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ABS module failed at dealer. . . .


RT Pilot

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Here's my tale of woe. . . I've owned my '04 RT since new and have maintained it according to BMW recommendations. I do all the preventive maintenance except the brake bleeds. Given that I knew how much the ABS control module cost I didn't want to risk damaging it myself, so I faithfully took it to a dealer for the required brake bleeds.

 

Such was the case this week, when I took it to a dealer for the ABS brake bleed. I enjoyed the 1.5 hour ride to the dealer and the bike performed flawlessly as it always did--never a brake issue, and never any annunciator lights indicating problems.

 

After waiting about three hours for the service dept. to complete the bleed, the owner of the dealership comes to me with a sullen look on his face and tells me that my ABS control module died during the brake bleed process and that attempts to get it working again had failed. He further stated that his dealership does hundreds of these brake services and this has happened only one other time for inexplicable reasons. He further stated that the GT-1 (diagnostic computer) cannot even see the ABS module and cannot communicate with it as if it got shorted out.

 

I was told that the ABS module would have to be replaced at a cost of $2200 plus labor to install it. To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I've owned this bike since new and have been meticulous with it's maintenance. I've never had ANY issues with any part of this bike, including the brake system. It seems odd that the ABS module would suddenly choose to die while a required service is being performed--I guess it would be easier to understand if I'd had ongoing brake problems, but that hasn't been the case.

 

I'm thinking that the GT-1 did something to the unit during the brake bleed process, but the dealer said that it couldn't have (despite no previous problems prior to this service).

 

To the dealer's credit, they are going to bat for me with BMW and trying to get them to cover the repair (I'm out of warranty by about 13 months). They also gave me a loaner bike to use in the meantime.

 

What do you guys think went wrong? Was it just coincidental that it died at the dealership? Do you think BMW will come through for me?

 

If BMW comes through I'll be a happy camper, but if they don't I'm going to have to re-think the whole BMW ownership thing. This bike is the best bike I've ever owned in terms of handling and comfort, but I hate to think I'm sitting on a $3000 time-bomb that could detonate anytime. $3000 represents about 1/3 the value of this bike--probably the most expensive component on the bike outside of the engine--and it only lasted 34,500 miles?

 

Opinions? Sorry for the rant. . . .

 

 

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Component fails during servicing while in the technicians hands without any prior issues whatsoever.

Wow.

Sounds like the dealer should be replacing that one gratis.

 

I really, really hope they do. For everyone's sake.

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The same thing happened to my '02 RT. My bike was dealer maintained. I took it in for service and the ABS module failed also. I was six months out to warranty. Good thing the dealer took care of the problem for me, otherwise I wouldn't own a BMW motorcycle right now.

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RT Pilot, who knows what went wrong.. Could just be a coincidence but I seriously doubt it.. Did they do something wrong? Probably but no way to easily prove it..

 

Possibly the ABS relay is the problem or maybe they pulled the large plug on the ABS controller (I usually do) & bent a pin on re-installation,, or didn’t tape it off properly & got brake fluid in the connector.. Lots of ways to screw up that ABS controller..

 

Hopefully they will get it warranteed for you.. If not just have them put it back as was when you took it in to them.. They will tell you that can’t happen so you then take them to court.. Hope it doesn’t come to that..

 

Your experience has shown a very good reason to do your own service..

 

Twisty

 

 

 

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Twisty. . thanks for the quick reply on this. I looked at the bike on the lift and the large plug was pulled off the module, for what it's worth. They did say that the bleed process was about 90% done when the system locked up and couldn't be restarted. Hope this helps. . . .

 

As far as doing it myself, I do all the preventive stuff on this bike, but I never felt comfortable enough to tackle the ABS bleed so that it wouldn't end up like it is now (a man's gotta know his limitations)--I wanted to avoid this very scenario--geesh!

 

Has anyone else heard of this happening? Did BMW pick up the costs? I'm still waiting to hear from the Fatherland. . . .

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"Note: I had the ABS hydro unit go out this year. Apparently this is common according to the dealer. Instead of a $2k replacement that could go out again, I had a BMW mechanic rewire the brakes non-ABS. I have all the pics and instructions on how it was done. Brakes feel great and work better than before and the fluid changes are ten times easier and cheaper. "

 

This was posted on an 02 RT that's for sale on the classified section of this forum. Apparently there is a way to dis-able it when it "goes out".

I sure hope you get some satisfaction from BMW on this as mine is an 04 and I don't want this to happen to me. You can bet if I take mine in for a routine service and it's going to cost $3 large, I'll be getting an ST1300.

 

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I looked at the bike on the lift and the large plug was pulled off the module, for what it's worth.

 

RT Pilot, I would venture to say that is a good place for them to have mucked it up.. They did check for a bent pin I hope? If you can get close to the bike & pull that connector again see if there is any signs of brake fluid down in the connector cavity.. If so they owe you a free repair..

 

Twisty

 

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Hey Waylap. . .you got the twin to my bike! (RTL) I have no interest in disabling the ABS--I believe it makes me safer and in fact has saved my bacon once (hit the brakes HARD to avoid a deer). This component should NOT fail if properly maintained--I do love this bike and it's agonizing to even consider getting rid of it, but shelling out 3 grand will sting for awhile--let's hope it doesn't come to that. . . .

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I'm just reading between the lines here Pilot, but something seems not right with taking 3 hr. to come to you and tell you there is a problem. I would say that if a BMW mech can't bleed brakes in 45 min. there is something wrong. So if during that 45 min. a catastrophy occurs, do you think they are going to spend another 2hr 15 min trying to bail you out, without asking you first if they should go ahead. (Or were they trying to bail themselves out!!!) Yeh, I'm a little pesimistic but I've been around for few years.

On the other hand, shi! does happen, and if your around long enough, sooner or later a pidgeon will fly dirrectly over your head.

Perhaps you are entering the stage in life where you just say to yourself, I'm going to fix it myself cause I realy don't think I can do much more damage than they do. It's a tough row to hoe but there is a lot to be said for the education you get and you get to talk to all these wonderful people on this forum more often.

So you thought you could rant!!! Anyway, total bummer what happened, but don't loose hope. Best of luck with BMW.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)
Possibly the ABS relay is the problem or maybe they pulled the large plug on the ABS controller (I usually do) & bent a pin on re-installation,,

 

I'm going to say that this is where everyone should start looking first.

 

Also check for pins that have been pushed down into the ABS controller. Sometimes they don't seat in their mount and re-installation of the plug will cause this.

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"Note: I had the ABS hydro unit go out this year. Apparently this is common according to the dealer. Instead of a $2k replacement that could go out again, I had a BMW mechanic rewire the brakes non-ABS. I have all the pics and instructions on how it was done. Brakes feel great and work better than before and the fluid changes are ten times easier and cheaper. "

 

This was posted on an 02 RT that's for sale on the classified section of this forum. Apparently there is a way to dis-able it when it "goes out".

I sure hope you get some satisfaction from BMW on this as mine is an 04 and I don't want this to happen to me. You can bet if I take mine in for a routine service and it's going to cost $3 large, I'll be getting an ST1300.

So let's see what you got.
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GE. I also have an 04RTL. I do all the brake flushes on my bike. If they will let you have the modulator get it for spare parts. Someone will eventually be able to rebuild them. I will say this and it is just a caution. When the main electrical plug is out and you are doing the control ciruit flush the electronics are exposed. There is a small hole in the center of the modulator mounted plug that if anything is spilled into the plug will drain right into the electronic compartment of the modulator. I close that area off when I do my flush with paper towels and masking tape.

 

Good luck

Dave Faria

Austin, Tx

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Seems to be that at the very least, the dealer should be willing to pick up the labor costs and work with BMWNA to get the ABS unit at (or below) cost.

 

My experience with BMW dealers is that they will not give out a loaner for more than a day. It's great that they are letting you have a loaner until this problem is sorted out but it seems like they might be feeling a bit guilty here. (Forgive me for being skeptical about a dealer's generosity.)

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Rich06FJR1300

my guess the dealer is Hermy's and i've heard they give bike out as loaners for weeks at a time! nice service.

 

Re: the modulator: you could also look for a slightly used one on ebay. I managed to grab one from a dealer in canada at about 1/5th the cost of a new one. They're limited in supply so may be a waiting game.

 

Also tried a company that would rebuild them. They said 'its in the R and D stage at this point' and checked back a year later...still in R and D so don't hold your breath.

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Another 04RT here. I'd be demanding the dealer fix what they broke if I were in your shoes. Coincidence? My butt. The odds of that are pretty astronomical.

 

I do my own servicing - I'm curious about why everyone is pulling that big plug? The directions I followed didn't say to do that (or I missed it).

 

 

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.... I'm curious about why everyone is pulling that big plug? The directions I followed didn't say to do that (or I missed it).

 

 

If you don't pull the plug, access to the bleed nipples is limited (at best).

With the plug removed, access is easy - with much less chance of shearing off the bleed screws.

 

Andy

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Thanks Andy. I just worked carefully and didn't have an issue. I might just continue that way since it seems pulling the plug comes with its own perils.

 

 

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RT Pilot,

I had this happen to me under my care. Changed out the throttle cables on my '02 R1150RS put it all together and no power brakes only residual braking which is nearly none. Took it to two dealers for diagnostics they both claim my ABS pressure modulator went south. The chances of that happening just seemed to remote for me, but it did evidently. Still plan to do a little electrical verification before I install the pump I found used on ADV Rider. Plan to do that this weekend.

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Well. . .still no news. I'm hoping by the end of Friday to hear something. I really appreciate all of the feedback from you guys on this--it helps knowing that I'm not the only one thinking that I've been wronged.

 

Rant: I would think that this is the type of thing that BMW would want to take care of. . .FAST. People that buy this caliber of m/c fit a general demographic in my experience--most are educated and have the kind of discretionary cash to buy any kind of bike they want--but we choose BMW because (at least to me) it represents quality and value. An expensive repair to a required system (i.e. brakes)on a m/c with low miles detracts from the images of both quality AND value--a braking system should be damn near "bulletproof" for the lifetime of the bike.

 

I have intentionally not named the dealer involved--I realize that we're all human, crap happens and I want to believe that the dealer and / or BMW will do the "right thing" and keep me loyal to the brand. The dealer seems sincere in trying to satisfy me, so it will serve no purpose to start slinging mud at this point.

 

Will update as soon as I know something. . .

 

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bobbyk what pipes did you have to disconnect on the abs unit to change out the throttle cables. Just curious??? I was given a failed IABS unit and the 1st thing I did was take it apart to see how it worked. The idea was save whatever was good from the failed unit as spare parts. If your unit was working before my guess is you may still have air in the control piping inside the unit. Ask the dealer how they charge a new ABS unit with brake fluid. Let us or me know what they tell you.

 

Thanks

Dave Faria

Austin, Tx

 

Dave_Faria@hotmail.com

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Hello Dave,

I actually did not have to disconnect any brake lines for the thottle cable replacement. I did flip the front master cylinder upside down to see how the throttle cables were attached to the throttle. My initial thoughts were I just got air in the lines. So I took it in for a brake bleed and thats when I got the bad news my pump needed replacement. I assume they got this information from their computer. Both dealers claimed that they checked all electrical connections and brake switches. I did happen to find a used pump which wasn't easy, took about 2 months of looking. My brakes worked perfectly up till this point never any problems. I going to attempt the swap myself. If all goes terribly wrong, off to the dealer it goes.

Bob

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Again I'll say....whizzy brakes suck! My 02RT ABS unit failed before 12k miles. I bought the bike in late June this year with 8132 original miles. After a couple thousand miles I started haveing intermittent failures. Went to a dealer and they replaced the rear wheel sensor for $265. The next day the flashing lights and residual brakes returned on and off. Back to the same dealer and they tell me that the ABS modulator is bad and give me a $2956 parts and labor estimate. I flipped. Called BMW USA and asked for help. Since I was not the original owner and the bike was "well out of warranty" they would not cover the repair. I asked for some assistenace and they said they would ask the dealer to "give me a discount" on the repair. The dealer gave me a whole 15% off the part and 20% off the labor. Better than nothing. I had the reapir done on 11/7/08. Almost a week now and no failures. It cost me $2544. OUCH! Almost a third of the value of the bike. I too felt I was buying a highly reliable machine. I considered the replumbing job to bypass the ABS but decided to go for it and hope that this is the only major repair I will face. I did tell them I wanted to keep the old modulator so I've got it out in the garage. Being an electrical engineering type, I plan to take it apart to look for any obvious failed components or bad solder joints etc. some day.....Hopefully BMW USA will give you more help than they did me.

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Bob, there is a switch in the right hand grip and at the foot brake. If either of those switches are not in their normal position(open or closed contacts - I don't know the position) the modulator will not complete its self test and initialize or "start up". You may have damaged the switch in the grip.

 

Good Luck

Dave Faria

Austin, Tx

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Hello Dave,

I do have some strange things occuring so I am not convinced it is the pump. When I turn the key on it goes through its diagnostics and the ABS light flashes as well as the burned out tailight indicator is lit. My tailight/brakelight does work so I am not sure why that indicator is lit. If I squeeze the front brake lever there is no pump sound like you should hear. But when I press the rear brake you can hear the pump change pitch like it should. But the sound (different pitch) stays on after I release the pedal, almost like the pedal is stuck but it is not. Something funny going on, so tomorrow I will do some diagnostics with my limited abilities.

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I do know that when u press the foot brake or pull the hand brake on my RT you can hear a microswitch click. I'm crossing my fingers that the microswitch in your hand brake got screwed up. This is just a mechanical "click" with no power applied to the brake system.

 

Good Luck

 

You might ask if someone on the list is local and has one of the GS-911s. The GS-911 can read some of the system faults and reset the abs after the faults are fixed. It might give u some leads as to where to check.

 

 

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For a failed brakelight/taillight you have to physically check the lamps because the ABS unit uses the good fillament to emulate the failed bulb. For example, if the taillight has failed it puts the stop light on dim, brigtening it for the brakelight.

 

Check the switches - common faults are gunk behind the rubber boot on the bar switch stopping it returning properly (try pushing the lever forward) and small stones/road crud jamming the rear switch.

 

Andy

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Is it possible that when the dealer does a brake bleed the process pushes the ABS unit beyond its normal opperating limits? I bet the dealer won't know the answer to this question. Probably only an engineer who worked on the unit could answer it. But if the procedure pushed it beyond its normal operating limits and it failed then BMW and the dealer are liable for the failure, in my book. That is what is called destructive testing.

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Yeah. . I tend to agree that the bleed process did something and common sense would indicate that given that my bike was functioning fine when I took it in. Either the diagnostic equipment failed or they spilled fluid somewhere it shouldn't have been. Either way, should I be liable for that?

 

I guess the example I'd use to argue this is as follows:

 

If I took my BMW in for a tire change and the bike fell off their bike-lift while they were working on it (resulting in damage), would they expect me to pay for any of that damage? To me, this is the same scenario involving different parts of the bike. Seems like the dealer would have insurance to cover this type of thing.

 

Still waiting on word from BMW. . .

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If I owned the dealership and I had been servicing the bike, after making sure my tech didn't screw up, I would be bitching at BMW for their procedure and equipment. I would also want a regional rep/tech to look at it. No matter what BMW would do I would eat the cost of a new pump to keep the customer.

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Is it possible that when the dealer does a brake bleed the process pushes the ABS unit beyond its normal opperating limits? I bet the dealer won't know the answer to this question. Probably only an engineer who worked on the unit could answer it. But if the procedure pushed it beyond its normal operating limits and it failed then BMW and the dealer are liable for the failure, in my book. That is what is called destructive testing.

 

11101110, the (CORRECT) bleed procedure should have no effect on the IABS controller.. In the powered braking mode not much moves as the pump runs & supplies fluid flow through a ball & seat affair so when the control circuit is pressurized all it does is seat the ball & force wheel circuit pressure increase in relation to the control circuit pressure.. Basically means more ball movement and/or higher pressures when actually braking the bike than you should see in bleeding.. Can’t see how proper bleeding procedure could force a very high control side pressures or more internal parts movement..

 

Now on the wheel circuit side I would imagine the residual pistons could be forced to their limits if the system was bled (or tried to have been bled) without powering the system up,, to get wheel circuit side fluid movement without power assist would require a fair amount of movement of the residual pistons.. I suppose if there was some gum or light corrosion on the residual piston(s) it might be possible for one to stick if the bleeding procedure pushed a residual piston to place it hasn’t been in a while (the residual pistons don’t normally move during power braking events & only move a little during very light garage or walking movement power-off braking..

 

So I suppose if the tec tried to bleed the wheel circuits without plugging the ABS controller back in he could have forced the residual piston(s) to a place they haven’t been in a long while..

 

Twisty

 

 

 

 

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Twisty, did you design this contraption? You sure know it pretty well. :thumbsup:

 

I guess my occasional practice of stopping in residual mode may be a good thing from a mechanical stand point. Keeps everything moving around. Also good if this thing goes tango uniform on me while moving.

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Twisty, did you design this contraption? You sure know it pretty well. :thumbsup:

 

I guess my occasional practice of stopping in residual mode may be a good thing from a mechanical stand point. Keeps everything moving around. Also good if this thing goes tango uniform on me while moving.

 

 

11101110, no I am not a design engineer,, actually I am not even a brake engineer but I have worked with & tested many similar ABS controllers (working in future engineering I see a lot of systems that never get adopted to current automobile applications).. I have a lot of ABS system & brake assist info available to me if I want to pursue that data with vigor & persistence..

 

There are a few similar electro assist ABS braking systems to the IABS.. At one time (WAS) a lot of interest in those type systems for use on HyBrid or electric vehicles as the power brakes & ABS systems were required to operate even with the main gasoline engine shut down (or missing)..

 

Twisty

 

 

 

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Is it possible that when the dealer does a brake bleed the process pushes the ABS unit beyond its normal opperating limits? I bet the dealer won't know the answer to this question. Probably only an engineer who worked on the unit could answer it. But if the procedure pushed it beyond its normal operating limits and it failed then BMW and the dealer are liable for the failure, in my book. That is what is called destructive testing.

 

11101110, the (CORRECT) bleed procedure should have no effect on the IABS controller.. In the powered braking mode not much moves as the pump runs & supplies fluid flow through a ball & seat affair so when the control circuit is pressurized all it does is seat the ball & force wheel circuit pressure increase in relation to the control circuit pressure.. Basically means more ball movement and/or higher pressures when actually braking the bike than you should see in bleeding.. Cant see how proper bleeding procedure could force a very high control side pressures or more internal parts movement..

 

Now on the wheel circuit side I would imagine the residual pistons could be forced to their limits if the system was bled (or tried to have been bled) without powering the system up,, to get wheel circuit side fluid movement without power assist would require a fair amount of movement of the residual pistons.. I suppose if there was some gum or light corrosion on the residual piston(s) it might be possible for one to stick if the bleeding procedure pushed a residual piston to place it hasnt been in a while (the residual pistons dont normally move during power braking events & only move a little during very light garage or walking movement power-off braking..

 

So I suppose if the tec tried to bleed the wheel circuits without plugging the ABS controller back in he could have forced the residual piston(s) to a place they havent been in a long while..

 

Twisty

 

 

 

Hi Twisty,

I am always impressed with your knowledge and clear plans of action when reading your posts! I have a question for you on this one. I frequest a Porsche technicians forum at work and recentlythe subject was brought up of ABS unit failures after fluid flushing. One of the more knowledgable techs on the forum suggested that he heats his flushing fluid on a hot plate to 180F, and it will clear out the waxy residue of very old brake fluid. This process reportedly will "bring back" a "failed" ABS unit. We have replaced a couple of these units in our shop for this very reason, "failure" after flushing, which results in a no/soft pedal situation. Just curious what you thought of this idea. We have not tried it yet, but probably will when the situation arises.

 

SHIMHEAD

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quote:

 

"11101110, no I am not a design engineer,, actually I am not even

There are a few similar electro assist ABS braking systems to At one time (WAS) a lot of interest in those type systems for use on HyBrid or electric vehicles as the power brakes & ABS systems were required to operate even with the main gasoline engine shut down (or missing).. "

 

 

 

you're right in that the civic hybrid does use an electrical boost for the braking system as to have assist when the engine is not running-at stops.

joel

 

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:clap: I just called the dealer for a status on my bike. They told me that BMW sent them a new ABS module for my bike and they'll be installing it ASAP--it looks like BMW / dealer took care of me! This has definitely renewed my faith in the marque. As this is my first BMW, this really means a lot to me. I think the fact that I kept good maintenance records and was able to produce them helped a lot. I'll try to get more details when I pick it up. . .

 

RT Pilot

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That's impossible. I read the internet and from it I understand that BMW shows open contempt for owners of its bikes. Smirk.

 

 

Glad the dealer and/ or BMW did the right thing for you.

 

 

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I just called the dealer for a status on my bike. They told me that BMW sent them a new ABS module for my bike and they'll be installing it ASAP--it looks like BMW / dealer took care of me!

They never really had any other option. But good that they didn't put you too far through the wringer...

 

 

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I don't see this dealer doing that--it's my first time using them, but I sense they're pretty straight shooters and came well recommended because of their service ethic. We'll see. . .

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At this point, I'm not going to name the dealer. . .maybe after this is behind me and the dealer consents.

 

My reasoning is if this turns out like I think it's going to, I'll probably keep using that dealer and don't want to %^&* him off if he doesn't want his dealership name associated with the initial failed brake bleed. If he doesn't mind me braggin' up his excellent service I'll post the name.

 

Did I mention I can't wait to get my bike back? :)

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What does the work order say? Usually you sign something before works starts that says something like "not responsible for customer vehicles".

In this case, I would say the dealer owes you a module, but that's just my lay opinion. They broke it, they should fix it.

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I'll probably keep using that dealer and don't want to %^&* him off if he doesn't want his dealership name associated with the initial failed brake bleed.

FWIW I don't think anyone would blame the dealer for the module failure during the brake bleed. If the unit is so delicate that it can be so easily damaged then I would consider that a design problem rather than a maintenance failure. The dealer would be at fault only if they didn't stand behind their work, and it sounds like they are going to take care of you in that respect.

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:clap: I just called the dealer for a status on my bike. They told me that BMW sent them a new ABS module for my bike and they'll be installing it ASAP--it looks like BMW / dealer took care of me! This has definitely renewed my faith in the marque. As this is my first BMW, this really means a lot to me. I think the fact that I kept good maintenance records and was able to produce them helped a lot. I'll try to get more details when I pick it up. . .

 

RT Pilot

 

This is excellent news, RT Pilot. I hope you get your bike back, functioning correctly without having to spend any money at all. I sold my '98 RT with low mileage earlier this year b/c of 2 reasons- 1)I was getting weaker from my cancer and the bike starting feeling heavier 2)All the horror stories of trannies failing, final drives failing, and ABS pump assemblies biting the dust. It would have really dented my finances trying to come up with 2 or 3k to fix the bike. Despite all that, I still fantasize about getting another RT, as I really liked the bike (except for having to concentrate too much on preloading the shifter for the 1-2 and 2-3 shifts. Good luck with everything.

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:) Last Friday I was notified by the dealer (Hermy's) that my bike was finished. Today there was break in the cold damp weather that we've been having and I headed for Port Clinton on the loaner bike--at least today was just cold, but not damp.

 

When I arrived I noticed my bike parked out front and it looked great--in fact, it looked like it had been detailed.

 

Inside, I spoke with Hermy and Eddy Z. who handles the warranty claims. After thanking them for their efforts with BMW NA on my behalf, Eddy pointed out that my records proving that I'd completed the required brake services per BMW recommendations was instrumental in BMW NA covering this outside of the normal warranty. Between BMW NA and Hermy's, the whole ABS repair was covered, including a NEW ABS module!--I couldn't ask for more.

 

This was my first time using Hermy's BMW--the circumstances were somewhat awkward and a little stressful when they gave me the bad news about the failed ABS pump, but they were very professional and assured me that they would work on my behalf in trying to get this repair warrantied.

 

Considering that I had no prior relationship with Hermy's prior to this event, I have to say that I am impressed with the level of service I (a total stranger) received. You could say that having an ABS module go bad at the dealer was really bad luck, but in my opinion I won the BMW equivalent of the Powerball--if that module had gone bad anywhere else, I'd have been footing the whole bill for the repair--no question in my mind. Did the bleed process break it or was it unfortunate timing? We'll never know. . .

 

In closing, I WILL definitely be using Hermy's again and I'd recommend them to anyone needing service on their BMW.

 

P.S.: The ride back home was EXCELLENT--the bike performed flawlessly.

 

RT Pilot

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