2007 BMW X3 6 cyl All Wheel Drive Automatic 21250 miles
My car only has 21,250 miles on it and has been meticulously maintained. I recently discovered that the brake calipers, caliper clips, the front wheel lugs and potentially the brake disc were all rusted beyond normal wear and tear. I have been fighting with BMW and a car wash place I brought the car to as to what caused this rust. I got a car wash that used two simoniz products on the wheels and I think this might have caused it. But they are saying it is safe, etc. BMW is saying they are not covered cause it was caused by an environmental source even though the warranty is still valid and they are part of it. It is covered if it does not meet BMW requirements (whatever those are). I did look at several X3's with the same or more mileage and their brakes looked a lot better than mine. BMW admitted it was excessive and is insistent it was caused by an outside source such as a cleaner, etc. I can't find any information about what could cause this excessive rust??? And of course as the consumer, nobody wants to take accountability and pay for the damages. I am fighting both parties and want to gather as much information as possible. Thank you so much for your help!
Hi rlgarry. Welcome to the forum. This is not uncommon on any car. The rust has nothing to do with cleaners or warranties. It is mainly due to not be driven enough to build up heat that dries off humidity. The cars that rust the fastest are those that are seldom driven. You will find this on a lot of new cars too that have been sitting on the lot for a while.
If you live in the south, I've been told rust is much less of a problem because the daily heat dries out moisture that condensed overnight. Cars can sit in tall grass for many years without rusting. Up here in Wisconsin, I parked one car without a spot of rust on the body in the grass about ten years ago. Today there are holes through the sheet metal and the frame fell apart. Road salt is also a killer up here. I also have a 17 year old car that has only 4,100 miles but no rust problem because it sits in an enclosed garage. Still, the brake parts look like yours and there's nothing I'm going to do to prevent that.
I suspect the people you've been talking to about this issue are making up answers to appease you. They know this rust is nothing abnormal and there is nothing defective that needs to be addressed. To put your mind at ease, this surface rust is not a safety problem. If it bothers you for aesthetic reasons, you can paint them but use high-temperature engine paint. Brake parts can reach 400 degrees under the right conditions. 200 degrees is typical. Don't paint the friction surfaces on the rotors. Those must be kept free of any kind of grease, paint, or sealers. Only clean bare metal is acceptable.
November, 3, 2010 AT 6:56 PM
Thank you for your response. My only comment to your response is that the rust showed up overnight in the dead of the very hot summer we had in Massachusetts. The brakes, etc. Were completely rust free until after I had a " wheel deal" at the car wash using chemicals on my wheels. If heat causes the humidity to disappear, it was very hot this summer (90 degrees for 2 months straight) and the car was driven more than ever! If it was truly because the car wasn't driven or caused from the salt, wouldn't it have shown up a lot sooner? And isn't the rust going to be a safety issue in the future since it is corroding the metal and causing it to deteriorate? Please advise. Thank you.
November, 3, 2010 AT 8:53 PM
Wheel treatments usually are meant to remove black brake dust which we couldn't see years ago with solid steel wheels. That dust often takes a while to develop because there are layers of different composition making up the brake pads. As they wear down, they tend to make more dust. There could very likely have been some rust buildup earlier that gradually got covered in that black dust. Now that the brake dust is gone, the rust is left.
Something else to consider is if a chemical was used, that might be residue and not rust, although I have to agree it does look like rust. Also, a residue would coat everything in the area pretty much the same.
Next, a lot of brake parts have a protective coating on them that is applied at the factory that made them. This is particularly true of rotors, calipers, and anti-rattle brake hardware. That coating is only meant to protect the surfaces until the parts are put in service but often it lasts longer than that. Road salt will eat any remaining coating away.
What I see in the photos is nothing out of the ordinary. In the very worst case, excessive rust will build up on the inside surface of the rotors and will cause the metal to flake off in large chunks. That has happened to my '80 Volare that has sat outside in snow and rain all of its life. On the rare occasions I drive it, I can feel that roughness but it wears away after a few miles. THAT's when the rust is excessive. It doesn't happen to most cars that are driven regularly.
Being a 30 year old car also means the rotors were built with substantial extra thickness. They can be machined multiple times during multiple brake jobs. On newer cars the rotors are very thin to save weight and often will be worn to the legal minimum thickness and must be replaced as part of a normal brake job. For that reason rust has less effect on the rotors' life.
Keep in mind too you wouldn't even see this rust if you had the less expensive steel wheels. Cast wheels lets you see through them to the rusty parts. What concerns me more, I guess, is the surface rust on the lug nuts. Every inexpensive replacement I bought at car shows has rusted the same way although they still worked fine. Original lug nuts are very high quality and take a long time to develop rust. The use of air tools when removing the wheels to rotate them will chip any coating on the nuts. That's real hard to avoid. I wouldn't worry about the brake parts, but keep an eye on the lug nuts. They won't fail, but if you want to replace them, stick with BMW original parts.