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Old 03-21-2007, 12:16 PM
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Top 10 things you need to know before buying a new or used BMW

Here are the top 10 things that anyone considering a new or used BMW should know. I'm going to make this a sticky - feel free to add on to it!
  1. Most newer BMWs require synthetic oil and premium fuel. Do not give your car less than it requires.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, parts and labor on BMWs is not more than the competition; however, BMWs are not as reliable as Japanese cars and they do require more maintenance.
  3. If your car is out of warranty, find yourself a competent independent mechanic. Their labor rates tend to be about half that of dealers. lists such shops.
  4. Buy a Bentley repair manual for you car. Even if you don't work on your car yourself, it's good to be an informed consumer (example: if your check engine light illuminates, Autozone will plug into your car for free and give you the car's trouble code. You can cross-reference it in the Bentley manual to see what's wrong).
  5. Historically, manual transmissions are more reliable that automatic or steptronic transmissions.
  6. BMWs have great brakes - this is due in part to the rather soft pads and rotors they use. Don't expect them to last more than 30-50k miles. The rotors generally wear at the same rate as the pads so 'machining' the rotors OR replacing pads without rotors is not recommended. There is a 'brake pad low' warning light that is triggered by a wear sensor that will illuminate on your dash when you are due for new brakes. It looks like this: . When you replace your brakes, you also need to replace the wear sensors ($10-20 each). There's one on the front left wheel and one on the rear right wheel. Parts for all 4 rotors, pads, and sensors are generally $200-500 and labor is about the same.
  7. The 'sport package' available on most BMWs is usually considered a necessary option by enthusiasts. It usually includes better (bolstered) seats, stiffer suspension (better handling), as well as larger wheels and tires. One caveat: It also comes with summer only tires that are NOT suitable for ANY slushy/snowy/icy conditions. If you live in an area that gets snow, it's highly recommended that you buy a second set of wheels with dedicated snow tires.
  8. It's fairly common for OEM tires to only last 10-20k miles. Price out replacements on to prevent being shocked: It can cost $600-1500 for replacement rubber. Also remember that tires are the #1 performance mod available to you! There's a significant difference between cheap all-season tires and good summer-only tires. Ask any questions in the Tires, Wheels, and Brakes forum.
  9. BMW engines are tuned very well from the factory. It's very difficult to get more than a few horsepower out of intakes, exhausts, chips, headers, etc. (the newer the car, the more true this is)....unless, of course, you're talking about the N54 twin-turbo (335i, 535i, etc), in which case, completely disregard what I just said!
  10. The BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA) is a great organization- membership ($48/yr) entitles you to a free subscription to the monthly magazine Roundel, discounts on parts at most BMW dealers, high performance driving schools/car control clinics/autocrosses, local gatherings/rallys/dinners, as well as a $500-1500 discount on your next new or CPO BMW (you must be a member for at least a year prior to purchase - and this transaction is completely independent of the dealer - you receive a rebate check after purchasing the car for at your dealer-negotiated price). Join here and if you found this post useful, use me as your referrer (Kris Linquist #170334)

Last edited by tim330i; 02-25-2013 at 08:17 AM.
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