As automobile technologies evolve, so do their servicing needs. In some basic respects, cars have become more reliable, and — according to Consumer Reports — their useful life has at least doubled in the past thirty years. In the 1970’s, one hundred-thousand-mile cars were considered worn out. With current technology, the useful and cost-effective life of a well-maintained car is more than double that.
H&B works by appointment, though we do try to accommodate both emergencies and pre-purchase inspections. And with appointments, we have a generous free loaner-car policy: just let us know your transportation needs, and we will try to meet them. To book an appointment, please call (510) 549-1515 or email
At the same time, thanks to ever-increasing electronic and computer components, cars have become much more complex. We in the service business are now in what is called the “era of non-pattern failures.” This means that these more complex cars fail less frequently, but in less predictable ways. For this reason, we need ever more sophisticated tools to troubleshoot the complex kinds of problems which appear. At H&B, we meet this challenge with the focus of 40 years of experience specializing in only two brands of cars, only recently adding a third. Consequently, we keep up with service bulletins, recalls, and other information unique to these cars.
Routine servicing remains no less important, and we emphasize the importance of monitoring the safety systems on these cars. We see increasingly the consequence of less frequent service intervals in worn out tires, thin brakes, leaking cooling systems, low oil levels. For that reason, we strongly recommend a yearly safety inspection, even if no dash warnings are on display.
We do not, however, “upsell” our customers. We are happy when repairs turn out to be inexpensive. Our interest lies in extending the useful, cost-effective life of your car, and often that means deferring repairs which aren’t urgent and can wait awhile.
For this reason, we develop a maintenance checklist for the future of each car. By keeping close track of what has been done and what lies ahead, we try to avoid unpleasant surprises and maximize your driving pleasure.
2002 & Later BMW & Mini Cooper Models
Beginning with model year 2002, BMW began phasing in a new type of service schedule for all its models. The first to get this was the ’02 745i; then the ’04 5-series; then the 3-series, and so on. The idea behind “condition-based servicing” is that the car knows what it will need and will remind you. Its needs will vary according to the amount of time and miles driven, but also according to the kind of driving done: whether mainly on the highway, around town, or mixed.
In practice, this results in a variety of different messages on the dash display, from “brake linings” to “cabin air filter” to “brake fluid” to “vehicle check.” The challenge, then, is to piece all these items together in a coherent service plan so that your car’s reliability is maintained with a minimum of surprises. For this purpose, H&B has updated its service menus to integrate the newer “condition-based servicing” approach into regular servicing schedules. This incorporates newer, computer-based diagnostic routines along with the normal safety inspection and servicing.
For most BMW models before 2002* and Minis before 2007, sample service menus are shown below. Minor services and oil changes should fall at intervals between these major services.
* BMW 5-series >2004, 3-series > 2006
BMW Inspection I
NOTE: This service is to be done at 30,000 mile intervals beginning at 30,000 miles. Includes “Vehicle Check” with BMW diagnostic computer and retrieval, printout, and analysis of fault codes stored in vehicle computer memory.
- Change oil and oil filter, using high-quality synthetic oil (5-40 or better).
- (when applicable) Check manual transmission oil (add oil if required)
- Check rear axle oil level (add oil if required).
- Check fuel tank, lines, and connections for leaks.
- Check for damage to lower front valences and ducting, driving lamps, external temperature sensor.
- Check condition, position and mounting of exhaust system, including vibration dampers, rubber hangers. Examine for cracks and leaks.
- Remove wheels and check brakes: thickness of pads and rotors. Check and adjust parking brake. Check brake system connections and lines for leaks, damage, and incorrect positioning. Grease wheel centering hubs.
- Check condition of suspension track rods, front axle joints, steering linkage, steering control arm bushings, driveline couplings and constant-velocity joints.
- Check tire pressure and tread wear, including spare tire in trunk well, when present.
- Initialize run-flat indicator
- Replace air filter (recommended in California).
- Pressure test cooling system and all connections and heater hoses for leaks. Check coolant level (add BMW coolant if required). [see Annual Check].
- Check steering gear or power steering for leaks and correct oil level
- Check brake and clutch fluid (add fluid if necessary). [See Annual Check].
- Check windshield washer fluids.
- Perform computerized test of battery and charging system; if necessary, recharge battery (invoiced separately).
- Check air conditioner for operation and cooling efficiency.
- Check steering for absence of play in straight ahead position. Adjust if necessary (invoiced separately).
- Check operation of wipers and washer system; blades, washers and jet position.
- As needed: tighten nuts and bolts for door locks and striker plates.
- Check condition and function of seat belts.
- Oil hinges of doors, hood, and lid; grease hood and lid catches, door catches and striker plates. Apply silicone spray to door gaskets and seals.
- Check lighting: headlights, parking, back-up, license plate, interior, glove box, map lights, sun visor, engine and luggage compartment light. Align headlights, if necessary.
- Warning equipment: turn signals, hazard flashers, brake lights, brake lining, brake fluid level, battery, transmission display range, “service engine soon” light, horns, headlight dimmer and flasher switch, Check control panel operation ASC/DSC (antilock braking) and SRS (airbag) warning lights.
- Check instrument lighting, control lighting
- Check Heater and A/C blowers, rear window defroster.
- Check rear view mirror
- Lubricate slide rails on sunroof.
- Convertible only: trigger rollover protection system via diagnostic interface. Warning: open soft top first
- Road test: check for vehicle response, steering tightness, suspension wear, steering shimmy, noises, or vibration.
- Read out diagnostic system.
- Reset CBS display.
- Stamp service book (no service book found )
Recommended Services (invoiced separately)
- Rotate and balance all 4 wheels and tires.
- If indicated: replace microfilter (“cabin air filter”)for interior ventilation system.
BMW Inspection II
NOTE: This service is to be done in addition to the Inspection I at 30,000 mile intervals beginning at 60,000 miles.
- When applicable: Check condition of clutch wear/slippage
- Change manual transmission oil at every second Inspection II.
- Half-shafts: check for leaks at flexible boots.
- Rear disc brakes: check thickness of parking brake linings.
- Check front wheel bearing play.
- Where applicable: check self-leveling suspension for leaks
- Change oil in rear axle
- Check condition of serpentine belts and wear (noisy?) tensioner pulleys; if needed, replacement to be invoiced separately.
- Replace intake air cleaner filter element.
Annual Check (invoiced separately)
- Change brake fluid every two years or when contaminated
- Change coolant every two years
- Check operation of master cylinder and servo, and inspect for leaks.
- Inspect body for rust.
- Check and adjust headlights and auxiliary driving lights.
- Check steering: lock angle limits, threaded connections, power assistance.
100,000-mile Service (invoiced separately)
- Replace “long-life” 100,000-mile spark plugs
- Replace oxygen sensors every 100,000 miles.
- Replace main fuel filter where applicable
- Change automatic transmission oil and internal filter, using specified fluid type
- Replace spark plugs. At the same time, check compression and record values.