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Below are two emails I sent to the LD Rider email list to let LT owners know how badly BMW is handling my LT's final drive problem. To summarize; the current drive on my LT was a complete factory sealed unit installed by Hermy's BMW in Port Clinton last March. My original final drive's big bearing had disintegrated while in Daytona last year. BMW of Daytona replaced the big bearing which failed again on my ride home (1000 miles). I complained to BMW who sent me $300 for my trouble. BMW also refunded the $650 they had charged for their botched repair (only after several certified letters and a call to BMW Credit).

Once home, Hermy's took the drive apart and found damage to all the bearings and recommended a complete replacement. I paid $785 for the drive and Hermy's installed it for free. This drive, STILL UNDER WARRANTY WITH 22K MILES ON IT, is now beginning to fail - I found large, shiny metal flakes on the magnetic drain plug when changing the lube (which is done every 3K miles) last week. The flakes were about 1-2mm in square area and numbered about 8-12 pieces. Two dealers have told me the bearing and or races are beginning to come apart. Read my emails for the details.

I'm done with BMW. I'm sharing this with those here who own the LT as a courtesy to you and those who may care about your health and welfare. BMW does NOT care. Be careful. I'm repairing the LT, selling it and buying something manufactured in Japan.


EMAIL 1: My initial email to the LD list

I was changing my fluids last weekend. When I got to the final drive, I found shiny flakes on the drain plug - not the usual metallic paste. They were maybe 1-2mm in sqaure area. My question: Is this a sure sign that the big bearing is starting to self destruct? Have others noticed this at a fluid change and continued on with no failures? Could the shiny flake be from anything other than bearing or race surfaces?

It's a 2003 on its third FD. This particular unit has about 20K miles on it. The fluid was changed at 500 miles and every 3K subsequent with synthetic 80W/90 hypoid. It was installed last March and is under warranty from BMW for two years, HOWEVER, my dealer says BMW won't pay to have him tear it down and proactively deduce if it's on the way to failure, basically stating I have to wait for failure. I'm simply astounded by this statement. Of course, I'll have to spend my own money to have it looked at because the anxiety of waiting for the thing to shit itself while I'm cruising +20 would be overwhelming.

In the meantime, I've sent BMW a certified letter asking them to pick up the tab under warranty for what I believe will be a certain drive line failure. At worst such a failure could be deadly and at best (like last year) a major inconvenience.

I know it's winter. I'm not as cranky as some because I've been riding nearly every weekend. Having said that, if BMW won't step up on this issue and I have another FD failure, I'm done with the legendary bikes from Germany. I'm thinking FJ, Wing, ST or Coni 14.

Perhaps I've sipped the 'Aid for the last time.....

Bob L.
Easton, PA



EMAIL 2 - BMW's response
Update on my final drive for those interested:

Derrick Anton (sp?) from BMW Motorrad customer service called me today to say that they will not authorize a dealer to look at the cause of the metal flake in my rear drive. His words were something to the effect that "we cannot start authorizing dealers to look for problems that may never happen." When I pointed out that this is a well known failure point, he simply stated that he knew about some rumblings on the internet regarding the issue......how laughable is that?

He went on to say that "if you experience a problem, simply bring it into a dealer and we'd be happy to offer support......" I asked him what if I don't happen to breakdown next to a dealer and he had no intelligent reply. I asked him if he had any thoughts on what could happen to me personally if it failed at highway speeds and he basically said it was my choice, actually starting to get argumentative about the issue so I thanked him for calling and hung up.

I know machines will break. I know a manufacturer can't warrant a product forever. However, I sincerely believe these guys have enough data to know beyond any doubt that the final drive mechanism has a less than adequate life cycle. Because of this, one would expect them to go a little beyond the canned, corporate response. Guess not....at least for me.

Bob L.
 

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Very worried now.
After wasting a lot on money having my FD rebuilt (twice it went within 1000 miles of rebuild) I just took the plunge and bought a brand new unit.
Fitted it myself and was promised that it would have a 2 year no quibble warrantee on it.
I dread to think how much quibbling there will be if it goes again!!!

BUT, the darn thing is like that beautiful woman who you just know is gonna be BIG trouble, but you just can't stop yourself!
 

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Bob.. sorry to hear of your troubles... Best wishes that you find a machine to meet your requirements...

By the way.. you did document this with the FEDS, right? That is all that will generate the "heat" necessary to apply sufficient pressure....
 

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cfell said:
Bob.. sorry to hear of your troubles... Best wishes that you find a machine to meet your requirements...

By the way.. you did document this with the FEDS, right? That is all that will generate the "heat" necessary to apply sufficient pressure....
I think this is a GREAT recommendation.

BMW can refuse to release the numbers, but it is in black and white when listed on the Fed site.

I have said, and agree +1 on this, it will be the ONLY way to bring any pressure on BMW.
 

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Bob very sorry to hear of your FD and BMW problems. I always ride with the fear of a FD failure, sometimes I wish I did not know about the problems.
Ignorance may be bliss?
 

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LAF said:
I think this is a GREAT recommendation.

BMW can refuse to release the numbers, but it is in black and white when listed on the Fed site.

I have said, and agree +1 on this, it will be the ONLY way to bring any pressure on BMW.
I've never seen this question asked regarding the FD failure topic: Has anyone sued BMW over (a) the FD failure issue, or (b) failure to honor the two-year warranty on parts (including a replacement FD)?
 

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I liked my LT but I will never purchase another BMW motorcycle just because of the way BMW will not back their motorcycles or acknowledge they have a problem. I was told that when they replaced the new rear drive in mind it had one year warranty with unlimited mileage. I know BMW would have never paid for it if it was to go out. I had extended warranty, which I was in hopes it would cover it but I do not think the extended warranty would replace a second one. That is when I sold it and purchased a new Gold Wing. When my rear drive went out my bike was just 2 years old but had 41,000 miles on it and BMW would not do anything but I did have the extended warranty so you having a 2003 they sure are not going to do anything. Good Luck to you.
 

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I think the idea of the 4% group getting together and sueing BMW has merit!! :thumb:
At least that way the rest of us could read with anticipation the ongoing litigation battle instead of the constant BMW motorcycle bashing that goes on in this site! :thumb:

Don't get me wrong...I am sympathetic to your issues...I am just tired of the people who jump on this bandwagon every time and bash BMW bikes. They have already stated their individual cases and have moved on to Gold Wings...so for pity sake...stop with the eternal BMW bashing!! :deadhorse

I think I hear incoming! :D

LOL & Peace! :bmw:
 

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Hi
Before selling and buying a Honda, Harley or whatever ask their service manager their polocies because they might give you the exact same if not worse attention and service. Speaking from a former Harley and Honda owner.
 

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GolfGuy said:
Don't get me wrong...I am sympathetic to your issues...I am just tired of the people who jump on this bandwagon every time and bash BMW bikes. They have already stated their individual cases and have moved on to Gold Wings...so for pity sake...stop with the eternal BMW bashing!! :deadhorse
No argument; no comment. 'Nuff said.
 

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It seems to me that the biggest problem with reporting FD failures to the NHTSA is that there is no consistent (standardized) way to file these failures so that all BMW FD failures show up in the same "group".

Since the FD failures cross BMW motorcycle models, model years, and now even fundamentally different FD designs, there is no way the NHTSA has a clue about this problem!

The 5th level classification is Component. Listed below are the choices I encountered this morning for a 1999 BMW K1200LT:

1. Power Train
2. Power Train:Axle Assembly
3. Power Train:Axle Assembly:Axle Shaft
4. Power Train:Axle Hub
5. Power Train:Drive Line
6. Power Train:Drive Line:Differential Unit
7. Power Train:Drive Line:Drive Shaft
8. Power Train:Drive Line:Universal Joint

When I explored a 2002 BMW K1200LT, the 5th level component choices were:

1. Power Train:Drive Line
2. Power Train:Drive Line:Center Bearing Support
3. Power Train:Drive Line:Differential Unit
4. Power Train:Manual Transmission
5. Power Train:Manual Transmission:Floor Shift Assembly

This is horse manure - no wonder BMW is getting away with what could become murder under no warning or unrecognized "lock up" with oil dump on rear tire.

I request permission to copy El Jeffe's Rear Drive Survey results (172 records) to a public MySQL database I am going to build today at www.bmwfinaldrive.com Please give me a few days to get this website ready for viewing and incident posting.

Jim Puckett
2002 R1150RT - 110,000 miles
FD carefully maintained including PM bearing and seals replacement at 96,000
Jackson, MO
 

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bobby~

net/net - your approach is ALL WRONG.

your dealer - hermy's - is the one that needs to apply the pressure. calling BMW before a dealer has looked at the bike is absolutely a waste of breath.

take the bike back into hermy's - ride really slowly or have it towed - depending on what your inspection of the condition of the FD reveals - is there play? can you feel the bearing roughness when turning the wheel by hand?.

if the dealer's inspection reveals that the drive is failing - then there is NO call to be made - you have a dealer instaled component that does have a 24 month replacement parts warrentee - there is no call - Hermy's SD will get it taken care of.

here's the thing - the factory replacement units are no more and no less likely to have the problem than the units that are assembled at the factory. i've had several fail in 80k miles including one that locked up. if you want to stop worrying about it, a skilled mechanic - tom cutter of rubber chicken racing garage - for example - can assemble a FD using the proper procedures so that that will be the last time you need to worry about it.

FD setup and bearing play adjustment is an art - sadly - an art that even the factory seems to have forgotten. hermy's, as your dealer, and the one that installed the component, is the only one that BMW will engage with on the subject. that is their process, and they don't move from it. if you want it taken care of, THEY need to go to bat for you. if you do anything else, it will not be effective and you'll just piss yourself off. if hermy's doesn't have someone that can do FD set up and is confident in their skills, work with them to have them subcontract the reassembly to someone like tom cutter.

else, i'll just have to assume you just like complaining more than you like riding.
 

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Greg,
Thanks for the imformative post, (below). So, would you spend the money to have Tom inspect/re-assemble a rear drive on a new bike, just for the piece of mind? I'm serious, as I am considering it.

Thanks again,

GB

hmmmm90s said:
bobby~

net/net - your approach is ALL WRONG.

your dealer- hermy's - is the one that needs to apply the pressure. calling BMW before a dealer has looked at the bike is absolutely a waste of breath.

take the bike back into hermy's - ride really slowly or have it towed - depending on what your inspection of the condition of the FD reveals - is there play? can you feel the bearing roughness when turning the wheel by hand?.

if the dealer's inspection reveals that the drive is failing - then there is NO call to be made - you have a dealer instaled component that does have a 24 month replacement parts warrentee - there is no call - Hermy's SD will get it taken care of.

here's the thing - the factory replacement units are no more and no less likely to have the problem than the units that are assembled at the factory. i've had several fail in 80k miles including one that locked up. if you want to stop worrying about it, a skilled mechanic - tom cutter of rubber chicken racing garage - for example - can assemble a FD using the proper procedures so that that will be the last time you need to worry about it.

FD setup and bearing play adjustment is an art - sadly - an art that even the factory seems to have forgotten. hermy's, as your dealer, and the one that installed the component, is the only one that BMW will engage with on the subject. that is their process, and they don't move from it. if you want it taken care of, THEY need to go to bat for you. if you do anything else, it will not be effective and you'll just piss yourself off. if hermy's doesn't have someone that can do FD set up and is confident in their skills, work with them to have them subcontract the reassembly to someone like tom cutter.

else, i'll just have to assume you just like complaining more than you like riding.
 

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george, knowing how you use your bikes =8-o i wouldn't hesitate to have tom set up an FD for you.

if you and mr. cutter havn't crossed paths before, all i can say is that he has a somewhat higher level of skill than the average bear. he was the single mechanic that worked for butler and smith when they were the sole us bmw importer. if you have a bike that BMW made and exported to the US between 1967 and 1978 (?) tom assembled and did final QA on your bike. when it comes to gearboxes and final drives, he is to be trusted.
 

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oh, and if distance makes any difference, ted porter, who runs an independant shop in the SF bay area, also has the skills to do this correctly. ted was formerly the service manager for both bob's and San Jose.

both are highly recommended.
 

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Sorry if I'm missing something, but having checked the maintenance schedule, why are you changing the FD oil every 3000 miles? The schedule says: "Change oil in rear wheel drive while at operating temperature (at least every 2 years) or at 600 miles then every 12,000 miles." I'm not trying to be funny, but maybe it's just not meant to be messed with so often?
 

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rswestling said:
I'm not trying to be funny, but maybe it's just not meant to be messed with so often?
LOL you cannot be serious.
 

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An other approach is to present your issue differently. Rather than: "I changed my own fluid and found metal" Try this:" I hear an unusual noise from the rear and I do not feel safe riding the bike like this, due to it's history of FD failures"

The minimum that this approach will get you is a documented concern at todays date and mileage. That comes in handy if the drive goes out after the two years are over. Of course you have to insist that a repair order is generated. Just make an appointment and leave the bike.
 

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It is sad to hear that BMW isn't willing to offer you some support. Now I am becoming a bit concerned because I recently purchased a slightly used 06 LT and I hope that I can ride for many more trouble free miles. I have warranty until April or May of next year, and I was thinking of checking the fluids in the final drive to see if there is any contamination or metal solids in there early next spring. At least I could bring it to my dealer's attention for inspection. Hate to have to have it replaced after warranty is done.
I know that it is a small percentage of the units that have failures, but it is better to find out earlier than later if a problem exists.
I really like the bike and right now I don't want to consider selling or going Honda or Yamaha! I had my 89 Venture for 17 years without any drive or enging problems. All I did was front fork seals and brakes, tires and a few batteries. Not too expensive at all!!
Take care!
Jim :bmw:
 
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