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Old 11-29-2012, 07:27 AM
LowerEast LowerEast is offline
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Location: NYC
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 52
Mein Auto: BMW X5 35i
Wheel alignment at BMW of Manhattan

I'm not sure that this is the right forum, but....

I hit a minor pot hole on Thanksgiving in my 2011 550i GT xDrive a few miles away from my destination. Didn't think anything of it, but when I started the car a few hours later, I got a TPMS warning for the right rear tire. I checked it, and got a reading of 33 PSI so I thought it may have been just the lower temperature we had. Next morning it read 13 PSI though, so there was clearly an issue.

I took the wheel off looking for an issue with the tire, and eventually realized that the rim had cracked. Very inconvenient to have to arrange for a same day repair so that we could drive home. Fortunately, my father in law is a mechanic and was able to call a friend who did rim repair, and after most of my day spent in my FIL's pickup to drop off and pick up the wheel, we were ready to come home. I was mildly annoyed that the wheel had cracked from such a minor impact, but I knew when I bought it that I might have issues with that, and have been driving it 18 months without incident, so not too upset.

I did notice when I pulled the wheel off though that the tire was worn unevenly, with excessive wear and almost a groove worn along the inside shoulder. I assumed it was due to an alignment or camber issue, and made an appointment at BMW of Manhattan to get it looked at. I asked what the cost for a wheel alignment was for my car, and was told $199. I thought it was a little high, but not unreasonable.

Anyway, I dropped off the car this morning, and the SA argued with me on basically everything I told her. I wasn't looking to get anything taken care of under warranty - just to give her the back story so they would have all the information, but she still felt the need to tell me that it must have been a much bigger impact than I was admitting to, that there must have been multiple impacts, and that the rim had probably been cracked for some time. She told me that she laughs every time someone tells her that some BMWs have an issue with overly fragile wheels, because it just isn't true.

We get past that, and she tells me the car will likely need an alignment, and that it will cost $399. I asked her why it would be that high when I was quoted $199 when I called the day before. She told me that the "receptionists" who take the calls don't know anything, and that the $199 is for older models. She said newer cars need a different alignment because they have electric steering and it's $399.

I explained to her that a) being an xDrive, my car has hydraulic steering, and b) I understood why cars with IAS may need a different, but wasn't clear on why my car or even a car that had electric steering would be double the cost of their standard alignment.

She couldn't answer the questions, and said they's call once they had taken a look at the car.

So I guess my question is: setting aside cars with IAS, is there any reason a 2011 BMW, with or without electric steering, would need a different alignment service from, say, a 2010 or 2009 model? It seems odd to me, but maybe I'm missing something.
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