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Used BMW Warning to Motorists

Jan 9, 2008
If anyone is thinking about buying a late used BMW car then pay attention to the following information as it may save you a serious amount of money.

A close friend purchased an 18 month old BMW 325i M Sport recently from a private seller and did not pay close attention to the tyres which were quite worn. After a couple of months further wear he realised they were looking a little low although still quite legal so he took the car into a leading tyre companies garage over Christmas to get a new set put on.

After half an hour he was told that the company could not get the tyre's, this was because only one manufacturer made the approved tyres which were a certain type of run flat sports tyre. Though run flat tyres are common in many other BMW models these tyre's were extremely hard to source without going to the nearest BMW dealership.

Now the second problem was the cost, a complete set of tyres fitted was going to cost 1,300 pounds inclusive and so what seemed like a bargain at the time of purchase very quickly turned out to be no bargain at all. With the new tyre's fitted the car was merrily on its way back from Bristol when the low air pressure warning light flashed.

After pulling off the motorway, a quick check revealed that the new rear nearside tyre indeed had a puncture, the fact that the car had run flat tyre's means of course that there is no spare. After ringing a number of emergency callout tyre companies and using the very limited run flat ability to reach a tyre fitting company after leaving the next junction a certain reality dawned.

Not only could the companies not get a replacement tyre (soonest was 5 days) it became apparent that a run flat tyre cannot be repaired, in fact one national distributer said it was against the law to repair a run flat tyre.

At this point what are the options, the car is still 4 hours from home, it has a puncture that cannot be fixed and a tyre that cannot be replaced. A trip to a nearby Halfords and 25 pounds later an electric pump was deployed that worked from the lighter plug, the only way home was to use the back roads with regular stops to re-inflate the tyre each time the low pressure warning came on, the warning had to be re-set each time the tyre was re-inflated.

Some 11 hours later with many stops and diversions the car was on the drive back at his house and the next morning a call to the local BMW dealership was made to arrange the replacement. It still took a day to get the tyres in and the stop and pump procedure was used to get the car to the dealership. Another 350 pounds later and the car was back on the road again.

I guess there are a number of lessons to learn here, one of course is the issue and sensibility of run flat tyres which are being rolled out across many types of car now, secondly of course is whether it is wise for the everyday person to purchase cars privately anymore.

Of course the puncture could not be foreseen but then being stranded at a motorway service station and then stopping to re-inflate a tyre for 11 hours is not a very sensible and fulfilling experience either.

But what if the car had been purchased from an approved BMW dealer, first of all the tyres would have been in top condition, the downside is that the price would be more to start with but then this can be offset by the potential for reduced depreciation due to the cars approved dealer status.

Furthermore, at the service station the owner could invoke the BMW emergency recovery service and driven home in a replacement car, safer and far more convenient. Looking further, what about the complexity of electronics and components, most people would not have a clue as to whether these are in good order or about to malfunction (frighteningly expensive).

Therefore as cars become ever more complex can everyday motorists put themselves at risk like this, is it not a false economy and a flawed outlook on personal safety to purchase privately rather than through a dealership.
About the Author
BMW expert Catherine Harvey looks at the experiences of one man who bought a used BMW from a private seller. To find out more please visit http://www.cooperbmw.co.uk/
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