2006 BMW 325i - Engine, Ignition Coils, Transmission Issues

  • 1 POST
  • 2006 BMW 325I
  • 74,000 MILES

I bought my car with an extended warranty. Had it serviced regularly & on time with all of the recommended services.

Around 60-65K miles right before my warranty was going out, I noticed liquid on the ground below my car. My husband told me it was just a/c fluid so I left it alone for a few months until my neighbor noticed and said it was OIL! Duh, that would explain the gaseous smell!

Took it to dealer and they said it was my engine block. They replaced it and covered $9K of the $11K cost and asked me to pay $2200 of it which they said was for items I'd have to pay for anyway at my next car service/tune-up.

Since then, my car has gone totally downhill. It has never been the same. I have had a few oil leaks with gas smell outside the car, which they then addressed and "took care of"(?) Under the engine work warranty they did.

My car no longer has the power it used to have. It struggles here and there. I took it back in, and they said it was the ignition coils so had all of those changed. The day it came back, I started having problems actually starting my car. It would hesitate when I put the key in, but eventually start. This happened a few times until it wouldn't start at all.

Took it to local shop (not dealer) and they said it was the starter. Changed that, and now they say they think the transmission has issues as it won't shift gears as smoothly as it should. They are checking the transmission fluid level now but if that is okay, then I might have a transmission issue.

Could this transmission issue and ignition coils and starter have anything to do with BMW having to change my engine block? Could they have messed these up too while dabbling in there?

Did I buy a lemon? A car's engine shouldn't go out after 60K miles, correct? Could I take it back to the dealer I bought it from and demand they address this issue somehow?


Do you
have the same problem?
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 AT 1:39 PM

2 Replies

  • 68,494 POSTS

To replace the engine, all the trouble items that you mentioned were touched in one way or another. Is it possible that they caused it, I would like to think not, but I guess it's possible. To be honest, I NEVER heard of an engine block needing replaced at this mileage when all the maintenance was done. Something strikes me as suspicious. Also, all the coils don't go bad at once. As far as the transmission, I DON'T think it's the problem. Chances are there is a sensor or wiring issue that needs addressed.

Would I take it back to the dealer? Yes.

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Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 AT 8:40 PM
  • 29,781 POSTS

Without actually being there and seeing what has taken place, it's hard to answer most of your questions, but I can offer some advice or suggestions that may help in the future.

First of all, it's hard to imagine what could happen that would require an entirely new engine or block. All brands of engines develop oil leaks by the mileage you listed, and it almost always involves replacing seals and gaskets, rarely the entire engine. That's not to say a crack couldn't develop or the casting isn't "porous", meaning it has pinholes that oil can seep through, but both of those things typically show up right away within the first thousand miles.

Before I'd agree to have the engine replaced, even under warranty, I'd get a second opinion. The problem here is BMW is one of the top three worst manufacturers in the world when it comes to letting independent shops work on their products. They make it extremely difficult by locking up access to their service information and paint codes, and most of the time parts have to come right from their dealers. They are not customer-friendly in that respect. That's why you don't see many of them on the road.

My other concern is that warranty. It doesn't matter if it's through the manufacturer or an aftermarket company, most of the time they are a bad deal for the car owner. It's really not a "warranty" which covers manufacturing defects. It's an insurance policy protecting you financially when you have a major repair. About 80 percent of what you paid for the premium goes to pay sales commissions. Twenty percent goes for the actual coverage. If we are to assume a new engine block really was needed, you are one of the few people who benefited with this policy. Most of the time the cost of the policy is as high as a major repair bill, but that repair bill usually never materializes. The insurance companies know that.

You were also fortunate that the problem was taken care of, apparently without argument, or you would have mentioned it. When I worked at a dealership and aftermarket insurance contracts were involved, it was real common to hear, "what you need isn't covered". The thing to do then is request a refund for the remaining part of the contract, and put that money toward the repair. Getting that partial refund is actually usually pretty easy, I suspect because they'd rather do that than risk having to argue with an angry customer.

The $2200.00 for "other stuff" sounds legitimate for BMW but wouldn't it have been nice to be warned beforehand? You didn't say what those other things were, but I'm guessing it was for maintenance items or one of those "60,000-mile checkups". Those checkups are for people who know nothing about their cars and don't care to, but they usually don't take into account recent repairs that negate the need for some of those things. You also end up at the dealership where parts and services cost a real lot more that at independent shops. Often dealers do a better job because they're very familiar with just one brand of car, and they have lots of experience and factory-training, but after ten years at a very nice dealership, I came to realize that a mechanic's pinnacle of success is reached when he can be successful at an independent shop where he has to know all of the brands and variations of systems. If I owned a car that needed $2200.00 for anything, especially general maintenance, at 65,000 miles, it would have a "For Sale" sign in the window. I have an '80 Plymouth Volare, a '93 Dodge Dynasty, and as I type this, I'm sitting in my daily driver '88 Dodge Grand Caravan. I bought all three brand new, and all the repairs and maintenance they've needed wouldn't come to $2200.00 if I paid a shop to do it.

Be aware too that most service contracts require proof that maintenance has been kept up-to-date to minimize their risk. Some just say it has to be done. Some require proof in the form of receipts. A few, and I think this applies to BMW, insist the work has to be done by one of their dealers. They will argue that way there is always a record of the work and that way you are not responsible for that record-keeping. Other dealerships keep records too, so it's just up to that manufacturer on how tightly they want to bind you to the dealership.

To address the things that have occurred since the first repair, like the ignition coils, my first reaction is the proof is in the results. If a problem or symptom was gone after the service, we would have to assume the parts listed were needed. I would question the diagnosis based solely on knowing how emissions systems work, but again, if it solved the problem, I can't argue with that. Defective ignition coils will cause misfires, and all vehicles sold in the U.S. Starting with '96 models have misfire detection built into their Engine Computers. The computer should have detected the misfires long before they got bad enough for you to feel them. Since those would increase emissions, the Check Engine light would have turned on, and there would have been a diagnostic fault code stored in the computer related to those misfires. The codes never tell us why there was a misfire, just which cylinders are responsible.

That brings me to another point to consider. Sometimes we are reduced to replacing a part to "try" it to see if that solves a problem. That's not the way to properly diagnose something, but sometimes we have no better choice. If three or four parts are tried before one solves the problem, the mechanic may be reluctant to remove the first two or three that apparently weren't needed. Often it is so time-consuming to remove a part and put the old one back in that it's less expensive for the customer to just leave the new parts in there.

THAT brings me to the second half of the story. It's most likely you never spoke with the mechanic. At most shops you talk with the service adviser. He never was a mechanic but unlike most mechanics, he has very good communication skills. His job is to interpret what he thought he heard from the mechanic into something he thinks you will understand. Often things get lost in translation. Those ignition coils he saw in the invoice could be the same ones he's seen many times because they're a common source of problems, so he assumed that's what fixed your car. Maybe it was one of the other, less-common parts that really fixed the problem. That would explain to me why there was no Check Engine light.

I'm not saying any of these things actually happened, just that they might have. There are a lot of things that, if you don't know the long, drawn-out explanations like I just typed, can appear to be fraudulent or dishonest, when they really aren't, but that's where a lot of the bad reputation comes from.

You don't sound especially angry, which all of us in the profession appreciate, but you asked about having the dealer address your concerns, and you absolutely do have that right. I can go into a lot more detail about that too if you want me to, but if a mechanic and shop owner are reputable, they would rather have you come back with a complaint than to never come back. The mechanic deserves the chance to correct his mistakes, and most shop owners will not hold that against him. Owners understand the value in having satisfied customers. Most of them will tell you it's not the angry ones they worry about. It's the ones who never come back they stress over because happy customers don't tell anyone, but angry customers tell, on average, ten other people.

It's easy for things to get overlooked, and with such a huge job as replacing an engine, there's easily dozens of potential mistakes waiting to be made. Labor charges have to be ridiculously high to cover all the taxes, government regulations, and costs associated with the business, but some of their profit is set aside for things like this that they can't legitimately charge you for. Regardless of who sold you the service contract or warranty, they always state that the part of your vehicle they're paying to repair must be returned to "like new" condition. It didn't come with an oil leak and it did have a specific horsepower. If you feel the vehicle is not in the same condition it was before the oil leak occurred, you didn't get what you had coming. You can be insistent, but the dealer is going to be appreciative if you're not angry or visibly frustrated. The service advisers I used to work with went overboard trying to help when customers were polite and understanding. You deserve that consideration from any business, but it's easier for them to work with people who are patient and understanding.

By the way, you don't have a lemon. Technically, in most states, a lemon means it has been in the shop three or more times for the same repair under warranty, or it was out-of-service a specific number of days. What YOU'RE referring to is just a car with a lot of problems, and I doubt that's the case if you made it this many miles with no serious breakdowns.

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Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 AT 9:59 PM

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