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BMW NA Denying Emissions Warranty Claim -- Recourse?

Discussion in 'Warranty questions' started by Rhumbline, Jul 29, 2010.

    Rhumbline guest

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    Hello,

    Quick history: my 2001 M3 with about 50K miles started throwing codes last year (2009) indicating the cats were not working properly.

    I took the car in last year when the CEL first appeared specifically to assure the problem was logged withing the EPA 8 year/80K mile warranty period. My local DC area BMW dealer tried several software fixes/updates over the year but ultimately to no avail, ceding that the cats truly are going bad and should be replaced.

    I then asserted that the bad cats, which have been failing since at least mid-2009, should be replaced free under the mandate of the EPA emission warranty. The service rep said they'd have to take that up the ladder to BMWNA to approve such a replacement. Well, after several weeks, and several calls trying to ascertain what was going on, my service rep called back to say that my claim has been rejected as the car is out of warranty(?).

    While the dealer said they could help out a bit, reducing what they said would normally be a $3,900 dollar repair to maybe $2,400, that is still $2,400 dollars to much for what I feel should be a free repair under the EPA emission warranty.

    What would be my recourse or next moves at this point?

    • Contact BMWNA myself?
    • Get BMWCCA's Ombudsman involved?
    • Take it to another dealer, though if this is BMWNA's decision I can't imagine I would get a different result from this?
    • Other?

    Thanks for any thoughts, advice or experience.

    PS The car is bone stock and very well maintained, primarily through the dealer/BMW.
    • Member

    Zeichen311

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    1. Maybe (but keep reading).
    2. Maybe (but keep reading).
    3. Kind of pointless, unless they can do the job for even less than $2,400.
    4. Expensive and unfortunate though this may be, BMW NA is probably in the right.
    Here's the rub: The EPA emissions warranty takes effect if a vehicle fails a state-mandated emissions test due to the failure of an emissions-control component. (See the service/warranty manual in your owners' folio for the exact wording, but that's pretty close.) If you did not present the car for a mandatory emissions test and fail, the EPA-compliance warranty terms have not been met. That leaves the full-vehicle warranty and you're out of the warranty period, so BMW said no.

    Bottom line, the emissions warranty is written with very specific terms which, from what you've told us, have not been met. You could ask an attorney to review the warranty language to be absolutely sure it cannot be interpreted in your favor, but the fairly generous $1500 goodwill discount you were offered is probably the best you'll do.
    1 people like this.
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    E92Dreier

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    Sounds like an excuse to just remove the restrictive factory exhaust entirely. There are plnety of catless options out there.

    In all seriousness, the 'goodwill' discount offered by your dealer is pretty resonable -- but that is where I would focus my time - Tell the dealer that you are a loyal customer, and that this situation has you questioning your entire commitment to the roundel. Ask for a 50/50 split on total cost. Ask if you can split labor costs. Ask if you can source the parts yourself and try to find them cheaper. Ask them to spec the work needed, and have it performed at an Indi shop or even cheaper - in your driveway.

    Just some ideas. good luck.

    Rhumbline guest

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    My reading of the EPA Environmental Fact Sheet --EMISSIONS WARRANTIES FOR 1995 AND NEWER CARS & TRUCKS [http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/warr95fs.txt] was that while Part A, Performance Warranty would apply to failing an actual emissions test as you mentioned, Part B, Design and Defect Warranty would apply to a part simply for failing (CEL error codes in my instance). More specifically,

    • Specified major emission control components are covered for the first 8 years or 80,000 miles of vehicle use.
    Further down, catalytic converters are specifically listed as being a major emission control component:
    What Are Specified Major Emission Control Components?

    There are three specified major emission control components, covered for the first 8 years or 80,000 miles of vehicle use on 1995 and newer vehicles:

    * Catalytic converters.
    * The electronic emissions control unit or computer (ECU).
    * The onboard emissions diagnostic device or computer (OBD).

    Anyway, that's been my read and interpretation of this EPA warranty thing. Thoughts?
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    mjobrien

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    The document you linked to tells you what you should do next. Involving the Ombudsman in the process may help you as well.

    • Member

    az3579

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    Personally, I think BMW NA is right in this siuation. It is out of warranty, and the fact that it started giving you problems near the warranty's end and not having a diagnosis until after it ended is just plain bad luck and timing. They should be under no obligation to fix it for free as they have met their guidelines. It doesn't matter if the warranty ended yesterday or 10 years ago, they are free and clear of their obligation concerning warranty.

    That deal the dealer offered is actually respectable. Here they are offering to help you out despite the warranty being over and instead you demand more? I would consider that as an ungrateful customer if I was the service manager.

    This may sound harsh, but what you're saying is the equivalent to someone giving you something as a present and you saying it's not good enough. You're asking for too much from the dealer / BMW NA.
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    bcweir

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    Removing or disabling the catalytic converters - WHY it's a bad idea

    Really? Do these catless options include: paying a large fine, confining a perfectly working automobile to remaining a stationary paperweight in the garage, converting to a race car or off-road vehicle, or thumbing your nose at the rest of us who operate legal vehicles on public roads?

    First of all, I'm not getting political here. Merely stating facts.

    First of all, it's a violation of the 1970 Federal Clean Air Act to disable, modify or remove the pollution control device on any vehicle produced for on-road use in the USA, starting with the 1974 model year. Penalties of up to $2,500 can be assessed.

    Secondly, in answer to the presumable "who's going to know" follow up question:

    a) other states may vary, but Texas has a "smoking vehicle hotline" that citizens can call anonymously to report a smoking vehicle being illegally operated on public streets and roadways. All that's needed is a license number, and the registered owner of the vehicle receives a nice, polite summons in the mail to immediately bring the vehicle in for emissions testing within 10 days. I doubt Rhumbline needs any additional complications in his life, thank you.

    b) Texas also requires any vehicle older than two years or newer than 25 to be emissions tested in certain "emissions" counties (ask me how I know) ANNUALLY.

    c) On OBD II 1996 and later cars, there are two sets of oxygen sensors; one pre-catalyst before the converter and one after, to make sure the cat is doing its job and working properly. An error will trip the CEL (Check Engine Light), which not all over the counter code readers are able to reset. Failing that, a licensed automotive technician would likely discover the tampering, and it could put that tech in the uncomfortable position of "snitching" on you, as depending on state laws, his shop could lose their license for failing to report a noncompliant vehicle. I'd rather not put an honest repair tech in that position.

    d) Disabling the catalytic converter yields absolutely no performance or economic benefit to the automobile, the owner, or other motorists. All it does is pump more CO, NO, and dirty hydrocarbons into the air.

    Again, I don't consider it a political issue to expect other motorists to obey the law or allow me to breathe relatively clean air. The law isn't some cafeteria where you can pick and choose which ones you're going to respect. If I get caught stealing a car, I'm going to jail -- end of story. You can't say it's ok to break federal law by operating a vehicle pumping poison into the air on public streets, but then call me a crook if I steal one and get caught.

    Bad enough E92Deier is proposing an illegal solution to a legitimate problem (not badmouthing you, E92Dreier, but it is a fact you are suggesting he break the law). But it's also a giant leap backward in 40 years progress automakers have been making in producing cleaner vehicles. Some shortsighted individuals have called this government intrusion, but I would say that a noncompliant motorist no more has the right to pump poison in my face than a smoker could claim a constitutional right to blow cigarette smoke in it (which by the way, has many of the same poisons, in addition to carcinogens). The catalytic converter removes a large amount of CO, NO, and hydrocarbons from a vehicle exhaust. Without it, those gases go straight from the engine and into the air the rest of us breathe.

    Two alternatives, if the proposed $1,500 towards a new cat isn't sufficient:

    a) you can probably find a perfectly good working used replacement from a scrap yard from an identical vehicle that MAY restore your vehicle to proper working order.

    b) you could legally replace it with an aftermarket replacement catalytic converter. The downside is that you may have to replace these bargain cats more frequently than a factory unit, but at least you're legal and at least you're not pumping poison in the air.

    Nuf said.
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    az3579

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    Brian,
    I believe E92Dreier was joking about the catless option.
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    bcweir

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    Perhaps you saw a 'just kidding' where the rest of us do not

    And people call MY sense of humor strange.
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    tiFreak

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    he started the next part of his post with "in all seriousness", sounds like he was joking to me
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    bcweir

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    'In all seriousness,' back to the Rhumbline's issue

    Two alternatives, if the proposed $1,500 towards a new cat isn't sufficient:

    a) you can probably find a perfectly good working used replacement from a scrap yard from an identical vehicle that MAY restore your vehicle to proper working order.

    b) you could legally replace it with an aftermarket replacement catalytic converter. The downside is that you may have to replace these bargain cats more frequently than a factory unit...
    • Member

    tiFreak

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    I know scrap yards aren't allowed to sell used cats, but you might be able to find less scrupulous scrap yard or a private seller
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    mooseheadm5

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    How many mile do you have on it now?
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    bcweir

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    Rhumbline said he has about 50k on the car's odometer

    Hope that helps
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    Georgeair

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    And not to encourage support of the catless crowd, but you may also be able to pick up a set from someone who has the removed set sitting in their garage. Even with shipping, likely way less than the current option on the table.

    {how's that for a first post dancing all around?!?}

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