The COVID pandemic has made a significant impact on the auto industry. For the most part there are less cars roaming the roads, due to every business operating on some form of work-from-home schedule if they can. This has the unique “consequence” of saving mileage, fuel and maintenance costs, and in the case of my daily driver 2012 BMW E92 M3, completely changing how I drive the thing.
BMW M3 Daily Driver Life
I bought my 2012 BMW E92 M3 back in February 2016. As I detailed in our Enthusiast’s Guide BMW E92 M3 Mods, the vehicle is often my muse for creating automotive content, but it used to have a more important job – to get me to work.
Even before the COVID pandemic, I was fortunate to have a position that allowed me to work from home multiple days a week. A very welcome schedule, as shortly after the M3 purchase my wife and I had purchased a home in another state giving me a 40-mile one-way 1+ hour commute, 2-3 times a week. Don’t get me wrong, having an E92 M3 as a daily driver is a blast. But 80 miles a day and 160-240 miles a week, you can see how this can all begin to add up. All that changed when the COVID pandemic happened, however.
The Shift From Daily Driver to Garage Queen
It all changed in mid-March 2020 for us all. Let me start by saying, my car shifting its lifestyle from being a daily driver to sitting in a garage means nothing compared to people losing their lives, losing their jobs, or losing their businesses, but I still believe the information is interesting to share so here I am.
My “mortgage-paying job” is as an analyst in the financial world. So, I like numbers and nerd out on them, which is why since purchasing my daily driver M3 I have tracked exactly how many miles I have put on the car every month in a spreadsheet.
The COVID pandemic doesn’t just affect the miles you drive to work, you are also more likely to not drive anywhere unless it is a basic need. Simple math would tell you that driving 40 miles one-way, 80 miles a day, 2-3 times a week I was putting at minimum 640 miles on my daily driver a month (but could be up to 960) just to get me to work to pay the bills.
Until March 2020 since February 2016 I averaged 702 miles per month on my car. According to my detailed records, the highest mileage month ever was September 2019 when I drove from southern Pennsylvania to Monticello Motor Club in New York and also drove to Ocean City, Maryland in the same month. Warmer months always means more miles driven to car events, track days, even the local cars and coffee.
I prized myself on daily-ing an E92 M3, but since COVID my average miles per month is a mere 49 miles per month. Take a look at this chart below of every month of my M3 ownership. That drop in March 2020 is massive!
Owning My BMW M3 During COVID
If I didn’t actually own-own my M3 (i.e. I have the title) I like to believe I would have done the smart financial decision (being that I work in finance and all) by selling a car I didn’t drive, but I happened to have just paid off the loan in December 2019. It was all mine, so I was going to keep it through this interesting world we live in.
I mentioned I only average 49 miles per month, but those miles are all now a spirited driving experience. Being that I don’t drive it enough, it did change the way and when I actually drive. I began driving it only when the weather was immaculate. With it being full-on with the snow much of the winter in the northeast, I don’t want the road salt to get near it, and the car isn’t leaving the garage much.
I have plenty of car care equipment, but I don’t want to drive around a dirty car for the maybe 30-minute drive I take it on every other week. So no rainy days and definitely no snow days. It pretty much stays clean but does sometimes get dusty in the garage.
You might be wondering how I accomplish never driving my M3. My wife and I also own a 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid. It is her daily driver and if I have to go get groceries or we have to take our newborn for a check-up it is just the easier option. Also, I should also note that I review vehicles, so when I am not driving our Crosstrek I am of course driving around and testing in vehicles provided by OEMs, which also takes more possible seat time away from my M3.
Can I Change it from Garage Queen to Track Toy?
I know what you are thinking. I used to hate seeing people who don’t drive their performance cars, and here I am turning into one of those people. My thoughts on the situation are this; since I don’t drive my M3 all that often for daily duties, the times I do drive it I want that time behind the wheel to be extra special. So why not take it to more track days? My last few AutoWise articles have been trying to get you on a race track, so that is my personal plan for 2021 as well.
Before that can happen, the M3 needs some maintenance taken care of. It needs a brake job and I thought why the heck not just got nuts and upgrade the braking system (which happens to be the one crutch of the E9x M3) to a big brake kit. I currently have a 6 piston front and 4 piston rear StopTech Trophy Big Brake Kit on order.
It will need its first-time non-mileage-inducing oil change done as well. I normally change the oil on my M3 every 7k miles, which comes out to being like once a year. Now I am just changing it way before my interval for that once a year window to have clean stuff in my engine and for peace of mind when I potentially hit up some track days soon.
After the maintenance, it will be of course off to the track. I will probably hit up the Track Night in America events I have been trying to convince you is the cheapest show in town as well as some roll racing events. 2021 plans are falling together for me.
Embrace The Change
I am sure there are many other automotive enthusiasts out there who have had to deal with the same shift from daily driving their prized sports cars to having them sit idle in a garage. I say make it a show car and/or track toy and just embrace the change. I’ll see you out there at an event soon.