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Car Care Tips

The life of your BMW can be greatly enhanced by performing regular maintenance. Even though the original warranty called for very long service intervals, more frequent service can extend the life of your BMW once it is out of warranty. BMWs are some of the world's best cars in terms of serviceability. Preventative maintenance does not need to be expensive. In fact it will save you money in the long run.

Checking your car's vital signs and watching for trouble can not only keep your car running optimally, but prevent larger repair bills later. Here's where to look under the hood and elsewhere for signs of trouble. Check your owner's manual for the exact location of each tank for your model car.

Vital Fluids

Brake Fluid - Do you wonder where this fluid is located? In most cars you'll find it in an opaque chamber under the hood, right in front of the steering wheel. If your brake pads are starting to wear, the brake fluid level will drop. If the fluid drops below two-thirds full, have it checked. Brake fluid absorbs water and become less effective over time. It's best to change your brake fluid every two years.

Coolant - If your car is too low on coolant, you risk it overheating. An overheated engine can be damaged beyond repair in only a few seconds. It's best keep it running cool. When you check your coolant, make sure the car has had time to cool down. Two marks ("Full Hot" and "Full Cold") can be found in the reserve tank. If you need to keep adding water, you probably have a leak.

Windshield Washer Fluid - You can either look at the level by looking at the marker on the opaque chamber or by looking into the reservoir.

Tires

Four factors affect tire wear and durability: tire inflation, tire balance, alignment, and rotation.

Make sure your car is equipped with a handy tire gauge so you can check the tire pressure when the tires are cold. Proper inflation is important to keep the tires wearing evenly.

If your tires are out of balance, the car will vibrate at speeds between 80 and 100 km/h. If one section of tire is heavier than the other, a tire becomes out of balance. Lead weights, properly placed by a technician, can compensate for it. Once the wheels are balanced, the ride will become noticeably smoother.

Tire age is also an important safety factor. As tires age, the rubber gets hard and can crack, leak, or fail. It is recommended to replace your tires after seven years of age to ensure they are safe.

Filters

Driving through areas with air pollution and dust can clog or restrict air filters. This can cost you in terms of power and fuel economy. Filters need to be checked or replaced on a frequent basis. The air filter cleans the air going into the engine. Newer cars (those built after 1993-94) also come with an interior air filter that will need to be changed regularly to optimize air circulation and protect the heating and air conditioning system.

The fuel filter keeps fuel clean so your engine can operate at peak efficiency. It should be changed by a technician. The breather and PCV valve allow clean air to come into the crankcase and burn in the combustion chamber. This pushes moisture and acids away from the engine.

Wiper Blades

You don't know you need them until your are in a downpour going 100 km/h. Wiper blades streak when they are old or dirty, making it miserable for the driver and causing eye fatigue. Change your blades every 10,000 to 15,000 km. Also, clean the blades each time you wash your windshield. A clean windshield also helps the blades last longer.

That Showroom Look

Your car's finish is under constant assault by fierce weather, tree sap, bird droppings, road salt and environmental pollution. Keeping your car clean with a good wash will protect it from these corrosives. A clean car is less likely to rust. Avoid laundry or dishwashing detergents that are too harsh for your car's finish. Instead use mild soap made especially for cars.

Waxing is the final touch that keeps a car looking new. In fact, a ten-year-old car that has been waxed regularly can enjoy a better shine than when it was new. That's the power of wax! For best results use a clay product to smooth the surface and prepare it, then hand wax it at least twice a year. If moisture fails to bead on your car's smooth surfaces, that's a sign it needs waxing again.