Lubrication and Maintenance

This section contains information on regular maintenance of your car. It includes both mechanical and appearance information

All information contained in this FAQ is provided by BMW enthusiasts who are not typically fully trained in the art of BMW maintenance. As such, all information in this FAQ is provided "as-is". Any use of this information is strictly the responsibility of the using party. The supplier of the information and the Webmeister assume no liability for incorrect information or use of this information.


Wax on Mouldings

Leather Maintenance

Heavy Duty Cleaning & Adhesive Removal

Paint Touch Up

An Alternative Degreaser

Oxygen Sensor Information


Wax on Mouldings

To get wax on your black rubber moldings is an unfortunate situation. Rubber or plastic for that matter is a very absorbent material that's why it likes to take your wax and hold on to it. There is a product that you can use that removes it quite easily though. It is called #39 Heavy Duty Vinyl Cleaner by Meguiar's. Just take a soft bristle toothbrush and some of this product and go at your moldings. It should remove it rather easily. You can find it at your local Professional Auto Body Paint supply shop.

Source unknown

Another opinion....from: Tom Brown <>

Go to a GM dealer parts department and ask for a can of GM Body Prep. It's a clear solvent that the body shops use for cleaning crap off the paint before they work. I use it to clean bugs, wax and almost anything off my paint. It won't kill the paint, but once you get rid of what you are trying to remove, wipe off the excess with a clean towel and maybe some water. If you get it on a painted surface, you will remove the wax, so re-wax the area.

And yet another opinion by Larry Reynolds Car Care Specialties <>

1. My favorite is Black Again with a top coat of Meguiar #42.

2. Black Again - is a white creamy polymer formulation the gives rubber a jet black color and a soft patena. My only problem with BA is that it doesn't last as long a I think it should. That is why I use the Meguiar #42 on top. This combo seems to really last. BA will also remove the white wax residue that you slopped on the rubber trim.

3. Meguiar #42 - is thick emulsion specifically formulated for black trim areas and tires. Will maintain the black patena without greasy shine. Does not restore color quite as well a Black Again.

4. Harly Tire Nu - many of the old time concour people use harlys. They love it. It maintains rubber for long periods of time and does not turn brown.

5. Meguiar #40 - This is supposed to be for rubber and vinyl - I feel that it works a lot better on vinyl.

6. Tony Nancy Vinyl/Rubber Care - This is a great product. Tony Nancy is a World class restorationist (Pebble Beach Class) and judge. This is his own brew. Does a great job on rubber. I only use it on the exterior as the smell will kill you.

7. One Grand Exterior Rubber - This is similar to the Harly product. Lots of people swear by it.

8.Zymol Vinyl - Better for vinyl than rubber. I think it is too much $, but many people love it. Be aware that Zymol has hooked up with Turtle Wax Co. to produce a new line of K-Mart crowd products with the Zymol name. I call them Zurtle Waxes. They are crap. They come in black or blue containers. I think it isTurtle Wax with pina colada mix thrown in. I got pre-release samples and tested them, hoping for a decent product at areasonable price. Wrong!

9. Tire-Nu - This used to be a GREAT product. The original formula was made in Japan. They now make it in California for the K-Mart crowd and it stinks. They changed the formula to makeit CHEAP. I bought up every case in the country when they discontinued importing it. I now own 2 cans for my personal use.

10. Formula 303 - A good product. It leaves a slicker finishthan I care for, but some people love it.

11. Sonax or Wurth Rubber Care Spray - These are better suited for the rubber gaskets around doors, windows, etc. They rejeuvinate the rubber and help maintain the seal. Should beused twice a year.

12. Sonax PVC Maintenance Spray - A good product that is better for the hard rubber of spoilers and whaletails. Leaves a little more shine to the surface than I care for, but many people swearn by it. Lasts a long time.


Refinishing Leather by Larry Reynolds <>

The care and feeding of the leather and the vinyl components of your automotive interior are two very different processes. If you are using one product on both, that is somewhat like using gasoline as a lubricant. It will work, but not for long. I will cover the care and feeding of leather and vinyl separately.

Leather having once been used to keep the insides of a cow from falling outweighs designed to pass moisture through tiny pores. These tiny pores absorb human perspiration and as the water evaporates, salts contained therein remain to absorb the essential oils in the leather. This accumulation of salts and other grunge should be cleaned from the leather about twice a year(more often if the seats get more than their fair share of your leftover sweat). The loss of oils within the leather is the first step to hardening,cracking and shrinkage. Leather dashes are very prone to hardening and shrinking. Your dash is subjected to the destructive UV rays and heat concentrated by the windshield. The leather (or vinyl) of your dash rests upon a metal backing that acts like a frying pan. This "frying" drives the essential oils from the leather causing premature shrinkage, cracking and hardening. Thus a dash should be treated more often than the seats or door panels.

Cleaning leather may be accomplished by using a mild soap and water, or specifically designed leather cleaner. Of all the products I have tried, I still like Lexol pH Cleaner. It is pH balanced, and gentle. All cleaner swill rehydrate the leftover salts and grime and wash them from the leather fibers. Use only leather products on leather, do not use vinyl cleaners as these products tend to be much harsher and may not be that beneficial to the leather. Any cleaner should be rinsed thoroughly from the leather. I have tried spraying off with a hose, but that just seemed to fill the car with soapy water (a hole drilled in the floor was needed to drain it out - just kidding). I went back to using a damp cloth and repeatedly wiping down the leather. Once the leather is clean, a conditioner should be used to restore lost oils and emollients. There are several conditioners on the market. Two of my favorites over the years are Lexol Conditioner and Tony Nancy Leather Conditioner. These two seem to be the most easily absorbed into the leather fibers and tend to leave a relatively less "greasy" finish than any of the other products I have tried. Another good product is Connoly Hide Food. This product is made from rendered animal parts and will turn rancid in about two years. This and the distinctive "cow" smell removes it from my top two list (I spent too much time milking the south end of a north pointing cow, so am not a fan of cow smells). Zymol makes a product called "Leather Treat". It does not, in my humble opinion, do any better job than the much less expensive Lexol or Tony Nancy products. Again, do not use a vinyl product as a conditioner on leather and above all try to avoid silicone based products. The silicone oil will dissolve out the leather's natural oils and tend make the leather sticky. Silicone has a very high electrostatic attraction, so will invite every dust particle within miles to set up camp in your interior. Apply the conditioner to a soft cloth and work into the leather, allow to be absorbed into the fibers and then buff off the excess. You may condition the leather as often as you wish. The leather will tell you if you apply too much or apply to often. The leather fibers will just not absorb the excess.

If your leather has hardened or needs some intensive softening, there is a really nifty product called "Surflex Leather Soffener". This product is made from natural and synthetic oils that restore the natural softness to neglected leather. Clean the leather and then apply a liberal coat of Soffener. Allow to penetrate the leather for about 24 hours. Wipe off the excess. If it needs an additional application, repeat the above. For really bad areas, cover with plastic and allow to sit for a few days. Once the leather is sufficiently softened, allow to "cure" for another 24 hours and buff off any excess. You are done. I jokingly say this product will turn a dog's rawhide chew into a kid glove. I have had some luck with leather dashes with this method. Once the leather has softened, I have been able cogently tuck it back under the edges of the trim and windshield clips. This is a lot cheaper than a new dash and may be worth a try before spending a ton of money.

If your leather or vinyl has scuff marks, scratches or areas that the surface color had been removed, you may refinish it yourself The key is another Suflex product. The Suflex Colorant & Finish for Flexible Surfaces may be matched to the exact color required. Any interior leather or vinyl surface may be refinished. It is not recommended to spot finish any area. If your seat bolsters have belt loop scuff marks, you should refinish the entire front of the seat. I usually do from welting to welting. This provides a visual break that does not make the non refinished areas appear quite as shabby. But then why not do the whole seat, dash, or door panel? Start by cleaning the area(s) to be refinished with a suitable Organic Solvent. I prefer Wurth Citrus Degreaser or P21S Total Auto Wash. Prior to usage, test all solvents on an area that does not show. I use the excess on the underside of the seat to test colorfastness of the finish. Spray the solvent on a soft lint free cloth, and then wipe down the surface(s). Repeat after a few minutes. Rinse with a damp cloth and allow to dry thoroughly (at least 24 hours). The manufacturer of Surflex says to strip the old finish off using lacquer thinner, commercial paint remover or C-P Stripper. I don't,because most interiors are not in that bad a shape and I have never found it necessary (They also recommend lightly sanding the area prior to usage, I don't do that either - no guts). Mix the Surflex completely and use it like a wood stain. I use a small piece of lint free cloth and work the Surflex into the leather or vinyl just as if I were staining wood. Once the desired color of finish is achieved, allow to dry undisturbed for at least 24 hours. I allow the surface to "harden off" for about 2 weeks before applying any conditioners to leather or vinyl protectants to vinyl parts. I have not had a lot of luck refinishing a dark leather or vinyl a lighter color. The old color tends to show through in small "cracks" and the whole panel seems to be"muddy". Maybe if you strip off all the old finish, it would look better. Someday, I will get an old seat and give it a try.

The Surflex Black Colorant works great on black bumpers, black spoilers or black rubber/vinyl trim that has been scratched or scuffed. Clean the entire part thoroughly with Wurth Citrus Degreaser, rinse and dry thoroughly. Stain the area with the Colorant and allow to dry. It will look like new. After about 3 weeks hardening off, coat with a protective coating of Mequiar #42 Rubber Treatment or Black Again.

Small cuts, cracks or holes in leather may be partially repaired using another Surflex product called Flex-Fill. This is a semi-flexible cosmetic filling material. You use it like a spackle compound. It will take the Surflex colorant similar to leather or vinyl. I have been able to repair several damaged areas and hide them so they are not visible to the casual observer. Will it make a three inch crack in your dash look like new? No,but it may help hide it so that it isn't quite so obvious. I have found that forcing Flex-Fill under the repaired area and forming an inverted T patch works best. Once the patch is dry, sand lightly to blend in with the leather or vinyl. Clean the area thoroughly and refinish with the Surflex Colorant. This is a learned skill, so you should practice on a test piece of leather or vinyl. Perfect your techniques before you tackle your expensive interior.

Vinyl is the carefully prepared hydes of virgin pampered Arctic Naugas. Many Naugas must die to furnish enough material for just one interior panel.

The dash, door panels, seat backs, and numerous other interior/exterior trim pieces are usually vinyl. Vinyl may be viewed as raw semi-liquid vinyls that are held in place by a solid vinyl "skin" (this description is for illustration only and not a PhD chemical dissertation ).The dash and other vinyl parts of your car are constantly bombarded by UV that breaks down the molecules of the skin, allowing the raw vinyls to escape(off-gassing). These free vinyls then may deposit themselves on the glass,forming a haze that is difficult to remove. If you have such a haze, it is probably your dash that has decided to pick up stakes and migrate. Silicone based vinyl dressing products do not usually contain UV protectants,and the silicone may act as a magnifying glass, intensifying the UV degradation. Silicone oil may also dissolve the essential oils in the vinyl skin, hastening the premature formation of cracks in the vinyl skin. A quality vinyl protectant will contain a UV protectant and essential oils to replace lost oils from the vinyl. These protectants are expensive, so the K-Mart specials may do more harm than good. Silicone also has very strong electrostatic attraction which may be considered beneficial in that it will tend to stay where it is placed, but will also attract every dust particle in the surrounding three counties.Any vinyl protectant should be applied to a soft cloth and worked into the surface. After a few moments of allowing it to work into the surface, buff off the excess. The dash should be treated more often than any other area,as it is subject to the most severe attack by UV and heat.

My personal favorite vinyl protectant is Lexol Vinyex Spray. This in mumble opinion has it all. A very strong UV protectant, essential oils,anti-static (helps keep dust off) and a soft patina finish. Harly Polyguard- This used to be my favorite, till I lost my heart to Vinylex. Leaves a touch more shine to the finish than Vinylex. Somethin' Else - This is the sister to Black Again. Has all the right ingredients and people who love it are died in the wool. I prefer the Vinylex, but that only a subjective opinion. It leaves a "new car" smell. I think that is why it is not my favorite. I am not a fan of artificial smells. Harly Interior Magic - Anold standby that leaves a lemon scent. Some people love it. I don't think a car should smell like lemons, but that's my opinion and I could be wrong. Zymol Vinyl - Another tropical oil product. Leaves a pina colada smell. Diehards will defend this product to the death. I just think it is to much$. Meguiar #40 - A great product that cleans and protects. Does not leave a slippery finish. Meguiar #39 - A very strong cleaner. This should be used carefully and very infrequently. It will clean just about anything out of vinyl. Must be followed by #40 or other vinyl protectant. A great cleaner for plastic Targa tops. Tony Nancy Rubber/Vinyl Cleaner- I don't recommend use on the inside. The smell is a bit much for me (reminds me of dead rats). Some people do and swear by it. Sonax Cockpit Spray - This is a German product that is designed for German vinyl. Does a great job, but leaves a little more shine to the surface than I care for. There are a gaggle of users who love it. Wurth Cockpit Spray - ditto above. Wurth people don't like Sonax and vice versa. Formula 303 - This leaves an Armour All type of high gloss shine to the vinyl. I personally don't like this type of finish. Some people do, so feel comfortable using it. All of the above products do not contain silicone.

I hope that the above has shed some light on the subject leather and vinyl care. If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to call or write. If you can't find the products locally, I stock all of them except the Formula 303 and would be glad to send a product description/price package by mail.

Thank you,

Larry Reynolds Car Care Specialties, Inc.

Heavy Duty Cleaning & Adhesive Removal - From: "Steve D'Gerolamo" <>


There are 3 products that I keep on hand and have found to work well forheavy duty cleaning (built up brake dust, cosmoline, tar, etc)....Dupont3812S enamel reducer (a 1 gallon can will last forever), Wurth Citrusdegreaser (can be cut with water up to 9:1 or use full strength forintensive cleaning) and 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner. I use theDupont 3812S for cleaning my wheels, which I take off the car twice a yearfor thorough cleaning...this will easily cut through months of built upbrake dust on the insides of the wheels. Follow with soap (car wash or dishdetergent) and water to remove any chemical residue...apply a coat of waxbefore putting the wheels back on the car. The Wurth degreaser is used forremoving cosmoline and for detailing the engine compartment (this product isvery similar to Zymol Strik but much more economical).

Paint Touch Up by: Filippo Morelli <bilge@East.DELFIN.COM>

I'm sending this to the M list as many of us often wonder how to rid ourselves of nasty paint chips (which stick out like sore thumbs on black cars). If your car is nice enough, you drive with the constant concern of further ruining your car.

The past week, I've been repairing chips with great success. I've repainted the front spoiler completely (I have a fair bit of automotive paint background) and was moving on to the little details. Without a doubt, the average paint novice can repair chips. Here's what I recommend.


- - Touch paint from BMW (no one else).

- - Clearcoat touch up, if your car is multi-stage paint (NOTE: Of course all E28 M5's are single stage Schwartz black. If you own an E34 M5 or M6/635/M535, you may have a two stage paint with clearcoat)

- - toothpicks

- - several clean rags

- - 1000 and 1500 grit wetdry

- - a pencil with fresh erasure head

- - a "cleaner". Make sure it's organic - such as a citrus-based cleanser.

- - some contact spray (ie. 3M spray adhesive)

- - Meguiars #3 (medium cut) or Dupont's product or whatever, so LONG as it's **NOT** rubbing compound AND it's a medium cut POLISH. FYI, Meguiars #9 (or any swirl remover) is not quite up to the job.

- - Zymol HD-Cleanse (highly recommended). If not, Meguiars #7

- - Zymol Carbon wax. If not, a good carnauba wax.

- - Of course, several clean, soft cotton rags.

** NOTE: Choose a spot easy to work on but hard to see, so practice can make perfect for when you decide to tackle the hood ;-)

Prepping the area:

0. First we want to sand any high spots from the chip flush with the paint. This will possibly take a dozen back and forth motions. If you look with good light, you can sand one or two swipes and see a shiny area surrounded by matte sanded paint. This indicates a high spot. If the area around the chip is immediately dull from a couple swipes, there is no high spot.

Go to the sanding section below and set up a 1000 grit sanding block. Follow sanding instructions below. Once the area is matte, move on. NOTE WITH CLEARCOAT it is more difficult to tell. Just do a half dozen swipes with 1000 grit and move on.

1. Clean chip areas thoroughly. This can be done with the cleanser of choice combined with a blotting rag, Q-tip, etc. You may want to run a toothpick along the edges to remove grime built up in the chip. Remember, we basically need to strip the wax out of the area.


2. Dab paint on a palette (cardboard works) and dip toothpick in paint. Get enough that it transfers to the chip - this takes a few trys. Put a THIN COAT of paint in the chip, covering the chip completely. If a little paint gets on the outside of the chip, fear not - we'll be sanding soon. THE IDEA HERE IS TO PUT A THIN "CONTACT" COAT THAT ADHERES TO THE SURFACE AND PROVIDES GOOD GRIP FOR FURTHER COATS.

3. Let dry recommended time. Most touchups can dry in 4 hours before applying more.

4. From here, we want to work on filling the chip so that it is eventually higher than the paint. One can use successive blots with the toothpick, waiting 1/2 hour or so between intervals.

(NOTE - If you have a CLEARCOAT finish, just fill the chip with enough paint to give a solid color. Let paint dry.Then proceed to fill the chip with CLEARCOAT as described in step 4.)

5. Once the chip is filled higher than the original paint, let dry for a day or so. Note the chip only needs to be slighty higher than the original paint. An more than necessary just means more time sanding the chip down, which takes time.

Sanding: [Steps 6 - 13 take approximately 15 minutes per chip]

6. Take the 1000 grit wetdry and spray adhesive on the back. Let sit for a few minutes. Spray adhesive on the rubber tip of the pencil.

7. Cut a centimeter square of wetdry (enough to cover pencil rubber) and stick to pencil. This is your sanding tool.

8. Wet area (water dab) to be sanded. Apply light pressure (don't put twenty pounds of pressure - let the wetdry "cut" like it's suppose to) and stroke the wetdry back and forth over the paint chip. Keep the pencil perpendicular to the surface (flat) and always be on top of the chip (don't swipe completely by the chip). You will sand some of the original paint. Don't fret - this is why we are using 1000 grit. After two or three complete swipes, look closely at the paint. You'll notice the paint mound in the chip is being to dull, as is the paint surrounding the chip. Also, periodically alternate sanding directions. I like to do 0 degree (left to right), 45 deg, and 90 deg. This alleviates several problems, the largest is that you want to sand the chip evenly and your strokes (and area) do not perform this if you only go in one direction.

9. Keep the area damp/wet and change sanding squares after 20 or 30 sanding swipes (when the wetdry dulls). Every 10 swipes or so, check your progress. The idea is to sand the area until it is smooth. Use your fingers to feel the area. Look for a shiny lowspot surround the chip (where the wetdry is not touching the original paint around the chip since the chip is the high spot). I run through approximately a half dozen squares per chip.

10. Once the chip area is fairly smooth, set up some 1500 grit wetdry in the same way as steps #6 and #7. Wet area and sand 15 or 20 swipes perpendicular to direction of the small scratches caused by the 1000 grit.11. Clean area with water. Take the medium cut (i.e. Meguiars #3) and place a dime dab on your fingers. Wipe back and forth with medium pressure, covering several inches around and including chip. Wipe area dry. Look closely. If it is dull or scratches still exist, do again. Note, do this with your fingers since 1) you can feel the area and know what is going on and 2) it cuts much less paint.

12. Once the area is polished, use Zymol HD-Cleanse to remove microscopic scratches and rejuvenate oils in the paint. Again, wipe back and forth, but this time with LIGHT pressure. 15 or 20 swipes should do it. Wipe dry with cloth. Turn over to clean area of cloth and buff.

** At this point, the area should look good. If you are satified, move ahead. If you feel the chip area is still high, go back to step #6 and work ahead.

13. Apply Zymol wax (or good carnauba wax). Wipe area dry with a different cloth (not the one with the polish!). Turn cloth over to dry area and buff.

An Alternative Degreaser - Robert J. (Rob) Lentini

The following article was picked up from the BMW Motorcycle Digest. While it was written for motorcycle cleaning, it should apply to an parts that require degreasing.

Mix in 1/3 parts...

1. Liquid Tide

2. Ammonia

3. White Vinegar

Mix this concentrate 1 part this stuff to two parts water. Spray on greasy sections of a cold motorcycle. Let stand 5 minutes. Rinse and wash the bike. Works great! Take it from an ARCC!