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E60 / E61 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series E60 Sedan was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E61 wagon followed shortly there after. The E60/E61 5 series is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-24-2008, 03:29 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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Unhappy Low Battery Charge/Short Trips/No AC

On multiple occasions, my AC has not worked at startup, including on a 90 degree day. It then starts after some time of the car sitting and turned off. I took the car in twice for this. The battery tests and charges fine at the dealer and the charging system checks out fine with all their tests. Parked car power usage is normal. They said that, in typical operation, my battery is mostly staying between 40 and 60% charge. They all said that, below 75%, the computer may shut down non-vital systems like AC.

They told me the battery is not fully charging because I'm taking too many short trips. I typically drive 3-5 miles each way around town with a freeway trip over 20 miles about three times a month. Oddly, the last time it didn't work was after a 40 mile freeway trip, and the other time I experienced was one day after a 200 mile trip.

No other car I've ever owned has had this issue. Our Scion xA took the same treatment for 3 years without trouble and it's still on the original battery. Anybody else having this trouble? Any ideas on a fix? The damn thing isn't even three months old!
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  #2  
Old 05-24-2008, 05:54 PM
///M Rakete's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
On multiple occasions, my AC has not worked at startup, including on a 90 degree day. It then starts after some time of the car sitting and turned off. I took the car in twice for this. The battery tests and charges fine at the dealer and the charging system checks out fine with all their tests. Parked car power usage is normal. They said that, in typical operation, my battery is mostly staying between 40 and 60% charge. They all said that, below 75%, the computer may shut down non-vital systems like AC.

They told me the battery is not fully charging because I'm taking too many short trips. I typically drive 3-5 miles each way around town with a freeway trip over 20 miles about three times a month. Oddly, the last time it didn't work was after a 40 mile freeway trip, and the other time I experienced was one day after a 200 mile trip.

No other car I've ever owned has had this issue. Our Scion xA took the same treatment for 3 years without trouble and it's still on the original battery. Anybody else having this trouble? Any ideas on a fix? The damn thing isn't even three months old!
Given your driving profile (mileage and frequency) I am not surprised. Neither is BMW as they are denying battery warranty claims for cars driven less than 10,000 miles per year in some cases.
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  #3  
Old 05-24-2008, 07:00 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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That's pitiful though. I've never heard of another car having this trouble, or at least no modern car. I wonder if a pulley change on the alternator would fix it.
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  #4  
Old 05-24-2008, 07:36 PM
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I don't think this is just a battery issue at all. My 07 530xiT does the same thing, not as dramatic (a/c comes on after 2-3 minutes) but is not on nonetheless. I have not been able to reproduce this consistently enough to have my dealer address it. I also use a BMW "Advanced Battery Charging System" on a regular basis as I drive local short mileage trips too. It may have something to do with the battery but there is more afoot here than just the battery's state of charge.
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  #5  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:06 PM
MSAMMY MSAMMY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billd104 View Post
I don't think this is just a battery issue at all. My 07 530xiT does the same thing, not as dramatic (a/c comes on after 2-3 minutes) but is not on nonetheless. I have not been able to reproduce this consistently enough to have my dealer address it. I also use a BMW "Advanced Battery Charging System" on a regular basis as I drive local short mileage trips too. It may have something to do with the battery but there is more afoot here than just the battery's state of charge.
I totally agree - this can't be a battery issue. My 07 550i was delivered 06/2006, is almost 2 years old, has 15K miles and I drive 3.4 miles each way to work - sometimes for 2 weeks or so without highway driving. On top of that, the car is garaged from Nov-Apr each year, with intermittent trickle charge when I get a chance. Are you leaving your cell phone charging overnight, or possibly your Ipod? This may prevent your car from entering "sleep mode" after the typical 20 minutes and thus your electronics are draining your battery on you. You need to be careful with add-on electronics since the car needs less than 50mA of current draw to enter the normal "sleep mode" which shuts everything down.
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  #6  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:34 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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I leave no electronics in the car. They tested overnight and the power draw was normal for a sleeping car. The odd thing was, the last time the AC wouldn't work, I had just driven 40 miles on the freeway.
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  #7  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:38 PM
kscarrol kscarrol is offline
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I'm with the others, this is not just a battery issue. My 550 is now 7 months old and I only have a little over 5,000 miles on it and have never had an issue with the battery discharging. Week day commute is 2-3 miles each way, more miles running errands on the weekends. Once I had what I thought was a very slow start up with the AC but it has never happened again. And at this rate I will be well below the 10,000 miles per year quoted by another poster as BMW's bench mark.
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  #8  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:46 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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Originally Posted by kscarrol View Post
I'm with the others, this is not just a battery issue. My 550 is now 7 months old and I only have a little over 5,000 miles on it and have never had an issue with the battery discharging. Week day commute is 2-3 miles each way, more miles running errands on the weekends. Once I had what I thought was a very slow start up with the AC but it has never happened again. And at this rate I will be well below the 10,000 miles per year quoted by another poster as BMW's bench mark.
Well, I think i've got 1900 miles in just under 3 months, so I've got you beat on that.

The AC actually won't work at all for an entire car trip, and won't start. If it's between 40 and 60 per cent, it's pretty heavily discharged. I park outside, far away from an outlet, so charging overnight isn't an option either. This is getting annoying.

Like I said in the original post, they did a full going over of the charging system and battery. I think it's a design flaw.
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  #9  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:57 PM
kscarrol kscarrol is offline
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I agree, some design issue. Have never had the AC not kick on, and down here New Orleans it is plenty hot and humid. And I park outside as well, far away from an outlet as well so no trickle charger used. Good luck, I would keep pressing the dealer and even get BMWNA involved.
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  #10  
Old 05-24-2008, 10:05 PM
MSAMMY MSAMMY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
Well, I think i've got 1900 miles in just under 3 months, so I've got you beat on that.

The AC actually won't work at all for an entire car trip, and won't start. If it's between 40 and 60 per cent, it's pretty heavily discharged. I park outside, far away from an outlet, so charging overnight isn't an option either. This is getting annoying.

Like I said in the original post, they did a full going over of the charging system and battery. I think it's a design flaw.
OK, I just re-read your original post and for some reason, I don't understand the correlation between battery power and the air-conditioning's ability to turn on. Maybe I'm missing something, but the A/C is powered by an independent A/C compressor, which runs off a belt driven by the engine - no battery or motor drive is involved. What kind of BS is your service advisor giving you - maybe talk to the shop foreman? Something doesn't sound right here at all.
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  #11  
Old 05-24-2008, 10:11 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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The AC compressor runs off the engine I suppose. I don't think it's electric as usually only hybrids do that. Maybe a tech can say. However, the blower fan is definitely electric. The dealer also had some paperwork about diagnosis that said basically what he was telling me. I do not think he is lying. I do think the car is either performing under spec or it's a design flaw.

Non-vital systems, like the AC, get shutdown to prevent a no-start condition.
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  #12  
Old 05-24-2008, 11:25 PM
kscarrol kscarrol is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
The AC compressor runs off the engine I suppose. I don't think it's electric as usually only hybrids do that. Maybe a tech can say. However, the blower fan is definitely electric. The dealer also had some paperwork about diagnosis that said basically what he was telling me. I do not think he is lying. I do think the car is either performing under spec or it's a design flaw.

Non-vital systems, like the AC, get shutdown to prevent a no-start condition.
OK, I can understand no compressor start initially to allow the car to start but once the engine is running, the electric system should provide enough power to run the blower and all other components even while charging the battery. Heck, even the one time I though the AC was slow to start the blower was functioning, it was simply blowing hot air. Maybe they need to look closer at the battery for not holding the charge...
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  #13  
Old 05-25-2008, 12:41 AM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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The battery does hold a charge. They tested it and gave it back to me with a 100% charge.
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  #14  
Old 05-25-2008, 05:08 PM
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///M Rakete ///M Rakete is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
The battery does hold a charge. They tested it and gave it back to me with a 100% charge.
Are you saying there is no blower function at all or just that there is no immediate production of chilled air?
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  #15  
Old 05-25-2008, 08:53 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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No air, no cooling, no heat.
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  #16  
Old 05-25-2008, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
No air, no cooling, no heat.
If "Defrost" overrides the non-operation of the blower then it can be assumed that the power management system has intervened due to a low state of charge. Give "Defrost" a try. Delayed delivery of chilled air is a different problem. Sounds like yours is blower related. I'm not saying this is a slam dunk, you could have a problem with the relevant control module but battery charge state and blower function/non-/reduced function can be related. The power management (consumption) is as sophisticated as the sources that draw the power (in ever increasing amounts with each new gadget - ask me, I have them all). You might have a weak battery. You are right, this is not acceptable in a car like this. These cars should have a dual battery set up.

Per SI B 64 08 07...

5. No or insufficient blower output or unsteady blower speed

If the battery state of charge in the vehicle is too low, the power management system will reduce power consumption on the vehicle. Current consumption is reduced to ensure that primary vehicle functions such as engine starting ability is guaranteed. This also affects the blower. Blower output is reduced from 25% to 75% depending on the battery state of charge. This particularly affects short distance drivers.

Whether the electrical system management has intervened can easily be tested with the defrost system. The power management system has no effect on the defrost function, the blower must run at full speed when the defrost function is activated.

In such cases, the customer should be informed that this is normal vehicle operation designed to ensure the vehicle's starting ability is guaranteed. It can only be countered by occasionally driving longer distances or by recharging the battery. The energy diagnosis test plan should always be carried out in these cases to find the root cause of the power management problem.
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  #17  
Old 05-25-2008, 10:14 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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Thanks Rakete! This is the same text the service guy showed me. I thought I had tried the defrost button to no avail, but the next time it happens (which is hopefully never) I will hit the defrost button and see what happens. So if it does go on when I hit defrost, then it is a battery condition, and if it does not go on then it is likely something else? I would think they'd be smart enough to give an error message like "Low batter condition" instead of just having all the controls acting normally, just with nothing happening.
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  #18  
Old 05-25-2008, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
On multiple occasions, my AC has not worked at startup, including on a 90 degree day. It then starts after some time of the car sitting and turned off. I took the car in twice for this. The battery tests and charges fine at the dealer and the charging system checks out fine with all their tests. Parked car power usage is normal. They said that, in typical operation, my battery is mostly staying between 40 and 60% charge. They all said that, below 75%, the computer may shut down non-vital systems like AC.

They told me the battery is not fully charging because I'm taking too many short trips. I typically drive 3-5 miles each way around town with a freeway trip over 20 miles about three times a month. Oddly, the last time it didn't work was after a 40 mile freeway trip, and the other time I experienced was one day after a 200 mile trip.

No other car I've ever owned has had this issue. Our Scion xA took the same treatment for 3 years without trouble and it's still on the original battery. Anybody else having this trouble? Any ideas on a fix? The damn thing isn't even three months old!
Given the experience described in #7, you seem to be driving enough to maintain the battery, but if you are running the car less than 10 minutes each time, you may want to consider letting it idle for a minute or so before you leave or after you arrive, to be sure it gets up to operating temp and to give the battery a little extra boost. I suspect that a BMW, with all of its electronic monitors and gizmos, requires a bit more electrical power than a Scion. That said, make sure you have notified the dealer of all these problems in writing.
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  #19  
Old 05-25-2008, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
Thanks Rakete! This is the same text the service guy showed me. I thought I had tried the defrost button to no avail, but the next time it happens (which is hopefully never) I will hit the defrost button and see what happens. So if it does go on when I hit defrost, then it is a battery condition, and if it does not go on then it is likely something else? I would think they'd be smart enough to give an error message like "Low batter condition" instead of just having all the controls acting normally, just with nothing happening.
Correct, "Defrost" operation will override power management for safety reasons. Presumably BMW thinks it is more important that you be able to see out the windshield than crash.

If it doesn't work than you have an issue with the relevant control module, also a real possibility and likely a transient one. I have noticed a number of such "glitches". They appear to be network communication errors (yes, your car has a network).

Yes, there should be an error message for low charge state but so far I haven't seen one displayed (is there an idiot light?). There is one, something like "Excessive Battery Drain", but it seems to be when there is an active draw on the battery when the car normally expects to be off and asleep, like if you left something powered.

BMWs and battery issues go way back. With the newer cars anything less that a top-notch condition battery and odd things can happen. How much the battery gets charged during a drive is length and engine speed dependent but also what accessories are drawing power that doesn't go towards charging the battery makes a difference too. Regular driving of 20 minutes or more should do it. One long drive may not, especially if you have a borderline battery.
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  #20  
Old 05-25-2008, 10:51 PM
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My 535 is my daily driver, but being retired, I don't necessarily drive every day. Even on some of the days I do drive it only amounts to under 5 miles. To keep from having any battery problems I purchased a battery tender and hook it up for over night if I haven't driven much.

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  #21  
Old 05-25-2008, 11:33 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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There's no idiot light going off. OK, so if it happens again, I'll hit the defrost button. Thanks again, guys.

Oh, and I'd have to run a power cord out the front door and onto the street to do a battery tender. The car usually gets driven 4-5 days of the week. Electronics wise, it's a total base model without any extra fancy doodads.
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  #22  
Old 05-26-2008, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
There's no idiot light going off. OK, so if it happens again, I'll hit the defrost button. Thanks again, guys.

Oh, and I'd have to run a power cord out the front door and onto the street to do a battery tender. The car usually gets driven 4-5 days of the week. Electronics wise, it's a total base model without any extra fancy doodads.
Good luck!

However 4-5 days of 10 miles or less might not cut it. Yes, it is odd that it happened after 40 mile and 200 mile drives but I've seen power management do things that didn't make sense to me either. They didn't repeat so there wasn't much to do. In the case of my 545i I didn't have these "gremlins" but its battery croaked after 2 years anyway.
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  #23  
Old 06-03-2008, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimon7777 View Post
On multiple occasions, my AC has not worked at startup, including on a 90 degree day. It then starts after some time of the car sitting and turned off. I took the car in twice for this. The battery tests and charges fine at the dealer and the charging system checks out fine with all their tests. Parked car power usage is normal. They said that, in typical operation, my battery is mostly staying between 40 and 60% charge. They all said that, below 75%, the computer may shut down non-vital systems like AC.

They told me the battery is not fully charging because I'm taking too many short trips. I typically drive 3-5 miles each way around town with a freeway trip over 20 miles about three times a month. Oddly, the last time it didn't work was after a 40 mile freeway trip, and the other time I experienced was one day after a 200 mile trip.

No other car I've ever owned has had this issue. Our Scion xA took the same treatment for 3 years without trouble and it's still on the original battery. Anybody else having this trouble? Any ideas on a fix? The damn thing isn't even three months old!
I'm with BMW of North America, LLC. I've passed this message on to a BMW NA Customer Relations Representative who will be in touch with you soon.
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  #24  
Old 06-03-2008, 01:51 PM
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One thing I have noticed is after the car has sat idle for a few days the a/c will not cool right away. I had not driven my car for 10 days as of today and the a/c didn't start cooling for at least 4 minutes. I had the BMW "Advanced Battery Charging System" on the car the whole 10 days while we were gone to maintain the battery's state of charge so I know that is not the issue. I thought, let me try to turn off the automatic headlamps and see what happens. Right then the a/c started cooling. Might just be a coincidence but it struck me as odd. After the car has been driven it has no a/c cooling issues
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  #25  
Old 06-03-2008, 02:47 PM
jsimon7777 jsimon7777 is offline
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Mein Auto: Scion FR-S
A polite BMW NA rep called me. The car hasn't had the AC fail since the service visit. Hopefully it as just a random event and will never happen again. At the same time, I had them look into a smell when the AC was off and they did a cleaning kit. It's been a week and the smell is back, though perhaps weaker. The rep suggested I make another service appointment, which I guess I will.
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2013 Scion FR-S
2007 550i Sport - GONE
2008 528i - GONE
"What are you going to replace your BMW with?"
"Another BMW, with a bigger engine!"
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