Knowing your BMW needs repairs isn’t always as simple as finding out that your car doesn’t run one morning. If you watch for the telltale signs, you can prevent more damaging, expensive repairs later on. And if you do need repairs, follow a few tips to save on BMW tune up parts so the repairs don’t wind up costing you a fortune.
Decreasing Gas Mileage
Keep a record of your fill-ups; if you start having to stop at the gas station more often without traveling more to make up for it, there’s something going on under the hood of your car. Some BMW sedans are especially prone to a faulty fuel pump, and that can affect the entire fuel circulation system as a result. The matter may be a simple repair or change in your behavior, including:
• Using the A/C less and closing the windows when using the A/C.
• Properly inflating your tires.
• Keeping your engine serviced.
• Making sure your gas cap is on tight.
The needle on your car temperature gauge should range between the cold end when you start the car and the middle of the gauge after it’s been running for a while. If it ever starts venturing into the hot end of the gauge, there’s a problem. Your engine is overheating, and letting that go without repair can cause structural damage to your vehicle. Some BMWs, the E46 types in particular, can have weak engine cooling systems and faulty water pumps. Catch problems with overheating early.
Unexplained Gear-Shift Noises and Shudders
Never ignore shuddering feelings and noises, particularly when you’re shifting gears or your car is automatically shifting gears. The problem could be any of the following:
• Damaged transmission cables
• Worn-out axles
• Valve problems
• Worn-down gears
• Fluids low (a relatively easy fix, but better to be safe than sorry)
Whenever you park or idle your vehicle, it doesn’t hurt to look for fluids that have accumulated below. If you’re running the A/C, chances are you will find a stain, but it shouldn’t be too huge. If you’re not running the A/C, there’s no reason for there to be visible fluid collection below your vehicle. This could be a sign of leaking fluids and broken parts, and when your car is running low on fluid, more problems can occur. Get your car to a mechanic immediately.
Cracked or Rusted Panels and Dashboards
The BMW E36 models from the 1990s are particularly prone to UV damage from long-term exposure to the sun. If you notice that the exterior or interior on your vehicle has cracked, get it repaired as soon as possible. Cracked surfaces lead to rust and rust quickly eats away at your car, eventually infecting the parts it needs to keep running. The doors are especially likely to develop rust buildus, so check them frequently.
Repair may be just a matter of swapping out an entire door or panel, or you or your mechanic may be able to repair the damage with a kit.
Saving Money on Parts
At this point, you’ve realized that your BMW needs repairs. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, and you shouldn’t delay it. If you do, it’ll only end up costing you more. Before you allow the first auto mechanic you take your BMW to determine how much your repairs will cost, try a few of these ideas:
• Comparison shop. They’re not the only ones willing to repair your car. Someone else might be able to do it for less, and they may even do it faster. Do your research on every place you call or take your car to for a quote. Make sure it’s a reputable business.
• Look for used or refurbished parts. They’ll cost less than new ones.
• Opt for OEM or aftermarket parts. OEM parts have BMW’s approval, so you can count on high quality for a lesser price. Aftermarket parts don’t have the approval of BMW, but they’re among the cheapest new parts you’ll find. Even BMW dealerships can order OEM (but not aftermarket) parts for you, so always ask if there’s a cheaper way to repair. You can order your own parts or go through a local mechanic for aftermarket parts.
About the Author: Joey DeRango is a contributing blogger and hobbyist mechanic. He’s also a sales rep for a BMW dealership outside of Atlanta.
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