New / Old BMW question about flushing

I just got a '99 528i (it is green). After taking it in to the dealer for the inspection II (it is at 95K) he told me that the following should be done, as a matter of course:

- break fluid flush

- Radiator flush

and that the spark plugs should be changed at 100K (since they only last that long)

Is the breaks and coolant a required “regular maintenance” or and I getting hosed by the dealer, or could this just be a “let’s be conservative on the car with unknown history”


Do you have a manual? What does it say?

Certainly doesn’t seem excessive to do any of these at 95k if you have no records.

TIA, BMW recommends that you flush your Brake fluid every two years on these cars, so you’re well overdue. Contaminated older fluid can cause trouble with your quite expensive ABS system so that should be done. The cooling system should be serviced as well. The cooling system is a weak point on these cars and in addition to flushing the radiator it should be carefulyl inspected along with the water pump and the thermostat housing.

Many folks in the BMW community recommend replacing the water pump, thermostat and radiator every 100k as preventative maintenance, but most folks balk at that idea. I would suggest instead you simply flush the radiator and keep an eye from here on out on the temp gauge. If you see it reach the 3/4 mark or higher you should immediately shut the car off and tow it in for service. These cars warp the cylinder heads very easily when overheated.

Also, by ‘dealer’, is this a factory BMW dealer, or a used car dealer? Make sure you’re dealing with someone who knows these cars well. An independent mechanic would likely be cheaper, and could be better. Check if there’s a local BMW club, they can help point you to good mechanics.

Both of these services sound like a good idea to me.

There should be a maintenance schedule in the owner’s documentation. If you read it you can save a lot of money by avoiding unnecessary service.

Been that way for BMW 20+years.Every 2 years brake and coolant.

Brake flush yes, coolant flush no. But do drain the coolant and replace it with fresh, just don’t flush.

I agree with Kieth. No need to flush the radiator, just drain and replace the coolant. The BMW owner’s manual does not give a frequency for coolant replacement, but the container of BMW branded coolant says it should be replaced every three years.

You can do this yourself. Just buy some distilled water and a gallon of BMW coolant. It is not critical that you get ALL the coolant out. Just make sure that you get out two gallons or so. The hardest part is bleeding all the air out of the system. Don’t be surprised if you have to bleed it 2 or 3 times on different days. Watch the temperature carefully after the first bleed. An air pocket in the water pump or thermostat can cause it to overheat.

I had a new radiator fail after only two years because my name-brand coolant attacked the seal between the plastic end-tanks and the aluminum radiator. Now I pay the $$$ and get BMW branded coolant.

You could probably do the brake fluid replacement yourself as well, though it may not be worth it to you for what a shop would charge. Brake fluid is nasty to work with. If you do it, use a pressure bleeder, not the “stroking the brake pedal” method. An inexpensive pressure bleeder is about $40. If you have standard antilock brakes and stability control, you can do it. If you have the optional stability control (I forget what it is called), the manual warns that the brakes should be flushed out only by a dealer.

I have three BMWs in the garage ranging from 60k miles to 230k miles, so I have done about every maintenance procedure you can think of on a BMW.

I change my spark plugs more often than 100k miles. I do them any time after 50k miles when I get around to it.

The bad news, which I am surprised that the dealer did not mention, is that at 95k miles, you are just about due for four new oxygen sensors. If your Check Engine lights up any time in the next 10k miles, complaining of anything having to do with the mixture or the catalytic converter, you can bet that the real problem is that your oxygen sensors are getting old and sluggish. That will be about $500 for four sensors, but you can definitely replace those yourself. All it takes is a set of ramps and an end-wrench. You will need to borrow a tool to reset the check engine light.

What kind of BMW’s do you have Manolito? Which one has the 230K miles? How are your water pumps holding up? (I already have a sneaking suspicion the one with 230K is an E30 haha)

#1 read the owner's manual, it will tell you want should be done and when.  Don't skip what it says and consider any recommendation from the dealer or other mechanical service as suspect if they recommend anything more.

Yes radiators (cooling systems) do require fluid replacement.  It usually includes a flush.  Brakes also generally require fluid replacement/flush.  Both are important.  Failure to do the cooling system can cost you a lot of money later, failure to do the brakes can cost you your life.

“Dealer” means local “full price” (certified) new car dealer. Though the idea of finding a “reasonable price” local person who knows BWM;s fromthe local club is a good idea

Two '97 328s for the college-aged daughters. One stick, one automatic. Great cars. Water pumps last about 150k miles, same as they did on my previous fleet (240 Volvos) .

Wifemobile is a '04 330. She loves it. Sport suspension on the 330 was rough on our 55-year-old bodies until we replaced the original Continental tires with Michelin Pilot Sport tires. That really smoothed and quieted the ride.

I drive the last remaining Volvo, a '91 wagon. Gotta have one hauler around the house.

When a BMW tech is given either a Inspection I or Inspection II he is also given a check-list for the year-model he is working on,very formal.I would like to compare the check-list with the owners manual.My Service Manager always had us do coolant replacement (yes it was a drain and fill,flush was never done) every 2 years and I believe the check-list supported this,and CPO cars had be documented that coolant replacement was on schedule,by Manager and Tech signature.