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.