DIY vrs Dealership service - - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old Sep 30th, 2006, 10:42 pm Thread Starter
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DIY vrs Dealership service

For a long time I have followed the discussions on who should do the maintenance on your bike. Some say that its better to have the dealer do it for resale value. Others say they do it themselves as the dealer is so costly.

I have an issue with this “better resale value” argument. First, as I read what some were paying for services I cringed. As I looked at the total cost over the years of having the dealer do the maintenance I realized that the small increase in resale value was far more than offset by the the high prices charge for the services.

But the thing that really bothers me about the whole thing is the quality of service issue. Now, understand that I am not a factory trained BMW tech, far from it. However I do have some background in things mechanical after over 40 years of owning and servicing motorcycles and cars. Oh, and yes, I am a master certified Technician and I make my living training technicians at the college level. ( I previously was a technical trainer with two of the biggest automotive manufactures in the world. ) And, yes, I did own a motorcycle shop for some years and have spent more hours inside engines, fuel systems, transmissions, etc. than I care to admit. But NONE of this makes me anything special when it comes to my K bike.

What does concern me is the level of service I have received from the dealer. For example, after a simple oil change I notice a strange new buzz in the bike on the way home. Oh, four or five of the fasteners on the belly pan were left out! Gee, I wonder what else they left loose or missing! Then the front tire change. I get the bike back and have another strange buzz in the front. Sounds like a wheel bearing. After a few rides I finally check the tire pressure. (I should have done this first but the tire was installed by professionals.) WOW! 20 PSI!. I mean, this was a change done on the bike by “Factory Trained technicians”. If I can't trust these guys to get the tire pressure right, who can I trust?

Well, ME, that is who. I know there are some great BMW techs out there, somewhere. I am sure they do the very best work they can. Problem is, I haven't run into them yet. Fact is, the ones that worked on my new K the few times it went in were pretty sad. Before that I had similar experience with my K100RS. They couldn't even figure out the battery had a dead cell. (After a repeated no-start and numerous ABS codes). A simple voltmeter check was all that was needed to see the problem. (12V batteries do not check at 11.2V when they are good) Then there was the rear brakes with the faulty master cylinder. They said it was fine, but when I pulled back the dust boot fluid ran out of the seals. And the transmission work. Spring in the shifter broke. It was a busy time at work so I had them fix it. Got the bike back and the clutch was terrible. It pulsed or shuttered when it engaged. I have seen this before when a clutch disk was bent from forcing it or letting the weight of the transmission hang on it and bending it. After that it engages unevenly. Yulp, they screwed that up big time too. Even told me there was “Nothing wrong” with it, that was normal. Normal my butt! I road that bike long enough to know what was normal. That was the last straw on that bike. My lovely K100RS-SE with only 24,000 miles and I had had enough. Traded it in on a new K12GT.

So, should the day ever come and I am selling my lovely K12GT and you offer me less for it because the dealer didn't do the services, well, think again. I serviced it myself so that it would get done properly. I took the time and trouble to do the job correctly. After all, its my bike and who else cares more for it? Why would I give dealers thousands of dollars to service it when their work has been so sloppy and flawed?

OK, I am venting, but damn if I will bank roll people who do such sloppy amateur work. I plan on hanging on to my K for a long time. I think it will last much longer and give me better service if I get someone I can trust to take care of it. Oh, that would be ME!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old Sep 30th, 2006, 10:58 pm
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Location: Chesapeake, VA, USA
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No worries. Venting is good for you. Better than road rage or assault charges anytime. Many of us feel the way you do when we get shoddy workmanship on our bikes, cars, house, you name it. As a former ASE tech myself, I don't buy into the "dealer needs to do all repairs and maintenance" line of crap either. If you have the skills, the proper tools and knowledge, go for it. I do it as hobby now but it's very rewarding to do the work yourself and know that it was done correctly. Just make sure that you know your limitations too and try not to get in over your head as in "special tools required."

This has to be the best on-line forum I've ever come across. If you have problem or a question and one us has the answer or knows where you can get it, we'll respond as soon as possible. Hang in there.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 1st, 2006, 8:34 am
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Location: Cape Coral, FL, USA
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And there are those of us who are not very mechanically inclined beyond an oil or tire change. Luckily I've got a local dealership with an excellent customer service base and top notch wrenches. I shudder to think of the consequences if they delivered anything less than gold star service or weren't there at all. "Dealer maintained" may or may not be a good selling point. That should be for the buyer to determine.

'06 GT
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 1st, 2006, 11:40 am
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I think what a buyer of a used bike wants to see is a printout of what service was performed on what date. Unless you know the seller personally it's impossible to know a bikes history and the service record is valuable.

I personally experienced a horror story where a dealer stripped out a cylinder guard mounting hole on my brand new GS. In trying to repair the thread, the tech drilled too far and drilled into the oil chamber. This was either done while the bike was being assembled (brand new) or at the 600 mile service.

The worst part is I bought the bike at one dealership and had the 600 miles service done at another dealership. So, 2 shops worked on the bike. It then was a battle royal to determine which shop damaged the cylinder head and who was going to fix it. In the end, BMW NA stepped up and paid for the brand new cylinder head as neither shop could identify who was responsible.

I have my theory.

Last edited by xlr8r; Oct 1st, 2006 at 11:53 am.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 1st, 2006, 10:30 pm Thread Starter
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I admit to venting a bit. I train techs to be craftsmen, to excel at what they do. To pay big money to have my lovely bike abused and hurt by people who just don't seem to care hurts.

I also know that there are people out there who don't have the training or experience to do much of the work themselves. For them I hope they can find a good tech who will treat them and their machine with the respect they both deserve.

I also realize that someone buying a used bike needs to have some sort of record of the services done to the bike. But, when I bought my first BMW, a used one from a dealer, I was told the bike had been owned by one of their best customers and that they, the dealer, had done all the services to the bike. They assured me that the bike was in tip-top condition. They also charged $100 for their "complete inspection" of all the used bikes they sold. It turned out that bike had never had the brake fluid changed, had a bad mastercylinder, a bad battery, a leaking gas tank, and more. They had covered up the problems and presented the bike as a gem of a find.

I learned my lesson the hard way on that bike. Now I trust ME. I record all the services I do to the bike. When I sell it years from now the next owner can either trust that I cared to do it right, or maybe he can go to a dealer and get burned on one of their "cream-puff" bikes like I did. I plan on keeping my K for a long time. Never buy a BMW with resale in mind, you will be disappointed.

I replaced my lemon used bike I got from the dealer with a new one. I knew the only way I could insure a long life from the machine was to buy it new and properly maintain it myself.

I hope all of you have better experiences with your dealers. Oh, by-the-way, that dealer is gone now. You don't need to worry, they are out of business.

Good luck and if you a know a good dealer in the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio area, let me know!

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 1st, 2006, 10:49 pm
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I have those small pads of paper with the coil springy thang on top for each vehicle and I write down the date, the mileage and everything I do to each vehicle I own. That's my service log and it goes with the vehicle when someone buys it. Not an awfishul print out? All it takes is some questioning for the person to know I'm intimately familiar.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 6:01 am
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Since I use my service manual on a laptop, I setup a spreadsheet.

Not only do I put in the things I do with dates/mileage etc, but also the things I'm storing up to do when I'm offline at my pc, and things from observations which might need attention or watching. Then at a service point of convenience, I run down the stock items plus the others and recheck the watched items. I also include wear measurements for things like tires/pads and parts removed, whilst listing any non-oem parts and their reference numbers. All this is really helpful to plan future work and having the cash at the time to do it.

I'm not sure how much if this information should be shared with a potential buyer, but I would argue my bike has more history with me maintaining it at lower cost than the dealer and I can prune my data to the minimalist history which a dealer might provide. I'm convinced that given sufficient technical knowledge, you the owner and rider are best driving service for your bike - not the scheduled maintenance operations based just on the odo. reading. Conversely, if your technical knowledge is limited, I'd always recommend the service shop and regularly - but you need one competent at looking further than the list of service ops and capable of 'advising' on other tasks without seeing your cash as the reason.

The problem with service shops is they know customers aren't going to be happy paying the big bill and learning of other things to come, sometimes choosing to put those things right first on safety and second on what bill they think you can afford. Where shops are selling bikes, they are in a position to suggest trading the bike (for one of theirs) putting up a strong financial case. But don't forget that's based on their labor and parts cost estimates. All this has similarities with health care, they want you your bike and money to come back, so 'drip feeding' repairs may seem kinder to the customer.

But remember, there are certain 'fixed cost' like preparing the bike for starting work, so having a tech. able to recognise other problems and get your approval quickly can save you money and reliability issues later on. This is true of DIY service. If you don't have the knowledge to look for and spot the early signs to do something (e.g mainshaft seal leak) you can end up with breakdown and a bigger bill at the end.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 9:07 am
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This forum is the best for guys like me who do not work on their bike themselves. I go armed to the BMW dealer with my grievances and what to do exactly. I discuss with the dealer the items that need attention ( such as the need for the 7.0 software that they were reluctant to do )

before I leave the shop and after I get the bike home, I go over the bike to check out the fasteners etc. If I am not satisfied, I call the dealer and go back.

An informed customer is a satisfied customer, especailly when the dealer knows that the customer is informed and armed with lots of information about the bike.

Yea for this forum to keep the dealers in line !

Deep Blue 2009 K1300GT
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 10:48 am
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The time before last, my dealer changed my oil and I went on an aggressive weekind riding trip.

When I got back and parked the bike in the wife say's Hey your bmw is leaking something!

When I checked,I found my drain bolt was finger tight!

Imagine losing oil all over your rear wheel while flying through the twisties at mach speeds!

Now, I don't trust anyone with the bike.

O'h and it was a BMW certified mechanic that did the work!
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by larrykay
I discuss with the dealer the items that need attention ( such as the need for the 7.0 software that they were reluctant to do )
I've read in several forums and postings about dealers reluctant to perform the 7.0 software upgrade. This doesn't make sense to me - it's software - it's plug and play. Why would there be such heel dragging?
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