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      12-07-2010, 08:48 PM   #1
blender
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Maximizing your odds for a successful dealer service

I am co-opting my own post into a new topic. Add your two cents:


Thoughts on maximizing your odds of a successful dealer service:
  • When possible, do your homework on any serious issues before you go to a dealer. You may have to lead them BY THE NOSE to the resolution on your problem. ANTICIPATE having to micro-manage them to success. Be pleasantly surprised if it turns out you don't have to....
    .
  • Use the rule "Trust but Verify". Tell them what you want done, trust them to do it, and VERIFY [a] that it got done properly and [b] that they didn't screw anything else up in the process.
    .
  • Find the least-worst dealer in your area, as rated by customers. Try the many BMW forums, or dealerRater-dot-com
    .
  • Call the service manager directly, and ask him to recommend a service adviser who is technical and knowledgeable. Explain you want someone with mechanical expertise who is technically proficient.
    .
  • THEN call the Service Adviser, mentioning that the service manager referred you to him. This allies you with the service manager in the SA's mind. Ask him if he's ever installed coil-overs, or where the redline is on an S54 motor. If you get a bad feeling from the guy, change SAs.
    .
  • ASK the adviser for his "A" game. Tell him you love your car and you pay close attention to everything that's done on it. This sets the expectation that your are WATCHING THEM CLOSELY on how they fix your car.
    .
  • Request politely but firmly that the Shop Foreman or a master mechanic be the one to work on your car. This is not a grocery-getter sedan and should not be treated like one.
    .
  • Be ready to involve the Service Manager in every discussion. Give him a chance to fix any problems by offering him "a chance to win back your business." Speaking his language is key here.
    .
  • Decide in advance if you trust them to wash your car. Anticipate minimum-wage lot monkeys with used rags "drying" your paint. Tell the SA if you want to forgo the wash. Or, put your own big 'DO NOT WASH' sign on the dash.
    .
  • When collecting your car, inspect your car THOROUGHLY before your drive it off the lot - inside and out. The dealer lot monkeys are NOT careful with customer cars, especially lowered ones. Check your leather seats and wheels for gouges. Check under the hood with the motor running for noises, leaks or missing accessories like strut tower bar caps.
    .
  • Check your fluid levels and caps if the dealer has touched anything. Check the valve cover gasket for pinches or leaks.
    .
  • Keep every service receipt on your car for at least a year. Ask for a written record of the valve shim measurements on inspection I/II. BMW has a form for this; print it out, take it with you and hand it to the SA with a request that it be completed anytime the valves are adjusted.
    .
  • EXPLICITLY state what kind of fluids are to be used, and how much. Leave no room for error. Yes, they are supposed to know. Yes, they ignore their own specs.
    .
  • Keep your own service log on a notepad in the glovebox. I like the small Moleskin notebooks for this.
    .
    Edit-- adding:
    .
  • Mondays generally have the least backlog of service cases; If you get there Monday AM, your car typically gets worked on the same day. Depending on backlog/volume, any other day can mean overnight stays until your car gets its turn in the shop.

That's been my experience with the overall crummy BMW dealerships here in LA. Two were decent; three were awful.

Last edited by blender; 12-13-2010 at 01:48 AM.
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      12-07-2010, 09:07 PM   #2
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Good post. Curious if you can share your specific experience as i'm also in LA.

I'm new to the BMW dealer game and have had good luck so far
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      12-07-2010, 09:38 PM   #3
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Agreed, nice post. People should really heed this advice.
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      12-07-2010, 10:40 PM   #4
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You know...the fact that you have to do so much leg work just to get your car fixed is beyond mind-blowing. How can a company such as BMW make absolutely fantastic cars but have such crap support? I don't get it.

I've owned a number of cars and bikes and to be honest, I cringe when I have ever had to take them to the dealership for warranty-related issues. But after reading some of the posts on here, I don't think I would even have the balls to take my M to the dealership unless something catastrophic happened where I would not have to worry about them fucking it up anymore than it already is.

This just isn't right.
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      12-07-2010, 10:55 PM   #5
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I also sometimes leave a note on the windshield to not wash the car. Sometimes that request gets lost along the way.
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      12-08-2010, 12:24 AM   #6
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Good advice!

I must be very lucky because I have an incredible dealer that does eveything I ask and keeps me informed the whole way. They have never once even so much as mentioned my mods and it effecting warranty work being done even when sometimes it should have. In fact most time they give me a thumbs up for the mods. Not only that but they make sure to save me special loaner cars because they know I am performance guy. They will always make space in the schedule for me no matter how busy they are. I do at every chance I get thank them for their incredible service and tell them how much it means to be able to trust them with my car. It is not only important to be on good terms with the SA but also the mechanic working on your car. I am on a first name basis with most of the techs at my dealership and always make sure to go in the back and thank them for the work they do on my car. With that said they usually only ever put the same tech on my car and will call and make sure it is okay to let another one work on it. I guess I am just super lucky with my dealership. I am on good terms with everybody that works there... even the receptionist gives me a hug every time i walk in.
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      12-08-2010, 02:12 AM   #7
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F360 your lucky. Where abouts you located? Maybe ill move there!
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      12-08-2010, 10:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F360C View Post
Good advice!

I must be very lucky because I have an incredible dealer that does eveything I ask and keeps me informed the whole way. They have never once even so much as mentioned my mods and it effecting warranty work being done even when sometimes it should have. In fact most time they give me a thumbs up for the mods. Not only that but they make sure to save me special loaner cars because they know I am performance guy. They will always make space in the schedule for me no matter how busy they are. I do at every chance I get thank them for their incredible service and tell them how much it means to be able to trust them with my car. It is not only important to be on good terms with the tech but also the mechanic working on your car. I am on a first name basis with most of the techs at my dealership and always make sure to go in the back and thank them for the work they do on my car. With that said they usually only ever put the same tech on my car and will call and make sure it is okay to let another one work on it. I guess I am just super lucky with my dealership. I am on good terms with everybody that works there... even the receptionist gives me a hug every time i walk in.
Amen to this and Bergen county BMW dealers (assuming that's who you are talking about). I had my indy shop do a pre-purchase inspection on my M that was coming off warranty and they found 3 issues. Rolled into dealer, gave them the list and the advisor said no problem and corrected all 3 problems. I can vouche for Prestige BMW and Park Ave BMW in Bergen county for anybody who lives close enough and needs good service.
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      12-08-2010, 11:07 AM   #9
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I'd like to add that if you keep your car immaculate, and especially your engine bay, you'll also get that respect in return and they will realize you know and care about the vehicle.
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      12-08-2010, 11:17 AM   #10
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Being nice to the service advisor might be a good idea too.
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      12-08-2010, 01:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekurgan View Post
I'd like to add that if you keep your car immaculate, and especially your engine bay, you'll also get that respect in return and they will realize you know and care about the vehicle.
You'd like to think that - I mean, I do, but it's bordering on delusional. I still clean mine up especially well before taking it for any work. After my inspection 1, the freshly cleaned engine bay had oil smeared all over the top of the valve cover and the front plastic panel that cover the radiator area. And this was from a tech that had been specifically recommended to me as a guy that does great work with attention to detail. After my recent window tinting, my freshly washed car had spatter all over it from the stuff the spray on to get the film aligned correctly.

So, as much as you and I would like to think that a well kept, ultra clean car will get some respect, time and time again for me it doesn't seem to work out that way. I still clean mine up because I figure, it might get less messed up, or marginally more respect, that one that is brought in filthy.....
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      12-08-2010, 01:40 PM   #12
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Sticky ?
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      12-08-2010, 03:24 PM   #13
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Great advice. I prepare a work sheet in advance that I get them to staple to their work order - and I keep a copy. Doing your research on the boards saves money and hassle.

A good SA and service manager appreciate the knowledgeable customer. I have even gotten to know the shop foreman. Seems that our kids go to the same school.
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      12-08-2010, 09:17 PM   #14
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Excellent thread.

Yes, Sticky Worthy.
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      12-08-2010, 10:56 PM   #15
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great pointers brought up thus far in this thread. i'm not particularly impressed with my dealership, but enjoy preferential treatment because the shop foreman is an m fanatic and always works on my car. my service advisor is seriously clueless though, even if he regularly accedes to my specific requests.

wondering if anyone else feels like they get some sort of preferential treatment at bmw dealers just because they own an m car?
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      12-09-2010, 01:12 PM   #16
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sticky it!

I'm taken care of because im friends with a bmw master tech at my local dealer
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      12-09-2010, 01:18 PM   #17
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rclem05, which dealer do you go to and who is your SA?
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      12-09-2010, 01:29 PM   #18
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^+1
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      12-10-2010, 06:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
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rclem05, which dealer do you go to and who is your SA?
Currently using Center BMW in sherman oaks. I go far out of my way from LAX to get there.
SA is Dennis Bohlig, been good so far. Shop foreman is Dennis K.

Also had good experience at Westlake, but that's even further from me.
Bob Smith and Pacific = below average compentance
Recommend you avoid Santa Monica BMW like the plague.

Independent shops I use & recommend:
- Checkpoint Auto [bmw speciliasts] in Culver City
- Batrthel Motror Werke in Chatsworth - my first choice
- Bavarian Workshop West Hills, CA
- Avus Autosport, Burbank

Last edited by blender; 12-10-2010 at 07:05 PM.
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      12-10-2010, 07:14 PM   #20
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^very glad to hear your going to Center BMW

they seem down to earth and treat their customers well. only been their two
times for minor things, but both times were good experiences.

i went their on a recommendation from a co-worker who raved about their service.
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      12-13-2010, 01:47 AM   #21
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bump - tweaking the list per suggestions.
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      12-13-2010, 10:43 AM   #22
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Thanks for this. I'm going to Center BMW next. Might go to Calabasas at the recommendation of someone else but we'll see because it's far.
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