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BMW M3 - Different tire thread on same axle

Discussion in 'Wheels & Tires' started by sholaisen, Jun 13, 2012.

    • Member

    sholaisen

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    I recently purchased a pre-owned '11 BMW M3 from an authorised dealer. Since the car is still under warranty my inspection was a bit less thorough than I normally would have done. I did check the tires in general and was told that the car recently had new tires fitted to it, all seemed fine at my first glance.
    A few days after my purchase I did however notice that the two rear tires are of a different model (same maker and size but different thread). I've been in contact with the dealer which does not seem willing to replace the tire which is of different model than the others.

    Is it even legal to have different cut tired on the same axel? Surely not an advantage on such a performance car...

    Should I make a formal complaint? My contract is "sold as is" so I might not get anywhere... Surely will not purchase my next car from the same dealer regardless...
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    MGarrison

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    I've never heard of any law requiring matched tires on cars new or used. However, I believe it is generally considered safer to have all 4 tires of the same brand/design/vintage for a whole host of reasons, and that's why I think anyone selling tires recommends having the same rubber on all 4 corners. Obviously on new cars, purchasers expect matched tires (even if sizings aren't identical), and I would think that's the case almost without exception for new car sales.

    Look for the DOT & manufacturer stamp on the sidewalls of all 4 tires to determine their age - (see: http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?&techid=11)

    I'd guess it's likely your front tires are the older set, and old enough for there to have been changes made to the tires' design even if the tire brand name/model has continued.

    See this on matching tires: http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=136&currentpage=18

    Compare the specs of the front tires to the rear - As the article mentions, if they "share the same speed rating, handling and traction characteristics of the original tire" and are in the same performance category, they may work just fine. For me, where I'd have a particular concern is whether both tires are equivalent in resisting hydroplaning (traction & tread design), and, potential performance ramifications if there's a substantial age difference in the sets on each axle. The rubber compounds in the tire harden over time, and also due to multiple heat cycles as they heat and cool every time they're driven. If the front tires are, say perhaps, 2-3 years old, and are otherwise comparable to what the dealer installed but for tread pattern (and that's not radically different than the others), and aren't worn beyond, say, maybe 1/2 of their original full tread depth, maybe they'll be just fine. If they're, say , worn through most of their useable tread life and are a number of years old, I think you might be able to argue the point that the dealer cheaped-out with that choice leading to a potentially unsafe scenario in driving the car, or in certain conditions.

    I'd suggest finding the age of the tires on the car for comparison's sake, measure the tread depth on the older pair, and then call the Tire Rack and ask their opinion of the scenario you're in. If you find yourself on the hook for a couple of tires, obviously it would make sense to match the newest, as it would appear that it may not at all be possible to match the older set - &, hopefully, the tire manufacturer didn't make yet another change so that you couldn't exactly match-up to the newest ones. If you call the 'Rack', ask them if they have additional reasons beyond what they mention on their website why tire matching is important and take notes - you'll be better prepared to prove a point the dealer made an ill-considered decision, if it comes to that.

    Safety arguments I think are rational, plausible, and perfectly reasonable. If the issue is the aesthetics of the tread pattern but the tires are otherwise arguably functionally identical in all respects, I don't know if you get anyplace with the dealer. Personally, I too would prefer to have the same tires (but for oem size differences front-to-rear) on all four corners, new, or worn, just to avoid the potential of anything or any oddball handling situation that could potentially be a disaster, or, at least, a problem.
    • Member

    sholaisen

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    I'm not so concerned about the age of the tires as the car is still relatively new. What probably happened is that the previous owner had a flat and the correct tire wasn't available. Or the dealer has gone cheap when they replaced the worn down rear tires at trade in and just used what they had laying around since both rear tires seem quite new and at least evenly worn. (As per my eyesight... didn't bother measuring...)

    The issue with the rear tires is that there are more cuts (the deep longitudinal ones) in one compared to the other. As you mentioned this will give different characteristics when it comes to hydroplaning etc. Also meaning that one tire has a larger contact surface than the other...

    It might not be a big deal but I was quite disappointed by the dealers response since I did put up quite some cash for this car and I wasn't expecting them to turn me down so easily. My normal response to being an unhappy customer is to take my business elsewhere. I don't like to make a scene which I why I'm here asking for peoples opinion if I'm right in being unhappy or not. This will decide where I purchase the M5 when I'm ready to upgrade...
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    If you have two different rear tires, I'd consider that a problem - I think the minimum recommendation is to have at least identical tires on the same axle. I would consider it somewhat problematic having the fronts & rears different, even if the tires on each axle are matched.

    I think you are justified in feeling however you feel, unhappy, happy, whatever - everyone is entitled to their feelings, whatever they may be.

    Asserting yourself appropriately doesn't necessarily involve creating a scene - you don't have to scream at the dealer manager or service advisers at the top of your lungs to calmly tell them that you _just_ did them the favor of purchasing the vehicle from them, didn't notice that the rear tires are mismatched, fully expected them to be and that this mismatching has the potential to make the car unsafe to drive in any kind of inclement weather, and if they refuse to obtain _one_ tire to make a matched set on the rear, that you will never consider them again for any future service or vehicle purchase, report the worst possible customer service rating to BMW North America, additionally verbally relay your displeasure with a call to BMW NA customer service, and tell anyone you know who might consider the dealership for anything whatsoever to avoid the dealership like the plague.

    If you just walk away unhappy that they didn't respond to your first request (which I agree, they should), then they will never know that it's unacceptable to treat customers with such disregard. If you at least relay why you feel they should address your concerns, then you're at least asserting your point and even if they ultimately refuse to do anything, they will have had to face up, at least to some degree, to sticking mismatched tires on an expensive, relatively new high-performance car - &, perhaps, you will have raised their awareness so there's the potential they might make a better choice in the future which could help others, even if it doesn't resolve your problem this time.

    It probably would be worth mentioning that this interaction could well be the deciding factor in which dealership you'll consider for your next vehicle purchase, which you fully expect to be an M5. Good luck working it out, whatever you decide to do!
    sholaisen likes this.
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    Pyewacket1

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    First of all, I understand your predicament, and I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect a set of matched tires on a BMW such as yours.

    But, it was purchased on an "as is" basis, so there isn't much legal standing for you, and even if there was, you would no doubt spend more on legal expenses than you would simply going out and buying a matching tire.

    You say you spoke with the dealer, but "who" at the dealer? Salesman, manager, or someone else? If it was the head honcho, you are going to get nothing else pursuing this but higher blood pressure.

    Lastly, while I know it's tempting to use the lure of buying another car as leverage, I can tell you that tactic will get you nowhere. It's a commonly used one, and dealerships probably hear that on a daily basis. I have found that using the tactic of "doing what's right", and simply asking for that to be done in your case, works far better than the "threat" of taking your "possible business" elsewhere. Sort of the bird in the hand .vs. the two in the bush, as far as the dealer is concerned.

    So, my suggestion is to grab the manager, tell him how much you have wanted a car like the one you bought from him, how much you really like it, and how much you were disappointed to find out about mismatched tires, and then ask him "Isn't there something YOU (the dealer) can do to turn a negative into a positive?"

    IMO, that's your best shot. In general, people respond far better to the "I need your help..." approach than they do to the threat approach.

    In any case, I wish you good luck. Remember, in the end, it's just a tire, and sooner or later you'll need to buy new tires anyway. It isn't like the car was missing a fender or something...
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    Satch SoSoCalifortified

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    I have to agree with the Pyeman. Or, as the Good Book sayeth, A Soft Answer Turneth Away Wrath. Or something.

    Meanwhile, I am one who does NOT care to mix up tire designs, NEVER on the same axle, and not event front-to-rear. The last time I had such a mismatch, I had a late-night flat in an autocross Dunlop Direzza, so I put my well-used Sport MAXX GTs on the back and left the Direzzas up front. The autocross the next day was an interesting physics lab, with at least three drivers spinning various degrees, none less than 180, in the car---including my instructor, after I warned him.

    Great fun, but not the fastest way around. And I REALLY don't recommend a mismatch on the street!
    • Member

    sholaisen

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    After sending a friendly and explaining e-mail to the dealers customer support I received a nice phone call. "We will of course be happy to the change the tire for you... When can we pick up your car?"
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    Pyewacket1

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    Seems like being nice actually does work sometimes.

    Good for you ... Enjoy your new ride!
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    Satch SoSoCalifortified

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    Good work! Pretty savvy dealer: keep the customer happy AND avoid potential liability because one of your techs is a maroon...
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    MGarrison

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    Glad it worked out the friendly way without the necessity to pursue further steps. I was suggesting a less-friendly approach based on the thought that you had already asked the dealer and they refused. Not a bad idea to ask everybody at the dealer to see if somebody says yes, in this case looks like the customer service folks did that right away after whomever you initially talked to apparently seemed less-than-accommodating.

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