New owner of 1995 740i needs repair advice - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
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#1 (permalink) Old 01-29-2004, 06:17 PM
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As of last night, I am the new owner of a 1995 740i. It is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. I saw it on eBay and flew up to Chicago to buy it before the auction ended. Because of the high miles (170,000) I was able to buy it for $6900. The seller is a dealership not an individual but the "dealership" is run by two men with no car lot--they buy cars at auctions and sell them on eBay. One of them met me at the airport. The car looked great and drove great so I bought it. The only problem I was aware of was that the trunk did not open. Seller said it was open right before I arrived and he must have slammed it too hard and now it must be frozen shut. I figured that I could get it open for $100.

So now it is the next day and I am in Lexington, KY, 400 miles from Chicago and 450 miles from my wife and children in Durham, NC. And I have serious problems. The "Trans. Failsafe Program" light comes on when I come up to a red light. And sometimes the car dies at a red light.

I took it to the BMW dealership here in Lexington and they said that the transmission goes into Failsafe mode "because of faulty pressure activators in valvue body." They also said that the "trans fluid is burnt." They recommended replacing the transmission with a remanufactured unit at a cost of $6137.

I asked them about the burnt fluid--could we try changing it? The dealership said this the service schedule did not call for replacing the fluid. When it was burnt, it was time to replace the transmission. I said that I would still like to start by replacing the fluid. Doug the service manager told me that I would be wasting my money (c. $500) but he would see if they had the parts to replace the fluid. He came back and said that they did not have the parts (pan gasket, etc) and that he could not get them until Monday.

Also, even if we replaced the transmission it would not solve the problem of the car stalling at a red light. He said that this was probably happening because I needed to replace both catalytic converters. This is going to cost $2750.

Other things that need to be done include:
Power steering hose leaking: $159.
A/C belt cracked/dry rotted: $159.
Replace storage bin in center console: $399
Replace center armrest between front seats: $599
Hazard button sticks: $55
Central door lock button is cracked: $72
One of the interior lamps has broken contact: $95
Replace instrument cluster backlight bulb behind odometer: $99
Replace throttle plate switch (because ASC light came on): $179
Door pocket has cracked plastic: $299
Front cupholder broken: $295
Trunk latch faulty and lock cylinder jammed: $759
Steering column trim snaps broken: $215
Faulty level switch on windshield washer tank: $299
Replace 4 cabin filters and disinfect evaporator and heater core: $399
Airbag light on due to excessive resistance in internal left-front seatbelt buckle: $249

So the dealership said that they could get these items repaired and my bill would be $13,048. I just about fainted. My wife is in tears.

I asked the service manager if he thought that I could drive the rest of the way to Durham and he said that he thought I could since the transmission gets out of Failsafe mode once I get going more than 30 mph. And it only sometimes enters that mode at slow speed.

I found a local transmission shop and the owner was wonderful and he said that the dealership's prices were way too high and that if I wanted him to rebuild the transmission he could do it tomorrow for $1500-$2000. So I am going to spend the night here in Lexington and go see him at 7:45 AM Friday.

Am I doing the right thing? Should I keep this car? Should I just drive it back to Durham without replacing the transmission and sell it "as is," disclosing all of these problems of course. What could I get for it "as is."

I am hoping that someone out there will respond to this and tell me that I should repair the transmission at the local transmission place and try to fix some of them other things outside of the dealership and keep this car that we have wanted to own for sooooo long.

Thanks.
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#2 (permalink) Old 01-29-2004, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Other things that need to be done include:
Power steering hose leaking: $159.
A/C belt cracked/dry rotted: $159.
Replace storage bin in center console: $399
Replace center armrest between front seats: $599
Hazard button sticks: $55
Central door lock button is cracked: $72
One of the interior lamps has broken contact: $95
Replace instrument cluster backlight bulb behind odometer: $99
Replace throttle plate switch (because ASC light came on): $179
Door pocket has cracked plastic: $299
Front cupholder broken: $295
Trunk latch faulty and lock cylinder jammed: $759
Steering column trim snaps broken: $215
Faulty level switch on windshield washer tank: $299
Replace 4 cabin filters and disinfect evaporator and heater core: $399
Airbag light on due to excessive resistance in internal left-front seatbelt buckle: $249
oh man. I'm sorry to hear all of this, I really am. It sounds like these guys took advantage of you BIG time. Honestly, I would NEVER buy a 740 with that many miles on it. I know that's not what you want to hear but maybe it will help your decision abilities. First and foremost the transmission. I would make absolutely sure that this transmission shop is a reputable and trustworthy shop. Your average transmission shop, in my opinion, is nowhere near capable of rebuilding a bmw transmission especially if it is a ZF tranny. For the price they quoted you it really isn't that bad of a deal. I would venture to say that the trans probably wouldn't make the full 400+ mile journey home and if you are fortunate enough to be near a transmission shop now, take advantage of it. Provided you decide to keep the car. Make sure that this transmission shop also provides a warranty on their services. But, the thing you have to remember is that you don't live in that town. So if you run into trouble while under warranty, you can't take it in. Advantage transmission shop. So, hopefully this is a national chain and you have one in your home town that will honor the warranty.
Throttle position switch replacement because ASC light is on: believe it or not, this could be related to the trans problem. It's a lengthy explanation but trust me I have seen it happen before. If you chose to keep the car, wait til the trans is replaced and see if the problem is still there.
Powersteering hose: This will eventually happen with ALL bmw's. If it's not pouring fluid out then you could wait and replace it over time. Just keep an eye on the fluid and make sure the level stays to specifications.
A/C belt: Not critical but if it breaks then you have no a/c. Replace it over time also or decide how important a/c is to you.
Storage bin in center console: Obviously not important now. You can do this later or never at all
Center arm rest: Ditto
Hazard button sticks: Most likely the cause... spilled soda. Some form of sticky substance is inside the switch. A low buck alternative... get an aerosol can of the alcohol based electronic cleaner. It can often be found at Radio Shack or any electronic store. Get a high powered vacuum, coin operated car washes are perfect. turn on the vac and direct the tip of the spray between the button and the case of the switch to get the cleaner down into the switch while holding the end of the vac hose directly against the swithc. The alcohol solution will break up the stickiness and dilute it, reducing it's consistency which should free up the button and the vac will suck up as much as possible and dry everything up. Be careful because there is alcohol in the spray and could discolor the wood or leather. Don't go overboard either.
Central door lock button: not necessary. Do it later
Door lamp: same
Instrument cluster back light: Not 100% necessary but is a personal decision and/or may pose a problem with a safety inspection (if required by DOT in your area).
Cracked door pocket plastic: Can do later if you decide. Not necessary
Front cupholder broken: same
Trunk latch faulty/ lock cylinder jammed: The problem is probably the actuator. this is a personal decision. It could be done later.
Steering column trim broken: Cosmetic. Can do it later. You could do this one yourself.
Level switch in washer bottle: Not necessary. Can do later. You could even do this one yourself also. It's a little time consuming for the untrained but not hard.
Cabin filters and disinfectant: If the filters haven't been changed and are dirty.. do it. Nasty smells and airborne nastiness is not pleasant. The filters are for just that, filtering the cabin air so you don't breath nasty air. Also, if the filters get too clogged, you can affect the air system's performance. The disinfectant is optional if there is a foul odor in the car.
Airbag light due to faulty RF buckle: You weigh yours and your family's safety. Your airbags (especially driver's) may not function at all or properly with this switch malfunctioning.
Catalytic converters: The V8's usually need replacements around 100k. Engine performance will surely suffer and can eventually lead to other problems.

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought and information to making a decision with what you wish to do. An option that you should consider is taking some time to research some BMW independent shops in your home town. Find a good reputable shop and ask them for their pricing on what the dealer has quoted you. You could have the trans replaced where you are (if you trust the trans shop or try driving all the way home) and then have the shop in your home town do the other work for cheaper.

I hope that I have helped you in some way. I will be happy to help in any other way possible, I hate to hear that you are in this situation.

Good Luck!!!

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#3 (permalink) Old 01-29-2004, 10:08 PM
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... and certainly if you try to limp it home, be gentle.

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#4 (permalink) Old 01-30-2004, 06:01 AM
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The thing is, I don't know that anything is really wrong with the transmision. The car seems to shift fine. The dealership said the lights were coming on because of a faulty sensor. Service manager said he always recommends a replacement with this many miles. It is a replaceable part. A $6000 replaceable part. He said that he had NEVER changed the fluid on the transmission on this car--it was designed to last the life of the transmission. SO when the fluid is burnt, time for a new trans.

Doesn't make sense to me.

I have owned three Chevrolet Caprice Classic Estate wagons that have done over 300,000 miles without having to have an engine or transmission rebuilt. When you say that you would never buy a BMW with that many miles on it, is that an indication of the lifespan of these cars? What happens to them at 200,000 miles? They get too expensive to repair so they just sit in someone's garage? I have a Lexus LS 400 with almost this many miles on it and I would not dream of selling it. Are Lexuses made better?

I am not feeling to had today as I do have confidence in this trans place and I am thinking that I can also find someone other than the dealer to do the catalytic converters. The lights behind the dash all work, it is just a little dim behind the odometer.

I do need to get the trunk open. It will not open. I am thinking that my seven year old daughter could crawl through the opening in the back seat (designed for skiis) if I could tell her how to open the trunk from inside. Any ideas?
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#5 (permalink) Old 01-30-2004, 09:42 AM
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saw this advice on another forum..........turning the key in the lock counter clockwise while pushing down on the lid. Our keys our pretty thick, so I'm pretty sure you can get a good deal of torque without worrying about breaking the key. Its really the only option..............good luck

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#6 (permalink) Old 01-30-2004, 09:51 AM
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unfortunately I do not have a whole lot of time to answer your questions in detail now but I know that you are in a time crunch so I will make a short attempt. If the dealer's diagnosis was a faulty sensor, then they are probably speaking of the output speed sensor (most common problems). The problem is that they have to drain the fluid and remove the pan to access this. I have never agreed with BMW about the "lifetime" fluid. It should be changed every 30-40k in my opinion. Nevertheless, if you change it now or add alot of new/fresh fluid the trans will most definately quit on you. From my personal knowledge, experience and 12 years in the automotive industry, it is common knowledge that 9 times out of ten when you replace the fluid on such a high mileage trans, it will always fail within a short period of time. In lamens terms, the trans "adapts" itself to the old fluid, and the new fluid freaks it out. Plain and simple, you don't want to crack that trans open without rebuilding it because you're going to have to anyway and you'll save time and money by doing it now versus a second time real soon. The reason I would never buy a 740 with that many miles on it is EXACTLY because of the situation that you are in right now. I know from my experience that I will be having to dump a ton of money into it because more than likely nobody else has. You can find someone else to do the work and for much cheaper. Do the necessities to get yourself home. I cannot really tell you how to tell a seven year old girl how to open your trunk from the inside. You would have to know what you're looking for. Unfortunately, this will be a professional's job. I got to run, good luck..... and GET A WARRANTY on the trans.

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#7 (permalink) Old 01-30-2004, 12:04 PM
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Many thanks for the replies. I like the independent transmission place a lot so I am leaving the car with them to re-build the transmission. I am at the airport, about to fly back to Durham. I hope to post a happy ending to this story in about a week. Thanks again.
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#8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2004, 03:18 PM
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Update, 4 months later. The car is still at Powers Transmission in Lexington, KY. The manager has never once called me but I call him 2 or 3 times a week. He keeps telling me that he has almost finished working on the transmission. He said that it took him longer than expected and the bill will be $7,000-$8,000. Advice?
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#9 (permalink) Old 05-02-2004, 02:44 AM
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Advice?
NEVER buy a car from ebay.

NEVER buy a car from two guys at an airport who claim to have a "dealership" without a lot.

If i were in your shoes, and i was about to give 7 g's to a guy for a car and he gave some bs excuse about him closing the trunk to hard and getting it stuck MOMENTS before your arrival, i would have turned around and walked away.

Well anyway, thats all in the past you live, you learn. This dealer in KY sounds like a douche bag shady shiest master. You never know with these grease monkeys, but im wise to their trickery, i suggest you do the same. If he hasnt even made the effort to get in contact with you i would be worried.

Sorry if im sounding so negative but this is the real world and people will crush you if you let them. Good luck man, make better decisions.
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#10 (permalink) Old 05-02-2004, 01:15 PM
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for all those that consider ebay. dont be so hesitant. a friend of mine recently bought a nissan 240sx. the smart move was he onyl looked for ones close by. he test drove the car in advanced to bidding it on ebya and he won. its notall that bad. it kinda stinks how u r getting screwed on this. personally, i would have sold it for like 6 or 7K and take the losses. with the 7K + 8K u spent on it, you mgith have gotten an e36 M3 for this with lower miles. Just gotta take what life gives you and run with it. ...... i guess :-/


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#11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2004, 01:21 PM
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So did this hillbilly give you an estimate to begin with saying that he would rebuild your trans for the $1500-$2000 ? Stick his ass to it. It's a little off kilter to quote somebody a price that varies so much. That's his own damn fault if he didn't know what he was doing to begin with. And I'll tell you exactly what the hell happened.

This prairie boy saw you coming a mile a way and thought hey, I can rebuild a transmission out of a Ford pickup.. why the hell couldn't I rebuild one in a bimmer. He had no flippin clue. They have been trying over and over again to rebuild that transmission and each time it keeps f*ckin up. So now that he has spent up-teen million hours on this thing and pulled that trans out probably 15 times, he is going to charge you major bucks. Just like I warned you, you have to be very careful with places like that which aren't BMW specialists. I will be willing to bet you $100 that transmission doesn't last more than 5k miles and that's being generous. So, from the way I see it you have only two choices... well three. You have already spent 7k on this car. You are about to spend another 8k on a car that will NEVER return your investment and will most CERTAINLY need much, much more work down the road costing you even more money. Or you could just tell the son of a bit*h to keep the damn car but never give him the title so he never is truely in posession (play his game.. be a pain in the ass). Walk away from the car and only be out $6900 instead of $14900. Third, you could tell this bubba to piss off and take his butt to court and demand your car back without the work done or for the price he originally quoted you.
If you have something in writing that says your cost would be around $1500-2000 then it's a little suspicious for the bill to come back at $7000-8000. So fight it or walk away, the car will only cost you more money. Other than I warned you, I cannot say much else but good luck..

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#12 (permalink) Old 05-02-2004, 01:36 PM
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I did not get the quote in writing. I still have no idea when it will be ready. The shop is on a busy street and I am tempted to fly back to Kentucky and stand in front of the shop with a poster board sign that reads,

WARNING!
Powers Transmission
has been rebuilding my
Transmission since January!
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#13 (permalink) Old 05-03-2004, 06:29 AM
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man, this is everyone's worse nightmare..............

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#14 (permalink) Old 05-03-2004, 09:55 AM
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..that would be a place to start

what a nightmare.

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#15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 04:01 AM
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In Calif., estimates must be in writing and approved by the car owner.
You might try finding out how it works in KY. Do they have some kind of Consumer Affairs office?

For someone to tell you $8k, up from $2k is ridiculous. Tell him you have not approved the $8k and want your car back. He probably tried to rebuild it and now went out and bought a used transmission and is trying to install it in your car. This is more expensive than the original dealer's estimate.

Sounds like you'll end up in court to get your car back, but that's just more money. He may take you to court to get you to pay. ..mmmm, what to do? Walking away from the car does not relieve you of the liability to the trans. shop.

You may want to consult with a lawyer in your area. A consultation may be a cheap way to find out your legal alternatives.

In the future, you seriously need to examine your analytical thinking skills before you do business with anyone. You posted the following:"I like the independent transmission place a lot so I am leaving the car with them to re-build the transmission". Liking someone a lot is not the basis for a business decision.
It seems you are a very trusting person that was/is begin taken advantage of by the sellers and transmission guy.

Buying a car without having an expert mechanic/dealer check first and then leaving it with someone out of state who is not a BMW expert and who didn't provide a written quote are nearly fatal (business wise, anyway) mistakes that may not be able to be rectified w/o spending a ton of money (which I assume you don't have). It would have been cheaper to have it hauled to your local dealer. I got quotes awhile back to have a car hauled across country for $1200.

Good luck.

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