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Discussion Starter #1
I was just curious how long on average people are getting to drive their cars between significant servicing. By significant servicing, I mean more than topping off oil or other fluids and expecting to have the car out of commission for at least a couple of hours.

My theory is barring unforeseen badness, people with e46 try to strike a balance with PM vs being in the garage all the time... dunno what that number is ... My ‘01 330ci with 205k miles has been on the road for almost three months straight since the last service stop (PS overhaul). I could stop and do the front struts but I’m enjoying the driving so waiting a little bit.
 

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Yup- let minor things pile up, then when the starter pukes (for example),
take it off the road for 2 weeks, take it all apart, order parts,
fix, and drive it again.

Right now I need a t- stat, rear shock bushings, and probably a tire or a rim straightened.
But the weather's nice, so I'm waiting until the next oil change OR a run of rainy days
to pull into the barn, jack it up, and see what's really going on with it...

t
 

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few years at a time. half the crap i have put on my e46 has been because i wanted to anyway. only a handful of things were absolutely needed.
 

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When I first got the car used at 95k miles there was something needing work every month or two for quite a while until I worked through all its issues, and then it settled down and became about two maybe three times a year for unexpected issues, although I do put alot of miles on it. In general, though, its become more reliable the longer I've owned it and fixed it ... knock on wood.
 

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Maintenance-free isn’t a plan, it’s really just luck. I took care of a bunch of stuff at 100K, like cooling system refresh, FCABs, shocks/struts. Oil is every 5k, trans/diff fluid every 30K. I’m sure things like p/s, rear suspension bushings, and coils will pop up at some point, but I don’t have a plan to swap out early. If I get to 150K with them, I may consider it PM at that point.
 

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With a 15- 20 year old E46 something always needs attention. Keep a list going of what needs to be done preventively and do it over time. It sure helps to have a spare car to drive when working on your BMW.

On my '05 330CiC 6-speed w/ 105k I just did:
Brake fluid flush
replace A-pillar bushings - loose A-pillar
Had front seat leather repaired

Need to do:
replace drivers door harness which was damaged when I last pulled door card
inspect date code on O2 senor - if orig replace
diff fluid change
figure out why I am losing fuel pressure between drives..
Install Bavsound speakers I bought.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Appreciate the responses. It’s interesting to hear the range of philosophies on this question behind the actual answers- this is really what I what looking for in addition to perhaps an average number. I guess I want to own the car and not have the car own me.

Some people read “maintenance free” the way doctors use the term steroid-free for patients: not that the disease is under control or patients don’t need a steroid just that they happen to be off it. This is the way I think of it: not that the car is perfect- far from it- just that it happens to be operating and not in the garage. Others imply that maintenance free says we only lull ourselves into thinking the cars are ok and they are either ticking timebombs or we are somehow searching for the Holy Grail (depending on how you look at it).

Anyway, I will man up and do the maintenance:) I have for the last 40,000 miles- never been to a garage except to get my emissions inspection- and two years and i am targeting 250,000 (205,400 now). If I make that, I’ll reassess if 300,000 is doable. I love the car as a DD. I am a BMW newbie but I’ve amateurly maintained 7 cars over the last 4 years (German and US). My strategy is to do some PM but largely respond to events or their warning signs. I am not trying to convince anyone of the validity. Fortunately, I have the luxury of owning several other cars, one of which is new (<10,000 miles), awesome weekender (stock car holds top 25 time at the Ring), and able to step in temporarily if the old girl goes out. wrenching is my weekend hobby but I don’t feel any pressure if I take the month off and just drive.

my to do list:
Front struts (and rear sh?)
Fuel pump and filter
expansion tank
Alternator and starter
Front seat rips
 

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Alternator and Starter? IS that a pre-emptive maintenance item?..I'd agree you don't want them to fail on a DD and with your car's mileage they could fail, but they don't fail all that often...My E39 starter has 400k on it

Have you done your cooling pipes under the intake? If you haven't, tackle them if you do the starter with the intake off.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Alternator and Starter? IS that a pre-emptive maintenance item?..I'd agree you don't want them to fail on a DD and with your car's mileage they could fail, but they don't fail all that often...My E39 starter has 400k on it

Have you done your cooling pipes under the intake? If you haven't, tackle them if you do the starter with the intake off.
Yeah I thought they were a good idea for PM but the reason to mention them is to get input like yours from the experts here. Thanks for mentioning the cooling pipes- great suggestion!
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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Appreciate the responses. It’s interesting to hear the range of viewpoints on this question behind the actual answers- this is really what I what looking for in addition to perhaps an average number. I guess I want to own the car and not have the car own me.

Some people read “maintenance free” the way doctors use the term steroid-free for patients: not that the disease is under control or patients don’t need a steroid just that they happen to be off it. This is the way I think of it: not that the car is perfect- far from it- just that it happens to be operating and not in the garage. Others imply that maintenance free says we only lull ourselves into thinking the cars are ok and they are either ticking timebombs or we are somehow searching for the Holy Grail (depending on how you look at it).

Anyway, I will man up and do the maintenance:) I have for the last 40,000 miles- never been to a garage except to get my emissions inspection- and two years and i am targeting 250,000 (205,400 now). If I make that, I’ll reassess if 300,000 is doable. I love the car as a DD. I am a BMW newbie but I’ve amateurly maintained 7 cars over the last 4 years (German and US). My strategy is to do some PM but largely respond to events or their warning signs. I am not trying to convince anyone of the validity. Fortunately, I have the luxury of owning several other cars, one of which is new (<10,000 miles), awesome weekender (stock car holds top 25 time at the Ring), and able to step in temporarily if the old girl goes out. wrenching is my weekend hobby but I don’t feel any pressure if I take the month off and just drive.

my to do list:
Front struts (and rear sh?)
Fuel pump and filter
expansion tank
Alternator and starter
Front seat rips
Check the guide in my signature. I have gone a year with no spending except normal oil and filter changes. One of the big issues is fixing little things here and there versus taking on periodic maintenance jobs. If your car is 150k or older, take the manifold off and replace every sensor and all the rubber bits. It will run great for a long time.

Or wait for P0171 and replace a little here and a little there.
 

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About a year or 2 with me. I group things together that I know will need to be done like changing the coolant and replacing brake fluid. Fortunately, I haven't had anything catastrophic (e.g. expansion tank or fuel pump failure) go wrong in a while.
 

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OP, I maintained mine as well as I could without replacing everything...I've usually had at least a year without needing to do anything.

While 'rebuilding' mine to stock, I always took advantage of low-hanging fruit...and planned ahead. Therm and water pump with pulleys...sort of thing. Cleaning icv and throttle body...and I always cleaned stuff when I had engine parts out too.

If you work on the car, even just washing it, that day the car will not fail you. Promise.
 

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Pulled up my records to check - between 150k and 200k (where I am now), it's been on average roughly 5,500 miles (5 months) for me, although it's varied quite a lot from 1,000 miles (1 month) or less, to 13,000 (a year).
 

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Something always seem to come up during the fall .so I try to do everything all at once in that area that needs my attention. everything quiet Feb to November .
 

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About a year or two for me as well. It was a lot in the beginning getting caught up, then nowadays group repairs whenever I’m “in the area”. Dare I say enough to fool myself that it’s a reliable car lol.
 

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I was just curious how long on average people are getting to drive their cars between significant servicing. By significant servicing, I mean more than topping off oil or other fluids and expecting to have the car out of commission for at least a couple of hours.

My theory is barring unforeseen badness, people with e46 try to strike a balance with PM vs being in the garage all the time... dunno what that number is ... My ‘01 330ci with 205k miles has been on the road for almost three months straight since the last service stop (PS overhaul). I could stop and do the front struts but I’m enjoying the driving so waiting a little bit.
I was just curious how long on average people are getting to drive their cars between significant servicing. By significant servicing, I mean more than topping off oil or other fluids and expecting to have the car out of commission for at least a couple of hours.

My theory is barring unforeseen badness, people with e46 try to strike a balance with PM vs being in the garage all the time... dunno what that number is ... My ‘01 330ci with 205k miles has been on the road for almost three months straight since the last service stop (PS overhaul). I could stop and do the front struts but I’m enjoying the driving so waiting a little bit.
Roundel Magazine features a column called ”Tech Talk” by Mike Miller. Mike Miller has an excellent “Lifetime Maintenance” schedule which outlines essential maintenance for long term ownership/high mileage bimmers. I’d suggest subscribing to Roundel magazine, the Tech Talk column is excellent. When you do you could request the light time maintenance schedule from Mike. I’ve been following it on my ‘06 M3 and ‘11 328xi. The benefit is it helps to plan the maintenance for your BMW, proactively change parts which are known to wear, and keep your car running in top condition.
 
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