BimmerFest BMW Forum banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Picked this up from another BMW forum where someone wrote to Bimmer mag "Tech Q&A" and got a response:

Initial "e-mail"

Hi,

Reading in the Tech Q&A section in issue number 69, there was an individual that expressed concern over purchasing a pre-owned E46 330i. In response you stated that the reason why BMW initiated the no cost warranty program was to sell more cars and save money, and that these cars will not be able to run on original parts for over 200,000 mls. going by the BMW's recommended maintenance schedule. Reading this, and being a die hard BMW enthusiast I pondered the thought, and came to a a conclusion that perhaps you can elaborate on.
First, BMW puts it's cars through rigorous testing to ensure that they're as durable as possible and will last the duration of miles tested(which is more than any of these cars will probably ever see). I'm more than sure the recommended scheduled maintenance intervals were derived from observation and conclusion in testing during the development trials, and I'd think that the engineers would never recommend servicing intervals that the car couldn't handle in the long run(oil changes included). The maintenance schedule for NA market cars is more than likely no different from BMW cars sold elsewhere in the world, so I cannot imagine the free maintenance program as a cost saving measure for BMWNA. Could it be possible that maybe perhaps that BMW has engineered it's latest generation of cars to a standard we have yet to comprehend? Automotive technology has advanced to a whole another time and place, farther than it was ten, even five years ago.
Secondly, haven't independent garages updated their systems to cope with the advances in automotive technology to do electronic diagnosis and repairs of problems? If they haven't then they will surely lose business and a future.
I have yet to buy my first BMW, but am on the way there. I'm one of many that doesn't buy a car just to keep it for four years then swap it for something else. I buy cars to keep them for several years and run them into the ground, or at least as much as I can. Not to do so in a BMW just doesn't make sense, to me at least. BMW's have always come across as being very durable and well built cars, sure they're in need of special attention for servicing, maintenance, and repairs, but that doesn't make them cars that won't last well into 200k+ mls?

Thank you for giving us such a great magazine and invaluable information!

Sincerely,

-blah blah blah and blah blah blah

Reply:


Another element of BMW's "lifetime fill" oils and eliminated maintenance is that governments in the U.S. and Europe are pressuring car manufacturers to produce less liquid and solid waste during maintenance.

But there is really no question that free scheduled maintenance and the demise of maintenance in general was originally the result of marketing -- BMW basically said so back in the 1990s when free scheduled maintenance debuted. It was part of a marketing effort to counter the widely (and correctly) held perception that BMWs are high-maintenance cars. In fact, they still are -- they just don't get maintained anymore unless the owner takes control of the situation. Anything can be maintenance free -- just don't maintain it. Then it when it fails, buy a new one. In fact, this is a fairly universal concept in our society.

The cost-cutting component flows from the fact that BMW eliminated most scheduled maintenance as soon as they started paying for it during the warranty period.

New BMW models are tested extensively, albeit not as extensively as they used to be due to vastly increased pressure to get the cars into production ahead of other manufacturers. However, I disagree that the testing paradigm today is to ensure the cars are as durable as possible. I think the new service life paradigm -- and therefore the testing paradigm -- is to ensure the cars do not suffer major drivetrain failures within the longest possible factory warranty period, which is 100,000 miles. For the most part, BMW has succeeded in this goal. While there is no shortage of BMWs with broken automatic transmissions (resulting from failure to change ATF and filter) within the first 100,000 miles, most of these cars are covered by a four-year/50,000-mile warranty rather than the six-year/100,000-mile warranty of the 6 and 7 Series and the CPO program. Moreover, I have never seen a BMW with a six-year/100,000-mile warranty go out of warranty on the basis of mileage. I'm sure it happens, but I've never seen it. Note the CPO warranty time component starts not when you buy the car but when the car was first placed in service. Anyway, I digress...

Current generation BMW longevity is anyone's guess because the cars are simply too new. However, BMW's current scant maintenance schedule has been with us since 1998 and it's affect on the long-term durability of the E36 3 Series and early E39 5 Series is starting to become apparent with worn out drivetrain components between 100,000 and 200,000 miles. It's an anachronism destined for the dustbin of history, but when BMWs got driveline oil changes every 30,000 miles, manual gearboxes and differentials almost never wore out, ever.

I have seen no quantum leap in technology that is going to change all this, and in fact if you look at a disassembled E90 3 Series differential it's obvious that it is far inferior from a durability standpoint to earlier differentials. The pinion bearing and oil capacity, in fact, has grown steadily smaller in each differential since the E30 3 Series. With the E90, BMW went from a far superior tapered roller bearing to an old fashioned ball bearing on the differential pinion -- and if that wasn't bad enough, they put it in a plastic bearing cage! And they eliminated the drain plug, so you can even fully drain the 0.25 quart of oil! (Even if you maintain the new diffs, many technicians think that plastic bearing cage is going to break anyway.) The quantum leaps in technology are devoted to making the drivetrain components lighter, not more durable, and in the process of lightening durability is often compromised as in the case of manual gearboxes and differentials.

Modern synthetic lubricants are, of course, excellent. But no lubricant is good forever, or a "lifetime."

Independent BMW shops are fully entitled to purchase the BMW GT-1 Service Computer (which is currently being replaced with another mega-expensive service computer), along with the Internet service that goes with it. Cost is $25,000 for the computer and $2,000 per year for online access. In fact, many of them have. They have banded together to form a professional organization: The International Association of Independent BMW Service Professionals (www.bimrs.org).

Without the factory supported diagnostic equipment, regular maintenance and repairs are still possible on the cars, but electronic diagnosis is iffy even with good aftermarket diagnostic equipment.

Finally, the solution for folks who want to buy a new BMW and keep it past the warranty period is to maintain the car pursuant to the old maintenance schedule and pay for it yourselves. That's what I do with my 2005 Dinan S2-325Ci. See attached old school maintenance schedule.
Best regards,
Bimmer Magazine Tech Q&A
 

·
Registered
2007 328 cabrio. 2018 X3 M40i
Joined
·
186 Posts
Good stuff. I have been thinking that these cars are beginning to suffer increasingly expensive depreciation due to the high cost of keeping them on the road in the 100k+ milage. My sense is that BMW is now building cars designed for free repairs for the original owner for the first few years. The CPO second owner is also generally warranted and is probably going to unload the car before 100k so they are OK as well. But I think subsequent owners are unwilling to pay much of anything 6 or 7 years form original as these components mentioned above are either failing or are feared to be very expensive to maintain. I have a near perfect 9 year old 7 series, which I purchased new, with just over 100k and it has generated nearly no interest as a "for sale" used car. I think the perceived high cost of component repairs is killing the long-term value of BMWs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
621 Posts
Hello. I think what you've described is cars that are effectively disposable. We don't know whether BMW designed them as such, but it seems possible to me.

Like the respondent quoted by the OP, I plan to buy maintenance for my E90 beyond the free scheduled service baked into its original price.

I think this is a decent gamble, since

+ I will the have the best chance of the car not suffering failure related to the maintained systems

+ I may be able to keep and use the car longer (all other things being equal)

+ when it is finally time to sell the car, it may be easier to find a buyer

+ if I can't sell the car after all, at least I'll be able to give it away with the belief that it won't be a money pit for the new owner.

Regards,

Snaxster
 

·
In vino veritas
Joined
·
3,374 Posts
I don't have much to say other than that I agree.

Plastic differential components in the E90? Yeah, as if I needed another reason to avoid buying one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
588 Posts
Plastic differential components in the E90? Yeah, as if I needed another reason to avoid buying one.
"Plastic" is a pretty general condemnation.. do you know what it really is? if it's FRP, it may well have a better cycle life than metal, and be as strong if not stronger on an equivalent weight/moment basis ....

You'd be surprised where designers put some of these composites... including flying machines..
 

·
In vino veritas
Joined
·
3,374 Posts
"Plastic" is a pretty general condemnation.. do you know what it really is? if it's FRP, it may well have a better cycle life than metal, and be as strong if not stronger on an equivalent weight/moment basis ....
The 3 series is cheaper today than it ever has been - and accordingly offers much more in terms of features and "value" (once former prices are adjusted for inflation). Either BMW was raking in absolutely enormous margins on the older cars (though they certainly weren't slim) or they're cutting costs in every way possible in order to remain competitive while still raking in the profits despite a weak dollar. Given the fact that they're a business whose sole real purpose is to generate returns for investors (largely through the sale of new cars...), I'll leave it to you to guess which is more likely.

I'm well familiar with composite materials - which are far more exotic than regular plastics - and I've never seen them used in significant quantities on a production car aside from expensive niche models designed for racing applications. That's because they're expensive, even today. No, I've taken apart enough of these things apart to have seen the degradation in parts quality with my own eyes. Ask anybody who has done regular work on an E30 (for example) if they think the quality of peripheral components in one of the newer cars can match the old ones. I have yet to talk to somebody who does - never mind what I think. A lot of this started with the E36, which is a notorious example of corporate cost cutting. Tell me - do you think BMW used plastic pulleys (tied in with a braided steel cable) in my E46's window regulators to save weight or because they were more durable than alloy equivalents - or because they were cheaper?

Furthermore, it's not as simple as a particular component having a "longer service life" or being stronger on a equivalent weight/moment basis - certain materials do not work well with others, or in certain applications.

You'd be surprised where designers put some of these composites... including flying machines..
Actually, no - I wouldn't. I'm a pilot.

Cost is less of an issue and weight is much more of an issue in aviation. That's why composites have found wide spread acceptance in that industry - but I don't see the same thing happening in the automotive industry any time soon. Think the typical consumer is going to pay the markup to keep cars within a reasonable weight range? Judging by how little of an impact the ballooning curb weight of many of BMW's recent efforts has had on sales, I'd say no.

In any case, I made up my mind on the matter long before reading that bit - it's not a deal breaker for me. Simply more fuel on the fire. :)
 

·
gashlycrumb
Joined
·
2,550 Posts
The 3 series is cheaper today than it ever has been - and accordingly offers much more in terms of features and "value" (once former prices are adjusted for inflation). Either BMW was raking in absolutely enormous margins on the older cars (though they certainly weren't slim) or they're cutting costs in every way possible in order to remain competitive while still raking in the profits despite a weak dollar. Given the fact that they're a business whose sole real purpose is to generate returns for investors (largely through the sale of new cars...), I'll leave it to you to guess which is more likely.
Aren't BMW margins second only to Porsche (excluding more exotic even smaller volume mfg's)?

Cost cutting will be relentless as Infinity and Lexus continue to invade BMW, Daimler and Audi turf aggressively.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
745 Posts
Design and synthetic fluids only go so far, dirt and impurities build up without regard to your oil being Wal Mart's best or Mobil 1. If I plan on keeping this car past 100k, I'll make sure to change the fluids are more "normal" intervals, even at cost to myself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As an interesting piece of information: I read something a while back in an interview done by Audiworld w/ AoA's president, and he said that Audi spends more money per car to use the highest quality components for construction.

Seems that BMW cares more about selling as many cars as they possibly can to make more money and increase sales figures at the expense of making durable, quality vehicles. I assure you you'll be seeing a lot more old W204 C's around in 12 years than E90's, MB spent five years testing that car(and if you've driven it you can feel it, and see it).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
142 Posts
It's kinda scary. I think the electronic stuff on my 5-series will break more often than the mechanic part of it will.
I've only owned my car for 10 months now and the i-drive,TPM, bluetooth and steering wheel setting have caused numerous trip to the shop already. I don't know if I can keep the car when the warranty is over.
Don't get me wrong but the car is great and I really love it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've done more thinking, and Mike Miller surely isn't the end all when it comes to BMW history/servicing.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
78 Posts
Cars used to be built to run as long as possible. This applies especially to old school Mercedes and Saabs, many of them are still seeing service. In particular, if you go to the less developed parts of the world they are clogged with old Mercedes of up to 40 year old.

But modern manufacture and merchandiing changed that. The new term is planned obsolesence -- the idea is that the car's shelf life is predetermined. While it has always been true that car manufacturers push new versions every year and then new generations every 5-7 years, these days its about cost, profitability and recyclability. BMW has stated that many of their parts can be recycled.

Japanese invasion of the lux market also changed things. Lexus and Infiniti has made luxury cars for cheap (whether they are good as cars is another debate), and in the early 90s the Germans has learned the hard way the consumers would run from them to Lexus or Infiniti and Acura if they can get a better deal. For example, the early 90s E-class coupes and convertibles are much more expensive in real world terms than their successor, the CLK-class. In the old days, when you buy a BMW or a Mercedes, all you get is 4 wheels, seats, and the drivetrain. Everything else, including the radio and air conditioning, is optional. While BMWs these days are still FAR from being fully equibbed, they have to throw in many safety and comfort amenities while keeping prices down and percieved quality high. (CD player, cruise control, airbags, the alphabet soup of safety features) Mercedes in particularly suffered: in order to add more standard equipment and keep the cost down, they cost cut to the point that their cars are no longer special. Owners complained about the high rate of maintanence and the cheapness of the interiors, forcing MB to scramble back to their drawing boards to find ways to bring the percieved luxury back.

So when you look at BMWs and MBs today, remember they are not made for running beyond a certain period. Its the price we pay for sacrificing longevity for high levels of standrd equipment and low cost.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
408 Posts
Absolutely correct. I would say that the tail end of BMW quality was the E39. Especially the early years of that model. From 99 and up it went down hill fast. I will not own a BMW beyond this model range. Or perhaps i should shift my thinking and stop thinking of cars as heirlooms.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
Uber Nada

I've done more thinking, and Mike Miller surely isn't the end all when it comes to BMW history/servicing.
Please tell us who your nominee would be. Seems like the posters here pretty much see it Mike's way. Stop whining and go get yourself one of those "lifetime fills".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
E39 was a beauty!

Absolutely correct. I would say that the tail end of BMW quality was the E39. Especially the early years of that model. From 99 and up it went down hill fast. I will not own a BMW beyond this model range. Or perhaps i should shift my thinking and stop thinking of cars as heirlooms.
"I will not own a BMW beyond this model range" As a 3 series owner I have a different cutoff. 2006, That's when they began deleting the oil dipstick. Can you imagine? Removing the only 100% reliable instrument on the car. It not only tells you your oil level, but you can visually inspect it's condition. When I compained about this to my salesman he said, "Hey, Mercedes started ending dipsticks 6yrs ago" like I wold love the idea then. Won't be ordering that '08 coupe.
 

·
In vino veritas
Joined
·
3,374 Posts
"I will not own a BMW beyond this model range" As a 3 series owner I have a different cutoff. 2006, That's when they began deleting the oil dipstick. Can you imagine? Removing the only 100% reliable instrument on the car. It not only tells you your oil level, but you can visually inspect it's condition. When I compained about this to my salesman he said, "Hey, Mercedes started ending dipsticks 6yrs ago" like I wold love the idea then. Won't be ordering that '08 coupe.
Well, you may have noticed that he conveniently placed the cutoff shortly after the production year of his own car. Shocking! Anybody who thinks a 97 E39 is any better built than an 03 E39 is a fool. It's probably the opposite, if anything. The real changes occur during redesigns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
285 Posts
From my own personal experience

I had (but recently sold) a 2000 323i. I followed only the scheduled maintenence programs, never doing an oil change sooner than the car indicated (in some cases as long as 18k miles). When I sold my car it had 230k miles on it. Some of you (akhbhaat) know that I did do an engine swap in the car, so I can't fully claim the full 200+. But I did not do the swap until 156k miles, and ONLY did for more performance. Went from a 2.5l to a 3.0l. The engine was running perfectly, and actually it had since been installed in an e30, and has roughly another 30k on it. As for the 323, it is still being used as a daily driver by the new owner. I'm a believer:dunno:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,372 Posts
I had (but recently sold) a 2000 323i. I followed only the scheduled maintenence programs, never doing an oil change sooner than the car indicated (in some cases as long as 18k miles). When I sold my car it had 230k miles on it. Some of you (akhbhaat) know that I did do an engine swap in the car, so I can't fully claim the full 200+. But I did not do the swap until 156k miles, and ONLY did for more performance. Went from a 2.5l to a 3.0l. The engine was running perfectly, and actually it had since been installed in an e30, and has roughly another 30k on it. As for the 323, it is still being used as a daily driver by the new owner. I'm a believer:dunno:
Pushing twards 250k here on the original motor and automatic trans in my 323i. Another believer :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
240 Posts
"Plastic" is a pretty general condemnation.. do you know what it really is? if it's FRP, it may well have a better cycle life than metal, and be as strong if not stronger on an equivalent weight/moment basis ....

You'd be surprised where designers put some of these composites... including flying machines..
Composites are good, however to say that this particular composite, fiber-glass reinforced plastic, has a better cycle life than metal, I'd think that you are sadly mistaken. Given most composites will yield to heat/friction much faster than a metal, unless that materials was specifically designed to withstand the rigors of testing, I'd say that akbhaat is right.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top