Proper Maintenance For Your BMW
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking BMWs today. How you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well today.
Mark: So the German vehicle that you don't struggle with how to pronounce, the BMW. We're going to talk about proper maintenance for a modern BMW.
Bernie: Well, there's a bit of conflicting information. Sometimes if you look out in the world, if you look at the factory maintenance schedule, a lot of oil changes are scheduled for 24,000 kilometres. There's a lot of items. Over the years, BMW have said their transmissions don't require any service. It's often stamped onto the transmission pan. And, what we find out in the real world of doing services is, it's probably not the best way to maintain your BMW. If you care to keep your overall operating costs down and you want your car to last.
Mark: Okay, wait, now, isn't the factory maintenance schedule the best?They've engineered and built the cars they should know best, right?
Bernie: Well, yeah, absolutely. I mean the factory maintenance schedule, is well, I don't want to say it's the best. I don't think it is. And that's true with a lot of other manufacturers. We're not just picking on BMW. We're going to talk about BMW here, but this is true for a lot of other manufacturers. There are some competing factors in the maintenance schedule recommendations that aren't necessarily in the best interest of longevity of the car.
Mark: So what are some of these competing factors?
Bernie: So the competing factors are really, they're about sales. It's about selling the car in the showroom. For instance, you know, if you only need to change your oil in your BMW every 24,000 kilometres and never change your transmission fluid. If you look over the, say a period of a hundred thousand kilometres and there are rating agencies for these kinds of things, they'll look at the actual maintenance cost of a vehicle.
Now, if you have to do these services at a very minimal amount, then your maintenance costs are lower, and that's an attractive feature to buy the car. I mean, if you're in the showroom, you're looking at say a BMW versus an equivalent Audi, and the BMW is say, a thousand dollars a year for maintenance and the Audi's 1500. Well, that's a factor in, you know, that's a plus for the BMW. Is it, and I'm not saying that these are actual, I'm just making this stuff up, but you know, these numbers. But you know, that's a reason that you might want to buy a BMW over an Audi. So there's a pressure to make the maintenance schedule as long as possible.
I mean, there are also good environmental reasons. I mean, the less oil you have to change, the less oil it needs to produce, the less waste there is. And so that's a good thing. Also of course, most manufacturers don't really care how long their cars last. I mean, they want it to have a good reputation for a certain amount of time, but once the warranty is over, the car's, five or more years older, they don't really care so much about the car.
They want to sell you a new car. So, you know, that's the other factor in there that's competing with proper maintenance.
Mark: So many consumer advocacy groups recommend that you only follow the factory schedule? Why would they do that?
Bernie: Well, I think they want to protect the consumer, and there are a lot of unscrupulous people who make recommendations about services that are probably not recommended. There you know, are a lot of non-expert people in the automotive field who are just happy to just keep selling services that may not really need to be done. So they stand on the side of, Hey, the manufacturers built the car. These guys know what they're talking about. You're safer to go with that.
But what, what the consumer advocacy groups don't really do, is look into the real world of what actually happens to the cars. And that's us in the field of auto service, we get to see what happens to cars that are badly maintained and we can make better recommendations.
Mark: So your information is basically from the actual, your experience and the experience of other experts, other repair facilities and experts in the field?
Bernie: Exactly. And I mean, we're just a small shop. I mean, our volume of BMW cars is very minimal compared to other shops. And there's also a whole community out there that looks at cars.
I did a training program the other night. So this is the other area where we get information on BMW maintenance from someone whose shop, does a lot of BMWs and someone who's an expert in BMW service. So they're out in the field, they're talking BMWs they're looking at BMWs. They're looking at all the problems that happen and how can we maintain these vehicles better so that they last longer? Because what we ended up seeing is, you know, we don't see the cars generally from brand new. We start seeing them after they're, you know, four or five years old, off warranty, you know, suffered from the bad maintenance that the long oil change intervals, and all of a sudden things are starting to break in the engine. We're going, you know, if you'd only change that oil twice as often, you know, maybe done it every 10 or 12,000 kilometres, you know, this wouldn't have happened. So there's a lot of issues that we see. And that's where, that's where the expertise that we bring into the field.
Mark: So what do you recommend for proper maintenance on a BMW?
Bernie: Well, certainly more frequent oil change intervals are really the biggest thing. And using really good quality motor oils. What I learned on a recent training, is a lot of the oils that they recommend, these really thin weight oils are really only recommended for the manufacturers corporate average fuel economy. And so if the large manufacturers have a fuel economy standard that they must meet, it's a legislated thing. So if they can lower that amount then that helps them. So they can make a higher performance engine. If they put a thinner oil in, it increases the fuel efficiency slightly. So overall it improves it, but it doesn't necessarily make for better lubrication for the engine. It just helps the corporate standards. So again, this is another one, those double standard things that happens, but that's one thing.
I mean, the other thing, you know, with BMWs of course, you know, regular inspections cause there are the things that wear out. Even testing the battery, on a regular basis, like on an annual service, can make a big difference for things like turbocharger life. And another thing I've learned recently is that turbochargers can fail because of a bad battery. And you think, well, how can that be. A turbocharger is a mechanical device. There's an after running system in a BMW, you shut the key off, it pumps coolant through the turbochargers. If the battery's weak, it'll shut that system off. And the turbochargers can get hot, oil will sludge up inside the turbocharger, harden up, and it'll affect the lubrication of the turbo. So just a little thing like that. If that's tested on a regular basis, like annually and dealt with either recharged or replaced, then you might save yourself thousands of dollars on premature turbo failure.
Let's get into some pictures.
This is an example of a car we just did a service on. A 2008 328i. Hard top convertible, real nice car. So some of the information that we can get out of this car and in our service, I'm just going to look at some pictures I mentioning about battery. There's a whole plethora of information that we scan for, and I'm going to go through these kind of quickly. But this is like an energy diagnosis tests that's available through our scan tool. And it actually, this is an amazing thing with BMW. It looks at like the last 49 days of driving. This is, how far the car was driven, the number of journeys, the distance of the trips. This is an amazing bit of information. I'm sure like Tesla has like, you know, way more stuff that they probably analyze moment to moment, but this is again, a 12 year old BMW. Some of the other things it looks at is starting cycles and I won't get into all the little bits of information on this one.
Test the battery. So it tests the state of charge of the battery. You can see this is actually pretty low. This is like five days worth of battery state of charge. It's only at 61%. So recommend to the customer, Hey, you know, we should charge your battery up because it's probably a bit on the weak side. It also tells you the battery was replaced at this mileage, and that's the current mileage. So we can see that actually 6,000 kilometres ago the battery was replaced. And what kind of battery's in the vehicle and all sorts of other information. So it really is very useful. You can see this vehicle has actually sat a lot. So that's probably why the battery's a little bit on the low side, but that's a really useful bit of information.
Also gathered some other information from a BMW X3. This is actually my own personal vehicle. It's a 2011 X3. I can see the battery state of charge here. This is a slightly different report, but 80% you know, it's sort of average. We haven't been using the car quite as much these days because of the health situation, but generally we drive the car a fair bit.
But it's interesting looking at, this is the start ability, like the battery has to have at least this amount of charge for the vehicle to start. So looking at this number versus the actual state of charge can tell us, you know, what condition the batteries in. So really useful information that you can get from a regular service and a proper service.
And I don't want to, you know, cut anyone down, but you know, if you don't have the proper scan tools and you're taking it to a shop that doesn't have this level of testing and it's a simple test to do, you might be missing out on some valuable service that could save you some money.
Mark: And the rough cost of a, what's the range of price to replace a turbocharger or two?
Bernie: Or two? I can't remember off the top of my head. They're in the thousands.
Mark: Multiple thousands of dollars.
Bernie: Multiple thousands of dollars. So you don't want to do them. Now that that 328 and the picture isn't turbocharged. So you get off on that, but the X3 that I have is a twin turbo. And they do go bad. And I have to say, you know, I learned this testing information recently and I felt a little bad because the battery in my BMW did go bad recently. And I replaced it and I'm thinking, Hm, I wonder how long I actually left that in a bad state. And I hope I didn't shorten the life on my turbochargers because of it.
Car seems to work fine, but you never know. So these are the things that it's good to know, and this is what you can count on when you bring your car to our shop to have tested. And these kinds of details looked at on your BMW.
Mark: And how our BMWs for reliability?
Bernie: They're pretty good. They're a good, reliable car, but there's a lot of stuff that goes wrong with them. And they're, you know, you can expect to have a fair number of expensive repairs on them over time, but if you do good maintenance, you know, and change the oil more frequently than recommended and just keep up with that kind of stuff. You will keep your costs down and you will keep the car even more reliable. Things like you don't change the battery a little sooner, you know, will make a big difference to the life of the vehicle. So, know, they're good cars, I have to say, I mean, the BMW I've got has never let me down. You know, that's a nine year old car. That's pretty good. Maintain it. It'll keep your cost down.
Mark: So there you go. If you need expert repair for your BMW in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're still busy, even during COVID 19 right now. And of course, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, over 600 articles on there about repairing all makes and models, all types of repairs of vehicles. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there over many years now. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Leave us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching and listening. We really appreciate it.