If you own a BMW, you probably want to treat your baby with care. These vehicles have an exalted reputation as luxury vehicles that convey both a unique driving experience and a certain "prestige factor" to their drivers. But that very uniqueness also means that not every mechanic has the experience and expertise required to repair and fine-tune them. Here are five BMW-specific issues that are reason enough to make the acquaintance of a BMW repair shop in your area.
1. Window Regulator Failure
A window regulator is a mechanism consisting of a motor, a guide tracks, cables and pulleys that govern the upward and downward motion of a car window. BMWs belonging to the e46-3 series are infamous for problems with this particular mechanism. While normal usage over time may cause the track, motor, or connecting cables to grow fatigued and eventually fail in practically any car, the high level of failure associated with this series would seem to indicate some sort of design flaw as well. This kind of repair work definitely calls for specialized BMW repair services.
2. Airbag Recall
Several years's worth of BMW series 3 cars were subject to a major airbag recall that also affected Toyota, Mazda and other major automobile manufacturers. A Japanese brand of airbag called Takata installed in these vehicles presented a bursting hazard, which not only made the airbag useless as a safety device but also posed an additional risk of injury from flying debris. In 2014 BMW announced an official recall for affected series 3 vehicles between the 2000 and 2006 model years. If you haven't responded to this recall, or you've purchased a used BMW that hasn't had it performed, you need to bring the vehicle to a dealer-authorized repair shop.
3. Steering Irregularities
No other car steers with sheer precision handling of a BMW, so if you experience troublesome hair-trigger or sluggish responses at the wheel, you definitely have a mechanical problem, not a "normal" performance quirk. One specific example of this phenomenon, generally known as over-boosted steering, was known to plague the 2000-2001 BMW e46-3. This places it within the province of experienced BMW repair specialists who have worked on large number of these cars over the past two decades. Your specialty shop can determine whether your car is part of the production run afflicted with this steering problem or you have some other issue that needs correcting.
4. Proprietary Computer Diagnostics
Most vehicles have computer diagnostic systems that can be easily accessed and decoded by most any repair technician using a standard automotive code reader. BMWs, however, live up to reputation for specialness in this respect as well by requiring BMW-specific code readers and other diagnostic devices, including variations for individual models and series. The average small auto repair shop isn't likely to be equipped with these proprietary tools -- and even if they have them, they may not have much experience in using them. If you're having an electronics issue with your BMW, you need to seek out a shop that specializes in BMW auto repair, maintenance, and troubleshooting.
5. Coolant Problems
Certain BMWs are prone to tricky, hard-to-diagnose issues afflicting the cooling system. for instance, leaky coolant pipe seals in BMW 7 series (V8 engine) cars have misled many a "generic" mechanic, often resulting in a misdiagnosis leading to an expensive, useless water pump replacement. A skilled BMW service tech will recognize this problem for what it is and perform the correct repairs the first time. The BMW e46-3 series is also notorious for failures in its relatively complex cooling system -- another job for a tech who "speaks BMW."
As you can see, BMW vehicles have their share of mechanical and electronic eccentricities. Protect the sizable investment you've made in your luxury automobile by giving it the knowledgable care it needs and deserves!