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E85 / E86 Z4 (2003-2008)
E85 Z4 Roadster, E86 Z4 Coupe, E85 Z4 M Roadster, and E86 Z4 M Coupe talk with our BMW gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 12-20-2013, 03:32 PM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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Z4 Strange Airbag deployment

Scratching my head on this one...On my way to a Dr's appointment this morning in my 2003 Z4, the ride/steering quickly became very thumpy/erratic. I pulled off the road and the problem was the passenger side rear tire was totally flat...reason enough for the handling problems I had just experienced. I jacked the passenger rear up slightly to take "pressure" off the flat and then plugged in my cigarette lighter air compressor and got about 25lbs in the tire. I was looking good at that point. On the way home the ride still felt "funny" and "thumpy". In my mind, I thought this was due to the tire still having some "flatness". When I pulled the car into the workshop I shut it down and removed the key. Then I proceeded to put a little more air into the tire to attempt to get @ 40lbs to temporarily try to get the tire more "round". While working on something else, I heard one heck of a POP!! I thought I had over inflated the tire, but then saw smoke inside the car from the steering wheel airbag that had just deployed!! The tire only had 33lbs in it. As I stated, the car was shut down with the key out of the ignition when this happened. I wiped the smoke residue down inside the car and then started it up..no problems so far.... Then I drove it about a hundred feet and still had a harsh thump feeling in the ride and steering. Put it back in the garage. It sort of feels like the car may have a broken suspension piece, but that is just my subjective feeling at this point..and even so, how does this relate the the airbag deployment? Suggestions Please..........

Last edited by ZEEBOY; 12-20-2013 at 03:34 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-21-2013, 07:07 AM
Dheilman Dheilman is offline
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Location: Kendall, WI
 
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Wow, that's scary and probably expensive. I may be wrong but I can't see how the two issues are related. I think you may be right about a problem with the suspension, I would get it somewhere with a hoist so you can get a good look at the suspension components. As for the air bag, it normally takes a pretty hard jolt to set off an airbag. It would be the equivalent of hitting a solid object at a speed of 15 mph or greater. Have you done any modifications to the electrical system? If you tapped into the wrong wire under the dash you could have simulated a signal from an airbag sensor, or it may be a short. The airbag system is computer controlled and a dealer can read error codes, that may be the way to start. I would definitely not install a new airbag until you discover what caused this one to deploy.
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  #3  
Old 12-21-2013, 08:32 AM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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This is my wife's car and it is totally stock with no modifications. It really is seldom driven. I did put a new battery in the car about a month ago, but it had been driven a few times since then with no issues. I am wondering if plugging the small air compressor into the cigarette lighter might have done something? But there again, the car was started twice after the flat tire and driven about 15 miles with no issues other than the continuing "thumpy" ride. When I was later putting the additional air in the tire at home, I was using my external shop air, not the cigarette lighter air compressor.The wheels/tires on the car are the winter set that has a slow leak on the passenger rear....unfortunately, I simply forgot that that tire will go down pretty fast after a cold snap, which we recently had. If I had remembered that I would probably not be having this conversation now :-( The car is not vigorously driven, and it does have an Allstate discount plug in device in the OBD II recepticle...but that has been in there for a couple years...

Last edited by ZEEBOY; 12-21-2013 at 08:35 AM.
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  #4  
Old 12-21-2013, 09:08 AM
Dheilman Dheilman is offline
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So we are probably back to the electrical short theory. I would definitely suggest taking it to a dealer. Not because I am a former dealer myself but because the airbag system is a critical safety device and should be serviced by professionals. Good Luck!
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  #5  
Old 12-21-2013, 01:27 PM
Bern Bern is offline
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Z4 Strange Airbag deployment

I'm going to speculate that the compressor was drawing too much current over too long a time. This caused something to heat causing a short.

Given the vehicle was stationary, it's hard to fathom anything else. Whoever services the car should trace back the entire circuit to both the lighter and the airbag. My guess is they could find a short or the short will appear after the lighter circuit is under load. Hopefully the issue isn't in a major wiring loom.



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  #6  
Old 12-22-2013, 01:57 PM
keeton keeton is offline
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Unintentional airbag deployment is a very serious safety issue. I would report this not only to BMW (not just the dealer), but the NHTSA, who tracks these kinds of issues.
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  #7  
Old 12-28-2013, 02:40 PM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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Temperature got up to mid 50's today, so I crawled underneath the Z4 and quickly saw the reason for the "thumpy" and "rocking" ride...the inside surface of the tire that went flat had two 5 inch long bulges that stood up 2 to 3 inches! The outside appearance looks very normal. I feel somewhat relieved that this is the reason for the very irregular ride as opposed to suspension breakage....but it still does not explain why the airbag went off while the car was sitting shut down in the garage...although I am wondering if the extreme rocking/thump triggered the air bag sensor?? But again the deployment occurred while the car was stationary. I am putting my summer Z3 Coupe wheels on the Z4 tomorrow (same size) and will let you all know how this goes...of course will be eventually taking the car to the dealer for a full analysis and report that also

http://s1281.photobucket.com/user/fo...?sort=3&page=1
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  #8  
Old 12-29-2013, 07:06 AM
Dheilman Dheilman is offline
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The bulges are because the tire structure was damaged when the tire was run flat. It only takes a short distance to render the tire unusable. I agree, that shouldn't cause the air bag to go off.
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  #9  
Old 12-29-2013, 07:26 AM
3star 3star is offline
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Sounds like you developed some sort of short in the srs system. And if I'm correct your car won't pass an safety inspections now. Once the airbag deployed its totalled only thing you can do now is turn it into a race car.
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  #10  
Old 12-29-2013, 08:11 AM
Dheilman Dheilman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3star View Post
Sounds like you developed some sort of short in the srs system. And if I'm correct your car won't pass an safety inspections now. Once the airbag deployed its totalled only thing you can do now is turn it into a race car.
Where did you get that idea?? Drivers side air bags can be replaced easily. There is a problem with cars that have 3 passenger seating in the front if the passenger side airbag deploys it requires so much force for the large bag (it has to cover two front seat passengers) that it often bends the dash support that runs transversely across the center of the car behind the dash. In a unit body that in effect narrows the body making it difficult and expensive to repair. Many cars with this condition are totaled. There is no reason to total a Z4 just because the drivers side airbag deployed.
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  #11  
Old 12-29-2013, 05:48 PM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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Took the old wheels/tires off today and replaced with my Z3 coupe wheels. The car now drives and handles very well. I have attached a link showing just how bad that tire was. You can see how deceptive that tire was as it "looked" perfectly normal from the outside appearance. I only wish I had looked at the inside of that tire prior to driving. But the day of the flat, it was 20 degrees, raining and windy. Just wanted to get home asap. My county in Ohio does not have mandatory emissions or safety checks. Also there are a multitude of vehicles running around this area with replaced steering wheel airbags installed. Next step will be to take it to the dealer (or my regular independent shop), get the car analyzed, and, depending on the analysis, the airbag replaced.

http://s1281.photobucket.com/user/fo...?sort=2&page=1

Last edited by ZEEBOY; 12-29-2013 at 05:58 PM.
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  #12  
Old 12-29-2013, 06:42 PM
3star 3star is offline
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well thats good to kow i didnt know that you could do that good luck man
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  #13  
Old 12-30-2013, 07:11 AM
manana manana is offline
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ZEEBOY, this is a very interesting post; please let us know how things get resolved. I'm very curious the cause and cost of repair.

Good luck with it; I hope it's not too expensive.

Steve
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  #14  
Old 12-20-2014, 02:02 PM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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It's been almost a year since I posted on this thread that I initiated exactly one year ago today. Would like to bring you all up to date. First, this is my wife's car...a week after the airbag deployment my wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer..so as you can image all activity on this particular problem ceased. After a very bad first few months of 2014...my wife has made very good progress and was told this week her cancer is in remission...thank God and thank modern medicine for their understanding of DNA.
Back to the car..after cleaning up the mess inside the car, I removed the airbag, andI glued the exploded plastic centerpiece with the logo back together and put it back on the steering wheel hub. I put my Z3 coupe summer wheels/tires on the car and the car drives well. Probably have not put over 600 miles on it since the event.
I did not contact bmw customer relations until this month as my logic was even if the car did get repaired, I would always be concerned about another "event" occurring. Probably ill founded logic but that was my knee jerk reaction.
Last week I contacted bmw customer relations to see what, if anything could be done. So far they have been accommodating. They made arrangements for me to take the car into my local bmw dealership. I took the car in Tuesday of this week and dropped it off. They have provided me with a loaner car at their expense and the zone customer guys were in Wednesday to thoroughly analyze the car ( this was encouraging to me as I anticipated they would just have the local dealer see if the car was throwing codes) As of yesterday they are telling me they are still analyzing the data for root cause. My guess is they will probably eventually tell me what happened, but due to the car being a 2003 all expense will be on me. But, one never knows, perhaps will work out better. I felt obligated to report back to this community what has happened and what the final outcome will be. Wish me luck!

Last edited by ZEEBOY; 12-20-2014 at 09:51 PM.
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  #15  
Old 12-20-2014, 02:02 PM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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It's been almost a year since I posted on this thread that I initiated exactly one year ago today. Would like to bring you all up to date. First, this is my wife's car...a week after the airbag deployment my wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer..so as you can image all activity on this particular problem ceased. After a very bad first few months of 2014...my wife has made very good progress and was told this week her cancer is in remission...thank God and thank modern medicine for their understanding of DNA.
Back to the car..after cleaning up the mess inside the car, I removed the airbag, andI glued the exploded plastic centerpiece with the logo back together and put it back on the steering wheel hub. I put my Z3 coupe summer wheels/tires on the car and the car drives well. Probably have not put over 600 miles on it since the event.
I did not contact bmw customer relations until this month as my logic was even if the car did get repaired, I would always be concerned about another "event" occurring. Probably ill founded logic but that was my knee jerk reaction.
Last week I contacted bmw customer relations to see what, if anything could be done. So far they have been accommodating. They made arrangements for me to take the car into my local bmw dealership. I took the car in Tuesday of this week and dropped it off. They have provided me with a loaner car at their expense and the zone customer guys were in Wednesday to thoroughly analyze the car ( this was encouraging to me as I anticipated they would just have the local dealer see if the car was throwing codes) As of yesterday they are telling me they are still analyzing the data for root cause. My guess is they will probably eventually tell me what happened, but due to the car being a 2003 all expense will be on me. But, one never knows, perhaps will work out better. I felt obligated to report back to this community what has happened and what the final outcome will be. Wish me luck!

Last edited by ZEEBOY; 12-20-2014 at 09:51 PM.
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2014, 05:04 PM
cmasone cmasone is offline
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Does this have to do with the massive recall in airbags going on now across the country? I believe I heard of BMW as being a possibility.
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2014, 08:49 PM
lomax lomax is offline
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So sorry to hear about your wife. I am so glad she is in remission.

I do not know the years or models but do know that BMW has used the air bags that are now being recalled. Hopefully we shall hear more about this.

As I also have a 2003 I would be very interested in what they find.

Marc
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  #18  
Old 12-20-2014, 08:52 PM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Zeeboy, glad you got good news for your wife!

Cmasone, the recall isn't related to this. The recall is for a defect in Takata air bags when they are purposely deployed in an accident. There's a sealing/corrosion issue with the gas generator that inflates the air bag, and the gas generator housing disintegrates and turns into shrapnel directed at the occupant it's supposed to detect. There was a woman her locally that was killed in a relatively minor accident when the shrapnel from the air bag hit her carotid artery. She survived at the scene but died a day later from complications from massive blood loss.

There's been another thread I've seen similar where it was the passenger air bag deployed spontaneously. I believe the common factor was heavy current draw from the convenience outlet in the center console. Since reading the original thread, I've put large alligator clamps on my air compressor so I can connect it to the battery instead of plugging into the convenience outlet.
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  #19  
Old 12-22-2014, 08:58 AM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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dc.wright...do you recall where you saw the thread that alluded to the center console power outlet being a contributing factor?
Thanks
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Old 12-22-2014, 12:56 PM
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It was in this forum. The poster had several issues with his car and I believe he'd had the SRS light on for a while plus had done some things that might have run high amperage through the wiring harness. He also fixed his SRS light by drilling a hole into the cluster to kill it so there was question about his "stability" to start with. Haven't had time to go searching for his thread, but it had a bunch of posts, and then he disappeared after he got flamed for the "drill out" SRS lamp fix.
I was remembering his post and seeing that you had used an air compressor that made me thing there might be a relationship.
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  #21  
Old 12-22-2014, 01:21 PM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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Oh yes...remember that fellow...I actually contacted him off forum before he revealed he had drilled the hole in his dash..
Thanks dc
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Old 12-22-2014, 03:11 PM
ZEEBOY ZEEBOY is offline
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I just re read that thread and the main reason they gave for denying that guy (besides his insane decision to drill out the airbag warning light!) was that the car had been in an accident a few years before he acquired the car and that the car had had the airbag warning light for a protracted period of time. Now, let me ask this group a question...how many Z4 owners have to periodically chase the airbag warning lights? On my wife's Z4, the air bag light would be on about 5% of the time, and would come and go. Right now the passenger airbag does the same thing..I can drive the car for weeks with the light not on but it will suddenly appear and then disappear. On my Z3 coupe, I have never seen the airbag light come on in my 4 years of ownership.
I am not trying to build a coalition here...I am just curious as to what other owners are experiencing.

Last edited by ZEEBOY; 12-22-2014 at 03:48 PM.
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  #23  
Old 12-22-2014, 03:25 PM
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I had an SRS light issue a couple months ago. In the battery compartment there's a terminal block and one of the wires from that terminal block feeds the SRS system. When the PO of my car had the battery replaced, whoever did it snagged this wire and it was banjo strung until it pulled loose from the terminal block. Fixing the wire fixed the SRS issue. Have you checked this area yet?
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Old 12-22-2014, 06:59 PM
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Clearancediver Clearancediver is offline
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I had the same issue and when that wire connection
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Old 12-22-2014, 07:01 PM
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Clearancediver Clearancediver is offline
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..was cleaned ( same wire as DC Wright) the SRS light went away.
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