My Insanely-Faulty BMW

I am having a First World Problem, and so, it’s not the worst thing in the world. But, it’s been a test of my patience. And, it has been yet another reminder that material goods don’t make you happy.

I bought a BMW for the first time three years ago. I did a lot of due diligence to get to it. It’s a station wagon, with enough storage space to transport many kids and their gear. It was a thrill to start driving the car. Then, a chronic problem cropped up.

The car has had three cracked wheels, which has led to five replaced tires. Expensive repairs. One particularly troubling incident was when a tire blew as I was driving fast on the highway. No pothole, and it was a sunny and clear day. The faulty wheel destabilized the tire, which completely blew up. Scary.

BMW blames the problem on potholes.  Well, I’ve never owned a car that had a cracked wheel. Yes, there are many potholes out there, but my wife’s car is fine. As are all of my business partners’ cars. And, my first cracked wheel developed before this past difficult winter.

I don’t think I’m the only one with this problem, as there’s now a class-action suit again BMW, and there’s even a Facebook page called “BMW Cracking Alloy Wheels.”  One group even filmed a funny video outside of BMW UK’s HQ (see up top or click here).

Four weeks ago, I called the BMW 800 number and was essentially transferred to a call center rep, who promised resolution in three to five business days. I’ve heard nothing since.  I’ve called the rep five times to follow up.  The calls always bounce into voicemail. I cannot get an email for the rep, nor will they transfer the case to another rep. I am in limbo.

The Service Director at my dealer has been great. No B.S.  He says these wheels should not be sold in New England, as they cannot handle our roads. They’re seeing a ton of cracked wheels. But, he too is awaiting word from BMW regarding next steps. He too is having great trouble reaching the rep in charge of my case.

In this Internet era of quick resolution, it is really weird to run into an “old world” customer dispute process.  I’m curious to see how this all resolves. And, I’ve been thinking again recently about how material goods really offer limited satisfaction. There is no “perfect” car, house, vacation, etc.

So, this is about my first BMW. And, unless the company gives a darn, it will be my last.


Addendum, 6/28: 

Well, they settled. My dealer was able to broker this deal: BMW will pay for four new wheels/tires (narrower 18″ ones, which hopefully will fix the cracking problem) and reimburse me for 80% of the prior repair costs.

So, I’m grateful.

But, if you’re looking at buying a BMW with 19″ or 20″ wheels, don’t. The parts guy at my dealer says those wheels just aren’t structurally sound. The service director told me that he’s been bugging BMW about doing something, as those wheels just aren’t that good.

In fact, I just read online that BMW in the U.K. has stopped selling certain 19″ wheels; but, they won’t do a recall for wheels already sold!

A trial lawyer’s dream come true….

4 thoughts on “My Insanely-Faulty BMW

  1. Hi there,

    Great article – who is the dealer that has supported you so closely? Only my local dealer doesn’t seem to care!



  2. Same problem

    32,000 miles 320d M sport convertible – Both back alloys have failed. 6 cracks on the off side and now a crack appearing on the nearside. Spent >£2,000 in 10 months on tyres, welding and replacement alloy. Been through 5 tyres on the back axel alone since February 2016 – one tyre (few months old) disconnected itself from the alloy wheel whilst I was driving (August 16). Thank God I’m an experienced driver and managed to control the car. Purchased a new rear alloy for £630 in August 2016 from BMW Broad Oak in Ashford, Kent. Now the other wheel has developed it’s first crack – failing it’s MOT – Spoke to BMW Customer service and they said speak to the dealer so I did…Service Manager at Broad Oak wants £78.00 just to inspect the wheel. Took it up with BMW customer services but the nice young lady was unable to get her manager to waive the inspection fee. In my view being asked to pay £78.00 to just assess the problem is adding insult to injury – heads should be hung in shame! It’s not just me, Now waiting to see if Watchdog want to make BMW accountable again…It’s not a manufacturing issue it’s a design issue and I’m not paying BMW any more to fix their shoddy design problems. I’m pleased the author of this original post got sorted but it’s a shame we all have to go to such lengths when something is so obviously wrong.

    1. So sorry to hear about your trials. Good luck with it and may it all be resolved. For me, the key was working with the head of service at my dealership. I learned that BMW USA HQ awaits for the dealer to act. So, the service manager is the one who asked corporate for the funds to buy for me new wheels. Since then, no issue. You’re right, it is a design problem. The “fat” wheels are too low to the ground. So, he purchased for me “standard” wheels.

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