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BMW 5-Series Tires and Wheels



  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I certainly didn't intend to paint everyone with a broad brush, and I don't put everyone in the same bucket.

    However, there are many 5-series owners that don't suffer tire and wheel issues. All I was stating is that folks who go through wheel and tire after wheel and tire probably are contributing to their problem, even if it's just because the roads where they live are in a sad state of disrepair.

    And, as the wheel size increases and the sidewall height decreases, it creates the "perfect storm" for wheel and tire damage. That's not just a guess, because I have a good friend that's in the wheel repair business (for quite a few years now) and he's been pretty clear that frequency of damage increases as wheel diameter increases.

    Add to the, in BMW's case, stiff RFT sidewalls nd you decrease the margin of "give" even further.

    Personally, if I could, I would change BMW policy to offer GFT's and a space-saver spare in the truck option.
  • techman9techman9 Posts: 18
    I traded in the 2011 BMW for the 2012 A6. I have had it for 6 months, 10K in mileage and can tell you it was well worth it. The all wheel drive is by far superior to the BMW. Also Transmission and suspension in the A6 far exceeds performance of the BMW. People can argue wheels all day long on this forum but the simple truth is the BMW as seen better days.
  • techman9techman9 Posts: 18
    What everyone seems to be missing is that it is not a simple case of changing tires. It has to do with a combination of tires, wheels and the suspension system. For a vehicle to constantly bottom out over almost every bump is not normal for any vehicle. I have owned many cars with lower profile tires and have never had to replace any wheels or tires as a result of the size of the wheel and tire sidewall, nor did the vehicle botton out. Someone miscalculated something when it came to the suspension.

    Go get an Audi and enjoy driving again.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited March 2012
    I'm not gonna argue the point, but I'll simply say this.

    Do a Google on "XXX alloy wheel damage", where XXX is BMW, Audi, Nissan, etc. and you will find every manufacturer shows up with wheel damage.

    I'm not here to defend BMW nor accuse any other manufacturer of defects, nor praise them. I'm just saying that the incidence of damage is directly correlated to the diameter of the wheel as it increases in size.

    If you want the bling of 18, 19 or larger wheel sizes, get ready to pay extra.
  • atalaya505atalaya505 Posts: 18
    edited March 2012
    It is absolutely true that the lower the profile tire and the stiffer the sidewall, the less "give" you are going to have, and the more problems you will have.

    But, I am comparing apples to apples here: a 2011 BMW 535xi with the standard 18" wheels and 45 profile tires against other cars with tires of similar size and profile.

    I have driven over 500,000 miles in cars with 17" and 18" 45 profile tires over all kinds of roads on three continents. And, as noted in my post, I have now tested a sampling of such cars over the same pothole at the same speed.

    ONLY the 2011 535xi exhibited this problem. I believe that is a combination of the very stiff RFT tires and a suspension design that is not suitable for our potholed American roads. You would probably never encounter this problem in Germany. But our roads are much worse than theirs.

    This would not stop me from driving this car in an urban area, but we no longer trust where it could leave us stranded a long way from civilization.

    I would love to hear from anyone who has a 2011 5 series and who has replaced the RFTs with conventional tires. Does this solve the problem? Does the suspension still crash? Have you had any tire or wheel damage since making the change?
  • I leased a 2011 535xi with the M Sport package. To date, I have blown out 5 tires due to driving over pot holes. I have never seen anything like this, and the previous post about this being exclusive to this model BMW is accurate. It's a combination of the suspension, rim design and tire. The car feels like it is about to break into two pieces and as a result the tires blow or bubble.

    BMW has replaced all the tires at no cost. This issue, along with the slow tip in at throttle and I am hugely disappointed in the car. Working to return it to BMW this week.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Either you purchased the wheel & tire insurance or you must have the most understanding and sympathetic BMW dealer in the country!
  • lawcarlawcar Posts: 96
    What type of rims and tires do you have? How big were the potholes? Where do you live? Did the tires blow up?
  • The M sport package includes 19" wheels with lower profile tires, so I can readily understand why you would be having even more problems than I.

    How did you get BMW to pay attention to you? They told me that I had to go through my dealer. So, I got the sympathetic service manager at the dealer to contact BMW on my behalf.
    Through the service manager intermediary, BMW has just blown me off. Told me that they are are not aware of any problem with F10 tires, wheels or suspension.
    Just for good measure, they informed me that replacing the RFTs with conventional all season tires would void my warrantee on anything relating to wheels, suspension or steering.
  • BTW:

    Consumer Reports complained about the (non sport) 535i they tested crashing over sharp bumps so hard that it sent shudders through the entire car.

    Car and Driver had six bent rims and two blown tires in 40,000 miles on their 550. They blamed wheels that were too soft. I think that it has more to do with the suspension design combined with the very stiff RFT tires. Probably fine for German roads, but not for the U.S.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    I've not had any problems yet with my BMW (535GT - just turning 1-year old), and the only other vehicle I ever had to replace a wheel on was an Audi A6 - one bent so much on the rim it wouldn't hold air, the other enough so it couldn't be made not to vibrate at speed. I still contend that the lower the profile tire you go with, the more issues you will have, and anyone using the 20-22" wheels on any of these cars is just asking for major hassles. Maybe it's an issue with the RFT being stiffer - this may transmit more force to the wheel since it doesn't deflect as much as a conventional tire; but, the lower the profile, the stiffer it has to be, just making the problem worse. My vehicle is a tool - I care about how it operates, not so much on how it looks. I'm not out to impress anyone, and I can't see it from the outside when using the thing as a transportation tool. As long as it's comfortable, and does what I ask of it, I could care less about whether the wheel fills the wheelwell, and I'll take the more resilient, higher profile tire.

    If you must have the bling, heed BMW's warnings, and take your chances. They install 18" as stock for a reason. Now, if your need includes track time or slalom, that's a different issue, and you don't normally find potholes at the track!
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited April 2012
    In a word, what you were told is Bulls--t!

    As long as the tires and wheels are the stock size that came on your car, BMW cannot force you to run RFTs on any of their models.

    Warranty is not affected.

    Either you misunderstood what you were told or your dealer is misleading you, intentionally or otherwise.

    Far too many owners have ditched their RFTs for GFTs with no problems.

    As an example... - s/switching-from-oe-run-flat-tires-to-non-run-flat-tires

    I suggest you contact a different dealer and ask that question.
  • Interesting information.

    But, I am not sure how well your experience with your F07 GT predicts what someone can expect with an F10 sedan. Your GT has a longer wheelbase, different suspension tuning and over 25% more ground clearance than the F10 sedan. And, if you have the standard 246/50 R18 tires, your tires have about 20% more sidewall flex height (the distance between the tread and the bead for the rim) than the standard 245/45 tires on the sedan.

    All of these help to give you a lot bigger safety margin when you hit a pothole.

    I would be really interested to know if your car shudders all over when it hits a pothole or other sharp impact. Does the impact reverberate through the entire body? It does on the F10 sedan.

    Please note that NOBODY in this recent discussion is talking about huge wheels and super low-profile tires. These can cause problems on any car.

    As I stated in my original post, my F10 535xi has the standard 18" wheels -- which, in the case of the sedan, means 245/45 tires.

    A 45 profile tire is pretty much standard base spec for almost any performance sedan. And, as Shipo said in an earlier post: "245/45 R18 tires should be more than adequate to deal with all but the nastiest of road obstructions". He/she is absolutely correct -- which is part of the reason why I have never bought a car with anything lower than 45 profile tires.

    However, the fact is that this does NOT appear to be true with the F10 5 series. I lost a wheel to a pretty garden-variety pothole, and many others are reporting the same thing. When we hit that pothole the impact was so sharp that my wife thought that the car had slammed into a metal bar on the road. Other cars were bumping over the same pothole without any sign of distess

    This lead me to conduct the little pothole comparison test we ran in LA. This was run with current cars ALL of which were fitted with 17" or 18" 45 profile tires. The BMW was the only one to have a severe reaction over the test pothole. What I don't know is how the BMW would have fared if, like the others, it had not been wearing run flats.

    Of course, stiff run flats are going to transmit more impact shock to the suspension . But, if run flats were the sole cause of the problem, why don't other Bimmers react like they have slammed into something and shudder all over the way the F10's do when they encounter a hard, sharp impact?

    This is at the heart of what I am trying to figure out: If the stiff run flats are causing all the problems, switching to non-run flats (with a Conti Mobility kit and/or a spare in the trunk) should take care of things. But, if a soft F10 front suspension that bottoms out too easily is part of the problem, then switching to softer non-run flats might decrease the chances that a pothole will bend a rim, but increase the chances that it would blow out or bubble a more flexible tire!

    We currently have a beautiful 535xi sitting in the garage because we don’t dare use t for the long distance driving we bought it for. BMW will not help. It will not condone using anything but approved run flats on these cars. I am hoping that some of you on this blog may have some knowledge or experience that would help.
  • Thanks Burisis,

    I had seen the Tire Rack blog entry. And, if I had anything other than an F10 5 series I would already have placed my order at Tire Rack for four Conti Extreme Contact DWS non-runflat tires. My own experience with these tires has confirmed that they really do provide superior snow traction for the first 20,000 miles or so of tread life. (Not as good as proper winter tires, but significantly better than any other all season I have ever used -- perfect for someone who is going to drive across the Arizona desert and end up in the mountains of New Mexico.)

    The thing that is stopping me is that I have now had a couple of experiences with an F10 5 series hitting a modest-sized pothole that other cars take in stride with a "bang" and a shock that travels through the entire body of the car. I don't know if the front suspension is bottoming out, but this is sure what it sounds like -- and feels like.

    My experience is consistent with the experiences that some of the magazines are reporting -- and what I am starting to hear from some other F10 owners.

    If the F10 front suspension really is bottoming out when it encounters a pothole, changing from run flats may not solve the problem.
  • Techman9:

    You are correct about the new Audi A6. We have now taken a couple of test drives in a new A6, then rented one for a day for a more complete test.

    VW-Audi has been chasing BMW for years. VW has recently done a fine job of producing FWD cars with BMW-like grace and poise (especially the GTI and the CC Sport). Now, with the new A6, Audi has finally caught up with (and passed) the 5 series

    Just as BMW was turning the 5 series into a more reasonably-sized 7 series luxury car, Audi finally built an A6 that incorporates the driving grace that used to be unique to BMW. Drive both cars back to back and it is hard not to conclude that the Audi is a significantly better drive.

    So, why haven't I joined you and abandoned BMW for Audi? The answer is very simple: when you are driving 13 hours at a stretch car seats become hugely important. The side bolsters on Audi seat bottoms have always given us problems -- and this seems to be the one thing they have not fixed in the new A6. After half a day in the rental A6, we were in real pain. By contrast, the new 5 series Comfort seats are simply marvelous. The best 13 hour car seats we have ever had.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    It appears you have a real dilemma on your hands.

    Either keep the OE wheels and tires on your BMW and leave it garaged while driving something else, or change some combination of wheels/tires and drive your BMW, or trade it for some other make/model.

    Personally I can't speak to your individual experience, but I fail to see how BMW could be successfully selling so many 5-series sedans with such an easy-to-reproduce problem.

    I hope you find a suitable solution for your situation...
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 3,112
    edited April 2012
    Given the information I gathered from several sources, when we bought an '11 535xi for my wife, we bought the tire/wheel insurance. Standard 18" setup. In over 6 months of driving, no issues with the tires or wheels (other than my perception of noise and harsher ride. She's happy). So, the tire/wheel gremlins know we ponied up too much $ for the insurance and aren't bothering us to have it pay out! We win?

    Of course, we also didn't have much of a winter, so we may have been let off easy, pothole-wise...

    '13 Jaguar XF, possibly my favorite of all the cars I've owned. But, my '09 Jag XK was a beauty, as was my '05 Acura TL, '88 Acura Integra, '84 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo & '78 VW Scirocco (my first!). And, of course, the '92 Nissan Sentra SE-R and '95 Saab 900s I bought for the ex... Ok, I like a lot of the cars in my life.

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Your experience seems to be a good example of the "fly in the ointment", as the old saying goes.

    On one hand, some number (relatively small, I would guess) have lots and lots of tire/wheel problems, while the rest have, at least, no more problems than one would reasonably expect.

    It would be interesting to hear from one who originally had several bent wheels who has changed to a same sized after market wheel and get his/her response on any changes it made.
  • atalaya505atalaya505 Posts: 18
    edited April 2012
    I would love to know where you live and what kind of road conditions you encounter.

    To be honest, we would not be so concerned about this problem except for three things:

    1. When we hit the pothole on I40, it sounded and felt as if we had slammed into an iron bar. A real "bang". Very loud, very abrupt. Reverberated through the entire frame of the car. I would love someone to tell me that this was just the jolt being transmitted through the stiff run flats. But, it sure sounded and felt like we had bottomed the suspension -- hard.

    I have never encountered this on any other car before (including previous BMW's). The subsequent startling (but less violent) behavior when we drove a standard 535i w. 18" wheels at a quite modest speed over the test pothole in LA, plus the published report in Consumer Reports that their 535i w. 18" wheels shuddered through the entire body on sharp impacts, the Car and Driver report on the number of wheels and tires they went through in 40,000 miles -- combined with user reports I have found on-line -- all suggest that the F10 5 series front suspension may have a real problem with potholes and other sharp impacts. BMW must suspect something. They have asked us to bring the car back in to have right front strut inspected for possible impact damage.

    2. If we mostly drove in an urban area, we would probably have never gotten alarmed about this. We would have figured that we just had the bad luck to hit a nasty pothole, paid for the new wheel and gone on with our lives. My wife has pointed out that this is probably what most F10 owners would do.

    But, as I said at the outset, we bought this car for the express purpose of driving 900 miles in a day -- 20,000 miles a year -- over very empty landscapes between the Rocky Mountains and the west coast. We spend a lot of time a very long way from any BMW support. What would be an inconvenience if it happened to us in an urban area becomes a Big Deal when it happens in the middle of the Arizona desert or up in the mountains between CA and OR.

    3. Out here, rough pavement and potholes are everywhere -- especially on the major Interstates with heavy truck traffic. There are many areas where roads will go through a freeze/thaw cycle almost every day in the winter. Potholes are simply a fact of life. You cannot avoid them. Any car or truck you drive on these roads has to be able to cope with them.

    We may have made a mistake by buying a car that is not suited for these driving conditions.

    We have not given up on the car yet. We do not believe that the pothole we hit was a once-in-a-decade pothole. So, we are trying to understand the problem and figure out if there are any changes we might be able to make to ensure that the next time we hit a significant pothole it doesn't take out a wheel, a tire and/or a strut tower.
  • I would love to hear from someone who has changed the run flats on an F10 5 series for non run-flats.

    I know that this will improve ride, quiet and handling. But, what happens when you hit a pothole or other sharp impact? Does it still shudder? Have you blown out a tire or had any other damage?
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I don't think I would make the simple assumption that F10 owners simply replace blown RFTs and bent alloy wheels and "go on about their business".

    Even on a luxury brand, that's a sizable chunk of $$$.

    If it was as common as you suspect it is, I would think some reporting agency/news organization would be all over it, just as they were on the widely reported Toyota UA claims. Even the HPFP issues made "60 Minutes".

    I'm NOT saying it isn't a problem, as it may well be. But, since the target buyer of a new BMW 5-series sedan is in the higher economic range of drivers, they also tend to be more "connected". And, that's a group that generally gets listened to when they have a complaint.
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 3,112
    Hi: Boston and surroundings. Roads range from lovely to Beirut-ish. Probably like most locales. The Bimmer is the wife's car, so I know not what she actually encounters in her daily commute. She doesn't let me drive it much, but I like my AMC Matador just fine... We did just replace the BMW windshield, however. Of course, pay big $ for tire/wheel insurance and the windshield goes! Straight line crack, under rear view mirror. Like an underline of the black shaded area.

    I checked with my tire shop prior to the purchase, they recommended the insurance, they thought the price wasn't too bad for 5 years. They noted many BMW, Audi and Saab wheels come in. As well as the stinkin' RFTs. So, against my usual beliefs, we bought the insurance.

    '13 Jaguar XF, possibly my favorite of all the cars I've owned. But, my '09 Jag XK was a beauty, as was my '05 Acura TL, '88 Acura Integra, '84 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo & '78 VW Scirocco (my first!). And, of course, the '92 Nissan Sentra SE-R and '95 Saab 900s I bought for the ex... Ok, I like a lot of the cars in my life.

  • lawcarlawcar Posts: 96
    I had a 2009 528i with regular wheels and never had a problem. I really liked the car, but wanted something different and got a 2012 Mercedes E350 sport trim which has the 18" wheels. I heard that larger wheels are more prone to damage and with many potholes in Los Angeles, was also recommended to get the insurance, which I did for $1,500. I figured if I never used it, I would be fortunate and spent a few bucks that I could have saved. If I didn't get it, and had to pay $600 per wheel, I would have cursed myself. How much was your wheel and tire insurance?
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 3,112
    A little less, I think a little less than $1300 for five years. 20/20 hindsight, I might have self-insured, but the wife wanted it. Her car, she has all the money, too! It's only been 7 months, but so far, no issue.

    '13 Jaguar XF, possibly my favorite of all the cars I've owned. But, my '09 Jag XK was a beauty, as was my '05 Acura TL, '88 Acura Integra, '84 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo & '78 VW Scirocco (my first!). And, of course, the '92 Nissan Sentra SE-R and '95 Saab 900s I bought for the ex... Ok, I like a lot of the cars in my life.

  • techman9techman9 Posts: 18
    When we hit the pothole on I40, it sounded and felt as if we had slammed into an iron bar. A real "bang". Very loud, very abrupt. Reverberated through the entire frame of the car. I would love someone to tell me that this was just the jolt being transmitted through the stiff run flats. But, it sure sounded and felt like we had bottomed the suspension -- hard.

    You are absolutely correct in your description. I have never experienced this event in another car, an it is rather unsettling. I tried to explain this to four different dealers to absolutely no affect.

    By any chance do you have the adjustable suspension? I always suspected that was the culprit.
  • No adjustable suspension. As far as suspension/wheels/tires goes, this is a base 535xi. We put our money into things like the Comfort seats with ventilation and message that make a huge difference when your standard long distance driving day is 13 hours.

    Turns out my pothole on I40 didn't just take out a wheel. It knocked the alignment out of whack as well! Front and rear several degrees out. Three hours work and $435 to put it right! So, the total cost is not approaching $1100.

    My essential question is whether the suspension is really bottoming, or if the impact transmitted through the RFT tires is so loud and sharp that it just FEELS as if the suspension is bottoming.

    I am certain that BMW tech people could answer my question. But they refuse to make any comment or voice any opinion. So I am left with trying to talk with anyone else I can find who has more experience with these cars than I do.

    In this past week I have talked with several Bimmer owners who have told me that their cars (previous-gen 3 and 5 series) also had impacts so hard and sharp that they thought the suspension was bottoming -- hard. BUT, when they switched to non-RFTs it became clear that the RFTs had been the problem. With conventional A/S tires, their cars still hit harder than other cars they have driven, but the impact no longer shudders through the entire body.

    This is leading me to think that I may try an expensive fix to try to save this car: spend the money to get the Conti Extreme Contact DWS's mounted on BBS wheels with flow rolled rims (which should make the rims virtually as hard as those on forged wheels without going all the way to the cost of fully forged wheels.)

    Total cost, including a spare wheel and tire and a jack, would be nearly $4K -- and I cannot be certain that it will fix the problem. But, the only other choice would be to take the hit of replacing a less-than-one-year-old $64K car.
  • Hi, I paid $1435 for my 2012 528i T&W Protection Tier 2. I feel like I overpaid it, and hesitate if I should cancel it within 60 days. If anyone could share the experience will be much appreciated. My 528i has regular 17" tire. I drive much less than 8K mile a year I believe as I normally take the company coach to/from work.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited September 2012
    Your "protection" plan really isn't anything more than an insurance plan, and as in all insurance plans, it's based upon the idea that it will bring in more revenue to the provider (insurer) than the outgoing costs (replacement wheels and tires).

    So, the first thing you need to think about is how often in the past, recent or distant past, that you've had damaged wheels and tires. That will give you a general feeling about the value of the plan.

    The mileage you drive comes secondary, unless its in areas you don't normally drive in or aren't familiar with...

    On the plus side, you have 17" wheels, which gives you more sidewall height, which translates into more cushion for the wheel when you do hit a pothole. As wheel diameter increases, so does wheel damage, on average. Your experience may differ.

    So, IMO, if you have never had to replace a wheel, and your last flat was 15 years ago, you might do better banking the money and taking the risk. OTOH, if you spend considerable lengths of time at the local tire repair shop, you might want to keep the protection.

    Good luck in whatever your choice ends up being!
  • It depends entirely on where you live and where you drive. If you drive almost exclusively on smooth, well-maintained roads, at 8K miles per year you will probably never have any problems.

    My situation is different. I drive 20K miles per year on roads in the west that have heavy truck traffic. Lots of pot holes. The runflats are COMPLETELY unsuited for this sort of driving. A single pothole cost me over $1000 to replace a wheel and tire and get a full 4 wheel alignment.

    I resolved our problem by replacing the OEM wheels and tires with five lighter, stronger, OZ wheels with Conti DWS all season tires. It cost $3000 and the full sized spare takes up a lot of trunk room. But it absolutely transformed the car. Ride, handling, noise, and comfort all significantly improved. Unsprung weight considerably less. Total weight (including a jack) up by only a few lbs. Potholes that previously caused a big "bang" that made the car shudder now pass virtually un-noticed.

    Here is a simple test: if you encounter situations in which your car slams into potholes as if it had hit a steel bar, it is only a matter of time before you lose a tire/wheel or more. If you don't, you will probably be OK.

    I will NEVER buy any car with runflats again. They might make sense for someone who drives on smooth, well-maintained roads and never wanders far from service (as in Germany). They are un-suited for people who drive away from civilization in the U.S. BMW's are MUCH better cars without run flats. BMW should have made run flats an option in this country.
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