Free Maintenance is Expensive - 2011 BMW 528i Long-Term Road Test

2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

2011 BMW 528i: Free Maintenance is Expensive

July 23, 2011


See how smooth the rear tires are on our 2011 BMW 528i? Like a baby's butt. And as anyone who has been around a baby's butt knows, those things aren't safe. We needed new tires...

Take a note of the tread. I can't explain the pattern. Sometimes we do fun things with cars. But the abnormal wear itself led me to an epiphany. Routine oil changes every 15,000 miles can be bad news for the average consumer. Let me explain.


Synthetic oils allow us to drive amazing distances on the same few quarts that we used to refresh at (arguably) 5,000-mile intervals. Our 528i didn't request an oil change for over 15,000 miles. Awesome, right? Sort of. Those 5,000-mile intervals of old didn't just schedule an appointment on our mental calendars to change oil, but to address other maintenance items as well. This brings me to the problem, reliance on the onboard computer. And I bet more people do it than we realize.

Onboard maintenance reminders don't monitor everything. That is up to the human. Have you checked your tire pressures regularly? Is your alignment to spec? These are rhetorical under the old-school rules. When you wait so long between dealer visits these questions become very relevant. Tires under or over-inflated for 15,000 miles? Alignment out of whack for 15,000 miles? If you waited to see the dealer until your computer said to, bring your wallet.

BMW is one of the few OEMs to offer the benefit of free scheduled maintenance. It's a great program but it doesn't cover everything. If you rely on your car to dictate its service needs, as I'd wager most folks do, it can be expensive. What do we mean by expensive? Let's just say it cost $903.74 to replace two P245/45R18 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT runflats, each of which had just over 17,000 miles beneath them. Ouch.

Benjamin Dover, Contributor @ 17,414 miles

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