i was told to do this a year ago…
…but sometimes shit happens, ya know?
there was a bit of concern behind it. part of it was financial – i needed a new battery, and i knew damn well it would be pricey (as in around $300 pricey). also, my bmw is the first generation with start/stop technology, whereby, for fuel efficiency reasons, the car will shut off when it’s not moving to save gas. it starts back up when you let off the brake. the newer BMW’s, like my wife’s, have a button to disable this feature. mine doesn’t. but the previous owner, i’m guessing, was so annoyed by this that they had it permanently disabled on the car, which is awesome for me.
but i was afraid swapping the battery might reset this. i only recently was able to verify it wouldn’t. so, from there, it was game on. except the recent remodel and impending holidays meant i was super strapped for cash, so i decided it would have to wait. my bmw guru told me that as i prolonged this, and the battery grew weaker, it would start to do “odd stuff”, which may include shutting down certain features to allow the power for said “luxuries” to be used by more pressing concerns, like keeping the engine running.
so when a couple weeks ago i was literally just sitting in my car, with nothing on or running, and then i heard a pleasant sounding chime that was coupled with a rather unpleasant message on the main display screen, “CHARGE THE BATTERY”, i knew that the time was growing short. a few days later a client at the shop mentioned that he had to remove the backseat and use his small kid to get at it because they let it die all the way and the battery is in the trunk where the latch is all electronic with no “free yourself from the grasp of your abductor” handle like you see in other vehicles…
made in glow-in-the-dark plastic, of course
it repeated the “CHARGE BATTERY” message last week, and after some other odd things where the door didn’t unlock right or the radio switched to easy listening and wouldn’t let me change it or adjust the volume (not making that up), the tilt steering went into the upright and locked position and STAYED there, so i felt like i was driving a UPS van versus a BMW five series. the ufc agreed to just get me a battery for part of my xmas, and so i started trying to find one. my bmw guru said it had to be a 105Ah (power rating on the battery), and it had to be AGM (advance glass mat, which refers to how the battery holds internal power) and there are no batteries that match both those descriptions at any auto parts store in my area, period. same with the battery place.
so i had to call BMW. they had one, and it was $325, minus the core charge of $25 (i.e. you give them your old battery) so $300 (plus tax, of course). but after he told me about this, he asked for my VIN, and then said, “well, i have good news and bad news”.
“bad first”, i replied.
“well”, he continued, “your car didn’t come from the factory with a 105Ah, battery, it came with a 90Ah, which BMW no longer makes, but we have a 92Ah, which is $50 more, it’s $375 minus the core, so $350. good news is, you can find 90Ah AGM batteries all day at auto parts places and they’re typically cheaper than us, so you could always go that way”.
so the next day i emptied out my trunk, which took a bit since it was still full of tools and such from doing the shop remodel projects, and then had to remove more than half the trunk panels to get to it. i had been told they make it hard to get to AND a bit intimidating looking so most folks won’t try to change it themselves because if you touch a wire to the metal trunk part the wrong way at the wrong time you could fry something pretty good. and while it did look daunting…
under all that was a fucking autozone battery. yep, the previous owner actually HAD swapped the battery before me, which seemed odd because i got the car with less than eighty thousand miles on it, but had racked up another 125,000+ since. and the battery still hadn’t died, just started to show its age. so i just got the exact same autozone battery and we were off to the races, and for about $100 less than the BMW option and it’s a 95Ah, not a 92Ah. i’d call that win/win.