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BMW Service Sucks

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This week, the mailbag is suspended, sort of. You see, I have a problem with BMW Service. It’s not “luxury” any more.

Think they care?

What’s happened to BMW Service?

X3 M40i
Our journey begins here.

Gong!

Yea, you know that sound. Let me play it for you again. Ready?

Gong!

Did your butt just pucker up? “What’s wrong?!” In my case, my X3 M40i had low tire pressure. Since it’s warm out, I doubted the ambient temperature had much to do with it. Sure enough, nail, meet tire.

Fine. Since the tread on my summer tire was pretty worn down, I elected to simply get a new one. And, since the car was yelling at me for service, I figured I might as well bring it to my local BMW dealer.

This wasn’t an emergency, but I also couldn’t let the car sit too long, or the tire would go flat and I’d need a tow.

Dealer #1

The BMW Service Center I prefer working with is a bit far from my house, so I figured I’d try my local one.

I informed them of the problem. “I have next week available”.

That wouldn’t do, it was only Tuesday. So I reiterated that I couldn’t let the car sit for a week.

“Bring it in Friday.”

This didn’t sit too well with me either, but I took the appointment. Can I get a loaner?

“Three weeks out for loaner cars.” Whaaaat?

Dealer #2

So, I called my usual dealer. They accommodate, as always, and said bring the car in the next day. Great.

Still no loaners available though.

I could manage, so I dropped the car off and that’s the end of this little saga.

Except it isn’t.

BMW Service loaners

BMW 540i
This used to be the sort of thing you’d get as a loaner.

When I first purchased my E92 M3 in 2010, the rule from BMW North America was not only do I get a guaranteed loaner, but I get a comparable one. No, they don’t loan out M cars, but I had no complaints. A 535i, or a 440i convertible were fine things to zoom around in for a day or two.

Now? If I’m lucky enough to get a loaner by scheduling service out far enough, what do I get? A 230i Gran Coupe? An X1?

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe
Here’s a common BMW loaner now.

It’s not even the luxury element, but the size. I’m giving you an X3 for the day. How am I going to cram my family in a car that’s smaller than a Civic?

I digress, because I never get loaners any more.

BMW Maintenance plans

TySpeed
TySpeed is my maintenance plan.

Back to the BMW Service Center we go. When I sat down with the client advisor, I asked her to please also change the wiper blades. BMW covers the cost of such consumables once a year, and the X3 was due.

“Sorry, that’s not covered anymore. It’ll be $110 installed.”

For wiper blades? And that didn’t even include the rear window.

In fact, BMW has killed just about every benefit of their free maintenance plan. No more brakes. No wipers. I get three free oil changes over three years.

Whoopie.

And the labor rate…$200, sometimes even higher in busy dealers. For what? The 22-year-old mechanic to bang around my wheels as he changes a tire, or spill oil all over my beautiful engine cover? They don’t care.

I’m super tempted to just take the M3 to TySpeed and let them do oil changes and whatnot, even though it’s still covered. At least I know it’ll be done correctly.

Everybody is doing it

Mercedes AMG GT
Mercedes gives you a smile and a wave. Thanks for coming!

It’s not just BMW – plenty of luxury brands are decreasing what they offer. Take Lexus. Currently, they will give you two services at 5 and 10,000 miles:

  • Rotate tires and adjust tire pressures as required
  • Reset maintenance reminder light
  • Road-test vehicle
  • Check installation of driver’s floor mat*
  • Inspect and adjust all fluid levels
  • Program Lexus Personalized Settings*
  • Visually inspect brake pads, calipers and rotors

What are we talking about here? The second service does include an oil change, but adjusting the floor mat? Perhaps I’m old school, but if you can drive, you should be responsible enough to check the fluids in your car and adjust your own damn floor mat.

Mercedes doesn’t even offer anything, so I suppose we should be thankful for small favors.

Electric assist

Kia EV6 GT
You don’t need to do much on these.

Dealers actually make more money in their service department than they ever do selling a car. So what will happen when electric cars Borg-ify the nation?

Tire rotations and installations can be done anywhere. Software updates can happen in your own home. No oil to change. They even use the brakes a lot less.

And hey – electric cars are the end-all be-all right? So in theory, we won’t be replacing them as quickly with new ones, since less can break.

If they can’t get you in the door, you won’t spend money.

Could the dealer network be nervous? I would be.

BMW Service isn’t what it used to be

440i-vert
This really was a loaner. Fully loaded – even the digital dash! A rarity on an F3X.

I predict it won’t be long before BMW gets rid of maintenance plans entirely. It’s really only a ploy to get you in the door and spend more money anyway. And they love to tell you these cars are so special and complex that only “factory trained technicians” can work on them.

Well, I work on them in my garage with a set of 20-year-old Craftsman wrenches and a YouTube video playing in the background. They are not powered by turbofan engines from an F-14. No black magic here if you know what you’re doing.

But having lived through the old days, it’s disheartening. The cars are more expensive than ever, and BMW is making more profit than ever. At some point, I can’t help but wonder if this will all come crashing down.

Gong!

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