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Love & Annoyance

April 2, 2010
tags: ,

I’m a car guy. I always have been and always will be. That’s why, after moving back home to the states after two years of car-free living in Europe, I decided to treat myself and buy a car I really wanted… a brand new 2009 BMW 135i with a six-speed manual.

To say this car is fun is an understatement. It’s fast, handles well and does everything I want it to. When it’s not pissing me off.

To be fair, most of the issues I’ve had with the car have been minor, but the fact is, I’ve had a lot more issues than I think you should with a brand new, $40K car. The most annoying thing about the car is the fact that it rattles like a tin can. Hit one of those “bot dots” that separate the lanes on every thoroughfare in Vegas, and the car rewards you with little metallic clinks. The sound of quality, it ain’t.

Early on, the metal-on-metal madness came from the sunroof, which took the local dealer two tries to quell. I think it’s pretty much quieted down now, but since then, I tend to hear rattling coming from behind the passenger’s seat. It’s being looked into, thankfully. Of course, there are many times when I can drown out the rattles by turning up the tunes – when the radio works properly. Apparently, this is a well-known BMW issue where the radio says it’s on, but refuses to produce sound. It doesn’t matter if you’re using the tuner, your iPod or a CD. It doesn’t want to play. There’s a software fix that’s supposed to solve the problem. We’ll see.

Now, the reason I mention these minor annoyances is because I’ve been living with them for a while and, while frustrating, they’re not so bad that I can’t use and enjoy the car. What happened today though, well, that’s another story.

I loaded up the car this afternoon for a quick hit-and-run trip to LA for the weekend. Nothing special really, just a chance to hang out with some friends and enjoy a weekend out of town. And everything was great – for a while. I had a full tank of gas and was cruising comfortably on the 15 about 10 miles into California when the car started running rough. At first, I attributed it to the crappy pavement I was on and didn’t worry, but then, a few minutes later, the dreaded “Service Engine Soon” appeared on my dash. Now, being in the middle of nowhere, I decided not to screw around and limped the car off to the side of the road as quickly as possible.

I shut the car down and let it cool for a few minutes before restarting the engine to see what was going on. The answer; nothing good. The car ran and sounded like a John Deere, which for an Ultimate Driving Machine, isn’t a good sign. Thankfully, I have a cell phone and a little emergency button in the car, which allowed me to call BMW’s Emergency Assistance line. And here, I have to say, I was impressed.

Not only did they pin-point my location on the side of the road, but they quickly sent a local flatbed out to my disabled ride and had the driver haul me and my car back to the dealer here in Vegas. From the time my car died to the time I walked back into my condo – after dropping my ride at the dealer and picking up a free loaner – took about three hours.

As for what’s crippled my car? Who knows. There’s a common problem with the high-pressure fuel pump that could be the culprit, but as my service advisor said, “It could be anything.” That’s about as comforting as the fact that another BMW pulled into the dealer lot on a flatbed right in front of me, and a third got carried in as I was leaving.

So, thanks BMW for your excellent emergency services and for making what could have been an incredibly annoying and dangerous situation as painless as possible. But, for the kind of money I dropped on this fine piece of German engineering, I really hope this is the last time I talk to my service guy for a long, long time.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 3, 2010 7:14 pm

    YIKES! So sorry to hear about your car woes. Makes me have second thoughts about buying one myself . . .

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