BMW Tyre Rotation Problem


This question has been removed at the request of the writer.

Essentially, the writer complained that the rear tyres on the car in question - a BMW 3 Series - wore out prematurely (at about 28,000km) while the fronts remained about half worn at this distance.

The writer alleged the wear was solely a consequence of BMW not rotating the tyres regularly (the car had annual services, and the writer alleged tyre rotation was not performed, and that it was BMW's policy not to perform tyre rotation).

The writer alleged BMW's policy was not to rotate the tyres, and supplied this link to Continental (the tyre manufacturer) which recommends tyre rotation every 5000-10,000km.

The writer then went on to detail the distances and alleged measured tread wear before making this remarkable claim: "I have nitrogen in my tyres, which is much better than air."

The writer then also claimed to me that the car was "un-driveable" after its last service as a result of the rear tyre wear (though, logically, the wear would have been the same just before the service...)

She then admitted driving the car in the rain in this unsafe and/or unroadworthy condition, rather than taking the more prudent decision, perhaps, to park it and travel home by an alternate means. She said:

"The rear end of my car felt like it was going to slide out. It was raining when I picked it up which made it feel highly unstable."

She admitted to driving it home - in the rain - in this condition. Go figure...

The writer then communicated her intention to recover the entire cost of rear tyre replacement via the NSW Government's Fair Trading department.

She concluded the letter: "I would like to know what your view is on the above situation and if you’ve heard of this before." Which I took to imply a request for comment on the website - as I have done dozens of times previously when requested.

Apparently, the writer did not like my answer. In her e-mailed response she accused me of defaming her, when I said, below, that her allegation that the car was undriveable was spurious (which means 'trumped up', 'mock', 'feigned' and 'invalid') because she admitted in fact to driving it in that condition. Cars that can be driven cannot be undriveable, but they can be unroadworthy. My view is that she in fact meant 'dangerous to drive', which (again in my view) constitutes taking the decision to drive a car in a dangerous, un-roadworthy state, thereby placing herself and others wilfully at risk. How this comprises defamation is beyond me - substantial truth and honest opinion being defences and all... 

The writer then admitted to me in her subsequent communication that the car was in fact driveable: "I had to drive it at 30[km/h] max for it to be driveable". Cue the Twilight Zone theme...

My position on this is: if the car is unsafe to drive, then park it and get a cab. Have it towed and repaired. Don't put the public at risk.

I repudiate without reservation that the response is defamatory.

What followed was a request to remove the letter. Actually it was more of a statement: "Remove it from your website immediately!" Presumably a shouted one.

Seeing as she does in fact hold the copyright in the letter, I replaced it with this explanation. However I left the response below because it contains important safety and consumer information. (Quotes above are used under the 'Fair Dealing' exceptions to the Copyright Act.)



These are high-performance tyres. Around 30,000-35,000km isn't an unreasonable life for tyres like that. You get lots of grip; the trade-off is faster wear rate. It really depends on the tyres' operating conditions - how you drive, type of driving, maintenance, pressures, wheel alignment, etc. You got 27,000km from the rears and you're about halfway on the fronts - that's not unreasonable.

Who measured the wear rate? Are you just taking the dealer's word for it? They sound to me like the world's dodgiest measurements. Conducted by two different technicians. Where exactly on the tread face was it measured? Same place each time? It seems to me that based on the claimed figures, the front tyres wore 4mm (half the claimed tread) in about 28,000km and the rear tyres wore by 6.5mm in the same time. That's not unreasonable. 

All decent service departments/mechanics would rotate the tyres each service. After all, they'd have the wheels off to check the brakes. Not rotating the tyres is bad practice. However, you would need to go in every 3-4 months and ask them to do that at your 5000-10,000km frequency. Since you didn't, the wear issue is partly your fault. Tyres wear out. Yours wore out principally because you drive the car; that's just how it is. Any claim you make is going to be based on how much earlier than reasonable they wore out. 

Based on your claim that the tyres would have gone another 9000km (and I don't really know how anyone would arrive at this figure, but let's just run with it)  then your claim really is that you should have received 30 per cent more life than you did from the two rear tyres. That's about $200 worth. It's not worth going to bat for - especially if you didn't check those pressures every two weeks like the manual says. Especially as you would reasonably have to deduct from the $200 the cost of having the tyres rotated five times (your preferred option).

Did you check your tyre pressures every two weeks (cold) like the owner's manual says?

Also, your position on nitrogen is indefensible. "Much better than air." Really? Normal air like the stuff you're breathing right now is 80-ish per cent nitrogen. (If you don't believe me, look here.) Filling your tyres with nitrogen is a joke, the benefits of which are grossly - grossly - over-stated by tyre retailers. It's a con, basically - loosely based on the kind of physics that matters only to Formula One race teams. Nitrogen, in particular, has no effect on wear rate. More on nitrogen in tyres.

You might not like to hear this but I think you're just annoyed about the rear tyres wearing out. I think that as a consequence of that annoyance, you're prosecuting an argument based on convenient 'data' that doesn't stack up (claimed wear rate, alleged benefit of nitrogen) with some half-truths on the side. Furthermore you seem to think that driving on freeways in some way wears tyres out faster - it doesn't. City driving is much worse for tyre wear because low-speed maneuvers (U-turns, left turns at intersections, etc,) cause much more friction/scrubbing, as does braking to a stop frequently and also accelerating off the mark (as in, between traffic lights). Rolling down a relatively straight freeway hardly wears tyres at all.

Your desired outcome is unreasonable. You want two free tyres. Good luck with that. I wouldn't bother with fair trading.

Look, the main reason for rotating the tyres is just to even out the wear. It doesn't reduce the total wear. It's a much bigger deal on front-drive cars, which steer and drive from the pointy end. This places more stress on the front tyres (especially the front left) and causes grossly uneven wear if they're not rotated.

On a rear-drive car it's not so bad. The rear end pushes the car forwards and the front steers, tending to even the load borne by the tyres somewhat. That said, front tyres generally wear out more on the outer edge because they scrub when cornering at low speed - especially the left one.

Basically, and I know this is not what you want to hear, I think you need to be more accountable here. Whether the tread depth is illegal or not is your responsibility - not Bob Jane's and not BMW's. If you drive on tyres that are illegally worn out, especially in the rain, it's neither BMW's problem, nor Continental's. That's exclusively down to you. Owning a car is a responsibility - yours. Putting your family (and the other nearby road users you seem not to care about) at risk is something you're principally responsible for.

Your allegation that the car was undriveable after servicing is spurious - because I note you drove it. (Sorry, but logic is the only tool that works with cars.)

Annual service intervals mean you need to check your tyres for wear (because a lot of wear can happen in that 12 months between services). You need to check the pressures every two weeks. If you want the tyres rotated, duck into Bob Jane's (or wherever) every three months and get them to do it. Almost certainly, however, if they charge you $30-$50 to do this, it will cost you more than just replacing the tyres at each end as they wear out. Rotating the tyres is likely to be more expensive than the wear it saves you.

Frankly, all rotating the tyres would have done is move some of the wear from the rears to the front, and evened it out a little.

I'd strongly suggest getting down on all fours in the driveway once a month and looking across the tread face of each tyre. If they're wearing on both edges (inner and outer) then the pressure is too low. If they're wearing on the middle of the tread face then the pressure is too high. If they're wearing on the inner or outer edge only, then you need a wheel alignment. If you want to know what the correct pressure is, look at the tyre placard, which is inside the driver's door frame. It's also listed in the owner's manual.