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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 06-25-2012, 01:06 PM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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[Yet] Another Panorama Roof Quirk...?

Being reasonably familiar with all the threads concerning the problems with the X3's panorama roof, I wonder if anyone else has encountered this 'phenomenon?' I've not yet read any discussion about it, although this is what I observed on mine over the weekend:

After having sat outside for a few hours in the direct sun (it wasn't particularly hot in Pittsburgh -- perhaps 80-85 deg F), I moved the vehicle into the garage and shut off the engine. As the interior was pretty warm after having sat outside for a while, I decided to vent the roof without retracting the shade (it can be done; the shade simply parts in the middle and the roof moves into its normal vent position). When I did so, the shade protested with a rather unpleasant noise -- kind of a 'cracking' noise -- but all roof mechanisms seemed to function properly otherwise.

I decided to chance closing the roof and repeat the venting process (no shade retract); the roof closed properly (no unpleasant noises), then opened properly after issuing the same unpleasant 'cracking' noise. I closed the roof once more, retracted the shade (which did so properly without any unpleasant noises), vented the roof (again, no unpleasant noises), and then closed everything back up again (no unpleasant noises). When I again vented the roof without retracting the shade, same 'cracking' noise -- but proper operation of the roof mechanism.

I left the vehicle to cool in the garage, and several hours later tested all roof functions. Smooth as butter in all permutations... No unpleasant noises, 'cracking' or otherwise. Same on Sunday, when I took it out for a drive: the roof operated fine.... The 'cracking' noise just seems to happen when the roof has been heated up (e.g., after sitting in the sun)...

Has anyone else seen (or heard) this...?
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  #2  
Old 06-25-2012, 02:16 PM
Frenchx3 Frenchx3 is offline
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Can't say I've heard that one before. Maybe you should try "resetting" the roof just to make sure everything is copasetic. Cracking noises in the sunroof at anytime aren't good. Mine self destructed last year. I was able to replace just the front rails without removing the whole cassette (which is a huge job). Oddly enough these panoramic roofs don't like the sun. The plastic coating on the rails breaks down from UV exposure. The plastic pieces break off and jam up various parts of the mechanism. I suppose pieces could also jam up the retraction mechanism for the sunshade as well. I would open your roof all the way and look to see if the plastic coated rails are cracking... If it is that could likely be the culprit
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  #3  
Old 06-25-2012, 02:47 PM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenchx3 View Post
... Cracking noises in the sunroof at anytime aren't good...
Agreed. 'Cracking' was the best description of the noise I could muster, but I don't believe anything was physically breaking. It seemed a bit like the shade was sticking, then kind-of 'popping' loose...' Hard to convey the sound, I guess... Like I said: everything worked fine; and when it cooled off, everything sounded fine as well...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenchx3 View Post
... Oddly enough these panoramic roofs don't like the sun. The plastic coating on the rails breaks down from UV exposure. The plastic pieces break off and jam up various parts of the mechanism. I suppose pieces could also jam up the retraction mechanism for the sunshade as well. I would open your roof all the way and look to see if the plastic coated rails are cracking...
A good suggestion. I'll make it a point to inspect the roof mechanism and tracks myself, the next time I get the chance. Didn't really have the time otherwise this past weekend.

The roof mechanism was allegedly cleaned and lubricated at the dealer last July (under warranty), essentially for the same complaint (noise in the roof mechanism). Now the overall warranty has expired, but I would imagine I should be able to bring it back in for this specific complaint and still receive repair work under warranty since the job was never really completed...?
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  #4  
Old 06-25-2012, 03:11 PM
Frenchx3 Frenchx3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timfitz63 View Post
The roof mechanism was allegedly cleaned and lubricated at the dealer last July (under warranty), essentially for the same complaint (noise in the roof mechanism). Now the overall warranty has expired, but I would imagine I should be able to bring it back in for this specific complaint and still receive repair work under warranty since the job was never really completed...?
Not sure if they'd honor it or not... I'd think the sooner you went back the better. What I do know is they don't typically repair the sunroof they replace them and that is BIG bucks. I've seen posts on here with people paying $2800-3000 for complete roof cassette replacement. Hopefully yours is ok... Good luck.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:42 AM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Originally Posted by Frenchx3 View Post
Not sure if they'd honor it or not... I'd think the sooner you went back the better...
Kind-of what I suspected. Guess I'll try to schedule it in during the next week or so and see if they do the right thing... What a pain...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenchx3 View Post
... What I do know is they don't typically repair the sunroof they replace them and that is BIG bucks. I've seen posts on here with people paying $2800-3000 for complete roof cassette replacement...
Yeah, that's my understanding as well. Like I said, I don't think the actual roof mechanism is the problem; the sound seems to come from the shade. I don't know if it's sticking on a seal or something when it gets heated up; it's like it gets a little 'bonded' to a seal, then peels loose rather abruptly when you engage the mechanism, which produces the 'cracking' noise...? I was kind-of hoping someone else had experienced this and had some inkling what to do to address it; clearly the dealership started by throwing darts at it...
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  #6  
Old 07-04-2012, 04:41 PM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenchx3 View Post
... I would open your roof all the way and look to see if the plastic coated rails are cracking...
Had the chance to inspect it today; all the rails appear to be in good condition and well-lubricated.

Odd thing was: it started making the noise as I was futzing with the roof almost from the moment I parked it out in the sun following a short drive. Ultimately, I left the roof in the vent position for several hours, but closed it when a passing rain shower came by. When I vented it again just before moving the vehicle back into the garage, it operated quietly...?

I really hate quirky problems that come and go without any rhyme or reason...

Well, I've scheduled it to go into the dealer on Friday. I also used my brother's iPad to make a short video demonstrating the issue. Stay tuned...
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  #7  
Old 07-07-2012, 07:52 PM
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Well, zero help from the dealer, despite the fact they'd tinkered with my panorama roof for this exact issue exactly a year ago -- and put language on the repair order that I should monitor the situation and return if the problem reappeared. That was apparently a hollow offer... Of course, Mr. Murphy was still seeing to it that the roof was operating quietly at 9 AM yesterday morning when I brought the vehicle in to the dealer, and the video that I'd made of the sound (which I've decided is best described as a 'popping' noise), while readily acknowledged by the SA, was of little value beyond getting someone at the BMW dealer to admit, "Hmm. That doesn't sound right..."

The best they offered to do is to charge me a half-hour of labor as a diagnostic fee, then go from there. Of course, the ability to troubleshoot the problem was predicated on the chance that it would begin producing noises again during the half hour while the technician was examining it... Thanks, but no thanks...

When I asked point-blank if any repairs, should they be identified, would be covered under the warranty action that was initiated a year ago, the short answer I got was, "Well, probably not; we lubricated the roof then, and the sound went away for a year." When I pointed out that, despite the admittedly lengthy period of time between re-occurrances, the service that they performed clearly did not actually repair the problem, the SA acknowledged that BMW would ultimately need to make the decision. Truthfully, I started to get the impression they wanted me to write a blank check for them to start taking pot-shots at a repair which, as we all have probably guessed, would ultimately be a recommendation to replace the roof cassette. Thanks, but if I'm going to ultimately pay for a replacement roof cassette, I'll wait until this one actually fails (and there's no real indication that it will at this point) -- and I'll get a good independent BMW mechanic to do the work. In the meanwhile, I'll continue to troubleshoot it myself; I've got just as good of a chance of isolating the problem as any BMW technician -- and probably a better chance when we whittle the time they'd be devoting to it to a half-hour...

Truthfully, although I sort-of expected this outcome, I'm still kind-of pi$$ed off with the attitude of this dealer. Back when I first bought my X3, they were pretty good and seemed customer-oriented with their service. But many of the SA's that I had dealt with back then are no long there, and their service manager seems to just be a mouthpiece for BMW corporate policy: do the minimum amount of work possible in order to get the customer through the warranty period; if the problem persists, let the customer 'foot the bill' at that stage.
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