Cabriolet BMW 330i :
Summary : apparently a much better vehicule than the Mini, but still a RED LEMON. Several problems with the
electronics, and a totally deficient diagnostic system. A horrendous service by BMW both the importer and even
in Munich. The garage has indeed tried to repair this car many times, but was totally not helped by BMW who have shown
themselves to be the most unreliable partner for the garage and and have displayed the utmost disdain for the customer.
Having all in all been very satisfied with my 325ix,
I decided that the successor of the Mini would be a new car of the same class and brand. After hesitations
and research, I chose the 2008 version of the BMW series 3 convertible. The 3 liters version (330i) being
the first to implement innovative ideas of energy savings, it is this model that we chose. One of the
elements of this choice was also that this model was well classified from the CO2 emissions point of view
with 187 g/km. This is not exactly low, but in comparison to other similar models, this is relatively
On this car, almost all the options, since I have decided
to keep it ten years at least. Let's mention the radio DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), a cruise control (ACC)
using a radar at the front of the car which maintains a safe distance with the preceding car, electrically
adjusted seats adapting automatically to the driver according to the key used (contactless of course), and
many other options, adding to the comfort of this vehicle. The options mentioned above were all the source of
problems described further with this vehicle.
At the time of this writing, this car has close to 10'000 km,
(6'250 miles) and let us say right away that I am extremely dissatisfied with it. In fact it is not so much of the car,
which all in all is a good car, but of the BMW service which not only has shown its incapacity to repair
this car in a satisfactory way, but has also given ample proof of its lack of consideration for the customer.
Here is, as for the Mini above, a chronological table
of the life of this car, which of course is red like its predecessors.
At this point some comments are necessary. Electronics is increasingly present and complex in cars, and especially in high-end models. However it is obvious that mechanics are not experts in this field, and should not have to either. It is nevertheless necessary that mechanics precisely diagnose problems in the event of a breakdown. Car manufacturers are perfectly aware of this and implement several levels of diagnostic, embarked, and at the garage. However in the case of the ACC, the BMW diagnostic is completely insufficient, and clearly inappropriate, since at each intervention it recommended either calibration of the ACC or nothing. More generally, this casts doubt about the diagnostic of BMW's. As we will see it below, the problem came from a specific component, and it is not easily conceivable that the diagnostic system could be unaware of it.
|Date||Description|| km miles||Cost (CHF) [USD]||Sum (CHF) [USD]|
|2008-01-11||Delivery of the car. The roof refuses to open. A salesman is called to the rescue, then the head mechanic who concludes that the battery is not sufficiently charged; indeed once the engine runs, the roof accepts to open. I will discover later that it is in fact a safety contact in the trunk that is very finicky (poorly adjusted?).||0||97'770 85'000||-.--|
|2008-01-18||Return to the garage for various problems: 1. the DAB radio does not work. 2. The automatic speed regulator (ACC) is intermittent and only works one day out of two. 3. Memories associated with the 2 keys are erratic (it seems that 4 profiles appear at random, whatever the key used). This visit is only a diagnostic, appointment is taken for January 25 for the repair itself.|| 440 275||0.00||0.00|
|2008-01-25||All the problems are fixed except the automatic speed regulator (ACC) which requires a 'calibration', appointment is taken for February 11. In the meantime, no more speed regulator (ACC).|| 850 530||0.00||0.00|
|2008-02-11||The car spends the day at the garage. The ACC seems fixed.|| 1'750 1'100||0.00||0.00|
|2008-03-09||The ACC breaks down again. Appointment is taken for March 13.|| 2'200 1'375||0.00||0.00|
|2008-03-13||The diagnostic does not show anything abnormal (which is surprising, since the ACC does not work). The expert of the BMW importer must be consulted, I am promised that someone will call me the following day. In the meantime, I get the car back, and I am told that the ACC is again operational, which turns out to be false!|| 2'200 1'375||0.00||0.00|
|2008-03-14||Having not heard from the garage as promised, I call at the end of the day, but no one really remembers me, and no answer is available for my problem. I decide then to write the direction of the garage to try to make things move forward.|| 2'300 1'435||0.00||0.00|
|2008-03-17||Call from the manager who suggests the "most drastic" solution recommended by the BMW specialist: the replacement of the radar and of its mount. This should be undertaken within the next 2 days, at reception of the parts. A few hours later, I get a call to let me know that the parts will not be available before the beginning of April (they are probably being delivered by camel from the far end of Bavaria). In the meantime, no more ACC for at least 2 weeks.|| 2'300 1'435||0.00||0.00|
|2008-04-03||The car is finally repaired, but all the programming of the keys and radio has disappeared. It seems that this is normal for any reprogramming of the car - one would expect more from a company like BMW. || 3'200 2'000||0.00||0.00|
|2008-03-18||The ACC is again broken down. Back to the garage for a diagnostic, the result of which I won't be told. I am assured though, that BMW takes my problem very seriously and that they will call me at the beginning of week (today is Friday).|| 4'100 2'560||0.00||0.00|
|2008-03-24||Monday 21 no call. Tuesday 22 no call. Wednesday 23 no call, I send a registered letter to the BMW importer (with copy with the garage) asking that they repair this car seriously and definitively. The following day, the 24, I receive a call of the garage which tells me that the BMW expert is on holidays till May 12, and they kindly offer to re-adjust the ACC, which is done the 25. The ACC works again.|| 4'400 2'750||0.00||0.00|
To date, May 23, 2008, The ACC (automatic cruise control) has worked 64 days and was down 65. The BMW importer ignores my case, and the garage does not know what else to do.
|2008-05-16||The ACC breaks down again. Back to the garage for a diagnostic, the head mechanic does not know what else to do...|| 5'600 3'500||0.00||0.00|
|2008-05-17||New signature letter to the BMW importer asking for the replacement of the vehicle since they are all too clearly unable to repair it, but they did not even bother to answer...|| 5'600 3'500||0.00||0.00|
To date, June 25, 2008, the ACC (automatic cruise control) worked 64 days and was down 71. The car has returned 9 times to the garage in 135 days. As for the ACC it seems to work for the moment, but as they are not sure of the repair - they were not able to identify the defective component - we decide to wait a few weeks before considering the repair as final.
|2008-05-23||Signature letter to BMW Munich. The answer a few days later is that they trust the service of the BMW importer, in other terms they don't give a shit either! since at this point it is entirely demonstrated that the importer and their expert are unable to fix this problem. Very disappointed, I decide hire the services of a lawyer.|| 6'000 3'750||0.00||0.00|
|2008-05-29||The car returns to the garage for several weeks, BMW lends me a similar model in the meantime. No indication on the nature of the repair, nor on its exact duration. We will see in a few weeks.|| 6'600 4'125||0.00||0.00|
|2008-06-24||I recover my car, and the head mechanic indicates that many parts were replaced, according to recommendations from BMW and he believes useful to add: including the ABS module... The car seems to work. Back at home I make a quick survey the car, and I notice that a cover for the headlight washer is missing, that the other is crooked, that the wood panel behind the steering wheel
is scratched, that the back seats are not properly mounted, that the screen of the navigation system is scratched, that leather on and towards the back seat presents two small cuts, and that one of the leather panels of the central console in not properly assembled (gap of 1 cm) and that it presents several marks of a screwdriver or similar tool having been used to disassemble it. A look under the hood reveals another series of defects: a broken cable holder, a
rubber cover improperly installed, a wire pinched under a plastic part, almost ruptured, a rubber seal not even installed, simply lying there, a cable too short to reach its mounting clip, and this is only what is immediately visible. In the trunk, a rubber foot is missing, and some clips are lying there that do not seem to come from the car.|| 6'600 4'125||0.00||0.00|
|2008-06-25||Back to the garage to show and inventory these defaults. The manager being on vacation, he will call me when return. A few days later, a letter from the lawyer having clearly helped, we agree to an appointment at the garage for July 9, in the presence of a representative of the BMW importer.|| 6'600 4'125||0.00||0.00|
All that to say that when faced with such a problem, the customer is alone in front of an impersonal organization, which clearly transmits the message that the customer is no longer of importance once the sale is over. What bothers me more, I think, is that this nonchalant behavior comes from a brand that one would suppose is more serious. As far as I am concerned, this reputation is completely overrated. If it was once deserved, these times are quite over.
|2008-07-09||Consideration of the damages by the manager and the BMW representative. The conclusion of relatively a long discussion is mixed. The damages will be repaired. Which parts were changed? Almost all the wiring of the car, as well as many parts and modules were replaced, this is why the repair took so long, and it is also why the damages due to the repair are found all over the car.
Considering the number of visible defects (pinched cables, broken parts or poorly installed ones), it is extremely likely that this is only the visible part of the iceberg. There is probably a higher number of these defects hidden and they will have consequences during the years to come. Without denying this possibility, BMW refuses to extend the warranty, at most would they show understanding if it were proved that a future breakdown would be associated with
this repair. It was also pointed out to me that the responsibility for BMW is restricted to the repair the vehicle, and that the number of visits to the garage to carry out this repair as well as any related prejudice is not their responsibility. Punkt Schluss!. Final detail, it seems that other customers (or should I say victims) of BMW have had a similar problem, and that it is due to an accelerometer, which was indeed replaced. I simply had the bad luck
to be the first to whom this problem happened, and thus I was used as "tester" for BMW. How is it possible that this component - apparently essential since it is decisive in the operation of the ACC - is not included in the diagnostic is beyond any understanding.|| 7'450 4'660||0.00||0.00|
|2008-08-10||The car jerks and loses all its power on the motorway. I make it with difficulty to an exit, where the engine dies, not to start again. The mechanic brings back it to the garage, where it is repaired the following day: it is a known problem, all the injectors have to be replaced.|| 9'200 5'750||0.00||0.00|
At this time, it is not possible to draw a complete conclusion. This BMW 330i is not even one year old, and has been to the garage more time that it should in its whole lifetime.
There has been 4 types of problems with this car.
1. Initial delivery problems, the roof should have opened, the DAB option was present but not enabled, the problems with the memories associated with the keys was likely a setup error in the software.
One of the reasons I bought a BMW rather than say, a Lexus, was to buy European. I certainly won't make this mistake again.
2. "Normal problems" such as the injectors needing replacement. Although considering the time the car spent in a BMW garage, one would think that the known problems would be verified and fixed preemptively.
3. The cruise control problem (ACC), where neither the BMW garage, nor the BMW importer, nor the manufacturer (BMW Munich) knew what to do to repair it, they just tried one bit after the other until hopefully the problem finally went away. This points to very serious flaws in the BMW diagnostic and BMW customer service in general.
4. Everything that was butchered up as a consequence of the incessant repairs.
I have had few opportunities to drive the BMW over the past couple of years, however there are still a few issues creeping up. Here is a follow up log.
|2010-09-05||The car seems to work properly, except for the passenger side front window which, at times, when closed re-opens itself half-way.|| 23'500 14'600||0.00||0.00|
|2011-05-01||The car has developed a whining noise whenever the steering while is turned. This will have to be checked at the next service.|| 24'000 15'000||0.00||0.00|
|2011-08-18||The car was taken to the garage to replace the wheels, and at the
same time have them look at the whining noise as well as a strange grinding noise in (near) the steering column. Apparently none of the problems were
noticed, and hence not repaired. Some grease was applied, let's hope it helps. A small rubber strap that holds the gas cap is broken. Cap (and strap) replaced
|| 25'000 15'500||252.80 278.00||252.80 278.00|
|2012-07-04||The car was taken to the garage for the service.
The strange grinding noise in (near) the steering column is still present, but this time accompanied by a message on the dashboard
mentioning a problem with the steering lock. Problem not noticed and hence not repaired. It is symptomatic, once more, that the on-board diagnostic
is of no help, even in the presence of a dashboard message that one would hope is logged somewhere. As for the small rubber strap that holds the
gas cap, it broke again. Neither replaced nor repaired!
|| 27'250 17'000||250.20 255.90||503.00 533.90|
|2012-09-24||Bought a new gas cap (the strap is not available alone).
This one is different from the previous two, better designed.
Another indication that us, customers, are doing testing for BMW. || 27'250 17'000||25.75 27.60||528.75 561.50|
|2012-09-25||DAB is the European equivalent to HD radio. This car is equipped with the DAB option. However the Swiss abruptly replaced the DAB system by an incompatible DAB+ system on October 15.
This makes regular DAB receivers obsolete quasi overnight. I contacted BMW, confident that an upgrade would be available. Surprise, pre-2010 receivers will not be upgraded.
So here we have an option that has a lifetime of 2 to 4 years, and BMW is not concerned. Disappointing!
|| 27'300 17'000||0.00||528.75 561.50|
|2013-03-22||The car was taken to the garage to replace the wheels (summer wheels). The cost includes the storage of the wheels for 1 year.
|| 27'500 17'100||191.95 206.35||720.70 767.85|
|2013-12-12||The car was taken to the garage to replace the wheels (winter wheels). The cost includes the storage of the wheels.
|| 33'500 21'000||49.70 55.00||770.40 822.85|
|2013-12-12||The car refuses to start. A diagnostic message on the dashboard claims the car cannot be started as long as the steering wheel is locked.
However the steering wheel is perfectly free. This is likely the problem already mentionned twice to the garage of the steering column lock. A few hits on the wheel and it starts. This happens from time to time.
What a lemon! Unfortunately no lemon law in Switzerland otherwise with all the issues with the ACC, then the steering lock, there would be something to do.
|| 33'500 21'000|| 0.00||770.40 822.85|
|2015-01-15||35'000 km service.
|| 35'500 22'200||204.05 203.00||974.45 1025.85|
|2015-12-15||For the last few months, the car seems to finally work normally, but it could not last.
The roof once opened no longer closes - an inconvenience in December. It can be closed, but needs to be pushed by hand. Visit to the garage, and
~$200 later and a sensor adjusted, all works again.
|| 50'000 31'075||198.65 200.20||1173.10 1226.05|
|2015-12-17||New summer tires for this spring, wheels change and storage.
|| 50'500 31'385||1019.30 1026.30||2191.40 2052.15|
|2017-05-17||70'000 km (43500 mi) and this is where i stop this blog. In the meantime,
I had to get the oilpan of the gearbox replaced. When I made the remark to the mechanic that it was surprising that BMW could not make seals that did not leak,
he replied that it is not so much the seal, but the oil pan, made of plastic that deforms with time causing the leak.
Dammage: CHF 1500.- ($1500.- these days). I still have to get the gas pump replaced as it is noisy (another 1500.-).
The auxillary heater (used to warm up the cabin in winter) no longer works (it was an expensive option). More expensive repairs I guess...
In short, it really is a lemon... and a bottomless pit for money.
|| 70'000|| || |