While BMWs have a somewhat unfair reputation as being unreliable, there’s no doubt that they cost more than the average car to maintain. So why is this?
BMWs are expensive to maintain because they are highly engineered cars built for performance and luxury rather than reliability. This means they have specialized parts which are expensive to replace and require more frequent maintenance. Official BMW mechanics are also expensive because they are highly qualified and use unique diagnostic tools.
Continue reading for a full breakdown of why BMWs cost so much to maintain, if they are worth the extra cost, and how you can save money on maintenance.
Main Reasons Why BMWs Are So Expensive To Maintain
If you’ve been wondering what makes them so expensive to maintain. We got you covered. Here are 7 reasons why.
1. Official BMW Mechanics Are Expensive
BMW service centers have strict requirements for someone to become a mechanic. They won’t let anyone walk in to work on these high-priced cars.
Requirements include having an associate’s degree and an Automotive Service Excellence certification.
Since the mechanics are highly qualified, service centers can charge more for their work. Guaranteeing they know what they are doing and will provide an excellent level of service, they are worth more. Also, These mechanics are compensated very well.
2. BMW Parts are expensive
It’s crazy that parts with the BMW logo can be worth twice as much, but it is for a good reason. Certified parts will ensure that you will not create any further mechanical issues.
These parts cost more for various reasons, including the quality, being made overseas. Since it’s the only part they recommend, you feel it is necessary for your vehicle.
It is not up for debate that anyone who owns a BMW will have more money than the average vehicle owner. Since manufacturers know this, they can get away with high price tags. Not just on BMW-certified parts but on aftermarket ones as well.
3. BMW is built for performance, not reliability
Germany is home to the Autobahn, the one roadway that will have no speed limits, and you are free to drive as fast as you can safely handle. It should come as no surprise that a car manufacturer from Germany makes a vehicle designed to perform.
The association that BMWs aren’t reliable is not necessarily true. When all maintenance is performed correctly, they can be one of the most reliable cars on the road. The problem is that most consumers can’t afford all the required care, leading to people skipping out on services they deem unnecessary.
The amount of science and engineering that goes into designing and manufacturing these cars is somewhat crazy. When designing a vehicle, they start with the tires and work their way up there.
Suspensions on BMWs are unique because they have many control arms and attachment points to the vehicle’s chassis. This is what makes the handling so great and responsive. The downside is that with all the extra parts, there’s more to maintain and be repaired.
4. BMW requires more frequent maintenance
These vehicles require more maintenance because of all the extra parts used to make them the high-end cars consumers have come to know and love. The added frequent services required are part of what adds up to the cost.
On average, for preventative maintenance, BMWs must be serviced every five thousand miles. And then you have to factor in that every ten thousand the oil needs to be changed. That’s also not including the fluid and brake pad inspections as well.
Owning a BMW can be highly worth it if you have the time and money to be in the service centers all the time.
5. Not designed for use on rugged American roads
The USA has some of the roughest roads, riddled with potholes and cracks. The suspension and low-profile tires are not meant to handle these roads’ roughness.
All the bumps add up over time, leading to prematurely worn-out suspension and tires, and the alignment is thrown off seamlessly. This is why it’s recommended to have the alignment done every five thousand miles, which is three times faster than average vehicles.
If you don’t get the alignment fixed, it will wear out your tires and suspension much quicker and causes you to spend more money to fix these problems. Another example of how frequently you need to service them or problems will arise.
6. Germany has a habit of over-engineering
From the battery in the trunk. To plastic covering every inch of the mechanics to the vehicle. Germany knows how to build a high-performance car. There is no doubt about that. But when it comes to doing too much, they really excel.
Over-engineering is a more complicated way of saying they do too much. Even BMWs rivals in VW are guilty of this.
The problem with doing too much is that when one small thing goes wrong, it could lead to a bigger problem, like the battery dying. Trying to replace the battery on your own could lead to shorting out other electrical components in the vehicle.
Since the electrical work is all intertwined, if you short out the taillight, it could lead to the headlights not working. This is a small example of how critical it is to not do anything yourself unless you know what you’re doing.
Are BMWs worth the high maintenance costs?
The average consumer doesn’t have the time nor cash to keep up with BMW and their routine maintenance, making them not worth it. But if you can afford everything that entails owning one of them, you will not regret your purchase decision.
The ride quality and performance make them one the most sought-after cars in the world. For the average Joe, you are better off with a Toyota or Honda.
How To Save Money on BMW Maintenance
Mark, a BMW expert from the ExoticCar PlayPlace Youtube channel, recommends several excellent ways to save money on BMW maintenance.
1. Understand Error Codes
First, Mark recommends purchasing a simple OBD-II scanner for $20-30 that can plug into your BMWs OBD-II port. The device will scan your BMW for error codes and tell you exactly what the issue is. You can then use this information to go into your local mechanic or dealer and ensure you don’t get overcharged for other repairs.
2. Don’t Ask for a “Tuneup”
Mark also recommends being specific when taking your car to the dealership. For example, don’t simply ask for a “tuneup”, because this gives the mechanic an open license to do whatever they want to the car. When you take the car to the dealership, be specific. Ask for specific work like an oil change, brake fluid, and coolant changes. Mark’s point here is that there are lots of small tuneup tasks which simply aren’t required anymore on modern cars. Adjusting valves, adjusting clutches, carburetor tune-ups, and changing sparkplugs aren’t necessary unless there is a major issue with them.
3. Do It Yourself
You don’t need to be an authorized and highly experienced BMW mechanic to perform basic maintenance on your BMW. The easiest tasks to do yourself that will save you the most money are:
- Oil change
- Changing fuel filters
- Changing oil filters
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can even find online YouTube tutorials on how to fix things like starters, coolers, water pumps, and timing belts. Not only will you save money, but you’ll learn lifelong skills.
4. Excessive Maintenence
Mark also recommends not overdoing maintenance. Oil changes are one of the big offenders here. If you run on synthetic oil, you don’t need to get an oil change every 3,000 miles as many people recommend. Synthetic oil should be good to last between 5k and 8k miles.
5. Take it anywhere else besides the Dealership for service
Approved BMW dealerships will charge you an arm and a leg to just look at the car. And once they figure out the problem be prepared to give up your other appendages.
Finding a reliable local mechanic will pay dividends on your wallet as these shops won’t charge nearly as much to take care of your BMW. Just make sure that the mechanics have proper certifications to avoid creating new problems from incorrect installation.
I find locally owned shops are also more reasonable and won’t try to sell you things you don’t need. Dealerships on the other hand are there to gouge you for every dime you have. Typically, I find that local mechanics charge up to 50% less than approved dealerships.
NOTE: Double-check your warranty stipulations to ensure you won’t void the warranty by doing this.
6. Use aftermarket replacement parts
Aftermarket parts can save you a ton of money compared to ordering original parts and do just as good a job. However, it’s vital that you choose the right aftermarket parts. Don’t go to Walmart and expect that they will have the right parts you need for a BMW.
Always consult your mechanic before buying an aftermarket part. I like to ask which specific part they recommend using and then shop around to find the part for the lowest price. Sometimes, my local mechanic is able to source the part for roughly the same price that I can find it for online, so I just let them get it.
Dealerships on the otherhand will almost always make you feel like aftermarket parts will blow up your car.
Keep in mind that choosing aftermarket parts could void the warranty on your BMW, so only go for this option in your warranty has expired.
Which BMWs cost the least to maintain?
Here are the least expensive BMWs to maintain based on annual repair costs. Even though they are still relatively high, they will be cheaper than their counterparts in the next section.
- BMW 325i- $731
- BMW 535i- $977
- BMW 740i- $847
- BMW Z4- $895
Which BMWs cost the most to maintain
Here are the BMWs that will set you back the most with annual repair costs. It’s always a good idea to keep maintenance costs in mind when deciding what car to purchase next. Some of these costs are insane.
- BMW 640i Gran Coupe- $1242
- BMW M3- $1161
- BMW M4- $2781
- BMW X6-$1206
BMWs are an excellent vehicle for anyone who can afford them and has the time to take care of their frequent services. There’s an old saying that when you take care of the car, the car will take care of you. And that could not be further from the truth with these vehicles.
For anyone looking to purchase a BMW, this guide should have clarified what to expect when owning one.
Always approach with caution when exercising the ways to save money with BMW service.