridiculous. That’s akin to arguing that a defective brake light is motivated by the OEM’s desire to have your car rear-ended.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        they probably didn’t anticipate this or there’s a bug where the counter(s) which track this rolled over or over-flowed. it’s like some old software for Windows which puke when you have a disk drive greater than a certain size. Usually it’s 2 GB, and the installer (using signed integers) fail by saying something absurd like “(program) cannot be installed due to insufficient free disk space. Your free disk space is -2147483648 bytes.”

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    186,411 miles? Sounds like a moot point to me if we’re talking about BMW – my brother has owned several 3 Series and he said they’re pretty much impossible to keep running after 90,000 miles or so, unless you’re willing to spend obscene amounts of cash and time…

  • avatar
    whitworth

    “It also works in their favor since the CBS pushed oil change intervals to as long as a 15,000 miles.”

    I would love to find an engineer or someone knowledgeable (without an agenda) to weigh in on how this effects the longevity of a modern engine. I’m sure there’s all sorts of other factors, but 15k miles seems WAY too long, especially considering how many cars have things like turbochargers and run hot.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      15k miles is nothing for modern oil – especially with a large sump capacity and LL-01 rating – provided the time intervals are short enough to prevent excessive contamination due to cold starts and warm-up.

      The sludge problems occur when people think they can ignore the time limits.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Independent oil analysis has proven the oil to last just fine to those mileages.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Here’s why BMW doesn’t make long lasting cars.

    Customer buys or leases a new BMW. Life’s a beach. Some years later stuff starts breaking. Minor stuff, mind; but each time they’re shown what the bill Would Have Been if there’s no warranty.

    Near the end of the lease (or warranty period for owners) , BMW pitches the Capone Deal. The customer can spend $5,000 or so on an extended warranty and keep their current car until 100,000 miles, at which point even BMW won’t touch it with their warranty.

    OR….they can trade their used, ticking time bomb low resale value German luxury car for a New BMW.

    Thus the cycle continues. Most rational people just get a new BMW and call it good for the next few years. And voila- BMW now has a guaranteed (more or less) supply of consistent business . You have to approach owning a modern BMW as a subscription plan ; when the warranty and/or lease ends its time to re-up with a new car .

    Making the cars last until 200K would break the business model. Actually, making cars with a decreasing reliability factor over time is a good thing ; as that motivates the customer to ditch their “old” car for a new ones . What BMW doesn’t want is Joe Customer driving off the lot with a car he’s gonna keep for another 50K miles ; HQ doesn’t make money off of that.

    Reputation? They have one of the best names in the business. They own the automotive press . Anyone who says even a slightly critical thing about BMW is shouted down as a heretic, even while the pitchfork crowd secretly re-ups their towing coverage. The guy who says its BS his expensive luxury car is a lemon isn’t taken seriously, all the while BMW laughs all the way to the Berlin Bundesbank.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    This issue appears to be an ant fart. It wouldn’t appear to impact many new BMW buyers/lessees.

    Fun fact: One German word for trinket is Schmuckstück.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Another high point for BMW caring about their customers.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    ugh. i guess this means BMW drivers should act like mere drivers since the computer cant nanny them?

    i just do an oil/filter change with an OEM or equivalent filter and mobil1 every 7500

    and some people think thats too long of an interval… ugh.

    scion xA with the weak but bulletproof 1.5

    side note- i hope our friend in japan with the US spec minivan is doing ok.

  • avatar
    formula m

    Asked my friend tonight if he had this happen with his 04′ 325xi with 330,000km on it. He is a mechanic and changes his oil every 6k. Said he has never seen it. He paid $900 for it 18months ago when it had 304,000kms. Only drives it for the winter here and drives his mustang in the summer so he only puts on 16,000km(10k mi) per year.
    He also said he has never seen any change oil light come on over the 25,000kms he has owned it. Guess it could have been disabled just before he got it but unlikely.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe BMW should go in partnership with Samsung and develop an oil warning system that causes the engine to halt and catch fire and self-destruct at 300,000 km. BMW could change their slogan to “The Ultimate Self-Destructing Machine.”

  • avatar
    S197GT

    wife and i bought her a 2006 bmw 330 (e90) used with 30k miles in early 2009.

    car now has 164k miles.

    oil changes every 18k miles when the cbs computer tells us. she drives a lot of highway miles.

    things that went wrong: had to get one wheel straightened. front control arms replaced (two bent), tie-rods replaced (one seized). the a/c compressor pulley broke once. valve cover bolt broke (common issue) so new bolt and gasket (indy shop), oil filter housing gasket (diy).

    other than that… normal wear and tear. tires. one set of pads/rotors all around (diy), rear shocks (diy) front struts (indy shop), plugs (indy shop), serpentine, tensioner, idler (diy).

    been a great car. interior and exterior have held up great. she still loves it and doesn’t really care for the loaner f30 cars we have gotten from the dealer (for oil changes); one reason why we have kept it so long.

    we also own a 2000 Z3 bought four years ago. also been a great car, but only sees a little over a thousand miles a year.

    bmw has been a good experience for us. wouldn’t hesitate to buy another… we just don’t like the new stuff!

  • avatar

    Sigh, let’s put some real prospective here.

    BMW are complex, expensive, typically technology wise state of the art when they are released. with that complexity requires folks who have special skills and knowledge to repair and maintain them. It’s an expensive car, why does it surprise anyone that maintaining them is expensive? The problem is most people who own bmws third hand from the buy here pay here lot can’t afford,to maintain them, then bitch when something breaks. Those folks, on,y consider the payment they really can’t afford, then cry when they have to fix them.

    All cars wear out and break, In the last year I’ve purchased my 1st and 2nd bmws both used. I maintain them myself, and you know what? They really are easy to work on and have not cost me much to maintain. I bought a used 2011 335d in 2015 and a used 2008 X5, both run great. Both have great forum support and lots of diy articals to fix anything you want.

    Another secret to bmws…. you don’t have to fix the cars with factory parts. Example, power lift gate struts fail, BMW part 400 each, instead replace them with standard non power struts for 90 for both. Whola, working car and cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Yeah, but now you no longer have a working power liftgate. Reminds me of a friend who compromised and cheaped out on everything when trying to keep his used E500 running. If you’re ok with the resulting plebeian experience, why not just get a reasonable car to begin with?

      Also: “Whola?” Is that Québécois for “Hey there, something’s wrong?”

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Common sense is not as common as one might think.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s really a matter of what you want isn’t it? Even if a car comes used with an option doesn’t mean it matters much. My point was not all X5’s come standard with a power lift gate and if you want there is nothing wrong with converting it to a fully functional less expensive option. I did look at a lot of 8-10 year old cars under 15k, Mercedes, Lincoln, porche, vw, Yukon, none had functional power lift gates.

        My only point is if you want a great car and don’t need certain options which were optional, convert it to the less expensive choice. other than the power hatch, everything works perfectly in this old bimmer, and really it dosent break all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      What’s state of the art about defects ? The fact that BMW made individual throttle bodies for their E46 M3 is awesome. The fact that the cars subframe folds up like an accordion is NOT.

      Then there’s the PIA experience of fixing them DIY. The mothership doesn’t want its customers doing repair work , and it shows in the parts and component design. Reverse threaded regulator bolts , diagnostic computers that cost a mint, parts and sensors located in back-a$&wards places.

      Here’s a reality show idea : let’s have a production company randomly buy both a used 2003 M roadster and a 2003 Honda S2000 of similar mileage. Two contestants pick a car ; whoever changes the water pump properly first wins both the car and a date with Scarlett Johannsen.

      Whos picking the BMW?

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      More rationalization doesn’t address the core issue: BMWs are not nearly complex enough to justify your argument and excuse their brittle nature and far-too-numerous accelerated wear/tear issues. Yours is the rationale normally trotted out with exotics. BMWs are in no way exotic.

      BMW’s problem is easily identified…they are aggressively engineered, every part, every assembly, every unit…to have design/wear margin systematically shaved off to cut manufacturing costs, with the side benefit of increasing repair opportunities. Almost every issue with modern BMWs can be traced directly back to this design culture.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I just don’t buy the “but it’s so state of the art!” excuse.

      And the reason I don’t buy it is that I own a 1995 Acura Legend. It cost as much as the 525i of the time and sold better despite being FWD. It was fully competitive in terms of being “state of the art.” And at 188,000 miles and almost 22 years of age, it’s had lots of routine maintenance, but only the following documented repairs, and no systems “overhauls”:

      – Both front wheel bearings
      – Replace leaky valve cover gaskets
      – One fuel pump
      – A few control arm and ball joint replacements

      That’s it. Really. That should put to rest any defense of BMW fragility.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “I just don’t buy the “but it’s so state of the art!” excuse.”

        Owners buy into the BMW BS. I (recently) had someone say “well of course they might be a little less reliable, they have like 8 computers in them!”

        Uh, a Ford Fusion has almost 30.

      • 0 avatar

        BMW drivers car about the driving cars experience, no car with original suspension components handles like new at 180k miles, more like easy rider clapped out.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        For some perspective, I have a clean Saturn SL (<42K) and I think I'm going to put new control arms on it because of clunking making turns. Granted there may be environmental concerns due to your climate and the climate where the Legend came from, but its phenomenal to get that age and use out of a control arm, IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, the difference between working on a BMW and a Caddy, is that the BMW assumes Hans, a factory trained mechanic with a full shop of every sort of tool known. Expect 2 hours work to replace a $19 hose.

      Caddy is set up for Goober to fix. The assemblies are simpler, the five different fasteners for no real reason thing does not exist. Working on Caddy after doing BMW is like Fischer-Price vs. Escher.

      You do have to watch your non BMW parts. You win if you buy the OE supplier, but you can lose if you buy some other bits. A good way to tell is if your OE suppler part has “bmw’ dremeled off….

  • avatar
    robc123

    Shit there goes my idea for a sporty daily.

    What is equal to a bmw 128i?
    $20k ish used, small wheelbase, light, manual, fun driver, reliable, 2 door, 4 season car? can be modded to get more HP/Torque.

    The only thing I am coming up with is the brz, with mods. Or a mustang- but I think they are terrible in winter, even w. good winter tires. Or a fiat arbarth.

  • avatar
    Cobrajet25

    I have an ’02 325i sedan (E46).

    It has been a great car. The key is buying the car’s maintenance history rather than the vehicle itself. Most European cars get needy and expensive once they have 8-10 years and 100,000+ miles on them (sometimes less). But they are much less needy and expensive if they got the proper care DURING those first 8-10 years and 100,000+ miles.

    What’s the old saying? “There is nothing more expensive than a cheap European car.”

    My car wasn’t cheap. It was a one-owner car that had been garaged it’s entire life and came with a stack of dealership service records. It was those records that I was paying for. Could I have paid less for a ‘mystery car’ with half a dozen previous owners and no records? Sure.

    All used cars are a crap-shoot. BMWs are just a high-stakes crapshoot…if you can’t afford to play, back away from the table and go buy a Corolla.

    So the OCI indicator tells the owner at 186k, “Hey, that’s all for me, buddy, now you are on your own.” So what…at least it seems to be defeatable? I will just do what I have done with every car I have had since I was a teenager: write the mileage of the next oil change in the upper left corner of my rear view mirror with a dry erase marker.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “write the mileage of the next oil change in the upper left corner of my rear view mirror with a dry erase marker.”

      There’s a new thing called a sticker, which the oil change place will put there for you. It’s even printed out now rather than hand written at some places.

      • 0 avatar
        Cobrajet25

        Uh, yeah,…thanks for the news flash about stickers, jackass. I change my own oil. Take off your pom-poms and try it sometime.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        A friend gave me a roll of those oil change stickers customized for my garage a few years back. “Rhodes Garaj Majal” as it’s referred to by the guys.

        I never actually use them, as all my cars bar the Spitfire get the oil changed annually, but it was a nice thought.

        Back when I did more miles per car, I wrote the last change date and mileage on the oil filter, but I also keep a spreadsheet of maintenance past and future due. Though the most recent BMW not only keeps track for me, it makes an appointment at the dealership for itself. Handy while it’s free…

  • avatar
    MeaMaximaCulpa

    Strange.
    In Sweden a BMW taxi – and there’s many – should reach 300 000 km in the first year of ownership/taxi service, but I’ve never heard of the oil monitoring system failing in this way.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Bless the internet for allowing us all to shamelessly flaunt our ignorance.


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