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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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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  #1  
Old 09-28-2012, 08:20 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Has ANYONE ever had a good experience with a dealer?

So I started a thread the other day about dealer costs.

The consensus seems to be that people understand the price differential and that overhead is justified to some extent.

What is not justified is the dishonesty or lack of ability to diagnosis a problem as expected of a BMW trained mechanic.

That said, I realize this is a DIY oriented forum but has anyone had a good experience with a dealer where they would not hesitate to go to if they couldn't handle the job themselves because of time and/or capabilities?

Last edited by dvsgene; 09-28-2012 at 08:22 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2012, 08:39 PM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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Simply - no. I have nothing but respect for good dealership mechanics but I detest their managers and the prevalent business philosophy that seems to be "Gouge the customers as much as possible."

In 30 years of driving and repairing my own cars, I have never had a positive experience with any dealership service department. They consistently have tried to rip my wife and I off by adding unnecessary work to estimates and in one case, they performed unauthorized extra work and refused to release the car without payment for it. (That was a Saab dealer.) I have had some very good experiences with a few independent shops but even honest indies are getting harder to find. All of this has led me to install a 4 post lift in my home garage so that there are very few maintenance jobs I can't handle now. It has a sliding jack between the rails that allows me to lift the car for maintenance that requires it. It has paid for itself several times after 3 years of ownership. I also spent many hours studying information on another forum to learn how to build my own GT1 clone (Easy DIS) using a generic laptop computer.
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  #3  
Old 09-28-2012, 08:45 PM
phrozen5100 phrozen5100 is offline
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I've actually had a couple good experiences with my old 530i:

I first took my 5 in to have the fan clutch and fan replaced. Somehow, they forgot to replace the fan the first time. After I brought it back in, the service manager apologized and gave me about $80 of free BMW swag and had the issue fixed for me.

The second time I took it in was for diagnostic work after it caught on fire. The technician stopped the clock at 1 hr and requested my presence in the shop.
He explained to me the potential cost of further diagnostic work and recommend I stop unless I wanted to pay huge $$$.

So, I certainly can't complain about BMW service, anyway.
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  #4  
Old 09-28-2012, 11:29 PM
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IndiansFan IndiansFan is offline
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I've had several good experiences with BMW Cleveland.

Before I bought my E34, I had the PPI done at the dealer. The service advisor told me what items needed repair, and then broke it down into two lists: items that I could easily do at home, and items that would be best done at the dealer or an independent.

Several years ago, my E34 broke down on a Saturday afternoon. I had it towed to the dealer. The service department was closed, but the sales manager came to assist me. He gave me a loaner, and said they would deal with the paperwork on Monday.

I've been purchasing some parts from the parts department for the past 15 years. The advantage is the 'CCA discount and no shipping charges. One time I stopped to buy wiper inserts for the wagon. The service manager happened to be at the parts counter. He said if I had the time, they would install them for me, without charge.

I realize many on this forum have had multiple horror stories about their local dealer, and I've heard stories about other dealers in northeast Ohio, but I've not had any negative experiences with BMW Cleveland.
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  #5  
Old 09-29-2012, 04:32 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Of my few dealings with my local San Jose dealer on Stevenscreek Blvd, while my bimmer was under the original factory warranty, they fixed my sticking electric door lock, which would randomly leave the passenger side door unlocked when locking remotely with the key.

The problem was resolved, at no cost to me, other than time, so I consider that a "good experience".

However, I only much later realized my first "bad" experience was my second visit under warranty, where I drove up and down Stevenscreek BMW's parking lot unsuccessfully trying to reproduce the severe vibration on bumps at slow speed while braking.

What irks me slightly today was that they had to either be ignorant of this common issue or bluntly lying because this is, by now, a well known problem with the E39 - however, at the time, they insisted there was nothing wrong with the vehicle simply because I couldn't reproduce the problem with them in the vehicle with me (their parking lot is smooth!).

Years later, knowing what I know now, I'm certain I wasn't the first person to report that to them, so, they should have believed me and replaced the front shocks purely on my description since we couldn't reproduce it in their parking lot (we needed speed bumps, it turns out).

Nonetheless, my worst (and last service) visit to the dealer was when I went in to replace the battery, and, they insisted they'd give me a full report, yet, they charged me hundreds of dollars (I forget how much overall) for what I now know (thanks to you guys) is a trivially simple job.

Two bads out of three - no more dealer for me!
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 09-29-2012 at 04:34 AM.
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  #6  
Old 09-29-2012, 05:09 AM
Mikes530 Mikes530 is offline
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A friend and neighbor worked as a mechanic at the dealership where I bought my car. The car came with 4 yrs of "free" routine maintenance so I took the car in several times during the warranty period. After the first oil change the car was returned with the odometer set to miles rather than km (I live in Canada), I was still learning about the car at the time and didn't know how to re-set it. Rather than going back to service, I was able to get my friend out to re-set it and he made a comment that stuck with me - he said "some of these guys don't have a clue".

If we take our cars to a dealership we are paying a huge premium but can maybe justify the extra cost on the assumption that the work will be done by people who know their stuff. That's just not the case in some instances. After talking with my mechanic friend, I ALWAYS carefully checked warranty work done by the dealer and found that a good percentage of the time I had to fix something myself afterwards. There was never anything horribly wrong or dangerous but usually stuff that was sloppy, done by someone who was pushed for time or not paying attention.

Most of us don't have the depth of general knowledge that a dealership mechanic has but I would argue that if we do any appreciable DIY we know OUR cars almost as well and we can usually take the time to do a job properly. In my case DIY can equate to a time saving after taking into account the time to take the car in, wait for the work to be done, check the work and fix it if necessary or return the car. Add the huge cost premium and it's a no-brainer.
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  #7  
Old 09-29-2012, 05:31 AM
kgorczyn kgorczyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phrozen5100 View Post
I've actually had a couple good experiences with my old 530i:

I first took my 5 in to have the fan clutch and fan replaced. Somehow, they forgot to replace the fan the first time. After I brought it back in, the service manager apologized and gave me about $80 of free BMW swag and had the issue fixed for me.

The second time I took it in was for diagnostic work after it caught on fire. The technician stopped the clock at 1 hr and requested my presence in the shop.
He explained to me the potential cost of further diagnostic work and recommend I stop unless I wanted to pay huge $$$.

So, I certainly can't complain about BMW service, anyway.

So what you are saying is this dealer can't remember to change the fan and then can't diagnose a car (and still charged you for 1hr) and you call this a good experience?
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2012, 07:08 AM
phrozen5100 phrozen5100 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kgorczyn View Post
So what you are saying is this dealer can't remember to change the fan and then can't diagnose a car (and still charged you for 1hr) and you call this a good experience?
Yes, because the diagnostic work is a little more complex for a vehicle that's caught on fire. I knew this going into it, and I'd already spent a couple months trying to fix it myself with no progress made whatsoever. I was told what it likely was, but that it would really need to be confirmed before just spending a ton of money on parts.

The fan was a mistake, and they owned up to it quite readily and had me in and out in no time with some extra swag to boot.
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2012, 07:15 AM
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Fudman Fudman is online now
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I would like to believe that some folks have had good experiences with BMW dealers and service shops. When I was under warranty, my experiences with the dealer's service department were largely uneventful and fine. It's like Cam says: Knowledge = power. If you didn't know any better, you would totally accept whatever the dealer tells you as gospel. I am sure many ignorant folks are very happy with their dealers. As we develop an understanding of these cars and can put the dealers behavior in the proper frame of reference, it becomes obvious that many (not all) dealers regularly put the screws to their customers. That said, if I need something done that can only be done using dealer-unique capabilities (e.g. get a new key), I would not hesitate to go to them. But for most anything else, there are many better & cheaper options available.
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  #10  
Old 09-29-2012, 08:00 AM
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matt540 matt540 is offline
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I have only had one bad experience with a dealership in Kinston North Carolina, when i was getting my brakes checked. The Mechanic brought me to my car and told me i needed a new caliper because there was a rock in the calipers piston boot. I simply took it out and never returned. Besides that one time Erhard BMW of Farmington Hills and BMW San Diago gave me nothing but good service.
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  #11  
Old 09-29-2012, 01:29 PM
jigga1 jigga1 is offline
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North carolina bmw dealers horrible.

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  #12  
Old 09-29-2012, 01:30 PM
jigga1 jigga1 is offline
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  #13  
Old 09-29-2012, 09:12 PM
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Dking078 Dking078 is offline
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North carolina bmw dealers horrible.

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I'm laughing a bit too much... Is the seat trim they list the one that has the ajustment buttons?!
That much for just rear rotors/pads is just... wow.
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  #14  
Old 09-29-2012, 09:16 PM
FLE39 FLE39 is offline
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That's a tough question. In general I'd prefer to talk to the mechanic. Nowadays they hide them in the back as if they were the hunch back of notre dame and make you talk to some desk jockey that doesn't even understand cars and never has worked as a tech or done any DIY work of any kind. I just don't like the wall they put up between me and my car & mechanic. That's like going to the DR office and talking to the secretary about what the Dr said. Arse backwards. I also don't like how dealers always push coffee and tvs and crap. I didn't come there to be impressed by coffee or tv's. I have a home theater at home and McD's is my favorite coffee. I came here to get a problem fixed. So in general, no. ^ditto on the business model of "selling". My SA told me yesterday my air bags won't go off in a accident if I don't get this repair done. NO. the light was on b/c the pyro section of the cable was removed. So the trigger is just unplugged and sees no resistance. air bags work, car won't cut power in accident. oh well. But it's an example of the SA's not knowing, caring or understanding what is really going on.
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Last edited by FLE39; 09-29-2012 at 09:17 PM.
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  #15  
Old 09-29-2012, 09:35 PM
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the540wgn the540wgn is offline
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  #16  
Old 09-29-2012, 11:49 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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No bad experiences with my BMW dealer as I've only relied on them for a handful of parts for a 13-yr-old e39 long out of warranty. The parts dept. guy isn't a mechanic there, but he certainly knows his stuff and has helped me out on several occasions. I'll buy parts there if I'm in a hurry or the S&H from online sources erases any meaningful margin of savings. I know a couple of local Indies I could turn to before going to the dealer for any servicing I couldn't handle myself. But so far, I *have* handled everything myself .... (knocking on wood).

I like the BMW dealer far better than our Subaru dealer. Of course, I avoid the Subaru-ship so much that on the rare occasion I do go in (for a part or two), all the faces are new.
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  #17  
Old 09-30-2012, 12:35 AM
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I hate Passport BMW....if ya live in the "DMV" i hope ya dont go there

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  #18  
Old 09-30-2012, 03:18 AM
hhibmw hhibmw is offline
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With the original question being: "Has anyone ever had a good experience with a dealer?", the answer is YES. I've been a customer at Hilton Head BMW in Bluffton, SC for 13 years and have always been treated well. I was also a customer at Don Jacobs BMW in Lexington, KY for 3 years and, again, was always treated well. There are good dealers out there.
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  #19  
Old 09-30-2012, 07:41 AM
AH673000 AH673000 is offline
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Never had a job done at a dealership that I was 100% happy with. But what really soured me on dealers was when a dealership mechanic damaged my crankshaft and refused to admit or correct the problem . The dealers pay their mechanics by the book , which encourages taking short cuts .... In this case using an impact instead of a torque wrench . If you are happy with the work that a dealer does on your car then I maintain you are not looking at the total job once the car gets back to your home. They have installed defects everywhere... Wires not put back etc are clues.

To turn a 60k machine over to a dealer is risky .... Way riskier then I am willing to take.

Dealers are for folks that lease their cars or trade them every four years.... If you actually own your car and want it to last 10 years I strongly believe you avoid a dealerships service department .
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  #20  
Old 09-30-2012, 11:11 AM
FLE39 FLE39 is offline
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^AH I agree.
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Garage queen: '07 335i Sedan, base pkg, 6spd Manual, Procede 3 V5 w/NLS, staggered 18" 313's w/Conti DWS's, OS Giken TCD LSD, VAC Street Diff Cover, Akebono Euro Pads, CDV Removed, Black BMW Grilles, Interior & Exterior white LED lighting, LUX Angel Eyes, Debadged, Llumar ATR Tint.
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  #21  
Old 09-30-2012, 12:44 PM
jigga1 jigga1 is offline
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Took my car to hendricks northlake charlotte nc. My cluster lights were bright after getting it back form service. Cluster lights are faded you can barely see. I ask the service rep before i left. He said they didnt touch it. Now on the receipt it said " check cluster lights (check box yes). Oh you didnt touch it ok. Ill never take my car their ever.

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