Pricewatch: Readers’ queries

This week’s consumer problems relate to a fault BMW says is not covered by warranty, and promised vouchers that were not forthcoming

The assembly line at BMW’s plant in Dingolfing, Germany. Photograph: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

The assembly line at BMW’s plant in Dingolfing, Germany. Photograph: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 12:23

BMW UNABLE TO HELP WITH TIMING CHAIN PROBLEM

A reader called Eamon bought a 2008 BMW 5 series 520 diesel, which, he tells us, was the first 5 series to have efficient dynamics and to fall under the cheaper tax bracket. It has an N47 engine.

“We were looking at changing our car, and on appraisal for trade-in were told we have a problem with the timing chain, which would cost about €5,000 to fix. We own the car about six months and paid €18,000 for it second hand. We had the car checked by BMW, and were told the timing chain did need replacing immediately and that the car shouldn’t be driven.

“When we came home we did a little internet research, to find to our surprise that there is an online petition with more than 5,000 signatures to have the N47 engines recalled because of this issue, and there was actually a BBC Watchdog piece done about this problem, which only arises when the car is out of warranty. Now there is info online that says BMW Germany has acknowledged the problem, and has even compensated drivers through its compensation scheme.

“The engine should not be built to fail, and with this track record, many unsuspecting drivers of BMWs with this engine face a similar issue to us – or worse if the chain breaks off and destroys the engine altogether.”

Eamon pleaded his case to his local BMW garage, which was staffed by “very helpful guys. They contacted BMW Ireland on our behalf” but no good came of it. So he called himself and was told: “the warranty was up in 2011 and while the company presents issues to its ‘goodwill contribution department’, it had already rejected our case, for reasons such as age, mileage etc. We are talking about a car that would have cost in access of €70,000 new, and still has a value of about €15,000 or maybe less than €10,000 if we have to pay to fix it. Is BMW seriously ignoring this issue?”

We contacted the company, but the news wasn’t much better.

“The car in question was first registered in the UK on April 3rd, 2008, and was sold at that time with a three-year warranty, which expired. Outside of this warranty period, while there is no obligation to assist with the cost of repairs, BMW operates a generous goodwill policy and will consider financial help, depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Where a fault has occurred on a vehicle with relatively low mileage, which has been serviced within the BMW network, the company may cover most of the repair cost out of goodwill, despite being outside of the warranty period,” a spokesman said.

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