Amazing 550i


A couple of weeks ago, I was heading home on I-10 and ran over what sounded like a big piece of metal. It was raining. It was dark. And I never saw it. I was going around 70 and within seconds my TMS warning came on. I pulled over. Called BMW Assist. Got them pretty quickly but while I was with them and within minutes a SafeClear wrecker was there. Houston has a city ordinance that stalled vehicles have to be pulled off the freeway as soon as possible. The city has contracts with certain wreckers and the city pays the cost. Some people have bitched about it but it is a pretty good idea. It’s very unsafe to be at the side of the freeway.

Anyway, I never lost control of the car. I expected the tire to be shredded and wheel to be ruined and perhaps other damage to the car. SafeClear wrecker takes me to a Shell station close by. Had a very long wait for the BMW Assist people to show up and change the tire. However, the person who showed up was very apologetic. Changed tires and I was on my way. My spare is not a regular tire but a donut. Can’t exceed 50 mph and therefore had to stay off the freeways until I had the tire fixed or repaired. Amazingly there was no visible damage on tire, wheel or any part of the car. Next morning, take it into Discount Tire, close to work and find out that the wheel is busted. There is a large crack in the barrel of the wheel, which will need to be replaced.

Discount Tire can’t get the wheel. So, I call Advantage BMW, where I bought the car. Cost = $650. However, after being put on hold several times, I decided to go to Momentum West, which was closer. One thing I can say about Momentum. They are consistent. They had crappy service before and it was crappy service again. They pissed me off so much that I left.

Thought about going back to Advantage but then remembered several people had recommended SABS for wheel repair when I had my previous BMW. I never used them directly but I think the shop that I used to take my car sent my wheels there. Really nice people. Welded the wheel for $200 and I could not tell where the repair was made. They also told me that the tire was ruined but if I brought them the tire, they would balance and put it on at no extra cost. I bought the tire at Discount Tire but if I had to do it over, would have bought at Tire Rack and had it shipped to SABS.

The whole process took about a couple of weeks. I have the sports package, with wide tires that had to be ordered. So, the big question was alignment. With the donut, I did feel it pull to the side but there was no shake as if it was out of alignment. Of course, I never went above 55 mph, so hard to tell. Most people thought that having hit something that hard that had ruined the tire and nearly ruined the wheel, I would need an alignment. However, someone at work told me not to get an alignment automatically. BMWs were very well built and I should drive it first to make sure it needed an alignment, first. Decided to take his advice. Returned to SABS, they put the tire on. On the way to work, got on the freeway and took it up to 85 mph, with no shake. Drove perfectly. This is the best car I have ever owned. It is solid. Good to have regular tires back on and glad to be able to drive on the freeway. My commute to and from work had tripled.

So, bottom line – BMW dealers still suck but the cars are unbeatable. Especially don’t understand Momentum. I would have bought the new wheel and would have bought the tire there, also. The whole thing would have cost about $1100-1200 and I was more than willing to spend it. My problem wasn’t the price but the attitude of the kid working the Parts Dept. He just did not want to get off his stool to come out and take a look at the wheel and tire. And he could not arrange for installation by their own Service Dept. I’m done with Momentum. Funny thing is that within a couple of days I got a postcard from Momentum about some tire special or sale. Didn’t look at it too closely. Went straight into the trash.

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