As a new owner of a not so new BMW (05 525d SE)I wonder if anyone would
enligthen me as to the vagries of BMW servicing.
Car is just coming up to 3 years old and to save on servicing costs I
intend to take it to a BMW specialist rather than the local expensive
main BMW dealer.
Now previous cars I have owned have been generally speaking serviced
according to mileage and when I took them into the garage pretty much
all was done at the same time.
Now I appear to have a car that tells me via a service indicator light
that say an air filter needs changing - so trip to dealer.
A month later it may tell me brake pads need checking = another trip to
Are these service indicators exact or merely an estimation programmed
into the car at its last service as to when something might next need
checking? And do they take into account types of driving eg urban or
motorway or are then entirely mileage driven.
Is there any reason why (outside of the official BMW network)that I can
revert to a more traditional form of servicing?
It's a *very* stupid, servicing by mileage, as the way the car is
used/driven determines this. For example a car which does lots of short
town journeys needs servicing at a lower mileage than one which is cruised
down deserted highways. This has been known for many a year, but leaving
the decision to the owner wouldn't work so an average was used instead.
However, when computers became practical for car use, it's easy enough to
determine how the car is driven and therefore when it needs a service.
It tells you a number of things - read the handbook for details.
Basically, two groups of things - those which relate to how the car is
driven like oil changes and those which don't like coolant and brake fluid
Same as any car since replacement of pads is never a mileage thing. And
cars have had warnings for worn pads for many a year.
However, BMW services are called inspections. Which means things like
brake pads will be checked. And reported on if they're likely to need
changing before the next inspection. However, many will get 15,000 miles
between oil services which could only be the life of brake pads anyway.
So perhaps like tyres you would treat them as a separate item and just
change when needed - it's an easy and quick job.
Depending on the age of the car they measure it in different ways - and
I'm sure changes will be made to new models. But yes, it does take into
account how the car is driven.
Well, the recommended fluids are all long life ones so expensive. Changing
early sort of defeats their purpose in life. But plenty seem to. But there
is no hard evidence that changing engine oil etc before the service
indicator says so has any beneficial effect on engine life or performance.
*I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out *
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW
Depends on the component. When it comes to engine oil, the previous
5-series (e39) measured the amount of fuel burned to determine when the next
oil change should be. Not sure if and how it changed for the e60.
As for brake pads... these are just sensors that go off when the pad reaches
certain minimum thickness level.
As for brake fluid... this needs to be changed every 2 year according to
BMW, regardless of miles, so that's when you might get a notification on the
I have a '03 530 with about 61k mi. The original rakes are still going
strong, and I've had absolutely NO indicator lights for anything else than
the regular, scheduled service. I check levels, etc periodically, &
everything holds tight in-between services.
The only reason that I take my car to the dealer for service is that they
provide free loaners. I haven't found an independent that will do that
around here. Heck .. even some of the DEALERS don't do that. San Diego BMW
is good in that respect.
The E60 service indicator is quite similar to my E39, so you can just keep
checking the little lights on startup. Enjoy the lights & save your $ as
If the air filter needs replacing, it's likely the cabin air filter, not the
filter for the engine. The filter on the engine is replaced at each Service
Interval I or II, which is different than the Oil Change Interval -- each
service interval should be either 3 or 4 oil change intervals, but whatever
it is, it is when they change the engine's air filter. The cabin filter
needs changing when the car decides the air flow is not what is expected.
You can replace this filter easily enough, and it is available outside of
the dealer service channel.
Brakes are checked at Service Interval I and II, and replaced if needed. If
they are not checked, or not replaced if they are checked, and they wear
out, there is a sensor on the brake rotors (left front and right rear) to
tell you that the pads have worn down. If the Worn Brake Indicator comes up,
you need brake service very soon. The wear indicator says that there is
about 2mm of brake pad material remaining, which is not much. Brake pad
material is an excellent heat sink, by the way, and if the material wears
down, the heat sinking ability of the brake pads is diminished, which means
the brake rotors get hot and stay hot, which can lead to rotors becomming
warped, which you feel in the steering wheel as a wobble -- steering wheel
shakes, sometimes violently, from side to side -- when the brakes are
The Service Interval and Oil Change Interval lights are determined by the
types of trips you make. If the car makes lots of short trips, then the oil
will need to be replaced sooner in the interval, if you make long trips then
the oil will give longer life in terms of miles. A long trip of steady
driving presents less wear and tear than trips where the car is turned off
before it gets fully warmed up, is driven in stop-n-go traffic, is driven in
an urban environment, those sorts of things.
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