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7 Series - F01 / F02 (2009 - 2015)
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  #1  
Old 03-11-2017, 02:16 PM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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BMW Activehybrid7 Hybrid malfunction car wont start

Hey Guys. First thread here. Searched high and low for an answer, but not finding anything.

Car is a 2011 BMW activehybrid 7 with 68k miles.

My car is a royal PITA. I went out of town for 3 months and when i came back, my car wouldn't start; battery was dead. Put a jumper on the front charging terminals under the hood, and got power to the car, but it would not turn over (it didn't even try to; no clicking starter, no sounds, etc). I drive message appeared reading "hybrid system malfunction". I had the car towed to a bmw dealership, and they said it needs a new hybrid battery which was around 14k installed. Had it towed back to my house until i can figure out what to do.

To be completely honest, I'm not really buying what the service guys told me. I'm not doubting that it MIGHT need a hybrid battery, but is there really no way to start the car if the hybrid battery is bad? I talked to a couple of old college buddies who are now engineers and they gave me the low down on lithium batteries; they are very confident that they can figure out whats wrong with the battery if they dissassemble it. Before i go down that path, because i am sure not spending 14k on this car, is there anything I can check/should check (fuses, relays, etc) that are directly linked to the hybrid system or battery?

And most importantly, is there really not a way to start the car given the hybrid battery is bad?

Thanks a lot guys.
Really appreciate any help.

Last edited by Jamescullinan41; 03-11-2017 at 02:18 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-11-2017, 10:27 PM
Robin750 Robin750 is offline
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The electric motor is used to start the engine, so the car can't start if the hybrid system has a malfunction. Trying to jump the 12V battery won't help because there is no 12V starter.

It sounds like the hybrid battery may have completely discharged while you were gone, so the first thing to try is to charge the battery. I don't know if the dealer has already tried that, but typically lithium-ion batteries have overdischarge protection that will cutoff the battery. This can usually be reversed unless the battery has been so overdischarged that it's permanently damaged and no longer safe to charge again.

There is a procedure to charge the hybrid battery in this type of situation, so you may want to talk to the shop foreman and see whether they had already tried charging it. If they did and it's not taking any charge, it might really need replacement due to overdischarge damage. Even if your friends are lithium-ion battery engineers, I would be hesitant to service the OEM battery because the last thing you want would be a 126V battery fire due to imbalanced cells.
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Old 03-12-2017, 06:32 AM
Jerry 745Li Jerry 745Li is offline
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There is a proprt procedure

I had documentation that described the jumping procedure when the hybrid battery is dead. You would charge the battery or hook jumper cables to another vehicle, then do something to activate the cars inverter to begin the charging process of the hybrid battery. The hybrid charging process would take time. I am trying to find the documentation now and will post back if I find it.

Jerry
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Old 03-12-2017, 11:04 AM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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@Robin750:
Thank you for insight. I did talk to my engineering buddies (they are not battery engineers per se, but they are pretty sharp A.I engineers with enough knowledge in all sub sectors pertaining to their field.


The information they relayed to me, which may be helpful to someone else in my position, is that the lithium cells have a "cutoff" switch that will "save" the battery from over discharging beyond the point of no return. If a cell is below that certain threshold, that contact switch, or cutoff switch will be open, and in turn short the circuit. This is completely off speculation, but they are guessing that there is a stack of lithium cells, and there are some cells that are below that threshold that would require a very sophisticated charger to bring it back to life (which they have in their shop). Worst case is if they can't charge the cell, they can order one (not from BMW directly, but whoever the manufacturer is which will be clear on disassembly).

@Robin750, to answer your questions, They only have 1 technician who is qualified to work on the hybrid, and she was unavailable when I asked to speak to her when i went to pick up the car. As far as I know, they only plugged the car to their computer, and diagnosed it as a bad battery. I spoke to foreman, who was knowledgable on the hybrid system, but he just said I need a new battery because there is a computer linked to the hybrid system that will not allow the car to start if the battery is below a certain voltage. I asked if there is a way to charge it, and he said they can't charge it unlike the plug in hybrids. I'm feeling like i got jipped taking it their as they only seemed concerned about selling me a 14k service.

Now, this is still going to be a huge PITA, because i have to remove the battery, send it to Massachusetts, wait for them to work it in their busy schedule which could take a while, and then hope that it works upon arrival. I will probably go this route if all else fails because it would be the most economical move, but am really looking forward to the charging instructions from Jerry745Li.

@Jerry745LI, I have tried to jump the car to another car, and left it for a while, but could not get the Malfunction light to go away. Maybe i just need the extra step for the inverter to kick in.

Thanks all.
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  #5  
Old 03-12-2017, 11:13 AM
Robin750 Robin750 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamescullinan41 View Post
I asked if there is a way to charge it, and he said they can't charge it unlike the plug in hybrids. I'm feeling like i got jipped taking it their as they only seemed concerned about selling me a 14k service.
Take a look at the procedure attached and give it a try. You'll want to buy a 70A charger though.
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  #6  
Old 03-12-2017, 11:27 AM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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@Robin750 Thanks for this. Really helpful. I do have a couple of questions. One of the pre-requisites in the page you sent is that "terminal 15 must be switched on". Do you know what terminal 15 is? and if so, how would i know it is on. Also, further down the page, it mentions an "emergency jump".... Is this BMW's was of getting the car to turn on in my situation? If so, i'd really like to know how to do this.

In terms of a 70a, it seems like the amp's can exceed 70, and you need to apply a certain amount of juice to activate the high voltage system (am i understanding this right). If thats the case, what if i had 2 cars running and "double jumped" the terminals of the dead 7 under the hood (2 sets of cables with 2 cars running supplying voltage to the bmw).
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Old 03-12-2017, 11:55 AM
Robin750 Robin750 is offline
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Terminal 15 means ignition on. Charging the battery is the "emergency jump" procedure, since the hybrid can't be "jumped" like a regular car.

Reversing lithium-ion cutoff typically involves an initial slow trickle charge to reset the protection circuitry before then the battery can charge normally, which is what the documentation seems to be hinting at. It sounds like the hybrid charging system can pull a lot of current, which might not be a good idea to do for an extended period of time from another car that is running (don't know how that would affect the electrical systems of those cars, especially given how sensitive these systems can be). If you disconnect the battery from the supply car, you should be fine pulling 70A from a single battery.

I would recommend getting a high-output 12V battery charger anyways, as it would be best to fully charge both the hybrid and the 12V batteries and then clear all of the stored errors to make sure everything is fine.
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Old 03-12-2017, 12:05 PM
Jerry 745Li Jerry 745Li is offline
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Save a copy of the Complete Hybrid technical specs for the F04 attached to this thread. I was unable to copy and paste from the PDF so go to page 86 under section 6.3.2 and you may find that helpful.

Please post back with whatever the outcome is for your vehicle as it may help others.

Thank you,
Jerry
Attached Files
File Type: pdf F04-Complete-Vehicle-WEB.pdf (4.08 MB, 26 views)
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  #9  
Old 03-12-2017, 12:38 PM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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Thanks guys. 30 min and counting with 2 cars parked and running on both side of the 7, the "hybrid malfunction message" is not going away. I'll give it another hour, and see what happens, though not looking hopeful as the messages it seems like i'm supposed to see are Battery charging, or hybrid too low to start, etc.

I have been looking for a used battery as well, but these cars are so rare that there isn't a single one in the country. I have found that the 11-12 batteries only from a 7 is my only option, apparently 13's changed.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks all
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  #10  
Old 03-12-2017, 12:40 PM
Robin750 Robin750 is offline
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Did you try to start the car twice before connecting the jumper cables? Otherwise, you might need to get an ENET cable and ISTA/D to start the service function for charging the battery.
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Old 03-12-2017, 12:54 PM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin750 View Post
Did you try to start the car twice before connecting the jumper cables? Otherwise, you might need to get an ENET cable and ISTA/D to start the service function for charging the battery.
Yes, opened door, popped hood, jumped the car with 2 sets of cables and 2 cars, message appeared on cluster saying "hybrid malfunction". tried to start once, turned off, tried to start twice, turned off, and then hit the start/stop button again to get all accessories on, turned off all accessories, and let the car sit hoping i would see a message of sorts indicating that a charge was in effect. So far, hybrid malfunction light is still on.

I tried to download the ista/d a while back and could never get it to work (spent hours on it), I'll see what happens with the charge, though not hopeful at this point. I'll keep you all posted.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:34 PM
Robin750 Robin750 is offline
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Don't turn off the ignition after trying to start, do it twice in a row.
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Old 03-12-2017, 02:09 PM
Jerry 745Li Jerry 745Li is offline
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Are there any more details in iDrive about the Hybrid Malfunction? May not be battery related at all. But you mentioned the dealer said the hybrid battery needs replacing. Is there another dealer close by in which you can get a second opinion?
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Old 03-12-2017, 02:31 PM
Jerry 745Li Jerry 745Li is offline
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@Robin750: Can the original poster pull the DTC trouble codes from the hidden menu? That would provide a little more info as to what really is malfunctioning with the hybrid system.

Jerry
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Old 03-12-2017, 02:53 PM
Robin750 Robin750 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry 745Li View Post
@Robin750: Can the original poster pull the DTC trouble codes from the hidden menu? That would provide a little more info as to what really is malfunctioning with the hybrid system.

Jerry
I haven't found that menu to be useful, some of those codes can't be searched in ISTA/D. If he gets ISTA/D working, then he could use the service function instead.

Might also be worth it to check the voltage of the hybrid battery as well.
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Old 03-12-2017, 03:20 PM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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Hi Robin and Jerry,

let the car get juice for about an hour and nothing. Not quite sure where to go from here other that remove that battery. Nothing noted in the Idrive about the fault. I pulled back all the trunk lining and have the battery exposed. I wonder if its possible to charge the battery directly, although i don't see a way to quite do that.
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Old 03-12-2017, 05:02 PM
Jerry 745Li Jerry 745Li is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamescullinan41 View Post
Hi Robin and Jerry,

let the car get juice for about an hour and nothing. Not quite sure where to go from here other that remove that battery. Nothing noted in the Idrive about the fault. I pulled back all the trunk lining and have the battery exposed. I wonder if its possible to charge the battery directly, although i don't see a way to quite do that.
The hybrid battery is around 100 volts so I don't think you can direct charge that. That battery is a part of a bigger unit which contains freon lines running from the air conditioner compressor to cool it, so I'm not so sure removing it is a simple task. I never read the whole tech manual I attached so maybe there is more info on replacing it included in that document.

Jerry
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Old 03-12-2017, 07:10 PM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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Jerry and Robin, My brotha's from another motha.

I got the battery out of the car. It wasn't that bad. I was super cautious around the connector not to zap myself. Bad news though..... the box is completely sealed, in that it is welded at every corner. I was hoping to crack it open and start testing for bad cells, i don't know that it is serviceable at all.

Well, at least i got it out, it's in the trunk of my other car, and I'm going to take it to one of those hybrid specialty places that fix prius's and see if they can be of help. I'll keep you all posted.
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Old 03-13-2017, 06:59 AM
Jerry 745Li Jerry 745Li is offline
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If you pulled the battery then you had to disconnect the coolant lines which means you will have to charge the AC system after reinstallation. Also, if you read the description of the battery in the PDF I attached a few posts back you will find this battery can't really be serviced. Still, keep us informed of your progress.

Thanks,
Jerry
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:25 AM
Island Bimmer Island Bimmer is offline
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Good day ,

I'm facing the same problem . When trying to charge high voltage system, where do I hook up the charger cables ?


2011 BMW Active Hybrid 7
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:41 AM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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Hey Jerry,
I took the conversation offline, but really want to thank you for your help as well. I will post my findings.

Island Bimmer,
I have a Mad Hybrid Scientist working on my battery. I'll let you know how it goes. Jerry posted some documentation that was really helpful, however I was not able to get around my Hybrid Malfunction message to get to the Charging message.

Apparently, everything is done through the terminals under the hood, needs over 70amps to get the hybrid activated if i read that correctly.
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:47 AM
Island Bimmer Island Bimmer is offline
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The 12volt battery is fully charged . But I'm still getting Hybrid Malfunction.


Thanks
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:52 AM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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Look through the tech article posted above in this thread. Also, look at Robin's comments on trying to start the vehicle twice. It may work for you; it didn't work me though.
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Old 03-14-2017, 12:48 PM
Island Bimmer Island Bimmer is offline
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Thanks I'm charging through the connectors in the hood . I have my charger set on 12v . I was asking if I should use it on 24volts?


Don't want to burn anything.


The car was running fine guy disconnected battery while servicing oil and plugs, and problems started from there

Sending me crazy
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Old 03-14-2017, 01:31 PM
Jamescullinan41 Jamescullinan41 is offline
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I would check that Hybrid disconnect plug by your battery to make sure it didn't come loose, he could have disconnected it and forgot to put it back on. Did the car start after the service?

The plug is on the right side next to the 12v battery under the trunk liner. It has a white label on it that says something hybrid. The mating end of the plug has a looped wire that just closes the circuit. Hopefully thats a good description.

The way I charged my car was to have two cars and 2 sets of cables charging the BMW. I don't know how safe it is, but thats what i did. Charged at charged at jumper terminals under the hood.
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