How to Follow the BMW Maintenance Schedule

Mia Bevacqua
June 18, 2018

BMW maintenance schedule

If you’ve listened to your mechanic or read auto repair advice on our site or others, you likely know you’re supposed to follow the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual

But if you own a BMW, you have a different set of digital service schedules — these aren’t the same as the regular mileage- or time-based intervals you’re used to. How do you make sense of it all?

Understanding BMW service indicators

BMW’s high-tech cars go beyond the traditional time and mileage maintenance schedules. Instead, the German automaker has two interval-tracking systems. These are referred to as Condition Based Servicing (CBS) and the Service Interval Indicator (SII).

Condition Based Servicing

The CBS service indicator was first introduced on the 7 Series in 2002. This system does not calculate service life on time and miles alone. Instead, it also monitors select components for wear. The CBS system keeps track of the following items:

Engine oil: The engine control module determines oil life based on fuel consumption and oil condition. There’s an actual oil quality sensor.

Cabin air filter: The service life for the cabin air filter is set at 32,000 miles. The climate control module can modify this schedule when it deems necessary. It takes into account different parameters, such as ambient air temperature and blower fan speed.

Brake fluid: The system determines brake fluid life based on time — 24 months, to be exact. 

Brake pads: To calculate brake pad wear, the stability control module looks at miles, vehicle speed and brake usage. It also monitors the condition of the brake pads via sensors.

Spark plugs: The spark plug replacement interval is mileage-based, at 100,000 miles.

Particulate filter (diesel engines): Particulate filter life is mileage-based.

Transmission fluid and oxygen sensors: The CBS system monitors these items based on mileage, although it does not alert the driver when service is due. Instead, this information must be retrieved using a diagnostic scan tool.

The CBS system will light up an icon on your dashboard when it determines one or more services are due. Each symbol is designed to indicate a specific service. For example, an oil can pops up when an oil change is needed.

If your BMW has the iDrive system, you will instead see on its monitor the number of miles before a certain service is needed. You can also see either a green “OK” next to the service, or a yellow triangle, indicating the service is due.

» LEARN MORE: How often should you get your oil changed?

Service Interval Indicator

BMW vehicles built before 2002 may have the SII system. With this design, service life is based mostly on time and miles, although fuel consumption and driving habits are also taken into account.

Like the CBS system, SII displays an icon when service is required. Icons are shown for oil change services, brakes, coolant and brake fluid. 

There are also two messages labeled Inspection I and Inspection II. Inspection I indicates the vehicle needs an oil change, cabin filter and visual inspection. Inspection II means an oil change is due, along with a cabin filter, air filter, spark plugs and, for diesel vehicles, a fuel filter.

A special tool is required to reset the SII indicator.

Get your car diagnosed by a professional

Don't rely only on the service indicators

While SII is a bit antiquated, CBS is one of the better service indicator systems on the market. It’s still a good idea, however, to keep track of the time and mileage between maintenance services. BMW recommends using synthetic oil in its engines. If you do this, a 10,000-mile interval isn’t out of the question.

Even though BMW vehicles no longer have dipsticks, it’s still a good idea to check the digital oil display periodically. Also, look under the vehicle for leaks, and check the accessible under-hood fluids — coolant and brakes.

Mia Bevacqua

About the Author

Mia Bevacqua is an automotive expert with ASE Master, L1, L2 and L3 Advanced Level Specialist certification. With 13-plus years of experience in the field, she applies her skills toward writing, consulting and automotive software engineering.

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