Thursday, May 6, 2010

BMW Runflat Blues

Those of you residing in the Bay Area will doubtless have noticed just how bad the pot holes have been on the highways and byways of Silicon Valley this year. Not only are there more of them, but they have been deeper and more aggressive than ever, leading to an interesting phenomenon - the canny commuter. Those of us driving the same roads everyday soon learn where the really bad ones are and hence we'll steer round them. It's easy to spot the locals, therefore, because they are the ones weaving back and forth in their chosen lane, for all the world looking as though they are playing some weird version of Frogger. And just like Frogger, mistakes have consequences, especially when you venture outside of terra cognita.

A couple of weeks ago, we hit a huge pot hole somewhere between San Francisco and home, I think it was, with the kind of thump that has you crying out in sympathy for what the poor offside front wheel just went through. When stopped, I jumped out and took a quick look but didn't see anything immediately amiss. With a sigh of relief, we headed onwards ...

Fast forwards to Monday of this week and the Beemer was in the garage for a check up, mostly to see why it was low on coolant. Ultimately, no particular issue was found on that front but while waiting for the dealer to open I did notice a large bulge that had developed in the sidewall of the offside front. Hmm, don't like the look of that. I then went round to inspect the other front tyre and saw a weird wear pattern had developed on the outside shoulder. This wasn't going to be good, which in a garage translates into "that's not going to be cheap, sir".

Despite being runflats, and hence having stiffer sidewalls than normal tyres, that pot hole had nevertheless comprehensively broken that tyre and ruined the suspension alignment, thereby buggering its rubbery chum on the other side. You know where this is going, right? Low-profile runflats; German; dealer has your car up on jacks ....

4 new runflats (rears were anyway getting low after 26,000 miles), suspension alignment and taxes ran me $1,800. Gulp.

If you reckon on how many other drivers that hole must have caught out, it would probably be cheaper for us all to chip in for its repair, thereby saving California the problem of finding enough loose change down the back of CalTran's sofa in order to pay for patching it.

No wonder I cried out at the time - it was just a practice run for receiving the eventual bill. I guess I never was much good at video games, Frogger included.


I said...

Better check the rims as well. especially the inside. J has problems on hers. check out

J said...

I have to say that was my immediate fear too - forking out for a new rim as well would have been horriby expensive. I asked the deal to check both rims when they pulled off the old tyre. Fortunately, it was OK. (Thanks for the link BTW, interesting story. I have 18 inch rims and didn't want to go more aggressive than that precisely because of the crappy roads here!) And drop me a note on how things are going - good to hear from you!