Visiting Hours Are Over

Josh's 2012 BMW 328i in Service Bay

It’s a good thing our office is carpeted. I’m pacing around aimlessly between cubicles, through departments and around the kitchen. My stomach is tight but I don’t want to sit down. She promised that I would get a call right back. Is there a clock on one of these walls? I can’t be caught glancing at my phone for the hundredth time or my co-workers will really think I’m weird. What if they start asking questions? They’ll never understand.

I take my phone out anyway. It’s 6:30 PM. Time is running out. What if she called while I was in an area with poor reception and the call went straight to voicemail but she didn’t want to leave a message? Should I call her, instead? What if I can’t make it over in time? The thought of waiting another day is crushing. That’s it. I can’t take it any longer. I’m driving over there.

This story doesn’t warrant nearly as much suspense. Here’s the backstory: I purchased a CPO’d 328i on May 20th and it’s been at the dealership since May 21st due to the Auto-Start-Stop feature malfunctioning. Full story here.

Last Friday evening my service advisor at BMW calls me at 4:30 PM on the dot just as she always has. This time she’s bearing good news. The shop foreman had discovered what appears to be the culprit to my 2012 328i’s Auto-Start-Stop problem. It seems that the exhaust flap actuator was “drawing more voltage than normal and was not sharing it with sensors downstream as it should”. Or something to that effect. While I wasn’t getting the car back for the weekend due to the part being out of stock, I may have it back Monday.

GOODIE GOODIE GUMDROPS!! I was wide-eyed and biting my finger nails in excitement. Never before have I wanted the weekend to blow through.

Well, now comes Monday. No call before lunch and no call at 4:30. What was going on? I call the dealership and ask for my service advisor. “She didn’t answer so she must be out in the service lane”, explained the receptionist. “You can leave a voicemail and she’ll call you back before she leaves.”

Yeah, I’ll do that.

An hour passes before my cell phone rings. I look at the caller ID. It’s her!

“Heeellllllooooooooooooo”, I answered in a voice that was most definitely too creepy. She tells me the shop foreman is out test driving my car and that she has to leave early today but promised the shop foreman would call me back after his return to give me an update. No problem. The skies may have been grey but in my mind it was all white sand and beach balls. I’M GETTING MY CAR BACK! I’M GETTING MY CAR BACK!!

Only I wasn’t getting a call back. The service department closes at 7. I’m staying late in the office because it’s only a short 10 minute drive to the dealership from here. It’s 6:30 and I’m a wreck. I’m pacing up and down the halls. My laptop is packed and ready to go. I can’t stop staring at my phone.

Now it’s 6:40 PM and still no call. I can’t take it any more. With rush hour traffic this 10 minute drive could easily turn in to 20. I’m driving over.

There is a lady standing outside the double glass doors smoking a cigarette. She looks like the receptionist type. Give her a smile, a hello, and walk on in. The service lane is empty. I head over to the service advisor’s desks. It’s 6:55 and I can tell they’re all ready to jet. Now I’m an asshole.

“Hello sir, can I help you?”, one of them asks as places his BMW branded jacket around his chair and rolls it under the desk.

I explained the situation and the shop foreman, Rich, greeted me just minutes later. “I’m actually glad you came by. Let’s walk over to your car”, he said.

Josh's 2012 BMW 328i in Service Bay
And there it was in all it’s glowing white glory. Hood open between a lift with cables attached like a patient in a hospital. It was painful to see.

Then, Rich pulls out what appeared to be a novel held together with a large binder clip. But it was no book. It was the service records and logs from my car over the last 30 days. Turns out, the Auto-Start-Stop problem my car is experiencing had never been documented before. There were plenty of other ASS complaints, such as the engine not actually turning off, but never an instance of the engine not turning back on. Since this problem was undocumented, BMW was directly assisting to troubleshoot and document the repair.

It was explained to me in detail of the numerous items on my car that had been replaced, the testing of systems after each item was touched and how lengthy the process can be.

As for the exhaust valve actuator? When disconnected on Friday the ASS feature worked as it should. A new one was installed and the same issue persisted. Except now there were fresh codes which all pointing to low voltage. So the state of my 328i was that a new battery was going in followed by further testing.

The good thing about having the car in the hands of the shop foreman for such a long period of time is that they catch other items that may need to be addressed. And Rich caught a few. One much bigger than others but that’s a story for another time.

Josh's BMW 328i in Technician's Bay
It was 7:45 now and the shop was closing up. Visiting hours were over. Today I’m still without my car but in a way I felt better meeting the man with his hands under the hood. The fire inside yearns for it back but knowing it’s in good hands and trusting all will be tip-top when my 328i leaves the shop is well worth the days behind the wheel of a loaner car. Besides, it isn’t mine.


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