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clutch is gone after 26k miles on 335i

Discussion in 'E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006-2011)' started by gernotkmedia, Sep 4, 2010.

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    gernotkmedia

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    I bought my car 2 yeas old (It's a 2007 335i) with 18k miles on it from the dealership (full factory warranty w/Maintenance) 1 year ago. I own the car for a year now and put 8k miles on it, which brings the total to 26k miles. Now, all of a sudden, i start to see revs go up, but there's virtually no torque left. This happened really fast over a matter of days.

    I brought it to the dealership (that i generally really like and am extremely happy with and recommend to most of my friends) confident that this is covered by warranty. To my shock they tell me the clutch is a gray area (no maintenance on this according to them - can anybody verify this for me?). They say BMW covers it if it's a mechanical failure, but not wear and tear. I don't know who owned the car before me, but i've driven manuals my whole life and never ever wore out a clutch..and i never even owned a car as new as this one.You can't tell me that it's normal that a clutch is done after 26k miles, or is it?

    Anyways, In order for them to find out if it's a mechanical failure they have to take the transmission out (9.5 hours of labor), and if BMW then doesn't deem it a mechanical failure i'm stuck with a $1800-3100 bill for all the labor plus the clutch (and possibly even Flywheel).

    Looking for any input on this matter:

    Is this the way the BMW warranty works?
    Doesn't it matter that I bought the car (and most likely many more in the future unless I get too aggravated over this matter) from them just 1 year ago where they supposedly checked it thoroughly?
    How long should a clutch that's driven average to spirited last in a 335i?
    Do I have any options in this matter except to give them the go-ahead? That's a lot of money I am not prepared to spend right now.

    I am a BMW enthusiast (maybe to an unhealthy degree), but this has me really worked up, because the car isn't even 4 years old, yet, and has only 26k miles on it.

    I appreciate any input - thank you!

    TheStigsTwin guest

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    Sound like your dealership is trying to sell you a big load of crap to me. :mad:
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    BMRDRVR

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    It doesn't sound right to me. A clutch should last tens of thousands of miles. I'm no warranty expert, but the car is broken, it's under warranty on both time and miles and so it should be fixed. If nothing else, BMW should tell the dealer to treat this as a goodwill case. They don't want a customer, an enthusiast, a BMW CCA member spouting off about a crappy clutch and even crappier customer response. Good luck!
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    CSBM5

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    The clutch is a wear item no doubt, and it is also one that is easily abused (knowingly AND unknowningly) in a high torque/power car like the 335i. For example, trying to transfer serious power through a clutch that isn't fully hooked up can, and most likely will, overheat the disc material beyond its MOT (max operating temperature) -- which can result in material transfer to the flywheel and/or pressure plate. Now the load carrying capability of the clutch is reduced such that even more degradation can occur under lesser loads in the future.

    This is just one example of how clutch "wear" issues become a gray area. If you have a good relationship with the dealer, they might agree to goodwill at least a portion of the cost.

    Most likely the facts are the clutch is toast due to "use" as above (which could occur if someone did something like ride the clutch too long on a full power 1-2 upshift for example or the first owner drove the ever-living crap out of the car doing clutch dumps and burnouts -- wouldn't surprise me from what I've seen with 335s). The dealership has no way of knowing. However, it could also be a failure of the "self-adjusting" pressure plate or a leaking rear main seal (any oil leaks under the car?).

    You're probably stuck with having them pull the tranny and then present you with a repair bill for an "abused clutch". Negotiate. If you can't get a goodwill coverage nailed down, then demand an "at cost" on the parts and 1/2 the labor (or some such formula). You should be able to negotiate coverage for this clutch as a "one-time" deal given this car was sold to you by this dealer 2nd hand.
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    Zeichen311

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    Chuck has it right. In experienced hands (feet) a clutch can easily last over 150k miles in ordinary use. It can also easily burn up in 25k miles or less if abused, intentionally or otherwise.

    This is an unfortunate risk when buying a used car. It's basically impossible to properly inspect a clutch without disassembling it. Unless you know and trust the previous owner--and they know the mileage they typically get from a clutch--there's no way to predict how long the clutch will last.

    Good luck, and follow the negotiating advice given. There's always the hope that something has failed but odds are you will be paying for the prior owner's bad habits.
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    E92Dreier

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    I have heard that BMW NA is often willing to approve a clutch replacement under warranty if you make a stink through your dealer - but you have to make the right stink.

    As others have mentioned, you must say the words, "Good will repair?" But then, you have to hope for the best. a 50/50 split or paying for labor only is cheaper than paying the full price, right?

    But, this will only work once. If you fry the clutch again, it is easy to imply that your technique leaves something to be desired.
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    Pyewacket1

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    I'll add my 2 cents....

    I agree with all the comments in the paragraphs above. There's simply no way to defend your car when you don't know its complete history. That's not right or wrong, just a fact.

    I think you have been given just about the best advice possible. Try it and see where it takes you.

    Good luck!

    RBinDC guest

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    I have owned manuals all my life.

    I sold my 1964 corvette with 68,000 miles of "spirited" driving on it and the original clutch was fine. (However, the teenager I sold it to blew the clutch a week later during a drag race and totaled the car one month later).

    The clutch in my 1970 Porsche 911 only lasted 45,000 miles but I think that was due to my driving it in San Francisco (starting and stopping on the hills) plus my new wife who typically slipped the clutch.

    My Mazda RX7 went 85,000 and still had the original clutch when I gave the car to some charity.

    My current car is a Lexus SC300 coupe with 70,000 miles and still has the original clutch.

    Bottom line: You have to abuse a car for the clutch to fail in 28,000 miles. Either that or the clutch was defective.

    Did you buy the car from the same dealership that is giving you a hard time? If so, it seems to me they need to take some ownership for any abuse the car suffered by its original owner - especially if it was a CPO (which, I assume, your car is not).
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    floydarogers

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    The clutch is our '91 525i lasted 200K miles and was still good when traded. The original clutch was still in my '01 330xi when traded in at 145K.

    There could be causes other than a fried clutch plate: a mechanical failure of the pressure plate spring could be what you're seeing. Or, oil leaking from a failed rear main seal. Both would arguably be covered by warranty.

    You may well be able to negotiate a goodwill repair, or at least get them to cover a portion of the labor/parts.
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    Pyewacket1

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    IMO, you one would find it almost impossible to find a driver with clutch problems to admit they "contributed" to their car's clutch failure when its time to get the clutch replaced or when it fails. I've seen those "disagreements" between owners and service personnel before.

    Yes, this particular case may end up being mechanical failure. Or, it may not.

    I doubt you will find ANY car company that will simply replace clutches for free based upon the owner saying he didn't abuse the clutch (either intentionally or unintentionally), much less in a pre-owned car. Those automakers would be out of business in no time.

    Again, IMO, that isn't reality. I think the best that can be hoped for in this case is some sort of discount on the replacement charges.
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    CRKrieger

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    IMHO, that's absurd. The CPO program, or anyone else, cannot be expected to drop the transmission to check the clutch for excessive wear and there's no other way to do it. If the OP is very lucky, there will be an obvious mechanical problem inside. Otherwise, it seems that the original owner abused the hell out of it and managed to avoid the consequences. There is no reason the dealer or BMW should be responsible for the amount of outright abuse it would take to do in a clutch this fast.

    RBinDC guest

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    Not so fast.

    What is a customer buying when he pays a $2,000 premium for a CPO vehicle if not the dealer vouching for the condition of that car? Are you saying the CPO program is one big scam???
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    Zeichen311

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    Here is the current certification checklist for the BMW CPO program. Here is the sum total of the transmission and clutch requirements from Section 4 (Mechanical), Section 5 (Stationary Review) and Section 6 (Rolling Review):
    • Transmission fluid level OK;
    • Leakage within guidelines (which may or may not mean, "none");
    • Shifting performance up to standards;
    • Clutch pedal operation meets guidelines.
    That's it. There is absolutely no condition requirement for the clutch itself unless it is so badly degraded that it affects shifting performance. A clutch burned within a millimeter of its life could easily pass CPO inspection. All it has to do is not slip/grab/judder and exhibit normal pedal feel--and woe unto the next owner in short order.

    "Certified pre-owned" programs have become so commonplace that people tend to forget they are still buying a used car. A CPO-certified car is certified to meet the requirements of that checklist--nothing more. The program requirements ensure a reasonably thorough mechanical, electrical and cosmetic inspection but no dealership will partially disassemble the car to inspect major systems, and as CR said, that is the only way to inspect a clutch.

    Despite the advertising platitudes, CPO does not mean "like new, only cheaper." The inspection will catch most developing problems but there is always an element of risk.
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    Pyewacket1

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    Well, common sense seems to tell you that if a CPO car came with the identical warranty and expectations of a new car, then only an extreme few would ever pay a premium for the new car.

    Like it was said earlier....In the end, its still a USED car, and possibly an abused car.
    There's no free ride, and the buyer assumes additional risks in order to get a reduced price.
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    eam3

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    My dad bought a Porsche 968 with less than 10K miles from a Porsche dealer and the car was certified and all that jazz. At around 12K miles the clutch started slipping and needed replacing. Long story short, my dad ended up paying for the new clutch because it's a "wear" part. It happens, that 's one of the risks involved with a used, er, I mean "pre-owned" car. I believe it was the first owner's inability to operate a clutch properly that probable led to the car being traded in (probably on a Tiptronic model) because otherwise the car was flawless.

    alstroberg guest

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    Fried Clutch

    Ask the dealer just what kind of finding would lead them to believe it is their responsibility. It doesn't sound like a catastrophic event & I'm having a hard time coming up with a mfg that would kill your clutch.
    I'm guessing your original owner thought the pedal on the left was a foot rest.

    If they sound really narrow in their definition of mfg defect, perhaps the better bet is an indy- who would probably charge half of what the dealer does.

    9+ hours to R&R a transmission sounds like a lot.
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    CRKrieger

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    Thank you /Stig. I really didn't want to look up any of that stuff but, having spent the last 40-odd years messing around with the innards of cars, I knew there was no way to reasonably expect that a manual clutch would be inspected for a CPO program. I also know that there are people who are so clueless that they are able to trash a clutch in 25,000 miles, even though most of us will manage 5 to 10 times that.

    RBinDC guest

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    If that's the case I'm glad I bought a new 335 for ED delivery. Why even take a risk on a new car in a dealer's inventory that other people test drive?
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    bcweir

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    If pulling a transmission was as straightforward as pulling a fuse...

    then sure, 9 hours WOULD seem "excessive." If you think pulling a transmission is something that's done during a lunch break, then you don't know what's involved.

    Purchase the Bentley manual for this car, and check out what's involved in removing a transmission. There are two ways to pull an transmission out of my 1988 750iL, and both ways are hugely involved processes:

    a) disassemble nearly the entire front end and pull out the engine and transmission as a whole unit through the front of the car -- long and involved.

    b) remove the exhaust system, disconnect and remove the driveshaft, and start removing bolts and other hardware from the bottom of the car using a lift. -- yes again, long and involved.

    Not to make a bad situation worse, but if the previous owner is as hamfisted as he or she sounds, one should also consider possible damage to the transmission itself. Considering the state of the clutch at such an early mileage mark, how about the gears and synchronizers in the transmission itself?

    Normally, gutting the transmission wouldn't even be necessary during a clutch replacement. It's usually only done when there is something else going on -- such as a transmission not going into a certain gear, balky shifter behavior not resolved after replacing shifter mechanism, etc. But then again, most BMW owners aren't having to replace their clutches at 26k. Which is the only reason I suggested examining the transmission for possible internal damage.

    alstroberg guest

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