BMW's Condition-Based Servicing gives me a surprise after a road-trip

Brake pad life dropped from about 5000 km to 700 km in one short weekend drive.

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Another Weekend Drive, and Life with CBS

Condition Based Servicing (CBS) is BMW's way of doing car maintenance. With my experiences so far, I am not a fan of CBS for sure. But more on that later.

This weekend, we did another drive with @robimahanta to Chikmagalur. This was a "family drive" with I am my better half in my 320d and Robi and his better half in his M340i. It was quite a simple drive and agenda. We just drove to Chikmagalur, relaxed in a resort and drove back the next day. Although this drive was short, the traffic was quite bad (long weekends and summer vacations mean terrible traffic everywhere) and it was not exactly a relaxed drive on the onward journey. While returning, we took the longer but much more scenic and peaceful route via Tarikere, Hosadurga and Hiriyur, and it was a much nicer and more enjoyable drive on the return leg.

Sharing a few pictures from this drive below.

On a scenic section of roads near Chikmagalur:

Our cars parked in the resort:

A random shot of the cars in the resort:

My favourite shot of the weekend - sunset from our room balcony in the resort:

Overall it was a fun drive. Final touches of drama were added by some really heavy rain that we encountered upon returning to Bangalore. We had to drive through some crazy rain and extremely poor visibility on a NICE road, and when we reached Hosur road, we had to deal with the usual waterlogging on the road. It was a scary experience to manage that situation and find our way out of that mess. Somehow we managed to reach home safely without any damage.

Although we reached home safe and fine and enjoyed the weekend drive, the next time I started the car, I was alerted by a service alert for service due at 700 km. This was a surprise because no such immediate service was due when I started the weekend drive. Welcome to the funny ways of CBS.

When I checked the iDrive for details of service requirements, I saw below two requirements:

Brake pads life dropped from about 5000 km to 700 km in one short weekend drive:

Oil consumption is more linear and predictable in comparison, but it still dropped a bit too fast:

Basically, this drive turned out to be a bit brutal on the car. With the crazy traffic on the highway, we often had to brake frequently and had to accelerate again to make progress whenever we found some open section. Thus, the drive had plenty of accelerations followed by braking, which is not ideal, but that is how it was. And that meant my service intervals dropped rapidly. It especially took a toll on the front brake pads.

But nevertheless, as is often discussed in various BMW threads and groups, the brake pads life predicted by CBS is quite meaningless. It can suddenly drop from 5000km to 500km in one drive, and that is almost exactly what happened to me.

While this would still not have been a problem in normal circumstances, for me, it did pose a problem this time. With my back-to-back driving schedules, I had planned another long drive (of about 1200km) soon. And now there is no way I can go on that drive before I change my brake pads. I had to revert to Plan B for that drive, and quickly booked an appointment for servicing at the BMW service centre.

This just shows the perils of the surprises thrown by CBS. While BMWs are extremely reliable (I keep saying and I still say that the F30 is as reliable as a Maruti), and are perfect cars for long interstate drives, this frequent service routine does pose a problem from time to time. The oil change comes anywhere at about 9,000km to 10,000km intervals (depending on driving conditions), and the brake pads last anywhere between 15,000km to 25,000km. These intervals are already quite short, but to make it worse, the CBS can throw the brake pads change alert suddenly and can catch you by surprise at any time, and can ruin your immediate driving plans if you have any.

So this is how life is with CBS. Thankfully, I got a quick appointment at the service centre (the service centre folks were very quick to return my calls and gave me an appointment as soon as possible), and I will get the service done ASAP.

While I have mixed feelings about the CBS at best, the car by itself is still a lovely car. In spite of many back-to-back weekend drives, I never get bored of driving this car, and every drive is always a pleasure.

I will take care of the maintenance next week and then I have a few more "monsoon drives" to look forward to in the coming months.

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