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      10-30-2012, 07:59 PM   #1
jpwolfe31
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An Arbitration on the 296 Cracked Wheels

I posted back in August about how the rear wheels on our 2009 Z4 had cracked, and how BMW refused to repair them under warranty due to the fact that they were bent (out of round).

Wanting to try to do something about it I posted several links where persons with this issue could register complaints.

One of the sites was BBB Auto Line. On BBB Auto Line, I reported that BMW refused to repair the cracked wheels under the standard new car warranty. A couple of weeks later, to my surprise, BBB Auto Line sent me a letter and form notifying me that I could arbitrate the case with BMW at no charge. They also stated that if I did not like the decision, I would not be bound by the result and would retain my right to pursue other claims. On the other hand, the manufacturer would be bound by the result. With nothing much to lose other than my time, and thinking it might be interesting, I thought I would give it a try.

We had a very successful result.

The blow by blow follows.
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      10-30-2012, 08:00 PM   #2
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BMW Response to Complaint of Cracked Wheels

This was BMW’s initial response
________________________

MANUFACTURER RESPONSE FORM
(CALIFORNIA ARBITRATION POSITION STATEMENT)

Manufacturer's Position

Vehicle 2009 Z4

The request to replace the vehicle's rims (wheels) has been denied. The decision is based on the following: The vehicle’s file was reviewed via the BMW warranty history file that documents both warranty and maintenance work performed on the vehicle. BMW's service technical file which contains all service, technical and recall bulletins and notices. There are no related bulletins or notices.

The repair order from BMW Concord was reviewed. Documentation from this repair order stated that the cracks in the rims was verified by both the technician and the shop foreman and to determine the cause the wheels were mounted on the wheel balancer and rotated to check if there was any runout/distortion. This procedure is normal work shop practice to determine if the wheels had been impacted. They found that both wheels were bent and had lateral runout. In other words the rims were bent and were somewhat oval. A statement was made that both rims needed replacement and warranty would not cover cracks. The repair order also noted that the tire pressure were adjusted to the correct pressures and although this is law that every time a vehicle enters the work shop for any kind of service work, tire pressure have to be checked (this law stems from vehicle owners not keeping their vehicle’s tire pressure to a safe level to try to prevent accidents occurring because of blowouts) This vehicle had traveled 6,655 miles since it was last in a work shop. Low tire pressures reduce the protection level of a vehicle’s wheel rims when traveling over poor road surfaces.

Every manufacturer has instances of damaged wheels due to poorly maintained streets, roads and highways where road surface erosion has taken place causing ruts and especially potholes that cause vehicle’s rims to be bent while driving over them. To this point, most automobile insurance companies cover this as road hazard. Therefore it would be unreasonable for BMW to cover this damage caused by road hazard.

To conclude,
Damage to the rims was not caused by a defect in materials or workmanship and is therefore not a warranty matter. The damage is evidenced by the rims being bent from impact. From these impacts and bending, cracks have formed.

Participation is by “in writing”
_________________________


BMW elected not to come to the arbitration hearing. I was disappointed as I wanted to discuss this issue with them and felt like they were just blowing me off because they knew they would win. At that time, I did not have much trust in the BBB process because they are supported by business members, like BMW.
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      10-30-2012, 08:02 PM   #3
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Summary of Our Arbitration Presentation

This is a summary of the points I wanted to make at the arbitration. This document was reviewed at the arbitration hearing by the arbitrator. I also had a chance to present it as part of the hearing. It was faxed to BMW during the hearing to see if they wanted to participate.

Many thanks to all of the great posts here on the cracked wheels. Almost all of this information came from Bimmerpost!

______________________________

October 11, 2012

Vehicle: 2009 BMW Z4

Summary of Presentation of Customer

1. Normal Road Conditions. Roads are not uniform - they have minor defects such as expansion joints, pavement transitions, man hole covers, etc. However, most cars operate on our roads in the US without issue as they have a suspension system to absorb these normal day to day shocks. The wheels and tires are an integral part of the suspension. The tire compresses, the wheel takes part of the load from the sidewall of the tire and passes it to the control arm, which in turn passes this to the springs and shock absorbers. Each part of the suspension needs to perform to prevent the suspension system from failing.

2. BMW Z4s Have High Rate of Wheel Failure. On the Z4, BMW wheels with run flat tires have a very high rate of failure in the rear due to bending and cracking. This has been reported extensively in BMW on-line forums (Exhibit A):

Wheel failures on the Z4 have been attributable to the following:
a. Larger 19 inch wheels with less sidewall.
b. Run-flat tires with very hard sidewalls that transmit more force to the wheels (btw, these sidewalls are so hard that they allow the car to drive without air in the tires for up to 30 miles at highway speeds).
c. Negative rear wheel camber of at least 2% which puts considerably more load on the inside edge of the rear wheels where wheel failure almost always occurs.
d. Most importantly, wheels that have not been reinforced to take these additional loads.

3. BMW Style 296 Wheels Cracking. The 296 style wheels when used on the Z4 are far more apt to crack than other style wheels. Especially the rear wheels. This is the most reported style of cracked wheels on the BMW forum. I doubt there are many Z4s with 296 wheels that have not had one or both rear wheels fail. Some report up to 8 failures.

There are reports that the 296 wheels that BMW is using to replace bent and cracked wheels have been redesigned with thicker rims to help prevent wheel failure (Exhibit B).

296 wheels were a $1200 upgrade option on this Z4 when purchased for $65,000 in 2009. These wheels are no longer offered by BMW on new vehicles. Given the upgrade fee charged for these wheels, it is reasonable to expect that the wheels would have been made stronger to absorb the increased loads of stiff run flat tires with less sidewall than on the smaller 18 inch wheels.

4. Discovery of Wheel Failure. Reports of frequent cracking led to my regular inspection of the 296 wheels on the vehicle. When I noticed cracks on Saturday, August 18, I took the vehicle into BMW on the following Monday, August 20. BMW declined warranty coverage for the cracked wheels due to the fact that they found the wheels to be out of round or bent. BMW did not report by how much the wheels were out of round. However, it is most significant that BMW did not report any sign of impact on the tire, the wheel or the car. BMW quoted $1525 to replace just the two rear wheels.

I reported to BMW, that the vehicle had not had any impact other than through normal road travel. I also reported to BMW that there was no tire vibration or other indication that the wheels were out of round and that the vehicle ran great up to 70 mph. If the wheels were out of round, they were not affecting normal highway driving. The wheels themselves also show no sign of any impact.

Continuing to drive with cracked wheels is not an option as the cracks will increase in size over time and could result in sudden loss of tire air pressure through the wheel creating a safety hazard.

5. Cracking/Bending Distinction Without Merit. A wheel that easily bends is just as defective as a wheel that easily cracks. In both cases, the wheel is simply not strong enough. BMW is drawing this distinction only as a means to allow it to avoid its warranty obligations. The redesign of the replacement 296 wheels shows BMW’s efforts to strengthen the defective wheel design to prevent both bending and cracking.

6. BMW Has Burden of Proof. Given that there is a clear failure of the wheels, this failure should be covered under warranty absent a showing by BMW that the cause of the failure was a result of one of the applicable warranty exclusions - namely negligence, improper operation of the vehicle or accident (Exhibit C). BMW has offered no evidence of any negligence, improper operation of the vehicle or accident other than the failure of the wheel itself. Historically, when claims were made regarding cracked wheels, a dealership looked for signs of impact on the tire and on the wheel itself near the point of any crack. None of these impact signs exist on the wheels. This indicates there was no serious impact that caused wheel damage (such as a curb).

BMW's sole argument for not covering the wheels is that they are bent (although they do not even report by how much), and that this necessarily means they have suffered severe impact or some other serious road hazard. BMW has offered no evidence linking impacts to bending. Logically, bending and in time cracking can just as likely be the result of cumulative shocks from uneven pavement over time that would be considered normal for travel over US roads. The wheels, as part of the suspension, should be designed to be strong enough to absorb these normal shocks without failure.

BMW also tries to confuse the situation even further by noting that the air pressure of the vehicle tires was checked by the dealership. This is completely disingenuous on BMW’s part and as they note this routine air check is mandated by California law. There was no indication anywhere in the maintenance records that tire pressure was found to be low. Each wheel on the vehicle also has a tire pressure sensor that sends an alert if a low tire pressure is detected. BMW also states that the vehicle had not been in for service for 6,655 mile which is false. The vehicle had been in to the dealer for a repair to its convertible top on July 12, 2012 and for an oil change and wheel alignment on July 24, 2012. Tire pressure was checked at both times.

In sum, BMW has the burden of proof with respect to the denial of warranty claims (Exhibit D) and BMW has not demonstrated that the wheel failures fall within the warranty exclusion of negligence, improper operation of the vehicle or accident.

7. BMW Takes Contrary Position in the UK. In the UK, BMW initially took the position of not covering cracked wheels under warranty if the wheels were found to be bent or out of round by more than 3mm. On a wheel that is 482 mm in diameter, this is less than 1%. One can see how obviously arbitrary this standard was. BMW has since revised this position and now covers bent or cracked wheels under warranty absent any clear visual sign of impact damage (Exhibit E). Since the cars sold in the UK and in the US have identical style 296 wheels, this is the right position for BMW to take in the US as well. This position is also consistent with the approach that has been used historically to determine the cause of wheel damage.

8. Remedy. The 296 wheels on the vehicle should be replaced by other 19 inch BMW wheels that are stronger or with 18 inch wheels (with tires) that are less likely to fail given the wider sidewall. Just replacing the two rear wheels with the same 296 style wheel will not solve the problem. The cost to replace four wheels as quoted by the BMW dealership would be $3050. I assume this replacement cost would be about the same if other BMW wheels were used that are similar to the defective 296 wheels but stronger.

Recognizing that replacing just the two rear wheels with the same defective 296 wheels would not make economic sense for either BMW or me since they would continuously need replacement, and needing to drive the vehicle, I replaced all of the wheels and tires with aftermarket 18 inch wheels with non-runflat tires at a cost of $2,364 (Exhibit F). This is the best overall solution for correcting the wheel failure problem on the Z4. However, these wheels and tires do diminish the value of the vehicle due to the fact that the vehicle no longer has BMW OEM wheels or run-flat tires, both of which are perceived as positives by buyers.

BMW should pay $2,364 to compensate me for the cost of replacing the wheels, which is less than the $3050 BMW quoted to replace the wheels.

__________________________

At the end of the hearing, the arbitrator said she would need to wait to hear back on this from BMW since they were not present. At this point, I did not have much expectation that the arbitration would be fair.
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      10-30-2012, 08:03 PM   #4
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BMW’s Second Response

MANUFACTURER RESPONSE FORM
(CALIFORNIA)

Warranty Start Date 10/19/2009
Vehicle: 2009 BMW Z4
Mileage: 18,438

The below are responses to Mr. Wolfe's 28 page presentation.

The responses are numbered identical to the paragraph numbers in Mr. Wolfes’ presentation.
1) It is a known fact that local ( S.CA) 'normal road conditions' are not in good condition and do cause damage to road wheels and affect all vehicle manufactures.
2) Z4’s do not have high rates of failure (wheels) due to defects in materials or workmanship. You can always find what you want in forums - both + and -. In most cases forums are written by inexperienced individuals and are self opinions and not by informed professionals.
3) If tire pressures are kept to specifications, it provides adequate protection of the wheel rim. Repair order #6148101 on 10/12/11 states that all 4 tire pressure were found to be low on that particular visit. Manufacturers’ are always changing specifications in production. This does not indicate that there are defects in materials or workmanship on previous production.
4) Wheels were found to be bent. Wheels do not bend on their own. They are bent from impact.
5) There are cost limitations in design and production of all aspects of a vehicle, including wheels and includes all manufacturers.
6) Z4 296 wheel rims do not fail on their own. They are damaged by impacts which cause cracking.
7) The UK's position to replace wheel rims stipulates that only when a rim is found to be cracked
WITHOUT visual damage. The rims found on this vehicle were visually damaged as could be seen by the runout ( bending) of the rims when they were rotated on a wheel balancer.

And to add an additional general statement from owners manuals;

“Regularly check the tire Inflation pressures and correct as needed at least twice a month." ( As
previously noted, the pressures on this vehicle were found to be low an on at least one occasion)
“Driving over rough or damaged road surfaces as well as debris, curbs and other obstacles can cause serious damage to wheels, tires and suspension parts. This is more likely to occur with low-profile tires (like on this Z4) which provides less cushioning between the wheel and the road. Be careful to avoid road hazards and reduce your speed, especially If you vehicle Is equipped with low-profile tires"

___________________

I was surprised at how little effort BMW put into this. I was expecting materials information and test results to back up their claims.
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      10-30-2012, 08:04 PM   #5
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Our Follow-up Response

Will this ever end?

_____________________

October 26, 2012

Vehicle: 2009 BMW Z4

Response to BMW’s comments on 10-25-12.

1. The vehicle was sold and has been driven in Northern California - not Southern California. BMW should know this.

2. BMW states that Z4s do not have a high rate of failure but provides no support for this statement. BMW also states that the Z4 forum members are inexperienced individuals. Many of these members actually have considerable auto knowledge and are quite thoughtful as evidenced by their posts. The forums have proven to be an invaluable resource to learn more about and diagnose problems with the Z4. In light of the cavalier dismissal of forum members and given BMW’s resources, it’s odd that BMW has not offered any “informed professional opinions” in its own submissions. Z4s actually do have a high rate of failure in their rear wheels (especially the 296 wheels). One commentator has stated there must be “millions of posts” on the site about cracks in the 296 wheels.

3. BMW does not dispute that the 296 wheels have been redesigned and refuses to provide any explanation for the change. The redesign with the added rim thickness can only be to make the wheel stronger. Instead, BMW goes off on a tangent with respect to an irrelevant tire pressure check in October 2011 - at least 8 months prior to the wheels cracking. BMW does not even state how low the tire pressure was. No cracks were found after a June 2012 wheel inspection performed shortly after we purchased the vehicle. The cracks had to develop sometime between June 2012 and August 2012. The cracks are therefore completely unrelated to any low tire pressure that BMW asserts was discovered the prior year. For this tire pressure check to be a consideration at all, BMW should be required to show some causal link, which they have not done here. On three other trips to the dealer in July and August 2012 (the relevant time frame), tire pressure was not indicated by BMW as being low.

4. The wheels should not “bend” or “crack” through normal use. For any bending or cracking to be excluded from BMW’s express warranty, it needs to rise to the level of “negligence, improper operation of the vehicle or accident.” BMW does not dispute its warranty obligations or the limited warranty exclusions.

5. “Cost limitations” should not excuse a manufacturer from escaping responsibility for a defective product and breach of warranty. This statement is unusual, especially coming from BMW. What could these cost limits be given the vehicle’s $65,000 msrp and the fact that an additional $1,200 was specifically allocated to the larger 19 inch wheels as an upgrade to the stock 18 inch wheels. Given the price of aluminum, BMW could double the amount of aluminum used in a wheel for less than $25.

6. The 296 wheels bend from minor normal road impacts which, over time, lead to cracking of the aluminum alloy. BMW does not refute this point. The 296 wheels need to be stronger to eliminate this initial bending that occurs through normal use of the vehicle. BMW in the UK concurs with this position and no longer views minor bending as evidence of an accident impact which would be excluded from warranty coverage.

Most importantly, BMW does not dispute that BMW has the burden of proof with respect to warranty claim exclusions.

7. BMW mischaracterizes the current BMW UK policy. As quoted by BMW UK in the UK article, the policy before the change was as follows:

"If the wheel is found to be deflected from a perfect circle by 0.3 mm or more this is evidence that an impact has taken place and this has been the cause of the cracks. In this case the customer would be responsible for the repair. If the wheel is deflected by less than 0.3 mm and yet is cracked, then it will be replaced under warranty.”

In sum, prior to the change, BMW UK stated if the wheel was deflected or “bent” by more than .3 mm, BMW would not replace the cracked wheel.

After the change, BMW UK’s policy was as follows: “BMW (UK) is now replacing cracked 19-inch alloys with run-flats unless there are clear visual indications of impact damage.” BMW UK is no longer testing for bent wheels nor are they using bent wheels as evidence of impact damage. BMW UK acknowledges that 19 inch wheels combined with hard sidewall run-flats (as is the case here) are prone to failure.

The wheel presented to the arbitrator for inspection showed no visual impact damage.

8. In sum:

(i) Wheels need to absorb normal road impacts as part of their day to day function.

(ii) A wheel that easily bends is just as defective as a wheel that easily cracks. In both cases, the wheel is simply not strong enough. BMW’s selection of run-flat tires and a high negative camber exacerbate these wheel failures.

(iii) BMW has redesigned replacement 296 rear wheels in an attempt to make them stronger.

(iv) BMW has offered no evidence of any negligence, improper operation of the vehicle or accident other than the failure of the wheel itself. Historically, when claims were made regarding bent or cracked wheels, dealerships looked for signs of impact on the tire and on the wheel itself near the point of any bend or crack. None of these impact signs exist on the wheels. The vehicle, which is quite low to the road, also shows no sign of any accident impact.

(v) BMW does not dispute that it has the burden of proof with respect to warranty claims. Wheel failure should be covered under warranty absent a showing by BMW that the cause of the failure was a result of one of the applicable warranty exclusions - namely negligence, improper operation of the vehicle or accident. BMW has not made this showing.

(vi) BMW in the UK has expressly rejected BMW’s position in the US and now covers bent or cracked wheels under warranty “absent any clear visual sign of impact damage.”

__________________

I think I have had my say now.
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      10-30-2012, 08:06 PM   #6
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The Decision

From reading the decision which is dated October 25, 2012, it looks like BMW failed to respond in the time frame required by the arbitrator and that neither BMW's second response nor my second response were considered. That’s fine, as really no new information was presented.

___________________

Decision

Submitted Date: 10/25/12
Hearing Date: 10/11/12


Question 1
Vehicle {Year, Make, Model}
2009 BMW Z4

Question 2
With respect to the consumer’s “vehicle”, I/we have made the following decision:
Reimbursement of cost to replace tires.

Reasons for Decision

Question 1
Vehicle {Year, Make, Model}
2009 BMW Z4

Question 2
Please list the vehicle problem alleged by the customer. Include both past and present problems:
BMW Style 296 Wheels Cracks.

Question 3
For the following reasons, I have determined that a {please list one of the following awards below: repair, denial, repurchase, reimbursement, repurchase/replacement}
Reimbursement
decision is a fair resolution of this dispute:

The arbitrator received position papers from both the BMW (manufacturer) and Mr. Wolfe (consumer). The arbitrator conducted the hearing with Mr. Wolfe present. Mr. Wolfe produced additional documents at the arbitration which were submitted to BMW for comment within a set period. In addition to the documentary evidence produced response, Mr. Wolfe also brought one of the alleged non-conforming tire and wheel from the vehicle to the arbitration which the arbitrator had the opportunity to inspect. No additional comments have been received from BMW regarding the documents submitted at the arbitration. Mr. Wolfe's position is that the BMW Style 296 wheels are more prone to cracking on the BMW Z4 than other types of tires that could be placed on the vehicle. In short, the tires simply cannot withstand the weight and pressure on this particular vehicle.

He introduced multiple complaints via internet sites in the U.K. from BMW owners who had experienced the same problems with their tires cracking. No documentary evidence was introduced regarding similar complaints within the United States. It was noted that BMW now covers such complaints with in the U.K. with replacement or reimbursement. Thus Mr. Wolfe argued that the same manner of replacement or repair of the tires should be adopted as a standard policy in the United States, since the same tires were used on the same vehicle found to have a defect in a neighboring country and addressed.

The central question is whether a non-conformity exists and if so whether it is covered under the applicable law. Here, California Civil Code, section 1794.3 provides that the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act does not apply to any defect or nonconformity in consumer goods caused by the unauthorized or unreasonable use of the goods following sale. What the section does cover is any vehicle defect or malfunction that:

1. Is covered by the manufacturer's written new vehicle warranty and
2. Substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle to the consumer.

Again, the law does not cover vehicle problems that are caused by the unauthorized or unreasonable use of the vehicle after sale.

The vehicle is covered under Song-Beverly as it was bought new and used for primarily family and household purposes. The question now is the crack due to Mr. Wolfe’s unauthorized or unreasonable use or due a defect in the vehicle at the time of manufacture.

Mr. Wolfe denies ever having an incident/impact in the vehicle. He stated that the vehicle is mostly a weekend, errand car used by both he and his wife. He admitted that he lives in a hilly area but denies his driving in the neighborhood causing the cracks in the wheel. Mr. Wolfe states that this vehicle reimbursement should be covered under warranty, which was produced at the arbitration.

Mr. Wolfe testified that he found out about the potential for such a problem ahead of time from the internet and speaking to other owners of BMW’s and took the initiative to take the tires off every couple of months to check for cracks. He is an engineer with no technical training on vehicles but stated it was relatively simple to institute this regular routine of inspecting the tires. He never noticed any cracks preceding August 18, 2012 when he completed his maintenance of checking the wheels.

He had taken in the vehicle to the BMW dealer in Concord approximately 4 weeks (although he believed it to be less) before the cracks were noticed and although the tire pressure was noted as slightly low, the tires were rotated, pressure slightly changed and significantly no fissure/crack was noted by BMW.

He also reported a changed to the manner the vehicle tires road at speeds under 70 mph. Upon taking the vehicle into BMW Concord for inspection on August 20, 2012, BMW declined to honor the warranty because they alleged the wheels to be bent as the result of an impact or other driving incident.

The invoice for service August 20, 2012 states that both rims were found to have small cracks and the tires were starting to wear on the inside edge. It was recommended that both the rear rims be replaced. Upon BMW stated that the cracks found on the wheels were not covered under warranty.

The inspection report notes that the warranty is in effect until Octobe r 19, 2013. BMW's written position presented by Ms. Nancy McDonald is that the cracks were due to an impact which would not be covered under warranty.

As of July 24, 2012 the mileage was 17988 noted per the service order on rotating the tires and changing the pressure. When the cracks were discovered the mileage was listed at 18438, a difference of 450 miles in just over a month period. The July 24, 2012 service order makes no mention of wear on the tires. The total amount of mileage is suggestive of more drive time than was suggested by Mr. Wolfe for simple errands in the neighborhood.

Upon inspection of the tire at the arbitration, the crack was clearly visible but did not appear to be associated with any bending of the wheel and I also observed little more than light wear to the tire.

In short the crack appeared to stand alone as a non-conformity to the tire. BMW presented no evidence other than statements that the cracks was due to the driving of Mr. Wolfe.

It is the arbitrator's opinion that the average driver in such an automobile should expect to be able to drive a vehicle with relatively low mileage of 18439 after 3 years of ownership to withstand a reasonable usage on the roads and highways without the wheels cracking with manufacturer installed and proscribed wheels and tires on the vehicle. It is also my opinion that the cracking of the tires substantially impairs the use, value and safety of the vehicle to Mr. Wolfe with a multitude of scenarios that could put he and his passengers in physical jeopardy. As Mr. Wolfe has already put new tires on the vehicle and is driving the vehicle successfully with the replacement of the off-market tires, he should be reimbursed for the expense of the replacement of manufacturer tires at the amount so stated. His new vehicle warranty is still in effect until October 2013.

I considered the UK evidence as merely a factor in reimbursement since there was no evidence of recall in the U.S. or manufacturer reports as to the tires/wheels on this vehicle causing a repeated problem for consumers. I was persuaded by the actual lack of visible wear and tear on the tire itself and the relatively short period between service periods to when the crack was noted by the dealer. It is my opinion that the tire is more than likely ill-fitted to the wheel on this particular vehicle based on the evidence presented by both parties. The new vehicle warranty should cover the cost of reimbursement for the new tires under California Civil Code, section 1794.3 for the non-conformity.

I appreciate the time both parties provided to assist my review of the records and issues in the case.

Respectfully Submitted


Question 4
If awarding a repurchase or replacement:
If you have determined that the manufacturer is entitled to a deduction for reasonable use, please indicate the number of vehicle miles prior to the first repair attempt of the problem that gave rise to the nonconformity.

Please describe all collateral and incidental damages paid, incurred or to be incurred by the customer. Please explain why if any of these collateral/incidental damages are not awarded.

Reimbursement Decision

Question 1
Vehicle {Year, Make, Model}
2009 BMW Z4

Question 2
The manufacturer shall, within 30 days after the manufacturer is notified that the customer has accepted this decision, reimburse the customer:
$2364.00

Question 3
Reimbursement is being made for the following:
Replacement of BMW Style 296 wheels with comparable purchased from outside manufacturer.

_____________________

BMW was ordered to pay me for the replacement wheels and tires - $2,364 as delivered from PySpeed. Thanks Bobby!

There were a few items not quite right in the reported decision. For example, I stated the car operated fine up to 70 mph even with the cracked wheels. Also, I gave the arbitrator quite a bit of information on cracked wheels both in the US as well as the UK.

Overall, very satisfied.

PS - My wife and I still adore the car. I would like to get it out to the track, but I am too tall and do not pass the broomstick test.
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      10-30-2012, 09:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpwolfe31
From reading the decision which is dated October 25, 2012, it looks like BMW failed to respond in the time frame required by the arbitrator and that neither BMW's second response nor my second response were considered. Thats fine, as really no new information was presented.

___________________

Decision

Submitted Date: 10/25/12
Hearing Date: 10/11/12


Question 1
Vehicle {Year, Make, Model}
2009 BMW Z4

Question 2
With respect to the consumers vehicle, I/we have made the following decision:
Reimbursement of cost to replace tires.

Reasons for Decision

Question 1
Vehicle {Year, Make, Model}
2009 BMW Z4

Question 2
Please list the vehicle problem alleged by the customer. Include both past and present problems:
BMW Style 296 Wheels Cracks.

Question 3
For the following reasons, I have determined that a {please list one of the following awards below: repair, denial, repurchase, reimbursement, repurchase/replacement}
Reimbursement
decision is a fair resolution of this dispute:

The arbitrator received position papers from both the BMW (manufacturer) and Mr. Wolfe (consumer). The arbitrator conducted the hearing with Mr. Wolfe present. Mr. Wolfe produced additional documents at the arbitration which were submitted to BMW for comment within a set period. In addition to the documentary evidence produced response, Mr. Wolfe also brought one of the alleged non-conforming tire and wheel from the vehicle to the arbitration which the arbitrator had the opportunity to inspect. No additional comments have been received from BMW regarding the documents submitted at the arbitration. Mr. Wolfe's position is that the BMW Style 296 wheels are more prone to cracking on the BMW Z4 than other types of tires that could be placed on the vehicle. In short, the tires simply cannot withstand the weight and pressure on this particular vehicle.

He introduced multiple complaints via internet sites in the U.K. from BMW owners who had experienced the same problems with their tires cracking. No documentary evidence was introduced regarding similar complaints within the United States. It was noted that BMW now covers such complaints with in the U.K. with replacement or reimbursement. Thus Mr. Wolfe argued that the same manner of replacement or repair of the tires should be adopted as a standard policy in the United States, since the same tires were used on the same vehicle found to have a defect in a neighboring country and addressed.

The central question is whether a non-conformity exists and if so whether it is covered under the applicable law. Here, California Civil Code, section 1794.3 provides that the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act does not apply to any defect or nonconformity in consumer goods caused by the unauthorized or unreasonable use of the goods following sale. What the section does cover is any vehicle defect or malfunction that:

1. Is covered by the manufacturer's written new vehicle warranty and
2. Substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle to the consumer.

Again, the law does not cover vehicle problems that are caused by the unauthorized or unreasonable use of the vehicle after sale.

The vehicle is covered under Song-Beverly as it was bought new and used for primarily family and household purposes. The question now is the crack due to Mr. Wolfes unauthorized or unreasonable use or due a defect in the vehicle at the time of manufacture.

Mr. Wolfe denies ever having an incident/impact in the vehicle. He stated that the vehicle is mostly a weekend, errand car used by both he and his wife. He admitted that he lives in a hilly area but denies his driving in the neighborhood causing the cracks in the wheel. Mr. Wolfe states that this vehicle reimbursement should be covered under warranty, which was produced at the arbitration.

Mr. Wolfe testified that he found out about the potential for such a problem ahead of time from the internet and speaking to other owners of BMWs and took the initiative to take the tires off every couple of months to check for cracks. He is an engineer with no technical training on vehicles but stated it was relatively simple to institute this regular routine of inspecting the tires. He never noticed any cracks preceding August 18, 2012 when he completed his maintenance of checking the wheels.

He had taken in the vehicle to the BMW dealer in Concord approximately 4 weeks (although he believed it to be less) before the cracks were noticed and although the tire pressure was noted as slightly low, the tires were rotated, pressure slightly changed and significantly no fissure/crack was noted by BMW.

He also reported a changed to the manner the vehicle tires road at speeds under 70 mph. Upon taking the vehicle into BMW Concord for inspection on August 20, 2012, BMW declined to honor the warranty because they alleged the wheels to be bent as the result of an impact or other driving incident.

The invoice for service August 20, 2012 states that both rims were found to have small cracks and the tires were starting to wear on the inside edge. It was recommended that both the rear rims be replaced. Upon BMW stated that the cracks found on the wheels were not covered under warranty.

The inspection report notes that the warranty is in effect until Octobe r 19, 2013. BMW's written position presented by Ms. Nancy McDonald is that the cracks were due to an impact which would not be covered under warranty.

As of July 24, 2012 the mileage was 17988 noted per the service order on rotating the tires and changing the pressure. When the cracks were discovered the mileage was listed at 18438, a difference of 450 miles in just over a month period. The July 24, 2012 service order makes no mention of wear on the tires. The total amount of mileage is suggestive of more drive time than was suggested by Mr. Wolfe for simple errands in the neighborhood.

Upon inspection of the tire at the arbitration, the crack was clearly visible but did not appear to be associated with any bending of the wheel and I also observed little more than light wear to the tire.

In short the crack appeared to stand alone as a non-conformity to the tire. BMW presented no evidence other than statements that the cracks was due to the driving of Mr. Wolfe.

It is the arbitrator's opinion that the average driver in such an automobile should expect to be able to drive a vehicle with relatively low mileage of 18439 after 3 years of ownership to withstand a reasonable usage on the roads and highways without the wheels cracking with manufacturer installed and proscribed wheels and tires on the vehicle. It is also my opinion that the cracking of the tires substantially impairs the use, value and safety of the vehicle to Mr. Wolfe with a multitude of scenarios that could put he and his passengers in physical jeopardy. As Mr. Wolfe has already put new tires on the vehicle and is driving the vehicle successfully with the replacement of the off-market tires, he should be reimbursed for the expense of the replacement of manufacturer tires at the amount so stated. His new vehicle warranty is still in effect until October 2013.

I considered the UK evidence as merely a factor in reimbursement since there was no evidence of recall in the U.S. or manufacturer reports as to the tires/wheels on this vehicle causing a repeated problem for consumers. I was persuaded by the actual lack of visible wear and tear on the tire itself and the relatively short period between service periods to when the crack was noted by the dealer. It is my opinion that the tire is more than likely ill-fitted to the wheel on this particular vehicle based on the evidence presented by both parties. The new vehicle warranty should cover the cost of reimbursement for the new tires under California Civil Code, section 1794.3 for the non-conformity.

I appreciate the time both parties provided to assist my review of the records and issues in the case.

Respectfully Submitted


Question 4
If awarding a repurchase or replacement:
If you have determined that the manufacturer is entitled to a deduction for reasonable use, please indicate the number of vehicle miles prior to the first repair attempt of the problem that gave rise to the nonconformity.

Please describe all collateral and incidental damages paid, incurred or to be incurred by the customer. Please explain why if any of these collateral/incidental damages are not awarded.

Reimbursement Decision

Question 1
Vehicle {Year, Make, Model}
2009 BMW Z4

Question 2
The manufacturer shall, within 30 days after the manufacturer is notified that the customer has accepted this decision, reimburse the customer:
$2364.00

Question 3
Reimbursement is being made for the following:
Replacement of BMW Style 296 wheels with comparable purchased from outside manufacturer.

_____________________

BMW was ordered to pay me for the replacement wheels and tires - $2,364 as delivered from PySpeed. Thanks Bobby!

There were a few items not quite right in the reported decision. For example, I stated the car operated fine up to 70 mph even with the cracked wheels. Also, I gave the arbitrator quite a bit of information on cracked wheels both in the US as well as the UK.

Overall, very satisfied.

PS - My wife and I still adore the car. I would like to get it out to the track, but I am too tall and do not pass the broomstick test.
Nicely done.
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      10-31-2012, 12:43 AM   #8
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Wow, I skimmed over most of it, but it's the end result that matters! Job well done!
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      10-31-2012, 06:45 AM   #9
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Quite a bit of work on your part, but as a 296 sufferer (I refuse to alter these wheels, I love their look, I just wish I wasn't waiting for the next one to fail) I thank you for posting this and congratulate you on the outcome.

My car is now out of the initial 3 year UK warranty, 1 front and 2 rear 296s have already been replaced. I await wheel number 4 failure
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      10-31-2012, 08:26 AM   #10
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So if I read this correctly, you got replacement aftermarket wheels?
"Replacement of BMW Style 296 wheels with comparable purchased from outside manufacturer."
Don't tell me you have 2 different pairs of wheels front and rear.
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      10-31-2012, 09:51 AM   #11
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Great result. Hopefully, with more of this type of action BMW will finally deal with this issue fairly.

I always love the bit about the wheels being 'out of round’ which in my opinion would only be significant if there was a measurement of the wheels at the time of purchase. Otherwise there is no evidence that the wheels were not already ‘out of round’ to some degree.

I had one cracked 296 rear wheel replaced under warranty and subsequently tried to argue for them all to be replace with the redesigned wheels on the basis that the original wheels were clearly unsafe. However, it was no surprise that they refused. That said, I at least have the correspondence highlighting my concerns if there are any further problems.
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      10-31-2012, 10:13 AM   #12
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BBB AutoLine decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by jparnes1 View Post
So if I read this correctly, you got replacement aftermarket wheels?
"Replacement of BMW Style 296 wheels with comparable purchased from outside manufacturer."
Don't tell me you have 2 different pairs of wheels front and rear.
We were reimbursed for all 4 wheels and tires and TPMS sensors. We have the 18 inch VMR 710 wheels with Goodyear F1 tires.
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      10-31-2012, 11:30 AM   #13
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Great result, interesting reading, but a lot of work which should have been unnecessary...

The short version:
BMW: YOU damaged your special 296 wheels. So you pay. Not us.

Customer: My wheels cracked solely because of poor design by BMW. And btw now would be a good time to say sorry, and show us what a great company you are while everyone is watching. We know you already implemented a new stronger design of the wheels.

BMW: No, you are an inexperienced amateur, and so are most bimmerpost members. And also we think you are cheater because you probably used the bad roads in SoCal even you live far from there. And regarding the redesign, it is just that our engineers were bored, and we like increasing our production costs from time to time. That is what we always do, everyone knows that. You are clearly just upset that we think you are a poor driver.

Customer: That makes no sense.

BBB: Alright guys...
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      10-31-2012, 11:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asbjørn View Post
BMW: And regarding the redesign, it is just that our engineers were bored, and we like increasing our production costs from time to time. That is what we always do, everyone knows that. You are clearly just upset that we think you are a poor driver.
No no, the letter I have received from BMW, denying my 296 crack warranty claim, they wrote "BMW is always looking to optimize their products" and of course there is nothing wrong with the wheel 296.
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      10-31-2012, 12:23 PM   #15
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No no, the letter I have received from BMW, denying my 296 crack warranty claim, they wrote "BMW is always looking to optimize their products" and of course there is nothing wrong with the wheel 296.
And we are always looking to optimize where we buy our cars...

It is just ridiculous, because we know they redesigned those wheels! And we know who paid for it...
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      10-31-2012, 03:38 PM   #16
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Great information! thanks for sharing

This part of the BMW letter is particularly interesting

Quote:
Low tire pressures reduce the protection level of a vehicle’s wheel rims when traveling over poor road surfaces
Seems like owners with these style 296 wheels should be extra vigilant about the the pressure
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      11-01-2012, 11:41 AM   #17
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there is a government site (auto recall) that allows you to submit issues that you experiece with your vehicles. This is how the government puts pressure on manufacturers to make them initiate a recall when they are not willing to do so themselves.

Have any of you tried to start that process? I know they are responsive.

i just looked it up here is the site,
https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/

if enough people do this then the gov will step in and do this for you. i certainly think this can be considered a safety issue.
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      11-01-2012, 01:32 PM   #18
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great job Mr. Wolfe
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      11-01-2012, 04:12 PM   #19
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good job...what is the correct tire pressure on these? Tires say 50 psi max and i believe the manual says 36 psi in the front and 42 psi in the back. just bought an 09 with 26,000 miles a week ago and really getting worried about cracking a rim.
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      11-01-2012, 08:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swervd View Post
good job...what is the correct tire pressure on these? Tires say 50 psi max and i believe the manual says 36 psi in the front and 42 psi in the back. just bought an 09 with 26,000 miles a week ago and really getting worried about cracking a rim.
Yellow placard on the driver side B pillar says 36psi F / 44psi R

I'm not sure if that is "Correct" but that's what I try to keep it at
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      11-11-2012, 08:12 PM   #21
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Got the check today

I received the check today from the local dealership. It was interesting that it came from them instead of BMW US. I do appreciate their quick payment.
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      11-11-2012, 08:24 PM   #22
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