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Thread: BMW Motorcycle Reliability Quality Support Failure

  1. #1

    BMW Motorcycle Reliability Quality Support Failure

    Hello to all. I've been riding BMW roadsters for about 125k miles, and I've been a member of many BMW forums except this one, until this past weekend, so Hello.
    I rode my Stella! 2004 R1150r all over the country, she has been a great bike. Now I own a 2009 r1200r, a fine machine, but one with a real Achilles heel. This is my experience with the legendary machine and how BMWNA actually responds to a customer complaint. This is real world.

    Fuel Strip Sensor Failure and how BMW Responds

    I am not alone in suffering a fuel strip failure on my R1200R 2009. You know who you are; the failure is not subtle and can, as in my case, result in a crash with injury and property damage witnessed by my riding companion.
    I bought my 2009 used from an owner of the nearest BMW Motorcycle dealership. It had just over 14k miles when purchased. During negotiations for purchase I specifically asked the seller if the bike had an issue ever with the fuel strip sensor.
    He said no.

    I asked, thinking as the owner of the dealership he could approve, if he could warrant the bike for a couple of months as a gesture of goodwill, since I have been using their dealership to service my 1150 for 6 years--on work I could not do myself.

    He said "No, It's a Used Bike," I just fill up at 180 miles."
    Within 3 weeks of purchase the fuel strip failed and I ran dry at 180.8 miles on the odometer. I called the dealer and asked if, since I asked about this issue, and now it's happened, could they help somehow with the repair costs? I truly would have been very satisfied with credit for the part or labor. His response, and since he is an owner I have to believe that this is the philosophy of the dealership, his response was "Tell him it's a used bike, No."

    As Don points out " BMW has given them carte-blanche to replace the strips. No documentation needed," and "This REALLY depends on the dealer. One of those hidden secrets of BMW land."
    This dealer emphatically said no. True, I was not the original owner, but he sold me the bike and had every convenience to do goodwill and repair it. He choose not to. He did not suggest writing BMW or calling corporate, just No, It's A Used Bike.

    I paid $296 for the repair/replacement. That replacement lasted about six weeks then it was responsible for a crash when it failed. The dealership replaced it under warranty from the prev strip. I told them what happened. The owner was there, never spoke to me of the failure, preferred to drink saturday morning coffee with the other old flati that hang there on a Saturday morning.

    On the forum a member who drove her 2013 roadster out of the dealership only to have the strip fail within 20 miles, encouraged everyone with a failure to report it to the NHTSA.
    The efforts to encourage all of you with failures to fill out this simple form has been well documented on this as well as the advrider and bmwsporttouring forums. It is out there on also.

    What I also did was contact BMW Customer Service reporting my failures as well as putting in links to the various threads around BMW centered forums that discussed the notorious repeated failures of this ill-designed and poorly performing essential component of the dasboard.

    I think because I told them that a crash occurred because of this failed essential component, and that property damage also occurred I began to get calls from them. To at least two people I reported the sequence of events of the two failures. I also mentioned that I had a minor sprain to my wrist. They were very concerned about that. After a few calls, they offered to reimburse me for the replacement of the first fuel strip. As there were two failures and the second one with the crash and the sprained wrist damaged beyond repair my Cee Bailey screen and bracket, I asked for replacement of that also. They wanted receipts. I have them receipts. The total cost would be about $520.

    Here is where BMW corporate stands behind their customers. Here is where BMWNA stands behind their product.

    They deny payment for the windscreen

    Hello Mr. XXXXXXXXX

    I checked and I will not be able to get payment approved for the windscreen.

    Please sign and Notarize the attached release for the fuel level sensor payment. Return this to my address below and I will have a check processed.


    Kind Regards,

    And check out the "release"


    IN CONSIDERATION OF a one-time Goodwill payment in the amount of Two-Hundred-Ninety-Six and 28/100 ($296.28) Dollars, the receipt and sufficiency of such, which is hereby acknowledged, the undersigned releases and fully

    discharges BMW of North America, LLC ("BMW NA"), BAYERISCHE MOTOREN WERKE AG ("BMW AG") and each of their predecessors, successors, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, parents, partners, dealers, officers, directors, shareholders,

    agents, servants, employees, representatives, attorneys, heirs, successors and assigns, past and present, and each of them (hereinafter collectively referred to as the "Releasees"), from any and all claims, demands and causes of action of

    any and every kind and nature, including, without limitation, claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, non-disclosure, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligence, personal injuries, product liability, breach of express and implied

    warranty, emotional distress, loss of use of the vehicle, property damages, attorneys fees, damages, costs and expenses, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which the undersigned now owns or holds or at any time

    has owned or held against the others arising out of, resulting from, or in any way related to the all repairs up to the ?Date? below in the undersigned's 2009 R 1200 R motorcycle, bearing vehicle identification number


    The undersigned recognizes that in executing this General Release that this instrument shall be effective as a bar to each and every action, claim, demand or cause of action released hereby.

    No action taken by the Releasees, either previously or in connection with this General Release, shall be deemed or construed to be an admission of the truth, falsity, fault or liability of the matter pertaining to any action, claim,

    demand, or cause of action referred to herein or relating to the subject matter of this General Release.

    The undersigned will keep confidential the existence and terms of this General Release. The undersigned agrees not to reveal the facts leading up to, the terms or the conditions of this General Release in any communication form

    including, but not limited to, word-of-mouth, print, broadcast or Internet.

    By: _____________________________
    John XXXXXXX
    Date: __________________

    State: __________________

    Sworn to and subscribed to me
    this day of , 20 .

    Notary Public in and for the
    State of __________________.
    My Commission Expires _____________.

    "Of any and every kind and nature without limitation..."
    Really? Anything at all it seems. No mention of a fuel strip, just a release of BMWNA its lawyers, officers, gardeners, crazy aunties and tropical fish from any responsibility for anything related to this bike. And for $296.

    No thanks, BMW.
    Is this the way to do business? Is this how all those loyal and repeat customers expect they will be treated after they come to the defense of fuel strips and final drives and clutch splines and switches and ABS that others have repeated and expensive problems with?

    I hope potential first time BMW buyers see this

    This is not your daddy's BMW.

    I tell you, I feel sorry for the actual machines to have their reputed quality and reputation, their reliability, thrown under the bus like this. And by such corporate legalese?

    Caveat Emptor


    PS Of course I didn't sign

  2. #2
    It isn't clear how the failed fuel strip caused a crash. Can you add detail.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  3. #3
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Chestnut Hill, MA
    John - First, welcome to the forum. Second, I and am sure others are sorry to hear of your crash as the result of the apparent failure of the fuel strip. Many of us (me included) have had fuel strips replaced, and I think generally we have learned not to trust the replacements. I always reset ODO2 on my R1200Rt every time I fill up so that I know (generally) how much fuel is in the tank.

    I think we'd all like to know the circumstances of your fuel-strip failure which led to your injury and damage to your ride.

    Thanks, and again, welcome to the Hexhead forum.
    John Gamel
    2015 Ebony Metallic R1200RT
    BMW CCA 2006 - Present; BMW MOA 2009-Present
    Walt Kelly: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Can hardly wait for the details of your crash due to fuel strip failure.
    Marty Hill
    7 GS white

    Ride till you can't

  5. #5
    Retired from riding rad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Santa Cruz
    Here is his response to the same question on the BMW 1200, 1150...message board where he is a regular.


    "Many have posted that they've run out of gas, with the fuel strip telling them they had gas and no yellow warning light on. This has been reported happening at very inopportune moments, in the middle of a busy intersection, on a busy interstate in the middle lane.
    Those reporting the failure report that they felt their safety was very much in question.
    In my case I was southbound on I 55 near Granada Ms. My odometer read 202, miles to empty read 119. Thats impossible. I knew the sensor had failed and planned to fuel at the next exit, like 5-6 miles away.
    Also, I was carrying about 2 qts of gas so if I ran out I have some to get me 10-15 miles.
    At 75-80 mph I felt the engine sputter but then catch. That is a warning sign I've unfortunately learned because in a minute the engine will stop.
    With this warning I started to look at the shoulder, saw a place to pull off ahead and as I did the engine quit
    My plan was to go to neutral after engine breaking in 6th slowed me down. Also I had to get off the interstate. You get one chance to do this right. No power no second chances.
    I guided the bike toward the shoulder when suddenly I felt the entire bike vibrating severely under me. I though somehow I had blown both tires. It felt like that.
    Turns out it was deeply grooved rumble strips. I was distracted enough to not pull in the clutch so 6th and the rumble strips slowed me down so quickly that when the bike came to an abrupt stop or very nearly a stop I lost balance. Fortunately there was a concrete vertical barrier, about 40" high and as the bike fell to the right I put out my right hand to catch the wall, stop the fall.
    I wasn't strong enough to do this and my right wrist had a minor sprain and the cee baileys was toast.
    This happened, ultimately, because of the fuel sensor failure."

  6. #6
    Registered User f14rio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    mattituck new york

    don't think a court would rule the fuel strip failure was the cause

    seems to me engines can stop running for a lot of reasons, fuel starvation being just one of them. the immediate response to such an occurrence would seem to be the rider's responsibility.

    just sayin'
    Last edited by f14rio; 05-08-2013 at 11:25 PM.
    "Enemy fighters at 2 o'clock!...Roger, What should i do until then?"

    2010 r1200r, 2009 harley crossbones, 2008 triumph/sidecar, 1970 norton commando 750

  7. #7
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Albuquerque, NM
    The sound of the world's smallest violin playing seems applicable.
    Kent Christensen
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  8. #8
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Albuquerque, NM
    Back in the mid 1990s Europeans somehow determined that automotive wiring harnesses should be biodegradable.

    On the Mercedes E320s the engine harness could eventually prematurely fail (biodegrade!) and the motor would stop running.

    THIS is an example of a part failure directly causing a motor to stop running.

    LOTS and LOTS of reports of this to NHTSA and NEVER a recall. It's a known problem, easily discovered by periodic inspection. Lots of folks really wanted a free $900 harness and didn't get one. Some really good customers with full dealer service history may have ... probably before actual failure.

    In the BMW bike instance, failure of the part does NOT cause the motor to stop running, rather it's running out of fuel that causes that. Running out of fuel on a vehicle not legally required to even have a fuel gauge somehow seems even more the operator's responsibility. Riding for days and days and miles and miles with the fuel gauge still showing full ought to be a clue, even to the clueless.

    I for one--and there are thousands of others--rode a 1984 BMW with no fuel gauge at all for 28 years and 70K some miles and NEVER EVER ran out of fuel in the middle of a dangerous traffic situation and went into a state of panic and fell over. I know how to ride. My warning system? The trip odometer, of course. The new bikes still have them, many have two, in fact. Plus, I understood intuitively when it was time to fill up based on recent riding and perceived time since last fillup. I'm responsible.

    Now yes, my old bike did have a "warning system" of sort, in that it had a reserve system on the petcocks. But still this "warning" involved the bike running out of fuel and the engine acting accordingly--apparently a REALLY DANGEROUS situation for some. Pretty much I personally almost never got to the point of needing reserve, as again I practiced awareness and responsiblity.

    It's cute to have a fuel gauge--I hardly ever look at mine--and BMW nicely replaces some of the failures. They are NOT responsibile for anyone running out of fuel.
    Kent Christensen
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  9. #9
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Camas Valley Oregon
    +1 Kent. I've got a 150 mile endurance butt. Stop and stretch legs and next stop is for fuel. I get 50mpg regularly and at 300 miles get about six gallons of dino juice into the tank and "repeat as necessary".
    Marty - in the western Oregon mountains.'06RT, (gone '04RT, '86 Venture Royal, '81 Yamaha Virago920, '82Suzuki GS1100GK, '76 Suzuki GT750, Triumph 750 Bonneville, BSA Road Rocket 650, 61" Harley knucklehead)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Greater Bahstin, Massachusetts
    Sure, running out of gas could be the ultimate cause of a crash (while pulling into an intersection, making a tight turn, etc) and the manufacturer can't be expected to foresee all possibilities. However, if they have knowingly manufactured motorcycles with defective fuel gauges they have assumed at least some responsibility when their product provides inaccurate information. If the gauge shows sufficient fuel supply the rider has every reason to expect he will not run out of gas. If the machine had no fuel gauge then that would absolve the manufacturer. Had BMW informed the owners that the fuel gauge might be defective, that might also absolve the company.

    BMW certainly has enough information to conclude that its fuel strips are often defective. They chose not to notify owners and not to voluntarily recall the machines. To me this is an appalling lack of corporate responsibility. Even if BMW could somehow rationalize their lack of action, surely it would be the right thing to do to keep customers happy and coming back to BMW for their next motorcycle. I wonder how many sales they have lost over the $300 fuel strip issue?

    PS- I'm not an lawyer and don't play one on TV. But I do believe strongly in consumer rights and corporate responsibility.

    2011 R1200RT

  11. #11
    Registered User toooldtocare's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    DeLand Florida
    My Volvo's V70 fuel gauge stopped working two weeks after the factory warranty expired, left me stranded too. It read one-half full one second and empty the next. Volvo repaired the car for me, but I had to pay for it at a cost of over $900 to replace the sending unit. I wrote Volvo and complained that the car was only two weeks off warranty and only had 29,000 miles on it, which was under their mileage limitations. They said, "Sorry about that, buy a new one and we will repair it since we extended the warranty from 3 years to 4 years on new cars." I did buy a new car, but it was not Volvo. I left the Volvo family after driving them for more than 30 years. Sometimes you just have to do what makes you feel good. My R1200R has a flaky fuel strip too, I just ignore it. It reads full sometimes, empty others. It is not worth fixing it, I just look at the miles ridden, something I have been doing for the 47 years that I have been riding motorcycles.


  12. #12
    Fuel strip did not cause his accident(if you want to call it that).
    End of story.
    The BMW letter itself thought, if I would receive one like that, would turn me off purchasing their bikes for life, as I myself find it insulting.
    Australia N,S,W
    Mid North Coast
    2014 R1200RT LC/SE

  13. #13
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Tampa, FL
    "My plan was to go to neutral after engine breaking in 6th slowed me down. Also I had to get off the interstate. You get one chance to do this right. No power no second chances.
    I guided the bike toward the shoulder when suddenly I felt the entire bike vibrating severely under me. I though somehow I had blown both tires. It felt like that.
    Turns out it was deeply grooved rumble strips. I was distracted enough to not pull in the clutch so 6th and the rumble strips slowed me down so quickly that when the bike came to an abrupt stop or very nearly a stop I lost balance. "

    I certainly sympathize with your issues regarding your dealership, BMWNA and the fuel strip problem. i have had my own battles with BMWNA in the past, which I've won, although not without a fight. However, blaming the fuel strip for the crash when you were just not a proficient enough rider to pull in the clutch during the emergency seems a bit of a reach. It is easy to blame the bike for a crash, and in some instances this is accurate. However, I'm throwing the flag on this one. As I learned a long time ago (and preach to my students), the part of the bike usually leading to a crash is the nut that connects the handlebar to the seat...

    Good luck and safe riding!

  14. #14
    To all the wags advising me to use the odometer. I do. I use the fuel consumption and do the math to double check. I watch the bars. I have painted small colored dots next to 2 bars so I can more easily descern 2 vs 3. And I've ridden my 2004 1150 100k miles without ever running out of gas, with it's always reliable low fuel light coupled with the odometer. In short I am trying to find a workable solution.

    And to all of you who rode when Nixon was president and the Earth was all fire and a fuel gauge was as much of a pipe dream as a hershey bar in your father's back pocket, there was no panic involved. Just physics happening very very quickly.
    I would not deny that anyone's skills can be improved, but it seems you are making the typical assumptions that blame the rider, absolve the company. That's naive and dangerous because you assume it cannot happen to you.

    On my 1150 I carried gas because I would be in out of the way places enough that I might not find fuel. On the 12 I carry extra gas for that reason and also it is because after 5k miles with her I am still having a time of figuring with reasonable certainty when to refuel.

    I do not have a 150 mile butt, I have the 200+ mile one. So, I do not like to stop at Exxon to refuel more than is necessary. I prefer to spend more time on the road than at the gas station.
    I have run out twice, once at 180 mile and once at 202. I've also gone 223 and still had half a gallon. So, a problem for me is the variability of a tank of gas distance. I have resigned to just stopping at 150 though and refueling.

    So, lecturing about using the odometer is missing the point. Those conspiracy theorists who believe I must be after're partly right and partly wrong. I am not looking for financial gain. I bought a motorcycle, my second BMW, with a fuel gauge. I want it to work. It is a VERY useful bit of technology. I understand all automobiles have them where they are useful also. I'll bet your wives just swear by them, right? It is reasonable to expect it to work. It's there. BMW put it there. It may require conscious thought to interpret accurately, but there it is with bars and lights and warnings and miles to empty. It's "supposed to work."

    My beef is the arrogant not caring attitude from the previous owner who owns the BMW shop locally. Not good PR at all. And this is compounded by the attitude of bmwna who cares enough about it to want their customer to sign away any and all claims for anything related to the bike. This whole process could have been stopped with a simple timely fix, but the shop owner choose not to and BMW answered in a customer hostile way.
    They are definitely cutting bait on this.
    It sounds as if many of you are passionate about your bikes, and that's understandable. They are good bikes. But, they are not without sin, and this is the achilles heel of the bike. It is only a minor annoyance if it causes no issue to you; it caused an issue to me. And it is very haughty to think that this would never happen to you. Hell, I hope it doesn't. I hope my third strip is the charm. I hope that I reach some detente with NOT running out of gas. It is a real PITA

    People who buy BMW bikes generally know they want quality, reliability, workmanship, tradition, etc and for the most part they get that. They pay a premium for it, willingly. What they don't want is to be treated as a red haired step child (sorry redheads and step children) and be told "we'll pay you $296 and you're on your own buddy, we don't care. Sign here..."

    Thanks for the welcome to the forum, though. And I am sorry that this is my first post, such a down. But it is an issue and where else to discuss if not here?


  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by dwestly View Post
    . However, blaming the fuel strip for the crash when you were just not a proficient enough rider to pull in the clutch during the emergency seems a bit of a reach. It is easy to blame the bike for a crash, and in some instances this is accurate. However, I'm throwing the flag on this one. As I learned a long time ago (and preach to my students), the part of the bike usually leading to a crash is the nut that connects the handlebar to the seat...

    Good luck and safe riding!
    hey, dwestly thanks.
    >you were just not a proficient enough rider to pull in the clutch during the emergency<
    Yes. And the rational for that--pulling in the clutch during an emergency-- is what? I ask that seriously. So you keep moving faster? Have more momentum? Truly no sarcasm intended. Why is that a better course of action than staying in the same gear to bleed off a little speed?
    Someone said to prevent the rear from locking up?

    But my riding skills or lack of them are not the issue here. It is the response of the dealer and corporate to this.
    Would the members sign away all right for any and all issues without limitation for $296?
    Sounds like a poor choice to me.
    You may take comfort from their response. It sounds a lot like We Don't Care; we have more KoolAde than complaints.

    Last edited by JayElDee; 05-09-2013 at 02:25 AM.

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