Tech Tips

Maintenance vs. Repair

Maintenance is preventative in nature. The idea behind changing operating fluids such as engine oil, coolant, gearbox oil, differential oil and brake fluid, for example is to prevent the need for premature repairs. Replacement of consumable parts such as brake pads & rotors, wiper blades, filters, light bulbs, etc. also comes under the heading of maintenance.

If you follow BMW and other European vehicle maintenance schedules, there really isn’t much maintenance to be done at all. However, the current schedule for European vehicles is designed to reduce the cost of ownership for one entity…the manufacturer! Various manufacturers started providing free scheduled maintenance during the warranty period over a decade ago, whereupon the “schedule” was heavily revised. Back when owners paid for maintenance, BMW and other European vehicles required much shorter service intervals, replacing many more items. Now that the European vehicle manufacture pays for maintenance, the cars hardly need any at all!? The natural and probable result is more repairs in the post-warranty period.

Repair work is a completely different animal. A repair is necessitated by a parts failure of some kind. Owners who plan to keep the car past the warranty period or who buy a car after the warranty expires, are well advised to follow the old school maintenance schedule that predates free scheduled maintenance.

There is a price to be paid for driving any car

That price can be paid at the front door in the form of interest, licensing, taxes, and depreciation on a new car, or you can pay the price at the back door in the form of maintenance and repairs on a more mature car. The higher the capabilities of any given car, the more you will pay at either door, generally speaking.

BMWs and other European vehicles are highly functional cars. They can perform more dynamically than your standard American sedan, though the latter is eminently competent for commuting purposes or as A to B transportation. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you as a driver want in your vehicle.

As for the enthusiast’s car vs. the CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) car, we’d definitely go with the enthusiast’s car. It is important to bear in mind that the warranty has both time and mileage based limits, and most cars go out of warranty based on time. Most CPO warranties are not fully comprehensive like the warranty offered when the vehicle was brand new, generally not covering any consumable or maintenance items like the original. If you are looking to try to minimize expenses on the upkeep of a vehicle like a BMW, try to purchase one with fewer premium gadgets. Expensive problems can follow options like built-in GPS navigation and panoramic sunroofs.

Charging Systems

Your battery, starter, and charging system components are some of the basic items needed to make each day with your car a pleasant and reliable driving experience.

Batteries should be checked periodically to make sure that they are reaching the correct charge level, and if necessary, the level of water should be checked as well. Your charging system not only is important for the car to start, but keeps it running once you’re on the road.

We would be happy to perform a battery, starter, and charging system test for at no charge upon request. The test can’t predict future problems, but it can help catch current issues early enough to prevent a breakdown.

Late Style Keys

BMW®s from approximately model year 2000 onward have keys without replaceable batteries. These keys are charged by the antenna ring in the ignition when you drive the vehicle. If you have more than one of these keys, it is recommended that you use each key at least once every 6 months for an extended driving period in order to maintain a battery charge in the key.

Vehicles with a rectangular style key are charged the same way, with the exception being cars with the Comfort Access feature. Since these vehicles are designed to operate the locks and the start/stop feature with the key in your pocket rather than the ignition, the batteries are exchangeable without any fuss at all.


  1. Greetings, our 2008 535 wagon’s original battery has gone kaput. The owner’s manual doesn’t address changing the battery but says it must be registered for reprogramming various charge rates. The car is in Glenwood Springs. Do I need to start it and get it over to Denver for a battery change or is it OK to to change the battery here and drive it over for programming or what? I am ready to get the new battery but don’t want to make any serious mistakes since I don’t have a service manual. Thanks for your time. Randy (p.s. I even thought about putting a 1/2amp trickle charger on the charging posts so the system wouldn’t collapse, but of course I don’t know what I’m talking about)

    1. Hello Randy!

      Unfortunately, blog comments are severely difficult to receive due to the amount of spam filters the website has (thankfully, otherwise the comments would be full of search engine optimization, “real” jewelry, and various sordid adult geared scams!) I hope you have solved your battery issue by now, but please don’t hesitate to reach us through the “Contact Us” page, which sends me an e-mail directly, or give us a shout!

      Thank you!
      Amber from Absolute Motor Works

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