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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
The E9X is the 4th evolution of the BMW 3 series including a highly tuned twin turbo 335i variant pushing out 300hp and 300 ft. lbs. of torque. BMW continues to show that it sets the bar for true driving performance! -- View the E9X Wiki

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  #1  
Old 06-14-2012, 03:51 PM
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cneighbor cneighbor is offline
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Any A/C issues out there?

Man, I hate to bring up an issue that doesn't exist, but has anyone had any A/C issues? Particularly in the early E90 models. It's been over 100 in south Texas and it's gotten me thinking about our super cold A/C systems...and reliable thus far. FWIW, I just knocked on a cedar post
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:25 PM
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I have an '08 328i and it went out a little past 65,000 miles this April. The dealer replaced quite a bit and would have been an expensive repair had I not had the extended warranty. A coworker had his go out about 80,000ish on an '06 325i for another data point. Good luck, hope yours keeps cold for many miles to come. I feel sorry when I see people driving all windows down in this 95+ humid weather.
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:43 PM
AWCoupe AWCoupe is offline
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Just had my 2009 re-charged at the dealer. It was blowing lukewarm air. Now it is nice and frosty. They couldn't find a leak so I'm not sure what is going on there though. We'll see how long it lasts. Car has 38k on it. Didn't cost me anything, which was nice.
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:27 AM
mossman35 mossman35 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCoupe View Post
Just had my 2009 re-charged at the dealer. It was blowing lukewarm air. Now it is nice and frosty. They couldn't find a leak so I'm not sure what is going on there though. We'll see how long it lasts. Car has 38k on it. Didn't cost me anything, which was nice.
There has to be a leak otherwise where did it all go? Sounds like they took the easy (lazy) way out.

If it's a slow leak you might be good for a couple of years... Not good way to treat things though.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:01 AM
Tom K. Tom K. is offline
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For what it's worth, after 6 years and about 70k miles my E46 began blowing warm air/cool (but not cold) air from different vents. Multiple leaks were repaired ($1000+) and the system was fine for four more years at which point the symptoms returned. I went to a local mechanic who found the sytem to be very slightly below optimum charge. After a re-charge (total cost $100), it again blew cold air until traded a year later.

So I suspect AWCoupe should be OK for awhile.

Tom
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:09 PM
AWCoupe AWCoupe is offline
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Originally Posted by mossman35 View Post
There has to be a leak otherwise where did it all go? Sounds like they took the easy (lazy) way out.

If it's a slow leak you might be good for a couple of years... Not good way to treat things though.
I waited 2 hours for the car, so unless they just left it sitting in the bay pretending to work on it, I'm pretty sure they made an effort to find a leak. I agree, there has to be a leak. BMW of Bridgeport is pretty good though, so who knows. It's working, that's all I care about. I have no idea how long I'll own this car. I bought it last November and hopefully when it comes time to sell the A/C is still working well.
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:01 PM
ramblinman ramblinman is offline
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My 2008 e92 is doing fine but it only has 30k miles. My e46 went almost 100k miles before the compressor failed. In my experience that's pretty typical. Yours may last longer or less. Compressors are made by parts suppliers. Not sure who makes BMW's. Denso supplies a lot of oems.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:26 PM
AWCoupe AWCoupe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom K. View Post
For what it's worth, after 6 years and about 70k miles my E46 began blowing warm air/cool (but not cold) air from different vents. Multiple leaks were repaired ($1000+) and the system was fine for four more years at which point the symptoms returned. I went to a local mechanic who found the sytem to be very slightly below optimum charge. After a re-charge (total cost $100), it again blew cold air until traded a year later.

So I suspect AWCoupe should be OK for awhile.

Tom
Well, not that long of awhile. About 10 days ago I began to notice that the air just wasn't as frosty as it was when I had it recharged on June 1st. The blistering Northeast heat magnified the situation. Well seven weeks to the day of the recharge, I found myself back at the dealership this morning for more A/C service. It's blowing lukewarm air again. An obvious leak, right? After another evacuate and full recharge with dye injection to locate leaks, I'm being told they can't find any leaks. Really? Compressor checks out, etc. It is nice and frosty once again.
Dealership wants me back on August 14th for a re-check. They plan on keeping the car all day. Already have a loaner booked. Unhappy with the situation but pleased with the customer service. While I was there, my SA ordered a new cabin filter and the brake fluid flush, which was due in October. She is also getting me back in for the free annual oil change in September, which will be the last one of the freebies. The car comes off of the 4year/50k in October.
Keeping my fingers crossed and hope to have this issue resolved after the August appointment. If it continues to be a problem, the SA said A/C recharges are covered under the CPO, but I'd have to pay the diagnostic charge. We will see. This is my first BMW and I love how the car drives but this is my third warranty claim in the last three months. I've only owned the car since last November. Not a good omen.

Just a quick oh BTW, my 2002 Mustang GT that I bought brand new and still own has the original factory fill of refrigerant that left Dearborn, Michigan back in October of 2001. I've never had it serviced. Car has 140k on the clock. Turn on max A/C and you need to break out the hat and gloves. That car stickered for 23k. My 2009 BMW 328 coupe window sticker: 47k.(I bought the car CPO for 30k) Just sayin....
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  #9  
Old 07-21-2012, 07:25 AM
Tom K. Tom K. is offline
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Sorry to hear it - let us know what the final fix entails. Seems like it's the luck of the draw as 4 of the 5 Bimmers I've owned since 1997 have had no A/C issues with milages ranging from about 40 to 70k. The 128i 'vert just completed a trip thru the south with indicated temps up to 113o and the A/C cooled very well. OTOH, my last Ford, a '91 SHO, ran with no A/C after 80k as my repair budget had long been spent on too many other items.

Hope everything is finally sorted out for you with a minimum of expense and bother.

Tom

Last edited by Tom K.; 07-21-2012 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 07-27-2012, 05:15 AM
Manybrews Manybrews is offline
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There's two things you all should know about BMW ac systems.
First is that like all automakers, they DO allow a "loss" or refrigerant each year. It usually between 15-30 grams. Which isn't much, but can add up after 5-10 years.
Second thing is that e-90s are prone to infinitesimally small leaks on the evaporator. You will NEVER find them at the same time it is being serviced.
If you lose charge over 2-3 years, the only way to fix it (assuming you don't have a large, obvious leak like a hole in the condenser via a rock) is to add tracer dye and recheck it months later. Generally, the dye will be found exiting the hvac unit through the ac condensate drain under the car if its the evaporator. There are no other common leaks on the e-90.
The evaporator is made by valeo, and they make them for many automakers... Unfortunately, BMW is not the only company to have issues with them.
If they are leaking, it's usually so tiny that it literally takes years for enough loss to effect the system.
Also note that if it is leaking, you may be able to smell the odor of refrigerant oil when you first fire up the blower motor. It has an odd smell... Very "chemical" like.

Replacing the evaporator is quite expensive. The dash and all associated components must come out.
Many people opt to just evacuate ands recharge every 2 years to maintain system pressures. It's not perfect, but 200 bucks is better than 1800.

Last edited by Manybrews; 07-27-2012 at 05:20 AM.
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  #11  
Old 07-27-2012, 05:40 PM
AWCoupe AWCoupe is offline
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Manybrews, good info. I was hoping that I was going to be good for a year or more but that isn't my situation. The system needed a charge after 7 short weeks.
New news is that after filling out a performance survey that the dealership emailed me earlier this week about my visit and my level of satisfaction, I get a call from the customer service manager regarding my less than glowing review in the survey. He wanted to know if I would have a problem with them holding the car for a few days when I go back in August so they can get to the bottom of this. He has a claim into BMW NA to get authorization to go ahead and start pulling stuff apart to get this resolved. If they OK the expense, I can see where they would yank out the dash or whatever needs to be done to fix this leak. Manybrews may be on to something with the evaporator. I told him whatever it takes. He was cognizant of the fact that the car comes off warranty in October and seems determined to get this handled before then. Now that's what I expect to hear from somebody regarding a problem with something that I spent mucho coin on. Not, "Sorry can't duplicate the problem", or in this case "Can't find the leak." Again we will see what happens. If your dealership sends you a survey and you have a beef, fill it out and make your voice heard. Somebody actually reads those things. At least in this case. Good to know.
I guess BMW of Bridgeport wants to protect their Service Center Excellence Award that only 13 dealerships in the country got last year. Stay tuned........
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  #12  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:55 PM
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cneighbor cneighbor is offline
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Good info, AWCoupe. Those surveys must be pretty important and I suspect they mean more than just an award...cash incentives and hold back for the dealership is my guess.
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Old 07-28-2012, 01:04 PM
SuperTerp SuperTerp is offline
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Good info, AWCoupe. Those surveys must be pretty important and I suspect they mean more than just an award...cash incentives and hold back for the dealership is my guess.

Its always good to keep in touch if you ever get an email from a gm or sm I've started up a relationship with the GM at my dealer simply by responding to an email saying if you need anything email me, so I did and he wound up attaching my concerns (not complaints to half the staff at the service department) going out of the way and forming relationships is a must I also don't expect free stuff or cheap repairs... I just want fair
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Old 07-29-2012, 09:33 AM
Manybrews Manybrews is offline
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I would say that the issue is almost assuredly a leaking evaporator... Although it obviously could be other things, the fact that it is becoming a more common failure combined with the difficulty in locating the leak pretty much points at the evaporator.
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Old 07-29-2012, 09:39 AM
TehMasterSword TehMasterSword is offline
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Hah, my 07 328xi stopped blowing cold recently. Something wrong with the low pressure side, expansion valve I believe. In the shop right now under warranty (which ends in two weeks! phew).
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:58 AM
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Yea, my AC works better then the heater! Keep expecting to see my breath ... I only have 42K on it but it's working great!
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:54 PM
NewBMWownr NewBMWownr is offline
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My '08 works perfectly. Then again, I only have 33K miles. I think there are several points to be made on this topic. First, aside from mechanical failure (i.e. accident), evaporators should always be suspected for refrigerant leaks. While often well designed, the evaporator is the site of brutal conditions: liquid refrigerant under pressure is being forced through an orifice tube or expansion valve where it sublimates into a gas absorbing heat. The hurricane-like conditions inside the evaporator (liquid being sprayed at high pressure and speed) is matched by the thermal conditions the evaporator is being exposed to (heat and then cold) which causes expansion and contraction of the evaporator. All of this adds up to stress: thermal stress and mechanical stress and stress equals cracks and leaks over time.

Diagnosing an evaporator leak solely using dye is an exercise in futility in my opinion. The evaporator is buried in the dash with makes finding the tell-tale dye stains from a leak next to impossible regardless of whether the mechanic is using a visible light or UV (ultraviolet) dye. The better solution for diagnosis is to use a combination of UV dye and a refrigerant gas detector (aka 'sniffer'). The refrigerant gas detector has a small diameter flexible tube that houses the detector head and, in many cases, the plumbing for a mechanical vacuum pump. The mechanical vacuum pump draws leaking refrigerant in to the detector head, triggering an alert to the operator. See here for example of a refrigerant gas detector. Using a refrigerant gas detector is to find an evaporator leak can be particularly effective because the long flexible tube can be inserted into dash and defroster vents in proximity to the evaporator. The user need not visually see the leak or the leak detector tell tale to confirm a leak.

There are 2 SAE standards for leak detectors: SAE-J-2791 (newer) and SAE-J-1627 (older) The newer standard requires that detectors be able to detect leaks at a level of 4g/joint/year versus 14g/joint/year. Many techs may have a leak detector certified to the older standard and may therefore miss very small leaks.

Finally, the e90 has a relatively small amount of refrigerant: 590g (1.3 lbs) and a tight tolerance band (+/- 50g .02lbs). A small leak and a small loss would likely be noticed. Also, given the tight tolerance band, recharging the system really isn't a DIY activity. I've done a lot of air conditioning work on a lot of cars but I won't touch the e90.

There are leak sealers that are designed to seal small leaks in both hoses as well as metal components of the air conditioning system. These are not the additives that can be found in some forms of R-134 but rather stand alone 4 ounce cans of product that use a small amount of r-134 as a charge. They are injected into the system in the same manner as refrigerant. I must note that the Bavarian Gods would probably take a dim view of using said products in one of their master werks and also some shops will refuse to recharge systems with leak sealers citing risk to the shop's refrigerant recovery machines. Use at your own risk.

It's also worth noting that there's yet another refrigerant on the horizon: R-1234yf which will replace R-134. R-1234yf was developed to meet EU mandates for a lower global warming potential refrigerant than R-134 (while R-134 is chlorine free and therefore not an ozone depleting substance, it still has a global-warming potential that is 1300 times that of carbon dioxide). Expect to see R-1234yf very soon (GM has allegedly begun the transition).

More info for those as sadistic as me: http://www2.dupont.com/Refrigerants/...oit_042010.pdf
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:04 PM
AWCoupe AWCoupe is offline
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Now that is really good info NewBMWownr. You are spot on with those specs. A full evacuate and re-charge of refrigerant took exactly 1.3lbs. It's right on the repair invoice. Good stuff. Are u a tech? I am really tempted to print out your response and bring it down to the dealership and give it to my SA when I go back in a few weeks. An evaporator question for those in the know regarding the location: Is it behind the dash on an E92 coupe? I have the Bentley service manual for the car and there is an exploded diagram of the whole system under the caption- A/C components in the engine compartment.
Evaporator is shown. Maybe I can scan that and post it up.
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:55 PM
NewBMWownr NewBMWownr is offline
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Originally Posted by AWCoupe View Post
Now that is really good info NewBMWownr. You are spot on with those specs. A full evacuate and re-charge of refrigerant took exactly 1.3lbs. It's right on the repair invoice. Good stuff. Are u a tech? I am really tempted to print out your response and bring it down to the dealership and give it to my SA when I go back in a few weeks. An evaporator question for those in the know regarding the location: Is it behind the dash on an E92 coupe? I have the Bentley service manual for the car and there is an exploded diagram of the whole system under the caption- A/C components in the engine compartment.
Evaporator is shown. Maybe I can scan that and post it up.
Happy to help. Regarding your question on the evaporator location: It's in the assembly that contains the blower motor (generally located behind the center console in the car) (Bentley Page 640-16 and 640-18, first picture). Hard to see but in the -18 picture you can see what appear to be 2 tubes and also 2 fittings at the left of the illustration. The tubes are for the heater core and the fittings are for the evaporator. The comment in the Bentley manual about components in the engine compartment is incorrect relative to the evaporator. The rest of the components are indeed in the engine compartment.

In your case, it's possible that you're experiencing a normal amount of leakage. No system is 100% leak free. Given the relatively small amount of refrigerant to begin with, a very small leak over a long enough time will cause performance issues. I'd ask the dealer what their experience rate (how many, at what age of car, etc.) is for e9x's coming in for A/C recharges and then send an email to Mike Miller at Roundel and see if he has a thought on the matter. Fortunately or unfortunately, time will tell if you have a substantial leak.

EDIT: 7 weeks of holding a charge is indicative of a big (relatively) leak. I'd be hammering them to do a proper diagnosis. That level of leak should easily be detected with the right equipment and a properly trained technician.

My background is aircraft maintenance but I'm one of those people who likes to DIY. One thing about aircraft maintenance is that they pound us techs to follow the procedure, so I tend to be fairly structured about doing it the right way, hence all the detail. I am EPA 608 (home AC) and 609 (Automotive) certified, pretty much because I'm obsessed with having a cool house and cool cars.

Last edited by NewBMWownr; 07-30-2012 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by AWCoupe View Post
Manybrews, good info. I was hoping that I was going to be good for a year or more but that isn't my situation. The system needed a charge after 7 short weeks.
New news is that after filling out a performance survey that the dealership emailed me earlier this week about my visit and my level of satisfaction, I get a call from the customer service manager regarding my less than glowing review in the survey. He wanted to know if I would have a problem with them holding the car for a few days when I go back in August so they can get to the bottom of this. He has a claim into BMW NA to get authorization to go ahead and start pulling stuff apart to get this resolved. If they OK the expense, I can see where they would yank out the dash or whatever needs to be done to fix this leak. Manybrews may be on to something with the evaporator. I told him whatever it takes. He was cognizant of the fact that the car comes off warranty in October and seems determined to get this handled before then. Now that's what I expect to hear from somebody regarding a problem with something that I spent mucho coin on. Not, "Sorry can't duplicate the problem", or in this case "Can't find the leak." Again we will see what happens. If your dealership sends you a survey and you have a beef, fill it out and make your voice heard. Somebody actually reads those things. At least in this case. Good to know.
I guess BMW of Bridgeport wants to protect their Service Center Excellence Award that only 13 dealerships in the country got last year. Stay tuned........
You're in good hands. This is a stellar dealership (bought both of our cars there) and the Service Department Manager (Eric L) is a class act. The car will be fixed one way or another and yes they deserve their Service of Excellence Awards, 2 years running!
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:09 PM
AWCoupe AWCoupe is offline
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I'll have to check that Bentley illustration again. Unfortunately I don't think I have the normal amount of leakage. Earlier in the thread I had mentioned that I had to have the system re-charged 7 weeks after its initial charge, due to warm air blowing from the vents. I'd say that is a nice leak. Looks like the evaporator is the likely suspect which would explain why the dealership needs the car for a few days to rip it apart. We'll see..
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:16 PM
NewBMWownr NewBMWownr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manybrews View Post
There's two things you all should know about BMW ac systems.
First is that like all automakers, they DO allow a "loss" or refrigerant each year. It usually between 15-30 grams. Which isn't much, but can add up after 5-10 years.
Second thing is that e-90s are prone to infinitesimally small leaks on the evaporator. You will NEVER find them at the same time it is being serviced.
If you lose charge over 2-3 years, the only way to fix it (assuming you don't have a large, obvious leak like a hole in the condenser via a rock) is to add tracer dye and recheck it months later. Generally, the dye will be found exiting the hvac unit through the ac condensate drain under the car if its the evaporator. There are no other common leaks on the e-90.
The evaporator is made by valeo, and they make them for many automakers... Unfortunately, BMW is not the only company to have issues with them.
If they are leaking, it's usually so tiny that it literally takes years for enough loss to effect the system.
Also note that if it is leaking, you may be able to smell the odor of refrigerant oil when you first fire up the blower motor. It has an odd smell... Very "chemical" like.

Replacing the evaporator is quite expensive. The dash and all associated components must come out.
Many people opt to just evacuate ands recharge every 2 years to maintain system pressures. It's not perfect, but 200 bucks is better than 1800.
Very good points, Manybrews. I did some sleuthing on RealOEM and it looks like the Valeo evaporators have been replaced by Denso units, at least on the random 2007 e91 335i that I plugged in: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...39&hg=64&fg=30.

Here's to the thought that BMW did see a spike in issues with Valeo evaporators and made a change for the better.
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:32 PM
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06 330xi 128k miles, no refill or any work done on AC. I usually have it on the 2 bar setting at 69 degrees.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:59 AM
AWCoupe AWCoupe is offline
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Originally Posted by Bemo View Post
You're in good hands. This is a stellar dealership (bought both of our cars there) and the Service Department Manager (Eric L) is a class act. The car will be fixed one way or another and yes they deserve their Service of Excellence Awards, 2 years running!
Bemo I think you are on the money here. I received an email yesterday from the President/GM of the dealership, a Mr. McManus, inquiring about whether or not his service team had contacted me yet about getting the ball rolling on getting this resolved. Frankly, I was a little shocked that this had traveled that far up the food chain and pleasantly surprised at the level of concern. I like it.
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Old 08-01-2012, 05:34 AM
Manybrews Manybrews is offline
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Originally Posted by NewBMWownr View Post
Very good points, Manybrews. I did some sleuthing on RealOEM and it looks like the Valeo evaporators have been replaced by Denso units, at least on the random 2007 e91 335i that I plugged in: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...39&hg=64&fg=30.

Here's to the thought that BMW did see a spike in issues with Valeo evaporators and made a change for the better.
Unfortunately, they have not been REPLACED. Some units do have denso evaporators, but most have valeo. And there's no real way of knowing which your car is equipped with without disassembly.
I do not know if they're actually interchangeable, and weve never actually replaced a denso unit.
It's standard procedure to install what came out.
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