The Test Begins (Our intrepid reporter sets out on a quest.)
As if we donít have enough information on this already, I decided to start calling around to different dealerships to see what they know about the V8 sulfur issues, the test, and the 6 year, 100K warranty. Here are the results.
For each call, I played Columbo and pretended I knew nothing about it. I told each service department rep that I spoke to that my idle was rough, and that after completing Inspection 1 an independent mechanic suggested I speak to a dealership service department regarding an engine test for my engine since it was made of some sort of material that reacted with gasoline and caused it to wear excessively and unnaturally.
Dealers to the Rescue? Ummm . . . not quite.
Initially they all denied the problem existed. I gave them more information regarding replacing the block due to Nikasil and sulfur in the gas. I specifically asked what a leakdown test was. At this point they all started sharing more info and instantly became "experts" on the problem.
Here's how they responded.
Dealer # 1
Initially the service rep claimed this is a problem with the 7 series only. Then, after more persuasion from me, he added that some 540iís also have this problem. He claimed they had never seen it in a 530i. He said he would have to check, but is certain that it is not covered under any warranty. I am supposed to receive a call back.
Dealer # 2
Same as above, first the rep declared the sulfur problem did not apply to 530ís. He then checked my VIN, and agreed that the problem did affect my car, but that any test would not be covered under warranty. He said he needed one day for the engine diagnostic test, and if I fail that he would do the leakdown test on my engine. He said the diagnostic test runs 12 different parameters that they evaluate prior to leak down. He continued to tell me that testing would not be covered under the warranty
Dealer # 3
Rep knew right away what I was referring to but said it has never occurred in a 530, only in the 540 and 740. Said they felt it was due to the size of the car and excess strain on the engine due to the weight of the larger series. I finally got the rep to check this with my VIN. Bingo! He said he was unaware that it would be covered with the 530i. Only then did he agree that my mechanic was correct regarding the sulfur damage potential upon the engine. By the end of the conversation he was offering to do the leakdown, would not charge me anything - pass or fail and told me if I failed he would order the block. If my engine needs replacement he said that he could offer me a Z3 loaner! (He must have checked on the BMW reimbursement to the dealership for performing this service.) They were actually excited that I brought this problem to their attention.
The Moral of the Story?
In most cases, if you've read the information on this site and the V8 pages on Brett Anderson's site that we link to, you know more than proabably 80% or 90% of the service reps out there. Remember:
1. Don't get intimidated by people at the dealership who tell you they
"know all about it," because almost none of them do.
2. Don't offer to pay for the test. Even if the dealer truly believes they won't be compensated for the test, every dealer can and does absorb labor hours for work done for customer goodwill. They then try to stick some or all of it to BMWNA, but that's between the dealer and BMWNA. The engine in your BMW has a manufacturing defect (wrong alloy used), and there is no way you should pay to find out the level of damage that defect has caused. Push until they give (and most will), and if they don't, tell them that you'll be talking to BMWNA, or go to another dealer.
3. Tell us if you hear a particularly interesting "line" from a dealer. We'll add it to our little "Hall of Shame" here. <g>