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Brake problem, Dealer blows it off

Discussion in 'E81/E82/E87/E88 (2004-present)' started by thothtp, Jun 9, 2011.

    thothtp guest

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    I have an 08 135i that has been having some weird issues with the brakes, one minor one that could be major.

    Starting with the minor, ever since I bought it a year ago at 28000 miles, it has had some squealing from what sounded like the left front brake. At first it was very minor and intermittent, and only when coming to a stop, and I thought nothing of it, cars with big brakes squeal sometimes, its normal. But over time it got worse. So when I brought it in for service I mentioned the problem. Dealership blew me off, saying I need to keep the wheels clean. Clean or not makes no difference, still squeals.

    Over time it got worse. I mentioned this the next time in. Again, blew me off saying you need to clean the wheels. I knew they were wrong but what can I say?

    Now it has gotten so bad, that not only does it squeal when coming to a stop, but I hear a squeak with each turn of the wheel at low speeds. It is so loud at times that I am genuinely embarrassed to drive my car. Brakes feel and work fine, but that can't be normal. Bring it in again, they say they can't hear it and send me home again. It is intermittent, but who knows if they even drove the car, I forgot to check mileage.

    Now on to the major issue. You know how when you turn the car off and pump the brake, all the hydraulic assist is drained and the pedal becomes hard. That's normal, but now when I come back to my car after it has been sitting for a few hours, the pedal is hard like that all on its own. Before it would always be soft before I turned the car on, now all of a sudden it is always hard until the engine turns over a few times. This also causes the car to roll as soon as I put the clutch in, even with my foot on the brake, because without hydraulic assist you have to press really hard to keep from rolling.

    Again, I told the dealer, and was told "This is normal, all cars do that." When told that's a load of crap, my car didn't do that before and there is a leak somewhere, he said "well we can't replace the brakes." and sent me away.


    So I ask, what am I to do? They are the only dealer nearby, so I can't go somewhere else. The car technically still works, but the squeal is embarrassing and the leak makes me worry that it is going to fail completely sometime when I am driving and cause an accident. But they refuse to look at it, telling me its "Normal"


    Anyone else have an issue like this or know what could be wrong?

    Thanks for the help!

    ForcedInduction guest

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    You may want to contact BMW NA. The squeal may just be the pads. The loss of brake boost could be a vacuum leak.
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    I thought I'd written that already ...

    Read this thread.

    For the first time, I find that a forum search here did some good. So now, I'll be referring more newbs to the 'Search' function. ;)
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    Any independent shops in the area? I know you _should_ have dealer support here, particularly if under warranty, but unless you want to go in and make a scene screaming at the top of your lungs (which may draw attention, and possibly get them to actually do something - the downside being that fear-inducing bullying tactics may work against you in the long run by being de-motivational to those you're relying on), or approaching the dealership manager or owner, possibly with a lawyer, in order to get them to be responsive, you may be forced to pursue other means to get the issue examined.

    One option might be to at least take a look at your brakes yourself, if you're able to (obviously there may be any variety of reasons why you couldn't, or wouldn't want to do it yourself). If you decide you want to jack up the car, pull a wheel, and take a look, and need some guidance in that task, just ask and any number of us here can tell you exactly what you'll need and what to do. That might require purchasing a few tools for the task.

    If your wheels have relatively open spokes (ie, not a mesh basketweave wheel, for instance), you might be able to at least take a look at the brake pads and make sure you don't have a brake pad worn down to its backing plate, without having to pull a wheel. There is a certain thickness of brake-pad material that is bonded to a metal backing plate; if a pad or pads wear down to the backing plates, it's possible they might squeal as the metal backing plate is being forced against the metal brake rotor. Obviously brake pads should be replaced once they're worn to a minimum level, and having the brakes down to the backing plates is asking for a big braking problem eventually. Ultimately, the brake caliper piston can push _through_ the backing plate, which can have a risk of full brake failure; if the piston pushes out too far and out of the caliper, all the brake fluid in that brake line will get pushed out, and that brake circuit obviously won't work.

    Just in case you're not familiar with the specifics of vehicular braking systems and that all sounds like a bunch of Greek (if you happen to speak Greek, feel free to choose some language you don't know ;)), see this link for a good basic explanation & diagrams. Make sure to see all 6 pages - they're brief and each is informational.

    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/brakes/brake-types/disc-brake.htm

    Anyway, if you grab a bright flashlight and possibly one of these:
    http://www.harborfreight.com/telescoping-mirror-7361.html
    http://auto.sears.com/automotiveparts/2017892p.htm?filterid=j15&prdNo=9
    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPM1670301301P?prdNo=14
    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00945047000P?prdNo=15
    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPM176656438P?prdNo=16

    Then you can use the flashlight & mirror to get a look at the in-board brake pad, assuming your can get the mirror between your wheel spokes, and there's enough clearance between the back of the caliper & the wheel to angle the mirror enough to get to see the in-board pad through the inspection opening in the back of the caliper (the reflection you see in the inspection mirror should be similar to the picture shown on the 5th page of the 'how disc brakes work' link mentioned earlier).

    The outboard pad should be directly visible if you can get the flashlight pointed at it through the wheel spokes. Do that much, and you'll know if your issue is/are worn pad(s), or not. Certainly it's a safety issue, the last thing you want to have happen is brake failure of any kind. There is little that is more panic-inducing than not being able to stop a vehicle.

    Forced Induction's suggestions above are correct, and I would add if you're down to the backing plates, that _might_ be a reason why the brake pedal is hard, and that the brakes aren't holding the car until you have some vacuum boost from the engine running. Obviously brake pad material has a substantially higher level of friction than if you're metal-to-metal with the rotor and pad backing plates. A problem with the brake-booster or having the brake-booster fail at such a low mileage and age would be highly untypical; not impossible, but usually not very likely.

    Your dealership's service department manager or people are blowing you off, which is unacceptable. You ask, 'what can you say?' Well, you don't have to accept anyone treating you, their customer who voluntarily chose to give them your business by purchasing your car from them, with such disrespect and inexcusable behavior. You don't have to go away, nor accept their excuses. Before making a scene or going to higher levels of management, if I were you, I'd suggest you call whomever it is out on their cretinous behavior and treatment of you, and point out that not only is how they're treating you as a customer unacceptable, but that you would think that they are placing the dealership in a position of being liable for negligence and a lawsuit for damages from you, or your estate and/or spouse, by ignoring what potentially could be a very serious safety issue, particularly if you and or anyone in your family happen to get killed or injured due to an accident from brake system failure. Then point out that whoever is their superior probably would be interested to know that one of their employees is placing the organization is such a potentially risky situation. (So much for being non-threatening - however, sometimes you have to make a point)

    In short, you don't have to accept what they say or their excuses. If the 'payment-under-warranty' point is an issue, I guess I'd suggest tell them you want them to pull the wheels off the car and thoroughly check and look over the brake system, including a test drive by you with their tech in the car, to demonstrate the exact issue, and if they find nothing wrong, that you'll be willing to pay for the service - with the proviso that they let you watch the tech remove the wheels and work on the car, and that you're willing to agree to waive any liability on their part by being in proximity to the service bay (but not their ultimate liability in the case of any work not being done properly and causing a problem as a result of said work). You seem to imply you have no way of verifying if they actually do what they say, so that might be a means to address that.

    You _might_ be able to dig up club members in your area who could help with diagnosis, but I'd suggest going with the d-i-y, indy shop, or dealership routes first.

    Good luck - and, don't wait to check on it; if you're down to the backing plates, a bigger problem is imminent. If you have the oddball situation of all the other brake pads being ok but down to the nubbins on one caliper, or on one caliper having one pad ok and the other worn down, that would seemingly indicate some sort of caliper or brake-circuit problem.

    If the postulation from CR's thread is your issue and you have plenty of pad all around, then, yup - might need to brake a little more aggressively here an there. Buried somewhere in some old thread(s) I think was a discussion of driving style and brake usage. In short - use the brakes vs. the engine/clutch/drivetrain to slow the car, that's what the brakes are designed to do. Clutches and/or transmissions are waaaaaaay more expensive to replace than brake pads.

    thothtp guest

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    Thanks MGarrison and everyone else for all that, I really appreciate it.

    I should have mentioned that I checked the pads myself, they actually have plenty of thickness on them. The dealership said the same thing, which is part of the reason they wouldn't do anything, everything looked fine to them.

    I'll try some of the ideas in that thread, maybe there isn't anything functionally wrong with my brakes they just have an extremely exceptional amount of squeal to them. They feel perfect, and stop great, its just the noise. My car is a bit unique, in that it was one of the two BMW press cars used by BMW to show off the 135i to the american press before it was introduced here. It was then loaned to Mwerks website as a long term test car, before being returned to BMW and then finding its way to me. Here are the Mwerks articles http://www.mwerks.com/artman2/publish/project_135i/ It was also used as a photo car for tire rack, so if you happen to see a banner ad with a white 135i or do the view on vehicle function on their website, that's the car :) I know the brakes have been changed a few times, perhaps they didn't do a very good job with the anti squeal compounds or something. I plan to change them myself when they are worn out, so we will see I guess.

    As for the hard pedal vacuum leak issue, a poster on another forum where I also posted this issue mentioned SIB 34-06-07 "additional effort required to press brake pedal prior to initial start" Although its for E9X cars, it sounds like exactly the same issue, and they share so many parts anyways. I think I am going to go confront the dealer with this info, hopefully that will spur them in to action. Frustrating that I have to find their own service bulletin for them. One good thing about the warranty being up, I no longer have to go to that awful place.

    On another note, anyone know a good place to have a BMW serviced in Rochester, NY? :)
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    CRKrieger

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    "Well, why didn't ya say so!?" - The Wizard of Oz' gatekeeper

    There's a very good chance your pads are glazed. You can either knock off enough material to get past the glazing or swap out the pads. I'd probably change them and keep these on hand as spares for when you go to a driver school. You DO plan to go to a driver school ... don't you? Watkins Glen is a fantastic track.

    thothtp guest

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    I've had the car for about 8k miles now, drive fairly aggressively but haven't had it to a track or autocross yet. Could they still be glazed after that time? I did notice that I have always needed a bit more pedal effort to stop versus my 328i I had before, but always chalked it up to different brake systems. It still stops really well, just not like my 328i which felt like hitting a wall if you weren't gentle. Always entertaining when someone drove it that wasn't used to it.

    I am definitely planning on hitting up a driving school and some autocrosses, that's the main reason I joined. I haven't been on a track since skip barber racing school 10 years ago, so I have been itching to try it, and Watkins Glen looks amazingly fun to drive.
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    CRKrieger

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    Generally, yes. The glazed pad doesn't wear down much and continues to stop badly. Unless you're going to take them out on track or something, the glaze will probably continue to be a problem. Just grab some pads and change 'em.

    thothtp guest

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    So I called the SA to tell him about the service bulletin that matches my problem, and he made an appointment for me to come in.... on the 29th. I asked if there was anything sooner, was told no.

    Couple days pass, and I get an email from BMW asking me to fill out a survey about my dealer experience. Well, I was honest. I told them everything that happened, and didn't pull any punches. It was pretty bad.

    Funny thing, about an hour after I sent it off, I get a call from a manager, asking if I can bring the car in tomorrow morning, and saying they will provide a rental car. Coincidence? :)
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    CRKrieger

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    Not at all. They really get reamed for bad customer feedback.

    1996 328ti guest

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    It's a two way street.

    And so can the customer.

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