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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
After over 145 individual complaints filed between April 2001 and August 2011, the NHSTA has finally opened its first official investigation into the failure of crown gear bearings on BMW models equipped with the Paralever style final drive. NHSTA investigation DP12001 opened 1/20/12 is centered on 1999-2005 K1200LTs for now. But, if the findings are what we all believe they will be, the scope of the investigation should be expanded. If you have had a final drive failure on your Paralever equipped BMW, and have NOT already reported it to the NHSTA, I urge you do it now.

You will need your VIN, (est.) date of failure and mileage. State your model as well. While they should be able to identify from VIN, their data was wrong 50% of the time. Specify if gear oil leaked.

www.safercar.gov

or call (888) 327-4236

or mail to:
NHSTA
Office of Defects Investigation (NVS-210)
West Building
1200 New Jersey Ave SE
Washington DC 20590

In your complaint, select “Power Train” as the component and reference that you have had the same failure as described in ODI No. 10439549, and currently being investigated under Campaign DP12001.

Send an email to your Congressman and US Senator to follow up on your behalf as well.

Chris Cimino
Edmonds WA

(Before anyone starts flaming, I am NOT an attorney, I am NOT suing anyone. No, I don't frequent this website which I know somehow lessens my "credibility" as an LT owner.)
 

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Does this mean we're all getting new K1600GTL's as a replacement? :D

Seriously - that's amazing news.... good work being the "boots on the ground", motivating them to open an actual investigation and being the first to report it. :yeah:
 

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NHSTA search is a little convoluted but here is the text of the complaint, and WEB page for review. Congratulation to Chris for being able to get this going. :)

By letter dated 11-28-2011, Christopher D. Cimino of Edmunds, WA, requested that NHTSA "open an investigation into the repeated final drive bearing failure and possibly flawed assembly controls of the final drive unit on BMW K1200LT models..." NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is opening this investigation to examine Mr. Cimino's allegations and determine whether a safety-related defect trend currently exists involving final drive crown gear ball-bearing assembly failures on the subject motorcycles. The ODI report cited above can be reviewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/complaints under the following identification (ODI) number: 10439549
 

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Very interesting, maybe they'll tell BMW to stop making the LT. :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My hope is to have NHSTA require BMW recall on all models equipped with the Paralever final drive due to a design, manufacturing or assembly flaw. This may require BMW dealers to inspect units and reassemble, repair or replace affected units, affording an additional 24 month warranty period. It is likely that a recall may only apply to models 10 years old or less, unless NHSTA finds compelling evidence that BMW has been aware of the defect for a long time and not acted in good faith to remedy. The 10 year limit may explain why BMW has officially kept quiet on the topic, hoping to let the clock run out on the greater exposure to models from 1999-2003. If capped at 10 years, most of us (including me) may be out of options, period. I have no idea how a recall might effect any individual owner's claims for monetary reimbursement for prior repairs, although I would suspect that such claims (or that of a class action) could be bolstered by a recall. But, I have no delusions of ever getting reimbursed for the cost of my two final drives repaired out of warranty. Again, no need to flame again about the perils or wastes of legal action.

Personally, I think BMW owners should flood the NHSTA with targeted complaints, referencing Investigation No. (DP 12-001) and the ODI complaint No. (10439549). Robert Young is the Investigator assigned. Bruce York is the assigned Reviewer. Both report to Frank Borris, the Director of Defects Investigation.

Chris Cimino
 

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Excellent work, Chris.

I know my three LT failures are already in the NHTSA database, but I'll make sure they are up-to-date and that they reference the current campaign reference numbers.

I'll also make sure my two GT failures are in as well, just to cover those bases.
 

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the question I have is what took them so long to investigate?
 

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meese said:
Excellent work, Chris.

I know my three LT failures are already in the NHTSA database, but I'll make sure they are up-to-date and that they reference the current campaign reference numbers.

I'll also make sure my two GT failures are in as well, just to cover those bases.


Geeze.

You DO know you're supposed to have oil in those things, right?
 

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mwnahas said:
the question I have is what took them so long to investigate?
Yeah, we've been all over that question for a decade now . . .

The bottom line is that NHTSA stands for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They simply don't care if your vehicle is likely to break down. They do care if your vehicle exhibits a known defect that can significantly increase the risk of a crash.

So saying "my trunk latch broke" doesn't register with them, even though we know it's a known problem with the LT. But saying "my final drive seal went out and dumped oil all over my rear brakes" or "my final drive bearing failed making the rear wheel loose and unstable" does register as a critical safety defect.

The main difference here is that Chris was able to highlight the safety aspect of these failures, and he was able to bring additional pressure to bear through his local congressman who has a vested interest in traffic safety issues.

And now we have not only a specific ODI # and Campaign # to register these failures under, but we also have specific names of NHTSA officials to contact in order to highlight just how pervasive of a problem this is.

Again, good on Chris for pulling all this together.
 

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petevandyke said:
You DO know you're supposed to have oil in those things, right?
I figure I just put too many miles on them . . . ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
General disorganization of data, I guess. the complaints were spread over 18 different component categories, with numerous model classification input errors. They would have the VIN for an LT, but identify the model as F650 or M3! No way an algorythm looking for a pattern would have picked it up. I just went through every (every) complaint filed for anything BMW (m/c or car) for models since 1996 and built a data base of complaints filed, component identified, model (by complaint data and by VIN) and essentially drew them a road map of what they had already received.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
By the way, the complaints made for interesting reading. One LT owner filed a complaint claiming the LT was unsafe because it was susceptible to crosswinds (duh!). My favorite was the rider who complained that since the LT has reverse, it should have backup lights!
 

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ccimino said:
. My favorite was the rider who complained that since the LT has reverse, it should have backup lights!
and then go Beeep-Beeep-Beeep!!! :D
 

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meese said:
The bottom line is that NHTSA stands for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Bingo. While I realize that having oil leak out onto the rear tire or brake sounds like a safety concern, the proof's in the pudding. I have yet to hear of one, single incident or accident relating to the final drive issue. Anyone else?
 

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Would you rather someone actually die before anyone takes notice? Would that help?

Or have you forgotten about our Portugese friend that put his LT down in a corner and ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks? There was definite oil on his rear wheel and tire, but when he eventually got out of the hospital and found his bike at the local dealer, the rear wheel was mysteriously clean - too clean, in fact.

And I also remember a story about a couple that went down in the US and suffered serious injuries on a bike with a failed rear drive. Do they not count just because you didn't see it in person?

So yes, it can happen.

And that's the whole point of the NHTSA - not to sit back and wait until death and mayhem occur, but to act on potentially serious safety hazards and force the manufacturers to step up and solve the problems for all affected vehicles - whether or not that particular vehicle has had an injury accident or not.

The bottom line is that gear oil on the brakes is very bad, and gear oil on the rear tire is very bad, and in typical NHTSA parlance, both conditions "could cause a significant loss of braking ability and/or traction, thus significantly increasing the risk of a crash."

That's the real problem here, and that's what the NHTSA has the power to do something about.

Hell, you're not even riding a BMW anymore, so why do you even care?
 

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messenger13_ver2 said:
Bingo. While I realize that having oil leak out onto the rear tire or brake sounds like a safety concern, the proof's in the pudding. I have yet to hear of one, single incident or accident relating to the final drive issue. Anyone else?
I haven't.
I guess you could say, that the noise that comes with the FD failure, that it makes us slow down and even stop BEFORE an accident happens.
So thus it's NOT a safety issue.
I refiled again anyway for my 2 failures using a link above.
I don't expect any real satisfaction from NHSTA.
I just think BMW should admit that they may have goofed on some assemblies of the FD. At least I'd feel a little better. LOL

I even took my FD failure out of my sig line here. :bmw:
 

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Amazing work Chris!!!

Best from Tucson
Bob
 

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vernvernvern said:
....that the noise that comes with the FD failure, that it makes us slow down and even stop BEFORE an accident happens.
So thus it's NOT a safety issue.......I don't expect any real satisfaction from NHSTA.....
That we haven't heard of anyone having an accident that was directly attributed to a FD failure MAYBE an indication that no one has been hurt as a result of this problem, but it is wrong to conclude that it is not a safety issue. While most riders do sense a problem before catastropic oil leak onto the rear brake and tire, but others do not; I know of several cases where there was oil on the wheel before the rider first became aware of the problem. People have been injured riding K1200LTs, we just haven't heard of an injury that was directly attributed to a FD failure; you can't conclude that it hasn't happened.

It is just a matter of luck as to when that oil leak occurs. Imagine oil reaching your rear tire just at the apex of a turn or just at the moment of a panic stop. The ABS would certainly help with stability in the case of a panic stop, but stopping distance would be reduced increasing the risk of collision. In the case of oil reaching the tire at the apex of a turn, I can imagine a low-side crash happening very unexpectedly.

I agree that the prospects of any real redress coming from NTSA or BMW to those who have experienced failures in the past is low, but at least finally NTSA is aware that there is a problem.
 
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