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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 03-06-2013, 07:47 AM
SennaVProst SennaVProst is offline
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Major Electrical System Malfunction

Vehicle: 2011 335D, stock, first owner, April 2011 Production, ~27,000 miles
Location: Upstate NY
Temperature: 30F
  • 7:00AM (yesterday): Enter garage, pressed unlock button, no response from vehicle. Second press unlocked the car but welcome lights (underneath the door handle) did not come on.
  • 7:01AM: Key fob in, depress brake, push Engine Start button. Gauge instruments flicker, momentarily see a pre-heating notice, hear a clicking sound from rear passenger side of vehicle, vehicle starts. Service Engine Light comes on.
  • 7:02AM: Turn vehicle off, turn back on, started immediately but SEL remains lit. Proceeded driving.
  • 7:10AM: As I come up on an intersection, all instrument gauges, radio, heat, iDrive turn off as if the vehicle was off. Engine stayed on strangely, pulled into nearby parking lot and turned off vehicle.
  • 7:12AM: Upon restart, iDrive presents its first error of Electrical System Malfunction (see pic), hesitation to start, instrument cluster comes in and out intermittently, iDrive reboots. Engine ran fine so I proceed further.
  • 7:13AM: As I am driving, gauge cluster, heat, iDrive, continue to malfunction. Second picture below shows a good example of going 60MPH on highway with all instruments off.
  • 7:20AM: Speedometer pinned at 45MPH and Rev Counter at 1200RPM (normal) regardless of actual road speed.
  • 7:30AM: Noticed that navigation places me stationary.
  • 7:35AM: iDrive informed me that stability control is off, "caution" while accelerating or braking.
  • 8:00AM: Arrive at dealership, explained issue, SA suggested it might've been a dead cell in the battery. Left it there for the day.
  • 12:00PM: Received call from dealership claiming they cleared "280 codes" from the car, tore the car apart (dash, all four seats, trunk), conducted a battery of tests and found nothing wrong. Cleared the SEL and instructed me to pick it up.
  • 6:00PM: Picked up vehicle, SEL was off, everything working normally. See receipt below. A test report over 20 pages long was also produced but I was not given a copy.
  • 6:10PM: Stopped for dinner.
  • 8:00PM: Started vehicle, gauge cluster malfunctions again, SEL re-lit.
  • 8:35PM: Driving about 50MPH, all gauges, heat, iDrive, HEADLIGHTS go off, engine still running. Pull over, shut down, restart, all normal for duration of drive.
  • 9:00PM: Arrive home, SEL still lit.
  • 7:00AM (today): Hesitation on start up, SEL still lit. Instrument gauges mostly normal during commute.
  • 8:00AM: Left at dealership again, SA said it's the first they've seen, will be connecting to Germany to further diagnose today.

Did a search, only other similarly reported occurrences appeared on a 2008 335i (in 2011), a 2006 325i (in 2010) and a 2006 330i (in 2007). None had responded with a fix.

Normally I would post this to the diesel forum, but I suspect it is not diesel specific. Anyone heard of this problem? I have video I can post if there is interest.
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Last edited by SennaVProst; 03-06-2013 at 08:04 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-06-2013, 08:06 AM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SennaVProst View Post
12:00PM: Received call from dealership claiming they cleared "280 codes" from the car, tore the car apart (dash, all four seats, trunk), conducted a battery of tests and found nothing wrong. Cleared the SEL and instructed me to pick it up.

6:00PM: Picked up vehicle, SEL was off, everything working normally. See receipt below. A test report over 20 pages long was also produced but I was not given a copy.

Hey, ask for that 20 pg test report! That's one spicy meat-a ball....

Color me nuts but sounds like a battery. Time'll tell.

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  #3  
Old 03-06-2013, 08:19 AM
SennaVProst SennaVProst is offline
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I'll ask for a copy of it today when I go back to pick it up. The SA said the battery was indeed tested but no abnormalities showed up.
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Old 03-06-2013, 08:46 AM
Penguin Penguin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SennaVProst View Post
I'll ask for a copy of it today when I go back to pick it up. The SA said the battery was indeed tested but no abnormalities showed up.
I had the same message and a couple of the same symptoms. Two things fixed it in my case:

(1) New battery, and/or
(2) New Rear Hatch control module.

I was quite certain the battery was failing due to difficulty starting and other behaviors. The tech swore up and down that it just needed a charge because there were no battery codes. Then he told me the car said I was opening and closing the doors and rear hatch too much when the care was not running, which caused the battery to run down. I told the SA that I was not doing that and did the tech actually load test the battery? HE said testing wasn't necessary, and BMW wouldn't pay them for it, as the cars computer told then the battery just needed to b charged.

Without going into all the details, the SA finally agreed to have the tech test the battery just to shut me up. Surprise. They gave me a new battery and wrote on the paperwork, "PERFORMED ENERGY DIAGNOSIS. ENERGY DIAGNOSIS SAYS TO RECHARGE BATTERY. HOWEVER TESTER STATES TO REPLACE BATTERY. PERFORMED BATTERY TEST. BATTERY FAILED. REPLACED VEHICLE BATTERY AND LEFT FEEDBACK TO BMW TO CORRECT TEST PLAN."

But the rear hatch still didn't work, so in tracing the wiring, the tech found that the rear hatch control module, found in the right rear quarter panel, was submerged in water. This could explain the vehicle memory saying I was opening and closing the rear hatch a lot while parked, as the module might have been doing strange things when submerged in water. And being submerged in water might also mess-up the buss signals, leading to the electrical system malfunction message. So they replaced the module and the rear hatch gasket and water spray tested it.

Conclusion:

(1) Make sure that they actually load tested the battery, and didn't just assume it was OK because the vehicle computer says it's OK. Unlike many techs assume, the vehicle computer and memory isn't always correct.

(2) Considering the amount of work they have done already, it wouldn't hurt to also check the location of the module for water collecting as a possible cause. I believe it is easy to reach in with your hand to check for moisture, although actual replacement of the module requires a bit more disassembly. It may be a longshot that such a specific problem on my X5 is causing the same general system error on yours, but at this point in the process, it's probably worth checking even remote possibilities.

Last edited by Penguin; 03-06-2013 at 08:47 AM.
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  #5  
Old 03-06-2013, 09:25 AM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penguin View Post
Without going into all the details, the SA finally agreed to have the tech test the battery just to shut me up. Surprise. They gave me a new battery and wrote on the paperwork, "PERFORMED ENERGY DIAGNOSIS. ENERGY DIAGNOSIS SAYS TO RECHARGE BATTERY. HOWEVER TESTER STATES TO REPLACE BATTERY. PERFORMED BATTERY TEST. BATTERY FAILED. REPLACED VEHICLE BATTERY AND LEFT FEEDBACK TO BMW TO CORRECT TEST PLAN."

But the rear hatch still didn't work, so in tracing the wiring, the tech found that the rear hatch control module, found in the right rear quarter panel, was submerged in water. This could explain the vehicle memory saying I was opening and closing the rear hatch a lot while parked, as the module might have been doing strange things when submerged in water. And being submerged in water might also mess-up the buss signals, leading to the electrical system malfunction message. So they replaced the module and the rear hatch gasket and water spray tested it.

An example of how techs aren't always in top form.

"Tester stated"....that's limited knowledge and inexperience. Gimme DSX any day o'the week!
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:31 AM
SennaVProst SennaVProst is offline
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Got the car back yesterday. Unfortunately I was not able to get said report from earlier.

SA told me the problem was in the TPMS Module on the rear passenger side. That module is the second to last module on the K CAN, replacing it resolved the issue. So far I've driven the vehicle 100 miles and all seems well.

It shocks me that something so peripheral can be so crippling to our vehicle. What kind of engineering is that?
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:20 AM
Leekay07 Leekay07 is offline
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its good engineering. LOL you should never have driven from your home just called BMW assist and had them pick it up. You are the best person to know that your car has a problem. If you think it does and you can repeat the problem then its a problem. Do not drive any car be it 15,000 or 50,000 in value. Your putting your own and other peoples life at risk.

Next time shut the car off and don't stress it. The car's TPM system is live all the time it just does not actively try to take a reading in most cases (if it was not live you would have to reset the stupid thing every time you got in the car)
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:41 AM
ptrcd003 ptrcd003 is offline
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Originally Posted by Leekay07 View Post
its good engineering. LOL you should never have driven from your home just called BMW assist and had them pick it up. You are the best person to know that your car has a problem. If you think it does and you can repeat the problem then its a problem. Do not drive any car be it 15,000 or 50,000 in value. Your putting your own and other peoples life at risk.

Next time shut the car off and don't stress it. The car's TPM system is live all the time it just does not actively try to take a reading in most cases (if it was not live you would have to reset the stupid thing every time you got in the car)
What? No, this is terrible engineering. A TPM system should not be able to render a car useless. Also, consider what would have happened if his car was outside of warranty. How many thousands of dollars would they have charged to figure out it was the TPM system?
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:55 AM
Leekay07 Leekay07 is offline
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I agree it would suck for the diagnostics but I am sure that the dealer would open a puma ticket and BMW would be better to diagnose the issue and provide a better course of action than the one taken by the dealer. And you can buy the modules used for like $75 its the same with any electrical part. I know people who spend countless hours of reformatting the pc because data corruption then they get a new drive reinstall windows for it to get corrupted again all because of a bad memory stick. In any walk of life electrical components fail Even my washer goes on the fritz I have to diagnose a bad thermostat, blocked blower, bad pump and what not I could spend hours trying to find the problem.

I love reading the forums I complain about bad service all the time but not about crap going wrong on my car. Its a balance. I work making the chips that go into your cars if you saw how many times a piece of equipment fails you be blown away. Right now I have a 1.2 Million dollar tool that's been ripped to bits "Completely gutted" and rebuilt 3 times because of a $5 part.

You try explaining that to your boss when you hand the order in.

And while we are on the subject of it being terrible engineering you have zero grounds for that claim. One person says they had a problem and you say its terrible engineering its not its just bad luck or unfortunate circumstance that it went bed. If everyone had that issue then you might have an argument on your hands at poor engineering but as its just one failed part in probably 1/2 million cars (just a guess no one else has complained of it in 3 different forums) resulting in you have no just cause.

You can't blame it on the diagnostic skills of the mechanics. Its so rare I would be shocked if they have seen this before.
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Last edited by Leekay07; 03-07-2013 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:54 AM
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Last Sight Last Sight is offline
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I tend to agree that a TPM system shouldn't make the entire car useless....is this bad engineering? Who knows...electronics are so complex. I also tend to agree that this is slightly poor engineering - not from a component perspective (as you mention) but from a systems engineering perspective. Being an engineer myself, I would hope that the systems/control engineers would have created an isolation parameter should something like that go wrong. My dad had a 2000 Chevy Impala that had some issue with the TPM system and it didn't make the car's speedo fail.

The larger issue is that manufacturers are making their cars rely heavily on electronics and if something small happens to go wrong....everything goes with it.

OP - glad you got the issue resolved.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:04 AM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
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This is a poor job of systems engineering if this is how the failure of a single module affects the entire car.
I find it hard to believe that BMW would deliberately design the car to react this way but it appears that is the case...
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:52 AM
SennaVProst SennaVProst is offline
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Fellow engineer here as well. It's especially concerning when such an error is not tied to a specific code, that I had to specifically point out that I suspected it was somewhere in the rear quarter area before it was discovered.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:59 AM
ptrcd003 ptrcd003 is offline
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It still shows that they could do a better job of isolating critical components. I get that the bus operates on a ring topology, and has a way to ignore malfunctioning components, but occasionally issues like this one continue to occur. Electrical components do fail, but redundancies should be in place if the failure can affect safety. Obviously, aviation-level triple redundancies would be overkill, but having the engine and lights operate should be the bare minimum.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:43 PM
Penguin Penguin is offline
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Originally Posted by fun2drive View Post
I find it hard to believe that BMW would deliberately design the car to react this way but it appears that is the case...
I suspect it wasn't a deliberate design feature, but an inadvertent thing they did not consider. To exaggerate to make a point, it's sort of like designing the power grid for an entire city such that a shorted toaster in one house cause the entire grid to fail. Clearly the preferred failure mode would be to display a message stating "TPM system malfunction. Tire Pressure no longer monitored. Continued operation possible. Service as soon as possible."

It seems that the use of a buss system for communication between modules to simplify wiring harnesses is not yet perfected and flaws in individual modules can apparently impact the overall operation of the buss, and cause problems in other areas of operation. I suspect that with time this will be addressed and corrected and modules will be more isolated from the buss system.

While having a vehicle flatbedded and towed whenever it has a problem may have some merit, vehicles do not always fail in convenient locations -- I would hate to have a vehicle disabled on a remote road mid-day in the Summer in Arizona with no cell phone coverage when the temperature is 110 degrees. That's the reason they designed-in "Limp mode" when they started putting a lot of electronics into vehicles.

P.S. I am also an engineer that worked for a major auto company many years ago.

Last edited by Penguin; 03-07-2013 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:52 PM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SennaVProst View Post
Got the car back yesterday. Unfortunately I was not able to get said report from earlier.

SA told me the problem was in the TPMS Module on the rear passenger side. That module is the second to last module on the K CAN, replacing it resolved the issue. So far I've driven the vehicle 100 miles and all seems well.

It shocks me that something so peripheral can be so crippling to our vehicle. What kind of engineering is that?

Your 3 is a complicated beast with a nervous system unlike any before.

To an extent you're right - fail safes can be built into any circuit....at a cost. Still, BMW should be able to handle a malfunction of any sort - ain't that hard.

Hey! Ask 'em what, exactly went wrong. Or did they just swap parts based on a readout until the issue resolved?
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:12 PM
anE934fun anE934fun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SennaVProst View Post
Got the car back yesterday. Unfortunately I was not able to get said report from earlier.

SA told me the problem was in the TPMS Module on the rear passenger side. That module is the second to last module on the K CAN, replacing it resolved the issue. So far I've driven the vehicle 100 miles and all seems well.

It shocks me that something so peripheral can be so crippling to our vehicle. What kind of engineering is that?
Car engineers are still learning to design fail-safe/redundancy into the internal network that connects the different control modules. We appear to still be in the stage of evolution where failure in a peripheral module can bring down the whole network.

And you thought you were buying a car.... More like you bought a computer network with engine, suspension, transmission and wheels as accessories.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:32 PM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Car engineers are still learning to design fail-safe/redundancy into the internal network that connects the different control modules. We appear to still be in the stage of evolution where failure in a peripheral module can bring down the whole network.

And you thought you were buying a car.... More like you bought a computer network with engine, suspension, transmission and wheels as accessories.

Well, any competent electronics EE could build in system performance safety, but the unexpected is a dangerous and merciless foe! It's what's not been thought of that'll kill ya....

I say make them puppies water-tight w/thermally conductive potting. That'll solve one prob, maybe.
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Old 03-31-2013, 04:33 PM
DMorici2007x5 DMorici2007x5 is offline
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Having the same issues now - car is at the dealer

Sounds like our 2007 4.8 x5 is having the same issues. SA told me Friday 3/29/2013 that they have no idea what is causing the over 200 messages. Warranty has expired so I will be paying for this one. They told me that they have to start taking the car apart Monday and try to figure it out. I just had the front and back brakes and oil change done 2 weeks ago and this was the first time the car didn't go to a BMW dealer for the work. The guys that did the brakes had some issues with the sensors and the control messages are still saying replace brake pads and brake fluid. They told me that they ordered the front and back sensor but the front one was broken when they got it. I have paid for them already but have not herd back weather they got the new front sensor in yet? I am thinking that they probably tried reset the computer but it was not working. Also when I got the car back 2 weeks ago form the brake guys the computer must have been messed with. The clock had to be reset 3 times and I don't know if any of this could have something to do with the electrical problems we are dealing with now. Could they have tripped the computer trying to get the brake pad control message off? The car was driven over 600 miles since the brakes without issue so who knows at this point. I also washed the engine off a month or so ago but it was cold and I didn't spray it full blast. Also 2 years back or so all the power outlets in the car went out. I think we were trying to plug a laptop in to one of them but we had the wrong cord and we thought at the time that was what caused all of them to go out. The only one that still works is the one by the ash tray. At that time the car was still under warranty and we tried to have it fixed but they could not figure it out. The guys that have it now in Virginia Beach VA BMW are supposed to be figuring this out tomorrow and I will update my post ASAP. If anybody has any suggestions please let me know. I love this car but after this one I may have to trade for something else.

Last edited by DMorici2007x5; 04-01-2013 at 11:06 AM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 03-31-2013, 04:37 PM
SennaVProst SennaVProst is offline
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Good luck. Please keep us updated!
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Old 03-31-2013, 06:56 PM
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Exclamation You know about the electrical system recall, right?

You are aware of the recent recall of over 570k BMW's for replacement of the power supply cable, right?

I believe your automobile is included in this important recall, a recall that could easily create some of the conditions you've described . . . .

And I'm stunned that your dealer didn't mention this, but my experience with multiple BMW Centers has been quite sporadic as it seems that the top of the various high school class doesn't seem to end up in the service department of the local BMW dealer, but, fortunately, there are exceptions.
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:01 PM
pylt pylt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMorici2007x5 View Post
Sounds like our 2007 4.8 x5 is having the same issues. SA told me Friday 3/29/2013 that they have no idea what is causing the over 200 messages. Warranty has expired so I will be paying for this one. They told me that they have to start taking the car apart Monday and try to figure it out. I just had the front and back breaks and oil change done 2 weeks ago and this was the first time the car didn't go to a BMW dealer for the work. The guys that did the breaks had some issues with the sensors and the control messages are still saying replace break pads and break fluid. They told me that they ordered the front and back sensor but the front one was broken when they got it. I have paid for them already but have not herd back weather they got the new front sensor in yet? I am thinking that they probably tried reset the computer but it was not working. Also when I got the car back 2 weeks ago form the break guys the computer must have been messed with. The clock had to be reset 3 times and I don't know if any of this could have something to do with the electrical problems we are dealing with now. Could they have tripped the computer trying to get the break pad control message off? The car was driven over 600 miles since the breaks without issue so who knows at this point. I also washed the engine off a month or so ago but it was cold and I didn't spray it full blast. Also 2 years back or so all the power outlets in the car went out. I think we were trying to plug a laptop in to one of them but we had the wrong cord and we thought at the time that was what caused all of them to go out. The only one that still works is the one by the ash tray. At that time the car was still under warranty and we tried to have it fixed but they could not figure it out. The guys that have it now in Virginia Beach VA BMW are supposed to be figuring this out tomorrow and I will update my post ASAP. If anybody has any suggestions please let me know. I love this car but after this one I may have to trade for something else.
That's "brake" and "brakes" btw, not "breaks."
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Old 03-31-2013, 09:20 PM
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pointandgo pointandgo is offline
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Hope we don't hear of anymore ridiculous stores of the "TPMS" causing the problem...I almost chocked on that one.
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:24 PM
DMorici2007x5 DMorici2007x5 is offline
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We can pick it up tomorrow

So all day at the VA Beach shop and $611.00 later - Short in the steering column , fuse box and back trunk latch. They said one of the wires looks like it was pulled apart? So 3 shorts left the vehicle virtually useless and my wife was stuck for 3 days in VA with our 2 kids and a friend. Love this car but living 140 miles from the closest BMW dealer and the warranty dead, its just not practical for us. If my wife picks this up tomorrow and rolls away with no further issues it will be a first. They did inform me of a recall on this x5 that would involve replacing the Brake Booster. I'll take that in later to have it fixed.
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:28 PM
anE934fun anE934fun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMorici2007x5 View Post
So all day at the VA Beach shop and $611.00 later - Short in the steering column , fuse box and back trunk latch. They said one of the wires looks like it was pulled apart? So 3 shorts left the vehicle virtually useless and my wife was stuck for 3 days in VA with our 2 kids and a friend. Love this car but living 140 miles from the closest BMW dealer and the warranty dead, its just not practical for us. If my wife picks this up tomorrow and rolls away with no further issues it will be a first. They did inform me of a recall on this x5 that would involve replacing the Brake Booster. I'll take that in later to have it fixed.
Ummm. If the brake booster fails, the short circuits will seem like a walk in the park. If it were my X5, I would have the booster replacement done before I accepted the car. Safety first as it were.
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