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The bottom line is (1) this repair is basically guaranteed to happen in the life of the car (just search engine the issue and see) and (2) it is not covered by any of BMW’s warranties.
The design of the 2003 to 2010 Z4 convertible top is basically flawed. For some reason, BMW felt it necessary to not use an extremely expensive hydraulic motor for the convertible top, but they felt it better to not take up truck space, but rather place it in the compartment with the top, exposed to possible elements. The motor is protected by two designs. (1) expensive insulation and (2) drainage holes. The problem that occurs is at some point you can get a bit of clogging in the drain and the pump ends up sitting in water. Over time, this means the motor rust and in my case, even though it technically works, the motor/pump will send a fault code to the system computer and 1 fault means that the car will not let it function.
The repair would be easy if only the motor was easy to get to. If this was almost any other convertible car, you could simply buy the motor yourself for a couple hundred and go in the trunk and place it yourself or at least really cheap with any repair person. The design means the top needs to be completely removed to access the motor. Labor cost extensive. Dealership wants $2k, certifiable repair people I have found the cheapest at $1K.
Will a Warranty Save you? NO. I bought my 2007 Z4 certified with both the extended warranty and the CPO (certified preowned BMW warranty). Basically another $4K in warranties alone for only a year and a half of coverage.
In the old days, yes, it would have. BMW would have made good on the repair. But over the decade of BMW shelling out multiple repairs per owner they finally invoked their right to refuse the repair. As you read your CPO, as they made me do, the CPO clearly identifies they aren’t responsible for any fault with a convertible top in anyway.
There is two ways to avoid the repair in the life of the car. Either never expose the car to water (impossible) or routinely clear the drains. The second is not easy. It requires a partial removal of the wheel wells and the top itself to access them. You can find guides on Bimmerfest.com or zroadser.com. Again, it’s far from easy.
I pleaded with BMW in every way to make right on the situation. They didn’t.
What was surprising is that even though the issue is more than well known (the dealership knew the problem before they saw the car), hardly any complaints are mentioned about the issue. However go to any BMW fan site and the forums are loaded with this as a reoccurring problem. The owners know the issue, but no one is taking BMW to task on it because the warranty excludes convertible top issues.
Had I known this was basically a guaranteed repair issue, the Z4 would not have been my choice. It opened my eyes to not only BMW design flaws, but loop holes the company can hide under even for paid for warranties. Sad and expensive experience.
- Nick T.,
Manassas, VA, US