The average American spends 101 minutes per day driving, or a staggering 37,935 hours over their lifetime. We use our cars for everything from running errands to getting to work. For most people, their car is like a fifth limb, essential to life and livelihood.

For BMW owners, this fact is even more emphasized—a BMW is not only a vital appendage, but a treasure, something to be proud of. That’s why few things are more frustrating than encountering some form of car trouble—especially if it’s getting in the way of getting where you have to go. BMW repair takes up valuable time, money, and energy. Finding yourself being pulled over to the side of the road is annoying, stressful, and undesirable. Fortunately, many of the most common types of BMW issues can be avoided—with proper check-ins and maintenance. Here, we present useful car care tips for BMW owners, so that you can keep your car running like new longer.

Importance of Car Maintenance

Just like most good habits, routine BMW maintenance is a hard one to get into. Most people put off auto maintenance because it’s inconvenient, time-consuming, and potentially stressful.

Whether you’re on a tight budget and tempted to skip your routine maintenance, or your schedule compels you to delay an appointment with your auto shop, know this: poor car maintenance can have dastardly consequences. Poorly maintained vehicles are the cause of thousands of wrecks each year. In fact, accidents caused by poorly maintained vehicles account cost a collective $2 billion a year.

Even if you are lucky enough to avoid an accident, skipping maintenance or doing it on the cheap can take years off your car’s life span. Say, for example, that an average vehicle could drive roughly 200,000 miles over its lifetime. Without proper care, you’re knocking that drive time down to 150,000 miles or less. In short, you’re (unnecessarily) losing 25% of your car’s durability.

Most Important Service Items

It’s inevitable that you’ll have to bring your automobile into the shop at some point. However, by bringing in your BMW vehicle for regular BMW repair by a professional, you can avoid costly emergency services later. You’ll also keep your car running faster, better, and longer than it otherwise would.

1.Engine—First things first: your car’s engine. Your car’s engine is the heart of the car; what it keeps it going. With any sort of engine problems, you face a risk of danger, your car is not functioning at its optimal level, or your car is rendered useless. I.e. even small engine issues can equal BIG problems. Have your engine checked a few times a year. At the same time, have your transmission checked. Otherwise, you may find yourself stuck on a busy road this summer, sweltering under the Austin sun.

2. Brakes–While your BMW’s engine is necessary to keep going, your BMW’s brakes are essential to stopping. Checking your brakes should be a part of your regular basic car maintenance. Healthy brakes are key to good safety. Here’s where the assistance of a good, professional mechanic is extra important. Our resident BMW repair expert recommends flushing the brake system every two years or so.

This is because brake fluid is hydroscopic and will absorb moisture from the air. Over time, this absorption dangerously contaminates the brake fluid, eventually causing brake system failures. Another thing to have your LAW mechanic look at at the same time are your brake pads. Dirty brake pads can cause annoying squeaking and other.

2. Tires—Tires play an important role in your vehicle. Not only do they physically get you where you need to go, but they are key to keeping you safe and to maximizing your fuel economy. In fact, faulty or damaged tires are one of the top sources of car accidents in the U.S.

Even just a slight tire problem can turn into a big issue. In a study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that tires under inflated by more than 25 percent are three times as likely to be involved in an accident. Tires should always be properly inflated; air should be put in as often as needed. Check your tire pressure at least once a month, or ideally once a week. Remember that you can pick up a puncture at any time and you may not even be aware of it unless you are regularly checking your tires.

Additionally, your tires must be rotated every so often. Rotating tires means moving them from one side of the car to the other. This is done because tires tend to wear unevenly—front tires tend to wear on the outside edges whereas the rear wheels, which simply follow the front, wear down more evenly. However, if you don’t rotate your tires, your front tires will wear down much faster than the rest, eventually forcing you to replace them thousands of miles sooner than you otherwise might have to. We recommend bringing in your BMW for a tire rotation at least every 6 months, or every 3000 to 6000 miles.

3. Cooling system—The cooling system is an extremely important part of your BMW. The primary function of the cooling system is to cool down the engine and maintain an ideal operating temperature. In order to prevent an overheated car, you should flush your system with engine coolant, which has lubrication properties that keep the water pump, thermostat, and other internal components from seizing. Your cooling system should be flushed every 3 years.

4. Transmission—The BMW dealer will tell you that their transmission fluid is a lifetime fill. This allows BMW to make money selling new transmission assemblies when the transmission starts slipping gears around 70-90K miles. However, we recommend flushing the transmission every 50K miles instead. It’s much more efficient to regularly service the transmission fluid and filter than to pay the cost of replacing a transmission. Similarly, flush the transfer case, front differential, and rear differential every 50K miles. You’ll be paying about 1/20th the cost this way.

5. Steering system—Your steering system affects your ability to control your BMW vehicle, making it an essential component of your safety. To keep your steering system in good shape, we recommend flushing the power steering fluid system once every 50K miles. Power steering fluid breaks down over time and the fluid becomes contaminated. This can cause steering system leaks and other failures.

6. Oil—Regularly changing your oil is one of the most important things you can do for your car’s health. It can potentially save you from shelling out thousands to an auto shop later on. The BMW Owner Manual recommends changing oil every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. However, this results in carbon build up in your car’s intake valves, which can lead to serious problems.

We at LAW recommend changing oil every 5000 miles to help prevent this. 5000 miles may seem too soon, but 5000-mile oil changes will help bring your BMW vehicles to a ripe old age. Plus, cars driving in hot climates like Austin need their oil changed more frequently. Thankfully, if this is something you don’t want to pay for, oil changes are something you can do relatively easily by yourself. Also, don’t forget your oil filters! These need changing on a regular basis.

DIY BMW Maintenance Tips

Most people aren’t technically trained or skilled enough to get down on their knees with some tools and service their car themselves. That’s what auto mechanics are for, after all. We covered everything you should talk to your LAW technician about, but, ultimately, the person responsible for the health of your BMW vehicle is you. For the less car savvy, we’ve compiled some useful techniques for DIY BMW repair and keeping your car running and looking like new!

1. Keep it dark. It can be hard to find shade in the blistering Austin summers, but try to park your vehicle in the shade wherever possible. The UV rays found in the sun can cause damage to the interior and exterior of your car over time. It’s also a good idea to keep a car shade in the windshield of your car.

2. Keep your car clean. Both the inside and outside. Keeping your car clean not only makes it look better, it keeps it running better, too. How? Dirt and other particles can cause damage to the delicate components of your vehicle. A dirty car may also have a psychological impact, causing you to unconsciously treat your car more poorly than you otherwise might.

3. Protect your leather. If your car has a leather interior, it’s important to keep it clean and treated. While leather is durable, it can still experience wear and tear, and cracked or otherwise worn leather can quickly start looking tacky. Keep leather seats safe with a cover or protector

4. Wax your car. You can do this yourself or have the guys at the carwash do it for you. Regularly waxing your BMW vehicle not only keeps it looking great, but wards off rust.

5. Check your tire treads. Tires wear down over time. Check your tire tread regularly to see if its time to replace your tires or not. You can easily doing this by placing a penny in the tread of your tire. If the tire doesn’t reach the top of Lincoln’s head, it may be time for new tires.

6. Clear your lenses. Are your BMW’s headlights starting to look dull and worn? Did you know that you can easily get new, shiny-looking lights? You can pick up a headlight restoration kit for less than $30, and they are extremely easy to use. Within minutes, you can turn your dull and yellowed headlights new, improving illumination and making your car look that much nicer!

7. Run errands all at once. Vehicles work best when their engines are already warmed off. Making short trips, forcing you to constantly turn your vehicle on and off, add extra, unnecessary wear on your vehicle. Whenever possible, try to carry out tasks and errand all at once, so that you can avoid making a trip on a cold engine.

8. Drive carefully. Aggressive, fast, or otherwise careless drivers may enjoy their wild driving styles, but the rowdy fun comes at a price. Accelerating quickly, stopping suddenly, taking tight corners, or driving in any sort of jerky, unsanctioned fashion will lead to way more wear and tear on your vehicle. Ultimately, that results in more frequent maintenance and higher repair bills.

9. Buy clean gas. As the saying goes, what goes in, comes out. Your BMW vehicle is a high performance machine that demands quality fuel. The gas we put in our cars ranges in purity and effectiveness. Reputable gas stations will have their gas filtered at the pump and the pump filters changed regular. Low quality stations won’t have filters, leaving you with dirty gasoline, they may not mix alcohol with the fuel properly, or worse of all, they may water down your product. It’s worth picking a station or brand you trust and sticking with it.

Another thing to watch out for: the tanker. If you happen to see a gasoline tanker filling up at your local station, you may want to come back another day or go to another station. Why? The turbulence of the newly pumped gas can stir up sediment in the station’s underground tanks. Sediment in your gas can dirty and clog up fuel filters and injectors, resulting in poor performance and possible future repairs.

10. Keep an auto log. This sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually quite simple and worth the effort. Keep a small pad of paper and a pen in your glove compartment and use them to record your gas fill-ups and gas mileage. If your gas mileage changes or worsens, it may be an early warning sign, letting you know that, at the least, you should go see your LAW technician.