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bmw in the brown and smelly



from the uk sunday times...

THE image of the BMW car has been undermined by a defect
that has led to hundreds of new engines failing, some with only
a few thousand miles on the clock, writes Andrew Alderson. 

Some owners have accused the company of letting them down
after their attempts to have engines replaced on warranty were
rebuffed because they had either missed services or had their
vehicles serviced by non-BMW agents. 

The problem is blamed on high levels of sulphur in British fuel
which have reacted with nickel linings in the engines. More
than 600 six-cylinder engines have been replaced under
warranty by BMW in less than a year. One car, which has
done just 12,000 miles, is about to have its third engine. 

However, owners of 3, 5 and 7 series BMWs who have not
followed warranty requirements stipulating that the cars should
be serviced in the first year by a registered agent, have been
less lucky. 

One victim, John O'Keefe, from Astwood Bank, Hereford and
Worcester, said his BMW 728i, bought for 34,000, failed after
11 months and 32,000 miles. O'Keefe, 52, said he looked after
his vehicle, although he was late with a second service. When
the BMW agent wanted 5,000 to repair the car, O'Keefe was
unable to pay and the vehicle was later repossessed by a
finance company. 

Ian Wilson, 34, a newsagent from Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire,
had his first engine replaced after 7,000 miles and is about to
have another at 12,000. He has not suffered financially, but is
disappointed with the 328i car: "I am definitely not getting
another BMW." 

John Evans, consumer editor of Autocar magazine, said:
"There is no doubt there is a problem with these engines, which
BMW cannot walk away from. The way the company has
handled this is very poor." 

BMW said that from this month all problems would be
overcome because the nickel-based liner on the engine bores
would be replaced by steel. It denied that any customer with a
legitimate grievance had been unfairly treated.