Only Fix What’s Broken: BMW’s CBS Explained

Everyone has heard the “conventional wisdom” that cars should be serviced at specific mileage or time intervals, regardless of what type of vehicle it is or how it is driven. Starting back in 2002, however, BMW started to challenge that approach with a system called Condition Based Service (CBS) that started out on just a few models, and has since rolled out to the rest of the fleet. If you buy a BMW today, it will have the CBS system installed.

But what is CBS, and how does it work? And what does that mean for you?  Since Autoworks of Brandon is a BMW service and repair shop for the Tampa area, we wanted to break it down for you.

CBS is a monitoring system that pays close attention to every major system in the vehicle, including the traditional oil levels, the cabin air filter, wear on the front and rear brake pads, and the condition of the brake fluid and spark plugs, to name a few. And while it does factor in those traditional time and mileage components as well, it is designed to give a more accurate recommendation about when the vehicle really needs to go in for service. And beyond just a light noting that you’re due for an “oil change,” the system is designed to give more specific feedback about what parts need to be serviced or replaced, and which parts are fine for now.

In general, the system makes suggestions based on:

  • Engine oil is monitored by the DME/DDE engine control module, with oil change times recommended based on the actual fuel consumption and oil quality.
  • The cabin air filter is monitored by a climate control module, with an estimated life of around 32,000 miles. But input from devices such as the rain sensor, ambient air temperature sensor, fan speed, air circulation, driving speed, heater usage, and time and distance since the last oil change will all be considered as well, and will impact when the system suggests changing it out.
  • The front and rear brake pad wear is monitored by the DSC stability control module, and suggestions for this system are based on factors such as the number miles driven, vehicle speeds, and brake usage.
  • Brake fluid life and spark plug life are two systems that have remained time and distance based, with a reminder to change the brake fluid every 24 months and the spark plugs every 100,000 miles.

You can access all this information, and see the data on your vehicle and estimates of when recommendations will be made. BMW programmed the system to give 4 weeks of notice when it determines the vehicle needs service, so you have plenty of time to schedule with your local shop, so checking the numbers manually isn’t required. But for those who want to take a more hands-on approach, the iDrive Control Display will give you a visual look at which components are currently okay, which are up for service, and even which might need to be checked for repairs.

In addition, the service information for your vehicle is stored in your remote key as well. When you visit Autoworks of Brandon — or another certified BMW service location — BMW’s KeyReader system is used to take a quick look at all the relevant data about your specific vehicle. This means you don’t have to try and describe an issue, or hear general recommendations that may or may not apply to you. Instead, it means you know, up front, exactly what services your car requires, and our technicians can help you make informed decisions about how to proceed.

BMW has gone out of its way to make vehicle service and maintenance more personal. It’s about your car, your driving style, and your data. They have gone beyond just “time and distance” to try and create a system that truly allows owners to only fix what’s actually broken. And the CBS system allows Autoworks of Brandon to give you the personalized, individual service you should always expect.

Auto Works of Brandon
119 Central Dr Ste B
Brandon, Fl 33510
Phone: (813) 657 4399

Written by