3 Major Maintenance Tips For New BMW Owners

There are a lot of reasons to buy a BMW. Maybe you found a terrific deal on a used BMW, or you fell in love with a new one at the dealership and just had to have it. Either way, once you have the car, you have to find a way to take care of it. Finding a great mechanic for a BMW can be difficult; it's usually best to find a mechanic that specializes in BMWs and other luxury vehicles, but that can be expensive. You'll save money if you learn some of the basics of BMW maintenance and troubleshooting yourself. Here are a few tips that can help you maintain your new BMW.

Make Sure Your BMW is Ready for Winter

A BMW may be a cool car, and newer ones are very technologically advanced. However, they don't prepare themselves for the winter months. You can do a lot of damage to your car and to yourself if you don't take the initiative to get your car ready for the cold, snow, and ice.

Start by checking your windshield wipers. Freezing weather can make your wipers more susceptible to crack and tearing, because the rubber freezes and becomes delicate. If your wiper blades are already worn or the rubber is beginning to separate, you need new ones before the temperature drops too low. You should also make sure that your windshield wiper fluid is rated for cold weather. Finally, don't neglect to put snow tires on your BMW. Snow tires are specifically designed to provide the grip that regular tires don't have on icy roads, and it's well worth the cost of the extra set of tires to protect both your car and your own safety.

Learn to Change Spark Plugs

Knowing how to change your own spark plugs is an important part of BMW maintenance. Failing spark plugs are a common reason behind many minor instances of car trouble. When your engine is difficult to start in the morning, when your engine stalls, or when you can hear and feel that your engine is idling roughly, spark plugs are one of the possible causes – and they're also one of the easiest to fix of the possible causes for these problems. Learning to do it yourself can save you a lot of time and money.

First, you need new spark plugs, and you need to assemble a few tools that you'll need to replace them. These tools include a torque wrench, a ratchet, a spark plug socket, a 10 mm socket, a socket extension, and a flat head screwdriver. Pop the hood and remove the cabin filter, the wiring housing piece, and the four torx screws, then pull out the cabin filter housing unit. Pry open the cover plates and remove the nuts with your rachet and 10mm socket. You'll need to remember to remove the oil filter cap.

At this point, you should be able to see the six ignition coils. Disconnect the wiring, pull out the ignition coil, and use the spark plug socket to remove the plugs. Then all that you have to do is insert the new plugs and work backwards to reassemble the pieces just the way you disassembled them.

Understand the Difference Between OE, OEM, and Aftermarket Parts

Whether you're doing your own maintenance or bringing your car into the mechanic, knowing the difference between various types of new parts can make a big difference to your budget and to the quality of repairs that you receive. Many people believe that aftermarket parts are always inferior to factory parts, but this is not always the case. Additionally, few people understand the distinction between OE and OEM parts.

OE stands for "original equipment" and these parts are the same parts that you would get from the BMW dealership, usually in packaging marked with the BMW logo. OEM, on the other hand, stands for "original equipment manufacturer". They come from the same manufacturer that made the parts from your original BMW, but they're marked with the manufacturer's brand, not BMW's. There's no difference in quality between OE and OEM parts, but OEM parts are usually significantly less expensive.

Aftermarket parts are simply parts made by manufacturers that don't supply their parts to BMW dealers. In and of itself, this is not an indication of inferiority. Some manufacturers have better reputations than others, so it's worth researching the brands you're considering, but for something like an air filter or oil filter, there's really no reason to avoid aftermarket parts. Occasionally, aftermarket parts may be superior to the OE or OEM parts, because they've been created to solve a flaw inherent in the original equipment. This information is important to consider when choosing between OE, OEM, and aftermarket parts. In many cases, there's no reason to spend top dollar on the original equipment.

The longer you own your BMW, the more you'll learn about how to keep it running smoothly. An experienced BMW auto repair mechanic can give you advice about performing simple maintenance tasks yourself, and can also provide solutions for more complex problems that are beyond your capabilities.