My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport: 8 years and 92,000 km update

Transmission oil change requests are very rare & the only time the service centre does it is for accident vehicles or cars that come in with complaints like a hydrostatic lock.

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8 years – 92,000 kms update

Just completed the 8th year of ownership in December with the ODO reading around 92,000 kms. The car continues to perform flawlessly with no issues faced since the last update. The well-designed CBS (condition based service) prompts on the car’s iDrive along with excellent and professional service support from Navnit Motors Airport Road centre (Now KUN Exclusive) has made the ownership experience very pleasant indeed. I did not opt for BSI. Credit to BMW for keeping the service costs reasonable for non-BSI customers and for not penalizing them for not taking their packages. I find their service costs quite reasonable for this class of car. After 5th year discounts start kicking in, which increase as the car gets older. An 8-year-old car gets a discount of about 15 to 18% on service bills (parts and labour).

BMW does not have an official oil change interval for certain components like gearbox and AWD parts like transfer cases and differentials. I thought of getting these done given the age and mileage of the car. During the last service, the EGR cooling system replacement was done under warranty proactively by the service centre. The coolant was also replaced when this was done as per their SOP. So that was one fluid that was taken of, which is also a sealed-for-life policy of BMW.

Transmission and AWD comps oil change requests are very rare apparently and the only time the service centre does it is for accident vehicles or vehicles that come in with complaints like hydrostatic lock. The transmission oil is quite expensive. The complex ZF8 takes in almost 9 litres of new oil after the old oil is drained out. The oils are quite expensive given that they are designed to last for very long periods. The entire job cost me about Rs. 80k (parts + labour). Expensive, I know, but given how expensive these parts are to replace should any of them fail, I feel it was worth the expense.

I was also quite apprehensive about going for this job as it is quite a complex affair. It was quite reassuring to have BHPian Chethan B G by my side when we were having discussions with their technical team about the process etc.. as he was also getting these done for his X1 and had done a fair bit of research as well. They had saved some of the oil extracted from the transmission and diffs to show me and as expected these were almost fully black in colour. Job well done I presume.

I have driven almost 2000 kms post the oil change and everything is working as smooth as silk. The transmission does feel a wee bit smoother in its shifts. Or maybe it's just a placebo! I don’t think I will be selling this car anytime soon. Cars like this are rare and very very difficult to replace. I saved a good sum by not opting for BSI and 6th year warranty. So this is money well spent I feel. I think I am set for the next 8 years provided the Government allows me to run my 'highly polluting car' on the road!

The transmission oil

The oil for AWD parts

Other updates

The typical F series BMW issue of sticky door handles showed up on the drive-side door handle. The original part has a soft rubber top layer that usually starts crumbling over time. I found a fully plastic replacement part for some 2000 bucks on Amazon. So decided to give it a try before going to the A.S.S. for a solution (who seemed clueless btw as to which child part to order). It was a perfect colour match and a perfect fit! Took all of five minutes to install. The quality of the plastic is good too, which is important since it is an important touch point.

The worn out door handle

After the installation of new plastic handle

The Yoko Advans on the front axle needed replacement. Reached out to Madhus and was happy to be told that fresh stocks of Michelin PS3s were available. I had used up 2 sets of PS3s on the Laura and absolutely loved these tyres. While they were installing these, they told me that the rear PS4s were also on their last days, probably another 1000 to 1500 kms left. Decided to change the rears also as it did not make sense to go all the way for tyres again within a month or so. Another reason why I did not want to defer the rear tyre purchase was because of the way the X drive AWD works.

Ever since I got the staggered 19” set up, I have realised that the rear tyres wear out twice as quickly as the front tyres. The front Yokos lasted almost 40k kms, whereas the rear Yokos lasted 20K kms after which they were replaced with Michelin PS4s. The PS4s also lasted only 21K odd kms. At this point, if I did not change the rear tyres, then I would be running on brand-new PS3s in the front and nearly worn PS4s in the rear.

The X drive system is very sensitive to tyre diameters. It needs all 4 tyres to be around the same wear level or the same outer diameter. Difference in the wear level result in a small difference in the overall outer diameter of the tyres which makes the system go wonky and can potentially result in damage to the transfer case. I did not want to risk it, so decided to change the rear tyres also and decided to forego the last 5 to 8% of tyre life. The decision to switch to staggered 19s has proven to be quite expensive in this regard. The 18s, which allow for 4 tyre rotations, would easily last 35k kms going by how the last set of 18s were going. I still have them and use them whenever I am going on trips with very bad roads. The rear 19s last only 20k kms and are very expensive as well. But I feel there is a huge difference in the way the car behaves with the 19” BBS rims compared to how it does with the 18” TL tyres and stock rims. The BBS rims are very light and have a slightly different offset. This has a very positive effect on steering feel, overall grip and handling delivering a sporty feel at the wheel.

MO = Mercedes Original

I had always felt that the engine responded the best with Reliance diesel. After the price hikes by private retailers, I moved back to PSU diesel. Few months back after the prices cooled off, I decided to try Reliance once again (now Jio BP). Makes a huge difference I must say in terms of engine noise, smoothness, mileage and power. I am now exclusively running on diesel from Jio BP. In the interest of good health and longevity of engine internals, I am using BMW's diesel additive extensively. Almost 1 bottle per alternate fill of 60 litres of diesel.

If there is one feature that I have made maximum use of, it has to be the switchable drive modes and in that the adaptive suspension, that firms up in sports mode and stays compliant in comfort mode. In comfort mode on fast highways, there is a bit of bobbing and wafting that is completely eliminated by switching to sports mode. Also, the car feels very agile while switching lanes etc… Whereas in sports mode the ride feels jiggly the moment the road surface deteriorates or when you are trundling slowly within city limits.

Having that switch at your disposal to alter the suspension characteristics based on the road and mood situation is just brilliant. Also, the ability to configure the sports mode for the drive train and suspension independently is God sent. I hardly use drive-train sports mode these days on the highway. The power and torque in the default comfort mode is more than adequate for usual cruising at whatever speeds I like. It is only during stretches like the Hubli Dharwad two lane stretch, where I feel the need to complete quick overtaking maneuvers is when I usually switch into the sports plus mode where the drive train also goes into sporty settings along with the suspension.

On the occasion of completion of 8 years decided to make use of the clay kit and Collinite 845 wax bottle that I had ordered long back and left unopened. Impressed with BMW’s exterior paint quality. Apart from the inevitable stone chips, the paint surface has not weathered one bit. The all-black interiors + cloth and leather combination seats also work very well and hardly show any sign of ageing. My usage pattern of monthly highway drives + occasional weekend drives has made sure that I haven’t got bored of this car at all. We have never owned any car beyond 8 years or 80,000 kms. But it looks like this car is going to set some unbreakable records as far car ownership is concerned.

After waxing

Some images from a recent trip

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