BMW Recall To Be Headache For Dealers

If the service person at your local BMW dealer is smiling just a little less these days, there’s a good reason. That’s because BMW’s bob-bylinerecent recall announcement will likely cause a host of headaches for both dealers and riders in the weeks to come.

The 43,426 bikes recalled in the U.S. represent about three years’ of BMW bike sales in this country. This same ratio holds when you look at the total worldwide number of bikes recalled – 367,000.

That’s a lot of bikes!P90078461

Individual dealer sales volume varies widely. Small dealers might only sell a few dozen BMWs a year. Large dealers could easily be north of 200 bikes. Imagine if your local dealer starts getting calls from over 600 owners looking to get their bikes repaired.

And, let’s not forget that this will be happening at one of the busiest times of the year. The recall is supposed to begin April 21 – and April is when calls for spring service are lighting up dealer phones across the country.

K1300S rear wheel

The rear wheel flange replacements will be handled under BMW’s warranty system. That is, dealers will order parts for specific bikes. They will then schedule the repair in their service departments and submit a warranty claim to BMW to get reimbursed for the cost of the part and labor time to make the repair.

This recall campaign will be a big burden on dealer resources. Concerned riders will be calling and wanting appointments asap. This will result in service schedules being stretched to accommodate the sudden influx of work. Parts department personnel will have to be on top of getting the right parts in – quickly, and all the warranty claim paperwork will have to be filed.

Just in case you think this will be a windfall of profits for the dealer – think again. Historically, BMW and most manufacturers areP90048353 very stingy in the amount of service labor time they will “allow” for warranty repairs. It’s all too common to see that the actual time required to perform the repair exceeds the amount that the manufacturer will reimburse the dealer. The shortfall comes out of the dealer’s pocket.

The dealership administrative time associated with a campaign of this magnitude is substantial. All of the aforementioned communications (service appointments, parts ordering, customer follow-up, etc.) will put a stress on dealer resources that is on top off the usual day-to-day activity. Filing a warranty claim and following up to make sure it is paid to the dealer can be quite time consuming.

Not to be ignored is the effect all of this recall activity will have on the normal flow of parts and service business at the dealership. K1300S - right sideEven service appointments for non-recall related work will be affected as the service department hours get consumed by the influx of recall bikes. This means longer lead times for all appointments and potential customer service issues as recall parts possibly don’t arrive as promised, etc.

So, as I suggested, if your service person isn’t smiling as broadly as usual, don’t be surprised. Perhaps you should arrive for your next service appointment with a bottle of Tylenol in hand.  I hear it helps ease stress headaches.

(Photos courtesy of BMW Motorrad)

About Bob Rosen

A longtime motorcycle enthusiast who has ridden more than 200,000 miles on a variety of motorcycles, Bob Rosen spent seven years as general manager of a BMW-Ducati-Indian motorcycle dealership after an extended career in manufacturing and business management.


  1. Checking the box? Kinda like a relief valve on a boiler? (8-) Sorry. I little cynical today.

  2. Philip,

    Thanks for your comments. In answer to your question re: dealer/BMWNA liason. Most manufacturers, including BMW, have a Dealer Council which attempts to do what you suggest. It is supposed to give the dealer’s (through a small committee of dealer prinicpal’s) a voice with BMWNA. It’s difficult to measure the success of these Dealer Council’s. At least the pathway for dialogue with the manufacturer does exist.

  3. Great information, but not surprising.
    This might not be a case of bad engineering or cutting corners in the development process, but the Dealers and customers are caught in the middle.
    As a 39-year-long BMW owner, I certainly want to see BMW dealers throwing in the towel (although my local dealer got forced out some years back), or market share shrinking, I wonder if some Dealer/BMW NA liaison could be developed to mutually support all interests and be represented to BMW.
    Clearly I don’t have much experience here. Just a random thought this morning.