Are BMWs Expensive to Maintain? (BMW Maintenance Cost)

BMW Maintenance Cost Details

For too many people, the BMW is a dream car. They may have dreamed of owning one as a teenager or they admired celebrities who drive them to work every day. Or they may just love the way BMWs look and feel like nothing else out there. Whatever their rationale, people want to own a BMW and that is perfectly fine by me.

However, there is a myth that plagues many would-be BMW owners and it’s not one of those car myths about how they are bad on gas or don’t perform as well as their Mercedes counterparts. Rather, it’s the myth perpetuated by every person you meet who has never owned a BMW before: “BMWs are expensive to maintain.”Or so people would have you believe.

So is it true? Are BMWs expensive to maintain and own over the long term? The answer: It depends.

The truth is when compared to other luxury cars such as Mercedes or Audi, yes. BMWs are slightly more expensive when it comes to maintaining them for the average driver than their German peers. However, this doesn’t mean they’re exorbitantly expensive and out of reach for most middle-class people who want a luxurious car that feels special every time they drive it. It just means that there are some things about owning an expensive sports car that cost more money upfront before you even drive them off the lot.

BMW Maintenance Cost Details

The BMW Repair and Service Guide provides the average cost for each required service, along with a description of what is covered, as well as the usual and customary range of prices charged for this work by mechanics in your area. Services are divided into Scheduled Maintenance Services (Scheduled PMs) and other services that should be performed on an as-needed basis according to best practices. To find out which services will be due during your next service appointment or within the next few thousand miles, check out our BMW maintenance cost guide below.

BMW’s are great cars but they do have one downside – their maintenance costs. The Germans know how to design complex mechanical systems that take a lot of time and money to maintain. The good news is that keeping up with regular maintenance will go a long way toward both the longevity of your vehicle and the resale value.

BMW Maintenance Schedule

The following are BMW’s recommended service schedules for all models. The Scheduled Maintenance services should be performed at the mileage/time periods specified to ensure the safety, reliability, and emission integrity of your car. If you have questions about what needs to be done when, check out this FAQ or give us a call – we’re happy to help!

BMW Service Intervals – Mileage-Based Service Intervals (Required)

Mileage interval: When it’s due: X5/X6 4 years / 50,000 miles 5 years / 75,000 miles 740i/Li 5 years / 60,000 miles 7-Series 4 years / 50,000 miles 5 years / 75,000 miles Z4 4 years / 50,000 miles 120i/130i 3 years / 36 months M3/M5 (Includes SMG) 4 years / 50,000 miles. This service interval covers all fluid and filter changes as well as inspections for the entire transmission system for this vehicle – from the clutch housing to the rear differential. X3 (With exception of X3 2.5i) Every 5 Years or 60,000 Miles X3 2.5i Every 6 Years or 70,000 Miles Z8 10 Years or 100k Miles 525I xDrive Every 6 Years or 70,000 Miles 528I/iA Every 6 Years or 70,000 Miles 530I/I xDrive Every 6 Years or 70,000 Miles 540I / I xDrive Every 4 years / 50,000 miles 550I / I xDrive Every 4 years / 50,000 miles 750LI: (Includes Active Roll Stabilization and Dynamic Drive) 2 years 10k mi 740i: (Includes Active Roll Stabilization) 1 year 12k mi M6: (Includes SMG) 3 years 30k mi.

Other Scheduled Maintenance Services & Repairs At Different Mileage-Based Service Intervals (Recommended as Needed): X3 X5 Z4 120i 130i 525I 528I 530i 540i 550i 750Li 740Li M3 M5 Z8 Oil and Filter Change Every 3 Years or 30,000 Miles Every 4 years / 50,000 miles X X X Air filter change – Engine air filter element X X x x Cabin Air Filter Replacement Every 4 years / 50,000 miles. Check owner’s manual for location. Replace if dirty/contaminated. Transmission fluid service (automatic) BMW recommends that this be performed every 2nd oil change at a minimum.

Differential fluid – Front and rear axle differential (if equipped with LSD, not available on all models). This is generally easy to do at home but will require the special equipment. It is recommended that it be performed every 4 years / 50,000 miles. Differential fluid – Transfer case (if equipped) Check owner’s manual for location of transfer case on your vehicle and how to check/fill fluid level.

Drive belts – Engine Air Conditioning Compressor Belt Tensioner Pulley Idler Pulleys Every 4 Years / 50,000 Miles X X Belts should not need replacement at mileage intervals Brake fluid change Every 2 years or 24,000 miles X X Brakes are a major expense so it is important they be checked regularly at each service interval. Have brake system checked every time you have the car serviced as deterioration may occur over time w/o being apparent before it’s too late. Camshaft timing belt Should also include tensioner and idler pulleys. Check owner’s manual for location and procedure. BMW recommends that this be performed every 5 years or 60,000 miles X X Castrol GTX High Performance Synthetic Oil Every 3 years / 30,000 miles x x x Engine coolant change Do not attempt to open cooling system. Have the system opened by a qualified facility such as your local dealer or repair shop. Brake fluid change Every 2 years or 24,000 miles X

Exhaust System – Catalytic Converter Replacement Original equipment converters will last the lifetime of the vehicle in most cases but aftermarket converters can dramatically reduce airflow to engine resulting in loss of performance and possible catalytic converter damage due to overheating if they become clogged with soot/carbon/etc. Check owner’s manual for location and procedure to replace.

Front suspension – control arms, bushings, strut bearings Every 4 years / 50,000 miles Check alignment at same time with standard or laser equipment. Fuel Filter Replacement Every 2 years or 24,000 miles x x x Gearbox mount replacement (SMG only) Every 4 years / 50k miles Spark plugs Should be replaced every 100k miles but can last much longer in some cases. They should be checked at each service interval. Replace if needed.

Air filter change – Engine air filter element X X x x Cabin Air Filter Replacement Every 4 years / 50,000 miles. Check owner’s manual for location. Replace if dirty/contaminated Transmission fluid service (automatic) BMW recommends that this be performed every 2nd oil change at a minimum. Differential fluid – Front and rear axle differential (if equipped with LSD, not available on all models). This is generally easy to do at home but will require the special equipment. It is recommended that it be performed every 4 years / 50,000 miles. Clutch fluid change Every 3 years or 30,000 miles X X Leaks can occur from worn clutch components so should be checked periodically as part of scheduled service Clutch fluid reservoir cap replacement Every 3 years or 30,000 miles Check owner’s manual for location on your vehicle and how to check/fill fluid level. Clutch Master Cylinder Replacement If soft or spongy pedal Travel distance reduced Check owner’s manual for location on your vehicle and how to check/fill fluid level.

Power steering fluid change Every 2 years or 24,000 miles Check owner’s manual for location on your vehicle and how to check/fill fluid level. Brake fluid change Every 2 years or 24,000 miles X X Brakes are a major expense so it is important they be checked regularly at each service interval. Have brake system checked every time you have the car serviced as deterioration may occur over time w/o being apparent before it’s too late. Spark Plugs Should be replaced every 100k miles but can last much longer in some cases. They should be checked at each service interval. Replace if needed.

Valve cover gasket replacement Every 5 years or 60,000 miles Check owner’s manual for location and procedure Engine oil change Every 3 months / 3,000 miles x x x Oil MUST be changed using BMW synthetic oil. Covers first 2 oil changes only.

Differential fluid – Front and rear axle differential (if equipped with LSD, not available on all models). This is generally easy to do at home but will require the special equipment. It is recommended that it be performed every 4 years / 50,000 miles. Transmission Fluid Change BMW recommends this be performed by a dealer as part of major maintenance service every two years or 24,000 miles X X Transmission components can wear out quickly so should be checked periodically as part of service.

Driveline mounting bushing replacement (rear wheel drive only) Every 5 years / 60,000 miles Check owner’s manual for location and procedure. Rear wheel bearing replacement (RWD only) Every 4 years / 50,000 miles Check owner’s manual for location and procedure.

Fuel filter replacement x x x Air conditioning service This is required to pass California SMOG check but it is advisable to be done every 2-3 years anyway as contaminants can build up in the system over time resulting in reduced performance/mileage etc. Interval suggested by air conditioning manufacturer varies greatly depending on application so this should be checked based on condition of system. Some older systems may require servicing more frequently than new ones that are well sealed .

Battery terminal corrosion removal If corrosion is present Replace battery Terminal end link replacement Check for cracks/chafing Visit our article on Battery Terminals

Radiator coolant flushing Every 2 years or 24,000 miles x x x Coolant should be flushed at each service interval. Leaks can occur from worn radiator components so it’s important they be checked periodically as part of scheduled service. Radiator cap replacement Every 2 years or 24,000 miles Check owner’s manual for location and how to check/fill fluid level. Heater hoses replacement Every 10 years / 120,000 miles X X If you have ever had hot coolant spill onto your foot or seen the aftermath of a car running through standing water you know just how dangerous this can be. These hoses can deteriorate/split over time so should be checked periodically.

Electrical system checks Every visit x x x Ignition switch replacement If ignition key is difficult to remove or doesn’t turn easily Terminal replacement Check for corrosion

All scheduled maintenance performed on your car must be recorded in the service history section of the car’s data recorder (which can only be retrieved by a dealer). It is imperative this be done as it will affect the value of the car when it comes time to sell it. If any required services have not been performed or if mileage/maintance history has been altered in any way, this information will appear via diagnostic codes and void your warranty.

Maintenance Issues With Your BMW Car

What follows is a list of 7 maintenance and ownership issues that you might face when driving a BMW:

1. Scheduled Service Costs Money

One major difference between your standard run-of-the-mill Honda or Toyota and a luxury car such as the BMW, Mercedes, Audi etc… is the fact that the luxury cars usually require scheduled service for their engines. What this means is that every 10,000 miles or once a year (depending on how well you drive), your car will need to be serviced in order to keep its warranty valid and it could cost anywhere from $100-$1000. If you own an older BMW without any warranty left, then these costs could double because now they will be out of pocket.

2. Oil Changes Are More Frequent

Typically, most cars recommend that you change the oil every 3,000 miles or once a year (or more or less depending on your specific car). BMWs are no exception to this rule; however if you own an older model BMW without any warranty left, then expect to change the oil every 1,000 miles or six months because it needs more frequent attention than other non-BMW models. This isn’t necessarily expensive but rather inconvenient so just keep your eye on the maintenance schedule for your particular BMW and you’ll be fine.

3. Parts Are More Expensive Than Your Average Car

Part of owning an expensive luxury brand is that parts will cost up to 10% more than your standard non-BMW parts sold at the local auto store. Don’t expect to pay BMW prices for regular maintenance items such as spark plugs but you will be paying up to $80 extra per part on small components like headlights or filters so keep this in mind when budgeting for repairs and service.

4. New BMWs Cost More Than Other Cars

This is a simple fact of life: A brand new BMW costs more than many other cars off the lot. This can pose problems if you’re low on cash and desperately want to buy one because it may seem out of reach; however, if you wait long enough, then it is likely that they will drop in price like most other luxury brands (Mercedes, Audi, etc..) and within a few years you may be able to get one at a cheaper price than what it would cost today.

5. Parts Are More Likely To Break And Require Repairs

A BMW is not made like any other car; it is much more high-tech which means that the parts are often much more expensive and much more likely to break or require repairs such as engine transplants (if your engine breaks). So if you plan on buying a BMW in order to save money, don’t do it because this myth simply isn’t true when it comes to these kinds of cars. If anything, they will cost you slightly more than expected but in return you will enjoy owning and driving one every day!

6. Repair Costs Are Expensive

If you’ve ever seen what an engine transplant on a BMW costs then you will know that they are expensive. If your BMW requires any repairs, expect it to be an expensive fix or there is very little chance of getting it repaired because you would be better off buying another car instead. So again, if you own an older BMW without any warranty left and plan on driving it until the wheels fall off, don’t expect every repair to go smoothly because some parts will simply cost more than what your car is worth!

7. Insurance Costs More Than A Honda Or Toyota

As expected, insurance for a luxury sports car like a BMW costs up to double or triple the insurance rates for regular sedans like Hondas or Toyotas. So if you work a job that requires a car and cannot afford to pay for more expensive insurance on a luxury car, then your best bet is buying something cheap and small so it won’t cost as much to insure in the long run.

8. You Need To Sacrifice Gas Mileage In Order To Get Good Handling And Speed

This myth has been around since the 80’s when sports cars were first being made with high speeds and good gas mileage. Today, even the cheapest of new BMWs have great gas mileage but this comes at a price: low speed and poor handling. If you drive safely then there is no reason why you can’t get decent gas mileage from BMWs or any other type of car for that matter.

9. It’s Better To Buy One Brand New Or Used

There is nothing wrong with finding a reasonably priced BMW for sale, checking it out to make sure everything looks okay and then buying it without any warranty left. If you can afford something brand new, then go for it; however if not, there is no reason why you should buy a car that has been taken care of rather than skipping straight to buying something used because you will save lots of money and still enjoy the luxury aspect of owning such a high-class vehicle.

10. Expensive Repairs Can Put You Deep Into Debt

The most important myth to bust about BMWs is that expensive repairs can put people deep into debt: this isn’t true at all. Sure, the total cost of repairs can put you in debt but that’s only if you have no money saved up. If you have some money set aside for repairs and maintenance then there is nothing to worry about because it will be cheaper than buying a new car in most cases so think before you buy!

As with any type of car, owning or driving a BMW comes with its own unique pros and cons. The best advice anyone can give is to do your research before spending anything on one of these cars because they are not cheap by any means.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have read this article, you should know all of the most common myths about BMWs and whether or not they are true. I hope you enjoyed the article and if so feel free to leave a comment below with any feedback or suggestions.

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