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Old 11-01-2012, 04:43 PM
racooper3 racooper3 is offline
BMW Master Wannabe
Location: Tampa
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 397
Mein Auto: 2005 BMW 545i
Originally Posted by commuteman View Post

My first post to this forum, after reading lots of others. I'm mainly writing this as a heads-up to owners of similar 5 series vehicles, but maybe you all have some input for me.

Two weeks ago my 2006 530xi wagon refused to start, reporting a bunch of electrical issues. After having it towed to Bavarian Professionals in Berkeley, the cause was pretty quickly identified - needs a new battery. Seemed simple enough.

Bavpro let me know that BMW no longer sells the original battery, and that the new AGM battery would require reprogramming (not just registration). Predicted bill somewhere around $600. After owning this car for 4 yrs (it was a CPO I bought from a dealer) that was not a surprise...

Here's where it gets interesting:

I have been taking BMWs to BavPro since about 1987, with virtually zero issues. Unfortunately, BavPro was having problems with the reprogramming connection back to BMW (apparently they connect the car to BMWNA via a computer pass-through and the programming is done by BMW) so they took it over to the nearest dealer, who had agreed to reprogram the car.

The reprogramming failed, with the dealer claiming that BMW says that the satellite radio module installed in the car is no longer supported by the new software and the car programming cannot be updated without replacing it. Cost? $1200.

This seems, of course, totally insane. Replacing the battery means reprogramming the car, but reprogramming the car means replacing the $1200 satellite radio module. BMW has decided to stop supporting 6yr old hardware and insists that it be upgraded. I have never actually used the satellite radio, so the next course of action is to attempt to remove it from the vehicle order. For that we have to wait for a BMW rep to visit the dealer, which could be a week. Then we try programming again.

I have been in the software business pretty much my entire working life, and it's pretty clear that BMW simply dropped backwards compatibility for some of the 2006 hardware. Either that or the software architecture is so bad that they cannot support many option or version combinations.

To me, the implications for ownership of a modern BMW are profound. BMW can decide at any point in time that they will stop you from repairing your vehicle, and there doesn't appear to be any alternative.

My 97 M3 sedan is still a blast to drive at 175k miles, the 68 2002 doesn't do many miles any more, but both of them can be maintained ALMOST indefinitely.

Can you say "Mobile Tradition" ?

Comments? Are we missing another option? Is the BMWNA story BS?


Ditto on all of it. We Americans should be doing the software and not the Germans. I would think that BMWNA should be able to load the correct program file to your DME. They do older versions based on VIN and options in car. I think they fouled up and some rookie got it wrong on flashing your DME. Shame they don't do the prep work/questions up front and then cost you new hardware to boot.

Apple knows how to integrate hardware and software. They should mimic that model with their software. Also, fault code diagnostics from model to model should be similar and not unique to every model. Mechanically my car is flawless, software wise Apple, Ford or GM could do better with the electronics and user interface stuff. Notice I left Microsoft out. I love driving my 545, but hate all the software complexity. All the different modules to interface and program is just a cluster...
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