BMW does a U-turn on suspect alloys and promises a full investigation.
Hit a kerb hard, or clobber a pothole, and you might expect to crack one of your car's alloy wheels, but what if the damage occurs without any obvious cause?
That's a situation which has faced many BMW 3 Series owners recently. Gareth Conyers contacted What Car? after needing three replacement alloys for his 3 Series since October 2008. Another 3 Series owner, Richard Carter, wrote to us after his Convertible suffered two cracked alloys.
Both drivers were told the wheels weren't covered under warranty.
Gareth and Richard had more in common than just the make and model of their cars, however. Both had 19-inch alloys with run-flat tyres. What's more, they weren't the only ones with this problem. Online motoring forums have recently been buzzing about cracks in BMW's 19-inch wheels.
The BBC's Watchdog programme highlighted the issue in October 2009. BMW's initial response was to stand its ground, saying: 'Every one of these [cracked alloys] has been investigated by our specialist technicians and in every case the wheels concerned have shown signs of impact damage, which have resulted in the cracking.'
BMW gives in to pressure
Under mounting pressure, BMW has now changed its position. 'We have decided to stop offering customers the affected 19-inch wheels on new vehicles while we look into this matter,' it says. 'Our actions should not be interpreted as acceptance of liability, but rather as a clear sign that we take our customers' concerns very seriously.'
In some cases, earlier decisions to reject warranty claims have been reversed. BMW is now replacing cracked 19-inch alloys with run-flats unless there are clear visual indications of impact damage.
Gareth has had the third cracked alloy replaced free of charge and has been sent a cheque by his local dealer for the cost of replacing two wheels last year. However, he is not happy that BMW hasn't paid for the tyres damaged in 2008 (the cracked alloys caused them to deflate), although the dealer has paid for the most recent new tyre.
We'll let you know the outcome of BMW's investigation.
Have you been affected?
Has your BMW 3 Series succumbed to the cracks detailed in this story? Tell us here