BMW N20 (Z4) No Start When Warm Fix

BMW Hard to Start Warm

INTRO:

After two years, no help from the dealer or the Indy shop and countless troubleshooting steps, I have finally solved the bad start issue on my BMW Z4. Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel! Today, I will go over all of the steps I took to try and solve this problem over the last 2 years, what I’ve learned in the process and how I accidentally solved it.

Quick Preview:

To put a lot of this into perspective, I got the car with a blown engine and swapped in a newer 30k-mile engine in my garage. Since I didn’t use the same exactly engine as I took out, I had to swap a lot of parts in the engine replacement process from the old engine. As a result, I had a few issues once everything was finished, but nothing I couldn’t solve. Except for this bad starting issue. When the car was cold, it would start no problem. However, after the engine was fully warmed up, there was a chance that it wouldn’t start or hesitate while starting. It didn’t help that the car has auto stop and start option and would turn the engine off at each red light.

From the information I have given you so far, what do you think the solution to this problem is? Leave your comments below and NO cheating! Now would also be the best time to hit that LIKE button to support the channel!

Troubleshooting:

Since I believed the issue had something to do with the engine swap, I started troubleshooting some of the more obvious items. I rechecked and retightened all of the ground wires as well as the power wires going to and from the alternator and starter, checked all of the fuses and everything else I could think of. None of it made a difference. To be clear, I never had ANY codes on the car related to this issue.

With the wiring not being the problem, I got to thinking that it must be something to do with the ignition system. The most obvious item that came to mind and something I definitely touched during the swap was the crankshaft position sensor, this sensor tells the rotational position of the crank to the ECU and when it goes back, shows similar symptoms to what I had. Luckily, these are very cheap on eBay, so I swap it out but the problem remained. Similarly, the camshaft sensors monitor the speed and position of intake and exhaust camshaft. ECU uses this information for ignition and fuel control, but after swapping these out as well, I still had the same starting problem.

At this point, I’ve posted on forums, groups and consulted with a few friends and of course everyone gave a different solutions and mostly blamed different sensors that are known to fail on a BMWs. Since I like tinkering with cars, I got right to it! I’ve swapped out the air intake temperature sensor, cleaned and later swapped the mass air flow sensor, tested the coolant temperature sensor on the engine block, unplugged the O2 sensors to see if that made any difference and even looked into the oil pressure sensor as well as checked the oil pressure when the engine was fully warmed up. All was normal, still no codes or any other indication of something being wrong with the engine.

Just to check some items off my list, I smoke tested the vacuum system on the engine to look for any leaks, replaced the vacuum solenoid and even cleaned the PCV valve in the process. Of course the results were still the same.

Knowing that the wires are all secure, the ignition system is operating as expected, most of the sensors on the engine have been replaced or tested and there were no vacuum leaks on the car lead me to believe that it has something to do with the fuel delivery. I started with a big one and replaced the HPFP as I had a spare one from my old engine. The HPFP is one of the common issues on this engine that can cause very similar symptoms. However, even after replacing the fuel pump, the fuel pressure regulator AND testing the fuel rail pressure, my starting situation didn’t change.

Things I’ve Learned:

All of the items I have mentioned so far have had no effect, but replacing the injectors did make a change, just not to how the car started. What I learned was that there were 2 different injector types on the N20 engine, the EU5 and the EU6. Although practically the same, at full throttle, I would get a lean code pop up once in a while. After replacing the newer EU6 injectors with the EU5 Injectors from the old engine, those codes never re-appeared. The reason I’m mentioning this is in case you are troubleshooting a similar issue and didn’t think to look at the injector version.

Dealer:

So, I definitely learned a lot in the process but after all of this time, the car would still be hard to start when warm. Since I couldn’t figure it out, I decided to take the car to a local Indy shop that specializes in German cars. They spent a couple of days troubleshooting the car and at the end told me that it ‘might’ be the Valvetronic servo motor that needs to be replaced. Looking online, it looked like a possible solution, but before I took the engine apart, I brought it to a BMW dealer to check out as well. They scanned the car, logged some data, reset the adaptations on the DME and sent me home. The issue was back before I even got home. Not wanting to pay $200/hour for further troubleshooting, I left it alone and drove the car as is for a while.

Final Fix:

Knowing everything you know now, have you figured out what the issue was? The solution was purely accidental. If you follow my channel, you may have seen a video where I replaced the starter motor on this car. After I removed the old one and got the new one out of the box, I noticed that they were different in size, color and even OE manufacturer. I was sure I ordered the correct starter as I went by part number that came up for my VIN. The reason these two were different is because the starter that was install on my car was for N20 engines that do NOT have the Auto Start/Stop functionality. Someone in the past, installed a starter that technically fit, but was not made for this version of the car. After installing the correct starter and driving for about a week now, I have had absolutely zero issues! This just shows you that you can try 100 different things, but sometimes the solution is hiding in plain sight. I hope some of the troubleshooting steps I talked about help someone fix their cars that have a similar starting problem. For now, I will continue enjoying my BMW Z4 now that it’s 100% issue free. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next one!

BMW N54 Problems to Expect – Reliability Report

So, you’re looking at a BMW with the N54 engine but you’ve heard that this may not be the most reliable engine in the BMW line up. Hi guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. Today, we will talk about the history, common problems, issues solved over time, how reliable the engine is 15 years later as well as my personal experience.

The reason I’m making this video is because I owned a BMW 335i e92 with the N54 engine for about 4 years from 2013 to 2017 and I wanted to catch myself up and see how the reliability has been since I sold my car! This is also part of a small series where I’m looking into engines I own or have owned and creating reliability reports like this video. BMW N55 video is coming up soon, so subscribe to see it and hit that like button to support the channel!

History/Background:

BMW N54 is one of the best straight six engines every made by BMW for a few very good reasons. Not only was it the first mass produced BMW turbocharged engine, but it also came with a forged crankshaft and connecting rods leaving HUGE tuning potential. Even though the stock engine made 302 HP, it’s not very difficult to get it up to 500hp or even much, much more. So, how can this reward winning engine [show which awards] have issues? Well, while the actual engine has had some amazing innovations and engineering, a lot of the accessories and  auxiliary components are not as well designed. Of course, when looking at a used BMW with the N54 engine, it doesn’t help that a lot of them have been tuned and driven hard! [HUGE tuning potential and people love it, but also abuse it] So, let’s take a look at some common problems you can expect on a BMW N54 engine

Common Issues:

Even though there were 3 different power figures for this engine, mechanically its basically the same engine. I’ll go over the difference between the standard N54B30 and the N54B30TO that was used in the 1 Series M Coupe and Z4 sDrive35is.

N54B30

  1. HPFP

Let’s start with the stand N54B30 engine. The biggest and most common issue that has haunted the BMW N54 engine since the start is the HPFP going bad and preventing the engine from starting, sometimes stuttering, misfiring or running well in general. It was such a big issue that BMW has extended the warranty on these to 10 years and 120,000 miles in the United States. The good part here is that most of the cars have already had the pump replaced with a revised version while under warranty.

  • Water Pump

Another big common problem on the N54 engine is the electric water pump that uses some plastic parts. These fail unexpectedly and usually at the worst time! I’ve had 2 OEM water pumps fail on me when I had the car. I got the yellow triangle saying that the engine is running hot and within 2 minutes a red triangle with a message saying to drive moderately and to shut off the engine as it has overheating. Unlike the HPFP, there is no extended warranty or anything like that and unfortunately, the pump is very difficult to get to. I paid around a $1000 each time it failed in Chicago. The pump is about $400 and labor is at least that much again.

  • Fuel Injectors leaking, Ignition Coils

These engines also suffer from leaky injectors. BMW N54 uses direct injection and these must be very precise for the engine to run correctly. Unfortunately, when they start leaking which  can cause many different problems including hard to start engine once warmed up, rough idle and misfires as well as terrible fuel economy among other issues. Of course, some of these symptoms can be caused by a bad spark plug or coil and I would definitely recommend replacing those before touching the injectors as each injector is about $250.

  • Turbochargers/wastegate rattle – people upgrade them for more power

Next issue that’s common on many BMW engines including the N54 is the wastegate rattle. Early on, this isn’t a huge issue as it mostly just makes a rattling noise on start up, it gets worse and worse over time. Eventually, the wastegate flapper starts leaking boost and causing performance issues. If not taken care of at this stage, the ECU will try to compensate for the lack of boost potentially overheating and destroying the turbocharger and maybe even the engine if metal gets into the intake. In addition to the wastegate rattle issue, turbo seals can fail and cause smoke out of the exhaust. These issues are more common on tuned or hard driven cars. Small piece of advice here is to not punch it hard until the engine is fully warmed up and to let the engine idle for a little while after driving hard before shutting off the car. [explain why let it idle][Aftermarket upgrades are very popular.]

  • Leaks become more common once getting closer to 100k

If you have watched my BMW N20 engine video [link it], this will sound very familiar. There are a few oil leaks to watch out for and the most common one is the valve cover oil leak. Usually, the plastic valve cover will crack and start leaking. Sometimes the gasket goes bad as well and the entire cover should be replaced. It’s important to get this done quickly as it would be leaking on the exhaust manifold, turbos and the O2 sensors. The oil filter housing gasket is also prone to leaking and should be replaced ASAP as it will leak oil onto the serpentine belt and can cause all kinds of problems. Oil pan leaks are less common, but possible.

  • Chargepipe

The next common issue on these engines is the chargepipe that cracks over time. BMW used a plastic pipe between the intercooler and the intake manifold which runs under boost a lot of times and of course becomes brittle and eventually fails. I’ve had this fail on my N55 [n55] engine as it uses the same design and replaced it with an aftermarket one that works much better. This is an easy and inexpensive fix to a common problem.

  • Minor items:

There are of course many other little issues with these engines that you may need to take care of over time, such as the starters going bad out of no where [link N20 video] or VANOS solenoids causing loss of power, engine hesitation, rough idle and decreased fuel economy. I have actually made a video on how to test and clean these if you’re interested and they are a decently simple DIY. Carbon build up is another issue that shows up on many lists, but that’s common on most direct injected engine and not BMW or this engine specific.

N54B30TO

As I mentioned earlier, N54B30TO was the more powerful version of the N54 engine making 335HP, but this was achieved mostly by adding a performance power kit tune and some supporting cooling hardware. [list: upgraded fan, radiator hoses, secondary radiator, oil cooler]. So, the engine itself was the same but with just a little more boost. This also means that all problems we have discussed so far are also present on this version of the engine as well.

Best and Worst Years:

Now 15 years after it has been released and after so many problems, should you even be looking at buying one? Luckily, this engine has had somewhat of a cult following lately and is becoming sought after in the tuner’s world. This also means that most people are trying to preserve it and maintain it properly. Additionally, issues like the HPFP and injectors have been resolved from the dealer and mostly done under warranty. Most other issues have been figured out in the aftermarket world with the upgraded turbochargers to get rid of the wastergate rattle and metal chargepipes to prevent boost leaks. One word of advice, avoid getting an already tuned engine if you plan on dailying your ride. [notes on why not]

Personal Experience:

A quick note on my personal experience with the engine. Over the period of 4 years and about 55,000 miles, I had to replace the spark plugs, ignition coils and 2 water pumps and nothing else. In every video I’ve made about the BMW engines I’ve owned, people tell me I just got lucky and that may be true, but it doesn’t hurt to properly take care of these engines as well.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, remember that this is an aging BMW motor that was packed with top-of-the-line technology and most likely driven hard by the last owners, so be ready to spend a little bit of money on maintaining it properly. It’s a wonderful, powerful and still one of the more reliable engines made by BMW with lots of aftermarket support and capability to produce tremendous power! Check out my BMW N20 and N63 engine reliability reports and stay tunes for the N55 video as well. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next one!

BMW N63 Problems to Expect – Reliability Report

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. BMW N63 is a twin turbo V8 engine that has been powering fast BMWs for over a decade and today we will talk about the common issues, technical updates, best and worst years to buy and my 4-year experience with the engine.

History

The BMW N63 replaced the naturally aspirated N62 V8 engine and had many improvements over the years. It was also the first hot-V layout, first direct injected and first turbocharged V8 engine from BMW.

This engine begun production in 2008 and is still being used in many BMW vehicles. Of course, over the years there were 3 technical updates creating 4 different versions of the engine, adding more horsepower and torque, improving reliability and making a better engine overall. There are lots of forum posts and groups discussing different issues on different version of the engine and it can be a little difficult to keep up. I have sorted through most of this information over the 4 years I had this engine in my BMW 550i and organized it in this video. I will explain the difference between each version and what was updated as well as what BMW models the specific version of the engine was used in. Let’s get to it!

BMW N63

The original N63 engine was first used in the E71 X6 and produced 402 HP and 443lb ft of torque and later used in the 550i, 750i, X5 and X6 between 2008 and 2013 with the exception of the 650i where it was used from 2012 to 2017.

Common Issues:

If you have heard horror stories about the N63 engine, it was probably about this version of the engine, but there are a few common issues across the entire run. To start with, most of these engines will burn some oil. This original version will do so excessively and it’s important to make sure you never run low. In addition to burning oil, the timing chain is a weak point on these and becomes an issue at higher mileage. As soon as you can hear any chain rattle, it should be replaced as soon as possible. Another common failure on this engine was the HPFP and injectors which caused the engine to stutter, lose power and run very rough in most cases. On top of these, there were also issues with mass air flow sensors, vacuum pump, low pressure fuel sensor, turbo seals and crankcase ventilation lines.

Obviously, that is a huge list of common problems on these original BMW N63 engines, but luckily BMW took ownership of the problem and issued a voluntary recall called the Customer Care Package where they revised the service internal from 15,000 to 10,000 miles and fixed or replaced any issues related to the timing chain, fuel system, battery, vacuum pump, crankcase vent lines and more! This helped many owners at the time and prevented many unhappy owners in the future. If you are looking at a BMW with this engine [show cars again], check that this service has been performed or the items have been serviced individually. This is a must.

BMW N63TU

Clearly that was a lot and BMW realized that they had some major issues they needed to fix here and that’s what they did. In 2012, they have redesigned most of the engine in the Technical Update 1. The new engine was now known as the N63TU and it got an updated timing chain, forged rods and crank, new pistons, turbos, injectors and HPFP. On top of that, they changed the VANOS system to the one used on the N55 engine and updated the crankcase ventilation on a new valve cover among many other things. Not only did all of these changes make a huge difference in reliability, it also added 42 more HP and 37 lb ft of torque. This engine was used in the same range of cars as the previous version. [list on the screen]

Common Issues:

That’s a lot of changes, but did any of this help? Actually, YES! The BMW N63tu is a much more reliable engine, but being a typical BMW, it still has its common issues. Oil consumption is typical if thinner oils are used or not changed as often and it can burn a quart of oil between changes, but if you see some smoke out of the tail pipes, it could be much worse as it could be an indicator that the valve seals need to be replaced. My friend had this happen at 35k miles, but the dealer covered it completely. As per BMW, the engine has to be pulled out of the car to do this job and it can get very, very expensive if out of warranty. Of course, there are other minor issues that can creep up on this engine, but nothing too excessive. I’ve seen reports of leaking   here and there but nothing engine destructive. A much better and more reliable engine.

BMW N63TU2

Next update came in 2016 and the biggest change this time was switching to twin-scroll turbochargers giving the engine a wider powerband. Other changes were mostly there to support the turbo upgrade and to optimize the engine. The stock power levels remained the same and so did the reliability. This engine was used in the 750i as well as the M550i between 2016 and 2020. [list on the screen]

Common Issues:

Luckily these changes have made the N63TU2 engine even more reliable with not many common problems. The oil consumption has been reduced and if you change your oil every 7000 miles, you shouldn’t have these issues. A couple problems I’ve seen come up from time to time were leaky coolant lines as well as issues with intercoolers which were covered by a service bulletin from BMW. Overall, a very solid engine.

BMW N63TU3

The last version of the BMW n63 engine is the N63TU3 which is once again used in the top-of-the-line versions of each series. There is a lower powered version making 456hp and 479lb ft that’s used in the regular X5 and X7. This engine received a new ignition system and improved thermal shielding for the crankcase and cylinder head and even forged rods from the S63 engine. The valve stems have been updated as well. The more powerful version of the N63TU3 is used in the M versions of the 5, 7 and 8 series as well as X5, X6 and X7 SUVs. [but not actual M5, M7, M8 etc] It includes all of the updates already mentioned as well as larger turbochargers, different ignition system, rebalanced crankshaft with new main bearing shells, piston skirt coating and electric arc wire sprayed cylinder walls. All of these upgrades result in massive power gains making 523 HP and 553lb ft of torque and it’s not even an S63 motor.

Common Issues:

There isn’t too much information on these engines as far as reliability just yet as they are still fairly new, but since the valve stems have been upgraded among many other things, the engines seem to no longer burn oil even with hard driving. Overall, the N63TU3 is the most reliable and most powerful N63 engine with a decade of improvements and upgrades.

Best and Worst Years:

So, what are the best and worst years to buy a BMW with the N63 engine? In my opinion, unless you are willing to deal with the issues or they have already been completely taken care of, I would skip the original N63 engine cars and go for 2014 or newer models to be safe. [put list of years when switched]. Of course, if you got the cash, the latest N63TU3 is a beast and makes for a very fun driving car with no reliability issues but will cost a pretty penny. [Driving X6M] I think that N63TU and N63TU2 are a bargain at the moment with decent reliability and power figures and that’s the ones I would go for.

Personal Experience:

As I mentioned earlier, I owned a 2014 BMW 550i for over 4 years, so I had the N63TU engine and I have to say, it was VERY reliable for ME. In all of that time, all I have had to do was change the ignition coils and spark plugs around 60k miles and of course changed the oil every 5k miles! This is very important to keep these running smoothly.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, this engine gets a bad rap based on the early years, but many issues have been fixed on the second iteration of the engine and further perfected over the years. I wouldn’t hesitate to own another N63 powered BMW as long as it’s 2014 or newer and has been taken care of properly over the years. A healthy BMW N63 provides a very powerful, fun, sporty and torque-y driving experience that’s hard to get anywhere else. Check out my BMW N20 reliability report video and stay tuned for the BMW N55 video coming soon. Thanks for watching, leave your thoughts, suggestions and comments down below and I’ll see you in the next one.

BMW N20 Problems to Expect – Reliability Report

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. So, you are looking at a BMW with the N20 engine and want to know how reliable it is? Well, you found the right video as today we will be talking about the common issues, best and worst years to buy, what to do if you already have this engine in your car and my experience after 2 years with this car.

History:

We’ll start with a little background and history as I think it’s important to understand before we talk about the common issues and problems. I swear this will only take a minute! The BMW N20 engine was designed to replace the N52 and N53 6 cylinder naturally aspirated engines that were among the most reliable engines produced by BMW and used in most ‘common’ BMWs. Even though the N20 engine is a 4 cylinder, it produced similar power figures and powered equivalent models. Of course, this means the engine has been turbocharged, direct injected and used other top of the line technology for 2011 to achieve this performance.

There were a few different version of the BMW N20 engine manufactured from 2011 to 2017 and used in many different vehicles. Europe and other countries have the optional lower power 180hp version in their 320i, 420i, 520i and other ‘something’20 cars, but in North America we only had the 240hp version and that’s the version I will concentrate on in this video since the biggest difference is actually tunning and support components and not the engine itself. So, it mostly applies to both. North America got this engine in the Z4 (point to it), X1, X3 and X4 SUVs, 3, 4 and 5 series and even in the sDrive40e X5 where it was mated to the hybrid electrical motor. So, clearly it was used across most of the BMW range. [Show which cars it was in on the screen like I had the list in the emergency kit video]

Common Issues:

Alright, so what are the common issues then? The worst common issue on the BMW N20 engine has to be the timing chain issues that have been discussed at length. To summarize, BMW has used brittle plastics for the timing chain guides which break or crack after a certain period of time causing the timing chain to get loose and eventually skip timing, eventually destroying the engine. Hopefully it never gets that far and you notice the chain rattle way before that and get the chain replaced. In some cases, the chain tensioner is the culprit behind the loose chain and since it’s very easy to change, it can be a good first step before taking the engine apart.

The second big issue on the N20 engine is the rod bearing failure. This one is even more serious, but luckily not as common as the chain guide issue. If you start hearing a slapping type noise like this, you might be looking for a new engine. While the rod bearings are not impossible to replace, unfortunately, the crankshaft gets damaged in the process as well and to fix the journals on the crankshaft, the entire engine has to be taken apart. If there is any hint of rod bearings going bad on your engine, it’s time to replace those NOW.

With the scary items out of the way, let’s talk about some of the common issues that you can probably DIY or get done without spending a fortune. Just like with the N52 and N53 engines, the valve cover is plastic and has a tendency to crack and/or leak oil. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, but it usually leaks all over the exhaust and O2 sensors, which can be damaged in the process… not to mention the smell of burning oil.

Similarly, the oil filter gasket issue has been carried over from the older engines and can leak. Luckily this one is very easy and inexpensive to replace, but if it’s not replaced, it will leak all over the serpentine belt which can cause some serious engine damage.

We are getting closer to the end of the list, but there are a few more items to mention. As we know this is a turbocharged engine and as such it has a wastegate. Unfortunately, the design of it allows the wastegate flapper to get loose overtime and start making a noise. This wastegate rattle isn’t a huge problem at first as it just makes an annoying noise, especially when you start the car, but the looser it gets the more of an issue it can be as it won’t hold boost and degrade performance of the engine.

This engine is also direct injected as mentioned earlier and produces low emissions, which is great but it also means that carbon build up isn’t uncommon. The injectors themselves are also pretty high tech and can fail causing drive train malfunction messages and stuttering of the engine while driving. Check out this video on how to replace the injectors on this engine in the top right corner or the description.

The last item I want to talk about on the N20 engine is the high-pressure fuel pump. These were a huge problem on the N54 engines, but luckily not as huge of a problem here. They still do fail on these engines but at least they are not as expensive and can easily be replaced in half an hour. I’ve done it on this engine and here is how.

As these engines are becoming older and older, it’s also a good idea to check the coolant hoses for cracks, make sure the chargepipe is not cracked and inspect the vacuum lines for any leaks. The most expensive part of fixing BMWs is the labor, so maybe it’s good to tackle some of the easier projects yourself and learn more about your car in the process.

Best and Worst Years:

So, what issues got fixed over the years and what are the best years to buy then? [put this on the screen] In most cases, that doesn’t really matter, but with this engine there is a big difference. The only N20 engines I would recommend would be the ones build in 2015 and later as they have fixed most of the issues discussed here on those models. They improved the timing chain guides, changed the injectors to EU6 from EU5 and improved the overall reliability. If you are considering a BMW with the N20 engine between 2011 and 2014, I would make sure that all of the issues we discussed have been taken care and the maintenance has been on time, but especially the timing chain replacement.

Longevity:

What can you do?

Now, it may sound bad on the surface and I’ll admit it’s not the best engine in the world, but these engines are in thousands of vehicles and a lot of them have no issues at all or the issues have already been fixed. So, as with most BMWs, if you take care of them properly and do some extra maintenance they will last much longer. A few examples of that would be to check your oil every other fill up and change your oil every 5k miles and not every 10k miles as recommended by BMW. This will help with preventing rod bearing failure. Also, check for oil leaks and take care of those fast before they cause more damage and a lot more expensive repairs in the future. Lastly, if the timing chain has not been replaced on your early N20 engine, get it done before it’s too late!

Personal Experience:

As for my personal experience, I bought this BMW Z4 with a bad engine, but looking at its history, it was maintained by the dealer as per the book. You can follow my early videos on this car where I go through the process of replacing the timing chain, HPFP, injectors, fixing the wastegate rattle and eventually tearing apart the broken engine to reveal the damage done by a spun rod bearing. However, ever since I installed a 2015 engine in this car, it has been running like a dream for the last 2 years.

Conclusion:

All in all, this is not a bad engine, especially after the improvements done for 2015 and newer models and the other issues are only becoming common on engines with very high mileage. A lot of it also has to do with how the engine was taken care, driven and of course some luck on how it was built that day at the factory. With any luck, a well taken care of BMW N20 engine should be reliable and also inexpensive to maintain while providing a smooth, enjoyable and sporty drive. Stay tuned for the reliability video on the N55 and N63 engines in the near future, thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next one!

7 Must Have Items for your Car Emergency Kit & Winter!

SimpleCarGuy here and today I will go over the must have items to keep in your vehicles for emergencies at all times, what to add in the winter and when going on a road trip. Of course, this will heavily depend on the type of car you own or where you live, so adjust accordingly.

MUST HAVES:

We will start with the must haves. I think that every car should have jumper cables or a portable battery jump starter. Dead battery is probably the number one cause of engines not starting and even leaving a light on in the car overnight may prevent your car from starting in the morning and that’s why this is number 1 for me. I like the cables, because there is no additional maintenance, but you will need another car for these to work, so not ideal. With the portable battery, you will have to check every 6 months or so and make sure it’s still fully charged and maybe recharge it if needed. Luckily most now have an indicator LED for a quick check. Another advantage to these tiny portable devices is the size and extra functionality. The biggest benefit for me is that in case your phone dies or you need to recharge another device, you have a powerful battery bank ready to go. For this reason, I carry a little breakout USB cable that supports most of the devices I could think off. The very minimum here is to have a cable to charge your phone.

The second most common way to get stuck is with a flat tire, so you will need something for that. If you have run flat tires, you probably don’t have to worry about any of these, but in all other cases, I would recommend carrying an air compressor or even a manual tire pump. I’ve cracked a rim before on the terrible roads of Chicago and this came in very, very useful in getting me home safely. You can also throw in a tire pressure gauge if your pump doesn’t have it and a tire patch kit if you hit a nail or a screw. A pair of plyers can come in handy to pull out said nail or screw. I wouldn’t recommend a fix-a-flat or that liquid tire patch stuff as it makes a mess and doesn’t work most of the time.

If you drive BMWs like me, you know not to leave the house without a good BMW scanner! These can save your butt and get you home safe. Modern cars can go into a limp-home mode for almost any reason and a lot of times all that is needed is clearing of codes to get you back on the road. Check out my video on how to pick a scanner for more info, but I recommend keeping a vehicle specific scanner or one that will be able to scan each module on the car and show live data for each of those modules as well.

Fluids

Staying on the theme of BMWs, I also like to keep a quart of oil and some coolant in the trunk of the car. A lot of older BMWs burn a quart of oil every few thousand miles and when you get that indicator to add more, you already have it in your trunk. Having fluids ready to go is a good idea no matter where you live and if you live in a hot climate, you can’t go wrong with having some concentrated coolant as well.

Another important fluid to keep in your car is water, not only can you drink it if needed, you can add it to your coolant concentrate in emergency when adding to the radiator and even use it for washing off bird droppings from your pristine paint before the sun bakes those on destroying your clear coat! Many, many uses, obviously.

Tools/ Tool kit

This next part really depends on you and how handy you are, but you should have some kind of tool kit. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should have a mechanics tool set in there, but a few items like gloves and a good flash light would definitely help with changing a tire. In case you hit your bumper on something and it starts to hang, but it’s not bad enough to call a tow truck, I would also recommend having some duct tape, zip ties, super clue, a lighter and a good knife.

If you are worried or if you live more in the country, where help is less accessible, you should add a high visibility vest, some road flares or glow sticks and a basic tool kit for quick repairs on those dimly lit country highways.

Clothing/Protection/Personal Care:

That about covers everything to do with the car, so let’s talk about some personal items as well. It’s always a good idea to have some toilet paper or a pack of baby wipes and tissues as well as a pack of cleaning clothes. Some people choose to add a change of clothes as well, but I think a waterproof poncho, a blanket and an umbrella is all you really need.

The last few items here may be the most important, so it’s a good idea to include these as well. To start with, a small first aid kit can help you and many others in many different situations. Anything from a scuff while changing a tire to a burn or cut. I’d recommend building your own if you are into this stuff, but one of these very basic kits is a good start. The second safety item to have is a fire extinguisher. I have these small cans I keep in the car, but it can be any fire extinguisher that works for cars. If you have an electric car, make sure to get a bigger unit and one that works on batteries

Another item that can come in useful is a glass breaker and maybe even a belt cutter. Most of the time they come as a combo unit, but I like this pen glass breaker. As unlikely as it is, if you drive into water, it’s almost impossible to open the door, so one of these can save your life.

The last advice here is to have good insurance that includes roadside assistance and a couple tow truck company business cards that you trust.

I know it sounds like a lot to keep in your car, but a lot of these items come in different kits and can easily be organized in the trunk of a car. As an example, my ‘survival kit’ that someone gifted to me has a lot of the items mentioned here and if I can fit all of this stuff in my Z4 without too much trouble, so it shouldn’t be a problem for any other cars either. Here is what it would look like in the back of a small SUV.

FOR WINTER USE:

Winter brings some extra challenges in certain parts of the country, so there are a few extra items you should add to the kit to carry with you daily. Obviously, you’ll need an ice scrapper and a brush to get rid of the snow, a small collapsible shovel if you get snowed in while parked somewhere and some traction aids. A small box of kitty litter, old floor mats or even some cardboard will get your out of slipper situation.

As a precaution I also like to add a warm blanket or thermal blanket and some winter clothes and a disposable hand warmer that may come useful if you have to wait for a tow and the car won’t start or run, better have it and not use than need it and not have it as the saying goes.

If you have AWD:

Of course, if your car is all wheel drive and you feel helpful, I’d suggest throwing in some two straps and clevises (d clamps) to help pull people out. When I had my BMW 550 with all-wheel drive, all I had on top of the already mentioned items.. was my phone. I have never gotten stuck in that car other than trying to get out of my driveway with over a foot of compacted frozen snow.

If you DON’T/Rear Wheel Drive:

Now, if you are crazy enough to drive a rear wheel drive car in winter, what you should have is.. a set of really good all-season tires at the very least and ideally top-quality winter tires to help with traction and control. A tow strap and a hook are always a good idea so that the guy with AWD can pull you out, if needed!

OPTIONAL IF YOU’RE PARENOID or LONG TRIP:

So, we have talked about a lot of different items and we haven’t gone overboard yet.. but if you are slightly paranoid or going on a long trip into the mountains in winter, you can definitely add a few more items. Here is what I’ve seen people recommend!

Add a proper tool kit that includes a small socket set, screw driver with interchangeable bits, adjustable wrench, some DW40, parts that commonly go wrong on your car like ignition coils and good working gloves.

Traction aids can also be upgraded to Max Traxx or cheapo Amazon versions of that as well as snow chains for those tough terrains.

CONCLUSION:

That’s about all I have for your guys today. I know some of this may be over the top and not needed on most daily drives, but tow trucks aren’t always ready to help and cars do break down in the worse time. I’ve had to help a friend out before during a small blizzard as all emergency units and tow services were helping other people and the wait time was at least half a day. On that note, let me know what else you keep in your car in the comments down below and I’ll see you guys in the next one!

BMW 550i Journey – 4 Year Ownership Report

Hi guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. BMW 5 series is one of the most popular luxury sedans on the market and I’ve had the pleasure of owning this one for over 4 years. Welcome to my 4-year ownership journey with the BMW 550i where I will talk about why and how I bought it, problems over the years, some of the mods I’ve done, why I’ve had it for all these years and finally, why I sold it.

WHEN/WHY/HOW I BOUGHT IT:

About 4 and a half years ago I was driving a 2009 BMW 335i Coupe and was looking to upgrade to the BMW 435i M-Sport. It was a logical choice as both were 2 door sport cars with a 3-liter turbo engines, great design and very sexy curves. I visited all dealers in my area as there were practically no second-hand cars at the time and what I found was overpriced coupes that didn’t have the options I wanted and sales people that didn’t seem interested in selling me the car. There was one guy that seemed more interested in talking about cars rather than just trying to sell me a car and he offered me to go drive any car I wanted on the lot. We jumped into a few cars and most were great, but I was really, really impressed with the 475hp and lots of torque from the N63 V8 engine in this BMW 550i. It was smooth, comfortable and pulled harder than it had a right to being a big 4 door sedan. I never looked or even driven a 5 series until this time and I was impressed. The car only had 34000 miles and all of the options you could imagine. We’ll talk about those later in the video. I offered him $5000 less than what they were asking for and after some negotiations, I worked out a good deal and a set of 4 new run flat tires to boot.

PROBLEMS OVER THE YEARS:

BMW V8s are not known to be the most reliable and at the time, I didn’t have a garage I could wrench on this car if something were to happen, so I was a little worried. Luckily the car came with a little over a year of warranty. I never needed the warranty and honestly this was one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned. Here is everything I’ve had t o do to the car over the years. I changed oil every 5-6k miles, I changed the rear brakes and later on the front bakes and I replaced the sparkplugs and coils after a misfire when I did a hard pull on the highway. Luckily, I didn’t have, high pressure fuel pump, injector or any kind of oil leak problems that people bring up every time they hear a BMW N63 engine. I’ve made a video on Problems to expect on these cars and if you’ve watched it, you’ll know that the problems are mostly on the pre-LCI, 2013 or older version of the car.

WHY I KEPT IT FOR 4+ YEARS:

Whether it was luck or I just did a decent job at maintaining the car and not beating on it too much, it obviously has been very reliable for me. So, was that the reason why I kept the car for so long? Usually, I get bored of a car after a couple of years, I sell it and I get something different, but in this case, this car just had too much to offer and never felt outdated even after 4 years. Not only was this car powerful even by today’s standards, it had a very smooth power delivery (include 0-60 video), felt absolutely planted and stable at high speeds and handled road trips better than any other car I’ve ever been in. What I loved the most about it though, was how understated it was. I love flashy cars as much as the next guy, I mean, I have a blue Z4, but there is something about a car that looks like a big ol boat but performance on par with a lot of sport cars. Using launch control, it can do close to 4 second 0-60 and around 4.5 seconds for a regular start. If you remember that this car weights around 4400lbs, has space for 5 people and a few suitcases, features like heads up display, comfort access and soft closing doors, 18 way adjustable seats and you can even open the trunk with your foot, it becomes obvious why I would keep this car for sol long.

THE MODS:

Part of keeping the car understated, but also giving it a little bit of attitude and removing some of the mid-level manager feel of the car WAS to add a few mods. I didn’t touch any performance modifications on this car as I wanted to keep it as reliable as possible and I was happy with the amount of power it had, anyway.


One of my pet-peeves on modern cars is fake chrome and orange reflectors. The first thing I did was replace the chrome kidney grills and shortly after, the orange reflectors with grey ones, which I think fit the car much better. In fact, this was my first video that I posted on this channel, even before I thought of becoming a “Youtuber”. You can say that this simple mod started me on this YouTube journey and gave me confidence to continue working on cars. Over the next few months, I blacked out the chrome pieces in the bumper, on the side of the car and even on the door handles. Adding a spoiler to the trunk and tinting the windows completed the look I was going for.

One other item I would definitely recommend upgrading on the interior would be the navigation system. I added CarPlay functionality to modernize the car and bring it into this decade.

Thinking back on this, I do wish I would have gotten better wheels for it and maybe put a sporty exhaust on it, but it would also ruin the entire understated feel of the car I tried to maintain.

WHY I SOLD IT:

Now comes the big questions, why did I sell this car I liked so much? I wish I had a very elaborate and cool story to tell here, but honestly it was mostly because I haven’t been driving it since the pandemic started. Back when I was commuting 50-60 miles every day, this car made perfect sense, but now just watching it sit there for days at a time, not being driven, just didn’t make sense and she had to go to a better home. Of course, the fact that the prices are way higher than I could have sold it even 2 years ago and the fact that I have 3 more vehicles at home made that decision a little bit easier. Overall, these are still a great deal in my opinion as long as you know how to take care and maintain these beasts. I really do hope the feature owners enjoys and cherishes the car as much as I have over the years.

WHAT AM I BUYING NEXT?

This, of course, brings up another question, what will I get next? Well, since it doesn’t look like I will be going back to the office for at least another half a year, I will most likely keep driving what I have and keep getting better in the snow in my rear-wheel-drive Z4. I also, like the idea of BMW I3 and how quirky and weird it is, but eventually I will need a vehicle that’s be really good in winter. BMW Z4 is my current main ride and as fun as it is in the snow, it’s not very good once we have over a few inches. I’d love to hear your recommendations on what I should get next. Should I got for the BMW M550i, maybe a 6 series or should I be looking for Porsche? Leave your comments down below.

With all of that said, I’m sad to see my BMW 550i go, but more fun and fast cars to come in my future. Thank you, guys, so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next one!

BMW R NineT Problems to Expect

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. As with all of my vehicles, I like to nerd out and do as much research as possible, so in this video we will talk about common issues on the BMW R Nine T.  Specifically, we will dive into the engine reliability, bike electronics, sensors and other components. I will also discuss preventative maintenance, what to pay attention to and my bike’s repair history as well.  

If you have this bike, check out another video I have made on this bike where I talk about its hidden features and thing you might not know!

Engine:

Let’s start with the air and oil cooled engine. Is it reliable, do they overheat and have other major issues? Well, since this retro bike uses almost a retro engine so most of the issues have been ironed out by now. The R NineT runs the BMW R1200 camhead engine which is the same engine that’s used in the R1200RT and R1200GS from around 2010 to 2015. Based on owner reports, a typical lifespan of this engine is at least 100k miles and many examples have reached over 200k miles without major engine work. Although not the same engine, BMW Boxer design has been evolving and being modernized for decades before it ever was put into the R NineT. From what I have read, they are low stressed, overengineered and extremely reliable.. if you take care of them.

Now, what is there to take care of on this engine? The main and most important thing to remember with this and many other BMW engines is the oil. You have to check the oil often and make sure it stays around 75% in the little window on the side of the bike. These bikes tend to burn oil for the first 10k miles so it’s recommended to check your oil every 500 miles or so. Some swear that it stops burning oil around 10,000 miles and some say it still burns, just much less oil. You can think of it as a break in period so I guess I have another 8000 miles to go! Since service is expensive on these just like any other BMW and you will have to top up oil at some point, make sure you DO NOT overfill it. Apparently, it’s very easy to overfill and when you do, you will blow your rear main seal in no time.

Some people think that since there is no coolant, the engine won’t be as reliable and will overheat. Generally, it would be fairly difficult to get one of these to overheat but if you live in the desert, it is possible. So, you have to treat them as air and oil cooled bikes; especially since there is no temperature gauge on the early models. Luckily, they are equipped with a thermal shut off so at least the bike will not burn itself down. Starting 2017, they do have a temp gauge and a temp warning idiot light, but it’s not always accurate and can be deceiving. Why is it deceiving? Well, the temperature is read at the cylinder so it’s much higher than anything you’d ever see on a temp gauge on a car. On top of that, the max on the gauge is 143C/289F which isn’t actually the temp where it will overheat. It can go even higher before the warning light and the automatic shut off after that. Anyway, as you can see, it’s a bit confusing, but luckily not something one has to generally worry about. Just keep the bike moving and don’t get stuck in a traffic jam where you sit for 30+ minutes idling in 100 degree heat!

To summarize, this air-cooled boxer motor is a thoroughly tried and tested unit and has been powering boxer range BMW for years, so engine reliability is not really a concern on the R NineT, but do service it regularly like any other BMW. We will talk about some preventative items we can do, later in the video.

Electronics:

Next, let’s talk about electronics. As this is a retro styled bike, the R NineT isn’t on the very leading edge of technology like many other BMW bikes. It has a basic suspension, ABS and traction control as an option and not a lot of gadgets in general. That’s a good thing in m y opinion as there are way less things to go wrong with and it also means this bike can be a keeper for years to come. However, there is one issue that I have seen come up on multiple forums and group. The ABS Sensor. It seems that a lot of people have experienced issues with the ABS sensor going bad which of course disables your ABS and traction control, but also causes the speedometer and odometer to stop working. This is an issue that has been carried over from the GS crowed as it uses the same design. Some of the older models have also had a problem with the wiring loom to the headlights where the wires would run when while moving and eventually fail. BMW has fixed this issue on the 2017+ models with a plastic sheath, so it might be a good item to look into if you have an older bike like I do.

Those with closer to 100k miles should watch out for fuel pump issues and the mail seal failure, but these are not very common.

Other Issues:

Speaking of not very common, let’s talk about other issues or concerns that people have with the bikes that may not necessarily have to do with the engine or the electronics system. One of the biggest complaints on this motorcycle has to be the quality of the seat and suspension. Some say that it’s basically unusable in the stock form for long distances and I have to agree to a certain extent. I’m not a long-distance rider, the most I’ve done at the same time was about 3 hours and I did have to stretch a couple of times to prevent being sore in the back. From what I’ve read, it’s more pronounced with bigger riders and some choose to upgrade. A very good quality, thicker seat can be had for around $500 and the same for a good rear shock as well. Most likely a worthy upgrade if you want to do long distance on the bike.

I also wanted to mentioned the transmission on this bike. Luckily it doesn’t nee it’s own section. Even though it’s a little agricultural in its feel, the transmission is solid and there should be no issues with it for the life of the bike. The only major worry would if the clutch starts slipping, it becomes a major job as the engine has to be split in half. Luckily, the only reports on this are well over 100k miles.

The R NineT also has spoked wheels on some models and that means it has tubes in its tires, this isn’t necessarily an issue, but you can’t fix a flat with a kit or anything like that. I’m not sure I would be comfortable riding on a kit fixed tire, but people have complained about it. This also means that you have to be really on top of checking air in your tires and making sure it’s correct as you can cause problems with the valve stem on hard acceleration with low air pressure. The bikes also handles horrible with about 25 psi in the tires.. just from my personal experience.

This bike can also go through rear brake pads pretty quick if you tend to use the rear brake more than the superior front brakes, but that’s more of a preventative maintenance item.

Preventative Maintenance (and what to pay attention to):

Other than regular oil changes, what else should we look out for on these bikes? Well, of course you should be keeping up with the scheduled items in your manual like the transmission oil, final drive oil, brake fluid flushes **ADD ITEMS FROM MANUAL HERE**. Some people go by the book and some choose to change the fluids every time they put on a new tire. Some also recommend lubricating the transmission shaft splines very 40k or so and getting the valve clearance checked at 12k miles.

If you store your bike over winter, there are a few things to do as well. First of all, get yourself a battery tender, it’s much cheaper than buying and replacing a new battery in the spring. To keep the tires from squaring off, some people overinflate them slightly or ideally you can get a motorcycle stand and lift the wheels of the ground. It’s also a good idea to fill the tank and add a fuel stabilizer on the last ride of the season. This way no condensation builds up and she will fire up like nothing happened in the spring.

Personal Experience:

So, what has my experience been like with the bike. I’ve owned my bike for one full summer at this point and put on half of its 2000 miles. I had to do absolutely nothing but fill it up with premium gas, ride it and smile every time I open the garage door. However, I did receive a small packet of papers with the bike. Let’s take a look at those now. *Show pictures of maintenance done on the bike before I got it.*

I have realized a couple of items for myself since buying the bike. What you see on forums and groups can be slightly misleading as this is a premium brand and product and people have really high expectations. You have to enjoy this bike for what it is, an awesome retro styled roadster. Of course, I’m not afraid to work on my own vehicles anyway so that doesn’t scare me at all.

In general, there really shouldn’t be any issues with the BMW R NineT as it’s mostly gadget free with a drivetrain and engine that have been in the lineup for over a decade in some form or another. Most people, just like myself have had a wonderful experience with the bike, but I think it’s good to look at the bad sometimes and be prepared and on top of things. I’m generally very happy to have experienced the freedom of the open road, the exhilaration of riding on twisties and just cruising behind the bard on this gorgeous bike. Every time I pull up to another motorcycle, I get the same feeling, I’m riding a beautiful machine, a rolling piece of art that meant to be ridden hard! I’m willing to put up with any issues it presents for this experience and I hope you feel the same about yours. If you are looking to buy one, don’t hesitate, go for it and worst comes to worst, you’ll have to get your hands dirty wrenching on a cool bike.  On that note, thank you guys so much for watching, leave your comments and thought below, like the video if you like it and I’ll see you in the next one.

My BMW Z4 (E89) Journey – 2 Year Transformation

This story starts a little different from most BMW owners. It didn’t start at a fancy dealership or even a used car lot. This car took many days of work, some frustration and lots of learning experiences to get here and I love it for it. So, let’s start from the beginning when this beauty showed up on a back of a truck, looking sad and broken, to now, 20,000 miles later and still bringing a smile to my face every time I drive it. I hope you enjoy this trip down the memory lane of my journey with the BMW Z4. If you hit that like button, I will even talk about my favorite things about this car I didn’t except!

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but almost on daily bases I scroll through different website looking for cars I can’t afford or projects I should definitely not take on and wonder.. what would happen if I just bought it. One of those nights, I stumbled upon a few very blurry pictures of a BMW Z4 that was listed at an auction house and only had some ‘mechanical issues’. As not many people were bidding on it, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get my hands on a very unique hard-top convertible. To be honest, I’ve never even seen one in real life before buying it. Hit that like button for buying cars sight unseen!

The rebuild:

I was scared and excited, I won a car at auction that I knew almost nothing about. A week later, a car hauler pulled up in front of my house and that’s the first time I saw this Z4. I could see the sexy curves of the body behind all of the dust and dirt and then I heard it start up as it was driven off the trailer. It sounded hurt, very hurt. With my very limited experience at the time, I was excited to jump in and get this engine repaired! After hours of Youtube videos and forums posts, I was convinced that the noise coming from the engine was timing chain related.

Attempting a timing chain replacement for the first time felt very ambitious and perhaps a little dumb, but what did I have to lose? After 2 weekend of work, I replaced the timing chain, the timing chain guides and sprockets and everything else along the way.. but when I started the engine, I heard the same knock, knock.. knock.

At that point I knew I mis-diagnosed the issue and the real issue with the engine was the famous rod knock.. which I later confirmed by taking the engine apart. Check that video out at the link in the description if you’d like to see the damage. The best course of action at this point was to get a replacement engine. Luckily I was able to source a 2015 engine with only about 30,000 miles on it for a very good price. This was the new plan, replace the engine. Surprisingly, engine replacement has gone smoothly and I honestly believe that it has given me a lot more confidence with working on cars in general and later on rebuild the BMW N55 engine.

When the engine fired up for the first time, missing it’s intake and exhaust and still barely attached to the car. I was on cloud nine and figured I’ve done the hardest part.. but of course, it’s not so easy. What I failed to realize is that there are many N20 engine variations. For the longest time, I had lean codes that I just couldn’t figure out. I replaced the HPFP and fuel sensors, tested for vacuum leaks using a smoke machine, replaced various other sensors and even put a new set of sparkplugs and coils, but my lean code remained. This is when I learned more about the differences between different year N20 engines. Turns out, BMW has upgraded the injectors from EU5 to EU6 sometime between when the Z4 was manufactured and when the donor engine was produced. I installed the old injectors into the new engine viola! No more lean codes! If you are doing something like this, you will also have to replace the Oil sensor and the HPFP has a different connector.

With the engine running like a champ, I started fixing many other little items on the car and cleaning everything I could. One of the items that I knew had to be done was to service the hardtop roof. It’s super important that these are very well maintained as repairing one of these is not easy at all. How hard is it? I called my local BMW dealers and out of 3, only 2 would even take a look at it. Anyway, I have a full video on how to properly lubricate all of the moving parts and moisturize the rubbers so it doesn’t leak and squeak.

One issue I still have with the engine is hesitation or failure to start up when the engine is fully warmed up. I’ve tried over 20 different items to narrow this down and have found nothing. I won’t go too much into it as I’m planning on making a video about this in the near feature, so subscribe and see what happens!

The Mods:

Even though I enjoyed how the car looked stock, I wanted to make it a little more my style. So, I did what everyone else has done on their Z4s and replaced the front grill from chrome to black and installed white LEDs to modernize the front end a little bit. I then installed a body color spoiler to lift up the back end as well. After the spoiler I tinted the windows for that slick hard top roof and even though I debated whether I should or shouldn’t tint a convertible, I love it! Since my Z4 is pre-LCI, I also decided to swap out the old blub looking side indicators for newer style chrome ones and painted the side reflector body color. These two modifications changed the side profile and gave the car a sleeker look. 

The biggest difference as far as style was done by the new wheel and tire combination. I went for the M437 style rim that normally comes on a BMW M3 and M4. I was surprised that my little Z4 happily accepted 19 by 9s on the front and 19 by 10s on the back. I had the wheels wrapped in some Nitto tires and this combination has been a dream ever since. Never rubbed and the ride has been decent as well. I must say, this has been my favorite change on the car and I love how it completely transforms the look. Later-on I converted to studs for ease of changing the wheels and tires to the winter set and this is what it looks like now.

Since I didn’t want to drill my intact front bumper, I installed some magnets behind the bumper cover and modified the license plate bracket as well and now I had a removable license plate I could use when parking on the streets.

For a while, I left it alone and just enjoyed driving the car, but then I had an itch that needed to be scratched. I wanted better sound out of the exhaust. I started by deleting the resonator and replacing it with a super sprint stainless steel pipe. It definitely made a difference and added many pops and burbles. Half a year later, I upgraded it further with a super sprint sport muffler and now she sounds just perfect.. well, at least for a 4 cylinder turbo engine.

Driving:

And here we are.. after all of the stuff I have fixed, upgraded and updated.. what have I been doing with the car lately? Well, we have had a beautiful summer and I enjoyed it taking it on long drives into the country, city and just around the neighborhood. If you truly enjoy driving and a car is more to you than just an appliance, this Z4 will keep you engaged and having fun while the sun shines down on you and the wind blows through your hair. I like that it doesn’t pretend to be a hardcore, aggressive sports car. It’s a sport, fun to drive grad tourer.

Conclusion\Future Plans:

To finish off the video, let’s quickly look into the future plans and what I want to do with this car. To start off, this is a long-term car for me. I’m not selling it any time soon, so expect to see it on this channel for years to come. I will get the startup issue fixed on it, hopefully sooner than later and I’m also planning on installing an Apple CarPlay system to bring the infotainment department into 21st century, but the good ones are at least $750 at the moment and I’m not sure it’s worth it. I mostly focus on driving and enjoy nature when I’m in this car, but I also like the convivence it provides. Either way, after two years of ownership and two years of videos, let’s continue this journey for many more! I hope you stayed tuned by subscribing and leave some ideas for me as well down in the comments. On that note, thank you guys so much for watching, I really appreciate it and I’ll see you in the next one.

BMW Aftermarket Apple CarPlay 1 Year Review

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. About 9 months ago I posted a video where I installed an aftermarket Apple CarPlay and Android Auto module in my 2014 BMW 550i. Since then, I have answered many questions in the comments, emails and on my Instagram, but it seems that I’m answering the same questions over and over again and now that I have used it for many months, I figured I’d put it all in one place. So, in this video, I will talk about the Pros and Cons, missing functionality, extra features, compatibility and answer all of your questions as well.

I’m making this video so that you can make an informed decision and not waste your money, so hit that like button if you like the video and leave your comments down below with any additional questions.

When I first installed this aftermarket Apple CarPlay on my BMW, I got lots of people asking about the quality and all of the features. Of course, at that time I have only used the system for a day or two and couldn’t give all the answers, but now I’m ready to tackle this one.

The most common concern for people was whether it would fit their specific year and model car. Well, to answer this, you have to understand BMW’s iDrive systems a little bit. The earliest system you can install Apple CarPlay using this method and without replacing parts is the iDrive CCC which came out on some BMWs in as early as 2004 model year. This system was in use until about 2010 model years on some cars. So, if your car has THIS screen, you need CCC version of the device.

The next system was Car Information Computer or CiC and it looked like THIS. If your screen looks like this, you will need an aftermarket unit made for CiC iDrive. You cannot interchange these unless the unit you get is made to work with different versions. This iDrive version was on BMWs between 2009 and 2014. I will post a list of different models in the description or comments for your reference.

BMW introduced a further update to the iDrive System in early 2012 and called it the NextBestThing also known as the NBT, which is what I have in my car and what I showed in the video. This is for 2013-2018 model years, but once again, it varies depending on the model. As an example, on the BMW 5 series F10, it’s from 2014-2016 model years.

The last system you can update using this method is the iDrive NBT EVO which of course replaced the original NBT iDrive system and is still being used on many models today and it looks like THIS.

I hope it clears up some of the questions as to what unit you need for your car. Please do your research, refer to the list I the description and make sure you understand which iDrive you have before you order. If you are more adventurous, you can also remove the screen in the car and take a look at the connector on the back. On F10 5 series, if the connector has 4 pins, it’s the CiC version and if it has 6 pins, it’s the NBT system. If you are having trouble with this, leave a comment down below and I’ll do my best to help you.

Alright, so you know which unit you need, but you have some questions. Let’s see if we can clear some of those questions up.

I know my biggest concern before installing this unit was how fast and how accurately it would connect to my phone. Well, it connects perfectly about 98% of the time. What do I mean by that? Well, if you don’t have your Bluetooth or WiFi on on your phone, it will sometimes connect half way and you are just stuck at THIS screen (show screen). You then would have to manually connect to the correct system in Bluetooth or WiFi Settings. Now, that’s not the only way it can mess up the connection. I have had times where it just refused to connect and I had to restart the unit by holding the back button for 3 seconds. This has happened about 10 times in the 9 months I’ve been using this. That’s actually a very small number in my opinion and I’ve been very happy with how fast and reliable it has been overall.

My second biggest concern installing an aftermarket Apple CarPlay unit was audio quality. Most BMWs have a wonderfully balanced and great sounding system, so I was worried it would ruin the experience. Once again, it’s not perfect by any means. It sounds great at almost any sound level, but as soon as you turn it up past a certain point, there is a hissing noise that becomes very apparent. Of course, the volume has to be very loud at this point and there has to be a silent moment in whatever you are listening to. I think this is my main concern, but not a deal breaker since it’s only at very high levels. To reduce this as much as possible, go to the settings and make sure your volume is set to the max.

Now let’s do some rapid fire questions and then finish the video with my final thoughts.

We have already answered what cars it can be installed in and the different options, but does it use the original camera or do you have to get an aftermarket one? You can switch between Aftermarket and Original in the settings. So, if your car doesn’t have one, you can install an aftermarket one and use it.

How does the camera work when you are using CarPlay? It quickly switches back to the OEM system and it works as normal, including the curving lines and sensors.

Nice, right? So, what about the radio? This device does NOT have a radio built in and you cannot mix the two audio sources together. The best solution for using Google Maps and listening to the radio at the same that I found was to play the radio station you want, or save it on one of the memory buttons, go to Apple CarPlay, but do not switch the audio source to AUX and use it without any sound.

Speaking of switching back and forth, how easy is it to switch between the systems? This system starts up when you unlock the car and the phone connects automatically, so to switch back to the BMW system, you just have to hold the BACK button for 3 seconds. This as far as I understand shuts down the unit, so when you hold BACK again for 3 seconds, it starts up again and your phone reconnects. There is no sleep mode type of function.

Cool, so we can switch between systems, but does it use the original BMW microphones or do you have to wire the one that came with the unit? Luckily, the answer on this one is YES, it does use the original microphones in the car. If your car didn’t have one or it’s broken, you can use the one that came with it as well, but you’ll have to route it the proper position. These are used for both Siri commands as well as voice calls.

Speaking of voice calls, how is the sound quality? The quality coming in sounds absolutely perfect; however, I have had a complaint from someone on the other line saying that I sounded like I’m on speaker, so I went and played with the options. Enabling this feature made it sound much better in my car, but I think it depends on your car set up. It still does not sound as good as original BMW as echo does happen on some occasions. Overall, it’s pretty good, but not amazing. Luckily, there is an option to allow phone calls to be handled by the original BMW system.

What about playing music, how is that experience? When used wirelessly, there is a slight delay in audio. Of course, this isn’t a problem if you are listening to music, but can be noticeable when watching a video. It also isn’t nearly as bad as it is on the original BMW Bluetooth audio. This problem can be easily fixed by plugging in the phone via USB. You can also use AirPlay, which is wireless and has no delay whatsoever. It clones everything on your phone to the screen, including videos, movies, apps etc. One feature I miss from the original system is volume based on your speed. The volume does not adjust automatically as you go faster or slower.

Now let’s talk a little bit on how well it integrates into the car. The iDrive controller and buttons around it works as you would expect. All of the buttons on the steering wheel work great as well and you can even use the little scroll wheel here on the steering wheel as the secondary controller. I use this most of all as I can keep my hands on the wheel and perform most of the functions.

One item that I wish would have been integrated is the Heads-Up-Display. While it still displays your speed and other BMW items, it does not show any music or navigation information. So, if you rely on the arrows and instructions being up on your windshield while using GPS, this might not be for you. I did a little bit of research on this and it looks like this display is basically ran by a different computer/module and since this device is just sitting between the head unit and the display, it cannot control it.

The last item is more related to Apple CarPlay in general. I’ve had a few questions on what apps are available and can you install stuff like Netflix or YouTube? Apple CarPlay allows you to basically install only Navigation and Audio related apps. So, you can have Google or Apple Maps and Waze for your navigation. Spotify, Apple Music or even radio apps like the TuneIn radio or iHeartradio for audio and even podcast and audio book apps. Besides those, WhatsApp and standard messaging apps are available, but mostly only work through Siri. You cannot type in a message directly as an example. There are of course some other ones, like the SpotHero app to find and pay for parking or PlugShare to find local charging stations if you have an electric car.

Well guys, this video turned out much longer than I expected, but I really wanted to answer as many common questions as possible and make the decisions easier for you. So, what do I think of it and would I do it again? Well, this may not be as good as an OEM installation of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but it damn sure is 10 times better and easier to use than the original BMW navigation and media player. I also love that my fiancé can easily use her phone with the car without an hour set up.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Hidden Features

Hi everyone and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy Channel. Today we have a Mercedes Benz GLE 400, one of the most popular luxury SUVs on the market. This impressive vehicle has many cool features you’d expect from a Mercedes; like the bi-turbo V6 engine, 9 speed automatic transmission, cross stitched leather dashboard and steering wheel, adjustable suspension and excellent steering and handling characteristics, but this video will be simpler. We won’t even talk about the blind spot monitoring, the heated steering wheel, keyless entry, power rear hatch, tons of storage, towing ability or even a full spare tire in the back. What we WILL talk about is some hidden features, tips and tricks and things you may not have known about the Mercedes-Benz GLE 400. We’ll even check out a hidden menu towards the end of the video.

This video should apply to both GLE350 and GLE400 from 2016-2019 model years as the main difference there is mostly just the engine, you get a bi-turbo V6 engine producing 330 horsepower and 354 lb ft of torque in this GLE 400, and before it was discontinued in 2018, you could have had a 300 horse power V6 in the GLE350.

Mercedes GLE400 is considered one of the best highway cruisers based on great comfort, good handling, responsiveness and many different driving modes, but there is one features you probably haven’t realized this car has.

Pre-Safe

Have you even wondered why does the seat belt tighten up a little when you get in and put it on? Well, this is a feature called Pre-Safe and what it does is basically pretension the seat belt and figures out the weight of the occupant inside the car and in an even of an accident, the car knows how tight to pull the seatbelt to keep you as safe as possible. This is what fancy racing cars do!

Crosswind Assist

Another safety item that works in the background is Crosswind Assist, this hidden feature intervenes automatically if the direction and intensity of the crosswind affects your vehicle and stabilizes it by lightly braking one side of the car and making sure you are going straight ahead. This function turns on above 50 mph and can only be turned off by turning off ESP completely which also disabled driving stability, allows your tires to spin freely and active brake assist is no longer available.

EDR

Just like Pre-Safe and Crosswind Assist is calculating all this stuff in the background, this car has a black box of sorts called the Event Data Recorder or EDR that records vehicle dynamics and safety systems in an event of a crash or crash like situation. It will also record whether the seatbelts have been fastened, how fast the vehicle was traveling and what driver inputs were present prior to the event.

Key Fob

Enough about the safety stuff, let’s take a look at some fun ones. We use our key fobs less and less, especially with comfort access, but THIS key fob can do much more than you think. For starters, you can roll down windows and open the sunroof by holding the unlock button and even close them with the lock button as well. Don’t want to take the key fob out? You don’t have to, simple hold the door handle on the sensor like this and it will do the same functions.

Want to check if the battery in the key fob is working properly but you’re not next to the car? Simply hold Lock or Unlock button and the little LED will light up. If it does not, you may need to replace your battery, which can be done by using the mechanical key and popping off the back cover.

Physical Key

Speaking of physical key, this little guy has many functions on its own. Not only can you unlock the front doors, you can also lock the glovebox and cargo compartment when valeting your car and even use it to release the tailgate in an emergency or if the battery is dead.

Tailgate limit

Do you park your car in a garage but afraid that the tailgate will hit the garage door when opening? Well, you can limit the opening angle of the tailgate. To do so, pull the handle on the tailgate to open it and stop it at desired position by pressing the close button on the tailgate or pull the handle on the outside one more time. Then to save this position, press and hold the closing button on the tailgate until you hear two beeps. The tailgate will stop at this position from now on. Very useful!

Fuel Filler Cap Holder

While we are here at the back, let’s check out a feature I wish more people would use. I’ve seen way too many drivers let the fuel filler cap just hang there on the paint work. On this car and many others, you have a little fuel filler cap holder just for this purpose. Nice piece of useful engineering.

Fake Exhaust Tips

What isn’t a useful piece of engineering is fake exhaust tips, I’ve seen it on many inexpensive cars and I can’t stand it and I was hoping Mercedes would be better, but no, it’s the same here.

Before we check out hidden items inside the car, you may be wondering why you have seen other Mercedes SUVs that look very similar but sport the ML badging. Well, this general body style has been in productions between 2012 and 2019, but it only became a GLE from 2016 model year. Prior to this, the car was known as the M-Class or ML400 in this case. Now, let’s jump inside and see what kind of hidden features we can find there.

Hidden Power Socket

We’ll start with a very simple one, there is a hidden 115-volt power socket under the rear seat that can supply up to 150 watts of power. It’s not very easy to see, but definitely useful.

Air vent in the glove box

You know what else is useful? Heated and cooled cup holders, but I’m sure you already knew that one, but did you know that the glove box is also ventilated and will keep your contents cool? Fancy!

Sunblind Reversing Feature

Similarly, out of sight, but very useful if you have kids is the sunblind reversing feature. Some cars now have windows that will stop and reserve if someone’s hand is in the way, but this car will even do so for the sunblind and the sunroof! Safety first!

Extendable sun visors

While we are in this area, *not only do you have 2 sun visors but*(if has 2) these sun visors can be extended to block the sun or prevent glare and improve visibility while on the side of the vehicle.

Conclusion:

As you can see, this seemingly standard SUV hides many interesting facts including some of the ones I have talked about today. If you’d like to see more videos on this car, leave a comment down below as I haven’t even started talking about the air suspension and the versatility it gives you as far as driving dynamics or how you have many different ways of doing most functions without a touchscreen in sight. Anyway, that’s all I have for you guys today, I hope you have learned something new or interesting, like the video for more car content and I’ll see you in the next one!