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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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Old 03-23-2005, 10:05 PM
shaftdrive's Avatar
shaftdrive shaftdrive is offline
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Location: USA
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Mein Auto: 1999 K1200 & 2001 525
My first BMW service (please advise what you would do)?

My very first BMW service has some, shall we say, "inconsistencies".
Please advise if this is normal and what you recommend I do.
(Bear in mind I purchased this 2002 525i automatic only one month ago so I have no idea about its prior history other than the BMW "Vehicle History Report" which is clean of battery indications.)

a) Where can I find official SHOP HOURS for this battery repair?
b) How can I determine if the old battery actually "fit" the 2002 525i (and if it could have "harmed" the warranty)?
c) What is the "correct" battery for the 2002 525i?

What would you do & whom would you speak to if this were you?

The "New Vehicle Warranty" period is still in effect, with more than 9 months and 17,000 miles to spare. Therefore, at around 10:30 am, today, I brought my new 2002 525i to the local dealership for what I thought was warranty work as the battery would not hold a charge.

Within a fourty-five minutes after dropping off the vehicle, the service manager, we'll call him "D", said the battery was "not a BMW battery" and therefore was not covered under warranty. He wrote down that the charge would be $300 USD saying extensive diagnostics needed to be performed (at a shop rate of $150/hour). I agreed reluctantly asking for a copy of those extensive diagnostic results . Within ten minutes "D" came back saying the charges would actually be $375 and again I repeated that I wanted to see written details of the extensive diagnostics. By a few minutes after noon, when I signed for the $381.42 charges for a new battery & diagnostics, I still had not seen the written diagnostic results so I wrote in large letters before I signed that invoice "Pending receipt of diagnostic written report". My copy of that invoice has an "R.O. OPENED" time of 10:39am and a "READY" field of 12:11 23MAR05, with $225.00 in labor (11 ENGINE MECHANICAL 906 CP), $144.50 for the battery (PN 61-21-8-381-762), and $11.92 in sales tax.

Upon receipt of the car, I noticed a new 1/4" scratch in the door two inches above the driver-side keyhole (which I reported to "D" later that day after confirming with my wife that the scratch was not there previously). As this scratch is not pertinent to the question at hand, no further mention shall be made (but the overall experience is pertinent as this is my very first visit to a BMW dealership).

Back at work, I waited for the diagnostic report to be faxed to me. I gave two calls to "D" at the BMW service desk, both of which he answered saying he "had the report on his desk and he was going to fax it to me but that he was swamped". He promised to get the report to me before the close of the day.

Meanwhile, I had explained my situation to the BMW coworker who had jumped me from his BMW the afternoon before. That coworker was surprised as he had compared his battery with mine when he jumped it and had determined that it was definately a BMW battery. Hmmmmm.

By 5:30 PM, I still had not received the faxed written diagnostic report so I decided to drive the 15 miles to the dealership to talk to "D" myself about the inconsistencies. My cell phone shows I last called "D" at 5:56pm telling him I was coming down to inspect the battery & to pick up the written diagnostic report. To his credit, "D" was still there when I arrived around 6:30pm. Almost apologetically, "D" handed me a blank intact two-page (with a single carbon sheet in between) "BMW of North America, LLC 2001 Models (except X5) Service Maintenance Checklist" (BMW NA SD92-157 6/01).

Nothing whatsoever was written on that intact checklist save the one-line hand-written note on the bottom stating "Statement checked Battery, 12.6 volt, chargering (sic) 14.6 volt and no voltage draws". I was surprised as this in no way was what I expected of the long-promised "extensive diagnostics written report". I told "D", upfront (I'm an straight shooter as you well know), that I did not believe that this represented what he had promised and that I was beginning to wonder if anything near an hour and a half of diagnostics (including battery R&R) was performed at all. To his credit, "D" listened attentively and respectfully and said he'd walk me to the service technician's bay to examine the battery and any other relevant information.

"D" then walked me into the spacious brick-floored BMW shop (this place is like a palace) to the work area where "J" reputedly replaced the battery showing me what he said appeared to be my battery on a block of wood on the floor. (Another battery was nearby, but it was black and mine was clearly white.)

Together, we examined the label on this battery & found it to contain the BMW logo and the part number 61-21-8-361-050 (with labelled specifications of 70Ah, 320A, 575CCA, & 120RC). Additionally, there was a side label (Mfg. by DBMC, Winston Salem, NC,27107) & heated-brand stamp (A04083). "D" then told me that, even if the battery was a BMW battery, that it was the wrong battery for that car, and they had to replace it with the correct battery for that car, and they could not do so under warranty as they had to return the same old battery to BMW in order to be reimbursed for the repair. I asked why he didn't tell me that the battery was a BMW battery during his earlier estimates and he replied he was unaware of that apparent fact. He said the old battery could not be warranted (even if it was a BMW battery) if it was the wrong battery for the application as that might cause it to fail. I told him I was unsure if that was a true statement and that I would research that particular detail.

On the way out, I clearly noted to "D" that there were inconsistencies in what seemed to transpire today to which "D" professionally stated we'd talk tomorrow about that and I left for the evening, not wholly satisfied with the circumstances. (We also discussed the paint chip but again, that is not relevant to the battery circumstances.)

Back at home, checking the ETK, I find *different* part numbers than either listed above for the 2002 BMW525i (see photo below), so, I need your help.
a) Where can I find official SHOP HOURS for this battery repair?
b) How can I determine if the old battery actually "fit" the 2002 525i (and if it could have "harmed" the warranty)?
c) What is the "correct" battery for the 2002 525i?

What would you do & whom would you speak to if this were you?


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Last edited by shaftdrive; 03-23-2005 at 10:47 PM.
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