How to resolve this door problem?

I have a BMW 330i, purchased back in July 2005. As of today, it has 51,580 mi on it, so it’s out of warranty (4 year or 50k mi). I purchased extended service at BMW Encinitas for $1,695, but the finance rep did not explain about extended warranty (~$2,600).

Anyway, I’ve had a repeated problem where the doors and fuel-door (but not trunk) would not unlock, either via key-fob or via the button inside the car. This results in using the key at driver side for me to get in, window climbing for the passenger, and manual override to open the gas tank. I have had this problem many times, without a definitive resolution:

1st - 5/21/07 (22 months of ownership), 26,483 miles, Santa Monica BMW, fuse replaced

2nd - 7/11/07, 28,722 miles, Encinitas BMW, Junction Box replaced

3rd - 2/??/08, ?? miles, Shelly BMW, actuator was spiking more than 15A and was replaced in the driver side door

4th - 1/15/09, 51,580 miles, Encinitas BMW, all 4 door actuators were spiking more than 15A, and all 4 replaced.

Initially, Encinitas wanted to charge me $130 for the diagnosis of this problem, I told them they are one of 3 dealers who looked at it and didn’t properly address the problem during warranty. Eventually, they waived the diagnosis fee and fixed it for free (very unwillingly). Then I called BMW North America, they said there’s nothing they can do other than contact the dealer.

Both Encinitas’ service rep and BMW NA phone rep gave me the same BS about how it’s a very complex system and more than 1 thing could break. I am an electrical engineer and computer scientist by trade, and worked on satellites and UAVs, so I know a thing or two about electrical problems, design for longevity, and latent issues. So the example I gave the BMW-NA phone rep was this - If someone has HIV/AIDS and gets the plague as the result of it, he can be diagnosed for the plague, can have his plague symptom treated, but that doesn’t mean it’s the correct root-cause. Same thing in this case, if there’s a problem upstream, which causes stress in all the parts down-stream, which results in latent failures, and the parts downstream gets repairs, it does not resolve my ultimate problem. Of course the service rep, nor phone rep understands this, so they try to repeatedly offer “2 year warranty on all parts REPLACED”. I told them “no, you haven’t addressed the root of the problem, there can and will be latent failures.”

Long story short, I’m no better than where I started. Here are my options:

1. Find the southern California regional service rep (which the phone rep is unwilling to give to me, and the dealer service rep did not want to provide the info), and have him extend my warranty or

2. Find a lawyer and exercise Song-Beverly Warranty Rights. First occurrence of the problem was outside of the period stated by California Lemon Law (18k mi or 18 month), but Song-Beverly “applies for the entire period of your warranty.” Even though my car is out of warranty right now, the problem was not addressed during warranty period. I have contacted a lawyer, he thinks I have a case.

So, any other suggestions? or if you have the contact info of the SoCal rep, it’d be helpful.


Contact BMW America again. Explain your problem in exquisite detail again (unless you can give them a claim #). When they tell you to get lost, ask to speak to a supervisor and see if he will help you. Remember to tell them how much you wanted that magnificent Bimmer and how this little difficulty sours the experience for you. Sigh at the appropriate moment, if you think it could help.