Final Drive Failures at 4% rate? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 28 Old Jul 5th, 2007, 9:23 pm Thread Starter
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Final Drive Failures at 4% rate?

We all know of the problems of Final Drive failures on BMWs. The number of failures I have heard about is 4% (not my number). You'd think it would be much higher, after all the postings we've seen here. 4% is way too high anyway, in my opinion...

The burning question is, just how many HAVE there been? We can't tell!

Now, there is a simple way to ID yourself as one of the 4%, AND let your BMW Brethren know. Feel free to use this small image in your signature to proudly (?) mark yourself, and show the world!


Brian
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Sold but "beloved" ride: K12 LT - "Pepe"
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post #2 of 28 Old Jul 5th, 2007, 10:29 pm
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Can't figure out how to get it included as a part of my signature... Can you help?

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Too many others to list...


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post #3 of 28 Old Jul 5th, 2007, 11:11 pm
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post #4 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 3:25 am
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And if you link the image in your signiture to this thread (as I think I have now managed to do), people will know what it is all about.

Although I have been unlucky and am on my 4th bearing, I do think people will talk more of problems than "had a good ride today and nothing went wrong", which I am sure is more often the case with this excellent bike.

"Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" Mark Twain


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post #5 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 6:31 am
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I think you are wrong

Quote:
Originally Posted by hallzee
We all know of the problems of Final Drive failures on BMWs. The number of failures I have heard about is 4% (not my number). You'd think it would be much higher, after all the postings we've seen here. 4% is way too high anyway, in my opinion...

The burning question is, just how many HAVE there been? We can't tell!

Now, there is a simple way to ID yourself as one of the 4%, AND let your BMW Brethren know. Feel free to use this small image in your signature to proudly (?) mark yourself, and show the world!

Without proper figures, I personally feel that to promote a number like 4% is wrong. I have heard figures from 1%-4% and all are anecdotal, not number / study generated. I feel that there is a problem and that BMW is not publicly acknowledging it, but to use a figure not accurate causes us to loose credibility.

Sometimes you have to exaggerate information to be heard and if this is your reason, I apologize up front. If you are trying to create controversy, you are going down the right path.

Dano
Tampa, Fl.

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post #6 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 7:07 am
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This thread is proof that the hardest thing for people to give up is their suffering. Indeed, they need to flaunt it like a badge.

Ralph
Located: Auckland, New Zealand...
but I left my biking heart along the Scenic Byways of America.....

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Today of past regrets and future fears." ....Omar Khayyam
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post #7 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 7:32 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmg08057
This thread is proof that the hardest thing for people to give up is their suffering. Indeed, they need to flaunt it like a badge.
I am not agreeing with the idea due to any 'suffering', merely a way of maybe showing how rare the problem actually is. Rare though it is, it is potentially serious. My bearings went at very low speeds. I would hate it to happen to anyone at a high speed.
We can't burry our heads and say it never happens, it does. Just rarely.
Its not a massive financial problem (not like replacing an ABS unit every couple years) so I don't see how it is 'suffering'.
If you only come across a handful of sigs with the logo, you can be assured that it is pretty uncommon.
Maybe the 4% bit should be dropped though.
Anyone got icons for an ABS unit and clutch drip ;-)

"Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" Mark Twain


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post #8 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 9:55 am Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dandiver
Without proper figures, I personally feel that to promote a number like 4% is wrong. I have heard figures from 1%-4% and all are anecdotal, not number / study generated. I feel that there is a problem and that BMW is not publicly acknowledging it, but to use a figure not accurate causes us to loose credibility.

Sometimes you have to exaggerate information to be heard and if this is your reason, I apologize up front. If you are trying to create controversy, you are going down the right path.
I thought I said in my post that I was quite unsure of the accuracy of claiming 4%. I personally think that is a little high - but I have never had a FD fail on me in over 100,000 BMW miles. Now, if I'd had (or end up having) a FD failure, I may be inclined to believe 4%, given the volume of threads on the topic.

Not trying to create controversy. I would however like to know what the number really is; most likely we'll never really know. I thought this would be a little tongue-in-cheek way of poking a little fun at the subject. I mean, a week doesn't go by that there isn't some sort of post on this subject.

I personally don't worry about FD failure. If it happens, I'll deal with it, and keep on riding my LT. I will of course, attach the Icon to my signature!

Brian
CCR: 2008, Midway; 2011, Boise; 2012, Duluth; 2014, Chattanooga. MOA: Billings, 2015; SLC, 2017
CCR-R: 2018, Russellville
'13 K1600 GTL-P - "Eva"
Sold but "beloved" ride: K12 LT - "Pepe"
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post #9 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 10:11 am
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My Signature

Can't figure out how to get the rear end included as a part of my signature... Can you help with a little more instructions?
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post #10 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 10:31 am
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Add this line to your signature

http://www.bmwlt.com/gallery/files/1...rPercenter.jpg

Put [img] in front of the above and [/img] behind it - with no spaces.

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post #11 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 12:47 pm
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Just a little research in archives ...

here

This was on the old bulletin board.



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post #12 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 1:05 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaffyK
Just a little research in archives ...

here

This was on the old bulletin board.
Raffy:

Did anyone endeavor to perform a statistical analysis of the responses?

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post #13 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 1:39 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bibleman
Raffy:

Did anyone endeavor to perform a statistical analysis of the responses?
John Mckinley posted the attached on 9/4/04 - pretty sure this was the last analysis performed.
Attached Files
File Type: xls Driveline_Failures_September_2004.xls (33.5 KB, 120 views)

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post #14 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 1:47 pm
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And for those people who have not yet entered their failure into the database, here you go:

http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/survey.php?do=take&sid=28

You can review the results in a nice graphical format at:

http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/survey.p...results&sid=28


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post #15 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 3:20 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dandiver
Without proper figures, I personally feel that to promote a number like 4% is wrong. I have heard figures from 1%-4% and all are anecdotal, not number / study generated. I feel that there is a problem and that BMW is not publicly acknowledging it, but to use a figure not accurate causes us to loose credibility.

Sometimes you have to exaggerate information to be heard and if this is your reason, I apologize up front. If you are trying to create controversy, you are going down the right path.
The 4% number that has been used on this forum for about 5 years has some basis in fact, but further explanation is necessary. In 2002 at the Curve Cowboy Reunion in Santa Fe, I moderated a question and answer session with the area rep for BMW, Tom Lawrence. That year we had a number (I believe it was 3) of failures of rear drives on bikes attending that event. I informed Tom of the failures and of our member's concerns and he promised to do some research prior to the BMW Q&A at that event. Tom provided two key data points: 1)The number of LT's sold in the US as of a certain date and 2) The number of total warranty claims referencing the rear drive as of that same date. The number of Lts sold at that time were in the mid 7000s and the umber of warranty claims was in the high 200s. I could find the exact numbers at home in my meeting notes. The number of filed warranty claims was just shy of 4% of the number of bikes sold as of that date. It seems to me the number was about 3.8%.

Here is the rub - warranty claims doesn't necessarily mean drive failures. As Tom explained it could be seal seepage, complaints about noise, driveline lash or any number of other complaints including failure. To say that BMW had experienced nearly a 4% failure rate would require that every warranty claim represented a failure. That simply is not the case. My non-scientific polling of several dealers after the fact indicated that only about half of the claims they made referencing the rear drive on the LT were for failure, the other half were not failure related. Many people, coming off of chain or belt drive motorcycles complain about driveline lash on shaft-driven motorcycles.

My personal feeling is that for the model years 1999-2001 the actual number of in-warranty rear drive failures was actually on the order of 1-2%. That is just my own feeling from having discussed this with 3 BMW area reps a couple of BMW marketing types and quite a few dealers. The odds of a 1999-2001 LT going 100,000 miles without the drive failing seem to be fairly slim, but there have been some. There also seemed to be a drop off of failures after BMW introduced the first bearing change for the 2002 model year, but there is absolutely no way to verify that or quantify the failure rates as I will outline next. Now 5 years after that CCR in Santa Fe we have even less ability to determine the actual failure rate for the following reasons:
  • Since that date we have never been provided with any data regarding the number of total units sold in the US.
  • We have never been given any data regarding specific numbers of in-warranty failures.
  • Any data we generate from polling has no relevance to the failure ratio without knowing the number of bikes sold in the US.

I speak with the service department of BMW of Denver on a very regular basis, and they were the supporting dealer at CCR 2004 in Breckenridge, CO. They say there have been very few failures of drives beginning with the 2002 model year. They have never seen a second failure on a bearing they have replaced, following the specific methodology for field replacement of the bearing and setup of the rear drive after bearing replacement. I am aware that some dealers do not follow the specific replacement and setup procedure and have had failures of replacement bearings.

There are a number of things we have learned from our polling - there is no absolute predictor of what year model might fail, at what mileage it might fail or any way to determine impending failure.

So, what does one do? I recommend riding it and enjoying yourself as much as possible because no amount of worrying, complaining or anything else you do will have no effect on whether you might or might not experience a failure. I have a total of nearly 100,000 trouble-free miles on 3 LTs, while others have seen rear drive failures before 10,000 miles. The new style rear drives are arguably much better than the older style used on the LT, but Joe Paulsey had one fail on his GT and there have been a handful of reported failures on R1200GS models. For what it is worth, Honda has seen a few failures in the drive units on all of its shaft-drive motorcycles. The new R1200s have been very reliable, but my new GS had a ring antenna failure in the middle of the Yukon Territory last month. After nearly 200,000 miles without a single failure on BMW motorcycles, I suppose I was due. What does a failure, in the middle of nowhere, on a brand new BMW do to my trust in the machine - absolutely nothing, I still absolutely love and appreciate the capabilities of that bike. I finished my trip without giving a second thought to potential failure. We ride these things because we enjoy them. To me, worrying about what might happen takes away from that joy. I am certainly not in denial, I was aware of the potential for ring antenna failure on the R1200GS, well before I left on a long journey last month. I am proactive about addressing the areas of potential problems whenever it is practical. I just choose to deal with problems as they occur, rather than hand-wringing about the possibility of failure. To that end, my sig line, which has been the tag line for this community since we started it - Just Ride It! - is how I roll.

Please understand than none of what I have written above, should in any way imply that I do not believe BMW had/has a problem of a higher than acceptable statistical chance of failure with the LT rear drive units. Nor do I fault anyone who feels like the risk of failure is greater than they are willing to bear. I am also concerned about the potential for injury in the perfect storm of a rear drive failure, causing a breach of the seal, dumping gear oil on the rear tire, while in a high speed turn. It hasn't happened, but it certainly could. That said, the risk of failure is not so great as to offset my desire to ride the motorcycles. Some say we enjoy a dangerous activity when we ride. I choose not to think of motorcycles as inherently dangerous, they are just unforgiving, much like aircraft. Be proactive in your maintenance, be predictive in your riding, be protective in your riding apparel - then enjoy the heck out of your motorcycle. The fact that we ride motorcycles at all probably makes us one per-centers.

Randy Prade
Aurora, CO

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Last edited by randy; Jul 6th, 2007 at 5:01 pm.
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post #16 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 4:48 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randy
Now 5 years after that CCR in Santa Fe we have even less ability to determine the actual failure rate for the following reasons:
  • Since that date we have never been provided with any data regarding the number of total units sold in the US.
  • We have never been given any data regarding specific numbers of in-warranty failures.
  • Any data we generate from polling has no relevance to the failure ratio without knowing the number of bikes sold in the US.
Good read, Randy. And just a thought to add, in relation to "the number of bikes sold in the US." In fact, wouldn't we also like to know what's happening to the 'over the pond' LT inventory, and their final drive failure experience. We don't hear of failures occuring there to the extent we do here (realizing the LT forum membership is predominantly skewed to the US). At any rate, lack of their data increases the likelihood that we will never determine the actual failure rate. Again, just a thought.
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post #17 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 4:58 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick
Good read, Randy. And just a thought to add, in relation to "the number of bikes sold in the US." In fact, wouldn't we also like to know what's happening to the 'over the pond' LT inventory, and their final drive failure experience. We don't hear of failures occuring there to the extent we do here (realizing the LT forum membership is predominantly skewed to the US). At any rate, lack of their data increases the likelihood that we will never determine the actual failure rate. Again, just a thought.
This is very true, Dick. There have been some suggestions that the US and Australia experience a higher failure rate than European bikes, leading to conjecture that it is possible the bearings are somehow stressed in shipment to the US and Australia. The simple fact is that no matter what, without direct data from BMW, all we can do is guess.

I also believe the US data is all we could hope to get since BMW Motorrad USA is the warranty provider for bikes sold here, not BMW A.G. and would probably not be privy to the data outside of the US.

Randy Prade
Aurora, CO

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Last edited by randy; Jul 6th, 2007 at 5:05 pm.
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post #18 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 5:17 pm
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Thanks Randy

I really do appreciate the time you took to reply and supply information as to where the figures came from. A simple thanks does not seem appropriate and I hope that maybe your information can be stored someplace for further review as I'm sure the question will come up again.

Dano
Tampa, Fl.

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post #19 of 28 Old Jul 6th, 2007, 5:46 pm Thread Starter
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+1 Randy! That's why I made that silly little graphic. We'll never know what the percentage of failures are, until we know exactly how many LTs have been sold, and how many FDs have failed. With all the posts on the subject, you'd think that an LT has a 50/50 chance of failure!

I was trying to illustrate that it's probably not as bad as some would think; which of course is just my guess since I have never had a failure. I don't wish to make a flippant remark, but if my LT has a FD failure after tens of thousands of miles, I'll deal with it, and move on.

Things break on performance vehicles...

Plenty of Newbies get on this site, and say, "Holy Sh**, what have I gotten myself into?" when they read about the negatives. I know I did - but between my 2 BMWs, I have over 100,000 "never been stranded before" miles. I decided that riding and worrying about something breaking was just stupid - so I don't do it any more.

Brian
CCR: 2008, Midway; 2011, Boise; 2012, Duluth; 2014, Chattanooga. MOA: Billings, 2015; SLC, 2017
CCR-R: 2018, Russellville
'13 K1600 GTL-P - "Eva"
Sold but "beloved" ride: K12 LT - "Pepe"
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post #20 of 28 Old Jul 7th, 2007, 9:29 am
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I think the statistics for RD failures are skewed due to the data only including warranty claims versus bikes sold. I think the failure rate is higher than 4% because of the number of failures that occur outside the warranty period, thus not included in the statistical base.

Jamie
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post #21 of 28 Old Jul 7th, 2007, 8:02 pm
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Unhappy Another final drive failure

I just finished a 5000 round trip from San Leandro, CA (Bay area) to the midwest and back. My route went through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and back. I even traveled Highway 50 through Nevada on the way home. Lonely highway. I noticed some strange sounds and vibrations and checked fluids. I did observe a slight leak near the rear end. Since I was getting close to home and it was Sunday, I decided to go for it and made it home fine. A few days later, I washed my 2002 K1200LT (now with 40,000 miles on it) and noticed the leak had intensified. I tried to ride over to Diablo BMW about 25 miles away and broke down. The good news is, I got home safely from my trip. I also managed to get off the freeway on the way to the motorcycle shop. The bad news, of course, is another rear end failure on an LT.

I have had many other motorcycles in my 50 years of riding with no breakdowns. I'm disappointed in BMW corporation for a poor engineering job on the final drive. I don't know whether to trade for another brand or see how long the new rear end will last. I love the LT, but also treasure reliability.

Frank
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post #22 of 28 Old Jul 7th, 2007, 9:42 pm
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Rear Drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdgibbons
I just finished a 5000 round trip from San Leandro, CA (Bay area) to the midwest and back. My route went through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and back. I even traveled Highway 50 through Nevada on the way home. Lonely highway. I noticed some strange sounds and vibrations and checked fluids. I did observe a slight leak near the rear end. Since I was getting close to home and it was Sunday, I decided to go for it and made it home fine. A few days later, I washed my 2002 K1200LT (now with 40,000 miles on it) and noticed the leak had intensified. I tried to ride over to Diablo BMW about 25 miles away and broke down. The good news is, I got home safely from my trip. I also managed to get off the freeway on the way to the motorcycle shop. The bad news, of course, is another rear end failure on an LT.

I have had many other motorcycles in my 50 years of riding with no breakdowns. I'm disappointed in BMW corporation for a poor engineering job on the final drive. I don't know whether to trade for another brand or see how long the new rear end will last. I love the LT, but also treasure reliability.

Frank
Frank, I know how you feel I have been riding for 52 years and have had a great number of bikes. I like the LT over every bike I have had but not the problems. I have a 2005 with 47,000 miles on it. The rear drive was replaced at 41,281 miles. Seems like ther is always something to worry about with the LT.

Jerry Mathison
Woodbine, Iowa
2008 Gold Wing
2005 Ocean Blue (Sold)
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post #23 of 28 Old Jul 7th, 2007, 10:04 pm
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Bad Drive Shaft

I had a drive shaft go on a 94K1100RS! At 95,000 milesThought it was freak at the time,3 years agoPut in a new one and she,s still going strong,(wont charge battery,that is wont hold charge longer then 4 days with out a charge to keep it up(buying new battery but still need to check out charging system?Sorry to jump on your thread!!!!!!!!! Not F D but part of driveMy LT has 25,000 miles now Wow what a bike
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post #24 of 28 Old Jul 8th, 2007, 5:34 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmg08057
This thread is proof that the hardest thing for people to give up is their suffering. Indeed, they need to flaunt it like a badge.
+1, Ralph! In today's world, my victimization is my greatest achievement.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Some really OLD friggin' White dude who couldn't have possibly known what he was talking about!) WARNING: Official HATE speech!
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post #25 of 28 Old Jul 10th, 2007, 8:01 pm
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Thanks for the reply

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerrym
Frank, I know how you feel I have been riding for 52 years and have had a great number of bikes. I like the LT over every bike I have had but not the problems. I have a 2005 with 47,000 miles on it. The rear drive was replaced at 41,281 miles. Seems like ther is always something to worry about with the LT.

Thanks for the reply, Jerry. I ave been thinking it over and think I will just get it fixed and keep riding it. Like you say, overall this LT is the best machine I have ever had. I'm 65 now and it could be the last motorcycle I will ever ride.

Frank
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post #26 of 28 Old Nov 24th, 2007, 3:15 pm
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2000 LTC with 102,000 miles on it here

I bought it from the original owner and have every scrap of paper that has ever been written up about the maintenance and repair and the final drive in mine is original and still working great, no problems, freeplay or noise at all - and it's never had any service beyond fluid changes and any adjustments they might do at the scheduled maintenance intervals

So ... what percentage does that put me in? ... not a very high one I'm guessing

What mileage/age range was this 4% figure constructed from? ... The failure rate would go to 100% without putting parameters on the lifetime and usage

Are they talking about 4% during the warranty period? ... 4% during the first 5 years, 4% in 50,000 miles? ... Anyone know?
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post #27 of 28 Old Nov 24th, 2007, 3:44 pm
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That number was arrived at during the Santa Fe CCR, when the BMW reps there said that there had been about 260 final drive service failures and 7,500 LTs sold to date. We do not know if all the reported failures were for bearings or not, some could have been pinion seals, as this was also a warranty repair item. That is how the 4% number got started, but it seems that failures on LTs dropped considerably after the 2003 model year, so the overall number is likely NOT as high as that now.

We do hear of a lot of failures, but there are probably well over 20,000 LTs in the US now, and I do not think there have been anywhere near 4% of that number that have failed. I doubt that it is even 2% overall, but that is still a HUGE number for any manufacturer to accept.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying.

David Shealey
Dandridge, TN
EX: '01 Black LT, BAT BYKE (Totaled at 110,000 miles)
IBA SS, BB, BBG, 10/10ths.
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post #28 of 28 Old Nov 24th, 2007, 3:49 pm
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I think you are in the majority. Just because it is talked about here a lot, doesn't mean it is the norm.
"hey, another rear drive failier free year" isn't something that gets posted all the time.
From the start of this post "BMW reps said that there had been about 260 final drive service failures and 7,500 LTs sold to date" this is where the 4% comes from.
What I can guess at is that the fail rate of rebuilds is far higher than 4%
You ride without worrying about it. As a rebuild, I have to keep worrying - but I still love the bike.

"Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" Mark Twain


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