Independent specialists since 1974 H&B inc. 2300 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710 email (510) 549-1515

Getting the Best from Your BMW or Mini

Exceptional Service

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At H&B, we’ve spent years servicing, tuning, and restoring BMW, Mini, and now Audi cars. As much as we enjoy working on these fine cars, we also focus on the overall ownership experience. We offer advice about which maintenance items are most important, and how to tailor it to different driving styles and budgets: what to do now; what to defer; for how long; and so forth. Tips on tires, types of oil, upcoming models and technologies, known problems and how to avoid them — these are all part of our daily conversations with our customers.

  • Monday – Friday, 8a to 5:30p; Thursday until 6:30p
  • State of the art diagnostic equipment
  • Free loaner cars by reservation
  • Free shuttle to BART
  • Personal service at competitive prices
  • We maintain your new & extended warranties

Scheduling an Appointment

H&B works by appointment, though we do try to accommodate both emergencies and pre-purchase inspections. And with appointments, we have a generous free loaner-car policy: just let us know your transportation needs, and we will try to meet them. To book an appointment at H&B, please call (510) 549-1515 or email info@hbspecialists.com . Read more about H&B’s approach to servicing your BMW or Mini.

Now Servicing Audi!

We’ve been familiar with Audi (and VW) products for many years. Some of you will remember Audis among our loaner car fleet over 20 years ago. When Larry Griffin took us for a wild ride in the then-new 5000S Quattro on slippery Michigan roads, we knew Audi was onto something with its advanced four-wheel drive system. Since around 2000, Audi has markedly improved the quality, performance, and longevity of its cars: we now consider them comparable in performance and luxury to BMW’s offerings, but with Audi’s distinctive style and driving personality. We are pleased to own these cars ourselves, and two of our technicians are factory-trained by Audi. H&B has the latest Audi factory tools and diagnostic equipment. We now offer complete service for your Audi, from routine maintenance to advanced diagnostics and programming.

Three Generations of the New Mini

We saw the birth of the first-generation “new” Mini Cooper at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2001 (sadly coinciding with 9/11).Though these marvelous cars were assembled in a brand new plant in Oxfordshire, the engines came from a new factory in Brazil resulting from a joint venture between BMW and Chrysler (before the Daimler Benz merger). These engines were fairly advanced in features and performance for their class. However, Daimler's acquisition of Chrysler changed the chemistry for BMW, putting it suddenly into partnership with an arch rival. These are all wonderful-driving cars which nevertheless experienced some teething problems. Specifically, with the early automatic transmissions, power steering, and occasional issues of oil consumption. These concerns and others were addressed in a number of service bulletins, extended limited warranties, and recalls. H&B endeavors to keep its Mini customers up to date.

The second-generation“new” Mini (2007–13) incorporated two main changes. The car was stretched by 2.7 inches; and the engines now came from a joint venture with PSA Peugeot-Citroën in the north of France. This improved the engine supply logistics, while taking advantage of PSA’s advanced small-engine technologies. High gasoline taxes in France make fuel economy paramount, and these new engines were thriftier, but no less sporty, than their predecessors. During this period, models began to proliferate, including convertibles, a roadster, and the larger Countryman. All are loads of fun to drive, but some oil consumption issues (no oil level gauge inside) make it important to check the oil. Otherwise, early cam chain wear can create some expensive repairs. The French dipstick takes some getting used to, so owners are advised to come by for a demo.

The third-generation of “new” Mini is now upon us, and it has grown in size while shrinking in number of models. The new engines are German, which should tame the oil consumption, and the reviews have been enthusiastic. Time will tell how they measure up to their forebears, but the prospect is good. H&B will be there with the latest technical information and training as these new models need service.

Condition-Based Service: What is it?

Beginning with model year 2002, BMW began phasing in a new type of service schedule for all its models. The first to get this was the ’02 745i; then the ’04 5-series; then the 3-series, and so on. The idea behind “condition-based servicing” is that the car knows what it will need and will remind you. Its needs will vary according to the amount of time and miles driven, but also according to the kind of driving done: whether mainly on the highway, around town, or mixed.

In practice, this results in a variety of different messages on the dash display, from “brake linings” to “cabin air filter” to “brake fluid” to “vehicle check.” The challenge, then, is to piece all these items together in a coherent service plan so that your car’s reliability is maintained with a minimum of surprises. For this purpose, H&B has updated its service menus to integrate the newer “condition-based servicing” approach into regular servicing schedules. This incorporates newer, computer-based diagnostic routines along with the normal safety inspection and servicing.

Emerging Technologies

The latest generation of BMW engines has now been on our roads for almost two years. These engines balance fewer cylinders with greater use of turbocharging. Where there were mostly six-cylinder engines in the U.S. models, there are now many more four-cylinder variants; where V-8s had dominated the flagship 6- and 7-series, are now also turbocharged sixes.

Preparing for the Driving Season

Some useful maintenance notes that actually apply all year long, because today’s high-pressure, high-temperature cooling systems operate under high internal stress even in winter. The extra thermal loads of the hot days of summer and autumn driving just add a bit to their heavy job.

Best in the Bay Area Resources

Over the years, we at H&B have worked with many people in the car business. We have favorite resources for services as diverse as car audio, detailing, towing . . . pretty much all of the services you occasionally need. These companies are reliable, reasonably priced, and very good at what they do. We are happy to recommend them.

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