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Dealer Feedback / Vehicle Problems
Have you had an exceptionally great experience with a particular BMW Center? Have you had a bad experience at your BMW Center? Frustrated by problems or defects with your vehicle? Post your stories or comments here.

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  #1  
Old 10-29-2003, 07:17 PM
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tool119 tool119 is offline
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Unhappy Frustrated New Bimmer Owner

I finally picked up my 2004 330cic on Friday. Took it on a couple of long drives over the weekend, plenty of fun. The motor, drivetrain, steering and suspension lived up (as much as I can see during the break-in) to the BMW reputation.

That being said, I'm also becoming another frustrated new BMW owner...Minor issues that just continued to pile up as the weekend went on:

- Passenger side window won't roll down all the way, leaving the top 1/4" exposed.
- The All Window button on the center console wouldn't actually raise all windows. It slowly degenerated over the weekend, and by Sunday night, it only raised the rear half-windows.
- Both windows' "tip-down feature" (when the window retracts a bit after opening corresponding door; then rolls up all the way after closing the door) works intermittently. No joke, it tends to quit working when it's raining outside (when I actually need it to work).
- The automatic door locking feature (once you pass 5mph) stopped working Friday night, never to return.
- Sometimes the car beeps when the alarm is armed, sometimes it doesn't. No pattern.
- They installed my Aux Connector for the radio. Great. Only problem is they dorked something up on the install. I can't get a standard 1/8" jack to reach all the way into the connector to lock into place - so, after a few minutes of driving, the jack starts to "wiggle" its way out.
- According to the manual, the "R/T" button on the steering wheel switches the radio between CD, radio and Aux Input. Not in my car - it just causes the radio to display "PHONEBOOK E"

After several phone calls yesterday, brought the car in (and got a cigarette-smelling Dodge Intrepid for a loaner ). Today, the SA's telling me that BMW's putting out a software patch to fix most of these problems, but nobody's sure when the correction will be released to the service centers. "Hopefully" he'll get an ETA tomorrow.

Again, I love driving the thing, but for as much money as the car costs, I expect it to be flawless in the first few days I'm driving it - especially after the "thorough checks" that were supposedly done at the VPC. Maybe I'm being unreasonable, but there's a reason why I didn't get a GM product this time.

I'm not looking forward to the inevitable "Customer Satisfaction Survey" that'll be coming...
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2003, 08:38 PM
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Terry Kennedy Terry Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tool119
That being said, I'm also becoming another frustrated new BMW owner...Minor issues that just continued to pile up as the weekend went on
I had a bad experience a year ago with my new 325xiT - probably the worst non-engine-related stuff ever reported on this board: the car would place emergency calls at random, but only at night; the alarm would sound randomly, even when driving; my DSC computer failed; my battery failed; and so forth. After a rough month and a half, it all got sorted out and I'm now very happy with my car. I expect they'll get your issues sorted out as well. Some specific comments follow.

Quote:
- The All Window button on the center console wouldn't actually raise all windows. It slowly degenerated over the weekend, and by Sunday night, it only raised the rear half-windows.
- Both windows' "tip-down feature" (when the window retracts a bit after opening corresponding door; then rolls up all the way after closing the door) works intermittently. No joke, it tends to quit working when it's raining outside (when I actually need it to work).
- The automatic door locking feature (once you pass 5mph) stopped working Friday night, never to return.
- Sometimes the car beeps when the alarm is armed, sometimes it doesn't. No pattern.
These all sound like they're related to the General Module. I believe the random alarm arming beep is a known issue, with a work-around of repeatedly re-coding the alarm until it "sticks". Worst case, a new General Module should clear these up. Note that you'll need to bring all your remote ("master") keys (normally 2 unless you ordered extras) whenever the GM is replaced, or any keys not brought to the dealer will no longer work to remotely lock/unlock the car.
Quote:
- They installed my Aux Connector for the radio. Great. Only problem is they dorked something up on the install. I can't get a standard 1/8" jack to reach all the way into the connector to lock into place - so, after a few minutes of driving, the jack starts to "wiggle" its way out.
That's odd. There might be something stuck in the back of the jack. Worst case, they'll just replace the Aux harness during your service visit.
Quote:
- According to the manual, the "R/T" button on the steering wheel switches the radio between CD, radio and Aux Input. Not in my car - it just causes the radio to display "PHONEBOOK E"
Unless they changed it for the 2004's, that's not the case. It switches between the currently playing audio source and the telephone (hence the "R[adio]/T[elephone]" legend when pressed.
Quote:
Again, I love driving the thing, but for as much money as the car costs, I expect it to be flawless in the first few days I'm driving it - especially after the "thorough checks" that were supposedly done at the VPC. Maybe I'm being unreasonable, but there's a reason why I didn't get a GM product this time.
I know how you feel. Initial build quality really isn't one of their strong points. I have identified specific flaws in their test methodology and discussed them at length with some top US people. Rich Brekus said he was going to pass the info along to Germany, but even if they act on it, it will take a model year or two to show up.
Quote:
I'm not looking forward to the inevitable "Customer Satisfaction Survey" that'll be coming...
Realize that anything negative you say (even about your car's initial build quality) will reflect solely on your dealer. That's wrong, and stupid, and prevents BMW from understanding and correcting serious problems in the manufacturing, transport, and VPC, but that's the way it is and complaining about it here (or to BMWNA) isn't going to get it changed, so we may as well deal with it the best we can. In your case, for example, realize that it is a powerful incentive for your dealer to correct these problems ASAP, and to get a BMW Field Rep involved if needed. Just make it clear (in a non-confrontational manner) that you know how these scores will affect your dealership, and that making you happy will make them happy. BMW built this scoring system, so they can't complain about how we use it.
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2003, 08:56 PM
bmw325 bmw325 is online now
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Quote:
I know how you feel. Initial build quality really isn't one of their strong points. I have identified specific flaws in their test methodology and discussed them at length with some top US people. Rich Brekus said he was going to pass the info along to Germany, but even if they act on it, it will take a model year or two to show up.
Really curious-- what were some of the specific flaws you identified?

One really big and obvious problem I noticed when I visited the factory was that they don't use the practice of allowing a worker to stop the assembly line if a problem is discovered and then tracing it back to its source. THis practice of empowering the line workers is widely credited for much of the quality of Japanese (and increasingly American too) makes.

Graned, BMW is still the best of the Europeans-- but you've got to wonder why they don't take a few simpe hints from the Japanese in terms of how to run their processes for better quality.

Here's an article on some quality improvements Mitsubishi planned to undertake at one of their plants-- empowering line workers to stop the line was one of them.
http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/9C78B2B9C1D45218CA256DBB000513E4

and another interesting articel on the Toyota Production System:
http://www.emporia.edu/ibed/jour/jour23ot/jose.htm

Last edited by bmw325; 10-29-2003 at 09:08 PM.
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  #4  
Old 10-29-2003, 09:26 PM
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Terry Kennedy Terry Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robg
Really curious-- what were some of the specific flaws you identified?
The main one was that they hand-build wiring harnesses for each chassis based on the options ordered. This results in nearly 100 unique configurations just for the E46. Further, they don't have any automatic test equipment to verify that the harness was indeed fabricated correctly - they just put it in the car and hope it works.

Once it is sealed up in the car, the car gets a quick functional test which only accounts for the equipment put in the car at the factory (for example, interactions of dealer-installed options with the car are not checked) and this is only a visual/audible "try a bunch of stuff and make sure it looks like it works" - for example, if the horn was mis-wired to the brake lights, it would be detected because they test for brake light functionality on the assembly line, but not because they are looking for mis-wires.

In my case, the phone emergency call button (which isn't actually provided on the 3er) wires in the harness were mis-wired to the photocell in my auto-dimming rear mirror, so whenever headlights flashed rapidly in my rear view mirror, the car would place an emergency call.

This would have been detected by automated test equipment when testing the main wiring harness, and would have been far less likely if there was a standard wiring harness instead of a zillion variants.

Later, I also found a few more mis-wires - out-of-phase speakers and the Aux Input connector on the radio harness was mis-pinned with pins 2 and 3 swapped. This particular fault seems to have affected many harnesses in the first month or so of MY 2003 production.
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2003, 09:52 PM
bmw325 bmw325 is online now
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[QUOTE=Terry Kennedy]
In my case, the phone emergency call button (which isn't actually provided on the 3er) wires in the harness were mis-wired to the photocell in my auto-dimming rear mirror, so whenever headlights flashed rapidly in my rear view mirror, the car would place an emergency call.
QUOTE]

Wow--that's a good one.


That was another practice of BMW's that i've wondered about since I visited their 3er assembly plant and listened to the tour guide brag about the fact that every wiring harness is custom made. With something as complicated as a wiring harness this sounds sooo error-prone. The reasons given were cost and weight savings. But, I've got to think that having all identicla harnesses would actually cut down on costs-- and also warranty problems. INterestingly, if you order a replacement wiring harness --- it only comes in 1 version-- fully equipped.

Also, in BMW's service documentation, they talk about what "coding" is and why its electronic modules need to be coded. They point out that they used to build custom electronics modules for each car depending upon what market/equipment it had-- but this proved costly and error prone-- so now they use 1 module that can be coded appropriately (sounds obvious to me-- but it apparently took them a few years to figure this one out.. ) Anyway, it sounds like the guys who came up w/ this smart idea need to talk to the wiring harness guys. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid companies can be sometimes.
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  #6  
Old 11-09-2003, 03:21 PM
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tool119 tool119 is offline
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Angry Halfway there...

Well, after two separate service visits (total of 3.5 days in the shop), here's where that mess stands:

1. The software-related window issues (tip down not working, "all-window" button not working, convenience open/closee of windows not working) got fixed with a "E46 Convertible MY2004 Window Initialization Procedure" that BMW released this month on TIS. Reference #B51-209-03. So far, so good.

2. The window not lowering all the way on the passenger door side (top 1/4" sticks out) is still not fixed. The dealership says they're afraid to force any fixes, for fear that they'll inadvertently create wind noise, rain leakage, etc.

3. I don't really believe they've done anything to fix the door auto-locking or armed-alarm beep.

4. After two attempts by these guys, I finally just went ahead and fixed the loose aux connector myself (turns out it was mainly a dealer install problem ).

So, in case any other E46 cab owners have the weird window issues, have them try this "Initialization" procedure - might work.
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2003, 09:13 PM
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The HACK The HACK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tool119
2. The window not lowering all the way on the passenger door side (top 1/4" sticks out) is still not fixed.
Every single E46 coupe I've EVER seen is like that.
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  #8  
Old 11-10-2003, 10:09 PM
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tool119 tool119 is offline
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Is that what everybody else sees too? If it is, how many more years will it take BMW to fix the problem? It's not like the E46 just came out last week.

Or am I being unreasonable in expecting a BMW to be able to roll all windows completely down?
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  #9  
Old 11-11-2003, 09:16 AM
andy_thomas andy_thomas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robg
That was another practice of BMW's that i've wondered about since I visited their 3er assembly plant and listened to the tour guide brag about the fact that every wiring harness is custom made. With something as complicated as a wiring harness this sounds sooo error-prone. The reasons given were cost and weight savings. But, I've got to think that having all identicla harnesses would actually cut down on costs-- and also warranty problems. INterestingly, if you order a replacement wiring harness --- it only comes in 1 version-- fully equipped.

Also, in BMW's service documentation, they talk about what "coding" is and why its electronic modules need to be coded. They point out that they used to build custom electronics modules for each car depending upon what market/equipment it had-- but this proved costly and error prone-- so now they use 1 module that can be coded appropriately (sounds obvious to me-- but it apparently took them a few years to figure this one out.. ) Anyway, it sounds like the guys who came up w/ this smart idea need to talk to the wiring harness guys. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid companies can be sometimes.
A full wiring harness would be extremely cost-prohibitive, if you considered every single option that could go into an E46:

Navigation
full-on HK stereo with separate amplifier
flipping dipping mirrors
power seats
heated seats
sun blind
HDC
SMG/auto transmission
Phone pre-wiring
Bluetooth
Steering wheel controls
Automatic air conditioning
HID
Foglights
Heated mirrors/washer jets
Alarm

Most E46s are produced with only a handful of the above options. NONE of the above is standard from a production perspective - only your importer chooses what you think of as "standard" equipment. It would be extremely wasteful, not to mention expensive, to produce a regular 3er (not the relatively loaded US versions) with a wiring loom that supported all the above. Now, having to hand-craft each wiring harness obviously saves on wiring, weight and complexity but does introduce errors.

The other ways of doing this are to make everything standard, in which case your poor German punter would be paying $55,000 for his 320d, or remove most of the options listed above altogether. Any takers for this approach? Didn't think so .
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Old 11-11-2003, 09:20 AM
andy_thomas andy_thomas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy
The main one was that they hand-build wiring harnesses for each chassis based on the options ordered. This results in nearly 100 unique configurations just for the E46. Further, they don't have any automatic test equipment to verify that the harness was indeed fabricated correctly - they just put it in the car and hope it works.

Once it is sealed up in the car, the car gets a quick functional test which only accounts for the equipment put in the car at the factory (for example, interactions of dealer-installed options with the car are not checked) and this is only a visual/audible "try a bunch of stuff and make sure it looks like it works" - for example, if the horn was mis-wired to the brake lights, it would be detected because they test for brake light functionality on the assembly line, but not because they are looking for mis-wires.

In my case, the phone emergency call button (which isn't actually provided on the 3er) wires in the harness were mis-wired to the photocell in my auto-dimming rear mirror, so whenever headlights flashed rapidly in my rear view mirror, the car would place an emergency call.

This would have been detected by automated test equipment when testing the main wiring harness, and would have been far less likely if there was a standard wiring harness instead of a zillion variants.

Later, I also found a few more mis-wires - out-of-phase speakers and the Aux Input connector on the radio harness was mis-pinned with pins 2 and 3 swapped. This particular fault seems to have affected many harnesses in the first month or so of MY 2003 production.
This is interesting. Terry's touring is relatively well-equipped, so more likely to have foibles like this. My own 318i is relatively sparsely equipped, but I could swear that operating the folding mirrors (one of the few electrical extras I have) changes the way the air-con behaves the next time you start the engine. Thing it, every time I've tried it, it behaves perfectly...
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Old 11-12-2003, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK
Every single E46 coupe I've EVER seen is like that.
Thankfully I've never seen it on the two I've owned.
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  #12  
Old 11-12-2003, 05:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tool119
Is that what everybody else sees too? If it is, how many more years will it take BMW to fix the problem? It's not like the E46 just came out last week.

Or am I being unreasonable in expecting a BMW to be able to roll all windows completely down?
I'm not defending BMW or anything, but our Audi's front windows are the same - just a bit of glass sticks out. Rear ones have a full 4-5 inches of glass left when fully down. New MB E-class also, I believe, has a bit of glass sticking out in front and rear windows. It's all about door's packaging and shape... But if your window is SUPPOSED to go down completely, then you should absolutely should have it fixed to factory specifications.

Oh, and as for fixing problems, it's just not gonna happen. I got the last of E39 5 series built, they had 7-8 years to figure out all the problems, yet there are still small things here and there that I could about
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Old 11-12-2003, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy
In my case, the phone emergency call button (which isn't actually provided on the 3er) wires in the harness were mis-wired to the photocell in my auto-dimming rear mirror, so whenever headlights flashed rapidly in my rear view mirror, the car would place an emergency call.
That is a good one I'm sure it took some time to figure out the cause

And I too had to swap the pins in my aux. input wiring. tool119, you are lucky BMW either fixed the wiring harness or your dealership knew about this glitch, otherwise you would have been stuck with it not working and your dealership's best response would be "it's supposed to" (that's what I got).
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Old 11-13-2003, 02:15 PM
flashinthepan flashinthepan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tool119
Is that what everybody else sees too? If it is, how many more years will it take BMW to fix the problem? It's not like the E46 just came out last week.

Or am I being unreasonable in expecting a BMW to be able to roll all windows completely down?
Tool,

You are correct, and not being unreasonable, in a convertible it is exceptionally important to have "full roll down", people always either have a hand there to open/close door, lean, or whatever & it looks way more cool in the "full down position".

I have not had any window issues & my 5mph lock has always worked, I will say it is common for the alarm to not chirp - this does happen to me all the time & I have heard you need a beefier horn set-up.

I would insist your windows get corrected - it just aint right

~as you can see in my pics, my windows ARE all the way down.~
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Old 11-28-2003, 12:32 PM
jerrykdc jerrykdc is offline
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I just brought my 04 330 CIC in and the battery had a bad cell and they replaced it. I asked them to program the alarm which I installed and they did it for me at no charge but they messed up the other settings I had but I can live with them until I bring it back for other service.

The passenger window on mine also does not go all the way down and there is about a quarter of an inch which sticks up toward the middle of the window. I asked if that could be corrected and I was told that is where the window stop is and the only way to correct it would be to grind down the window stop and he said he would not do that because it could cause other problems. My question is whether they are being sloppy installing the window stops or is this common to all of the 2 doors.
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  #16  
Old 11-28-2003, 01:37 PM
markusmark markusmark is offline
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Question Wiring harness

I would think that "custom building" each wiring harness would be cost-prohibitive. And, not having automated testing equipment to check each "custom wiring harness" is asking for problems. Add to these issues the fact that repairing and/or replacing even part of a wiring harness, such as a mis-wired connector, is time-comsuming (read "expensive") leads me to think that the tour guide was smoking something. While the list of potential options is extensive, if you think about all the "standard" functions provided by an "unoptioned" car, the list pales.

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