2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Free Oil and Doughnuts, $6.44 for the Doohickey

February 19, 2009

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The X5 just got back from its second, and last, oil change during its stay with us. It took one hour -- exactly the amount of time the service guy estimated when we made the appointment. It cost us nothing, as is the way with new BMWs.

We test drove the customer lounge at Erhard BMW in Bloomfield Hills, MI and found that the chairs were not long-term supportive but the all-you-can-eat doughnut bar suited us just fine, despite a narrow selection. Curiously, BMW owners in suburban Detroit apparently really like People magazine judging by the mountain of issues in the lounge.

We also had the rear-wiper nut cover -- which our service man, Richard, took to calling "the doo-hickey" -- replaced for $6.44. It was lost in a California car-wash incident some time ago.

--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 26,293 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The Early, Early, Early Warning System

February 18, 2009

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Look, I like to plan for the future as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy doesn't really like to plan for the future. But I just got a warning from the BMW X5 long-termer that it would like an oil change.

Well, it would like an oil change in 1,800 miles anyway. Now, it's true that our long-term X5 has accumulated miles at an average of more than 2,000 per month, but our vehicle is a little unusual in this regard. It would take the average driver about a month-and-a-half or more to rack up that number of miles. And every time that average driver started up his X5 he would get the yellow warning and alert-dong notifying him of a service that's not required for many weeks.

But okay, better early than late, right? So we've got an appointment to get new goo and filter tomorrow and the service department of our local dealer promises it will cost us nothing, despite being early.

Curiously, the driver-information center between the gauges says we're looking at a time deadline of October, 2009 to get the service done. Stranger still, the Service Requirements portion of iDrive estimates a date of July, 2010. We can only assume this is referring to something else but we can't figure out what exactly that might be.

--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Oil, oil, oil

February 09, 2009

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The BMW X5 let me know over the weekend that it was a little thirsty for a quart of Castrol's finest 5w-30 synthetic. When I turned the engine off Sunday, the little Aladdin's oil lamp warning appeared in the driver information center, accompanied as always by a "dongggggggg."

So I checked through the iDrive information system and saw that same bit of information relayed to me in an entirely different graphical way -- the engine needs a quart of oil. Because I wear suspenders, a belt and I bolt my pants into my hip bones every morning, I decided to also check the dipstick (that inconspicuous-looking black plastic nub behind the oil filler in the picture below). Guess what? The engine needed a quart of oil. You'd have to be willfully abusive to your vehicle to miss triple redundancy like that.

I grabbed a quart of Castrol, since I was instructed to by the cap on the oil filler, for $7.41. You might be able to tell from the other photo below that I should have used a funnel since the access to the oil filler is compromised. But I only dripped a drop and the car is fine.

Tomorrow morning the X5 and I will depart for the Chicago auto show and at least one of us is looking forward to the drive.

-- Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Screwed!

January 26, 2009

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Remember when we wrote that the long-term X5's right rear tire was down 10 pounds of air pressure? This would have been moments after Editor in Chief Oldham arrived in Detroit after two-thousand-and-whatever miles. Right, well, turns out somewhere along the way (my guess, for no good reason, is Indiana), the X5's right-rear picked up a self-tapping screw that had self-tapped itself right in between the tread blocks of the big Michelin.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Curb Rash Flat

December 19, 2008

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Any car that spends time parking in a city will have at least one intimate encounter between it's wheel and the curb. No matter how good the driver, it happens. If you're going to come in and comment "i've never done that", well, your day will come.

While I'm never surprised when a wheel gets curbed, this one was a shock even to me.

I got a call about the BMW X5 this morning, the tire pressure light was on. Right front. Sure enough the right front tire was low and from my flashlit view, there was no foreign object embedded in the tread. Off to Stokes I went.

10 minutes went by and our guy came out with the news, the front right wheel had been curbed and bits of concrete and curb paint was lodged between the rim and tire causing a slow leak. It could be cleaned out and reinstalled without a problem. There was no charge for the repair.

I'd never seen that happen before. Any of you?

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2008 BMW X5: Carwash Defeats Wiper

November 10, 2008

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It's the automotive equivalent of Rock-Paper-Scissors, and it goes like this: Wiper defeats Rain, Rain defeats Carwash and, as we recentlyconfirmed with our 2008 BMW X5, Carwash defeats Wiper.

So we picked up what pieces we could find to see if we could humpty-dumpty the thing back together again.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Steering Squeak Fixed

September 02, 2008

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Back on July 18, I posted that our 2008 BMW X5 4.8i returned from its first service with a clean bill of health. Well, all but that squeaky steering column and driver seat that was squealing against its tracks. Both of these issues required parts to be ordered. Parts, it turns out, that weren't very easy to get hold of. It was nearly a month later that got the call from BMW of Beverly Hills that the parts were in and ready to be installed.

Again I made the appointment online. As much as I liked doing this online the first time I thought I'd try this one by phone. No luck. I tried calling three times and only once was I connected to a person in service. She advised that I book the appointment online because her computer was down. (Thinking about that sentence too hard will turn anyone into a technophobe.) The online process was, again, painless and quick. Scheduling my appointment for the next day was no problem, though there was no quick-check box for "replace steering column." Broken headlight was the closest option given.

Our X5 was dropped off at 7:58 and same-day return was probable. I got antsy around 4:00. The car could be ready by 6:30 that evening, but it wasn't probable. He asked if the next morning was acceptable. It worked by us, though we would have appreciated some more warning.

The following morning the car was ready. All of the parts and labor were under warranty.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 16,481 miles.

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2008 BMW X5: Headrest Be Jammed

August 04, 2008

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We've already told you about the fart noises coming from telescoping steering wheel of our long-term 2008 BMW X5. It plays the toot salute everytime you climb into the car and the wheel moves itself into the predetermined position. Parts are on order to fix the problem and it has been the only scar on the BMW's quality record. Not bad for a vehicle that has covered 15,000 miles since January.

Well, this weekend I discovered the X5's second small glitch. This rear headrest is jammed. Won't go up, won't go down. No big deal, but it can make the installation of some kid seats more difficult (notice I installed ours on the other side). We'll get it fixed when we return to the dealer to fix the SUV's flatulence.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 14,779 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Service with a Smile

July 18, 2008

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I've found the trick to getting good service in the greater Los Angeles area: Bring a $70K SUV to BMW of Beverly Hills (or buy a Saturn). From beginning to end this was a sharp, well executed service visit. There was nothing fancy or particularly special, just competent employees who do good work in a timely manner.

The maintenance light was illuminated and with 13,511 miles on the clock, it was expected. I made the appointment online through Beverly Hills BMW's website. It was a pleasant change from the usual disinterested and hurried cashier / receptionist. The virtual calendar clearly showed what days were available, and what times. Good system. I liked it.

Once we got to the dealer there was no fussing around with pencil and paper, our service advisor simply took the key, slid it into a reader on his desk and got the full vehicle history: How many miles we drive per week, odometer reading, VIN, what services were required. It also told him that the X5 was low on wiper fluid.

The X5 needed an oil change, a new cabin filter, and a new air filter. The filter's are not surprising given the deep, fine silt we were slogging through just a few weeks ago.

We're also experiencing a grinding noise when raising the driver seat (lowering it is fine) and a similar grinding noise when telescoping the steering wheel (tilt is fine). The key did not know this information.

The oil change, washer fluid, and filters were done by noon. We got the call at 11. Being a new BMW, there was no charge for any of this. The seat and the telescoping wheel both required parts that had to be ordered. We'll update you when they come in and when they are installed.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 13,511 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Love it To Pieces

June 23, 2008

After leaving the street fair in the BMW X5 on Sunday, my daughter asked, "Momma, what's this?"

Glancing up in the rearview mirror, I realized she was holding a piece of the X5 in her hot, little hand.

"I didn't do it," she said. "It was already on the floor."

Sure, I thought, asking her to slide it under the front seat so it didn't get stepped on before I had a chance to check it out.

Of course, once it was tucked out of sight, I completely forgot about it until I got to the office this morning...

Perhaps you can tell me where this piece of trim belongs before I have a chance to go down to the parking garage and look myself?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 12,023 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Needs a Little Earl

May 23, 2008

After more than 9,000 miles in just three months our long term BMW X5 needed its first bit of service; it was a quart low of oil. Well, problem solved. We poured in 1 quart of Mobil 1. Total cost: $6.59...

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 9, 089 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Love that iDrive

May 19, 2008

Last night, I decided to give our long term 2008 BMW X5 4.8i a safety check.And so I did, while eastbound on Kentwood Blvd. In just seconds I checked the truck's oil, brake pads and brake fluid from the driver's seat. I never cracked the hood, never skinned a knuckle, heck, I never even stopped the truck.

Say what you want about BMW's iDrive system, it does have its moments of greatness...

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 8,934 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Gimme a (Clean) Brake!

April 08, 2008

Just finished up my first stint behind the wheel of an X5 since they were actually a novelty, just beginning to roll out of the BMW plant in South Carolina, and have to hand it to the boys from Bavaria (by way of Spartanburg) – except for the overkill on electronic accoutrements, they still do it good.

After 1,295 miles that included a fewhundred on back roads in Northern California's Russian River wine country and a run down the state's scenic Highway 1, I can report that the ride, handling, power and comfort of our long-term 2008 X5 4.8i left nothing to be desired. Even the iDrive wasn't too obnoxious once I ran through its various permutations a few times.

But (there's almost always a "but") I couldn't believe how much greasy black brake dust the 19-inch alloys collected.

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