NHSTA Opens Investigation into BMW Final Drive Failures

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by rdcyclist, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    6.0 NHTSA Analysis

    In assessing the petitioner's claim that a failure of the final drive crown gear ball bearing unreasonably subjects BMW K1200LT operators to a ``potential loss of [vehicle] control, possible crash, injury and, if left unaddressed, eventual fatality,'' the agency reviewed consumer complaints filed with NHTSA as well as those posted on internet forums.

    When NHTSA became aware of the alleged defect in 2003, the initial assessment was that, while final drive bearing failures posed a customer satisfaction issue for BMW, the crash risk was minimal. The subsequent nine years of subject motorcycle exposure without a crash reported appear to validate NHTSA's initial assessment.

    While the agency understands riders' concerns that a final drive bearing failure may result in a crash, NHTSA has not identified a single crash due to such a failure. NHTSA has found that when a bearing failure does occur on a K1200LT (even in those instances where the rider claims it was sudden and unforeseen), riders are able to bring their motorcycle to a safe stop.

    7.0 Conclusion Based on the foregoing analysis, it is unlikely that NHTSA would issue an order to recall and remedy the alleged defect. In view of that conclusion, the petition by Mr. Cimino is denied. [FR Doc. 2013-13779 Filed 6-10-13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-59-P
  2. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    And so the thread is closed.


    Good day, lads.
  3. A-Wind

    A-Wind Andreas RD07a

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    Very weird reasoning in my opinion. Imagine someone would use the same logic in aviation.

    There is either a problem with a serious crash potential or there is not. The actual number of crashes to date is irrelevant.
  4. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    There is not.

    Thus, the case is closed.
  5. A-Wind

    A-Wind Andreas RD07a

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    I truly and realy share your enthusiasm for BMW, but why to claim that a dripping oil wet rear tire won't pose a serious crash potential?
  6. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    BMW riders..........the touchiest next to the poor KLR guys?
  7. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    Sure it poses a 'potential' for a crash. But according to their research the 'potential' is so low that the investigation, such that it was, should be closed.

    I quite like my 1150. I have no love for the final drive design.

    But a a shitty final drive design does not automatically equal a safety concern. Not my ruling-- NHTSA's ruling. I sort of thought something would come out of this.

    And the ruling probably comes from that the fact that we have no idea how many of these things fail, (the interenet magnifies the severity of these issues) and when they do fail they only rarely puke their oil from the seal in the manner which you describe. Usually there is a vibration or a rumble or a lot of play, first. Not always, mind you. And then the fellow will try and ride the bike further and the play will eventually wear the seal and the puking begins.

    So it went like this, for posterity.

    K1200LT riders were upset because they thought final drives were failing at far too significant rate.

    BMW did not react.

    Internet forums caused quite a dust up. Accusations were made that BMW poorly designed the final drive and were deaf to the complaints.

    Accusations were made that K1200LT owners almost always overload these bikes, carry trailers, etc.

    The realization was made that the 1150's used the same big bearing as the K1200LT's. Everyone who ever had 1mm of side play or a weeping seal went on the forums and typed in all caps "ANOTHER FINAL DRIVE FAILURE."

    Since BMW refused to move, people thought that proving a failed final drive was a safety issue would force BMW's hand.

    It didnae work.
    1. the frequency of these failures wasn't reported in the numbers people thought. Leading to more discussion: how many really fail? BMW isn't talking and we have no idea.
    2. The reported number of people placed in harm's way by a final drive failure was so low they had no recourse but to close the investigation.

    Who knows what the real numbers were.
  8. Gruesome

    Gruesome Alter Heizer

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    I'm not sure I understand how the NHTSA decides on the crash risk. Does it depend solely on whether even a single crash was reported?
    Compare our case (BMW crown gear bearing failure) to the Volkswagen TDI high pressure fuel pump (HPFP) failure:

    BMW crown gear bearing failure:

    As others already pointed out, the NHTSA denied the petition to open an investigation because they think nine years of data confirmed their initial view that "the crash risk was minimal", they have "not identified a single crash due to such a failure", and they found that "when a bearing failure does occur[...], riders are able to bring their motorcycle to a safe stop."


    Volkswagen TDI HPFP failure:

    After receiving complaints about sudden catastrophic fuel pump failures, the NHTSA first opened an investigation (NHTSA Action Number: PE10034) and then an engineering analysis that is still ongoing (NHTSA Action Number: EA11003). From the summary of the latter (NHTSA web site):

    "The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) and Volkswagen (VW) have received a total of 160 complaints and field reports alleging incidents of engine stall and/or loss of power that appear to be related to high pressure fuel pump (HPFP) failures in certain model year (MY) 2009 through 2010 Volkswagen Jetta and MY 2010 Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 vehicles equipped with TDI clean diesel engines. Approximately half of the reports indicate that the failure resulted in an engine stall incident, with many of these alleging stall incidents at highway speeds in traffic with no restart. There has been one minor crash alleged to have resulted from HPFP failure in the subject vehicles."



    One could argue that a wobbly rear wheel makes a vehicle as least as crash prone as a sudden engine stall. The number of reported cases seems similar. For the fuel pump, apparently there is one crash report.
  9. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    One could argue a lot of things, but the fact that there is not ONE single verified crash over all these years says more than a theoretical arguement as far as the NHSTA is concerned.:deal

    Jim :brow
  10. Gruesome

    Gruesome Alter Heizer

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    But then, "There has been one minor crash alleged to have resulted from HPFP failure in the subject vehicles." is apparently enough to trigger a full-blown engineering analysis. Odd.
  11. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    [​IMG]

    Sir,
    With four FD-failures under my belt I feel entitled to air my opinion.
    I concur.

    [TaSK]
  12. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    Does that mean someone will be filing a complaint with the Consumer Protection Agency?

    Wait. Is there even a Consumer Protection Agency anymore? :scratch

    :lol3
  13. oilhead110

    oilhead110 Adventurer

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    I hope NTSB shoves it up BMW's arrogant backside. BMW's quality of late has been crap.
  14. Gruesome

    Gruesome Alter Heizer

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    From the NTSB website:
    "The NTSB is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the U.S. and significant accidents in other modes of transportation-railroad, highway, marine and pipeline."
    I think you would at least need an accident to get the NTSB involved. Lack of incidents or accidents seems what lead the NHTSA to deny opening an investigation.
  15. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    I shouldn't look at these FD threads. They just make me worry..
    I took my 08 GSA to Deadhorse and back from Missouri this summer. 9,902 miles in 15 days. The Campbell Highway was miles and miles of severe washboard. I was loaded down pretty good with camping stuff etc..
    I've got almost 50K on it now. Not a hiccup.. Love it, and riding it like its supposed to be ridden.
    Just lucky, I guess. I do follow the maintenance schedule though.:deal
  16. jzeiler

    jzeiler ADWrencher

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    FWIW from the LT side of the rear drive issue, between myself and two others we have collectively re-built over 85 of these "failed drives" in the last 6 years. The take away for this was that EVERY SINGLE ONE was over shimmed on bearing preload. None of the re-builds has failed a second time.
  17. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    Without opening a can of 100 questions which beg to be asked, I'll keep my question seminal to the NHTSA issue:

    How many of those 85 FD's failed and caused a crash because of it?


    Because, again, it's possible to lament the shitty design of the BMW FD (as I do) and understand that its failure is so rarely the cause of a crash.

    Which is the NHTSA's position. Crap final drive it may be, rarely dangerous.




  18. Roadscum

    Roadscum Long timer

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    Seems to me that oil on the rear tire is to be considered a dangerous situation by any measure, no?

    Regards, Paul
  19. GP1200

    GP1200 Been here awhile

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    All I can say is the first guy that gets seriously hurt or dies is going to get a handsome sum. To be used in the afterlife.
    How about the driveshafts? I've heard several stories of the wheel locking up completely at high speed. That'll qualify for a change of underwear.
    On the same note, what about a front tire explosion ? Wouldn't that warrant solid rubber tires ?
    We have an innately dangerous hobby. I got blown sideways two feet from a gust of wind a few times. Not fun.
  20. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    No, because it doesn't get to the tread. What you see is on the side of the tire. What does happen is that it can foul the rear brake, and that could be dangerous.


    As shitty and aggravating as it is, it doesn't seem to cause accidents. The scope of the NHTSA's investigation is narrow, thus, the matter is closed.