Looking for some ideas -
My '89 325i convertible with ~143K mi was fine when I took it to WB
Motors, Pickett Rd, in Fairfax VA. They did some simple things -
replaced a couple brake hoses, balanced front tires, attached the
muffler heat shield, and some bulbs. I went to pick it up, and couldn't
put the car in gear. It turns out the 5spd manual is mysteriously stuck
in reverse, although the shifter is in the neutral position. They claim
it was fine when they drove it out of the shop, and had no idea there
was this major damage to the car. They rolled it back in and determined
that the external linkages are fine, something is jammed inside the
transmission, although somehow the shifter is not in reverse and will
not move into any gear.
So first, I wonder what my options are to fight with them about it.
They offered 10% off to fix it with a 100K mi used transmission, at
$1650 w/ clutch, this was not satisfactory. And my trust was broken
with them anyway, so I didn't go ahead with that. Is there any point
Towed to next shop closer to home, they confirm the problem, quote
$2500, and again can only replace it, not open it up to find the
problem. This isn't worth doing on a $2400 car, I think.
I feel like my best option is to get the transmission opened and looked
at. Can anyone recommend a transmission place in Northern Virginia that
can open up a BMW transmission and possibly fix it?
How many miles did they put on the car?
Some kid went joyriding perhaps?
Although they were the ones that obviously
put the gearbox in this state physically, they
have no liability. The car could have burst
into flames and absent some negligence on their
behalf they're off the hook. Sucks, but it's the
way it is.
Need Mercedes parts? http://parts.mbz.org
Richard Sexton | Mercedes stuff: http://mbz.org
I don't follow that logic.
If the car went into the garage with a perfectly working g/box, which was
broken when the owner went to pick it up. It seems obvious to me that the
garage must have broken it.
They can argue that it was not their fault, that it was simply a
coincidence. That the g/box could have broken at any time, and that it just
happened to break whilst it was in their care, but I don't see how they can
deny all liability at this stage.without knowing exactly what is wrong with
Another point is, did the garage tell the owner the g/box was broken before
he went to pick the car up. If they didn't, why not?
It seems a little far fetched to believe the car was perfectly OK when it
was parked ready for collection. Methinks someone needs to have a word with
the driver who parked it.
From what the OP said, if it were me, I certainly wouldn't accept what the
garage is saying as conclusive. After all it is in their interest if they
can convince the owner they are not responsible.
Acts of god are not the garage's problem. That is if in reasonable and customary
actions if something breaks it's not their fault. Say in this case some part
the transmission broke - if they were shifting normally and it just snapped then
it's not reasonable to say they broke it - it would have broken no matter who
But, if they forced it hard to get it into gear that's negligence and a (small
claims) court would make them pay.
Joyriding is the wildcard. If you can show it has like 20 more miles on
it than it should a judge owuld raise his eyebrows and go "uh yeah, riiiight"
and pretty much automatically assign blame to them.
If it were me I'd have the car towed someplace else, have them pull the
gearbox (it's gotta come out anyway) then open it up and see what
failed and WHY.
The original dealer wll lie if left to do this.
If it turns out as suspected they they forced the thing into gear
really hard and that's the only way this could have happened then
pay a laywer a little bit to write them a letter explain they'll
pay or they'll see you in (small claims) court. If it just
broke, well at leastthe gearbox it out. http://car-part.com will
find you another tranny cheaper then anywhere else.
Need Mercedes parts? http://parts.mbz.org
Richard Sexton | Mercedes stuff: http://mbz.org
A g/box breaking can hardly be described as an act of god.
I suggest you re-read my reply, which covered the possibilities you point
What I disagree with is your statement that even though the damage occured
when the car was in the garages possession, "they have no liability". Which
is simply not true.
'Maybe' they haven't, but without more information about how it was treated
whilst in the garages care, the possibility that the garage 'were' directly
responsible for the damage occuring at the time it did, can't be ruled out.
As I see it, it's up to the garage to prove it wasn't their fault, rather
than for the owner to prove it was, and the only way I can see to do that
with any degree of certainty is for the g/box to be checked to see exactly
what is wrong with it.
Speaking as an engineer, it's often possible in the case of breakages to see
signs that a component was previously cracked, and ready to break at any
If that were the case with the OP's g/box, it would let the garage off the
Just one example of how a check of the g/box could help in establishing if
anyone in particular could be held responsible for it's failure.
I don't see any point in the rest of your reply We could all speculate how
the damage actually occured but that is irrelevant to the point I am making.
The point is whether it was caused by the garages negligence, or whether it
was a weakness in the g/box, that was ready to fail at any time.
Well, there's a happy ending to the story. I did take it to another
shop, the one that quoted $2500, and they were pretty useless and left
the linkage disconnected after two hours.
Teetering on the brink of pulling the plug on my Terry Schaivo of a
car, I followed the advice earlier in the thread and checked out
bimrs.org. Turns out I remembered one of the shops nearby was where the
previous owner took the car, and that he highly recommended them. So I
had it towed to this third shop, praying that the instrument cluster
parts from the first shop and the tranny linkage parts from the second
shop would follow along with this unsupervised tow. (Checking for a
joyride is hard with the cluster in North Carolina!)
Turns out, this was a stroke of luck. Grant at Alexandria Bavarian
Motor Service http://www.alexandriabavarian.com/ knows his stuff
backwards and forwards, and they were able to fix it in 20 minutes, he
said. From what I understand, a bolt related to the selector shaft had
worked its way loose over time, allowing the shifting rods to move out
of place. I guess it couldn't get back into gear because the selector
was not aligned with the rods and was pushing uselessly against
something. They were able to access the "Shifting rods" above the gears
without dropping out the transmission, take out the springs (#16 from
) and put the selector back in place, fixed up the naughty bolt and
kept it in place with some grippy paste stuff.
He also had the prior repair records, showing the clutch is only 3
years old, and didn't replace it, even though I had already conceded it
would be necessary. That's a class act for a shop.
I think it's a minor miracle, and also means that WB Motors is cleared
of any wrongdoing, as it seems like a slowly caused problem. Joe at WB
has always been very attentive and thorough, so I hope this post
doesn't hurt their business. Apparently it's a common problem for this
car, so I hope this thread can help someone else out.
Richard Sexton wrote:
I have a speculation as to what may have happend to your transmission.
If the guy taking your car out of the shop couldn't find reverse and applied
an extreme amount of force trying to move the shift lever to the left and
aft instead of to the left and forward as he should have, he may have
managed to shear the pin that locates the shift fork on the shifting rod.
See the exploded view on
to see what I am referring to. When he forced the gearshift aft trying to
put it into reverse what would actually happen is that the shifting rod
would move forward but the shift fork would not move because it can't go in
that direction. The shift fork would become mislocated on the shaft. Then
when he moved the gearshift back to neutral the shifting rod and the shift
fork would move aft putting the transmission into reverse gear. Now you
have the situation you describe with the gearshift in neutral and the
transmission in reverse. I don't know what kind of relationship you have
with the shop that did this but you might try to convince them that they are
I also think there may be some small chance that you could restore funtion
to your transmission by trying to reverse the damage done. If you move the
gearshift lever over to the left and try to move it forward it probably
won't go because the transmission is already in reverse gear. But if you
apply and extreme amount of force trying to move the gearshift forward you
may actually be able to get the shift fork to slide on the shifting rod and
move back to it's original position. The locating pin would of course still
be broken but if you're really lucky, the gouges on the shfting rod caused
by the broken pin might be severe enough to hold the shift fork in position.
It might be worth trying as you have very little to lose at this point.
Wow, that's a fantastic amount of detail, thanks! I had no idea the
dealer's parts app was available on the web. I'm studying this now and
I'll stop by the shop in the morning to get their take. I imagine even
if I forced the shift fork back to the right position on the rod, it's
still likely to come out of position sometime in the future, and since
reverse is shared with 5th, I'll be going fast...
I know I don't have much chance of holding them liable, and it's not
something they could have broken while working on it, but some hasty
carelessness could cause the situation you describe.
On 9 Nov 2006 11:23:08 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
sue them -- if you really drove it there and they drove it about - check the
mileage - you did keep a note of the ingoing mileage didn't you? Oops = Shit
Sir Hugh of Bognor
The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.
Intelligence is not knowing the answer but knowing where and how to find it!
Bognor Regis, W.Sussex, England, UK
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