View Full Version : 2011 E91 xDrive front brake caliper sticking - two days out of warranty

11-05-2015, 04:23 PM
(I apologize if this is the wrong forum... I'm new...)

On May 26th I bought a 2011 328i xDrive Sports Wagon, with roughly 48,000 miles, from a non-BMW dealer. As third owner I couldn't have gotten CPO status, but since the car was originally a dealer demo, I got an extra few months (and 5,000 miles) on the warranty.

I had my favorite indie shop check the car out very thoroughly, and my local dealer took care of almost everything they found, only charging me for one non-covered part.

Not long afterwards, I started noticing that the right front wheel was MUCH dustier than the left, as in SEVERAL TIMES dustier. I got new summer tires (I knew the originals were worn when I bought the car) but the shop checked the brakes and nothing upset them at that time.

As weeks wore on the problem got worse and worse; my right front wheel was SOLID BLACK with dust while my left front wheel was just irritatingly grey. I started asking around, and was basically told I was crazy. (Someone said "as a BMW owner you need to be good friends with your wheel brush.") And everyone insisted that if I really had a sticking brake, I'd notice pulling to one side, which I didn't notice, so I must be nuts. I'd complained about lousy gas mileage from the moment I got the car, and they told me that was normal too.

The problem kept getting worse, until finally I got so concerned that I went to my local dealer. As I recall I tried to make an appointment on Monday, and they said they don't take appointments and are strictly walk-in now. I couldn't walk in until Thursday, and when I did, they told me... the time limit on my warranty had run out two days ago. They expressed a willingness to lift the car and look at my brakes for $150, though they still thought I was crazy.

A week or so later, I got my winter tires put on. (This is why the weather has warmed up!) The same people who put the summer tires on inspected my brakes again, and this time they found that the outer pad on the right front is ground down to almost nothing; they estimated I might have 500 miles before I start hitting metal-to-metal. The inner pad on the right, and both pads on the left, look fine, though both front disks are grooved. I was torn between feeling disgusted and feeling vindicated.

Alarmed, I went back to my local dealer, where they repeated that my warranty had just timed out (though the mileage was under the limit), and offered to charge me $149 to lift the car and see whether I was right, after which it would be "the service manager's discretion" whether to fix things for less than $850. They wouldn't estimate my chances of getting beneficial discretion, though I got a definite "bet on a snowball in a blast furnace first" vibe...

I don't dispute that on the day I first physically walked into my dealer about this I was indeed two days beyond the time limit on the warranty, but the problem very definitely began months ago, and I'd complained to several people, only to be told I was crazy. Obviously, having BMW pay for this is more fun than paying for this myself, but I don't think asking BMW to cover this under warranty is unreasonable. Do I have any recourse?

(Note: I originally posted this on the national BMWCCA site. The time line I describe here is a bit different, because I think I remembered more accurately after posting the original. But the basic situation is unchanged; everyone told me there was nothing wrong, my warranty ran out of time though not out of miles, and I found out there really WAS something wrong and there had been all along.)

11-05-2015, 06:37 PM
Did you speak to the service manager or general manager about any of this?

Hopefully you still have the receipts from each visit so you can explain to them that they didn't diagnose the problem correctly after you paid the diagnosis fee.

11-12-2015, 12:21 AM
I never actually paid any diagnostic fees. The shop that hadn't noticed anything wrong when they put my summer tires on (and later noticed something very wrong when they put my winter tires on) was a tire shop. The first time I went to the dealer (two days after the warranty timed out) I left discouraged, thinking maybe I really was over-reacting. The second time, after the tire shop showed me the problem with the wheels off, I left the dealer thinking that I might as well just go to my favorite indie shop (which took care of my previous car for over a decade, and just became BMW factory authorized).

But, I decided to try again. So I went back and talked to the actual service manager. I explained my situation and he agreed to examine the car and speak to BMW about covering the repairs even though the warranty had technically timed out. He sounded more optimistic than the service advisors I'd talked to earlier. So I left the car, and a few hours later he called and said they had... agreed to cover the repair!

I wound up with a new caliper & housing, two new rotors, one new set of pads & sensors, two hex bolts, and a fluid flush. They had to order the caliper with overnight shipping, but they loaned me an X3. At 95% coverage, I only had to pay a $50 deductible. And their complementary wash even cleaned the wheel.

This ultimately worked out much better than I expected. So, here's a hearty shout-out to Scott C. at BMW Rockville: Thanks!

(Disclaimer: Nobody asked me for that. But I like to give credit where credit is due.)

11-12-2015, 08:23 AM
Great outcome! Thanks for sharing your story because it does help many others who may be experiencing something similar. I'm glad that BMW of Rockville was able to assist.