Where Your Author Owns a Used BMW Convertible for a Year

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

It seems only a couple of months ago I reported on my experience traveling from Cincinnati to Nashville to purchase the 2010 BMW Z4, thus satisfying a used convertible car search that lasted for a year and a half. Though that search was much more lengthy than I’d have preferred, I was convinced at this time last year that I selected the right car for my usage case. But does that still ring true, do I still think an old German car was the right choice?


In a word, yes. Over the past year I’ve had many driving experiences both directional and directionless which were made much more enjoyable with the roof down and inline-six surround sound. I have never owned a car that generated such a positive reaction from the general public than this one. Thumbs up on the road, and being stopped at a fuel station or outside a store to answer a question or two is a new experience. People generally don’t know how old it is, and seem to think it may still be in production. Credit that to the unpopularity of the current Z4 Supra Edition perhaps.


The all-round performance of the Z is almost exactly what I was searching for, and that opinion has not waivered over the past year. For full driving notes have a look at the review from last May. If I could make one revision with regard to its characteristics, it would be the ride. 

Though European outlets of the day criticized the ride as not firm enough, it seems overly firm even in Normal setting here on Ohio’s poor condition roads. Much of that is likely due to the Bridgestone Potenza run-flats. Although grip is excellent, the tires are very firm, often fall into tramlining, and make too much noise. Perhaps a correction for this is on the horizon, more on that in a moment.  

The first problem encountered was a rather minor one: Trim infidelity. In early June I lost the driver’s side BMW logo off the fender because of ancient glue that turned to peanut butter. It fell off somewhere on I-275 and I’m sure was promptly smashed. From the factory it was a metal applique glued on top of a metal badge mount, which is the remaining bit in the image. 


In order to remove the badge mount and fit a new one the fender must be removed entirely. That meant breaking the paint on the bolts, and a lot of labor. Additionally, BMW doesn’t officially sell badges for the side of the Z4, they want you to buy the mounting assembly. However they do sell large “wheel center caps” that are too large to fit on the wheel of any vehicle they produce.

The 70mm (2.75”) diameter size matched exactly to the missing fender badge, and for $14.25 and some super glue the issue was fixed! Figuring out that a wheel center cap stood for “replacement badge” on a BMW took some doing. For easy reference by internet users years from now, it’s part number 36131181079.


Apart from the badge, at some point later in the summer the only real problem surfaced: The oil level sensor stopped working. The car didn’t make a fuss about it, just suggested a service was needed. When the oil level was checked on the gauge screen it said “INACTIVE,” meaning it’s failed. In mid September it went in to the local independent mechanic to get checked out generally, and have the oil changed. Remember, no dipstick on BMWs of this era, so you’re reliant on the (broken) oil level sensor.

It had been about 800 miles since the dealership changed the oil, and 54,694 in total. The shop found that no oil was burned, and the oil sensor was indeed faulty. It’s not a difficult job but involves draining the oil and dropping the pan. The price in total was about $800, so I elected to hold off on that. Will probably need to address it at some point, amidst wondering if it was faulty at purchase and the dealer cleared any error code. 


There were other maintenance items revealed by the mechanic’s (pretty thorough) inspection as well. New tires are needed at the rear, and the fronts will need replaced shortly thereafter. The front struts had small leaks started on them. The brake fluid had water and metals in it upon testing, and it’s also due for a coolant service. 

Of those results, nothing was all that surprising. Approaching 60,000 miles one would expect a brake fluid and coolant service. The struts are likely original to the car, and just plain old. After the service I put a new cabin filter on it, which was long overdue and filled with Californian leaves and detritus. 


It’s mostly sat through the winter, so there hasn’t been a big rush to get to the fluid service items. But spring is approaching (too early this year), so it’s time to take care of a few things. Tires are up first, and if you have any recommendations I’m all ears. 


I’d like to step away from the hard and loud run-flats, and go with a set of conventional tires. For reference, it’s staggered on 225/40R18 at the front, and 255/35R18 at the rear. This will be the first time in over 20 years of driving that your author will be purchasing tires for a vehicle. 

In the next couple of weeks it’ll be time for another anti-seize (Never-Seez NSBT-8) application on the convertible hinge components to keep them working properly. The top has worked perfectly throughout, with smooth operation, no issues and no leaks. It was certainly in need of lubrication at purchase last year, as operation was a bit quieter once the grease was in place. 


You’re all caught up now on the Z4. I’m looking forward to some nice spring drives here in the coming weeks, where I’ll expect to continue averaging 25 to 27 miles per gallon on a tank. Though those tanks cost an awful lot in our present Very Valuable Inflation Dollars. I’ll be in the comments looking for your tire recommendations!


[Images © Corey Lewis/The Truth About Cars]


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Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Jim Hudson Jim Hudson on Mar 29, 2024

    The Z4 I owned was the worst driving BMW ever. Would follow every groove or swell in the road - tramlined over everything. I was advised by BMW service writer that they all di dthat - nothing could be done. Did not have it very long. YMMV.

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Mar 31, 2024

    Super late here, but I have used Continental Pro Contacts on my "commuter-type" cars and was very pleased with them. For the performance rides, Michelin, no substitutions. I have Pilot Sport summer tires on my C7 and my Probe GT (tires no longer available in this size, sigh). The TL has Pilot sport all weather and they, too are pretty damn good.


    Struts/Shocks - Bilstein or Koni. Never insult your ride with crap like Monroe. Way too mushy and they put softness as a priority over performance by like 90/10.


    Corey, real nice choice on a car! Enjoy! I also agree spring is too early but since I have no control over that, the convertible came out of winter slumber!


    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Apr 03, 2024

      Went with the alternative tire: Vredstein Quatrac Pro! Fitted last week.


  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
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