Dealership denies BMW owner of warranty repair because he used non-brand screen wash

Customer reluctantly paid over £160 to have washer jets unblocked and is told to use manufacturer's screen wash

Dealership denies BMW owner of warranty repair because he used non-brand screen wash
A BMW dealership refused a warranty repair because the owner didn't use manufacturer's screen wash.

The owner of a 64-plate BMW 335d forked out £163 after he was refused a repair to his washer system under warranty by BMW.

Simon Raeburn, of Tavistock in Devon, had used Morrisons’ own brand screen wash, which costs 50p per litre compared to the manufacturer’s branded wash at £4.50 per litre.

Speaking to Auto Express, Simon said: “They told me I should have been using BMW’s anti-bacterial washer fluid, and, should the jets be blocked, the warranty would not apply.

Warranty clause

He was pressured to foot the bill for a screen wash system flush, new bottle reservoir and strainers.

However, the owner’s manual makes fails to mention that manufacturer’s screen wash must be used.

Instead, it states: “Do not mix any screen wash concentrates of different manufacturers, as this may otherwise block the washer nozzles.”

A BMW spokesperson said: “It’s imperative that the correct concentration of washer additive is added during all top-ups to the screen wash reservoir.

“In this case, the customer has used a screen wash from Morrisons, which isn’t of the correct concentration level.”

Misleading wording

When questioned about the manual’s wording, the spokesperson added: “In this case, the customer has used a non-BMW product, therefore mixing different fluids and invalidating the BMW warranty.”

Simon had said he’d been using the Morrisons screen wash for around two years and Auto Expressed argued that he therefore couldn’t have mixed the fluids.

However, BMW claim that “there may still be traces of residue from the previous product”.

It seems with this logic, owners can only ever use BMW washer fluid or risk a warranty clause.

BMW refused to refund Mr Raeburn and said it has no plans to update the wording in its manuals.

Have any of your customers had similar warranty issues? Share your comments and experiences below.

12 Comments

  1. If that happened to me, it would be the last BMW i would ever buy!! They are nothing like they used to be.

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  2. Normal BMW banter our local dealer won’t deal with the motor trade the owner has to take the car in even for a battery recoding when we bought a genuine battery. They said to the owner we can’t do it for three days and need it for half a day and it would cost over £90. Sad but true they push people away to the independent garages 😊

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  3. The impression I get is that he would have been fine having flushed the washers through with water before adding Morrisons fluid, thereby not mixing the types of fluid. But BMW seem to have failed to specify any detail regarding the composition of compatible washer fluid with their own though there may be some ingredients on the BMW bottle. The wording of the rep could’ve been clearer as Morrisons brand might be the same as BMW’s. Maybe the goop was blocking the filter as soon as the Morrisons was put in and slowly wrecked the pump over the 2 years. I’ve seen similar effects in other cars and hadn’t put it down to incompatible washer fluids but that makes sense (to me) when compared to the results of mixing incompatible antifreeze.

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  4. Was the vehicle serviced by BMW during the years he was using Morrisons screenwash.
    Did they contaminate his screen wash with their screewash?

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  5. Had a customer come to me with a similar complaint but did not pay the money so i cleaned the filter gauze and refilled the bottle for 52.50 plus vat customer delighted.

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  6. Spent 10 year’s working for Volkswagen and Skoda dealerships and blocked washer jets was not covered by warranty.

    Reply
  7. This story does not surprise me at all.
    I recently went to an independent BMW specialist who are customers of mine : The technician I normally see was changing a headlamp bulb for a customer – a 5-10 minute job at the most; I was told that BMW wanted to do a diagnostic check costing at least £90 before they would change the bulb; whether that would have involved the customer leaving the car with the dealer for a day or half a day I do not know; what I do know is that people in their thousands are gullible enough to have their egos flattered and bank accounts expensively fleeced by that propeller badge !

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  8. Correct me if I am wrong ….. Screenwash is principally ISO PROPYL ALCOHOL with dye and one or two odd ingredients . The main problem apart from hard tapwater being used (evaporating and clogging the jets) is Polimerisation which is thickening (Trying to form plastic).This happens when the concentration is too high and the washers are not used much.I have had this on my own car.Having said that The cost involved here is ridiculous .Plenty of independent get their work from this attitude of BMW.My knowledge of the chemistry involved comes from my training as an analytical lab chemist.

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  9. As an ex-BMW technician. We used to see this all too often. It was always covered under warranty untill about 18 months ago when whenever one came in we had to take screenwash samples, test them and send them to BMW technical. Then after about 6 months they sent out documentation stating that we were no longer allowed to remedy the problem under warranty. The filters on the pumps on these cars are far too fine in my opinion, all cars screenwash resevoirs gunk up but on most cars the filters let some of this through the filters and it gets chewed by the pumps and works fine for thousands of miles.

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  10. I also worked at a BMW dealer when the issue arose.
    Myself and some other technicians with more worldly experience-aka older, would simply drain the bottle in situ and flush out the system taking around 15 minutes,and report nff -no fault found, (and quiet word with the service advisor)
    Saving us paperwork and time and the customer money.
    In main dealers it’s all about the technician you end up with!!

    Reply
  11. I wish the public had the savvy to boycott any car manufacturers like this. Remember the 90s when manufacturers whose cars were easy stolen and were shamed into making them more secure? Pitty we couldn’t do something similar to stop them holding consumers to random.

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  12. And are all BMW dealers using BMW screen wash? I think not? Have they supplied evidence to conclude the 2 are not compatible? I think not? How about concentration levels when you mix it? Typical bull from the people making the ill informed guesses about a customers car

    Reply

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