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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I'm working on buying my first BMW. A '20 X3 with 50 000km. It has the heated seat and steering wheel too. I live in Winnipeg, Canada with no garage at the moment to park it in. For other Canadians, or those living in cold climates (like -25 C +, -14 F), I have a few questions about the experience you have had with winter start up and driving.

Do the BMW's warm up quickly on the cold morning starts?
Do I need a trickle charger (?) to plug it in overnight?
Do I need a "winter battery"?
Are standard tires okay or do I need winter tires right away?
Remote starter = bad thing?

(The sales person mentioned the trickle charger and "winter battery" just before I would have signed the deal today. I have no clue whether this stuff is needed or not.)

Any other comments about what your experience? Would you recommend the '10 X3 or whichever year of X3 you drive?

I would greatly appreciate your advice. I really, really, really want a BMW but I'm uncertain about the whole winter starting and driving. Help ease my worry that I won't be freezing for 15 minutes every morning in -40 C weather, and I might be a BMW owner by Monday.

Thank you!!

653 Posts
Given that it is a 2010 model, I would guess it has an electric water pump and thus should warm up quickly (electric pumps are controlled by the DME to provide fast warm-up and cooling when needed).

I have never heard about "winter" batteries, even when I lived in cold climates.

I am not sure what tires it comes with from factory. You may need winter tires for snow or studded tires if allowed by local regulations.

You don't need a trickle charger if you drive sufficiently long distances. If you have a lot of short trips, you may need one.

373 Posts
My experience with an 06:
The seat heaters warm up very quickly.
Idling, the car will take a long time to warm up. But if I drive it it will warm up in about 5 minutes.
I've left it out in the open for weeks at a time and it has started without difficulty when I went back to start it up. I wait for the fuel pump to prime before trying to start it.
I don't use an engine block heater or battery warmer. If I consistently parked outside I would probably have an engine block heater installed just to reduce wear and tear on start up.
I looked at getting an autostart, but it would mean giving up one of my two keys. Plus it's damn expensive, but if I parked outside all the time I'd probably go for it.
I use winter tires in the winter. We get a significant amount of snow and ice where I am.
I don't use a trickle charger and my commute it about 10 minutes one way. I do use them on my motorcycle and ATV as they sit for months on end.
I have no idea what a "winter" battery is. Isn't it just a battery with higher CCAs? Up north of here (where winter sees -50F) new cars come standard with engine block heaters and sometimes battery warmers. I've never heard of them coming with a different battery.

I wish mine had the heated steering wheel.

3,892 Posts
Yes, there are some batteries that come in both a North and South version, usually indicated by a N or S in the model no., such as a 24N.


Exactly how they are different in construction is debatable.

Common sense suggests that batteries for use in the South might benefit from thinner plates or spaced further apart to allow for the effect of high temperatures on the electrolyte (need to avoid electrolyte evaporating).

In the North, other than Cold Cranking Amps being more important, the focus has to be on reducing the risk of the electrolyte freezing when the battery is in a low state of charge. Don't know if smaller space between the plates helps or not?

Not all batteries have an indication of whether they are for the North or South so I suppose you have to assume they are middle ground, or that the right ones get delivered to the right retail locations.

But if you live in Utah, Arizona or New Mexico, what you need might depend on your altitude.
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