COAL Update: 2018 BMW 740e

A view of a 2018 BMW 740e in a driveway

It’s been a year since we checked in on my current COAL, so let’s see what has gone wrong since the warranty ended.

Nothing, I’m happy to report! We are at 72,000 miles, covering about 33,000 miles in the past 12 months.

The auto headlights do seem to be overly sensitive these days, or maybe I just never noticed this previously. They seem to go on and off a couple of times at dusk before deciding to stay on.

Early in 2022, a piece of debris flew up on the interstate from the car in front of me. It happened too quickly to be sure what it was.

The debris busted out the driver side “kidney” grille and ripped off the front license plate holder (which I think looks better, we don’t use front license plates in my state). There is also a small wavy dent in hood. I see it every day, but most people would probably not notice it. I thought about paintless dent removal, but haven’t gotten around to it.

The dealer quoted $700 to replace the kidney grille. I ordered online from another dealer for $100, and swapped it out myself in about 30 seconds. You just depress some clips along the top, the top swings outward towards you, and you lift it out.

A BMW kidney grille

Blue slats unique to the 740e; the small dent is a few inches to the right and just higher than the emblem.

I could have bought a used kidney grille cheaper on eBay, but, my kidneys have blue chrome trim in between the ribs, since my car is a hybrid. The first blue chrome “spear” at each end is part of the kidney grille, but each blue chrome “spear” in between is on the grille shutters that open and close (which are not part of the kidney grille, and thankfully were not damaged).

I figured the car was new and nice enough, I should spring for the right grille. I also could have replaced both kidneys with aftermarket black kidney grilles for about the same money, but I’m kind of partial to the chrome kidneys (and would still have the blue spear missing at each end).

After the bumper to bumper warranty ended, I quit going to the dealer for service. Their oil change price (up from $89 last year to $119 now) is fair enough, but, they won’t give a loaner out of warranty. And, there is no “quick lane” for oil changes. You just sit and sit if you are “waiting”. I could Uber back and forth, or get my wife to follow me….

I decided a quick change place was fine, with the right oil and filter. A local chain carries better products than most, so I roll through there for Castrol Edge Euro 0w30. I bought some BMW filters online and keep a couple in the trunk. They give a $10 credit if you bring your own filter. I pass them a couple of times a day, so I swing in if there’s no line when it’s time.

BMW underhood label

Another reason I prefer this route: the dealer uses the latest 0w20 “backwards compatible” BMW oil for gas engines released in 2017, called BMW Longlife 17 FE+, but my 2018 car has a sticker under the hood that says “SAE 0w30”. I don’t know why that is, but for longevity’s sake I’d rather go with the 0w30.

BMW EPA label underhood

Another interesting quirk: my car’s EPA sticker under the hood states it is “2016” model year compliant. Was my (slow selling 7 Series eDrive) powertrain built that long before the car? The door jamb sticker says “11/2017”, and the build sheet says the car was completed on November 21, 2017. Perhaps the earlier completion of the powertrain explains the 0w30 sticker.

The car calls for a change in 10,000 miles when the service interval is reset, but then it stretches out to about 12,000 miles. Maybe this is due to it taking hybrid/electric miles into account (overall I think about 20% of my miles are electric), or my highway miles (and therefore relatively few cold starts some days), or maybe both. My last dealer change was at 43,xxx miles and the next change was called for at 55,xxx miles. After that was 65,xxx miles, but it looks like we’ll make it to 77,xxx this time.

I check the oil regularly (which can only be done from the dash in “P” or “N”, no dipstick at all unfortunately), and it is always close to “Full” when it is time for a change. I’m still not keen on the idea of no physical dipstick. Anyone have any ideas why some cars leave off the dipstick? Is it to save money? Prevent possible contamination of the oil?

The Pirelli P Zero All Season’s I spoke of last December were down to the wear bars at 60,000 miles, about 32,000 miles of wear. I replaced them with Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus II, a little softer riding and squishier feeling, but that suits me fine. I wasn’t searching them out particularly, just got a great deal on them online, about $160 each.

Free shipping and installation was part of the sale too, with drop shipping to a local Firestone. Despite making a morning installation appointment online, Firestone said they would need the car “all day” (when I had planned to just wait). My wife was out of town, so I had to Uber home and Uber back to get the car, effectively adding $8.00 to the price of each tire ($16 home, and $16 back to get the car).

Gas mileage average in the 62,000 miles I have owned it is now 42.6 mpg, pretty darn good (I have never reset one of the trip meters). Of course that includes plugging it in, so there’s the electrical cost. Using the electrical rates at my house, each pure electric mile works out to about 5 cents of electricity, and then you have many more miles in each tank of regenerative braking. On an interstate trip with no plugging in, I’ll still get about 10% of the miles with regenerative braking (40 miles of pure electric on a 425 mile tank of gas, for example).

When gas prices were so high, it was a nice reprieve from the pump. The tank holds just under 12 gallons, so the car urgently demands a fill up starting at 49 miles of range (and locks you out of the infotainment screen when it reaches 29 miles of range remaining).

I started a new job with a local government, and I earn an extra paid vacation day a month, or twelve a year, for “clean commuting” with my PHEV. Pretty nice perk! Biking, riding the bus, and of course pure BEV’s count as well. Hybrids do not count under the policy. They do not have car charging stations at the office, though, for the employees.

Chevy Bolt

They do have a handful of Chevy Bolts, which I rarely see move.

A group of white government vehicles

I would love to poll everyone to see why they would rather take an F150, Equinox, Focus, or Escape over the Bolts, which appear to be the other choices.

A freshly washed BMW

After a very cold wash and wipe down on Dec. 26

Living in a townhome now, with a shared “woonerf” (as seen in the lead picture), I don’t have a place to wash the car. There is a good soft cloth car wash a few blocks away, but they don’t “detail” it the way I like. I pay for the $7 “ride through” wash, and then pull into a city park next to the wash to dry it, detail the wheels, wipe down the door jambs, use my preferred tire gloss, etc. So that’s been a pretty cheap and easy compromise.

Happy New Year to all, and I’ll check in with the other COALs in the near future.