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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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  #1  
Old 08-03-2014, 09:56 AM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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2011 328i: Are N52 really that rare?

Yesterday was the day that everything seemed to come together for me to buy a 2011 328i X-Drive. The car details are below, after test drive I spent some time with the salesman negotiating the price, and he called me after I walked out to finally give me a number I was happy with.
2011 BMW 328i X-drive, 47,000 miles.
Black / Black, Prem Package, heated seats.
No I-drive (my pref.), Hi-Fi stereo.
CPO - this is a big plus, in my opinion.

After agreeing verbally to actually buy it, I discovered at home it is the SULEV model. I have been specifically looking for the one with N52, so I clearly missed it in this case. My question is as seemingly rare N52's are, am I really at risk with more expensive repairs down the road with the SULEV model? Is fuel / exhaust system a lot more complicated, expensive to repair?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 08-03-2014, 10:12 AM
wilt wilt is offline
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You need to shop outside of the states with low emissions regulations...
  • California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, or Vermont and in Canada- or in some sales regions near these states. These six "clean car states" had were the first to have implemented California's more stringent motor vehicle pollution control rules.
  • Other states soon began implementing these standards, including Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington
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  #3  
Old 08-03-2014, 10:16 AM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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If I try searching through nearby dealerships, about 99% of the used market is N51, SULEV:
http://www.bmwofwarwick.com/inventor..._priceto=30000
http://www.bmwwestspringfield.net/ce...etPrice%20asc&
http://www.bmwofridgefield.com/used-...etPrice%20asc&
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  #4  
Old 08-03-2014, 10:29 AM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilt View Post
You need to shop outside of the states with low emissions regulations...
  • California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, or Vermont and in Canada- or in some sales regions near these states. These six "clean car states" had were the first to have implemented California's more stringent motor vehicle pollution control rules.
  • Other states soon began implementing these standards, including Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington
Didn't know that, thanks. Sounds like I will have to spend a lot of time/effort to find one.
Do you know if having N51 will cause a lot of long-term issues? In terms of expensive repairs?
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:49 AM
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Bob Shiftright Bob Shiftright is offline
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I have an E91, and it's a N52, ordered and delivered in a low emissions state. I think what manufacturers are required to sell is some sort of a weighted emissions average.

If you want an N52, I believe all E91s are N52s, no matter where they were delivered -- which, if you can put up with the extra door and extra space -- might make your search simpler.
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  #6  
Old 08-03-2014, 11:24 AM
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CALWATERBOY DUE CALWATERBOY DUE is offline
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Originally Posted by Watchme View Post
Didn't know that, thanks. Sounds like I will have to spend a lot of time/effort to find one.
Do you know if having N51 will cause a lot of long-term issues? In terms of expensive repairs?

Whelp, yes. Check the fuel tank sys components - Google for what on other models isn't a high cost, on N51 requires replacing the fuel tank/LPFP assy.
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  #7  
Old 08-03-2014, 11:30 AM
alpinweiss alpinweiss is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchme View Post
Didn't know that, thanks. Sounds like I will have to spend a lot of time/effort to find one.
Do you know if having N51 will cause a lot of long-term issues? In terms of expensive repairs?
The SULEV models that most people try to avoid are the E46 cars with the M56 engines. The major problem with these cars is that they have a completely sealed fuel system. Individual components (e.g. fuel pump, sending unit, etc.) are not replaceable. The entire fuel system must be replaced as a unit, which costs around $8000. This is a staggering amount for car worth, maybe, $6000. Many of these cars are now out of warranty, so the expense would fall upon the owner.

The E90 SULEV cars are equipped with the N51 engine. Although some parts are slightly more expensive than the equivalent N52 parts, there is nothing even approaching the costs of the M56 parts. The fuel pump, fuel filter, and fuel sending units, are individually replaceable. The N51 radiator has a special coating on the front, and the N51 intake manifold is two-stage.

One possible benefit of the N51 engine, is that most of the SULEV-related parts are warrantied for either 12 years/120,000 miles, or 15 years/150,000 miles.

Overall, I do not think the N51 is something to be feared.

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  #8  
Old 08-03-2014, 11:48 AM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY DUE View Post
Whelp, yes. Check the fuel tank sys components - Google for what on other models isn't a high cost, on N51 requires replacing the fuel tank/LPFP assy.
I tried to research, it seems the design is fairly similar? As far as I can tell, the pump is replaceable without the tank on both.

N51: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...88&hg=16&fg=15
N52: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...01&hg=16&fg=15

Tanks are about same price too.
Edit: yikes, tank is 1,000 more for N51. Hmm..

Last edited by Watchme; 08-03-2014 at 12:23 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-03-2014, 12:27 PM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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Originally Posted by alpinweiss View Post
The SULEV models that most people try to avoid are the E46 cars with the M56 engines. The major problem with these cars is that they have a completely sealed fuel system. Individual components (e.g. fuel pump, sending unit, etc.) are not replaceable. The entire fuel system must be replaced as a unit, which costs around $8000. This is a staggering amount for car worth, maybe, $6000. Many of these cars are now out of warranty, so the expense would fall upon the owner.

The E90 SULEV cars are equipped with the N51 engine. Although some parts are slightly more expensive than the equivalent N52 parts, there is nothing even approaching the costs of the M56 parts. The fuel pump, fuel filter, and fuel sending units, are individually replaceable. The N51 radiator has a special coating on the front, and the N51 intake manifold is two-stage.

One possible benefit of the N51 engine, is that most of the SULEV-related parts are warrantied for either 12 years/120,000 miles, or 15 years/150,000 miles.

Overall, I do not think the N51 is something to be feared.

Exactly, I read that horror story about the stainless tank integrated with the pump and repair would cost ~8,000. I guess they improved the design for E90, but parts are still more costly. Tanks is $1,000 more, filler pipe is 3x the cost. Fuel control unit is identical, stainless steel lines are several times more expensive. But honestly, not sure how often would any of that fail.
Do you know how to find the warranty on SULEV parts?
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  #10  
Old 08-03-2014, 12:31 PM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Shiftright View Post
I have an E91, and it's a N52, ordered and delivered in a low emissions state. I think what manufacturers are required to sell is some sort of a weighted emissions average.

If you want an N52, I believe all E91s are N52s, no matter where they were delivered -- which, if you can put up with the extra door and extra space -- might make your search simpler.
Thanks, actually E91 are very rare from what I can see. N52's are around, just maybe 1 to 10 ratio of N51's. I guess bottom line is, I am trying to decide whether or not to cancel the deal on this car:
http://www.bmwwestspringfield.net/ce...874d84db54.htm

Before my trade-in, added taxes and other fees, the negotiated price stands at $22,735.
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  #11  
Old 08-03-2014, 01:22 PM
grijo grijo is online now
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I know fuel pumps go bad on any car, but why would you need to replace the tank? As long as you drive your car regularly, the tank should last the life of the vehicle. Based on the replies to this thread I don't see a reason why you should not get the car.
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  #12  
Old 08-03-2014, 01:27 PM
alpinweiss alpinweiss is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchme View Post
Thanks, actually E91 are very rare from what I can see. N52's are around, just maybe 1 to 10 ratio of N51's. I guess bottom line is, I am trying to decide whether or not to cancel the deal on this car:
http://www.bmwwestspringfield.net/ce...874d84db54.htm

Before my trade-in, added taxes and other fees, the negotiated price stands at $22,735.
I would not cancel the deal on the basis of the N51 engine. I cannot speak to the rest of the deal on the car.

I did a simple search on the 2011 SULEV warranty, and came up with....well, nothing conclusive. Ask the service department of the selling dealer, and see if they can explain the SULEV warranty, and what parts are covered. Your salesman should want to introduce you to one of the service advisors.

In terms of the expensive fuel tank, under what circumstances would you replace it? Unless it got damaged, I cannot imagine it would ever wear out. But the price is still not even approaching the $8000 of the E46 SULEV tanks. The fuel pump is replaceable individually, and costs about the same as the non-SULEV pump.



EDIT: Sorry Grijo, our posts overlap somewhat.
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Last edited by alpinweiss; 08-03-2014 at 01:29 PM.
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  #13  
Old 08-03-2014, 01:58 PM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grijo View Post
I know fuel pumps go bad on any car, but why would you need to replace the tank? As long as you drive your car regularly, the tank should last the life of the vehicle. Based on the replies to this thread I don't see a reason why you should not get the car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinweiss View Post
I would not cancel the deal on the basis of the N51 engine. I cannot speak to the rest of the deal on the car.

I did a simple search on the 2011 SULEV warranty, and came up with....well, nothing conclusive. Ask the service department of the selling dealer, and see if they can explain the SULEV warranty, and what parts are covered. Your salesman should want to introduce you to one of the service advisors.

In terms of the expensive fuel tank, under what circumstances would you replace it? Unless it got damaged, I cannot imagine it would ever wear out. But the price is still not even approaching the $8000 of the E46 SULEV tanks. The fuel pump is replaceable individually, and costs about the same as the non-SULEV pump.



EDIT: Sorry Grijo, our posts overlap somewhat.
You guys are right, gas tank failure would be an extremely rare occurrence.
I did a bit of clicking around and here's quick summary, N51 price vs. N52:
Fuel tank: $1,000 more (rare failure)
Filler pipe, Fuel feed lines: Several times more $$$ (rare failure)
Fuel pump: about the same price (different config.) (median failure)
Evaporation system (charcoal box): $150 more (median failure)
Radiator: $200 more (median failure)
Fuel Prep: (fuel rail, injectors, throttle body): identical (common failure)
Air Intake, Intake Manifold: identical
Exhaust systems: About the same, except (mid-pipe is integral with muffler on N51):
N51 muffler parts: $1000
N52 muffler parts: $500

My conclusion: realistically, the only concern in repair cost difference would be the muffler replacement, which is not a big deal in general.
Maybe I will try to get a slightly better deal on this car, since there are so many N51's around.

Last edited by Watchme; 08-05-2014 at 09:12 AM.
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  #14  
Old 08-03-2014, 07:04 PM
alpinweiss alpinweiss is online now
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To the OP:
I mostly agree with your probability of failure for the various components. I think the failure of a SULEV fuel tank or fill pipe would be extremely rare.

On the other hand, the probability of failure of the fuel pump is almost 100%, over a theoretical 250,000 mile service-life of an N51 powered BMW. I am guessing the pump will start getting weaker after about 100k miles, based on the history of other BMW's. Obviously, YMMV, but the point is that the fuel pump doesn't last forever. Failure on low mileage cars should indeed be very rare.

Fuel pump life is exactly the point of contention on the M56 powered E46 models. Fuel pump failure requires the replacement of the entire fuel system. Fortunately, this has been resolved for the E90 models.

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Old 08-04-2014, 06:46 AM
Watchme Watchme is offline
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Originally Posted by alpinweiss View Post
To the OP:
I mostly agree with your probability of failure for the various components. I think the failure of a SULEV fuel tank or fill pipe would be extremely rare.

On the other hand, the probability of failure of the fuel pump is almost 100%, over a theoretical 250,000 mile service-life of an N51 powered BMW. I am guessing the pump will start getting weaker after about 100k miles, based on the history of other BMW's. Obviously, YMMV, but the point is that the fuel pump doesn't last forever. Failure on low mileage cars should indeed be very rare.

Fuel pump life is exactly the point of contention on the M56 powered E46 models. Fuel pump failure requires the replacement of the entire fuel system. Fortunately, this has been resolved for the E90 models.

Agreed, completely. I guess for the deal I mentioned above, I will try to get a better deal. Maybe another test drive and take a look at service records?

Thanks.
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