2015 BMW M235i: A Spare Tire Would Have Made All the Difference
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on April 18, 2016
First, the backstory.
Fellow editor Kurt and I headed north from Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon in our long-term 2015 BMW M235i to fetch our brandy-new 2016 Tesla Model X in Fremont, California. We had an 11 a.m. pickup time on Thursday, which would in turn allow plenty of time in the afternoon for a photo shoot on the way home. It was the perfect plan. Nothing could go wrong.
It all went wrong shortly after the lead photo above was taken.
In Santa Maria (some 230 miles shy of the Tesla factory), a tire pressure warning popped up on the M235i's screen. It was a steady deflation event; the right rear tire losing a couple of psi every ten seconds or so.
This is the tire's pressure shortly after exiting the freeway and before pulling into the nearest lot.
Found the culprit upon inspection.
Taking care of business with the inflator kit, I intentionally left the screw in place so that the sealant goo would have effectively have a smaller hole to plug.
I inflated the tire to just above the recommended 41 psi to account for any bleed-down that might occur before the goo had a chance to set up and seal the leak. The tire still bled down a bit, as you can see above, but it was still good to go. So go we did.
I kept my eye on that (extremely good) tire pressure display on the M235i's screen for several miles to ensure the goo was doing its job. All was well. The pressure didn't budge from what you see in the above photo. We were in the clear.
Until we weren't. A few miles up the road and seconds before this alert chimed in, we heard a distinct bolt-rattling-around-in-the-wheelwell noise followed by a rapid and equally distinct psh-psh-psh noise.
The bolt had vacated the premises and the tire had gone flat. Again. Except this time I had no DIY recourse. The inflator kit was empty, and since the hole was in the tire's shoulder, a plug was inadvisable (technically, only punctures in a tire's center tread section can be plugged). Since this is a company car, I could take no chances with a MacGyver fix and still expect to remain gainfully employed.
So, I used the M235i's SOS button and summoned roadside assistance. The call operator dispatched a tow truck from Santa Maria, fewer than eight miles south of our then-current location on the side of the 101 freeway.
Nearly two hours later (!), our savior arrived. He put our M235i on his flatbed and then dropped it and Kurt and me off at BMW of Santa Maria. Which was closed, as was every retail tire shop.
We were stuck in Santa Maria for the night.
The next morning I took an Uber from the hotel to the dealer to arrive just as the BMW dealer's service department opened at 8 a.m. I'd already pushed back our Tesla appointment to the next available time slot of 2 p.m., since there was no hope of making our 11 a.m. one.
There I explained to the service adviser, whom I feel compelled to identify by name, my situation. Abraham Miller did an exemplary job of taking care of my needs. He went the extra mile to ensure I was out of there as soon as possible, considering my arrival was a surprise and my needs immediate.
I explained that I was on a schedule and was very flexible with the type of tire that I'd go for — round, and of the correct-ish diameter were about my only requirements. This tire change needed to happen quickly if we were to pick up the Tesla and still have enough daylight to reach our shoot location in time. Abraham got the message. "How about a used tire? We might have one that would work." Perfect.
The used tire solution ultimately didn't pan out — its tread depth was too shallow, and Abraham apologized that it couldn't be installed for obvious liability reasons. Now it was 8:40 a.m. He explained that they could get a new OEM-spec tire delivered the next morning and offered to put me in a rental car to get us on the road to make our appointment. Since Kurt and I were to make our return journey later today, the rental option wouldn't work. "Do any of the new cars on your lot have the right tire?" I suggested with little hope that this was actually a viable option. Abraham immediately was on it. "I'll take a look."
Sure enough, they had another M235i equipped with the M Sport package on the lot. They shortly thereafter swung it around to the service bay, dismounted its right rear tire and installed it on our car. I was behind our M235i's wheel again by 10:10 a.m., dropped by the hotel to pick up Kurt and our equipment and bags, refueled and hit the road. We arrived at Tesla at 1:40 p.m.
Of course, the pick-up took longer than planned, and then we were dead-smack in Bay Area rush hour traffic by the time we left. Kurt made an audible to move the shoot from our original planned location of Atascadero to Spreckels to buy some time. It was the only way we'd have enough day left to get the shots. It was a shoot with no room for errors or dilly-dallying. The sun dropped below the horizon just as Kurt finished the last few photos.
All of this rigmarole could have been avoided if our M235i had been equipped with a spare tire.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 17,168 miles