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Thread: Disappointed and Discouraged in BMW

  1. #1
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    Disappointed and Discouraged in BMW

    I'm the 2nd owner of a 2006 R1200RT. I bought it in August 2014, with a little over 42,000 miles on it. In that time, I've had two catastrophic failures.

    The first was in October, when the fuel pump started to leak, blowing gasoline all over my left leg. This was subject to a safety recall, and it was repaired at Garcia Moto in Raleigh at no cost to me.

    The second was a major engine failure, not even a month after the previous repair. I was cruising down a road, doing 60 mph in 6th gear, when I heard a clatter and the engine seized. I was able to keep the bike under control and navigate safely to the shoulder. I didn't realize until the next day that my knees were bruised from where I was thrown suddenly into the fairing. A less experienced rider could easily have lost control and sustained more damage to the bike and, most importantly, to himself.

    I'm a conservative rider. I've never been hard on my cycles, even as a young man. By all accounts, the previous owner was the same way. So this is not a case of some kind of abuse coming home to roost.

    I had the bike towed to Garcia Moto, where they found that one of the exhaust valves had come apart, pieces of which had fallen into the cylinder. The technician could see holes in the piston, for instance. They suggested, rightly I believe, that rather than try to repair the damage, that I purchase a good used engine and have them install it. It cost $750 for an engine, with warranty, from Rubber Side Up (great guys to work with), and just under $2000 for Garcia Moto to install it (they did some other maintenance while they were in there, like replacing the timing belt.)

    Jon Ross, the service manager, called a BMW Motorrad representative to find out whether BMW might take on some part of the cost of repair. We realize that it is out of warranty and I'm not the first owner. We weren't asking for them to pick up the whole tab. We just thought they might want to do the stand-up thing and help out in some fashion.

    He was told that, if we could tear the engine apart and determine the exact cause of failure, then BMW might reimburse some part of the expense. However, tearing the engine apart would be at considerable cost to me, only raising the price tag of the whole venture, nullifying any benefit from whatever amount BMW might contribute unless it was remarkably and unexpectedly generous. Nor was there any guarantee that there would be any reimbursement, regardless of what an examination of the engine might find.

    Frankly, this whole thing has been hugely discouraging. This is the third BMW I've owned. I have previously had a 1976 R75/6, and a 1980 R100RT. I sold the RT when I bought the current bike. At this point, it would have been vastly cheaper to have had it completely restored. It only had 82,000 miles on it and had nothing like the kind of problems I've had with the '06. Other than typical age-related maintenance, it was a peach.

    I've ridden bikes since the late 60s. I've owned Hondas (including a Gold Wing), Yamahas, a couple of Harleys. I've ridden from coast to coast twice. I've stuck with Beemers ever since getting the R75 back in 1986 because I like everything about them. I've always prided myself on their reliability. How many times have I made comments like "80,000 miles? It's a BMW! It's barely broken in! I expect to get 250,000 miles with no more than standard maintenance!"
    That used to be true. Think of all the airheads that are still going strong.

    So: I get the more modern bike, and have two major disasters within a few months. After getting the bike back from Garcia Moto, I decided to write a letter to BMW Motorrad USA, just to let them know how unhappy I am about this situation. I didn't ask for anything. It was just to get it off my chest. Then someone called from Customer Relations. We talked. I answered questions. He talked to someone else, who then came on the line and told me that they woujldn't do anything because it was out of warranty and I am not the first owner.

    You know what? I didn't ask them for anything. They called me. If they weren't going to do something to show that they stand behind their product, then why did they waste my time? It just made me feel lousy all over again. If this is what they consider good customer relations, I've got news for them: when your machine has put my life at risk twice in less than a month, and you think you can just utter meaningless words in soothing tones and that will make everything all right, then you must think that the BMW market is full of half-wits.

    My faith in BMW is shaken to its foundations. I fear that they have put technical wizardry ahead of plain old reliability. Any reasonable response would have warmed my heart and satisfied me that, in fact, BMW Motorrad is still the company I always thought it was.

    Compare this experience with one my friend had with the Ruger firearms company. He had a problem with one of their rifles. They repaired it at no cost to him. They have no warranty at all. They just stand behind their products.

    Or L.L. Bean, with their lifetime no-questions-asked policy.

    Two catastrophic failures on a BMW with under 50,000 miles on the clock. They should be ashamed, and eager to do something to retain their reputation. They blew the chance.

    Maybe someday I'll get over it. Truly, I still want to believe in BMW as I always have, and to accept that I just had bad luck with one of their bikes. At this moment, it's hard to believe I will ever buy another. I could have bought a brand-new Kawasaki Versys 1000LT for what I've got in this 2006 R1200RT. BMW ought to be thinking about that.
    Bruce N8UTY
    2006 R1200RT

  2. #2
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    You're writing about a nine year old bike - right? One you didn't purchase new and one that's been out of warranty for 6 years? Sorry, while I feel for ya regarding the inconvenience of having a valve go (the fuel issue was addressed at no charge), I'd consider your plight as part and parcel of buying used 9 year old machines. And I'm not sure a valve letting go qualifies as "technical wizardry" on BMW's part. Blaming BMW for not stepping up seems out of line IMHO. Might be more inline having prior owner participate in the repair cost, since he/she may have been more the culprit in this mix, than not.
    Last edited by Motodan; 02-15-2015 at 12:18 AM.
    MOA #46783

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by brucen8uty View Post
    I'm the 2nd owner of a 2006 R1200RT. I bought it in August 2014, with a little over 42,000 miles on it. In that time, I've had two catastrophic failures.
    The following may sound harsh but I can sum up your experience in two words...sh*t happens.

    8 year old motorcycle with 42,000 miles on it, you aren't the first owner and you want warranty? In order to get a warranty or "consideration" from BMW, I suggest you buy new. You have every right to feel disappointed, but that's as far as it goes. In my book, anyway. Oh, and a fuel pump failure isn't catastrophic.

    This post isn't helpful to your unstated cause but it is my opinion. You're entitled to yours. Hope things get better for you.

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    We are spoiled by the quality of earlier BMW bikes

    People ride old air heads forever without major issues. The same thing happened at Porsche. They were once the standard for quality and now are not able to build a car as good as a Honda. It is all about money today, while it used to be about quality. OK, old fart getting off of his pedestal now. I have an '81 R100RS and a '11 R1200R. If the '81 has problems I will fix them, if the '11 has issues it is gone.

  5. #5
    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dennisarner View Post
    People ride old air heads forever without major issues. The same thing happened at Porsche. They were once the standard for quality and now are not able to build a car as good as a Honda. It is all about money today, while it used to be about quality. OK, old fart getting off of his pedestal now. I have an '81 R100RS and a '11 R1200R. If the '81 has problems I will fix them, if the '11 has issues it is gone.
    +1, Gunny; dennisarner hit the nail on the head, as time has rolled by since my first BMW purchase of a R60/2 in March of 1969 the Beemers have now become unreliable!
    Don Stanley; aka Chuy Medina "El Burrito Ballerina"
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by dennisarner View Post
    People ride old air heads forever without major issues. The same thing happened at Porsche. They were once the standard for quality and now are not able to build a car as good as a Honda. It is all about money today, while it used to be about quality. OK, old fart getting off of his pedestal now. I have an '81 R100RS and a '11 R1200R. If the '81 has problems I will fix them, if the '11 has issues it is gone.
    Ah, the good old days. Transmissions locked in a single gear due to a little broken spring; frequent alternator rotor failures; acute wheel spline wear; once a year or 12k mile clutch spline lubes; missing circlips; wheel bearing races that spin in the hubs; diode board failures; GS driveshaft u joint failures at 30K miles; dissolving carb floats; shredded carb diaphrams; etc. Boy oh boy those were "reliable" bikes but only if you worked on them frequently. But they were indeed the best then available.
    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
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  7. #7
    Registered User David13's Avatar
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    BMW motorcycles sales are up, not down.
    This is only one bike.
    It was 9 years old and more than one owner.
    So I have to say things happen. And you can't expect anything from BMW on it.
    As to this idea that it's all about money.
    What keeps the door open? What keeps the company in business? A burning desire to do it, a passion? No. Money.
    Pay the bills or they foreclose and you are out on the street. And the business is closed. And the product is gone.
    So don't be afraid to look at that profit margin and say ... can we afford to pay for this. Not always.
    dc

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by beemerdons View Post
    +1, Gunny; dennisarner hit the nail on the head, as time has rolled by since my first BMW purchase of a R60/2 in March of 1969 the Beemers have now become unreliable!
    Then I must be the luckiest person out there. My 2005 GS has 79K miles and no issues.




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  9. #9
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brucen8uty View Post
    You know what? I didn't ask them for anything. They called me. If they weren't going to do something to show that they stand behind their product, then why did they waste my time? It just made me feel lousy all over again. If this is what they consider good customer relations, I've got news for them: when your machine has put my life at risk twice in less than a month, and you think you can just utter meaningless words in soothing tones and that will make everything all right, then you must think that the BMW market is full of half-wits.

    ......................

    Compare this experience with one my friend had with the Ruger firearms company. He had a problem with one of their rifles. They repaired it at no cost to him. They have no warranty at all. They just stand behind their products.

    Or L.L. Bean, with their lifetime no-questions-asked policy.

    Two catastrophic failures on a BMW with under 50,000 miles on the clock. They should be ashamed, and eager to do something to retain their reputation. They blew the chance.

    Maybe someday I'll get over it.
    The call from Customer Relations was over top. If all you're going to do is tell the customer that he's SOL, why re-open the wound? Telling someone, to their face, that they're SOL, isn't any better than letting them think they're SOL.

    Relative to the arms manufacturer, yep they'll do that. But why they send out poor quality products in the first place is beyond me. They are a price point operation and quality / price are established to allow full-replacement of factory flaws. I've had one replacement (a Red Label) but kept the second flaw (lathe marks running the full length of a barrel) as a reminder of what their QC department is willing to send out the door.
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

  10. #10
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    Oh, and a fuel pump failure isn't catastrophic
    I have to say that it could well have been catastrophic depending on when and how it happened. I had one fail while I was in the left hand lane of a very busy inter-city slab while passing a semi with another on my butt. Fortunately I had a ditch to me left instead of the concrete barrier that I had just cleared. I did consider it a safety issue. It is amazing how fast one slows down with no fuel.
    Ken Dittrick
    2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blau)

    Excuses are the rocks upon which our dreams are crushed - Tim Fargo

  11. #11
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    8 year old motorcycle with 42,000 miles on it, you aren't the first owner and you want warranty? In order to get a warranty or "consideration" from BMW, I suggest you buy new.
    Exactly, buy new.

    But realize that when you do buy a new bike you have effectively purchased the warranty it comes with.

    Sometimes with used vehicles you can purchase an extended warranty.

    In either case, you have a warranty because you purchased a warranty. Warranties on vehicles are never open-ended--they always cover a finite time period. You've in either case purchased an insurance policy covering a fixed time period and defined occurrences. In some respects, you've simply pre-paid for repairs.

    That's the way it works.

    Now, some companies making smaller products with really quite high profit margins can afford to just give you a new one if you have a problem. That's because--again--their profit margin is high. It happens a lot on this forum and it's always a giggle when someone writes about "exceptional customer service" because they were given something free. Exceptional customer service would have occurred if they had been offered a lower price to begin with. Free replacement is not done with motorcycles or cars except perhaps at the extreme high end. Like if your Porsche GT3 burst into flame.

    So, you pay for a warranty or you pay to the extent the seller makes such a profit that giving you a replacement is feasible. Yes, you've paid for the "lifetime warranty" too.

    Pretty much nothing in life is risk free, but you can pay a lot for some modicum of peace of mind. Thing is, other folks have different risk adversity sentiments and may be unwilling to pay for peace of mind insurance. Should all goods be priced to include assurance for the most risk adverse? Well, no, and they're not.

    You're extremely off base in this instance to write in a public forum that you're "disappointed with BMW." Your understanding of economics is what's disappointing.

    PS: Great of Paul to point out the foibles of the (only) legendarily "reliable" Airheads. It's the "older we get the better we were" syndrome again.
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    PS: Great of Paul to point out the foibles of the (only) legendarily "reliable" Airheads. It's the "older we get the better we were" syndrome again.
    My favorite early airhead foible that sometimes caused owner head explosions was the GEN light. If the bulb burns out or isn't making a reliable contact with its holder the battery won't charge. Sometimes.

  14. #14
    Registered User gfspencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dennisarner View Post
    People ride old air heads forever without major issues. The same thing happened at Porsche. They were once the standard for quality and now are not able to build a car as good as a Honda. It is all about money today, while it used to be about quality. OK, old fart getting off of his pedestal now. I have an '81 R100RS and a '11 R1200R. If the '81 has problems I will fix them, if the '11 has issues it is gone.
    I don't know where you got your information about Porsche but it is incorrect. In fact Porsche topped JD Power's List of Most Reliable New Cars for 2014. And I will include a bit of anecdotal evidence . . . I have been driving Porsches since the 70's and I have never had a major problem with any of them.

    Yes, Porsches (and BMWs) are more complicated than they were in the 80s but they are also faster, safer and more comfortable. We pay a price for that. I can't work on some of the more complicated systems but I will pay that price if it makes my ride/drive safer and more enjoyable.

    To the OP, you took a chance and you bought an old, used bike. It broke. BMW doesn't warranty their bikes forever. Fix it and continue to ride it or sell it.
    2015 R nineT

  15. #15
    I bought a 12 year old F650 Dakar with 30K or so miles on it. I rode it a couple of years without incident. Then one day, for no apparent reason while I was riding it at roughly idle speed and about 3 or 4 miles per hour approaching to load it on a trailer it coughed once, died, and thenceforth had a locked-up engine. I still haven't had the inclination to tear it down to find the cause.

    In theory I could blame BMW. No engine should ever do that. Maybe it was objecting to a trailer ride. I don't yet have a clue why/what happened.

    But it is a bike out of warranty even though low mileage and is thus my probblem. Life is like that sometimes. Meanwhile it is still in the garage.
    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
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

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