Sometimes I make really bad decisions, like when I decided to become an overnight millionaire by investing thousands of dollars into penny stocks. I think you know how that turned out—within hours my net worth turned into pennies. But then sometimes I make really good decisions, like buying a V10 BMW M5 with not just one but two warranties. With a car as unreliable as a seven-year old M5, the more warranties you can throw on it, the better.
I’m glad I have the occasional ability to make good decisions because I’ve already had to use both the warranties in the month and a half that I’ve owned the M5. One of the two warranties was on the wheels and tires and the other one was the BMW Platinum warranty on the car itself.
Using warranty No. 1
One morning, I jumped out of bed, eager to drive my temperamental, environmentally hostile V10 M5, when I encountered the trademark BMW ding-ding-ding—which is a strangely soothing alarm—accompanied by a flashing message on my dash: “Low Tire Pressure.”
Nooooo! Problems first thing in the morning are the worst, especially when you own a car that is known to wreak havoc on personal well-being. I have so little faith in BMW’s reliability that I immediately assumed that the alarm was caused by a faulty BMW sensor rather than an actual tire problem. I checked all the tire pressures anyway and found that perhaps BMW wasn’t to blame this time around—the front right tire pressure measured at zero psi. Completely flat. How was that possible? I didn’t even see a nail anywhere.
Did some jerk purposely let the air out of the tire??
Or maybe there was a hidden perforation on the tire somewhere. I knew the M5 didn’t have a spare, but found a run-flat tire repair kit and a tire air compressor in the trunk, below the carpet. In trying to decrypt the complicated instructions on how to use the run-flat repair kit, I realized that the tires on my car weren’t run-flat.
No spare, non run-flat tires, M5 ownership stress—at that moment, I needed a wall to bang my head against.
I was hoping that instead of getting the car towed, I could just fill the tire to a reasonable psi level using the compressor and putter over to Discount Tire. However, as soon as I filled up the tire and turned the compressor off, I heard the whoosh of all that air rushing out of the tire. This was a first for me. I’ve never heard air escaping a tire like that before so whatever hole there was in the tire must’ve been huge. Where was that wall!
It was going to be a long drive to Discount Tire because not only would I have to check the tire pressure constantly to make sure I wasn’t driving on the rim, I also needed the car to warm up. If you read this, then you’ll know that the first 10 minutes of driving an E60 M5 is like prodding cattle—the uncooperative car heaves and staggers like it’s about to die. This made driving the M5 a ridiculous experience—stopping every five minutes to check the pressure while with dealing with a spasmodic V10.
Luckily, I made it to Discount Tire with the wheel and tire in one piece where they found an unrepairable hole in the sidewall. I knew it! Somehow, whenever I have flat tires, I always need a replacement. The previous owner assured me that the tires had a warranties on them so I nervously waited while we pulled up the records to see if that was a true statement. What I subsequently saw shocked me. The previous owner had paid $5,710.99 for brand new BBS wheels, tires and warranties.
I had no idea that it was even possible to spend that kind of money at Discount Tire.
Using warranty No. 2
All was good until a couple of weeks later, I noticed a small leak underneath the rear of the car. Noooo! The Automotive Gods must have been against me because I couldn’t seem to catch a break. I checked to see where the leak was coming from but couldn’t find anything obvious. At that moment I prayed to the Automotive Gods (even though they were snickering at me) that the BMW Platinum warranty would cover it.
Typically, going to the dealer to fix a car like the M5 is a pricey proposition. But having a warranty meant that I was more than happy to swing by the local BMW dealer where they have free coffee, a nice area to hang out at and new BMW loaners to seduce you into immediately trading in your BMW clunker that the dealer doesn’t want to touch anyway. It’s the complete opposite of a Ford or GM dealer, where you wait for an hour, before getting shoved into a van along with other people to take you home.
Within minutes of arriving at the BMW dealer, I was given a brand new 2016 BMW 330i with only 31 miles on the clock. I didn’t care that it only had 248 horsepower, because having the opportunity to drive a new car is to me what it’s like for a three-year-old getting chocolate ice cream. I barely got to enjoy the savory ice cream though, because I got a call from the dealer only a few hours later.
I guess the dealer must have really wanted their new car back because they addressed the leak way quicker than I was expecting. Usually, I can’t wait to pick up my car but this time around I was hoping for more time with the 330i because who wouldn’t want eat more delicious chocolate ice cream? Unfortunately BMW took it away from me.
Meanwhile, it turned out that my M5 had a leaky differential input shaft seal that they fixed. Total out-of-pocket repair cost for me? Just the $50 deductible. Normal repair cost without warranty? A tad bit more at $5,432,333.
I knew I’d have to go to the dealer at some point with the M5, but didn’t think it would be so soon. If this is any indication of how my M5 ownership experience will be, then this could be a long few months, even with a warranty.
Now, more than ever, I’m realizing how important it will be to not hang onto the car after the warranty has expired. I can’t even imagine how much it will cost me to keep fixing an M5 after May 2017. Whatever miniscule part of me thought that I might want to hold onto this car beyond the warranty period is now completely gone. I’m officially in a time crunch now—I must sell the M5 within the next few months.