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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-16-2012, 09:06 AM
Bear77 Bear77 is offline
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Fleeced by bad PPI. What should I do? (long)

Hey all, I could use some advice here. I have been lurking here for awhile while researching an E46 wagon purchase. I finally found a vehicle that looked promising--detailed maintenance records, reasonable mileage, reasonable price, and a car that appeared to be in good condition.

I found a reputable indy BMW repair shop with 5 star Yelp reviews in the vicinity of the seller and scheduled a Pre-Purchase Inspection. The PPI revealed the car was in sound mechanical condition, save for a leaky oil filter stand and an alternator belt in need of replacement--approximately $750 worth of work. Based on this information, I decided to purchase the vehicle and negotiated the price appropriately.

I took the car to my own mechanic (also a very reputable indy BMW shop) to get the recommended work done. This shop's policy is to conduct a thorough inspection on any car they are seeing for the first time. When this shop completed their inspection, I was shocked to find a laundry list of items that needed to be addressed that never came up in my PPI, totalling about $3,000 worth of work.

This shop walked me around the car while it was on the lift and pointed out everything they found and the deficiencies were obvious. One of the standout things that shop #2 found but never came up in my PPI were obviously bent rear camber arms, as if a tow-truck driver had carelessly hooked up the car and yanked it up onto the truck. I'm not the most mechanically inclined person I know, but the damage to these arms was obvious, even to me. There were several other items that shop #1 should have caught.

So my question is this: What should I do? I made this purchase based on shop #1's PPI findings. Had I been aware of all the other issues with the car, I would have made a different decision--either walking away from the car, or negotiating a much lower price. I feel like I wasted my money on a PPI that was clearly done half-a$$ed. At the very least, I will be demanding a refund on my PPI, but do I have any other recourse? What would you do?
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2012, 10:08 AM
Hellpuppy Hellpuppy is offline
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I would at least go back to shop #1 and shame them into doing the work they overlooked at a reduced price. They should jump at the chance to fix their reputation. I'd also ask your own mechanic if any of those items can be put off till later.
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  #3  
Old 10-16-2012, 10:18 AM
Bear77 Bear77 is offline
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The majority of the items listed by shop #2 don't need to be addressed right away--they just listed the items to show me everything they could find that needs to be addressed. This is what I expect from a PPI. I think the most glaring omission by shop #1 was the bent rear camber arms as well as leaks from the power steering lines.

The car I bought is a 2004 with 120k miles--I know there are going to be things that need to be addressed. I just can't believe the gross incompetence displayed by shop #1 and lack of attention to detail.
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:31 AM
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Id like to see the list that adds up to 3 grand. Chances are its probably 300 in parts and a whole buttload of bs labor charges
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:37 AM
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Good advice from Hellpuppy, I'd give shop #1 the opportunity to fix their mistake. If not, dispute the credit card charge (if used) and go from there. I would also take a serious look at the items shop #2 found and see about DIY, it will be rewarding to complete the job yourself.
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  #6  
Old 10-16-2012, 10:39 AM
Bear77 Bear77 is offline
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Yeah, it is a lot of labor charges, but the list of things shop #2 found is significantly different from shop #1

Shop #2 findings:

rear camber arms bent
oil filter stand leaking (shop #1 found this too)
VANOS accumulator line leaking
low pressure power steering hoses leaking
high pressure power steering hose leaking
lower control arm bushings worn
RTAB shims need replacing
engine mounts sagging
transmission mounts sagging
one wheel significantly bent (shop #1 found this too)

add: Shop #1 said alternator belt cracked, but shop #2 says it's fine. Shop #2 foreman showed me the belt and it does look fine--it's an OEM BMW belt, FWIW.
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  #7  
Old 10-16-2012, 02:35 PM
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All that stuff is pretty easy to do for little money in parts. Hell, you could fly me to your house, pay me to do the work, and fly me home for a lot less than 3 grand
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  #8  
Old 10-16-2012, 06:10 PM
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Drop the names of these places in the East Bay and we'll find you somewhere better to go. All those bushing/mount replacements are a couple hrs each I think so you are getting hit with lots of labor hrs. You can also split this 1 large job up into 3 smaller ones and stockpile the parts you need for each session yourself as you can afford to buy them. I'd get that oil leak and rim fixed first. The fact that the rear arms as well as a rim is bent makes me think this car was abused or slid into a curb at moderate speed or something.

If you don't want to pay a shop just have Smolck parachuted in from 100,000 feet with his tools. He only eats Milk Bones and will sleep on your porch.
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:18 PM
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Curious where you went as well. Go check out MotorSpeed West in Santa Clara, Bill & Ken are good guys and will take care of you. Tell em Chad sent you.

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  #10  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:09 AM
Bear77 Bear77 is offline
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Santa Clara is way too far out of the way for me. I'd appreciate your collective recommendations for a good shop in the San Ramon area, though. I'd rather not divulge the identity of shop #1 until I give them the chance to make it right. Shop #2, that provided the extensive inspection was Edge Motorsports in Dublin.
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  #11  
Old 10-17-2012, 08:47 AM
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What direction/expectations from your PPI did you give Shop #1? Did they explain what they do before you agreed to have them do it? Did you get a checklist of items they looked at with documented proof of their interpretation of the condition of the checked items?

Just like property inspections, I've seen a wide range of results from PPIs. A friend had a dealer do one and it was really just a safety check, not a thorough going over.
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  #12  
Old 10-17-2012, 08:55 AM
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Edge Motorsports knows their stuff, stick with them if the assclowns at #1 flail (they will)
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  #13  
Old 10-17-2012, 09:11 AM
Bear77 Bear77 is offline
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I got the same impression from Edge.
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  #14  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:18 PM
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I agree on asking shop #1 for a bid on the work at a discounted rate. You can always threaten a BBB complaint, but they probably would tell you to go fly a kite,,,or worse. My advice: if you love the car, buy the parts and get someone to fix it. None of these repairs should add up to $3k.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:30 PM
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I find it funny that everyone thinks shop 1 is responsible or liable in some way. A used car is an "as is" purchase and a BMW is a maintenance hog. 10 mechanics could all find different issues, live and learn.

You are going to have a long, expensive road if you dont at least learn the basics of BMW's. A simple stroll through our wiki would have told you what to expect. And an E46 doesnt get cheaper with age.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #16  
Old 10-18-2012, 03:40 AM
gesoffen gesoffen is offline
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I agree with smolck on this one - its a used car and one shouldn't expect all the mechanicals to be factory fresh. This may be a difference in perspective between the two shops (rear control arms aside):
Shop 1 thinks: highlight the safety and operational critical details and let the rest slide until they become safety/operational critical
Shop 2 thinks: highlight everything that keeps it from being a brand new car

I'd definitely ask shop 1 about the rear control arms but wouldn't hold my breath on them helping you out in any way (remember - honey, not vinegar!). Perhaps a 3rd opinion is in order regarding shop 2's laundry list?
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:42 AM
Hellpuppy Hellpuppy is offline
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Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I find it funny that everyone thinks shop 1 is responsible or liable in some way. A used car is an "as is" purchase and a BMW is a maintenance hog. 10 mechanics could all find different issues, live and learn.
From the OP's description, there was no excuse for missing the bent control arms. That's damage, not maintenance. I agree the rest of the list is arguable. PPIs are a crapshoot which is why I've never gotten one.
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I find it funny that everyone thinks shop 1 is responsible or liable in some way. A used car is an "as is" purchase and a BMW is a maintenance hog. 10 mechanics could all find different issues, live and learn.

You are going to have a long, expensive road if you dont at least learn the basics of BMW's. A simple stroll through our wiki would have told you what to expect. And an E46 doesnt get cheaper with age.
I agree that buying a used car falls under the principle of caveat emptor, or buyer beware, but I think a consumer should expect a reasonable amount of competance from a garage hired to do a PPI. That is especially so if that garage claims to specialize in European cars or specifically BMWs. I live in a small town outside of Nashville and my mechanic is a tobacco chewing good ole boy who works in overalls and he knows his stuff with BMWs - he can pick one apart doing a PPI.

That being said, my wife and I laughed about this post. We've both driven Euro cars since the 80's (Volvos, VWs. a BMW & a MB - now we have a LR Discovery, a E46 and a Porsche Cayman) and are mentally prepared for the worst to happen at any given time. We've fixed much longer lists of things on used cars we've purchased.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:16 AM
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My reason for asking shop #1 for a deal on work is because of their mistakes, the Buyer paid too much and may have passed on the car. Otherwise, give the money for the PPI to a detailer to put some lipstick on that pig.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:58 AM
Bear77 Bear77 is offline
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OP here. I went back to shop #1 yesterday with the results of shop #2's inspection. Shop #1 apologized profusely for missing the rear camber arms and offered to replace them free of charge--no parts or labor charge. They also offered to replace the oil filter stand gasket for free in order to make it right. They stood by the rest of their inspection and pointed everything out that was called by shop #2's inspection. Some of the things like the leaking VANOS line and power steering lines were barely leaking--we're talking a mere trace of moisture. The engine and transmission mounta looked fine.

On a final note, I realize I purchased an 8 year old car with 120k miles. I don't expect a brand new car, but I'd like to know if there are major issues, and a PPI is a good bargaining tool. I ended up paying the seller much less than he was I.initially asking.

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  #21  
Old 10-18-2012, 08:08 AM
Hellpuppy Hellpuppy is offline
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Glad it worked out. And good on you for handling it with class. Some peeps would've come on here and named names and tried to nuke the shop instead of trying to work with them.
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Old 10-18-2012, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vandyboy View Post
but I think a consumer should expect a reasonable amount of competance from a garage hired to do a PPI.
Why? Mechanics in general are good guys, but most of them are more worried about how fast they can make the money and move on to the next vehicle. Things get missed. I can't speak for the mechanic as to why he missed a bent camber arm, but he did and there are greater tragedies in this world. A camber arm is $50 and easy to replace.

I don't chew tobacco and fall between "good ole boy" and "normal guy" and could also do a proper PPI on a BMW inside of 30 minutes, but I know what to look for and I am slow and methodically looking, not trying to "move on to the next one".
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Old 10-18-2012, 10:42 AM
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Shop #1 needed to increase the quality of their "PPI" instead of just collecting your $200 and checking the oil. Perhaps they are new at doing thorough PPI's and had different levels of "PPI" ranging from "See if it is semi-roadworthy" to "Check everything because I don't want any surprises" Either way, they know now that some purchasers require the second.
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Old 10-19-2012, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
All that stuff is pretty easy to do for little money in parts. Hell, you could fly me to your house, pay me to do the work, and fly me home for a lot less than 3 grand
Hmmm.... interested in a trip to Cincinnati to do a suspension job on a ZHP? LOL
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  #25  
Old 10-19-2012, 02:42 PM
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Was there any warranty expressed or implied before the purchase? If not, your out of luck. As someone pointed out, used cars are also sold "AS IS" unless otherwise noted. Good luck really on trying to sue shop #1.
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