German cars are notorious for their incredible performance and costly services. Even so, the last thing you want is to end up driving a sports car that performs like a dud so make sure you keep an eye on the BMW services below.
So you bought a BMW? Nice. I bet it drives great and is everything you wanted in a car. Sadly, that won't last unless you treat it real nice. Questions about how to maintain performance vehicles come up all the time in my daily conversations so I've gone through the major BMW services and provided some thoughts and expected pricing. I'll keep adding more as I think of them and feel free to comment below if you want me to discuss a specific service I left out.
The cost of servicing a BMW will vary based on your specific model, but you can expect to see $200-$400 for a basic oil change, fluid and filter service. A more involved engine and transmission service will bump you up to $400-$800, model depending. The M models will typically run you more than your base 2 or 4-series. Below is a lot more detail on what to expect for individual services and when you should look to have them done.
How often to service your BMW is a popular subject and generally recommended at least every year or 10,000 miles. This will normally include an oil change, fluid check, and possibly filter changes. Once you get up to 30-50,000 miles, the services could start to include spark plug replacements, actuator changes, and brake pads.
Every car on the road needs to have its oil changed regularly to continue performing optimally. While BMW’s are built to very high standards, the oil is still a crucial part of keeping parts moving smoothly and without generating excess heat. Over time your oil thickens with the accumulation of grit and debris, which reduces its ability to keep things cool. Too much heat can cause huge down-stream problems, especially if you’re running in a performance model like the M1 or M3.
Cost of a BMW Oil Change
You will likely end up paying approximately $60-$145 for the synthetic oil (used in all late-model BMW’s) for your BMW oil change. Often, the service departments will also change out the oil filter, and inspect the rest of the car during the change which can add cost. You can expect to see an all in price of $175 all the way up to $250 for high end vehicles. One way to keep costs lower is to shop around to find some good deals at your local european service shop.
How Often Do You Need an Oil Change?
Your BMW oil can typically last up to 15,000 miles when using full synthetic, which all newer models do. If you drive your vehicle hard or want to be preventative, you can get it changed a bit more frequently. Often it’s easier for owners to just do it on a yearly basis as the average driver does 8-12,000 miles a year.
Car batteries have gotten much better over the years and they can be quite resilient. That said, they do degrade over time like any other type of battery in your phone or laptop and need to be checked occasionally and replaced when close to dying.
Why Service My BMW Vehicle's Battery?
Getting your battery checked occasionally while you’re at the shop for your oil change is a good idea to ensure that everything is still functioning correctly. Batteries can die in a few different ways and don’t always give you a lot of heads up before causing problems. A quick check from the service team can make sure the current output and voltage of your battery is still in the ideal range.
How much does it cost to change a BMW battery?
Like all of the info here, it will depend on the model but you can expect to pay $200-$400 to swap your BMW battery. Thankfully this doesn’t occur too often and you should get a good 2 to 5 years of life from the replacement. Take note, though, if you live somewhere exceedingly cold you will run through batteries more frequently and be on the low side of the estimate.
The importance of having good tires cannot be overstated. Why buy a performance car and then skimp on tires and leave all that power and control inaccessible? That’s what I thought. There’s also a major safety component as having low tread or old tires can lead to blowouts, sliding in rain/snow, and inability to stop when needed.
Unfortunately, tires tend to be quite a pricey endeavor on the high end german vehicles. You shouldn’t have to replace them too often unless you drive very aggressively (like I do), track your car, or do donuts in the office parking lot. A typical set will get you 40,000+ miles. Low profile options on the M-series and smaller cars will wear faster than the thick tires they put on the X6 and X5.
Servicing tires keeps them alive longer
Making sure your wheels and tires are aligned, rotated, and at the correct pressure can do wonders for your car. Gas mileage, performance, and control increases while the tire lifetime is extended. Some typical tire services offered are listed below.
Keep your tires aligned
Tire alignment can help prolong your tires' lifespan and prevent any complications when it comes to handling and performance. Tires in need of adjustment can cause a loss of tread and damage your vehicle's health for the long-term. If you are noticing issues such as your vehicle pulling to one side when your hands are removed from the wheel, it may be time to get an alignment.
Making a car stop is equally if not more important that making sure it can go fast so make sure not to neglect your brakes! Similar to tires, letting your brakes deteriorate leads to major safety and performance issues. Additionally, the brakes are designed to have the pad easily replaceable as it breaks down over time due to friction. If you let your car go past the point of no return, you can start hitting the actual brake disc and housing which becomes an incredibly costly repair. So best to be proactive.
How much is a BMW brake service?
You’ve heard this a lot, but this depends on the car. Especially for brakes. Basic brake pads for a basic 3-series BMW is $300-$375. This will increase as you move into more performance brakes and larger discs. For example, an X5 brake pad replacement could run closer to $500. If you opt for ceramic pads to reduce your dust output, you’ll have to spend more cash.
While your service reps might be more than willing to upgrade your 328i to the most expensive pads around, keep in mind that they are part of the overall system and should be chosen appropriately with the car. For instance, the M3 might benefit from some higher end pads while the i3 is more than happy with whatever the OEM options are.
Why are your brakes squeaking?
Brake squeaking is a common question and concern but normally does not indicate anything is wrong. Cars in general and BMW especially lean to larger performance brakes that tend to squeak when cold. A single frequency squeak shouldn’t be anything to worry about unless it is consistent even after driving for a long time. If you experience brake whining, grinding, or vibration, bring your vehicle into a BMW service center to get it checked out.
The short answer. No. Definitely not. There are tons of highly qualified and reputable service centers across the country that can take very good care of you and your vehicle. Typically for slightly better prices as well. The main thing that dealers provide is a direct line to manufacturers and a level of ‘they know what they’re doing’.
When selling your vehicle, it could help slightly in resale price if you can show it has had all the recommended services at the BMW dealer service center.
There are lots of great european specialty shops around that can make sure you and your BMW stay happy. The big thing here is to make sure that you go to a shop that mostly focuses - or has a division - on imported and european vehicles. This can be important because a shop that normally does Mustangs and Challengers is going to have a much harder time figuring out how to fix your BMW. There are ins and outs of all brands and you want to make sure you’re not paying extra for your mechanic to go spend time on Google.
Yes. No dependency on the model here. Bmw’s are very pricey to own. People don’t tend to buy these vehicles thinking that they are going to save a lot of money. If you look at some of the studies, BMW ranks as one of if not the most expensive brand to own. Over a 10-year outlook, they average $17,800 to maintain. As a born and bred car enthusiast, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s not always about the money. If you are looking for something that will simply get you from A to B with no frills, I would nudge you in a different direction.
If you are looking to buy a used BMW, use our buying checklist to make sure you don’t get turned around in the process!