5 BMW Service and Maintenance Tips for the Winter

1. Check the date and condition of your BMW’s battery. Cold weather impacts a batteries ability to produce the cranking amperage necessary to start your BMW. If your BMW’s battery is more than five years old, you should have it professionally checked. With age, a battery naturally builds up deposits internally reducing the effectiveness of the battery. Stop in at German Auto Center and have the experts check your BMW’s battery and charging system. If you want to check the battery production date yourself, most BMW’s have located the battery in the trunk (or under the spare tire in the case of the BMW X5 and X4 models).

On later model BMW vehicles, it is important not to damage the power control module located on top of the battery. This module typically can be identified with its bright red color. Battery will be marked with a date code of manufacture. This is not the same as the installation date which may often be much after the manufacturing date. You will typically see a letter and a date such as bellow. The “I-13” can be decoded as follows; “I” is the ninth month of the year or September, and the “13” representing 2013. Hence the battery below is a battery produced in September 2013.

2. Check your coolant system components. On your BMW, many of the coolant system components such as the radiator, thermostat housing, and expansion tank are made of plastic. With age, these plastic components become brittle due to heat and are subject to crack leaving you stranded. Similarly, rubber hoses will age showing soft spots or blisters in the rubber. These components should be checked regularly. Please stop by the experts at German Auto Center and we will be happy to visually inspect your BMW’s coolant system.  BMW recommends that your coolant be changed or flushed every two years to ensure effective cooling and remove any deposits that may have accumulated within the cooling system. Keep in mind that in later model BMW vehicles, the thermostat will fail in the open position allowing the BMW to continue to run. Although your vehicle will operate, a check engine light will be turned on and you will notice a significant decline in fuel economy. For more information visit the technical blog section at www.germanautocenter.com.

3. Tire condition, pressure and age. It is important to visually inspect your BMW’s tires on a regular basis. German Auto Center will be happy to inspect your tires for you, but there are a few simple inspections that you can make on your own.

(a)  Visually inspect your tires for cracking, damage to the tread or any foreign objects that might have punctured the tire. Often an object may insert itself into the outer rubber of the tire without penetrating through causing a leak.

(b)  Check the depth of your tire’s tread. It is recommended that tires be replaced when the remaining tread depth is less than 5/32 inch. Further, a tire is considered unsafe below 3/32 inch and will not pass state safety inspection. Below is an example of a tire measuring tool indicating less than 3.32 inch tread and this tire should be replaced.

(c)  Tires are all stamped with a manufacture date. Tires older than ten (10) years should be replaced. Most tire stores will not repair a tire older than ten years. You can find the tire manufacture date stamped on the tire’s sidewall. In this example DOT U2LL LMLR 5107 can be seen. The last four digits is what you are looking for. The “51” indicates the 51st week of the year and the “07” indicated 2007; hence this tire was produced during the last week of 2007.

4. Check the windshield wiper fluid level and windshield wiper condition. Be sure check the windshield wiper fluid level each time that you fill your BMW with fuel. This is especially critical during winter months. Only use a fluid designed for use in windshield washer system and contains an antifreeze agent such as ethanol (or isopropanol and ethylene glycol. Take a moment and check the condition of the wiper blade(s) on your BMW. If signs of any cracking, tearing or if they loose their pliability, they should be replaced.  Visit German Auto Center and we will be happy to inspect the windshield wipers on your BMW and will top off your BMW’s fluid.

5. Visually inspect all belts and hoses. The rubber belts and hoses should be inspected regularly on your BMW. This is especially true if your BMW is experiencing fluid leaks such as power steering or engine oil. These fluids will rapidly soften rubber components and lead to premature failure. If is also important to check the tension of all belts to ensure proper operation.

Have a question about your luxury automobile or does your model need special work? Please ask using the comment box below on our German Auto Center Facebook page and one of our experts will reply! German Auto Center is owned and operated by Len Gilmore.