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Unread 05-17-2009, 03:01 PM   #1

Name: lronick
Title: United Newb
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Rockville, MD
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Your Ride: 2004 325i
Newbie needs advice on Torn Control Arm Bushings

I recently bought my first BMW - a 2004 325i with about 40,000 miles on it. The previous owner bought it as a "certified" used car, and it has more than a year and lots of miles to go before the certified warranty expires. So, I was reassured by my salesman (not a franchised BMW dealer) that the warranty would cover "everything but the tires".

I brought the car in to a BMW dealer to check it over, and he discovered that the front lower control arm bushings were "torn". According to him, these are a normal "wear and tear" item and they wouldn't be covered under my warranty. I didn't authorize the repair, and didn't even ask for an estimate.

Does anyone know if the bushings are really a "wear and tear" item? From a little Googling, it seems like they are prone to tearing. Do you think I can successfully appeal this to the dealer or a regional BMW rep? Does anyone have an opinion as to whether I should let the dealer or an independent shop do the repair? The car is in the L.A. area, so any recommendations on a repair facility would be appreciated.

Thanks to all.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 07:14 PM   #2
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Name: 3050rpm
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Your Ride: 1995 325i
Ball joints and control arm bushings were a weak spot in the E36 design, but I thought that was remedied with the subsequent 3 series platforms, perhaps not. In any event, 50,000 miles seemed to be the general rule of thumb for ball joint life, maybe longer for the bushings, of course depending upon how the car was driven, so I don't know where that puts you with the present mileage you have on the car. I haven't heard of the term "torn" control arm bushings before though, worn yes, but "torn" no, so I don't know what they mean by that.

I hope you have some written documentation as to what your warranty coverage is, because this "certified" term is rather meaningless, more a sales pitch than an enforceable coverage for a used car (there have been legal cases about this); complicating the matter further is that you bought this car from a non-franchised place, and while the onus seems to rest with them (they seem to have sold you that car based on its "certified" condition) I don't know how the legalities shake out. Unfortunately I think you have some yelling and screaming and threatening to go through to get some sort of accommodation.

On the somewhat up side of things, you can get yourself some greater peace of mind and much longer mileage with the bushings by upgrading to stronger M3 types, or even going to M3 control arms with the bushing. The reason for the latter move is that replacing the bushings just themselves can be a royal and costly pain, whereas for about the same or even less money considering the labor involved you can just replace the whole control arm and be on your way. At least this is what's possible for the E36 chassis, I assume but am not sure that that can also be done with the later chassis.
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