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  #1  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Consider this before buying a BMW

Hi Guys,
Here is a letter I have written to BMW. I have sent it to every BMW address I have come across. I have had a few replies saying this has been forwarded to the right person but the right person has yet to make contact with me.
BMW Australia tried to help but they said they could not do anything as it happened in Peru. They said BMW Germany investigated this issue but BMW germany has never contacted me once.
BMW says it prides itself on customer service and satisfaction but when it comes to the crunch they obviously don't.
I just thought people might like to know what to expect service wise when something goes wrong with your BMW motorcycle overseas.

TO BMW

I will try to keep the as short as possible. In September 2011 I set out to ride my 2009 BMW r 1200 GSA motorcycle from the northern most point of Alaska to the Southern most point of Argentina. Four months into the trip on January the 14th 2012 I was riding through a desert on the Pan-American Highway about 200km south of Lima Peru. I pulled over and turned off the ignition so I could take some pictures. When I went to start the GSA again it would not start. A warning light flashed up displaying EWS! I got a mechanic to come and look at the bike and assess the problem. After a few phone calls we decided the bike had to go back the 200km to Lima. The Mechanic towed my bike to Commercial Gildemeister BMW Motorrad in Lima peru. There I met with the General manager Eduardo Hearne. We discussed the problem and Eduardo said it could be fixed.
The next morning the mechanic set about trying to fix my bike. They tested the ring antenna first but that was fine. Two days later they tested the wiring which they said were fine. Meanwhile I had got on onto a few BMW forums to seek help with the problem. All suggestions pointed to the wiring. I got onto BMW in Colombia and MAX BMW in the US and they both said it must be the wiring. I relayed this information to Eduardo Hearne and they checked the wiring again but still could not find a fault. They said it must be the BMSKP unit, there could be no other explanation.
I requested Eduardo to get me a new BMSKP unit and fix the bike straight away because as you could imagine I was pressured for time. Eduardo told me it would take 4-6 weeks to obtain the BMSKP unit form Germany. I could not wait 4-6 weeks so I got onto a friend Stephen Joyce in Kearys BMW, Cork Ireland and asked if he could send me the part. I told Eduardo I could have the BMSKP unit sent over from Ireland in 6-8 days. I asked him if he was sure I needed it and he told me it has to be the problem and to get the BMSKP sent over. Stephen done a remarkable job was able to have the BMSKP unit programmed to my bike in the post in 48 hrs. It would take 6-8 days to arrive in Lima Peru. Stephen also told me this would be non-refundable as it is now programmed to my bike.
Being short on time I decided to fly to Machu Picchu to see the 15th-century Inca site. Five days later I received an email from Eduardo Hearne at Gildmister BMW telling me not to bring the BMSKP unit as they have fixed the problem. They swapped the complete wiring harness between my bike and another and my bike started. They then figured it must after all be a wiring issue and stripped down my wiring harness and found a broken wire inside. They fixed the wire and replaced my wiring harness and the problem was solved. I was in fact a broken wire all along just as everyone had suggested. I was delighted and flew back to Lima two days later to pick up the bike.
The problem now was what to do with the unnecessary BMSKP unit I was told to buy. If it was collect it from customs in Peru it would attract a 60% import fee so I left it to be returned to sender. It arrived back at Kearys BMW Cork Ireland a few weeks later where it still sits today. I'm not wanting to blame anyone for this incident but I payed $1200 plus shipping costs for this BMSKP and had it ordered to Peru on the instructions of Eduardo Hearns at Commercial Gildemeister BMW Motorrad in Lima Peru. If they had checked the wiring properly before telling me to order this BMSKP unit there would have been no problem. This wiring issue cost me a lot of time and small fortune in hotels and flights while waiting for the issue to be fixed. I would like to get a refund for the unit as I have no use for it. It is still in its original packaging. I would appreciate a response to this email or if you could forward this to the relevant persons please. I have sent emails to other BMW addresses but yet received no reply.


Regards
Kevin O'K
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  #2  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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It is disappointing but is not surprising that you have firstly had electrical problems like this and secondly a poor or non existent response from BMW.
In the ten years that I have been a member of this forum I have seen numerous posts and debates about the reliability of the electronics on the latest BMWs and the quality of the backup service the company offers in the event of a problem and have concluded that neither are good enough.
They are well designed bikes, they must be or they wouldn't sell in such numbers, but they seem to have put more effort and money into marketing than into quality control or backup when something goes wrong in anything other than "normal" circumstances.
I wish you well in your attempts to get some satisfaction from BMW but suspect you will be either ignored or passed from one department to the next, perhaps others should take note of this when considering which bike to buy for that extended tour.
Do keep us informed as to how you get on and perhaps if anybody else has had a similar problem and managed to get a satisfsctory result from BMW they could pass on how they did it.
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  #3  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Wire....

OK, chance of being shot down in flames here but........I ride an older 850r, from 2000, a much simpler bike, that I can fix myself.....if you buy a newer bike with LOADS of complex expensive electronic stuff that needs programing to your bike, etc. then you cannot be surprised if you end up, **** creek with no paddle.....methodical, and the simple things first, AND if I went on a forum and was told it was a wiring prob, then get a cheap meter, a diagram and look for continuity between the wires in question, OR strip the tape and find the broken wire, why bother with calls, letters, emails, 100's of bucks, thousands on a spare, FOR ONE BROKEN WIRE...and then cry about it on here and blame bmw? The part you are trying to get a refund for is MORE than I have paid for a complete running used 1996 bmwr850r, you are on the other side of the world, far from Bavaria, etc.ok the dealer should have spotted it but sometimes you have to do things for yourself, which is the whole SPIRIT of traveling around for me, at least?? Sorry, but the "all the gear, but no idea" quip comes to mind.

Last edited by bobbyrandall; 8 Jun 2013 at 11:53.
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  #4  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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How were they testing the wiring? I assumed that your bike was connected to the proper diagnostic machine for that model which would be able to run through all the circuits one by one. If this was the case then the diagnostic program is not thorough enough. Considering the entire bikes electrical system is based on electronics (Canbus) I'm surprised that the diagnostics is not foolproof and the only way to check the loom is to replace it with another one from a similar machine which, with the benefit of hindsight, is what they should have done.

I wish you luck with your quest. From what I've heard BMW customer service has gone downhill at the same rate that the price of their bikes has risen.

And thanks for posting your story - it all helps to convince me that riding a 24 year old bike with very few electronic parts (for which I have replacements under the seat) is the best way to go.
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  #5  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Had 2 bmws a gs and gsa. Loved them both were they reliable well no.
First one a 2005 gs inside the first year battery fuel pump controller right side injector and final drive went in under 30000 miles second one was bought with 9000 miles on it full bmw service history a 2007 inside a year and at 22000 miles final drive and clutch went. Both bikes fully bmw serviced and well looked after.
All items were replaced under warranty but final drive failure.on the first one meant i lost 3 days of my holiday and had to be flown home by bmw and i had to.pay for repairs before claiming it back.
Would i buy another gs no now have a 2003 multistrada which so far is going better than the gs s did at a fraction of the cost.
My wife rides an 18 year old africa twin which has needed only a rectifier in 2 years.
For my travelling in 5 years time i fancy a ktm 950 adventure should be able to.afford one by then.
Reasonably simple to fix.
Just my 2 pence worth.Consider this before buying a BMW-uploadfromtaptalk1370689884690.jpg

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  #6  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
How were they testing the wiring? I assumed that your bike was connected to the proper diagnostic machine for that model which would be able to run through all the circuits one by one. If this was the case then the diagnostic program is not thorough enough.
Most diagnostic programs are written when the system is designed. The designer usually over looks wires and connectors as things that cause problems. There is even one that overlooks a fuse .. and that fuse effects the gear box shifting .. but is labeled 'Reverse Light'... because that is one of the things is is connected to.... (not a BMW). The diagnostic says replace the gearbox relays. Replace the relay - still faulty .. then use time to find out the fuse is faulty. Fixed. Until the owner attaches a (faulty) trailer that blows the fuse .. back to faulty. Of course the owner only brings in the car .. no trailer attached. Designers don't do service work in remote areas so are not aware of the problems... $1200 to you, so may be $400?

I think much pressure to fix the problem was applied to the mechanic involved. And that leads to not enough time and thought being used ($$$ labor) to solve the problem ($ part). The more you know about your own bike the more you can avoid problems, or at least minimize other peoples time spent working on your bike (saving money).

Sorry but your going to have to take the hit.

If it can be used on the same model of bike as yours then you may be able to sell it .. eventually some one will need one. Just put the word out amongst the bm mechanics.. how much would you take for it - assuming someone wants it? No I don't want it - don't have one of those oil heads. You'll need to under cut bms dealer price by some margin on the pricing - after shipping too..

Last edited by Warin; 8 Jun 2013 at 12:51.
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  #7  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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I worked for years on truck electronics. This is typical of techs who are out of their depth and honestly terrified of anything you can't see. The can modules are by nature stupid. If they say they can't do something that is a fact. What the techs do is then jump to the conclusion that the bit that won't talk is dead. It's like phoning your house, no one answering, guessing it burnt down and buying a new one. The electronics are in fact very reliable and when training techs I would always make them unplug everything and buzz out the loom.

We are still getting through a generation of mechanics who are now retraining as electronic techs. German companies like the one I worked for forgot this 'soft' element. Too many engineers at management level making assumptions.

With an obd2 reader, diagram, meter, patience and a logical approach you should be fine.

I have some sympathy as this BMW dealer was out of his depth, but when you start rushing to your own solutions you have to take some responsibility yourself. I once billed a bus company £700 to change a fuse. He claimed the abs ECU failed and his mechanics had already checked the fuse. I drove 200 miles and proved him wrong.

Andy
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  #8  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevOK View Post
I could not wait 4-6 weeks so I got onto a friend Stephen Joyce in Kearys BMW, Cork Ireland and asked if he could send me the part.
Kevin O'K
A case of more haste, less speed that led to a bad decision?
In any case, IMO, this is where it all goes wrong: you took over responsibility for the repair of the machine from the garage, their manager and the mechanics.

As a separate point, I have never heard of electronic components being pre-programmed to particular machines in, or example, computer hardware, so perhaps you should query this with your helpful contact who provided the part from Ireland.
If I am wrong on this, it might be of interest to know what exactly has to be pre-programmed, how that is done remotely from the bike and why it isn't reversible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by canazei1200 View Post
and had to be flown home by bmw and i had to.pay for repairs before claiming it back.
Which other motorcycle manufacturer provides this level of service (at a price of course)?
Naturally, it's all down to insurance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
We are still getting through a generation of mechanics who are now retraining as electronic techs.
And most of them don't like the black arts of the electronics.
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  #9  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Well, I have some sympathy for you pal. I´ve been stuck in Norway once when an indicator on my Africa Twin indicated that I had low voltage in the battery and the loading current proved to be ok with 13,x V. I ended up shelling out 150 Euros for a new battery, throwing away a perfect, one-year-old battery when I later found out that the indicator thing, which many AT riders here buy from a chap in Switzerland who makes those, just effed up in rain and indicated crap.
The bad thing I guess was in your case to take matters in your own hand ordering the part on your cost, instead of having the repair shop find out on its cost that the replacement part was not needed and thus they could not bill you for it. I´m not sure whether there is much difference in metering out a CAN bus harness vs. a conventional harness. Knowing your bike inside out makes the difference if the crap hits the fan out there in far-far-away-land, and relying on repair shops will in many cases just not do good. In your case I´d try to work out a solution with the supplier of the part you had shipped and shipped back, probably ending up eating what I ordered, take the hit and ride on.

Safe travels
Chris
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  #10  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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I lost 12 weeks in the riding season over 3 years with an R11GS, and had a total runaround from BMW NA and 3 dealers involved.

The aftertaste that left has had me off of BMWs ever since.

Ewan and Charlie really have done a great job on selling the GS as the essential RTW tool.

I'd rather RTW my 200 cc Chinese dual sport or 125cc Yamaha dual sport (which is based off a delivery / commercial bike platform) than any current BMW.

Simple, easy to fix bikes, especially the Yamaha. I can have the carb off in 30 seconds and access the sparkplug and valves without having to remove any bodywork.

Either can go about anywhere a GS can, and I've taken both through trails and 'roads' without incident where I would have dropped a GS or needed assistance to get through.
Some places have involved water transport and stuff that just isn't feasible on a big bike.

The Chinabike only has 4000 miles on it, so far faults have been restricted to missing / loose bolts and a sparkplug.
The YBR is coming up on 12k miles and has been faultless apart from standard service items.

And both bikes are ridden hard and put away wet, often fully loaded with 1 or 2 passengers and luggage in 3rd world environments.
Both have been dropped multiple times.

Service / repairs / mods are done by 'techs' with minimal tools and no shop manual. No torque wrench, often they use an adjustable wrench dur due to the lack of the proper tool, working on the sidewalk.

I reckon a modern BMW would wilt under that kind of treatment in short order...

Instead of waiting for weeks for parts or suitable tires, usually the local 'engineering' shop can cobble together what can't be sourced from the dealer or generic parts store.

And for the cost of one of the major services on my GS (including the parts replaced at my or BMW's cost) I can buy either of these 2 bikes new, including tax, title and 1 year free service.

Sent from my Android chinaphone, excuse the spelling
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  #11  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
We are still getting through a generation of mechanics who are now retraining as electronic techs. German companies like the one I worked for forgot this 'soft' element. Too many engineers at management level making assumptions.

With an obd2 reader, diagram, meter, patience and a logical approach you should be fine.
In France it's possible to do an BACC (A level) course in how to operate the various diagnostics machines. Successful students then get jobs in dealerships as 'junior service managers' at the age of 20 having never held a spanner in their life, supervising a team of hairy arsed mechanics with years of experience but who don't know a volt from an amp.

What's an obd2 reader - I have the other things on your list but not sure if I need one of these obd thingies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
A case of more haste, less speed that led to a bad decision?
In any case, IMO, this is where it all goes wrong: you took over responsibility for the repair of the machine from the garage, their manager and the mechanics.

As a separate point, I have never heard of electronic components being pre-programmed to particular machines in, or example, computer hardware, so perhaps you should query this with your helpful contact who provided the part from Ireland.
If I am wrong on this, it might be of interest to know what exactly has to be pre-programmed, how that is done remotely from the bike and why it isn't reversible.
Only strictly speaking for the supply of the part which he was told that he needed without any doubt.

Surely the dealer in Lima would have been able to do the programming required. I suspect it just has to be coded to match the ring antenna. I would think it is reversible or you may have to chuck away the eprom and fit a new one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keks View Post
I´m not sure whether there is much difference in metering out a CAN bus harness vs. a conventional harness.
Even with CANBUS a wire is a wire and still need to conduct electricity from one end to the other.

I don't think that BMW are liable in this situation but I think they need to look at their training and spares support. They should respond to the OP and perhaps make some sort of offer of compensation.
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  #12  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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I think one post has answered another here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark manley View Post
They are well designed bikes, they must be or they wouldn't sell in such numbers
I'm not sure that follows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark manley View Post
they seem to have put more effort and money into marketing than into quality control or backup
than into the design as well maybe?
That seems to be the common business model these days, hence the humungous number of TV channels now showing in most countries, all paid for by businesses that spend more on marketing than on what they do or sell. (Ultimately paid for by us of course).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigershel View Post

Ewan and Charlie really have done a great job on selling the GS as the essential RTW tool.
That's probably more like it I think.
The power of TV. It's seriously underestimated.

Sorry about the situation KevOK. Hope you find some resolution. I'd push a bit with the Cork dealer to find out exactly why the part can't be taken back. You've paid for the part and for the 'programming' so they should tell you exactly what the 'programming' is. And maybe get the answer confirmed by a BMW dealer in the country where you bought the bike.
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Old 8 Jun 2013
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Obd2 is on board diagnostics version 2. It looks like a 1970's electronic calculator and let's you see why a lot of can systems are doing their computer-sez-no routine. Bikes don't have to meet the car standard but most speak the lingo you just need a bit of bodging to find the hi and lo on the diagnostic plug. Phone apps exist that speak obd2 but I've never had cause to try one. Time will come when the app reboots the bike, charges your PayPal account and fills your inbox with spam about the newest bike, just like Microsoft!

Andy
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  #14  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post



Even with CANBUS a wire is a wire and still need to conduct electricity from one end to the other.
Ok, I hear you. I´m sort of uncomfy with this CANBUS stuff, but I might end up learning details if I get onto a more modern bike. Well, conducting electricity, that may well be. But I was asked by Missus to look at one of her friend´s top modern BMW today, which was not starting. Well, the battery was dead and whilst BMW has a nice 12V cigarette lighter plug, one can´t use a regular charger but it needs to be a BMW approved charger to not damage the CANBUS by sending current to the battery through the friggin´ wire..... Since she did not want to shell out some funds for that charger, I did what I needed to do - give it a push start in 3rd and took the thing for a spin ...
Whilst I still sometimes have the idea to get me a 1200 GS Adventure for my 50th birthday next spring, there are more and more reasons not to and to go for an LC8 990 Adventure. Or the new Triumph Explorer which I did ride for an hour last week - what a hot thing!
Cheers
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  #15  
Old 8 Jun 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
Only strictly speaking for the supply of the part which he was told that he needed without any doubt.
The doubt is in there because the workshop returned to working on the bike during the customers absence, changed the wiring harness and, hey presto, they found the problem, eventually; why did they do that after telling the customer that there was definitely a different problem for which the customer "short circuited" the workshop internal procedures and bought his own replacement part?

I remarked on this only to draw attention for others who might be tempted to get involved with workshop practices in the future.

From the OP it seems that KevOK realises this, which is why he would like to get the Irish supplier to take the replacement part back into their stock; it is really not anything to do with BMW directly; no warranty issues are mentioned herein for example.
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