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Thread: Subframe class action lawsuit information

  1. #1
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    Subframe class action lawsuit information

    FYI, I do not know if this is valid or real. Let me know if it is not.

    http://www.e46subframeclassactionsettlement.com/

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  2. #2
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    Pretty sure it's real; it's bounced around here and E46fanatics for about 2 weeks.

    I signed up for their "keep me notified" and got a legitimate-looking e-mail:

    [Edit] Redacted the copy-n-paste from the e-mail that I received, due to the legalese at the bottom that said I could not distribute it. Don't wanna get the lawyers pointed at me, etc.

    In short, it looks quite legitimate.

    The e-mail also pointed to the website for the settlement:
    http://www.e46subframeclassactionsettlement.com/


    Pasted from some of the documents available on that website:

    • Under the terms of a proposed class action settlement, class members may present their 1999-2006 Model Year BMW 3 Series vehicles to an
    authorized BMW dealership for inspection and, if needed, repair of the vehicle’s sub-frame.
    • Class members may also be entitled to reimbursement of sub-frame repair
    expenses that they previously incurred.

    and

    Effective Date of the Settlement. Class members’ time to obtain Settlement Benefits is measured from the settlement’s Effective Date, which is the date that court approval of the settlement becomes final. In the absence of an appeal, the parties expect the approximate Effective Date to be September 2, 2009. Updates on the Effective Date and other deadlines under the settlement will be posted on http://www.E46subframeclassactionsettlement.com.



    [EDIT] IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have suspension mods or even aftermarket wheels, you are specifically excluded from this lawsuit!

    Excluded from the Class are:
    [snip]
    (7) Any current or former owner or lessee of a Class Vehicle whose Class Vehicle was modified for racing, whether sanctioned or not;
    (8)
    Any current or former owner or lessee of a Class Vehicle that has been modified with suspension parts and/or wheels of a different size;

    It's in practically all the PDFs on the website linked above.

    Since this isn't technically a Warranty, I don't think the Magnuson-Moss Act can help you here - but I'm not a lawyer.

    Since they estimate that the "Effective Date" will begin this September, you have until then to make your car look stock again. Good luck.


    Last edited by nathancarter; 06-19-2009 at 12:56 PM.

  3. #3
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    crap! i wish i kept my beat up tires on my original wheels
    Sensei Donato
    "the way you do anything is the way you do everything"


  4. #4
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    Did anyone else get a letter in the mail about this? I didn't sign up for anything online. Im the second owner of my 1999 323i and I got a letter from the lawyers filing the suit containing info and dates of court appearances. I'm guessing they used registration records through the DMV to get the info on the car.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad E36 View Post
    Did anyone else get a letter in the mail about this? I didn't sign up for anything online. Im the second owner of my 1999 323i and I got a letter from the lawyers filing the suit containing info and dates of court appearances. I'm guessing they used registration records through the DMV to get the info on the car.
    Typically they do send letters in this case. I got one for a class action against a former employer that way, that's why I thought the web business was a little weird.

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  6. #6
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    Yea, I got a letter too

  7. #7
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    Interesting.

  8. #8
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    Received a letter in the mail the other day about this. Apparently you have from one year after the settlement to make a claim or alternatively one year from the end of your warranty if your car is still under warranty.

  9. #9
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    I just got a letter today.

  10. #10
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    This is good news. I have been paranoid that my E46 is going to tear apart.

  11. #11
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    My letter arrived today. Correct, if our cars are out of warranty, we have one year from the settlement date (currently expected to be 9/2/2009) to take them in to a BMW dealer for inspection and, if need be, repair. If our cars are currently under warranty, we have until up to a year after the warranty expires to take them in for inspection, etc. We do not have to do anything to remain in the class. We can opt out if we want, and we can submit comments, etc. But if we do nothing, we remain in the class of people who can benefit from this settlement (once it is approved by the Court). Oh, and if you've already spent money to have your sub-frame fixed, you can submit that to the Court for reimbursement; you have one year to do so. You need proof of your out-of-pocket expenses and such. And you can get reimbursed even if you didn't have the work done at an authorized BMW shop, although BMW will reimburse only at the current rate of hours for this job. You can get the appropriate forms at the website nathancarter provided above.

    How about a big shout-out for the guy(s) who brought this legal action. Way to go, Folks. Getting BMW to stand behind their product seems only fair.

  12. #12
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    That is BS about Modifications to the car...

    What about CSL wheels?

    What is " modified for racing" does exhuast count, pullies, intake? Someone with the Magnuson act knowledge is gonna have a feild day...

  13. #13
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SKYWLKR View Post
    What is " modified for racing" does exhuast count, pullies, intake? Someone with the Magnuson act knowledge is gonna have a feild day...
    Maybe so, maybe not. Since the Magnuson-Moss Act specifically applies to warranties, it seems like this is sort-of a gray area. Does this settlement constitute a warranty?

    I'd like to think that this point was brought to the attention of the lawyers and the judge involved.

    I was hoping to do a suspension refresh early this summer. It's a coin toss now... I'm reasonably certain that my subframe is fine: no noises, and I've inspected it myself on multiple occasions. So, I can go ahead and do my suspension work. But then I'm giving up a free "official" inspection ... do I really want to do that?
    Last edited by nathancarter; 06-15-2009 at 05:53 PM.

  14. #14
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    Ok, I'm a retired lawyer who knows nothing about Magnuson. But here's what I remember from Product Liability 101. My best guess is that the requirements of the Act, as well as other statutory and common law requirements relating to warranties, have already been taken into account in this proposed settlement. I doubt the settlement itself would constitute a warranty. My take on the exclusions for modified suspensions and racing is that the car's warranty of merchantability, and any other warranties, would be limited to the product as it rolled off the assembly line, and would be limited to those cars that were used only as the manufacturer intended them to be used -- to drive across town, maybe even across the state, and to church and back on Sundays.

    We're asking BMW to stand behind its own product, and BMW would have an extremely strong argument that after being modified, the car is not the same as BMW designed and built it. So why should BMW be required to inspect and fix a product that could be (and they will say in all probability is) broken due to alterations which BMW did not approve and over which BMW had no control. Similarly with racing. Despite the "ultimate driving machine" hoohah, these cars were not designed or advertised for sale as racing cars. Would we, should the law, make BMW fix every car, even those that have been used for much more strenuous activities than their intended purpose, which is not racing?

    Remember, this is a proposed settlement. It may well be true that sub-frame problem is a design flaw, since the problem apparently has shown up in cars that remained exactly as they were the day the VIN was stamped on them and were never raced. But the only way to prove that it is a design flaw (BMW still denies that it is) is to litigate the matter with experts and engineers and hooo boy, millions of dollars in court costs and attorney and expert fees. Part of that proof, if you wanted to proceed with it, COULD be to show also that reasonable modifications to the suspension and the occasional run around Laguna Seca should not put such significant additional stresses onto the chassis as to void the warranty. BMW would argue, of course, that those very things do and did exceed the manufacturer's perfectly serviceable design specifications, the therefore caused the problems that otherwise would not have occurred in any more than the occasional faulty car that somehow slipped through the quality control tests.

    From where I'm sitting, I think BMW would have a very good argument on the modified and raced cars, and no good argument at all with respect to those that have had more pedestrian lives. Thus, the settlement. Everybody walks away with something, and everybody avoids the horribly expensive litigation. Even so, the settlement alone is going to cost BMW over a million dollars, and the inspections and repairs for how many million cars is going to cost a helluva lot more over and above that.

    Folks with modified and raced cars, though, should send comments to the lawyers at the address provided if they/you feel that this settlement is not fair to you. A good point to be made, I think, is that BMW advertisements almost dare you to race these cars. Heck, it doesn't require a significant investment of time or money to write a letter or an e-mail to the lawyers about this. You never know.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by nathancarter View Post

    I was hoping to do a suspension refresh early this summer. It's a coin toss now... I'm reasonably certain that my subframe is fine: no noises, and I've inspected it myself on multiple occasions. So, I can go ahead and do my suspension work. But then I'm giving up a free "official" inspection ... do I really want to do that?
    The noises you speak of - what do they sound like? Any clues outside of doing an inspection?

  16. #16
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    I just got the letter in the mail today. I have no idea if my subframe has issues or not, but it's nice to know that there's something being done about this defect that a lot of people seem to have.

  17. #17
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcoxpdx View Post
    The noises you speak of - what do they sound like? Any clues outside of doing an inspection?
    Clunks, groans, creaks, or screeches during changes in drivetrain load - for instance, while you're releasing the clutch pedal after changing gears.

    In short, the subframe of the car - that is, the sheet metal floorpan - is tearing apart where your drivetrain is mounted to it. Sounds like bending, tearing, scraping metal.

    There are some videos of it out there. Do a Youtube search (for instance, search for "E46 subframe noise" or similar) and I'm sure some will turn up. Viewer discretion is advised.

    Note that there are plenty of other things that can make rear end noises too - things that are, by comparison, harmless. For instance, rear shock mounts are notorious for wearing out and making clunking noises.

  18. #18
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    I am now afraid to drive my car cuz of recent events (a duck and two people who cant drive), the fact that there is poor bodywork on the rear (after I got the car, my grandma's boyfriend saw ripples in the rear quarters that shows bad work) and that I hear the noise now.
    Last edited by MidnightRider01; 06-16-2009 at 11:41 PM.

  19. #19
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    I received a letter, of course I just switched to Bilstein HD's .. ugh.

    At least my model is least likely to experience the cracking of the subframe.

  20. #20
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    Mine creaks when I get in and out of it, but not while driving...weird. I don't weigh a lot by any means. I got the letter today...only owned the car 3 weeks.

  21. #21
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpro View Post
    Mine creaks when I get in and out of it, but not while driving...weird.
    Pardon me for taking this thread off-topic, but:
    That noise is almost definitely the parking brakes.
    You may be able to temporarily minimize this by cleaning the parking brake shoes as described in the owner's manual: drive for a short distance with the parking brake partially engaged. Also, if you ever remove the rear rotors, thoroughly R&R the parking brake mechanisms on both sides.

  22. #22
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    Pretty well done video illustrating this problem.

    google "bmw e46 subframe disaster/failure/poor engineering"

  23. #23
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    Folks, I wouldn't automatically assume you've killed your chances for an inspection/repair just because you've done some minor modifications. Bilstein shocks, for example. I think the burden would be on BMW to prove that you've modified it for racing purposes or that the mods, whatever they are, would have caused excessive stresses on the chassis that would/could have caused the sub-frame problem. If you haven't already done your mods, ask someone about what might be acceptable and what might not be. Ask the lawyers perhaps, or perhaps your local dealer. And if you have modified stuff, take it in and make BMW tell you it won't honor the deal in your case -- put it on them. I'll leave it to you to decide whether to 'fess up about racing or not.

  24. #24
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    Isn't data stored in the BMW key? If so, wouldn't that be an easy way to determine whether or not a person has used the card for daily use or racing?

  25. #25
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    No, they'd find out by scanning the computer chip embedded under the skin in your neck.

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