Having owned quite a few BMWs (6-7 I believe, lost count at this point) and worked on even more at the shop, I wanted to share a few tips I picked up along the way. Most of them are common sense, but I found them to be particular to many BMWs, especially older models. In no particular order…
1. Brake Dust
Most BMWs are known for amazing handling and braking, but with that comes the horrible task of cleaning wheels that are caked with brake dust. Every BMW I’ve owned has had quite a bit of brake dust and the wheels quickly turn from whatever their original color to near black! Many of our clients also complain about it, so here are a few tips to make wheel cleaning easier while maintaining the finish on the wheels.
Regular cleaning is a must. Whether you’re using a regular wash soap such as CG Wash & Gloss every week or so, or giving them a thorough cleaning with a dedicated wheel cleaner such as P21S Gel, it’s very important to get on a regular schedule of cleaning the wheels so they don’t get embedded contamination that will start eating away at the finish. You as the owner have to figure out how often the wheels need a quick wash or a thorough cleaning, but the more often you wash wheels with a simple soap, the less often you’ll have to go in there with wheel cleaners and brushes.
The second part is simply protection. Similarly to cleaning, options vary from basic wax or sealant such as Poorboy’s Wheel Sealant to long lasting protective coatings like 22PLE VM1. The coating will provide better protection for a longer time, but even a basic sealant will help keep off the contamination if applied regularly. I personally like to apply the coating then I apply a sealant every 1-2 months for added protection. If going to coating route, a quick spray sealant like CarPro Reload is quick and easy to apply, but provides good protection.
2. Grille Cleaning
This area gets overlooked quite a bit and is most prominent on BMWs. Whether it’s the plastic grille on many older BMWs or painted, it needs to be thoroughly cleaned each wash. Otherwise, it’s not only going to look dirty and take away from the overall look, but the paint or plastic starts to fade and look old quickly when left dirty constantly. As with the wheels, a good coat of protection is great to keep the dirt out of there and make it easier to clean. I personally like the 22PLE VR1 for plastics and 22PLE VX1 Pro for paint protection.
3. Emblem Cleaning and/or Removal
Similar to grille cleaning, emblems get overlooked quite a bit. BMW has the badges on the hood and trunk, both of which tend to stick up a bit and allow for dirt to get in around the edges. I normally use a brush like the Boar’s Hair Detailing Brush every few washes to remove any dirt stuck by the edges of emblems. This keeps them clean and looking good. Another culprit can be wax residue collecting around these same edges, but it can easily be dealt either by wiping thoroughly when waxing or cleaning with a brush soon after.
4. Removing or Taping Trim
This applies mainly to older BMWs, like E36 and E39, which have a lot of black plastic trim that sticks out of the door panels and bumpers. If not removed or taped properly, the trim can easily collect wax/sealant residue and dirt in the edges. If polishing, it can also be damaged with a pad if it’s not protected or removed. On client’s vehicles we normally only tape it as some are hard to remove and the clips holding the trim to the panels are prone to breaking, especially if they’re old. On my personal BMW I’ve always removed all the trim about once a year to clean underneath and polish without the trim, then I also clean the trim while it’s off the car and protect it before re-installing. It really sets it apart after that’s done.
5. Interior Plastic/Vinyl
This too applies to a few different manufacturers, but is prominent in BMWs. A lot of the leather, vinyl or plastics inside tend to be a harder and rougher surface compared to most other cars. This can sometimes be harder to clean and hard to protect with some dressing. I normally clean these surfaces with a plush microfiber towel and then protect it with something like 303 AP, using the same type of towel. I normally do 2-3 coats so as to get a little darker of a look, which is a bit harder to accomplish on the rough BMW interior surfaces.
Well that’s about it, short and simple :). Hope it helps some of you BMW owners as it has helped me over the years. Thanks as always for reading and please feel free to share some tips of your own.