BigKetchup
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 8:02 pm

Can't decide on buying the i3

Fri May 08, 2020 8:18 pm

So I currently drive a 2014 Kia Soul and a 2017 Buick Encore (of which I got less than a year ago) and am on the fence on trading in the Buick and getting an i3 for basic around town commuting. The car has 55,000 miles on it.

My only concerns are the battery in the car and/or general maintenance. Do the batteries go bad frequently? I was told that a replacement battery would cost $3,000-$4,000 to replace, which I think is why the dealership charges so much for their aftermarket warranty.

I would personally wait on getting this car and gladly keep driving the Buick if that's the case, which already gets around 28 MPG and only have 17,100 miles on it.

What are your thoughts?

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4943
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Fri May 08, 2020 11:01 pm

If the whole battery needed to be replaced, it would likely be a lot more than that figure! Other than infant mortality failures (not many), the battery does lose capacity as it sees more charge/discharge cycles, but, the factory warranty is to retain at least 70% for 8-years. Since the beginning, there haven't been that many reports of people needing them to be replaced, but official numbers are not available to back that up.

There have been some service campaigns that tweaked or replaced a few things over the years, but not really all that many...those are no-charge changes. You should be able to take the VIN and have a dealer tell you if any that applied to that vehicle were all done, and if not, you should get them done.

I find the car fun to drive and does hold up to four adults fairly comfortably. Especially for running around town (which is why I bought mine), it's good since I can tell it to warm/cool the interior from my phone or computer, and it's not likely to see the normal wear items on an ICE that only goes maybe 3-5 miles on a trip (oil contamination, short muffler life, etc.).

The turning circle is great as is slinking into parking spaces. At least in normal driving, you'll never embarrass yourself - it doesn't weigh much, has full torque from a stop, and doesn't lose anything since it has a single speed gearbox, so that's simple, too.

The BEV has less to go wrong than the REx and is speedier since it's not carrying around that extra 350# or from the engine, gas tank, oil, coolant, muffler, exhaust, etc., or the necessary maintenance any ICE has.

It all depends on what your expectations are.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

i3Alan
Posts: 294
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:08 pm

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Sat May 09, 2020 9:20 am

I trust the i3 battery dependability. However, my 5 year old i3 with about 35K miles had an AC failure that came with a greater than $22K repair quote. Perhaps rare, but neither BMW or my dealer would take any responsibility for such an outrageous and catastrophic failure for a car less than one year out of warranty. I have also heard of a transmission failure (in a car with one fixed ratio reduction gear) that was over $7000. There have been numerous reports of minor rear-end "taps" that shatter the rear all-glass tail gate with over $4000 repair bills.

I will be the first to tell you my i3 was one of the most fun cars I have ever owned, with so many wonderful and unique aspects that it is very easy to praise this car. The few minor quirks (like a pathetic horn and terrible sun visors) are truly easy to ignore. This car well deserves most of the great praise it gets from owners. However, no car should have such insanely high repair costs for so many things. Given that BMW would not stand behind my i3 when I asked for reasonable compensation (about $8000 due to loss in book value after AC failure which was due entirely to bad design), I am afraid I could never bring myself to own another BMW product.

BigKetchup
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 8:02 pm

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Sat May 09, 2020 9:53 am

i3Alan wrote: I trust the i3 battery dependability. However, my 5 year old i3 with about 35K miles had an AC failure that came with a greater than $22K repair quote. Perhaps rare, but neither BMW or my dealer would take any responsibility for such an outrageous and catastrophic failure for a car less than one year out of warranty. I have also heard of a transmission failure (in a car with one fixed ratio reduction gear) that was over $7000. There have been numerous reports of minor rear-end "taps" that shatter the rear all-glass tail gate with over $4000 repair bills.

I will be the first to tell you my i3 was one of the most fun cars I have ever owned, with so many wonderful and unique aspects that it is very easy to praise this car. The few minor quirks (like a pathetic horn and terrible sun visors) are truly easy to ignore. This car well deserves most of the great praise it gets from owners. However, no car should have such insanely high repair costs for so many things. Given that BMW would not stand behind my i3 when I asked for reasonable compensation (about $8000 due to loss in book value after AC failure which was due entirely to bad design), I am afraid I could never bring myself to own another BMW product.
Wow - that F'in sucks. I'm wondering if it's more common that not, such as what percent of BMW i3 drivers have had issues like this. It's almost as if you should be a certified mechanic in order to drive one. Most people I know lease their BMWs, so they just give it back after 2 years, which may be a better way to go. You don't own the car and the dealer has to pay for repairs.

$22,000? LOL might as well get a new car altogether.

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4943
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Sat May 09, 2020 3:40 pm

The a/c in an i3 cools not only the cabin, but also the battery pack, so there's lots of passages. If something does go south, it may be almost impossible to clean out the metallic debris, so it's replacement time, with lots of parts to take out and labor. This does seem to be a rare situation. Nasty if it happens to you out of warranty, but that's not uncommon for some stuff in most any vehicle.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

eNate
Posts: 426
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:33 pm

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Sat May 09, 2020 4:19 pm

There are going to be outlier events with just about any purchase. You've got to take a look at overall reliability for a model , and from that perspective, the i3 is in good standing.

Alan is right that a compressor failure should not cost what it costs to repair. It's silly that the glass panel on the tailgate can't be replaced as easily as a broken windshield. The cost quoted for the transmission replacement seems excessive.

On the flip side, the compressor failure is a rare occurrence; in response to a post on this topic, an indy mechanic said they could flush the system for a fraction of BMW's quoted price. If the tailgate glass can't be replaced, there are many totaled i3s to choose from with spares at the ready. Same with the transmission.

Worst-worst case scenario is if you get stuck with an unaffordable repair bill, you have a collection of parts to sell. it's not a complete loss. Hopefully (and more than likely) it'll never come to that.
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i3Alan
Posts: 294
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:08 pm

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Sun May 10, 2020 11:29 am

eNate wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 4:19 pm
Worst-worst case scenario is if you get stuck with an unaffordable repair bill, you have a collection of parts to sell. it's not a complete loss. Hopefully (and more than likely) it'll never come to that.
That is exactly right. My i3 BEV had a book value around 16K before the AC catastrophe. No sane person would spend $22K to fix it. I traded it in, and got just over $8K in trade.

I don't have the resources to part out such a vehicle, but I figure some lucky scrap yard got a real bargain at the auction buying my old i3 for under $9K. The battery will likely bring them about that much alone. The carbon fiber body is certainly worth a few $K. The leather seats in great shape are likely worth another $K. The wheels and rubber another $K. The motor controller (electronics), motor, tranny, differential, and suspension parts are easily worth a few more $K. The tailgate should bring $2K or so. That is, parting out my i3 (minus the AC components!!!!) should bring well over $20K, and likely over $30, with an appropriate amount of labor and time to justify that kind of markup.

skeptic
Posts: 63
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:31 pm

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Mon May 11, 2020 9:15 am

Catastrophic (ie $$$$) issues seem to be pretty rare, although reading forums or facebook groups make it seem otherwise (same is true for any car). Maintenance is less than a typical ICE car, and even less for a BEV than a REX. It's also worth noting that BMW warranties the battery pack for 8 years/100,000 miles including if total capacity drops below 70% they will replace it.

For around town or commuting it's great. Whether you want a BEV or REX really comes down to the farthest you would typically drive between convenient charging as well as what year i3.

i3Alan
Posts: 294
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:08 pm

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Mon May 11, 2020 12:25 pm

skeptic wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:15 am
Catastrophic (ie $$$$) issues seem to be pretty rare, although reading forums or facebook groups make it seem otherwise (same is true for any car).
I think this is a false equivalence. Catastrophic repair bills for BMWs, like Mercedes and exotics, is defined in tens of thousands of dollars, while catastrophic repair bills for the same issues in Japanese, Korean, US, and other cars is typically 10%-30% as much. A Cadillac or Lexus owner would be screaming at a $7000 bill to replace an AC compressor. That is not the same as the $22,000 bill for my i3 AC repair. It also is not fair to say the i3 repair was for the entire AC system, when both the Cadillac or Lexus AC systems include dryer traps that specifically prevent the kind of cascading downstream failures that my i3 had, which is why every component in the refrigerant loops were also destroyed. Kia's and Fords have dryer traps!

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4943
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Can't decide on buying the i3

Mon May 11, 2020 1:08 pm

There is a refrigerant dryer assembly for the i3 feeding the battery pack.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

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