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2011 E91 xDrive front brake caliper sticking - two days out of warranty

Discussion in 'Warranty questions' started by JamesAustin, Nov 3, 2015.

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    JamesAustin

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    On May 26th I purchased a 2011 328i xDrive Sports Wagon, with roughly 48,000 miles, from a non-local dealer. As third owner I wasn't eligible for CPO status anyway, 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.

    A couple of months later, I started noticing that my right front wheel was MUCH dustier than my left front wheel, 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 the time.

    As the 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.")

    The problem kept getting worse, until two weeks ago when I got my snow 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 my right front caliper is sticking and has ground the outer pad down to almost nothing; they estimated I might have 500 miles before I start hitting metal-to-metal. The inner pad, and both pads on the left side, look fine, though both disks seem to be grooved. I was torn between being disgusted and feeling vindicated.

    Alarmed, I went back to my local dealer, and was told that although I still had a couple of thousand MILES on my extended-demo-vehicle warranty, the TIME had run out... two days ago. (I had called earlier but that was the earliest I could physically get there.) They 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.

    I don't dispute that 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 probably imagining things. Obviously, having BMW pay for this is more fun than paying for this myself, but I don't think asking that they cover this as a warranty issue is unreasonable. Do I have any recourse?
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    charlson89

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    Well thats really unfortunate to hear about. From what you described though it doesn't sound like the caliper piston is sticking. It sounds like the caliper slides may be sticking causing the outer pad to rub. Curious if you couldn't just clean a grease the slides and go for a drive and see if the caliper sticks. As for the dealership helping they could do something called self authorized goodwill but this is up to the dealership and manager to decide on. At my dealer we normally do take care of something like this since you just ran out of warranty sometimes we split with the customer as well (depending on the situation)
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    JamesAustin

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    I probably condensed what they said a bit too far. As I recall, they did mention sliders. Unfortunately I have neither place, nor tools, nor talent to do that sort of work myself.
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    MGarrison

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    Sorry to hear of the issue of course, & I get not having the ideal work site or tools, but don't sell yourself short, most anyone can tackle most brake work, with guidance & will, especially with all the info out there to be had from BMW forums, d-i-y's, youtube vids, etc. If it was your dealer you had complained to with this being the diagnosis now, it would seem a bit surprising to me they might not be flexible about some accommodation for some cost amelioration. What chapter are you in?
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    JamesAustin

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    I'm more willing to risk making my car not start than not stop. And I'd still have to buy the parts.

    The service rep at my local dealer said they'd charge $150 to look at the car, and then the rest would be "service manager's discretion." He wouldn't give me a direct answer when I asked what my chances were of getting the benefit of that discretion, but I picked up a definite "fuhgeddaboudit" vibe. And of course I'd be out $150 even if I could have stopped them from doing the work.

    I'm in the National Capitol Chapter.
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    MGarrison

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    Might be worth posting your question on the Nat. Cap. chapter forums, you might get more insight on the dealer from locals, and other thoughts, additional possible causes, solutions, suggestions, etc. - I'm kinda curious how they get to $850 for putting the car on the lift, pulling the wheel, removing the pads, maybe unbolting the caliper to examine the slides (also looking/checking for a stuck piston), most-likely cleaning & brake-grease greasing the slides, re-assembling, and giving it a drive & brake test. Oh, and, new set of pads (which, presumably, you get 10% off retail on parts as a 'CCA member). The worst-case scenario would be wear-sensor, pads, rotor, caliper, & caliper-carrier replacement, and requisite brake-fluid flush. I could see that coming in at $850-$1k+, the bulk of which should be parts. The only potential unaccounted-for time-waster I could see would be a rusted/stuck rotor-retaining bolt, which might take an extra 10-20min (tops) to drill-out so as to replace the rotor. Any chance your indy-shop would be willing to take a closer look without the $150-for-putting-it-on-the-lift-and-removing-the-wheel-for-a-look-see charge?

    http://www.nccbmwcca.org/content.php

    I suggested the club ombudsman in another thread for a different issue, but that might be a club resource to ask on whether you stand much chance with BMW &/or the dealer here. Since you didn't go back to the dealer you got the car from, I'm presuming that's out of range of the likely distance you can get before you're down to the backing plate on the worn pad, yes? With one pad dragging that badly, was it not pulling hard to that side all the time? Seems like a situation where it would pull to one side, at least when not braking.
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    JamesAustin

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    I'm about to go to the NCC forum with this.

    That $150 + $850 was a worst-case scenario, but that's all I have to go on right now. Both front rotors are grooved; I don't know how much is acceptable but the tire shop didn't think they were within spec and said they can't be resurfaced. I called my indy shop, and based on what I told them I knew, they gave me an estimate of $650, which is better, but even so...

    The dealer I actually bought the car from is only an hour or so away, but they're not a BMW dealer and said up front that they can't do anything warranty-related. Also they, shall we say, failed to give me a customer experience that makes me want to ever go anywhere near them again.

    One of the things that everyone told me when I started complaining about this was that if my right front brake was really sticking, I'd surely notice pulling to once side, so since I wasn't noticing that, I must be crazy. I can't explain this...
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    JamesAustin

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    I went back to my local dealer and spoke to the 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 me 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. At 95% coverage, I only had to pay a $50 deductible. So all's well that ends well.
    Ken.S.330 likes this.
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    MGarrison

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    Glad it worked out!
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    charlson89

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    Happy ending to the story!

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