Bemmer Bummer

Okay, so what are the first things that come to mind when you hear the name BMW?  Maybe one of those words is “Fast”.  How about “Expensive Import”?  Maybe some derogatory words like “Elitist” or “Smug”.  By any chance does the word “Quality” come to mind?  As it turns out, my wife (who apparently likes to add untrue comments to some of my posts) owns a 1 series (135) black convertible BMW.  I can definitely attest to the fact they have some pep.  The twin turbos on this particular vehicle give it some nice snap at the low and high end helped by the relatively light weight of the vehicle.  There is a pool on when she will get her first ticket in it – too many of her memories coming back growing up on the dirt track circuit.  For those familiar to the local tracks, legend Bolander used to drive their race car at the Peoria Speedway when they came down from the Quad Cities.  As far as “Expensive Import” goes, we have already proved that with a $650 windshield replacement thanks to a well (more like poorly) timed rock thrown from a truck.  “Elitist”  and” Smug”, hmmm, not sure I really want to touch that being that she is my wife and all.  She grew a Chrysler girl thanks to her Father and Brother both being service managers at local Chrysler dealers.  I had to actually force her to drive on the BMW lot and she’d probably be just as happy with another Jeep Wrangler (if they hadn’t messed with it and put a yuppie second set of doors on it ruining the whole Jeep lifestyle).  She also tends to make fun of Pooorshay owners, but then again, don’t we all?

That leaves us with one other word, that being “Quality”.  If this came to mind with the name BMW, I’d like to challenge this a bit.  If you recall, we ended up having a number of issues with our previous Durango.  (We actually had similar issues with our Jeep Cherokee).  Eventually we traded this headache in for an import on the belief that they could produce a better vehicle.  I don’t think I need to go into the whole Toyota accelerator issue, but knock on wood, our SUV has had zero problems since we bought it beyond that recall notice which I doubt we really needed.  Having stepped up to German engineering with the 135, we figured our quality issues were behind us.  One thing to note is this vehicle is Linda’s fun car and therefore gets very little use unless the weather is perfect (living in IL, this means it sits a lot especially in the winter and late fall months).  A month or so ago, Linda got in to drive it and noticed the Check Engine Light was glowing.  Somewhat stunned, she called the dealer and they told her it probably was not a big issue and just bring it in when should could.  Not wanting to wait too long, we dropped it off a few days later.  What was the prognosis for her little baby?  We were informed that it was a loose gas cap which was causing a loss of pressure in the system.  Ugh, our fault, slightly embarrassed we drove back and got the vehicle.  Sure enough, the car ran fine for a few days but then that evil engine light came on again.  Now I know we had learned our lesson, so it was doubtful (at least in our opinion) that it was the cap again.  Off to the dealer AGAIN to have it looked at.  The prognosis this time?  There was a bad fuel pump which is located somewhere in the fuel tank.  We had been vindicated, but it still left us a little concerned since we invested a lot of money with the return of not having to worry about breakdowns.  After a two days, (overnighted parts), we picked up the vehicle and assumed the situation was finally resolved.  Honestly, I doubt if that was the case it would have been worth taking the time to write about it.  A few days later I decided to drive the 135 in order to alleviate some hassles with parking in a local parking garage in order to attend an SAP class.  Sure enough, the check engine light stayed on after doing the self diagnostics.  I think my words at the time could be understood by a number of different languages including German.  For the third time, our quality machine was puking up an engine light.  After some profuse apologizing by their service representative, we drove the vehicle back in.  As before, they did provide a loaner vehicle which turned out to be a 328.  I don’t want to offend anyone that might have these particular vehicles, but I recommend not driving a 135 unless you plan to trade off that wuss of an engine.  I think it only has a 2.3L or so engine in it and with being accustomed to a  low end turbo (135 has a twin turbo in it), this car felt like it had to wind up to go anywhere.  You would think they would give us a better vehicle in hopes of us wanting to trade up.  All it ended up doing is making sure I tell as many people as I can to avoid that particular car.  The assumption is they would call sometime during that day to let us know what the problem was.  By 4:00pm Linda decided to give them a call.  Turns out they were unable to locate the problem and the vehicle was “currently on the service floor in pieces”  How is that for a comforting statement?  The next day came and again no word until we called later in the afternoon.  Still nothing to report on the cause and therefore not available for us to pick up.  Sigh, my confidence in German engineering had sunk to new lows.  The next day we call and find out the car was losing fuel pressure (which prompted the initial gas cap resolution the first time).  Apparently they thought it was resolved and had put it all back together again and took it for a test drive.  Lucky for us, the engine light came on again during their test drive.  Once again, the vehicle was taken all apart, but this time they called back to Germany for some help.  It had now been at least  5 days with a weekend and our patience was wearing thin.  That along with the uber annoyance of them continually asking us how the loaner car was working out.  All that could be said was that it was running better than OUR car was at the moment – but the hamster under the hood was really getting tired.  Eventually they determined it was a flaky DMTL pump which is apparently responsible for checking the fuel pressure and signals the dashboard if there is something wrong.  So there was nothing wrong with the fuel pressure, but the sensor was randomly failing.  Once replaced, the car was put back together, but the home office in Germany would not allow them to return it to us until they performed three complete cold to hot test drives.  One they did that day, and the other two had to be performed the next day.  So, exactly one week later Linda’s baby was nestled back in the garage.

I’ve decided to write this particular event off as a fluke.  They were very accommodating and apologetic as they went about resolving the issue (better than any American dealer experience we have had for sure).   The car is also under a full bumper to bumper warranty for four years so in essence beyond time and inconvenience it did not cost a penny.  This is where the “Expensive” word comes into play.  Can you imagine how much this bill would have been out of warranty? – CHA CHING.  It is still the funnest vehicle we have ever owned/driven.  Oh, and BMW also sends us a gift every year for owning the first series of one of their vehicles –  including a book on the history of our vehicle with our actual VIN number in it and this year a pretty sweet ink pen.  So for now, no harm done, but if that light goes on again, we’ll be having some “pressure” words for sure.

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