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      12-05-2010, 03:09 PM   #23
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many thanks

very helpful post

Originally Posted by segfault View Post
There is a lot of misleading information being posted here. Everything I'm about to say applies to the US only (except #1, which probably applies everywhere.)

1) There is no "Inspection II" on an E90. The CBS (condition-based service) computer calls for an inspection approximately every 3 years / 36,000 miles. You can check the due date / remaining mileage for this and other service items in the on-board computer or in iDrive. Engine air filters get replaced at every third oil service. I don't know how much the inspection should cost, but if you are out of the maintenance plan, you can probably find an independent mechanic who specializes in BMWs to perform it for less than it would cost at the dealership.

2) Extended maintenance vs. extended warranty - BMW's extended maintenance plan covers all service called for by the CBS computer plus specific enumerated wear items (such as brake pads and rotors) only. If your sunroof quits working, the extended maintenance plan doesn't pay for it; an extended warranty should (more on that later). If you need an oil service, the extended warranty won't pay for it, but the extended maintenance plan will.

3) Warranty Direct vs. whatever the dealer is offering vs. BMW's Original Owner Protection Plan - some dealers offer a BMW-backed extended warranty that is officially known as the Original Owner Protection Plan (OOPP). This is the only extended warranty I would buy for a BMW. Like other warranties, it does contain exclusions, but it's tailored to the equipment of a BMW better than a generic aftermarket extended warranty. As its name implies, it is only available to the original purchaser of a BMW, but is transferable for a fee. It essentially mirrors the CPO warranty offered on CPO BMWs. It extends the factory warranty to a total of 6 years, 100,000 miles. If memory serves, it costs between $2-3,000.

Not all dealers sell the OOPP. Many dealers will be glad to sell you an inferior aftermarket warranty (as their profit margins are higher), and some would even try to tell you it's the official BMW plan. The reason I dislike aftermarket warranties are partly because their exclusions are often overly broad (or, worse, only enumerated items are covered), but mostly because the companies underwriting these warranties could go bust at any time. Several years ago, there was a company called Warranty Gold that was selling aftermarket extended warranties, and this is exactly what happened. Their customers were left with a worthless piece of paper. Think about that before you think you're getting a screaming deal on an extended warranty.

4) When to buy - the dealer wants you to buy the plan NOW because that way they get their money NOW. Even if you have every intention of returning to the dealer to buy the warranty or maintenance plan before the warranty expires, the truth is that many of us will trade in our cars before the expiration of the factory plan. When that happens, the dealer makes no money on an extended warranty. This isn't like insurance--BMW (the company, not the dealer) does not change their price based on how many miles the car has or how many problems you've reported under warranty. The grain of truth is that BMW may increase their plan prices between the time you purchase your car and the time you purchase the warranty. I think this concern is far outweighed by the strong likelihood that the car will be traded in before the warranty expires. The extended warranty will only add value to your car if you're doing a private sale--if you trade it in, the warranty can't be transferred. Even then, you will probably not get back a large portion of what you paid for it.

You can buy the warranty and maintenance plan from any dealer who sells them.

5) Tire and wheel protection plan - from what I can tell, these plans are much more liberal with their exclusions, but, the same caveat about underwriting companies applies. Also, they will only pay to replace the damaged tire, so you may end up with one new tire and one half-worn tire on the same axle unless you pay out of pocket for a second tire.

6) In summary, I think that most people would be better served by:
a) Deferring until the warranty and maintenance plan is about to expire to make the decision to purchase the OOPP or maintenance plan,
b) not purchasing an aftermarket extended warranty, and
c) finding a local shop that is willing and able to repair run-flat tires, avoiding driving on a tire with no air pressure if at all possible, and having the tire repaired in the event of a puncture.