Great experience at Bradley Motor Werke in St. Louis
I recently went to Bradley Motor Werke in St. Louis for some M3 bushings in my 135i. They usually specialize in pre-E90/E82 models, but a friend told me that they did a great job with his Z3, so I figured I'd ask them. It was one of the best service experiences I've ever had, so I had to share.
Before I even scheduled an appointment, the owner (Tom) gave me great advice over the phone. He told me that they could do the upper control arm bushings, which would give me the best improvement. He said I could also do the lower control arms, but those are mostly just for camber, which I don't need because I have camber plates. He could have charged me extra hours and done those extra bushings, but he was happy to tell me that it might not be a great bang-for-buck mod.
Then he went ahead and ordered the bushings without ever confirming that I'd come in. I told him I'd come in on a particular Wednesday, so he ordered the parts in advance and just trusted me to show up and pay for it.
Initially, they estimated that the job would take two hours. So I scheduled an appointment at 2pm and told him that I had to leave by about 6pm at the latest, which he said would be fine. He even offered to let me borrow one of his cars if I needed it.
As soon as the tech put my car in first gear and drove into the shop, he said "It's making a thump in first gear... there's something wrong with the driveshaft." I'm not a mechanic, but I was quite impressed by the fact that he diagnosed this problem instantly and with certainty, while others (including well-respected BMW specialist mechanics/tuners) had driven it recently and not noticed anything.
They got my car up on the lift and got started with the bushings. Turns out that they required some special tool/part for my 135i (he usually does E36, E39, and E46), so once it started getting to about 5pm, he put everything back together, apologized, and said that he'd get the part/tool by the next day. He could have left the car on the lift and asked me to come back tomorrow (especially since he was happy to loan me one of his old E36's), but he actually took the time to put everything back together just to make my life easier.
In that time, they also checked the driveshaft. I was afraid that the whole thing needed to be replaced, but he told me that it was just a worn bearing. Apparently that's unusual, but he said that he could have a new bearing in by the next day. I later found out that the previous owner had re-installed the bearing backwards when he was installing his LSD, which is why it wore down prematurely.
I asked him if I could drive to Chicago (my other home) without breaking my driveshaft, and I was impressed by his response. Instead of saying "you really need to come back here for the job before your car explodes" (like most mechanics do), he said something like "well, it looks like it could probably handle that trip as long as you don't drive it hard, but make sure to get it fixed soon." Wow... I was happy to give him my business, but he recognized that it was inconvenient and was happy for me to go to a different mechanic as long as my problem was fixed.
I later decided to take the car back to Tom the next day. I had to fly out soon after that, and he actually offered to give me a ride to the airport (which is about 10 minutes from his shop). Wow! I didn't want to impose, but he insisted. He drove me to the airport in a really nice E36 325i that he'd just bought, and told me all about his plans to do an M3 conversion, since he managed to get one of the few models that already had an M3 transmission from the factory. And his other car is one of the handbuilt E34 M5's. And he also had one of the BMW art cars in his garage. This guy is a true enthusiast.
He also told me that he started doing BMW work because BMW owners go to him with a desire to make their car better. Apparently, he thought that other owners just want a band-aid on their car to make it run without falling apart. He loves working on BMWs because the owners really want the car to be as good as it can be.
After he dropped me off at the airport, I realized that I'd forgotten to give him my key. He was already practically back at his shop, but he came all the way back to the airport to get my key from me. And after all that, he still wanted to pick me up from the airport the next day, but I just couldn't bring myself to let him do that again, so I just took a cab.
Next day, I came back from the airport and picked up the car. Everything had gone smoothly. The bushings felt great, and the driveshaft felt great. The car drove better than ever. I'm so glad that he diagnosed the driveshaft problem and fixed it before it became a serious problem.
After all that, he only charged me for 4 hours of labor. And he had no markup on the parts... the prices he charged me were the lowest prices I could find online.
So, all in all, if you need BMW service in the St. Louis area, go to Tom Bradley and Bradley Motor Werke. Hell, even if you're not directly in the St. Louis area, it might be worth it to make the trip just to see them. Highly recommended.
2008 135i Montego Blue sport pkg, premium pkg, Logic 7 sound, iDrive/Nav
Mods completed: JB4+ & FBO || LSD || BMW-P suspension + F/R sway bars || 18" Breyton GTS-R || M3 front bushings || Vogtland camber plates || BMW-P rotors + Stoptech pads |||| Acquired, not installed: BMS WW Meth kit || Logic HVI intake || Mishimoto OCC |||| Shopping for: Summer tires