Wisdom of the Crowd Saves BMW SULEV owner

July 14, 2011 at 8:00 am 13 comments

Last week I was part of a discussion thread in the BMW group on LinkedIn.  An owner of a 2005 BMW 325 was in shock after going to his dealer with a fuel pump problem, and was desperate for help.

He was desperate because the dealer had quoted him a price of $6,500 for the part alone, labor not included! This was because he owned a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV), that achieved its super low emissions partly through a stainless steel gas tank, with the fuel filter totally enclosed within the tank. To replace the filter, the entire tank must be replaced. These cars were sold in four states between 2002 and 2005 — more info here from Wikipedia and here from Bimmerforums.

Diagram of stainless steel tank courtesy of realoem.com

The price quoted was correct, but a very critical piece of information was left out. The emission components of a BMW SULEV vehicle carry a 15 year or 150K mile warranty. But no one at the dealership told him that — he needed to find that out in the LI group.

Not that his dealership gave in without a fight. According to him:

Greg, Christopher. Speaking about honoring…The local BMW dealer either was clueless or they know exactly how to act in regards to SULEV and my problem ! Not only the local dealer, but the BMWNA as well. Both were singing the same song of $6,500 , not covered by warranty :) Sad reality.

Eventually the repair was made under warranty. So through some online research and the help of other BMW owners, this guy probably saved around $8K in parts and labor.

So this story had a happy ending, thanks to the power of communities of interest connecting online. You just can’t own these cars out of warranty without doing a lot of research. You need to reach out to fellow owners and take advantage of information others have already found.

Maybe this dealer honestly didn’t know about the extended SULEV warranty. But it was their job to know. Don’t depend on a dealer for warranty and repair information – unleash the power of the Internet and tap into the wisdom of the online crowd.

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Entry filed under: Tech, Wheels. Tags: , , , , , .

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark  |  July 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I love it when you use the phrase ” unleash the power of the internet “.

    Your Bro

  • 2. Jannet Calixto  |  September 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I am having the same problem with my vehicle and have been researching for two weeks. I have no idea which direction to turn to and I have already spent $1500. The part replacement is $6400. Any direction would be great.

  • 3. Danny Rapkay  |  September 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Which BMW dealership was Samuel’s BMW fixed at? I am having problems with my fuel tank (2004 BMW 325 Ci SULEV PZEV) as well and both BMW dealerships and BMWNA keep ignoring my requests to honor their 15 year/150,000 mile emissions related warranty. Please help!

  • 4. Peter Adler  |  September 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm


    Many thanks for the input. I have put the warranty question to my sales guy at VOB BMW. If they come up with the wrong answer, I will contact BMW NA.



  • 5. Veronica  |  April 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I guess I am out of luck. My car just reached 164,000 miles and of course my problem is that the fuel pump goes out and no longer has warranty.

  • 6. Arun Subramani  |  May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Hi, I am having the same problem. My mechanic quoted $6700 (parts alone). He mentioned that he had taled to the dealer and they said there is no warrantly. I’m in Glendale, CA. Please let me know if there is a dealer who knows abou this. Thanks.

    • 7. cparente  |  May 24, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Hi Arun, sorry to hear about your trouble. Is your car under the 15 year/150K miles mark? If so, I have a number for BMW HQ customer service you can try.

  • 8. John Holmes  |  July 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I am SO glad I found this website. Like everyone else here my fuel pump failed and I got the news that my 2004 BMW 325i would cost $8,130 to fix! The Blue Book value on the car was only about $11k so the car was essentially “totalled”. I live in North Carolina and bought the car used from a former New York resident. I had no idea I even owned one of the special Super Ultra Low Emmissions Vehicles. The car only has 48,000 miles on it. Trust me, the BMW dealership here never heard of the special warranty (15 years/150,000 miles). I called BMW North America customer service and got a similar run around. “It is not covered”. When I found this blog, I called BMW NA and they did acknowledge the special warranty but said it only applied to vehicles registered and operated primarily in California, Maine, Massachusetts or Vermont. I demanded a copy of the warranty and discovered on page 37 “BMW NA warrants to the original owner and each subsequent owner”… There was NO geographical restrictions. So after 3 weeks of wrangling and fighting I got the local dealer to cover the fix. They had to order the gas tank from Germany as there were none available in the continental US. Alls well that ends well, so keep fighting and don’t take NO for an answer!

    • 9. cparente  |  July 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      John — that’s great news! Glad the post helped you make your case, and thanks for sharing with other owners.

  • 10. Linda  |  August 8, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I had an issue with the gas gasket valve and was told this was covered under this warranty 2 years After I have fixed it from a local mechanic. I don’t feel this is ethical and will call BMW to see what they can do. I originally called the 2 years ago about this issue and they basically said “too bad, you are out off warranty”

    • 11. cparente  |  August 9, 2012 at 8:33 am

      Linda — I’m very sorry to hear that. I appreciate your comment — it helps to get the word out. You might want to check out my post last month on this topic, Bimmer and Roundel magazines have said they will be covering this topic in upcoming issues.

  • 12. Dan  |  September 8, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I just took it into BMW South County in San Diego and they knew everything about the warranty, they covered the tank and filter replace and my camshaft position sensors also, they’re the best in So CA

    • 13. cparente  |  September 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      Dan — thanks for comment, nice to hear about a dealer that came through.


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