My First BMW - 3 Series Convertible

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I'm looking at my very first BMW. A 3 Series Convertible. In the past I've only owned Hondas and Chevys. Any advice on buying a BMW (pros & cons). Its the most money I've ever spent on a car and just
want to be assured Its a good decision. I'm not buying it until the spring (I live in the NE - Southern NY State). Thanks for any feedback.
Rick
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On 12/29/2007 5:28 AM, RICK DAVIS went clickity clack on the keyboard and produced this interesting bit of text:

Test drive one first. BMWs do not feel like Hondas or Chevys in the least. Many people think they're stiff and hard to control. But this is so you can actually feel the road and respond to it more accurately. Also consider that because BMWs are high performance cars the maintenance and repairs are going to cost you more. They're not cheap cars to own.
That said, I've owned two Hondas, two Oldsmobiles, a Buick, a Toyota a Dodge and two BMWs. None of them come close to how fun a BMW is to drive. An example: My sister needed to borrow my car as hers was in the shop. I let her with the admonition, "Be careful. It wants to go fast." She scoffed at that (she had never driven a BMW before) and she took off to do her errands. When she came back she was awestruck and said, "It DOES want to go fast!" You've been driving milk horses and BMWs are thoroughbreds. When you first drive one you'll be amazed at the responsiveness and sensitivity to your driving they are. My dad (who has owned three BMWs) says it has a button that makes all the other cars get behind him: the accelerator. Where I live (Los Angeles) there's a steep hill that the freeway traverses. I can accelerate up the hill in 5th gear in my 1994 530i while other cars are struggling to maintain a constant speed. That's 5th gear with a gear ratio of 1:1. If I really want to move up the hill I put it in 4th gear and step on it. It's exhilarating.
I could go on and on about how much fun these cars are to drive, but you'll just have to experience it yourself. If you don't like how they handle then stay away from them and go back to a more mundane car. (Frankly I'd stay with Honda or go with Toyota. Chevys stink.) But if you do like it, just be aware that they aren't cheap to maintain. But if you do maintain it properly they'll last a long time.
--
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Thanks for the feedback. Yes I will test drive one. I'm 6 foot 5 and I sat in this model a few days ago. Its a nice fit. I currently drive a Chevy Monte Carlo SS. I just love the looks of this BMW. Free service for the first 4 years or 40K miles. How much maint. do these cars require? Its also going to be my first rear wheel drive car. My other choice is the new Caddy CTS. I haven't even sat in that one yet.
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On 12/29/2007 9:36 AM, Rick went clickity clack on the keyboard and produced this interesting bit of text:

They don't require any "special" maintenance that other cars do (although I've heard that you should change out the automatic tranny fluid every so often; I have always driven a stick) it's just that some parts will wear out more often such as brake rotors. (These need to be changed about every other brake pad change and shouldn't be turned like you would a more mundane car.) The engine itself is pretty darn reliable. My car is nearly 14 years old (egad, I have a daughter that's only a year older!) and when I change the oil it's still translucent. Darker than when it was first put in, but not like the black sludge I've seen in other cars.
Be aware that these cars do break down and need repairs from time to time. I consider this part of maintenance. But parts are more expensive than typical cars. (My oil filter costs about $11.) I've had to replace some master cylinder rubber bushings, belts, and I'm beginning to get a coolant leak that I need to address. But it's well worth it for the enjoyment I get from driving it, even in heavy traffic.
--
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You should do this with EVERY car. And you should do it with the manual transmission fluid too. On the BMW I recommend doing the manual every 50,000 miles or so.

Brake rotors are one of those things that wear out faster when you use them more. If you're apt to drive more aggressively in a high performance car, you will go through pads and rotors more. If you still drive like a little old lady when behind the wheel of a fast car, you won't.

I will say that more recently BMW has gone in for a lot of wacky electronic stuff, and like all highly complex systems they are prone to failure. Life is like that. If you don't want to fix it, order the car without it. If you're forced to get it, expect to have to fix it.

Yes, but that's no reason you should be spending a hundred bucks for an oil change.... --scott
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On 12/29/2007 12:04 PM, Scott Dorsey went clickity clack on the keyboard and produced this interesting bit of text:

I don't spend $100 on an oil change. I do it myself. This car is the easiest car to change the oil on than I have ever had. The oil pan plug is close enough to the front of the car that I don't even have to get my body under it and the filter is nice and handy right under the hood. I've practically had to have a joint put in my arm between my elbow and wrist to get to some of the oil filters I've changed.
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The E28 is actually a pain to change the oil on without a lift, because pulling the hot canister out from the top is difficult with gloves on, and impossible without gloves on.
I took a wooden rod, drilled a hole in it, and put a loop of rope through it tied so it fits snugly around the canister. You loop it around the bottom, undo the bolt on top, then drop the canister down and pull it back up without spilling a drop. Makes things much easier.
The E28 is the first car I ever owned that didn't require any chassis lube either. I'm not sure this is a good thing since I have gone through a hell of a lot of control arm bushings.... but it halves the time to do the oil change. --scott
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Nedavno Scott Dorsey napisa:

I have '87 E30 manual. When (in winter) I start from cold it is hard to shift into first and second gear until engine (and gearbox, I guess) warms up (not much, a couple of miles is enough).
I am thinking about trying to change gearbox oil with engine oil (as per my manual), which is lighter, to see if that will help.
My question is do I change this oil as I would change gearbox oil, or at the same time as engine oil, or something else?
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I have never heard of doing that. I'd be reluctant to do it because the engine oil does not contain high pressure additives. These are mostly sulfur compounds that cause ferrous sulfate corrosion on the surface of steel, which prevents galling when gear surfaces are slid against one another under high pressure. Notice the nasty sulfur smell that the gear oil has, which motor oil doesn't have.
Before doing that, I'd try a synthetic gear oil that has a wider operating temperature range. The Red Line stuff is what BMW recommends, but Mobil 1 and Royal Purple both make perfectly good synthetic gear oils.

I'd see no reason to increase your change rate if you use a different oil. Remember, the engine oil is getting gunked up with combustion byproducts. That's not happening with the transmission fluid. So there is no need to replace the transmission fluid every 3,000 miles like you do with the motor oil, no matter what fluid it is. --scott
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Nedavno Scott Dorsey napisa:

My owners (and Bentley) manual states that I can use single-grade mineral-based engine oil. But I know that dealer used multi-grade oil (while he serviced car in warranty). I wonder if single-grade oils are available...

Red Line and Royal Purple are not available here, for Mobil 1 I'll have to check.

I thought so, but just wanted to check. Thank you.
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I am reading that these BMWs require alot of maint. and It can get costly. Sound true? I'm just upper middle income. I just paid off my mortgage this year and am debt free. I just thought I would treat myself to a really nice car. I just don't know if I'm committed enough to give it the service it needs. I'm concerned I might be getting in a lot over my head. I'm not handy with automotive anything. Alot of you sound like you are and do your own repairs. I'm out of your league and really don't want to travel to the dealers (35 mins away) every time a bell or whistle doesn't work. Having said this should I not consider a BMW? Am I out of my league. Its just such a beautiful car.
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Are you considering a new BMW? If so, maintenance is really a non-issue. The interim oils changes are a good idea, in my opinion, but not necessary. I had my oil analyzed after 15,000 miles one time and it was fine. Use only the synthetic oil recommended by BMW.
35 minutes is not a long time. My dealer is almost an hour away and I enjoy every minute when I am driving there. That may be one thing you are not considering - Driving the car. There are very few cars, at the BMW price point, that handle as well. If you think a 35 minute drive is inconvenient, or you don't enjoy driving, you should probably consider something else.
Most of the comments you will see here are related to older BMWs. New ones, obviously, require less attention.
Some day you are going to croak - enjoy yourself and get your toys while you can.
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mins away. Would also like to know what people in the snow belt think of the rear wheel drive in the snow. Also is synthetic oil the only oil used in these cars? As opposed to regular oil?

While I'm not a huge toy fan I do induldge in travel. I own two beach homes and cruise up to 3 times a year. So I really don't want for anything. I appreciate all the feedback. I find it all very helpful.
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Rick wrote:

Put four good snow tires on any car in the snow belt. Your BMW so-equipped will be far safer in the snow than anything wearing only all-seasons. Some (not all) FWD cars with snow tires will be better in the snow than the BMW, at least in some respects. Most FWD cars will be far more difficult to bring back from a skid. (One exception to that rule: for drivers who react to any loss of traction by standing on the brake and then freezing, most cars will handle about equivalently :->.)
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wrote:

mins away. Would also like to know what people in the snow belt think of the rear wheel drive in the snow. Also is synthetic oil the only oil used in these cars? As opposed to regular oil?
Most BMW dealers will pick the car up at your house, leave a new (or newer) BMW for you to use while they have yours, and return your car when they are finished with it. Ask your dealer if they offer this service. If they don't, ask the one next closest to your house.
I live in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. I change to winter tires in November. (All four wheels as a BMW willl swith ends on you if you only install two). There are very, very few places I can't go when it gets nasty outside. If it's so deep that I am plowing snow - that's another matter. I stay home then or take the wife's 4WD.
All BMW's now use 100% synthetic oil.

While I'm not a huge toy fan I do induldge in travel. I own two beach homes and cruise up to 3 times a year. So I really don't want for anything. I appreciate all the feedback. I find it all very helpful.
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Rick wrote:

I've driven allot of rear wheel drive in snow (WI). With rear wheel drive it's easier to skid, or spin out in a corner, but it's also easier to control a skid if that happens.
You might want to find an empty parking lot to cause and recover from some controlled skids to get a feel for how to steer out of a skid with rear wheel drive.
You won't be driving through deep unplowed snow, not enough clearance, but I've have no problem driving my e30s and e36 (90's 3 series) in a few inches of snow.
If available on the model you are looking at you could consider limited slip differential, or all wheel drive for better starting and hill climbing in snow and icy conditions.
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Single grade oils are available but you may have to make special orders for them these days unless you want 30W petroleum.
Does the manual say that a non-detergent oil must be used? Detergent oils are good for engine oils because they keep combustion byproducts in solution but they are bad for gear boxes because they foam very easily. Thus, a lot of industrial equipment (my old lathe for instance) specifies 30W non-detergent motor oil for gear boxes.

Your local Red Line dealer is probably Samsonas Motorsport in Utena, www.samsonamotorsport.com. The next nearest will be in Poland, at www.motorsport.istore.pl. --scott
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Nedavno Scott Dorsey napisa:

I think I will not change gearbox oil than.

No, nothing about non-detergent oil. Just not to use multi-grade oil.

:-) www.samsonamotorsport.com is in Lithuania (and it is down at the moment). I am in Serbia. We have high customs taxes for a year now, so I stopped ordering from abroad unless I really have to.
Thank you for your time.
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Why did I think you were in Lithiuania? Yeah, the closest is probably Poland, which isn't all that close. Closest dealer for Royal Purple is in Italy, at www.renox.com. Which is a whole lot farther unless you have a boat...
Really, try the synthetic gearbox oils. I think you'll find it's more smooth when cold. Although, I'll tell you that it got down to 23'F here this morning and my car was shifting a little stiff at first until the transmission warmed up. --scott
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Same here - 22oF and my Redline MTL filled E46 5 speed did not want to go into first. Slowly shifting into 3rd while idling, then going into 2nd and finally shifting into 1st worked like a charm with no further difficulties.
Tom K.
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