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 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.

Most Requested Mod on my BMWs – Replacing Kidney Grills on BMW Z4 and 550

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. Ever since I started posting videos online, I have gotten many suggestions, requests, complaints and even compliments once in a while, but the part that seemed to bother people the most and maybe had the most comments overall was that I had the M colors on the grill! So, in this video I’m replacing the fake M kidney grills with regular gloss black on both the BMW Z4 and the 550i.

Now, I installed mine before I knew how much people hated these and the stigma behind them. Everyone knows not to put M badges on a regular car, but what’s the harm in the M kidney grills? Well, apparently a lot as you cannot go on a forum or video without people complaining and hating on cars! So, for your pleasure and mine, let’s get these new shiny black ONLY grills installed and make the world a better place!

Do you agree with the general opinion? Leave a comment down below and let me know your opinion on this and while you are there, hit that like bottom for the Youtube Algorithm and maybe more than 20 people will see this video. Let’s get to it!

BMW Apple CarPlay Retrofit

BMW never offered Apple CarPlay on the F10 NBT system, but luckily there are aftermarket kits that allow us to add wireless CarPlay to our 5 series BMWs like my BMW 550i, 535i, 528i etc. The kits come in different configuration and will work on CIC, NBT and EVO navigation systems. So, no matter what BMW you have as long as you have a screen, you can easily upgrade to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on your car. In this video I go over the process of installing the kit on BMW F10, but this will work the same on the all of the below compatible BMW models:

1-Series F20/F21 – 03/2013 – 03/2015

2-Series F22 – 11/2013 – 03/2015

3-Series F30/F31 – 11/2012 – 07/2015

3-Series F34 – 03/2013 – 07/2015

3-Series F80 – 03/2014 – 07/2015

4-Series F32 – 07/2013 – 07/2015

4-Series F33 – 11/2013 – 07/2015

4-Series F36 – 03/2014 – 07/2015

5-Series F07 – 07/2012

5-Series F10/F11/F18

6-Series F06/F12/F13

7-Series F01/F02/F03 – 07/2012 – 06/2015

X3 F25 – 04/2013 – 08/2017

X4 F26 – 04/2014 – 08/2017

X5 F15 – 08/2014 – 07/2016

X5 F85 – 12/2014 – 07/2016

X6 F16 – 08/2014 – 07/2016

X6 F86 – 12/2014 – 07/2016

i3 – 09/2013 – 09/2017 (2018 model year)

i8 – 04/2014 – 09/2017 (2018 model year)

BMW 550i Free Exhaust Mod

In the video below I will be testing whether it is worth opening the exhaust valves on a BMW 550i with an n63 engine.

On BMW engines such as the N20, N54, N55 and many others people have been doing what is known as the GOLF Tee exhaust mod. That’s when you stick a golf tee into the vacuum line that goes to the exhaust valve.  Unfortunately, on this and a few other cars, that would not work as the valve is CLOSE and NOT open by default. It only opens when the car is in high revs or high-power demand.

I wanted to experiment and see if keeping them open at all times would the exhaust note better. So, I used some metal zipties I had laying around and ziptied the valves open.

Let’s see if it made any difference and if it’s worth the trouble.

In my opinion, it gave slightly throatier sound on idle and around 3000 RPM. I would totally recommend it as a cheap and easy mod to make you exhaust sound just little better. Of course, this isn’t anything like installing proper sport exhaust, but something is better than nothing. I also wanted to mention that I drove the car for a few miles and no codes or other issues came up. Let me know what you think, could you hear a difference via the camera mic? Leave your comment below and don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to the channel.

BMW Features You Didn’t Know You Wanted – BMW 550i F10

Today we will be discussing features you didn’t know you wanted on your next BMW. Of course, there are many more features on newer cars, but if you are buying a used BMW 5 series like this one, these are some of the features to look out for. I was not aware of half of these items when I bought the car 3 years ago and for my next big, long distance BMW I will be looking to have most if not all as it makes the car so much more special. I will only talk about features that my car actually has and I can show you. Let’s get to it.

  1. The first feature that has now become common on most cars is comfort access. Not only does it allow you to open the doors and start the car, you don’t even have to take out the key in order to open the trunk. You can simply wave your foot under the car and put your groceries or other big items in. Just like this:
  2. It’s also really nice to have folding back seats, I can actually use this car for carrying stuff and fit larger objects without an issue. I was surprised that many cars don’t do this or don’t offer 60/40 split.
  3. A little bonus while we are here in the back, did you know that you can’t actually lock your key in trunk. Good thinking on BMW’s part!
  4. The next feature that makes this car feel very luxuries to me is the soft close doors. Who knew you didn’t have to slam the doors! I’ve only seen this feature on a few very, very expensive cars, so it’s definitely nice to have on a mid level BMW.
  5. Next is the Sport+ Mode, it turns DTC (Traction Control) off about half off, but still keeps you on the road when the things get hairy. It also allows you do launch control. Of course, you can turn all safety features off by pressing this button, but then you better know what you are doing. This also goes nicely with the sport displays. I don’t use this often, but when I do, I have a great time!
  6. This car also has HUD – (Heads up display) which allows you to see phone calls, music, your speed and navigation. Very useful on long trips and allows you know your speed at all times.
  7. Next is AutoPark or Auto-Hold feature. I love this for when I’m driving in the city and there is a lot of lights and stop and go traffic. The car will hold the brake for you while you are stopped, you can then simply touch the gas pedal and the car will start moving. Also here is a cool little trick the gear shifter does: “Show how it goes into park as soon as you press P even when it’s in sport mode*
  8. This next item is present on pretty much any BMW and I miss it every time I drive a different car. When you put the mirror select button to the driver’s side and the passenger side mirror will tilt down when reversing. If you have it selecting the passenger side, it won’t tilt when reversing. I also like that all windows are a one touch up and down. Most other cars will only do the driver side as a one touch.
  9. Next we have the 18-way adjustable heated seats that have profiles mapped to the key, so two people can have their preferred settings without manually re-adjusting each time they get in. The car also has a heated steering wheel. It may not be useful on a hot day like today, but it’s amazing in the winter. 
  10. And the last item I like is having a personal little glove box on the left of the steering wheel. Perfect for sunglasses, protection or whatever else you’d like to put in there.

I also did a pole on some groups to see what others can’t live without on their F10 cars and here is what people mentioned. Some of the options that stood out to me were the cooling seats, my car only has heated seats. The adaptive suspension so that you can have sporty and comfortable ride and maybe the 360-degree camera system. I will be looking for these options as well when I shop for my next big luxury BMW.

BMW F10 5 Series Problems to Expect

In the video above we will be discussing some of the more common problems you can expect with your BMW F10 5 series car. The BMW F10 was sold from 2011 all the way up to 2017. So, as you can imagine the issues have changed over the years. New ones came up and older ones have been resolved by the BMW. 

To start with, I have had my BMW 550i xDrive for 2.5 years and I’ve done all of the maintenance and took care of the car myself. My BMW F10 was CPO car from a BMW dealer and I’ve had zero issues for the year I had the CPO. After the warranty expired, I have replaced the ignition coils and spark plugs, engine oil, engine filters and that’s it.

I will be concentrating on the US spec cars as these are the ones I know about.

Right of the bet, we can split the cars into pre-LCI (model years before 2014) and LCI cars (model years from 2014 on). I would absolutely recommend getting the LCI cars as you get more features and most of the models have also fixed a lot of the issues in the previous version of the car.

The car has a great built quality, there are no rattles and the car really held up well even after 5 years.

All cars have run flat tires, so rim damage or deformation is not uncommon. Cars across the board have also had some issues with water getting into the trunk, back up camera and sensors not working well in the cold and other common BMW problems you can expect.

528i (N52B30 2010-2011)

  • Very reliable cars, but getting old now.
  • Oil and coolant leaks are the most common culprit when it comes to these engines and can cause engines to overheat.

528i (N20B20 2012–2016)

535i (N55B30 2011–2017 in US)

  • Early cars aren’t recommended (2011) due to having too many of the issues
  • BMW 535s with N55 engine is probably the most reliable car out of the 3 models we are discussing today. BMW are know for making decent straight 6 engines and this one is a good engine.
  • Known issues on early cars:
    • Increased battery drain issue
    • Fuel Pump
    • Leaking oil filter gasket
    • Belt Tensioner going bad
    • Turbos have issues, people have had them replaced under warranty
    • Oil Filter Housing and valve cover gaskets
    • Coil packs
    • Fuel Injectors

550i (N63B44 2009–2013)

  • Excessive oil consumption, although more so in the pre-LCI
  • Ignition coils and spark plugs around 60K miles
  • Valve Stem Seal Job – my friend has had this done on this 40k mile N63TU engine right before his warrant ran out and it was an engine out job. If done outside of warrant this could cost around $5000.
  • Timing Chains are also a common on all years to a lesser extent and is obviously more prone on  higher mileage cars
  • Known issues on pre-LCI cars:
    • High Pressure Fuel Injectors
    • Hot-Film Air Mass Sensors
    • Engine Vacuum Pump
    • Fuel System Low Pressure Sensor
    • Fresh Air Intake Turbo Seals
    • Crankcase Ventilation Lines
    • Timing chain
    • Fuel Pump
  • N63 Customer Care Package
    • The highlights are:
      • Check the timing chain for stretch; replace if necessary
      • Check the following items and replace if necessary: 
        • fuel injectors
        • mass air flow sensors
        • crankcase vent lines
        • battery
        • engine vacuum pump
        • low pressure fuel sensor
      • Change the oil service interval to 12 months/10,000 miles
    • This has helped many vehicles and many owners reported way fewer issues after this CCP. 
    • Most dealers and private shops recommend even smaller (5-7k) mile oil change interval.
  • If you go for a 550, it pretty much has to be a 2014 model or newer. The original N63 engine had a lot of problem. In 14, BMW switched to the N63TU for the 550.

LCI 550i (N63B44O1 (N63TU) 2014–2017)

  • BMW has improved the engine a lot with this update as well as increased the power to close to 450 HP from 400. Very solid performance. 
  • Parking Camera and Sensors issues are somewhat common.
  • Oil Pump Gasket leaks happen on higher mileage vehicles.

In conclusion, I would recommend getting the BMW 535i or BMW 550i that is 2014 or newer as you will have plenty of power and decent reliability for this type of car. 

Top Useful BMW Hidden Features

No matter what kind of car you drive there is always something new and useful to learn about your favorite ride. I’m a big fan of BMWs and try to learn anything and everything about my car from the first day. Luckily manufacturers ‘hide’ some cool stuff for us to hide or even leave in the wide open and we just have to learn them In order to learn the top useful BMW hidden features, you can read the entire manual and find a lot of them. That of course takes quite a while and who has time for that!? Well, luckily for you, I read the manual and have owned my BMW 550i xDrive for over 2 years and learned about some cool features.