Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI
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Introduction to Inspections
What are BMW inspections?
If you're new to BMWs, you'll hear a bunch about "Inspection I" and
"Inspection II". These are essentially the same thing except the latter
incorporates some more-costly items. Inspections and other services are performed
when all five green LEDs of the service indicator have extinguished, or (roughly)
every 18000 miles (for the E36 vintage car -- newer cars typically have longer
Inspection I and II alternate (e.g. the first inspection is an Inspection I
and occurs around 18K miles, the second inspection is an Inspection II and occurs
at roughly 36K miles, the third inspection is an inspection I and occurs at
48K miles, etc.).
The interval between inspections is particularly relevant when BMW is paying
for the inspection. The reason? They're a company focused on P&L and want
to make sure you don't do Inspection I too early because then they might have
to pay for Inspection II if it occurs under the 36K miles scheduled maintenance
(recall that I said the inspections occur at roughly18K mile intervals).
Therefore, the only thing you really get for "scheduled maintenance"
is a few oil changes and an Inspection (about $600 worth of work at 2001 rates,
provided your car has no major maintenance problems that aren't covered under
Here is an outline of what's covered in the inspections.
Inspection I (~$470 in 2003 dollars)
- Change engine oil and filter
- Check tranmission for leaks
- Check rear axle for leaks
- Check fuel tank, lines, and connections for leaks
- Checking exhaust system, examine for leaks
- Check power steering system for leaks; fluid level
- Check brakes and replace if necessary; clean brake pad
contact points in calipers,
grease wheel centering hubs
- Check steering for absence of play, condition of suspension
track rods, front axle joints, steering linkage and joint disc
- Check front control arm bushings
- Check brake and clutch system connections and lines for
leaks, damage, and incorrect positioning
- Check for free movement parking brake cables; adjust if
- Check all tire pressures including spare; wear pattern;
alignment if requested
- Read out diagnostic system
- Check cooling system/heater host connections for leaks;
coolant level and protection level, add if necessary. Coolant
must be replaced every three years starting from manufacturing
- Check brake and clutch fluid reservoir; add fluid if
necessary. Brake fluid must be replaced every two years
starting from manufacturing date.
- Check windshield waster fluid level and antifreeze
protection; add if necessary
- Check air conditioner for operation
- Reset Service Indicator
- Check battery electrolyte level and add distilled water
- Perform battery load test.
- Check listing system (headlights, foglights, parking,
back-up, license plate, interior (including map reading lights),
glove box, flashlight, illuminated mirrors, luggage compartment
- Check instrument panel and dashboard illumination
- Check all warning/indicator lights, check control
- Check turn signals, hazard warning flashers, brake lights,
horns, headlight dimmer/flasher switch
- Check wipers and washer system; wiper blades, washer jet
- Check condition and function of safety belts
- Oil hood, trunk/tailgate and door hinges. Grease hood,
trunk and door latches. Check operation of all latches.
- Check central locking/double lock.
- Replace batteries for alarm remote controls in all vehicle
- Replace microfilter
- Check heater/air condition blower, rear window defogger.
- Check rear view mirrors
- Visual examine the SRS airbag units for torn cover, obvious
damage or attachment of decals, decorations or accessories.
- Activate automatic roll-over protection system (if
equipped) via diagnostic link.
Inspection II (~$700 in 2003 dollars)
Includes all items of Inspection I, plus the following:
- Replace spark plugs
- Replace intake air cleaner element
- Check thickness of parking brake linings
- Check half-shafts for leaks at boots
- Inspection body according to terms of rust-perforation
warranty (must be performed at least every two years).
- At every second Inspection II, check clutch disc for