A few months ago, I wrote up an article showcasing my journey that concluded with my purchase of a 2012 BMW E92 M3 from CarMax. In that article I referenced the desire to purchase the M3 from CarMax due to their apparently great warranties. Little did I know that purchasing the additional CarMax M3 warranty would be one of my best automotive decisions………………of my life.
When I began to collect my thoughts on how to describe the following experience in an article, it was hard to not feel lot like Top Gear USA following the footsteps of Top Gear UK. Car enthusiasts on the internet know about Doug DeMuro’s popular CarMax warranty stories with his Range Rover as well as his CarMax trade-in attempts of crazy vehicles such as his Ferrari 360 Modena and his Nissan Skyline GT-R. This is much like that, except I think I may have topped the warranty work he has had done with just one issue.
It was the end of March, I was driving home on my normal 20 mile commute, stuck behind an old black Chevy S10 pickup truck. No spirited driving, no speeding, no abuse. Halfway through my drive, still behind the same truck, my M3 begins shaking and enters “Limp Mode”. I receive two error messages on my display: “Engine Malfunction” and “Increased Emissions”.
I immediately pull over and turn the car off. Fingers are crossed the error disappears after a restart. I restart the engine again. The messages remain. Damn.
This time I actually read the full description of the error messages. I could care less about the Increased Emissions error (because racecar), but the Engine Malfunction error informed me that it is possible to continue onward, but to drive to the nearest service center as soon as possible. The nearest service center is 3 times the distance to my house so I decided to just drive home and have CarMax tow it to a shop.
My drive home was best categorized as what a race driver feels when they are limping their busted cars back to the paddock. My M3 felt like it was running on 4 of the 8 cylinders.
As luck would have it, I had ordered the Carly BMW Bluetooth adapter a couple days before and it was waiting for me on my porch. I opened it up, downloaded the free version of the app on my Android phone and ran every diagnostic I could to the tune of $3.00 each. Luckily, I had some Google credit so to me it was free. As for the diagnosis – Carly said my car was misfiring on cylinders 4, 5, 6, 7.
The next morning I called CarMax to report the issues. They logged everything in their computer and provided me the number of a towing company they work with whom I called to scheduled the pick up. The towing company picked up my car and said they would fill out the night drop box information for me.
The next morning I got a call from a CarMax service rep. He mentioned he started the car and immediately noticed the issues and shut it right down and was calling me to get some background. I give him the rundown of what occurred and what codes I was able to pull. With that, and presumably some diagnostic of their own, CarMax attempts to change the coils and spark plugs, to no avail. They then requested my permission to send the car to the nearest BMW dealer. Of course I agreed. I would much rather BMW work on my M3 than CarMax anyway.
There was a point during all of this where CarMax kind of goofed up. An employee noted the low mileage and instantly passed the buck on to BMW to fix the vehicle due to it being under 36,000 miles. Guess they didn’t bother taking a look at the model year because factory warranty had long expired. Due to this former employee initially saying my car is under BMW warranty it caused a big mess trying to get a rental car. The CarMax warranty system kept denying the claim for a loaner car as it’s apparently all approved digitally.
But it all worked out. The service advisers at CarMax were extremely helpful and asked me to come in to borrow a car from their lot. My loaner was none other than a Chevrolet Malibu in Grandma Gold. With a working ride in hand, I chatted with my service adviser and he informed me that their technicians ran a compression test and the whole driver side bank was zippy – no compression. Phrases like determining “if the issue can be repaired” or “if we need to replace your engine” were in the air.
With my M3 now at BMW, they performed a leak down test as well as check the timing. BMW determined that the problem was a broken valve spring on cylinder number 6 and informed CarMax that it would be over 30 hours of labor to fix the issue. CarMax informs me that they would be sending out a “Warranty Inspector” to check it out. That’s basically an insurance adjuster but for the CarMax warranty claims. Apparently, he was dispatched because CarMax did not understand how BMW wanted to fix the issue. Turns out that BMW likes to drop engines from vehicles in order to repair many issues. This of course costs more and CarMax wanted it to be done with the engine in the car but CarMax caved-in and approved all work BMW needed to do.
As soon as I heard official word of the damage and the repairs required I immediately began calculating what CarMax would be shelling out. I knew this warranty was going to pay for itself but I didn’t realize how far off my estimate was. The labor alone for the job was $5,005 and the parts were another $1049.01. Along with other miscellaneous charges the total came out to $6,130. From the paper work there was also a CarMax diagnosis charge of $315 for a grand total of damage was $6,444.80.
That CarMax warranty I purchased? Yeah, that only cost me $2,079 and covers my M3 up to 75,000 miles or 60 months, whichever comes first. This is why I chose to buy my car from CarMax.
I will admit when I finally got the M3 back I babied the hell out of it for the first few days, never taking it above 4,000 rpm. This was just my initial hesitation and overly cautious behavior to ensure the engine was not going to fail on me again. So far I have no complaints and I feel like the car is back to normal.
Hopefully this is the last warranty story I write but if a new issues arise, just like Mr. DeMuro, I will have this amazing warranty to cover my ass.