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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-08-2013, 09:45 AM
Augster Augster is offline
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Exclamation SULEV and Fuel Tank Replacement

So my California '03 325i plain jane failed smog and has the "Service Engine Soon" light on (equivalent to the "Check Engine" light on most other makes) with several error codes and lean running condition in a cylinder or two. The smog shop informed me that the vehicle was a Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) and could be eligible for a factory warranty covered repair.

My local dealers' service tech had no knowledge of such a thing, but he took the smog results and the printed message about a possible factory warranty repair and would need my car for a couple days.

Yesterday I was notified that they are replacing the entire fuel tank under warranty. I was curious as to why the dealer is replacing the entire fuel tank assembly so I Googled (couldn't find anything here on the forums): the 3-Series SULEV's use a fully sealed fuel tank/fuel filter/fuel pump assembly in which the individual components cannot be serviced individually; that is, the entire fuel tank must be replaced if any of its components within fail. The average cost of this fuel tank R&R is a whopping $6,000-$8,000!!! Fortunately, SULEV vehicles come with a government mandated 15 year/150,000 mile warranty on emissions controls.

Here's more info on the SULEV: BMW Owners with Super Low Emission Vehicles – SULEVs

If my fuel pump and/or fuel filter were to need service, I could understand why the engine would be running lean and result in the "Service Engine Soon" light and thus failing smog. Luckily, my car has only 95k on the odometer, but I'm now concerned for the future if something in the fuel tank were to fail after the warranty expires.

Has anyone else experienced a need to have their fuel tank assembly replaced on a SULEV? I'm trying to determine how common the problem is...
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2013, 09:54 AM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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No, this problem is not exactly unheard of in the BMW community, and on this Forum in particular. Most here are aware of these problems, and try to avoid SULEVs at all cost, even though most problems *are* covered by warranty.

Good luck with yours !
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:59 AM
Augster Augster is offline
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Tough to avoid a SULEV here in Cali, unless I buy an out-of-state or am lucky enough to find a used non-California/Maine/Massachusetts/Vermont already here in the state.

But it certainly will play a significant role in any future BMW I purchase...
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:04 AM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augster View Post
Tough to avoid a SULEV here in Cali, unless I buy an out-of-state or am lucky enough to find a used non-California/Maine/Massachusetts/Vermont already here in the state.

But it certainly will play a significant role in any future BMW I purchase...
You would think that the great state of California had better things to do than to force SULEV vehicles on the public....
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:20 AM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
You would think that the great state of California had better things to do than to force SULEV vehicles on the public....
Oh, no they don't. This is their primary task to avoid getting their budget in order.

Easy to avoid a SULEV. Just buy a glorious 330 as not a one was the dreaded SULEV.


OP----the fuel tank is fine, but the pump and filter are sealed inside and the tank cannot be opened for service. Hence, whole new tank installed.
And yes, be very wary of keeping a SULEV past warranty. Cost of a tank would 'Total' your car.

Last edited by GoForthFast; 05-08-2013 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 05-08-2013, 05:41 PM
Augster Augster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
Easy to avoid a SULEV. Just buy a glorious 330 as not a one was the dreaded SULEV.


OP----the fuel tank is fine, but the pump and filter are sealed inside and the tank cannot be opened for service. Hence, whole new tank installed.
And yes, be very wary of keeping a SULEV past warranty. Cost of a tank would 'Total' your car.
This is my second BMW, but if I ever decide on another one, it will definitely be a 330 or better! Thanks for the advice.

But yea, I figured that it would have been the fuel pump and/or fuel filter that was problematic but due to the design of the SULEV BMW's, the entire fuel tank would have to be replaced as an assembly since the fuel pump and filter are not replaceable individually.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:16 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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I'm so glad I don't have a SULEV bmw.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:32 PM
alpinweiss alpinweiss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augster View Post
This is my second BMW, but if I ever decide on another one, it will definitely be a 330 or better! Thanks for the advice.

But yea, I figured that it would have been the fuel pump and/or fuel filter that was problematic but due to the design of the SULEV BMW's, the entire fuel tank would have to be replaced as an assembly since the fuel pump and filter are not replaceable individually.
The completely sealed fuel system was only for the E46 SULEV cars. On the E90 SULEV cars, the fuel system components are replaceable individually (fuel pump, fuel filter, etc.). This is in case you wish to buy a newer model 3-Series someday.

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  #9  
Old 05-09-2013, 07:40 AM
Augster Augster is offline
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Originally Posted by alpinweiss View Post
The completely sealed fuel system was only for the E46 SULEV cars. On the E90 SULEV cars, the fuel system components are replaceable individually (fuel pump, fuel filter, etc.). This is in case you wish to buy a newer model 3-Series someday.

Even BETTER music to my ears!
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  #10  
Old 03-18-2014, 04:23 PM
Bim & Mini 03 Bim & Mini 03 is offline
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Exclamation 2006 BMW 325 Ci SULEV

So I gather from this thread, there has not been a work around for the SULEV gas tank issues?
I acquired this most recent coupe and it is great on gas, averaging 30+ mpg hwy! which is good as I drive for work over 20k/yr. my car had 163k when I traded for it. Since then, transmission failed had to be replaced. Found one used with warranty for $2500 r&r.
Now I'm concerned I may be looking at gas tank.
I always run 91-93 octane and haven't noticed any issues. Car now has 166k.

Last edited by Bim & Mini 03; 03-18-2014 at 04:25 PM. Reason: Misspelling
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  #11  
Old 03-18-2014, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bim & Mini 03 View Post
So I gather from this thread, there has not been a work around for the SULEV gas tank issues?
I acquired this most recent coupe and it is great on gas, averaging 30+ mpg hwy! which is good as I drive for work over 20k/yr. my car had 163k when I traded for it. Since then, transmission failed had to be replaced. Found one used with warranty for $2500 r&r.
Now I'm concerned I may be looking at gas tank.
I always run 91-93 octane and haven't noticed any issues. Car now has 166k.
Get rid of it !!! Sooner, not later....
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