We all like to keep our cars looking and feeling tip top, right? A proper petrolhead doesn't mind spending extra on matching premium tyres, the OE-recommended oil, perhaps the odd tank of super unleaded to show you care. Though the BMW is so much more valuable than anything else I've ever owned, I've been keen to maintain it as well as possible. This is someone who spent £400 on tyres for a Civic that cost them £800, after all...
I was told the 335i would need a brake fluid refresh a few weeks after purchase from North Oxford (due in October, bought in August); not ideal but also not the end of the world, as it wasn't going to cost loads. Which is where the fun of the past couple of months really started. My local BMW service centre at Park Royal took the car in, only to report back a couple of hours later that the fluid couldn't be changed owing to "three of the four bleed nipples are seized and could possibly snap off". The solution was two new front brake calipers, at a cost of £1,370.94. Which wouldn't be covered under the approved used warranty, because the car had been outside (!) and this was inevitable wear.
I was livid. The low or old fluid must have been picked up in the "full vehicle preparation and stringent inspection" promised with an approved used BMW, because it was mentioned at sale. At the time I didn't think much of it, but it's hard not to be a bit cynical a few months later. Brake fluid shouldn't be a hard job (should it?), and if the work needed doing in eight weeks then it would make sense to refresh as part of the sale prep; that is, assuming the car didn't need front brake calipers when you've gone to do the change...
Having spoken to Birds BMW about a more affordable fix (half the price, in fact), Park Royal - without me making a fuss, I might add - came back and said that in actual fact the work could be done under warranty because brakes are a safety issue. Which was weird. But credit where it's due, the service there was very good, with regular updates and a clean car at the end. Plus, a 3 Series Touring with shiny new calipers, fresh fluid and an ever so slightly firmer brake pedal.
Then it gets really good. The vehicle inspection from BMW had shown the rear tyres were down to 3.5mm; they didn't need urgently doing, but with winter approaching at this point it seemed the ideal opportunity to ditch the run flats I'd always planned to. The previous owner certainly hadn't skimped, with Continental SportContact 5 SSRs on each corner, but I never wanted to keep them on the car because nobody has anything good to say about performance cars on RFTs. So, I bought a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4s; they were recommended by a lot of people, I've always had good experience with Michelins, and what's a credit card for if not buying nice things for your car?
With £652 paid (thank you discount day), I went to Kwik Fit on a Sunday morning expecting a speedy turnaround on the fresh rubber - rookie mistake, obviously. Whenever the front wheels had been put back on - say, for replacing the brake calipers - the nuts had been massively overtightened. Two hours, some large tools, and a lot of swearing later, only the front left had come off - the front driver's side wouldn't budge. At all.
I was sent away to get a new locking wheel nut key, so that meant another trip to Park Royal. Only issues there being that the nuts on my car weren't what they should have been, and the master set of locking wheel nut keys at the service centre was damaged - you couldn't make it up. Again, however, the staff were extremely helpful, and the key that appeared to be the correct one was, mercifully, the right one when it turned up a week later.
The entertainment wasn't over, though, because the nuts were on so tight that even the new key couldn't entirely solve the problem. In truth I'm glad I didn't see what Kwik Fit had to do to prize them off, but in finally freeing that front-left wheel it had ruined the locking wheel nut there, so another set of four was required. All in with the key and putting the tracking right (again) it meant another £205 on top of the tyres. As well as the expense and hassle of going back and forth between tyre fitters and service centres. Suffice it to say I wasn't especially pleased. I then got home on my fresh Michelins and kerbed the driver's side wheel, just in case it hadn't been through enough. I almost cried.
More happily, the new tyres are indeed fantastic. Imagine if they weren't! A softer sidewall means improved refinement and comfort over the Contis, yet without a loss in grip or response - though, admittedly, that's comparing new tyres with not so fresh ones. If not exactly worth the palaver, the tyres feel the right choice for the 335i right now. And the Michelin font looks cool. Elsewhere the Touring continues to impress, which is why the issues not directly related to it are all the more frustrating. I just want to enjoy my car! That said, with the brake and tyres woes now behind us, it should be full steam ahead, starting with a trip to Caffeine & Machine for our Christmas Sunday Service. It'll be my first meet with the car, and I'm really looking forward to sharing it with like-minded folk. Just don't look at that driver's side wheel...
Car: 2014 BMW 335i M Sport Touring (F31)
Run by: Matt
Bought: August 2021
Mileage: 43,876 (39,995 at purchase)
Purchase price: £19,500
Last month at a glance: Tyred of wheel woes
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