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Old 20th April 2012, 15:54   #1
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Unhappy Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

I am writing to share with you one specific complaint and a couple of other observations/comments about the customer experience I have recently faced (I’m hoping that the Marketing folks at BMW India appreciate this kind of detailed feedback) –

- I had been driving a 525i (purchased in May 2010) for about 18+ months , and as I expected (while buying a legendary marquee for the amount of almost INR 4 million) the car has been driving very well in general. I took the car for a service in Jan (the engine oil service alert was being displayed by the car) in which I also pointed out an issue of wheel alignment, since the car seemed to be pulling to the left. When I collected the car the next day in the evening, to my surprise/shock/dismay I was informed that all the four wheel rims of my car had been identified as bent and this was causing a wobbling in the steering wheel at speeds of 80kmph and above. Now, this is something I had not observed myself, except for the pulling to the left, but when I did drive off with the car, I also started noticing this distinct feedback/wobbling in the steering, not just at above 80kmph, but speeds below it as well. So now that BMW service has established that my car’s wheel rims are bent (copy of the bill attached wherein it is clearly mentioned), my question to the service advisor (Anish Nair) was therefore – how could my wheel rims have bent? And his response was that the alloy rims are ‘delicate’ and that driving on Gurgaon roads could be the reason for this. Hmmm. Great explanation. So I should now consider relocating to Germany perhaps to drive my ‘delicate’ darling of a car on the well paved & maintained roads there, right? And consequently, does this mean that BMW cars aren’t really meant to be driven on Indian roads, unless of course, one is mentally prepared to slowly but surely start paying for changes in ‘delicate’ parts of the car that cannot sustain normal Indian conditions? And I was also informed that the wheel rims aren’t covered by a warranty! Nice! Sell a car worth INR 4 million with wheel rims that deteriorate in less than a couple of years. I have driven other cars with alloy wheels before and being an extremely careful driver (the condition of my car will tell anyone that) and I’ve never heard of this bizarre occurrence. Pardon my sarcasm, but when you pay a large sum of money for a car bearing the legendary mark of reliability, you expect it to be built to withstand typical Indian road conditions (and perhaps worse) in the course of normal careful driving (and my car hasn’t even done 20,000 kms yet!!), and to last at least 4-5 years without major repair requirements – after all, this is what BMW is known the world over for – a low cost of ownership in the long run, because of the car’s reliability. I hope you understand my dismay coupled with a sneaking feeling that this is just the beginning of a series of repairs aimed at ‘milking’ the post sales revenue potential of a car’s ownership. My question is – couldn’t this milking have waited for a couple more years at least.

Allow me to place on record my feeling of shock and dismay at the reliability standard of the wheels (the only identified problem area right now) of the car I’m driving. Especially considering the fact that I’m a very careful driver and a car-proud person. I used to be a proud owner, even recommending others in my circle to choose BMW, because of its drive quality. But if that drive quality comes at the cost of compromised reliability, I’d be surprised if many potential buyers in India would consider shelling out INR 4 million + on your cars. I have already dissuaded someone in my circle (the country head of another travel company in India) from a BMW, because of this issue, and I’m happy to state that he is firmly leaning towards another luxury brand now. I’d hate to dissuade more potential buyers, especially when precious few cars are sold in this segment in India.

BMW India, despite repeated attempts havent offered me a satisfactory resolution. They asked some 'engineer' from the UK who was here for a few days to take a look at my car - and the guy visually examines the rims and says - yeah they're bent, you need to buy new ones. As if a visual examination determined whether there was a manufacturing defect or not! I hope that seeing my feedback on this forum will urge them to provide a prompt response, solution and explanation for the poor reliability of the wheel rims, other than shifting the blame to ‘bad driving’, which would be very disappointing indeed.


Hope you appreciate my angst – I am someone who is increasingly going to be your typical customer in India, as opposed to wealthy businessmen who couldn’t care less. People like me are going to ask questions when they feel like they’ve been dealt a bad hand. I also know that the most likely response (if I get one promptly) is going to be – ‘USER INDUCED DAMAGES’. Easy, convenient and passing the buck to the customer, for producing a car whose wheel rims seriously need to be re-engineered for India! I have a suggestion – why don’t you, for the time being, start equipping X5 or X3 wheel rims on the 5 series? Maybe those aren’t so ‘delicate’? Or are they?

Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?-bmwbilljan2012.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 21st April 2012 at 17:09. Reason: Removing your personal contact details from the invoice :)
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Old 20th April 2012, 18:34   #2
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

This is really a sad experience. Spending big money and suffering for small issues.

'Indian conditions' are not something unique. Bad roads and extreme weather conditions are there everywhere. I have experienced very bad situations in the US especially after winter.

My suspicion is that the alloys are either substandard, not properly installed or not the right ones for your model. Anyways, BMW India and your dealer are responsible.

One of my friends in the US went in for after market alloys for his 5 series and suffered repairs to the suspension. After he replaced the alloys, everything was fine.
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Old 20th April 2012, 18:45   #3
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It is extremley Unfortunate to read this, replacing just one runflat due to a sidewall cut hurt me really badly , i cant even imagine having to replace the rims. I have learnt the hard way any email to bmw is simply futile their first line of defence always seems to be to forward your complaint to the service station where you serviced the car, and let them deal with it. Makes you wonder why they are on top of the segment with such poor customer service.
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Old 20th April 2012, 19:48   #4
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Bad show man!

Submitting that our roads are consistently bad whereas in most other developed countries in general, the roads can be bad in patches, maybe in the more rural and less urbanized areas.

Overall our driving conditions for practically any car are very harsh indeed, which is possibly one reason why most of these expats who land up here opt to get an SUV, with its generally tougher DNA.

Whatever it is, I think it is worth speaking to someone higher up in the dealership OR perhaps following that other method - writing a letter to the editor of one of the popular auto magazines, with pictures, asking for help!

Cheers and all the best!
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Old 20th April 2012, 20:24   #5
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Had you taken the BSI package? Isn't the alloy a part of that or the terms and conditions don't allow the replacement even though it's a part of the warranty? Unfortunately alloys, tyres mostly are not covered by many car makers, however i guess the luxury brands do though i'm not sure!

Did you try reading the documentation you have to check terms and conditions? I drive in Mumbai where the roads are probably worse, however never really heard of such an issue.
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Old 20th April 2012, 20:28   #6
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

This is BAD !

I am equally surprised to see all 4 alloys getting damaged at the same / similar instant.

What about the spare ?

Any idea what make these are?

Are these alloys locally manufactured?

Spike
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Old 20th April 2012, 21:06   #7
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Gurgaon has a healthy amount of Beemers; did the A.S.S. mention of other 5-series coming back with similar issues?

If yes, then you should have BMW look into this rather seriously. If not, then there seems to be something specifically wrong with the alloys on your Beemer.

How long do foreign brands expect Indians to deal with such issues under the pretext of their cars not being able to handle "Indian operating conditions". BMW has been here long enough to do R&D and make adequate changes to ensure their products are resistant to conditions.
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Old 20th April 2012, 21:42   #8
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Bmw has no business here. Correct your driving style. Bmw's are meant to be driven slow in potholes.

I am sure you have 18" inch wheels. Downgrade to 17" and get rid of rft tyres. Rft's also put extra load on wheels due to their sidewalls stiffness.
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Old 21st April 2012, 00:32   #9
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Quote:
Originally Posted by taranonline View Post
I am sure you have 18" inch wheels. Downgrade to 17" and get rid of rft tyres. Rft's also put extra load on wheels due to their sidewalls stiffness.
525i has 17s and not 18s. That was only on the 530i and 530d highline.

Ok now for the Nikhil. Is there a possibility that the rims were not bent before the service, since you noticed the vibration only after it was pointed out?

Unfortunately these rims + runflats are not a good combo for our roads, since runflats don't absorb much of the vibration and its transferred more onto the wheel and the suspension. BMW has realised this and if you notice the F10 comes with higher profile tyres now.
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Old 21st April 2012, 01:01   #10
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

This is new, I haven't heard or come across anyone having an issue with bent wheels 'cept a 6 series owner with the cursed 'ellipsoid' wheels. Neither have I had similar issues..

I could understand it happening with lower profile tires but on a 525i 17", maybe its possible that you or someone else driving your car perhaps a chauffeur may have gone a little too quick over a pot hole/earth crater?

PS - Did you join team-bhp solely to bash BMW?
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Old 21st April 2012, 07:55   #11
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Some pics of the bent rims would be nice. Were the rims bent on the outer road-facing side or the inner side?
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Old 21st April 2012, 09:51   #12
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

This is indeed quite disheartening for a prospective BMW buyer like me. All 4 wheels cannot be bent by bad driving. It is definitely something suspect or manufacturing defect.

You should raise a huge hue and cry and even report the matter to BMW India/Germany to get your point across. Hope to see some sensible resolution to this matter.
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Old 24th April 2012, 16:00   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abishek2222 View Post
It is extremley Unfortunate to read this, replacing just one runflat due to a sidewall cut hurt me really badly , i cant even imagine having to replace the rims.
======== Makes you wonder why they are on top of the segment with such poor customer service.
Thanks Abhishek - you guessed right - the 4 alloys would cost about 1.3 lacs in all. Not small change at all :(

Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. I've been out for a couple of days and that's the reason for the tardy response.
Specifically responding to a few comments/queries -
- Spike Arrestor - Nope BMW's don't have a spare, they have run flats. And the alloys are imported. They're called 'light alloy wheels' in fact
- Akshay - good point, but too late to too anything about it now. Either way, my contention is that BMW should not be selling these 'light alloys' when they are prone to damage despite very careful driving.
- Karan - The package/warranty doesnt cover the alloys. No surprise there. I've driven other cars before and even other manufacturers probably don't cover alloys (not sure if anyone can counter this?). But have never faced this situation with any other wheels!
- taraonline - you look like a hard core BMW fan. So am I But am just not willing to accept anything they dish out blindly. I genuinely believe I am a very careful driver, and despite the pot holed roads of Gurgaon, a car costing 40 lacs should not disintegrate like this (well, at least parts of it!)
- fre2bpowerless - I drive myself, and very carefully, especially over bad roads
- The rims are not visually bent obviously. There is slight bending on all four wheels which causes the wobbling and a clear sound now.

Mod team note: Back to back post, please use EDIT once the posts are approved. Thanks

Last edited by Jaggu : 24th April 2012 at 17:31. Reason: Back to back post, please use EDIT once the posts are approved. Thanks
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Old 24th April 2012, 17:35   #14
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikhilganju View Post
- Karan - The package/warranty doesnt cover the alloys. No surprise there. I've driven other cars before and even other manufacturers probably don't cover alloys (not sure if anyone can counter this?). But have never faced this situation with any other wheels!
=========
- The rims are not visually bent obviously. There is slight bending on all four wheels which
Are you sure they are not covered at all OR did you opt out. Coz i very clearly remember tyres to be covered in the package when we picked the 5 for office.

I agree on the visual part, such bents cannot be easily made out by looking at pics.
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Old 24th April 2012, 18:18   #15
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Default re: Alloy wheels of premium cars not meant for Indian roads?

Possibilities of how the rims got bent.

Extreme remote possibility that the car was driven on harsh roads. My colleague had a 3 series with run flats and he never had an issue of wobble or bent alloy wheels.

The likely reason for all wheels being bent at the same time was the hoist at the service center failed and the car land hard on the floor from a great height. This can be ascertained by the type of bent on all four alloys. If they are similar in nature this is what actually happened.

The most likely reason is that someone close to the mechanics ruined his alloys on a very sharp hump which was not marked or went into sharp deep rut. The guy got his changed with your fresh good alloys. Take your car to the neighbor hood tire shop and ask them if the tires were changed on taken off the wheel. Tell tale signs of the tire being taken out will remain on the wheel rim when the pry the tire out on the rotating machine with that big lever.

If the wheel is bent and the tire is wall is not damaged you can rest assured that something is amiss.

And friend who gave you the notion that German cars are reliable. Sorry to break your bubble. The last reliable German was the Mercedes w124 series. Of the present lot of cars only the Chinese Volvo diesel seems to be built 70 percent like the w124 of yester years. I am running for cover.
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