Where does one learn to fix a BMW?

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Jun 8, 2022
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Legit question. I read all the time on how working on BMW's is harder or at least different, you know remove the engine to change the air filter, etc. I have worked on a lot of things, but never a German car. It intrigues me. So where do I start?

Is there a place to get a FSM without spending a million dollars?

Is there a youtube series that is accurate?

Which model(s) would be a good place to start.

If you were going to buy your first BMW with the intention of it being a hands on tutorial, which would it be?

I know this is pretty open ended, but any knowledgeable advice is appreciated.
 
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I should mention i was until recently a card carrying member for the BMWCCA.

Buy one, you'll learn to fix it.

However, much like many enthusiast cars there is good help in the forums and in the Roundel as well.

As far as i'm concerned the last legit BMW was a E30 and it had a big wing nice ones are hard to find.
 
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I'd buy an e36 or e46 like a 325i, 330i. They can be found cheap but not too badly beaten, and maintenance parts won't completely drain your wallet. Youtube and forums is how I've learned. The older ones really aren't harder to work on, just different. Once you figure out the logic behind how they were put together, it makes sense.

Buy a good set of torx and E-torx sockets.
 
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I like German cars and would have no problem owning a BMW. But I feel a need to post this video.


First thing first, he doesn’t have correct diagnostic tool. Second, the guy who couldn’t fix it probably didn’t have right diagnostic tool. Third, the guy who sent to second guy also didn’t have diagnostic tool.
The thing is, BMW diagnostic tools ISTA and INPA are free to download, and this guy STILL doesn’t have it. It does require to learn, which I think where the problem is.
 
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Legit question. I read all the time on how working on BMW's is harder or at least different, you know remove the engine to change the air filter, etc. I have worked on a lot of things, but never a German car. It intrigues me. So where do I start?

Is there a place to get a FSM without spending a million dollars?

Is there a youtube series that is accurate?

Which model(s) would be a good place to start.

If you were going to buy your first BMW with the intention of it being a hands on tutorial, which would it be?

I know this is pretty open ended, but any knowledgeable advice is appreciated.
What BMW?
YouTube, Pelican Parts, FCPEURO.
BMW offers free parts catalog online www.realOEM.com, as well as free download of diagnostic tools.
Depending which BMW you have, you need certain cable to connect to OBD (not any cable from Amazon). You can get it on www.Bimmergeeks.com.
 
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I learned on a e46 by getting Hanes manual, forms and you tube.
Was overwhelmed at first.
Now just tired of fixing it.
Getting ready to sell it when I get a battery and run it a bit and get it back to the house
 
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Under the hood
Pretty much the same way as fixing something else -- consulting the official manuals if you're a by-the-book type, or doing a complex job, with forums to provide practical (if not always letter correct) alternative methods, or more practical solutions.

The ETK parts catalog is among the best in the business, and freely available online, so it's easy to look up parts without owning a microfiche reader.

The ETM electrical schematics could be purchased over the counter.

I'm not up on the current system, but the old TIS factory manuals could be obtained on CD and installed locally. With everything now online, there is the subscription portal. But beware, like a lot of documentation aimed at pros, those instructions can be terse, and reference other procedures and documents that people in that position are expected to have access to and be familiar with. Not for hand holding or DIYers, but great for knowing a specific prodcure and expected specs and materials.

On the older cars, Bentley published quite comprehensive DIY manuals, based on the factory info. Higher quality than Haynes or certainly Chilton, though Haynes are still good.

To me, BMW completed their drift from what made them attractive to their core audience once the things like turbos and EPS appeared. And more single-use fasteners. The newest E36 is now more than 20 years old, and might feel a bit spartan to some. The E46 was a refined, more modern version. The E90 was more avant garde, but still had the good bones underneath, with normally aspirated engines and hydraulic power steering. Anything later than that is going to have EPS and feel like driving a video game. More comfortable and more gadgets, but not nearly as much fun or involving.

I dropped my CCA membership long ago, but in talking to a veteran member of a large chapter, even that demo has changed, and is less interested in the driving, and more in the modding, with cool stuff like CF.

They're rewarding, but require commitment, and won't tolerate short cuts. Cars that have been victimized by those things reflect it in their condition. Not different than any other European make.
 
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First thing first, he doesn’t have correct diagnostic tool. Second, the guy who couldn’t fix it probably didn’t have right diagnostic tool. Third, the guy who sent to second guy also didn’t have diagnostic tool.
The thing is, BMW diagnostic tools ISTA and INPA are free to download, and this guy STILL doesn’t have it. It does require to learn, which I think where the problem is.

Good info
 
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The thing is, BMW diagnostic tools ISTA and INPA are free to download, and this guy STILL doesn’t have it. It does require to learn, which I think where the problem is.
They're not free. They are paid subscriptions, but very affordable since short-term options are available. But you really need to invest in an ICOM if you want any shot of doing reflashes.
 
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They're not free. They are paid subscriptions, but very affordable since short-term options are available. But you really need to invest in an ICOM if you want any shot of doing reflashes.
I downloaded INPA maybe two months ago and it was free. Maybe something changed.
But regardless, when I see off the shelf OBD reader, even if it is in $1,000 range, i get rash on my liver.
My Carly without subscription can read more accurately.
Not to mention that those who don’t want to learn, can download ProTool which can do anything in DIY garage as it is INPA translated into “English.”
 
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I downloaded INPA maybe two months ago and it was free. Maybe something changed.
But regardless, when I see off the shelf OBD reader, even if it is in $1,000 range, i get rash on my liver.
My Carly without subscription can read more accurately.
Not to mention that those who don’t want to learn, can download ProTool which can do anything in DIY garage as it is INPA translated into “English.”
It has never been free. You probably downloaded a bootleg version, not the official "online" version that can do reflashes.
 
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It has never been free. You probably downloaded a bootleg version, not the official "online" version that can do reflashes.
Probably. Most DIY do it thatway.
But, what reflash you are talking about? ECU?
As for subscription, if shop is fixing BMW’s, well…
 
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Patience is a good tool here. I had some wrench time on a couple and as said above, just getting one and not trying to make it perfect overnight. Let it teach you how to get around It. It’s often easier to remove 3 things than to try to get into an incredibly tight space. And they have strengths and weaknesses. The first one is the hardest with all the learning.

the 318 was a great car to learn on and for handling characteristics. But they are rusted and ratted by now. Love the E36s, but good ones are hard to find and every inch of rubber is old.

i personally don’t mind the little I4 turbo cars…. Great mpg, they still have wonderful dynamics, quiet to commute in, even if they don’t have the connected feel of the hydraulic-steered ones. As a benefit, the I4 has more room under the hood than the sixes do. Avoid the V8s… they have their own amazements and problems. I6 is the traditional best-of-breed classic power plant. I’ve never been impressed with the sound quality of the brand; modding a newer one is probably harder than an older one.

while you’d have to break the v8 rule, a 740 from the late 90s can probably keep a stack of wine glasses balanced on its engine cover for 90 minutes down the highway…but you’ll be guessing as to what the dot matrix dash wants to tell you the whole way….
 
Joined
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Messages
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Patience is a good tool here. I had some wrench time on a couple and as said above, just getting one and not trying to make it perfect overnight. Let it teach you how to get around It. It’s often easier to remove 3 things than to try to get into an incredibly tight space. And they have strengths and weaknesses. The first one is the hardest with all the learning.

the 318 was a great car to learn on and for handling characteristics. But they are rusted and ratted by now. Love the E36s, but good ones are hard to find and every inch of rubber is old.

i personally don’t mind the little I4 turbo cars…. Great mpg, they still have wonderful dynamics, quiet to commute in, even if they don’t have the connected feel of the hydraulic-steered ones. As a benefit, the I4 has more room under the hood than the sixes do. Avoid the V8s… they have their own amazements and problems. I6 is the traditional best-of-breed classic power plant. I’ve never been impressed with the sound quality of the brand; modding a newer one is probably harder than an older one.

while you’d have to break the v8 rule, a 740 from the late 90s can probably keep a stack of wine glasses balanced on its engine cover for 90 minutes down the highway…but you’ll be guessing as to what the dot matrix dash wants to tell you the whole way….
Actually, B48/58 are made with that in mind.
Still chasing the maximum on B58, which I think is 1,150hp right now.
 
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