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  1. #1
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    Z3 is falling apart

    It's unbelievable. I have a 98 2.8L z3 with only 93,000 miles and subframe failure. My car was NEVER tracked and taken care of meticulously. I also own a 2008 M3 and 325XI. So I called BMW NA for help with the Z3.
    They know I have 2 other BMW's. They tell me to bring it in for a rep to look at. The rep looks at it and rejects fixing the subframe b/c I have a supercharger and some minor suspension modifications. He says the modifications caused the problems. This is bull. The failures are occuring on cars without any modifications at all and doesn't BMW install Dinan superchargers and suspensions. It's clearly an engineering defect that is
    ocurring on all Z3's - see this thread: http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=402183

    There's also a class action for E46 subframe failures - http://www.bmwcca.org/forum/showthread.php?t=5443

    BMW is not standing behind their cars. I could have purchased a Honda and added a supercharger and the subframe would not have fallen apart. The Z3 is actually dangerous to drive. So what's the moral of the story? BMW NA does not care about you, does not stand behind their product, and does not care how many BMW's you own. Caveat emptor.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Z3 is falling apart


  3. #3
    Robert Platt Bell
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    Depends...


    What are the "minor suspension mods"? Shocks? Bushings? Lowering Springs? Low profile tires? Oversize rimes? There really are no "minor" mods when it comes to suspensions.

    Harmonics and vibration on a car are very interesting and more magic than science it seems sometimes. Often a car's dynamics are not discovered until it is built and put on the track - and sometimes fixes are added in production to correct problems. Weird weights bolted on (like on my truck) or reinforcing bars added under the car (Old Gm X-bodies).

    For example, on the E36 cabrio, there is a big sticker in the battery compartment - "Use only BMW vibration-resistant battery". Why? Well a standard Exide will slough the material off the plates in about 2-3 years and short a cell. And you guessed it, no aftermarket cabrio battery is available. Dealer only, $200.

    That was BMW's "fix" the E36 cabrio vibration problem - put in a special battery. Obviously, they didn't intend to design it this way.

    The car vibrates back there and flexes like a pretzel, which is one reason I am in no hurry to put Bilstein HDs or Sports on the car anytime soon, it would break the darn thing in half.

    A "simple" suspension mod, if it changes the damping rate or spring rate in the car, can cause all sorts of odd things to happen. Again, more alchemy sometimes than science.

    For example, I put Eibach springs on the SHO once, and the mechanic convinced me to use an aftermarket strut. The result was a pogo-stick like handling. You've seen this before with the kids an their slammed Hondas - sometimes picking and choosing components at whim and ending up with a car that can barely do 50 on the freeway without bouncing.

    We changed to Tokiko struts and the problem went away. You have to be careful with spring/strut combinations. And butt-hard ride will affect other areas of the car over time.

    Fatigue is what causes stress cracks to suspension components. And if you stiffen the suspension in one area (sport or HD shocks) it may transmit vibrations formerly absorbed by the suspension, to the frame. Add low profile tires to the picture, and well, the car is now taking up a lot of shock the suspension was supposed to.

    Throw in stiffer bushings, etc. and it gets worse.

    And that is one problem with "modding" a car is that it can void the warranty or void any hidden or extended warranties.

    Under the Mangnum-Moss warranty act (as I understand it) they can't deny warranty claims where aftermarket parts are clearly not at fault. But once the warranty is done? Well, it is less clear. Freebie fixes out of warranty for decade-old cars are usually at the discretion of the manufacturer, and for a car that is extensively modded (a supercharger fits that bill), well, you sort of assumed the risk there.

    As for an "epidemic" of subframe failures, this is the first I have heard of it, unless you are talking about rear differential mounts (and even then, this does not affect every single car).

    And one more thing - you did these suspension mods and yet you claim you never horse the car around. Why mod the suspension then? to drive it to church?

    Just get out the welder and weld it up.

  4. #4
    bkz31998
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    Re: Depends...

    Subframes on a 12 year car should not fail, period. And it's occuring with or without any modifications.

  5. #5
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    Hellooooooo

    Where have you been all these years??

    Ignorance is not always bliss.

    I caught my 1.9l with only 5 cracked welds. No help from BMW - so I'll just get the welds redone and keep and eye on it - or else I have to do the major "RANDY" job

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    Re: Redid the spotwelds yesterday

    Drilled out the 5 cracked welds and added 3 more plug welds to reduce the weld pitch by a factor of 2. (MIG/CO2)
    The diff bracket was not showing any problems so just leFt it and I'll monitor.
    It took 20 minutes and only $100 - I gave up with running after BMW.
    I hope I won't see any problems for a while.

    Hey - your right about putting a supercharger on a Honda.... my wife has a Civic - but when I leave the house I always seem to take the keys to the Z.........

  7. #7
    Pausker
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    Re: Depends...

    But in your case it's 12 years old and was WITH mods that had to create added stresses beyond design limits. I'm sorry for your predicament, but can't get myself to throw BMW under the bus on this one.

  8. #8
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    Unbelievable, that youíd expect that ...

    there is any warranty, expressed or implied fitness that applies to this situation. Maybe I missed, but what warranty obligation do you think still applies?

    Rather it does speak well that BMW is extending some warranty well beyond actual obligation expiration on a case by case basis. If BMW felt they would be forced to extend the same courtesy to all that theyíve extended to some, theyíd be best off excluding everyone. You can trust one thing, if there was any ground for you to stand on here, Iíd be very supportive of your complaint. I donít see any.

    I just bought a 12 year old 1.9 Z3 with a Downing blower. Iíd no sooner expect the BMW cover any wear under warranty than fly to the moon. Leaving the modification issue aside any warranty obligation that covered the sub-frame has long since passed.

    Then add to that reality a blower modification and you donít have much of a leg to stand on. That mod could easily support the theory that modifications would lead to this type of failure.

    I bought the car, I own the responsibility.

    Iím sorry about the problems you have to deal with, but in my not so humble opinion, it isnít a sign that BMW isnít standing behind their product or that they donít care about the owner.

    If you want evidence of poor warranty service, buy a Mazda.

  9. #9
    Cookie
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    Sorry for the mental pain

    but nobody will warranty a car that has been modified. Especially one that old.

  10. #10
    Robert Platt Bell
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    "No Modifications"????


    So now the car is suddenly stock? What happened to the supercharger and the "minor suspension mods?"

    Sorry, but standard BMWs are built for pretty standard handling.

    This is one reason why modding a 1.9 or a 318 is a bad idea. You can lower the springs, add Bilsteins and big rims, but the rest of the suspension is still stock.

    There is a reason that most M suspension parts don't fit the standard cars - there is more to it than just changing a strut.

    And nobody puts a supercharger on a car to drive it to church on Sunday! The car was horsed around!

    If you want to play automotive engineer with aftermarket parts, fine. But you assume the risk that what you are doing won't cause problems.

    Fatigue failures are caused by vibration, and a "mild" modification to the suspension will increase this stress and lead to fatigue failures, particularly if you horse the car around.

    Have to go with BMW on this one. You mod the car, you do so AYOR.

    But what do I know, I'm just an Automotive Engineer....

    Just get out a welder and weld it and stop whining.

    Sheesh.

  11. #11
    Robert Platt Bell
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    Also...


    Corrosion can aggravate fatigue problems as well.

    The main thing is cyclic stress, the continued bending of a component over time.

    When you stiffen a suspension with stiffer springs, stiffer shocks, lower profile tires, you transmit a lot more of the road to the frame.

    Cars bend, period, even BMWs, and particularly convertibles. And over time, if you bend them enough, they will break.

    So when BMW picks a particular shock, spring, tire and wheel combination for your car, it is not based on how soft a ride they want to make it for Suzie Consumer. There is a lot more to it than that.

    And when they make an M model or Sport model, usually there is a lot more to it than just changing shocks and springs and tires.

    13 years is a long time - about the design life of the car. Particularly if you are a second owner, you can't expect factory-paid repairs on a car that is 8 years out of warranty.

    If you want cradle-to-grave coverage, buy a new or newer car and get an extended warranty.

    If you want to be a risk-taker, drive older cars.

    The latter is a lot cheaper, even if you have to weld a fatigue crack now and then.

    Your car is near the end of its design life, frankly. Regardless of mileage, 15 years is about all most cars are designed for - even BMWs.

    And please, no nonsense threads about "class action lawsuits" against BMW. Because these are a non-starter, if you know anything about the law. There isn't enough "there" there to make it worthwhile.

    Buck up and move on. Don't become one of those people who goes around whining about how crappy BMWs are because (shock!) they break after a decade or more of use.

    You want reliable? Get a Honda. Seriously.

  12. #12
    Robert Platt Bell
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    Yes | No

    Just Weld it...


    Or as Edna Mode would say....


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