Common Repairs

BMW Engine & Transmission Problems

Like any vehicle, the BMW also occasionally has its own issues. Here’s a look at two of them:

Variable Nockenwellen Steuerung (VANOS) Noise

Also referred to in America as the variable valve timing system, the VANOS is known to be the cause of the annoying engine rattle noises that so many BMW owners have experienced. Let’s face it, you can only drive so long with the speakers blasting to block out the sound of marbles rolling around in a tin can! VANOS modifies the position of the camshafts and is the source of the engine’s rattling noise when you’re driving at higher RPMs. While almost unnoticeable initially, with more wear to the VANOS, the noise gets louder (and more annoying)!
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The Best Used BMWs Car Buyers Must Consider

These are the best used BMWs money can buy!

BMWs are a very popular used car for people to purchase. Because of the steep cost of a brand new vehicle from the German automaker, many potential owners turn to the second-hand market in order to acquire one of their cars or SUVs. While this is a great idea to save money, choosing a subpar used model could end up costing you a truckload of money while the vehicle is constantly in the shop for maintenance. If you are looking to avoid frequent trips to the repair shop, here are a few models you should keep an eye out for when looking around for a pre-owned BMW:

BMW 3 Series

This legendary vehicle has been around for over 30 years and remains one of BMWs most popular offerings. There are countless amounts of used M3s available, all with their own positives and drawbacks. While we wouldn’t have time to list every great model, we can recommend the E90 for those looking for a newer version of the classic car. Those who like a heavier ride will be especially happy with this choice, as it has a more substantial feel to it than previous editions.

This modern M3 was introduced in 2008 and changed the game. It features a 414-horsepower, 4.0-liter V8 engine and a bevy of other powerful features. These vehicles hold up extremely well over time, so try to find the lowest-mileage for your budget and you should be in good shape to avoid costly maintenance.

BMW 5 Series

This is an ideal choice for car buyers in the market for a luxurious, spacious vehicle that doesn’t break the bank to maintain. The 5 series is BMW’s large executive car that competes with makes such as the Lexus GS and Audi A6. Since these are often used as fleet cars, make sure you check the interior for heavy wear-and-tear.

You should be able to find a plethora of options when looking for a used 5 series model, including diesel models. One great choice for a 5 series would be the 520d, which features incredible fuel economy and strong performance with low emissions to boot. Don’t be afraid to shop around and see where the best value is in your area however, as most of the 5 series are standout vehicles.

BMW 1 Series

The 1 Series offers the most bang for the buck. While it is generally the cheapest BMW on the market, it is far from a weak vehicle. It can hold its own against the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and other small luxury cars and features rear-wheel drive when most competitors are front-wheel. There are five-door hatches and two-door coupes available, but you’ll most likely run into the five-door options when shopping for used 1 series.

The most cost-efficient model is arguably the 118i, which are generally priced a few-thousand dollars less than comparable diesel options. Unless you plan on driving great distances with your used 1 series, the petrol model should be just fine. This sleek, compact car is worth strong consideration for commuters and those seeking a smaller vehicle.

 

 

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4 Things Every MINI Cooper Owner Must Know

If you own a MINI, you need to be aware of these!

The MINI Cooper is one of the more unique cars on the road right now, and being quite a bit different from other vehicles means their owners must be aware of some peculiar quirks and issues. It’s no secret that MINIs require more attention than most vehicles, so not giving this car proper servicing every now and then can be a recipe for disaster. Here are the top-four things that every MINI Cooper owner should know.

Engine Oil Level
One of the most common issues that automotive shops come across when servicing MINI Coopers is low or practically non-existent oil in the engine. The computer system in this BMW-manufactured vehicle is programmed by the factory to only come on once a year or every 15,000 miles (1st & 3rd generation MINI at 10,000 miles), which is way too long. To avoid this issue, take a look at the dipstick in your MINIs engine at least once a month and change it every 5,000 miles. If you find it needs to be changed, come on by the The Haus shop in Sherman Oaks and we will help you out!

Change Fluids
On all generations of MINI, the factory recommends change brake fluid every 2 years regardless of mileage. For the transmission fluid on 1st gen MINIs the interval was every 30,000 miles, and change the coolant every 4 years. On the 2nd gen MINIs and newer, **MINI states that the coolant and transmission fluid are “are lifetime fluids and are not required to ever be changed”. MINI also states that the power steering fluid is also a “lifetime fluid” and never needs to be changed on all models and generations.

** It is our opinion at The Haus that these fluids be replaced at some point, this is based solely on our opinion, and experience working on these vehicles. Please consult with your own mechanic for their opinion on “lifetime fluids”. We are of the belief that fluid is cheaper than replacing expensive parts like transmissions, power steering pumps, and radiators.

Mind the Timing Chain
If you hear rattling coming from the engine of your MINI, there is a good chance it is due to a faulty timing chain located on the front right side of the car. This rattling noise is especially noticeable when starting up the car and is a red flag to get your vehicle serviced immediately. Should the chain come loose, it will absolutely wreck the engine and end up being a very costly repair. Don’t let this issue linger, please call The Haus as soon as possible if you believe there is a timing chain problem in your car.

Carbon Build-Up Can Cause Problems
MINI Coopers S models use direct injection engines, which means that carbon tends to build up on the intake valves. When higher levels of carbon to accumulate on the valves it can cause problems. If you haven’t had your MINI serviced in a while and notice that it is suffering from hesitation or misfires this can be due to carbon build-up. The intake manifold needs to be removed so intake valves can be visually inspected for carbon build up. If there is carbon build then it needs to be cleaned by blasting valves with walnut shell dust. The walnut shells act like “sand blast” and remove the carbon. Walnuts are used because they are soft and will not damage the engine if some are left behind after carbon blasting has been performed.

              

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Seasonal Car Care Checklist for MINI and BMW Vehicles

Follow these handy guidelines to make sure your car is ready for the season!

Now that the new season is on the horizon, it is time to make sure your MINI or BMW automobile is ready. These maintenance tips are important for all car owners to be aware of and could make the difference in keeping you and your vehicle safe as the weather changes. If you find you need any of the following services done after self-inspection, please give The Haus a call to schedule an appointment.

Deal with any critical problems, check your mileage and get any regular service done: These should always be top of mind for all vehicle owners, regardless of the season. Any major difficulties—such as warning lights, problematic starts and concerning engine noises—should be dealt with immediately by bringing your vehicle in to the automotive shop. If there are no serious issues, take a peek at your owner’s manual and make sure you have had your oil and filters changed most recently within the factory’s recommended amount of time or miles. Ignoring these regular services can be the cause of bigger troubles down the road. With that out of the way, here’s some seasonal items to be aware of:

Refresh the coolant: Take a look at your coolant level and see if your engine has enough to get through the upcoming warm season. It’s critical to also check the condition of the existing coolant, as poor quality or low levels of coolant can lead to breakdowns as temperatures rise.

Take a look at tires: The two things to test here are tire pressure and tread condition. During changes of the season, there are often wide variations in pressure between the tires. Under inflated tires are a risk and negatively impact performance of your vehicle. Worn tread is also dangerous, especially during the hazardous wet conditions of a rainstorm. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need a tire replacement, or just need trained technicians to take a look and make the call for you.

Adjust hoses and belts: Take a look under your hood and see if your vehicle’s serpentine belt needs to be replaced. If there are any cracks, fraying or visible damage to this belt, you’ll want to immediately give The Haus (or your local automotive shop) a call to get it changed.

Replace old wiper blades: Sometimes nothing is better than adding a set of fresh wiper blades to your vehicle. The difference in visibility will be noticeable right away, as chilly temperatures cause rubber blades to lose their effectiveness over time. New wiper blades make driving your car more enjoyable and—more importantly—they can keep you safe during heavy rains and other difficult conditions.

 

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Understanding How BMW’s are Named

BMW has been around as a company since 1916 and making automobiles since 1928. Millions of cars have come off the German manufacturer’s assembly lines in those 80-plus years, which is why it can be quite helpful to understand exactly how they are named.

If you count yourself among those confused by the system that BMW uses for its luxury autos, don’t worry—you are not alone. A lot of people aren’t sure of the distinctions between a BMW 740iL and a 318ti, so The Haus is here to help you get a grasp on all the naming conventions that BMW employs.

 

Series and Models

There are 10 groupings that BMW utilizes for their vehicles. Here they are:

 

  • 1 series – small, convertibles, coupes, and hatchbacks
  • 2 Series – small, two-door convertibles and coupes
  • 3 Series – small, four-door sedans and sports wagons
  • 4 Series – small, two-door coupes and convertibles, also available as a 4-door Gran Coupe
  • 5 Series – mid-size, four-door sedans
  • 6 Series – mid-size, two-door coupes and convertibles, also available as a 4-door Gran Coupe
  • 7 Series – full-size, four-door sedan
  • BMW i – electric and plug-in hybrids
  • M Model – stands for “Motorsports”, BMW’s sports cars
  • X Model – SUVs and crossovers
  • Z4 Model – roadsters

 

Nomenclature

BMW vehicles follow a certain nomenclature, which is usually a 3 digit dumber followed by 1 or 2 letters. The 1st number represents the series number and the next 2 numbers traditionally represent the engine displacement in cubic centimeters divided by 100. This has changed in recent years though to use the 2 numbers as a performance index such as 116i, 118i, and 120i (all are 2.0 gas powered engines) that share the same engine block while adjusting engine power through turbo-charging and set up.

 

Fuel Lettering

As if the numbers weren’t tricky enough, BMW throws another wrinkle into their naming conventions with fuel letters. Fortunately there aren’t too many to keep track of and they represent which fuel the vehicle takes. You need to know the following:

 

  • i – fuel-injected, gasoline
  • d – diesel
  • There was a recent break to this trend, with BMW using ActiveHybrid to signify a hybrid engine

 

Other Lettering

Now that you know what BMW uses i and d for, it will be easier to note the remaining letters and what they stand for. Some are no longer in modern use, but here they are:

 

  • L – long wheelbase
  • C – coupe or convertible
  • ti – Touring International (hatchback)
  • T – Touring (station wagon)
  • e – eta/economy engine (smaller and less powerful, more fuel efficient)
  • x – all-wheel drive
  • g – biofuel
  • s – sport
  • es – eta sport

 

sDrive vs xDrive

This is fairly straightforward, with sDrive meaning that it is a 2-wheel drive vehicle and xDrive representing 4-wheel drive. xDrive and sDrive is fully spelled out to avoid confusion with the X model of SUVs and crossovers.   

 

Lines

BMW offers a number of lines that add further customization options for customers to choose on their vehicle. These include:

 

  • Sport – more powerful, upgraded wheels, steering, seats and more
    • M Sport – even more customization options and power to the sports line
  • xLine – enhanced wheels, rails on the roof, steering and more
  • Luxury – upgraded luxury wheels, steering, trim and more

 

Brand-Specific Vehicles

Within each series there are unique models, such as the below:

 

  • Gran Turismo – four-door sedans with wagon trunk and raised roofline
  • Gran Coupe – four-door coupe
  • ALPINA – a separate, BMW-owned company that makes upgraded versions of certain models

 

Still feel overwhelmed? Want to understand your BMW better or get advice before purchasing? Give The Haus a call today and speak with one of our expert technicians. Better yet, stop by the shop in Sherman Oaks, California with your luxury European auto for a free inspection.
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Regular Service

Regular Service
It’s critically important to have your BMW, Mini, or any other vehicle you may own serviced regularly. At The Haus, our highly-trained, expert technicians specialize in routine maintenance and always go the extra mile to provide outstanding service at a rate you can afford.


Establishing and scheduling your regular check-up is easy. Owners of imported European cars can contact us today in order to book an appointment or schedule a series of periodic check-ups. Consider coming by our shop in Sherman Oaks, California every 6,000 miles or 6 months–whichever comes first- for a variety of safety and oil services.


Don’t forget to check in with our Southern California BMW and Mini specialists every 30,000 to 60,000 miles for a more thorough inspection that includes a look at the tires and wheels, engine examination, body, interior, underneath the car, and more.


The Haus performs a rigorous 32 point inspection on your vehicle at every check up or at customer request, so that little problems do not become big problems later.
 
Brake Check
Safety should always be a top priority for drivers, so it should come as no surprise that regular brake checks and maintenance is key to keeping you protected while driving your domestic or imported vehicle. Brake fluid levels should always be tested, for having a low amount will cause soft brake pedals and delayed reactions. Brake fluid with high moisture content will boil at a much lower temperature than good brake fluid and this can cause brake fade- partial or total loss of braking power in a vehicle brake system. 
MINI & BMW both recommend brake fluid changes every 2 years, regardless of mileage.


The Haus is capable of servicing your European car’s front and rear brakes, installing new brake pads and anything else that may be necessary to upkeep quality performance and safety.
 
Engine Check
The heart and soul of your car is the engine, if something is wrong under the hood and goes unchecked, it could leave your vehicle catastrophically damaged. Should your check engine light come on for any reason- please contact us immediately in order to get an inspection and the service your vehicle needs before it becomes a serious issue.


Don’t let regular wear and tear bring your car down. A regular inspection at your local automotive shop, such as The Haus, is always a safe bet and worth the small investment.  

Checking Your Vital Fluids

Checking Your Vital Fluids

To ensure your car is running smoothly in between maintenance intervals, the easiest thing you can do is check your vital fluids to make sure everything under the hood is healthy and at the proper level. The top fluids you should check in your BMW or MINI are; Engine Oil, Transmission Fluid, Coolant/Antifreeze, Brake Fluid, and Power Steering Fluid. You can always stop by The Haus to have one of our certified technicians check, and top off your fluids FREE of charge.

Checking Engine Oil

In most vehicles, you need to open your hood, find the dipstick pull it out and wipe it down. Repeat that process again and you will know if the engine oil level is correct. Some vehicles tend to burn oil faster (turbo charged engines especially) than normally aspirated engines. Some BMW cars do not have a dipstick and require connecting to the car computer, which may require you stop by The Haus and have one of our certified technicians check it for you. We recommend that you replace the engine oil every 6 months or 5,000 miles whichever comes first, this will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in long term repair costs and a lot of heartache.

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Transmission Fluid

You should check your transmission fluid on your BMW or MINI (if possible) on a monthly basis, because it is was keeps the gears on your vehicle moving smoothly. You can check your transmission fluid the same way as your engine oil. On older vehicles there will be a dipstick for the transmission fluid, make sure the vehicle is running so you can get an accurate reading. Transmission fluid should be red and should not smell burnt. If the transmission fluid is low, dark, or smells burnt please contact us for a free inspection. As with the engine oil some vehicles are not equipped with a transmission fluid dipstick, and require help from a technician.

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Coolant Level

This fluid is also extremely important because it’s what keeps your BMW or MINI from overheating. Coolant is also known as Antifreeze, without this fluid your car will over heat and in cold climates the cooling system would freeze. You can check this fluid by opening the cap on the radiator or expansion tank. NEVER check if the car is running or is still warm. Once open you should see fluid go up to certain line that you can see inside. If it is low make sure you fill up with the same exact type of fluid. If you are not sure what type of coolant is right for your vehicle, or it is not available, just add water so you do not intermix fluids and contaminate your cooling system. You should check this fluid twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter. It is recommended that you replace coolant/anti-freeze every 2-3 years (see your owners’ manual).

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Brake Fluid

Checking your brake fluid to make sure the fluid is clean is very important. The fluid should never be low. If you ever feel like the brakes are not working properly checking your brake fluid should be the first priority. You can locate where the brake fluid reservoir is in the manual, typically it is on the driver’s side near the firewall. The fluid should be a golden-honey color, if it is turning brown or black it is time to change the brake fluid. It is recommended by the BMW factory to replace brake fluid every 2 years.

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Power Steering Fluid

When you start to hear some creaking noises coming from the steering wheel area you may be low on power steering fluid. Open the hood of your BMW and locate the reservoir. If you happen to notice that the power steering fluid is low there could be a possible leak. You should check this fluid monthly and should be replaced every 50,000 miles a preventive maintenance.

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Please schedule an appointment at The Haus for a free fluid level check-up and 32 point inspection by one of our factory trained technicians.

Call (855) 572-MINI (6464)

Pre-Purchase Inspections For Used Vehicles

At Haus of Minis & BMW we get 5-10 calls per month from current and future clients that are interested in purchasing a pre-owned BMW or MINI. They always ask us what some of the common issues are that we see from the specific model they are interested in buying.

We are happy to assist the customer with clarifying any unforeseen issue that could arise at a later date. It is always beneficial to the person purchasing the vehicle to have it inspected before making the decision to buy it. The number one reason for getting a pre-purchase inspection is that the car may look good cosmetically, but under the hood may need expensive mechanical repairs that are not visible to the untrained eye. During the pre-purchase inspection our certified technicians will raise the vehicle in the air and perform a rigorous 32 point visual inspection so there are no surprises. Another benefit of the inspection is that if deficiencies are found the repairs can be negotiated in to the sale price.There is nothing worse than purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, only to find out later it needs thousands of dollars in repairs that the previous owner did not disclose.

We offer this inspection FREE of charge and it can be done in about 30 minutes while you wait in our comfortable waiting room.

The general inspection includes the following:

Interior (Rips and tears and that all components function properly)

Exterior (Inspect for previous collision damage & corrosion)

Lights (Interior & exterior)

Wiper Blades

Drivability

Hoses

Belts

Battery

Water Pump

Engine & Cabin Air Filters

Air Conditioning

Engine Oil Level

Transmission Fluid

Coolant

Brake Fluid

Power steering Fluid

Washer Fluid

Differential Fluid

Transfer Case Fluid

Fluid Leaks

Tire Condition

Front Brakes

Rear Brakes

C.V. Boots

Exhaust System

Front Suspension

Rear Suspension

Clutch

 

If you or someone you know is considering purchasing a used Mini Cooper or BMW please feel free to give us a call to have your vehicle inspected today by one of our master certified technicians. No appointment is necessary but it is advised, Call 855-572-6464 (MINI) to schedule.

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Performing vehicle inspection

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