BMW 323i Air con broken down 2000 reg - Otto
Hi all,

As the subject says the air con on my 2000 reg BMW 323i has broken down. There's roughly 100k miles on the clock. A local garage recharged it about a month ago, giving me the impression that this would solve the problem. However, while this fixed it for three weeks or so there is now no cold air coming out at all, which I assume means that it is leaking. Having talked to the garage they say that they can't find a leak (they apparently couldn't spot any dye that they claim was put in at the first recharge) and that they will need to change the condenser, some other stuff (they specified it better than that but I'm crap at cars and the note is still at work ;)) and then recharge it again. When buying the vehicle I took out a warranty, but this doesn't cover wear and tear. The indications I've received from the garage and the warranty company is that the problem is likely to be due to just wear and tear.

My question therefore is: Is it normal that the air con only lasts four years on a BMW?

Actually, I have some more questions:
* How do I know that changing the stuff suggested will actually fix the problem? Is it likely that this is the fault? I don't want to spend hundreds of pounds on this only to find out later that there was just a leak after all (which I assume is easier/cheaper to fix).

* Would the garage have anything to gain from classifying this as wear and tear as opposed to a breakdown (which the warranty would cover)? The garage has been recommended to me in the past by the warranty company.

* Isn't it strange that if say a stone hits the condenser while you are driving along it would be classified as wear and tear? If that is wear and tear, then what is a breakdown?

Any input would be much appreciated!

BMW 323i Air con broken down 2000 reg - elekie&a/c doctor
The garage is probably correct in saying that the condenser is leaking.This is a very common failing on this year of 3 series E46 model.It is unlikely to be stone damage but more likely porous /corroded aluminium.
BMW 323i Air con broken down 2000 reg - Otto
OK, many thanks for the input. I suppose I'll have to splash out the money and hope I can claim it back on the warranty.

BMW 323i Air con broken down 2000 reg - Dude - {P}
elekie&a/c doctor -

>>This is a very common failing on this year of 3 series E46 model>>

Do you happen to know if and when BMW fitted a modified A/C condenser to overcome this problem on later models of the E46 ???
BMW 323i Air con broken down 2000 reg - Dave N
They should be able to see some dye, or at least get a 'sniff' around the bottom of the condensor.

They are a fairly common failure, but BMW put out a TSB on these, as they were rubbing through on the radiator (or it's mount or something), so speak to BMW as there may be some goodwill.

You need to be sure that it's the condensor before you swap it, unless you like spending money.

And it looks like you've fallen foul of the wear and tear clause in most warranties. Usually, unless something has suffered a 'sudden mechanical failure' then it must be wear and tear. Of course, hardly anything ever suffers a sudden mechanical failure, at least not without something wearing and tearing first.
BMW 323i Air con broken down 2000 reg - John F
It took my local specialist aircon place two goes to spot the condenser leak on my '94 Passat....I thought they would last for ages like radiators do nowadays. It failed just before last year's heatwave....aaarrrrgggghhhh!
4 years seems a bit of a poor do. Stone damage?
BMW 323i Air con broken down 2000 reg - Otto
It did turn out that there was a leak in the condenser (there was a big green spot of dye on it), so they changed it and it now seems to be working. I'll try the warranty company again, but thanks for the tip about BMW, I'll try that if I don't have any luck with the warranty company.

Ask Honest John

Value my car