Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:28 am
Location: North Carolina

Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

Less than two years ago I leased 1 2014 BMW i3 ReX for a two year term of 20,000 miles. I've owned 11 BMW cars/motorcycles over the years, had owned three Toyota Prius' and a Nissan Leaf and decided to get the i3 instead of a Tesla since most of my driving would be local.

A few months ago I had to return to the dealership for yet another electrical problem. While there the dealer performed a courtesy examination of my car since the lease was set to expire within six months. At that time I was very surprised to hear that the tires were "near the end of their useful life" with tread at/below the 4/32" mark which is the minimum depth level permitted. The mileage on my car was just over 12,300 miles when the tires were examined. My onboard computer shows that since I took delivery of the car I've averaged just under 26 MPH, not a level that would seem to tax the tires excessively. I've never driven aggressively either.

Yesterday BMW had their inspection service (AutoVin) come to my home to examine the car prior to the end of the lease, which is late February 2017. Their inspection showed that all four tires are below the minimum tread level and need to be replaced. The car now has 13,690 miles on it. Needless to say I'm pretty upset. I turned the car into the dealer today, and vowed to never again own a BMW product.

Is that an overreaction? Perhaps, but the Bridgestone Ecopia EP600 tires, the tires BMW specs for my 2014 BMW i3 ReX are UTQG 440 AA rated - which means that they are the highest traction rated tires available in their class (AA), and have a wear life of 440 - which means that they should last 4.4 times as long as the standard tire on the UTQG test. That test requires a driving length life of 6,700 miles. In other words, Bridgestone expects these tires to last for 29,480 miles (4.4 times the standard 6,700 mile cycle). Despite these tests and ratings my tires are completely done with measured inner tread depth of 1-3 MM for each tire at 13,690 miles.

The tires are all worn on the inner most grove of the tires - the inboard grove on each side. They have been properly inflated over my ownership and there have been no accidents or any other issues with the car. The tire pressure monitor has never come on, and I check pressures regularly. It seems to be a design related issue, not a user error.

To add insult to injury, BMW expects me to buy the tires from their parts department at full retail price. TireRack prices are significantly lower. So for all of you thinking of a lease on the BMW be aware that in a two year lease you may have to buy TWO sets of tires - one as it wears at 12K miles, and another as the lease comes to an end and you are near 8K or more miles. My BMW dealer charges $909.80 for a set of installed tires. If you need one set over the course of a two year lease that will increase your monthly lease by $76/month, and if you need two sets of tires over the course of your lease that will add $152/month to your lease.

Let me add another point. I have a two year prepaid lease - "one payment and I'm done" - strategy. I turned my car in two full months and 6,310 miles before my lease expired. Yet BMW refuses to acknowledge the unusual tire wear, as well as the residual value increase by having a low mileage car returned to them prior to lease end. They still want me to pay the full price to replace the tires. When I told BMW I've owned 11 BMW vehicles they didn't care. I'm sure some other manufacturer will. Are you angry yet? Me too.

I'm not telling you to avoid the i3 - it's an enjoyable car with lots of growing pains during my ownership, very range challenged in cool weather, and terrible range in cold weather, but it is a step into the future. Unfortunately, my future steps with BMW are over. I'm done with them.
Posts: 63
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:27 pm

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

Who the hell buys tires from the dealership?

I have a sandbox in Arizona I would like to sell you.

Half the price at Costco, installed with a road hazard warranty, btw. Also, I am on my original front tires at 41,500 miles and just ordered replacements at Costco.
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:16 pm

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

I had my lease pre-inspection and was informed one of my tires (at 14K miles) was borderline and would need to be replaced. The tire looks brand new.

It seems like a common problem, and it really sucks that BMW is sticking people with the bill of what seems like a design defect.
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:12 pm
Location: Central PA , USA

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

Turned my car in end of october with tires worn at 19500 miles. They charged me $340 for excessive wear. I think that is fair. If i ware you i woyld just turn it in with worn tires and pay the charge. I used every bit of performance my cars have and expect the tires to wear quicker. Price u pay i guess.
Posts: 410
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:31 pm
Location: Baltimore

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

If you've owned motrocycles, you should know that some tires just don't last.
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:15 am

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

At my center you can request a pre-inspection; if the tires are worn you can get replacement tires wherever you want prior to the final inspection. As long as the tires are BMW approved you will have no issues.
2014 M235i
1995 318ti Club Sport
1999 Wrangler Sahara

2016 i3 REX
2009 Cooper Clubman

2009 328i
Posts: 501
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:57 am
Location: i3 REx, 225xe Hybrid UK
Contact: Website

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

Our rear tyres have just crossed the 28k miles mark and will need replacing soon. Front will be good for another 5-10k miles. Bridgestone is correct with the 4.4x estimate.
Posts: 104
Joined: Sat Oct 31, 2015 5:53 am

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

My rears are almost like slicks after 15k miles. I have enjoyed the high torque of the car but I have taken all corners conservatively (being conscious of tread wear) and it's not like I'm "burning rubber" when I take off. The car I leased was the demo car at the dealer so I believe the tires were already abused from many test drives. Had I realized this I would have had the dealer measure the tread depth before driving it off the lot.

I have driven cars more aggressively than the i3 and the tires have lasted much longer. There is also the problem with the inner tread wearing quicker, which seems to be a flaw with the i3. I believe part of the tire wear problem is due to the fact that we can't rotate the tires, the biggest design flaw with the i3 in my opinion.

My plan is to replace the rear tires ASAP since it's now snowy in MI. Once that's done I'm going to drive it very conservatively and monitor the tread wear. I will reconsider another i3 if the tires wear better from "normal" driving.

My local Firestone dealer is worried about scratching the rims with their tire machine though. Anyone have problems with this when replacing tires?
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:56 am

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

My experience is exactly the same as yours! It's very frustrating to have to pay for 4 new tires after just 23 months and only 14000 miles!

My days of leasing from BMW are done too. This is definitely a BMW design problem !
Posts: 63
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:27 pm

Re: Before you buy or lease an i3 Be Aware of the Tire Problem

BMW didn't design the tires, Bridgestone did to match BMW's car.

I think we all agree that they should be able to produce the same tire with at least a 50,000 mile warranty, especially considering that Pirelli and Michelin are able to produce 90,000 mile tires for passenger cars.

I think one issue is the longer (versus wider) contact patch with our tires puts a higher percentage of surface area in contact with the pavement when compared to a standard car, therefore increasing wear over time. That being said, they should use harder and longer wearing materials and create a longer life tire for those of us that choose that path. Or, someone else should build a replacement tire and break down Bridgestone's monopoly!

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