My New 1998 BMW 740i Lemon Car

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My car has been in the service department for over 72 days within the first 9 months of ownership. BMW promised to refund my money then reneged and then promised to replace the car and reneged on that, too! BMW broke all promises. Now they will not even return a phone call. I can only hope that I am the only one that BMW has treated this way.

Last Update April 07, 2016

I am a fourth generation BMW owner.  This car was purchased as a replacement to my 1989 BMW 750il.  I had spent over $13,000 in repairs on my 750il from 1994 through 1997.  I was told by BMW authorized service, Sam Swope BMW in Louisville, Kentucky, that the 750il was not a reliable automobile and I would be much better suited to purchase a new 740.

After over 30 visits to the service center in a little over 3 years I decided that it would be much more cost effective to lease a new BMW.  While the combination of payments and the service charges averaged over $1,000 per month, the new lease rate was just under $1,000 which made it an almost palatable idea.  This way I would have a new reliable automobile with all service included.  I was also told that when I bought the car that I would be provided with a loaner car when the new one was in for repairs.

I went to Sam Swope BMW in Louisville Kentucky to purchase a new automobile.  I asked for the service manager.  When he greeted me I told him that I was interested in the new BMW 740s.   He told me that he did not have time for me at that moment and told me to "go out there and find someone else to help you."

Well, I took his advice.  I went to another dealership.

November 22, 1997
I leased a new 740i from Athens BMW in Athens Georgia at the end of November, 1997.  They were nice, polite and seemed more that anxious to accommodate me.  The only problem was be that I did not want to drive over 500 miles to have the automobile serviced.

It started already on my drive home from Athens, GA to Louisville, Kentucky.  My windshield wipers would come on intermittently for no reason.  Since I have had three other BMW, I was fully aware of the controls.  This BMW was controlling itself.  I figured that I would have it looked at when I got home.  The next thing I noticed was a squeaking and chirping noise coming from the dash.  It sounded as though a mouse was lost in the heating system and could not find its way out.  It seemed just content to squeak and scratch for an eternity.

Then when changing drivers, I attempted to readjust the driver's side seat settings.   The button fell off in my hand.  This was appearing to be a good indication that the car that I had just purchased was haunted.

Other things that were noticed was that the dash information panel would light up and have no information in it, the radio display with the channel indicators would only half light up.  The "premium sound system" that I purchased with the car would turn itself on and off whenever it felt like it.

January 8, 1998
It took me about a month to get the car into service because of the Christmas Holidays..   As I was pulling into the dealership the car died.  This was on or about January 8, 1998.  I informed service of the problems and told them about my car dying in his lot.  Service went out and it started back up and he drove it in.  I found out then that Swope would not loan me a car because "You did not purchase the car from us."  No one informed me that this would be an issue.   I arranged for an co-worker to pick me up.

I was called and told that my car was "ready" and I was to pick it up.   Since this dealership is over twenty miles from my downtown home, I really dreaded the traffic and the mess that I have to go through to pick up my car.  When I got in my car I immediately noticed that the button was still off the seat, I also noticed that the sound system was still not repaired.  I went back into the dealership and  asked why these things were not fixed.  The service manager called the mechanic and the mechanic explained that the parts had to be ordered.  This meant that I have to get my car, drive it home (a one hour round trip) and then turn around and bring it back in a day or so when the parts come in.

March 4, 1998
A day or so turned into nearly three months.  In March I was finally called to tell me that my parts were in.  I took my car in on or about the 4th of March and left it again.   This time I complained of the seat, the radio sound, the noise in the dash, the display that goes away, and the car  running sluggish.  I was called on the ninth to come and get my car.  I did so.  This time I got a new seat switch.  The radio was still acting up.  I showed service again how to make the problems happen.  They agreed that something was wrong and that another new radio would have to be ordered.   They told me he would call me when it came in.  They then told me that they had seen other BMW's with the same heater noise and there was nothing that could be done about it.  I asked him for the paperwork and he told me that he would give it to me the next time it was in because it was not ready.  I never got this paperwork.  On the way home, my car going about 40 miles per hour, turned itself off!
I called Service from my car and told them that.  Service told me to restart it and they would take a look at it when it came back in to the shop.

When I got back to my office I contacted BMW to complain about this heater noise.   After a few different numbers I got customer service.  Customer service asked me "what do you want us to do about it?"  I replied "FIX IT."   I was told that if they already know about, they would fix it when priorities allow them to.  I then asked if they were aware of the problem.  He did not know.   I then asked, can you find out?  He indicated that he would make some calls and let me know something.  I did receive a call back informing me that something was in the works and a result could be seen within six weeks.

This time I had to call Swope (the dealership) and ask about my parts.  March now turned into April.  I still complained of the car dying, the radio display and the sound changing, the wiper coming on automatically, the heating noise and now the car alarm which began going off whenever it took the notion.  This began happening when the car was stationary or driving down the road.  Swope called on April 19 to pick my car back up.  At this time I requested the paperwork from the previous session.  Service told me that he just "combined" the paperwork and gave me one receipt.  He then told me that BMW was aware of the heater noise and they would have a 'fix' for it soon.

Immediately it became obvious that none of the problems had been fixed.  I asked Service if Swope had some sort of quality assurance to ensure that when they called a customer and told them that his car was fixed that it truly was.  He informed me that "he" was the quality assurance and that he was keeping so busy trying to get customers' cars in and out that it would sometimes get away from him. 

I explained to him that my car was in the exact same shape it was in as when I dropped it off.  He told me that he understood but did not know what to do about it.

At this point and with all of the trouble I had been having, I decided to let BMW know what I have been going through and to ask them to assist in getting something done.  Eric Lucksinger is the representative from BMW that is working with me to help get my car fixed.  Eric told me that BMW was aware of many of the problems and knew how to fix them. I also explained that the car died again while coming to a stop, this being the third time it has happened.

Now, I did research on the lemon laws in various States.  I was told by my attorney that if a repair on my car was attempted 3 times with no success in the first year or if my car has been out of service for more than 30 days, then I had all rights to request that the car either be replaced or refunded at my discretion.  The true fact was found at which lists the lemon laws for all states.

I explained this to Eric Lucksinger (BMW).  I told him that I wanted the car replaced.  He asked to give BMW one more chance to fix my car.  He then stated that if it could not be repaired then they would see about a replacement or refund.

June 8, 1998
On June 8, my car again went into Swope for repairs, but this time BMW flew a technical consultant to take a look at the problems.  This technician also stated that many of the items such as the heater noise, the wiper problem, the radio changing sounds and the display messing up  were indeed known, and that they knew how to fix.   At this time I mentioned that my BMW cellular phone was hard to hear on hands free and that it randomly disconnected even when parked.  They said they would check into this as well. 

I provided a complete list of problems and went through each and every one with the technician while sitting in my car.  I again went over the problems with the service manager writing up the ticket.  Most  problems, I easily replicated on the lot, others, such as the car dying, I could not.  I added to my list problems:

left my car with Swope for 17 more days.  I picked it up on the 24 of June when they informed me it was fixed.

Here is what I found. 

The wiper problem that I showed the technician and replicated for him and still malfunctioning.

The Information display which I could not replicate they could find no problem.  It still today lights up for no reason.

The Stereo DSP Sound that would come on and off was fixed, however I now only have 2 speakers on a 12 speaker system

The noise in the climate control the technician told me that they had a fix but I would not like it so they suggested that I turn off all climate control settings and use it like a normal air conditioner.  This takes a $5000 feature and reduces it to about a $800 feature. Swope's notes on their ticket states that they can find no fault with the Climate Control.  This is something that they before said they were aware of and are working on a fix.

On the car dying they replaced a module - it did not correct the problem.  It has died two additional times since that date.

In addition, the car came back with the moon roof broken and the climate control no longer functioning and with a loud noise in the steering when I turn right.

I immediately called BMW, Eric Lucksinger.  I requested a full refund.  He was surprised.  He said that it was never offered.  I informed him that he personally said that they would do either one if these repairs did not fix my problems.   He said he would get the paperwork going but it would be very difficult and he would get back to me.  He asked me who financed the lease and I informed him that it was BMW financing.

About a week passed and I called Eric (BMW) again.  He told me that he needed me to take the car back into service for them to verify that there was still something wrong with the car.  I explained to him that it takes over an hour each time I have to drop off my car and then another hour to pick it up.  I told him that I would take it in and once they determined that these problems still exist that I would leave it there for BMW to pick it up.  He concurred.  I set up an appointment to leave my BMW at Swope BMW service for BMW to pick it up once they determined that the problems were not fixed.  The appointment was for the following Tuesday.  I informed the service manager what was to happen.  I called Swope back on Friday and the service manager told me that they were instructed only to look at the car and return the car back to me.  

I then again called Eric (BMW).  This time he told me that BMW would not refund my money. He stated that giving me a replacement vehicle would be no problem but they would not refund my money.  This is a little after the facts and promises but I guess this is BMW's way of not servicing its customers.

At that point I ask Eric if he would go ahead and replace my car.  He said yes.   I asked him if the same problems that they were aware of would be in this new car.   He said that BMW production had corrected these problems.  He ask what features I wanted my new car to have and I told him that a replica of my car with the addition of heated seats would suit me.  He agreed.

Four days later I get a call from Eric (BMW) and he informs me that now BMW will not give me a replacement.  He tells me that the dealership, SAM SWOPE refuses to cooperate.  I have no idea what the dealership has to do with it, but they are not the one who paid over $60,000.00 for a car that does not work.

My car is currently in SAM SWOPE BMW's Shop where it has been for an additional 10 days, It went in with 15 major problems that are still unfixed!

  1. Wipers still noisy and not parking correctly
  2. Center Console still illuminating with no info
  3. Climate control not keeping temperature correctly & Clicking - A/C on at all times
  4. Car dying still - this has now occurred for the fifth time!!
  5. Car sputtering when it is about to die with poor take off
  6. Key switch will now not start car
  7. Lumbar support still sending sound to the radio
  8. A loud buzz  through the radio when talking on the telephone
  9. Door lock/unlocking still not working
  10. Keyless entry not working
  11. Alarm still going off by itself
  12. Passenger armrest was to be replaced - leather is damaged by visits to service
  13. Tinting on drivers side door is messed up
  14. Radio only has 2 of 12 speakers working
  15. A loud noise when steering to the right


September 18, 1998
Eric Lucksinger called on September 18 to tell me that Steve Williams will be in contact to arrange for my full refund.

Steve Williams called on Monday to inquire as to who financed my BMW (BMW Financial) and what features the car had.  I gave him this information, he said he would let me know the status.

September 11, 1998
Steve Williams call back on September 22, 1998 and informed me that they could not do anything until this month's car payment was made.  I have overnighted a the BMW payment for this month.

I await a call back from Steve Williams.  He will not give me his phone number.   Therefore I must wait for him to telepathically know that I need to speak with him and hopefully he will call.

September 25, 1998
Well a few days later, on or about September 25, 1998 Steve Williams did call, he told me that they again would start the process of getting me a refund.  He said that it would take a couple of weeks but things we in the works.  He then asked if it was OK for BMW to just take the car back and call it even.

Wow, what an offer, to end my three (3) year lease one year after getting told that they would refund my money.  For me to take a $12,000 hit because they gave me a lemon.  Sounds fair, huh?

While I should be appreciative that I would be getting rid of the automobile, I exclaimed that this was absurd and I would go through lemon mediation and let the state of Georgia decide how much to refund me.

September 28, 1998
He then called back that Monday, September 28th and he told me that BMW would refund about $2000 towards the lease and pick up my car.  I agreed.  He then said that he was going to send paperwork to my local dealer and when signed I could drop off my car there and we would be done.  He stated that BMW would have to mail me a check.  I asked when this was to happen, he informed me that the paperwork would be there by Thursday, October 1, 1998.  He then commented on how fast he got things done.  I thanked him for his help and anxiously awaited October 1.

October 6, 1998
Well what can I say October 1 has come and gone.  It is now October 6, 1998.  I have contacted my local BMW dealer, SAM SWOPE and asked if they have heard anything.   Carolyn replied that she had heard that the paperwork was on its way.

I assume this is a ploy to delay my mediation with the State of Georgia which is well underway.  They assume that it can take as much as 6 months to resolve.  By this time I will have made $6,000.00 in additional payments.

All I can say is GREAT COMPANY - WAY TO GO BMW!!!

I contacted consumer affairs for the state of Georgia who has a mediation department who is in the process of helping me get my money back.

My car has been out of commission for a total of 72 days since I got it on November 22, 1997. This is 72 days in less than Nine months!! It has never functioned correctly!

WHAT happened to the great Bavarian Motor Works company?

Why would they treat a fourth generation or any BMW owner this way?