A Story of two BMW dealers and their attempts to abuse my wallet - Long and ranting - you've been warned :-)

Hello All, I have a 1994 M3, a 1994 325IS, and a 2002 Z3 Convertible. Both the M3 and 325 have around 100k miles on them. They are all are terrific vehicles
in my humble opinion. I have spent just under 17 years as an "Automotive Technician" at various dealerships. I even managed the shop at a big box Pep Boys. (So I kinda know my way around a wrench or two.) About three weeks ago my 325 started making this groaning / creaking noise when I'd corner. I wrote it off mentally to the struts and shocks aging and needing to be replaced. As these things will do when ignored, it got progressively worse. Every time I hit a bump it sounded like a bolt being pulled through a piece of sheetmetal. Like the threads rubbing. It was getting to the point where it could no longer be "ignored". I put it up on the rack at work to check the bolts on the struts and shocks. Nothing was loose, or looked out of sorts. I decided to bring the ailing 325 to Moss Motors BMW in Lafayette Louisiana. They are my local dealer and have been good to me over the years. They took my baby in and almost 2 hours later pontificated that my springs, struts, shocks and rear shock mounts were all shot, and needed to be replaced immediately. I said "let me think about it" as the price tag for the repair was just over $1,800.00. Plus, something about the whole thing was setting off my BS detector. The noises continued. I found myself in Baton Rouge LA two days later. I brought the car to Brian Harris BMW. I have done plenty of business with them as well. In general they have a good bunch of guys in their shop. They diagnosed the same suspension issue and wanted $2,100.00 to do the same exact repair. (I have print outs of both estimates. They are almost identical - except for the price tag.) Again, something set off my BS detector. I had the following weekend off. I had already been doing plenty of research into the issues my baby was facing. I decided it was time to put the 325 up on my Ron Stygar (of unofficialbmw.com) modified Jack Stands. I had already pulled back the carpet in the trunk. (No glaring problems with the shock mounts) I checked out the bottom of the shock mounts. Hmm they looked fine. A tad bit dirty, but nothing like the pictures of busted ones I had seen online. I had already decided to order a complete suspension kit for the car. I bought one by Tokico on eBay for around $600.00. It's custom made for the e36 and is fully adjustable. I've used their shocks for years, and I have had good success with them. (Yes, I know everyone has their preference - that's the wonderful thing about our country - you have that right!) I got the kit in, inspected it. Looked great! I spent the majority of a day popping it in. While I was down there, I also changed both front control arms, associated bushing, and tie rods. I also installed Front and Rear Strut Braces from John Mason (in CA - (805) 527-6624 - his gear is WAY Better built than the Dinan braces on my M3.) After all this was installed, I trailered the 325 over to the shop to have it aligned. When she was done I took her out for a ride. I proceeded to turn a bumpy corner at a decent speed, and there was the noise again!! The string of curse words would have reddened the face of the most hardened criminal. :-) Long story short - yesterday I brought the car in to have a new SS exhaust installed. (Nice setup from BavAuto - Dual cats - crossover pipe - no resonators). In the process of their installing it, they found that both of the metal reinforced rubber mounts which hold up the muffler were broken and the factory exhaust was swinging around freely and bumping into the surrounding undercarriage items every time I hit a bump and / or cornered at speed. Thankfully I had taken the advice of the rep at BavAuto and ordered two with my new exhaust. The mounts were around 40.00 each. So basically what I'm trying to say is that two dealerships tried to get me to change out my entire suspension system for around $1,800.00 when all the car actually needed was two $40.00 muffler brackets. Just take some time to think over what they are telling you to do before you let then go hacking on your baby!
Whew - Rant over!
Thanks for hearing me out!
-=Wayne K=-
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Thanks Wayne. We ALL need to hear stories like yours periodically to remind us why we call them "BMW $tealers." Glad you got the problem sorted out. Sounds like your 325 is ready for another 100k miles of smiles.
R
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Wayne, I'm sorry to hear about your experiences but at least you now have a really nice new suspension and your car doesn't "complain" every time you decide to corner.
I had a similar problem in a '82 VW Scirocco. I was a bit green at the time. The car was only 2 years old when the OEM muffler gave out - another long story that pointed an accusing finger at the local Porsche-Audi dealer as an "accomplice".
My VW also started moaning every time I cornered. It dumbfounded me for weeks until I took it to a small independent garage on Danforth near Bayview (in Toronto). There were these two older German guys running the shop. They only worked on Mercedes but it didn't take one of them 2 minutes before he told me he suspected it was my replacement muffler that was the culprit. He offered to fix it for me. Apparently, the shop who installed the new muffler left out one or two items and the hangers were also not properly modified so the whole thing rubbed against the car when I cornered. The German fellow fixed it in less than an hour.
There is some truth to dealers who are "too eager" to spend owners' money on wild goose chases; and in some cases, on completely bogus work or parts. There was one time when my Xenon ballast failed in my E39 and I took it to the dealer. They replaced the ballast and then told me I need a new Xenon bulb too because it was broken. I smelled a rat immediately because the Xenon light was working except that it would not stay lit after self-levelling - classic symptoms of a busted Xenon ballast. At the risk of insulting someone I insisted on seeing the bulb.
When they finally produced the bulb I saw that it had gashes on it and it was partially shattered. When I then confronted the mechanic and asked how the gashes got there he told me that's how it was when he took it out. I'm sorry but a Xenon bulb does not gash itself while it is inside the lamp. I took the matter to the manager and he immediately apologized and removed the charge. The bulb would have been very expensive. I believe they were about $150 each. The ballast was covered by warranty - bulbs were not. It was an unpleasant experience but I had to endure it to avoid becoming a victim of someone else's mistake.
Sometimes you have to get aggressive and "throw down the gauntlet". There's no point in being chummy with people who are ripping you off. Insist on inspecting the part.
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Well, yes, if you can.
Some years ago, my high mileage E34 was *slightly* slow to start in one summer's morning. Thought no more about it and drove to work. Some five miles down the way - heavy rush hour town traffic - it started to play up. The auto gave problems - went into limp home mode. Think I may have opened a window and noticed it was slow to operate, but no alternator warning light. Then a few miles on the engine cut out. Called my rescue service and they diagnosed a faulty alternator.
Had it towed to my dealer while I made my own way to work. Later in the day, they called to say it was a faulty alternator *and* battery. Slightly surprised, I told them to keep the battery to one side so I could check it.
Collecting the car, no old battery. They said they don't normally keep them or mark which car they'd come from, so couldn't find it. But they'd charged me for charging and testing the old one. And a charge for filling the new one with acid and charging that. And fitting. So about 3 times the price of buying a similar quality battery and fitting it myself.
--
*Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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wrote:

Sounds typical of a $tealer. They figure you drive a BMW, so you're loaded and probably don't care about a few hundred $$. They assume you won't know the difference. They get used to people not caring and so can continually get away with this kind of crap. I've seen it time and time again, at all types of dealerships, not just BMW.
R
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wrote:

It happens all the time......especially with labor charges. I remember an occasion about 10 years ago when I brought the Acura that I had at the time into a local dealer to get some regular maintenance done. Apparently, they must have forgotten that I had chosen to wait on the premises for the work to be completed instead of going home and coming back later to pick the car up. Because in the 2 hours that I spent there -- during half of which the car was visibly sitting idle and the other half had 1 mechanic working on it -- they somehow managed to log 3 1/2 hours of labor time (at $75/hour)! Needless to say, I complained vigorously. And after threatening to create a scene in front of other their customers, they did finally capitulate and bring the bill back down to reality.
Rob
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There used to be an "insider" term that applied to some garages when a person brought in a car with a vague driveability problem.
These shops might "wall" a car for a few hours and tell the owner that they tested it but couldn't find anything wrong. They basically just parked the car by a wall somewhere.
It wasn't something particular to dealers though.
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Well, since you actually requested the battery be put aside then the garage was plainly at fault. IMO, they can't bill you for charging and testing the old one if they can't produce it.
As ridiculous prices go, a dealer often charges up to 2x the cost of the same battery without the BMW label on it.
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They can and did. They appear to be a law unto themselves. Of course I had no proof I'd asked for the old battery - I did it via the phone. But at one time such things were automatic - keeping old parts to one side in case the customer asked for them.
--
*Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

And in some places (Ohio), it's the law. You *must* be offered the old parts for inspection. -- C.R. Krieger (Been there; done that)
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