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.

Hyundai Kona Review & Hidden Features

Hey Guys and Welcome back to another video on the SimpleCarGuy.com. Today we are taking a look at this 2019 Hyundai Kona that my girlfriend has been driving for the past couple of years. Has it been a good car, has it had any major issues, what are some of the cool hidden features or things that you didn’t know about and most importantly should you buy this European looking little car that’s just a little more than ordinary? Let’s take a look!

If you’d like to skip the review part and just see the hidden features, skip to:

Has it been a good car? Over all, yes. Now, of course your expectations of a car may vastly differ from mine, but for a car that’s under 25 thousand dollars, it packs a lot of European design, great bright headlights, lots of safety features and even a 7-speed dual clutch transmission with a peppy 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that actually makes it kind of fun to drive. When it comes to front end of the car, it has been commented on a lot. In my opinion, the upside-down face with the headlights at the bottom and the daytime lights at the top, give it a nice aggressive, almost high-end German car look. It’s never a bad thing when you buy a daily gas saver and get something more in return. I do wish the fog lights would match the otherwise LED front end as they stand out quite a lot when used. One thing you may not notice on this car due to its grey color is the ugly plastic pieces around the wheel-arches and few other parts of the car. It works well on grey, black and some other darker colors, but looks very cheap on brighter paintwork. Of course, this is purely my opinion, but I had to mention it.

So, how has the reliability been? This KONA’s 1.6 turbo engine even though known to be very reliable has had an issue in the first few months of ownership. The car got a check engine light and we had to take it to the dealer. The service department quickly figured out that it was an injector, replaced it under warranty and it’s been running smoothly and very efficiently since then.

My opinion on the car only counts so much as I don’t drive it daily, so I asked my girlfriend to give me a quick review on the car from her perspective. She’d told me that after two years of ownership, there are some things that she really enjoyed and some that she could live without. She is impressed with the quality of the interior; especially, the leather seats that add a touch of luxury without having to spend thousands. With the ample trunk space, foldable back seats and relatively low trunk sill that the Kona provides, she is able to fit groceries, furniture, large boxes without having to turn to a minivan or large SUV. Apple CarPlay makes it very easy to enjoy music on the go and calling friends and family is done safely without having to pick up the phone.

Even though the Kona has a great interior, it does take a long time for the seats to warm up compared to other cars and even longer for warm air to start coming from the vents. Luckily, you can turn on the heater from your BlueLink app on the phone, but even after 10 minutes of running she still has to wear gloves before going on a drive on cold Chicago winter days. Once the heated seats are warmed up, they are a great feature and she would love to have the same convenience available for those sitting in the back. Lastly, as a none aggressive driver (ok, I would have to specify here and say that she can be a bit “enthusiastic” while driving), she did notice that if you take a corner a little faster the car tends to ‘tilt’ and she had to be mindful of her speed as it feels almost unstable. What she is talking about is of course body roll and I can’t say that there is a lot of it in this car, but it’s no sport car as far as handling, that’s for sure.

In conclusion, there have been pros and cons to owning a Kona but it does make for a great fun car that is reliable and easy to drive.

I hope that gives you a little bit of an insight into what a non-car enthusiast thinks of the KONA. I know there are many professional reviewers, but they don’t drive the car daily and that’s what matters in a daily driver, the personal experience with the car.

Now for a little fun, I thought I’d show you some hidden features, tips, tricks and just things you may not know about the KONA.

One of the more obvious, yet useful things you may not have known about the KONA is that there are two storage pockets under the HVAC controls right above the USB port where you can store your phone perfectly. Speaking of extra hidden space, a lot of people don’t know that in the rear hatch, you can take the floor cover off and the foam piece if your car has the cargo tray and drop it down about 3 inches giving you more storage room in the back.

Have you wondered where the space tire is on this car? Wonder no more, it is right here..

While we are at the back here, did you know that the rear wiper also has a washer fluid nozzle for cleaning? And if you have auto-wipers, the rear wiper will come on automatically when you shift in reverse and it’s raining. If you don’t like things happening on their own or afraid there might be ice buildup, you can easily turn it off in the menu. Of course, everyone knows there is a defroster on the back glass, but did you know that this car also has heated side mirrors? Pretty nifty!

The info-taiment is primarily focused on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but there are a couple settings you can adjust. As an example, you can move the sound to whatever corner of the car you want.

This Kona came with some good safety features, such as the lane keeping assist, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, rear camera and a few others, but no parking sensors. All of these are listed in your car spec sheet, but did you also know that your KONA will turn off the fog lights when turning below 25mph and turn on corner lights for those slower turns. You can’t have both, it’s one or the other. Speaking of speed, if you hold the plus and minus buttons while the cruise control is on, it will increase and decrease the speed by 5mph increments. The last hidden features that I was surprised by is the sun visor, it can be extended to provide just a little more shade!

As most modern cars, the KONA has an app that allows you to remote start the car, set up custom climate profiles, flash the lights, honk the horn and locate your car among other functions. I do think it’s a little silly that the car lights up like a Christmas tree when started remotely, but it’s not the end of the world.

So, would I recommend a Hyundai Kona for someone that is looking for a fun daily driver? Absolutely, you will enjoy a fun and energetic driving subcompact SUV, with decent handling, great gas mileage and overall a smooth riding experience. The turbocharged engine is a must if you want refinement and some pick up!  Not only that, when you get inside the cabin, it feels well made, upscale and future proof. So, thank you guys so much for watching, I really appreciate it. Let me know if you’d like to see more SimpleCarReviews and I’ll see you in the next one.