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2012 Coupe Engine Stall, Power Steering and Power Brakes Assist Failure

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Hello to all,

I am new to the forum and I wanted to see if anyone else is experiencing the same problem as I am.

My 2012 BMW 335i couple M Sport Package (automatic) engine stalls randomly (5 times since purchasing the car in November of 2013). As a result, the power steering fails and power brake assist also fails. Resulting in some scary situations indeed. This typically happens between 5-40 mph. Engine typically restarts after 10-15 min.

The last time this has happened was on 5/21/14. I was stranded on CA Highway 85. Vehicle has only 7k miles. No engine fault codes register when taken to dealership and they send me back telling me that the car is safe to drive.

Here is a link to the video I captured after the last stall: http://youtu.be/qWvJcfAfO2Y

BMW of North America does not acknowledge the problem (even though I have sent them this video) and keeps sending me back to the dealership which is unable to read any fault codes in the computer. In return, the dealership sends me back to BMW of North America. Endless loop with no solution.

This Video is made to document the evidence of this very hazardous issue.

Is anyone else experiencing this problem? Please let me know.

Thank you in advance._a_
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I moved your question to the E90 3 series forum.

Good luck,
Tim
You need to get in touch with NHTSA immediately through their website and document the problem! Also, you will be able to see if there have been other similar complaints. This is a very serious issue indeed and there is something wrong with your car for sure. There are MANY stalling causes that will NOT set a code. I'm sure you have heard of the GM ignition debacle for instance.
Would you be so kind as to post legible photos of the service records which the dealer gave you each time you picked up your car? The doc's should list your complaint and what their determination was. Block off all owner specific information (VIN, name, address, etc.) if you wish.

At any point did you state to them that you felt that the car was a danger to drive, and did they put that down in the 'customer complaint' area of the service request?
Hi DSXMachina,

It is great to see that someone actually shares my concern. You have listed some good advice. I will followup with a case to NHTSA. So that this problem is on record.

My more immediate concern is that the car is a serious risk to drive and like most people I have to get to work every day.

As such, I have been working with the dealership (BMW of Stevens Creek in San Jose, CA) and BMW of North America (Nancy McDonald, Executive Customer Care, [email protected], 800 831 1117 ext 8225) to get the car off the road.

Initially, I had no traction with either the dealership or the BMW of North America. Each time I was told that nothing was wrong with the car and that I am basically making this up (I will post dealer records with the details). Now that I have posted the video of my latest ordeal to youtube and shared it with them, their tune is now somewhat different and it seems like they are trying to do something.

However the resolution is still unclear. I will be once again dropping the car off at Stevens Creek BMW tomorrow 5/24 for the foreman to inspect it and then I was told that they are sending an engineer to look at the vehicle on 6/2.

So it looks like the car will once again sit at the dealer for over a week. This is the 4th time the car is going back for the same problem. For a total time of nearly 4 weeks spend at the dealership from a total ownership of 7 months.

Every time the vehicle was dropped off I have explicitly explained to the dealership that the vehicle is dangerous to drive and should be fixed before released back to us. Each time the service manager/foreman came back saying that they are not able to find anything wrong with the car and that it is safe. This is documented in the records that will be shared. However, our request to document that the vehicle was dangerous to drive in the customer complaint section was refused, stating that the car was fine. It got to a point where I refused to pick up the car until it was fixed. At that point I was threatened daily charges for keeping the vehicle at the dealership.

They did however (one nice guy tried to help and is no longer at the dealership), on 2/17/14 (2nd visit) replace the high and low pressure fuel pumps and opened a PUMA case #57247223. I was told that this was done as a precaution as they found trace faults with the fuel system. However, this did not resolve the issue. On the 3rd visit (car stalled 4 times at that point) I was told that nothing else is wrong with the car and that I should raise a case with BMW of North America.

The concern at this point is that when I drop off the car tomorrow for the 4th time, the foreman/engineer will once again not find any fault codes or obvious issues with the vehicle and release it back to us.

My goal with this forum is to create visibility into this issue and see if anyone else is having better luck with this than I am.

This puts me in a serious situation, as I cannot drive the car and can only sell it with a great loss due to the engine issues/service history that are reported in the carfax and somehow I need to get to work.

Very embarrassing for BMW. Please keep me posted on any other advice or ideas of how to get to the bottom of this and what the end game looks like.

Cheers,

Alex
Here are the service records for the last 3 visits in January, February, and April. I will upload additional records post my visit tomorrow.

Cheers,

Alex

Attachments

Not a BMW mechanic, but I would think that the only thing that would interrupt the engine suddenly and NOT RECORD any fault is an interruption in the electrical system that effectively shuts down the entire car!
When the engine quit previously, were there any dash lights or any other signs ofcontinuing electrical activity (radio playing, dash LCD still shows data, etc.)? If none, that is further evidence of the fault source.
[edit: just watched video, see that there was electrical activity]
You stated it typically restarts finally after 10-15 minutes...perhaps one of the computers has 'overheated' and needs to cool down sufficiently, in order for proper function to be restored.
About 43 seconds into the video, one can see that the transmission is NOT in P or N (fleeting glance shows the gear selection illuminated and P or R or N are all not illuminated, but you can see orange indicator is lit in this screen grab...so one has to assume it was in D!) and

the car will NOT attempt restart unless the transmission is in P or N



That does not explain the stalls, but it does provide a reason that you cannot restart the engine!!!
Good show - California has a lemon law and, hey, looks like it was made for you.

Contact CSAA as they frequently do the mediation - they'll guide you.

Luck! Huh? Is that....do I small a buyback?

.
Here are the service records for the last 3 visits in January, February, and April. I will upload additional records post my visit tomorrow.

Cheers,

Alex
I am also not a BMW mechanic, but I am a mechanic who is very familiar with BMWs and works on them often. There are many things which can stall a BMW which will not set a code. The fact that there is no code makes the problem much harder to find but does not mean a problem doesn't exist.

OP, you may have rights under the CA lemon laws. Laws vary from state to state and I'm not a lawyer, so I suggest you Google it for starters.
Not a BMW mechanic, but I would think that the only thing that would interrupt the engine suddenly and NOT RECORD any fault is an interruption in the electrical system that effectively shuts down the entire car!
When the engine quit previously, were there any dash lights or any other signs ofcontinuing electrical activity (radio playing, dash LCD still shows data, etc.)? If none, that is further evidence of the fault source.
[edit: just watched video, see that there was electrical activity]
You stated it typically restarts finally after 10-15 minutes...perhaps one of the computers has 'overheated' and needs to cool down sufficiently, in order for proper function to be restored.
Hi Wilt,

Good callout. As you can imagine, I shot the video right after the car came to an abrupt stop in the middle of a major highway. I have realized that the car was still in drive and then put it back into park. The car still did not start for about 10 min.

Here are some details leading to this particular event. The vehicle was decelerating from about 40 mph due to upcoming traffic. As the traffic began moving, I lifted my foot off the brakes and the transmission started to downshift (almost engine brake). All of the sudden I realized that the steering wheel felt very heavy (almost unmovable), the brakes felt difficult to press down on, and I am no longer able to accelerate. Further, I noticed that the car is decelerating much more rapidly than expected on its own.

As I am used to this by now (5th time), I put on the hazards and pulled out my mobile to recorded the events post the stall, so that I have some evidence to bring to the dealer/BMW.

As this happens, no engine dash lights come on, the stereo still works, and most electronics seem to works as well. Just the engine is off and so are all the hydraulics. Then it takes some time for the engine to restart when the start button is pressed (5-15 min). The time to re-start the car seems to get longer with each incident.

In this case the engine made no noise as it died. In previous cases, I could hear a sputtering (gasping for air) type sounds at a lower speed and then the engine died. Mostly in highway on-ramp/off-ramp situations.

In each case I have noticed 3 consistent similarities:

1. Roughly a week prior to an incident the steering becomes very light and inaccurate. Meaning, it turns easily to each side but does not circulate back to center properly. This is not normally how the car behaves. So something seems to be effecting the power steering.

2. Within that same week, I begin to notice that the car becomes sluggish to accelerate. I notice a substantial increase in turbo lag (on/off acceleration). Further, I notice that the brakes take a significantly greater effort to modulate and bring the vehicle to a stop. Again, this is outside the norm of how the car typically drives.

3. Within that week the engine and the hydraulics abruptly shut off during either coasting or decelerating scenarios. I have not yet seen this happen during acceleration.

Lemon this is indeed. I have started looking into the lemon law, NHTSA, and even legal action.

Please let me know if anything in my description of the events sounds familiar. What can cause the car to stall that would not generate a code and not effect other electronics? I am suspecting something with the ECU or the transmission.

I will followup with what I find out post my visit to the dealer tomorrow.
One item that springs to mind, perhaps because I have noticed it myself on occasion, is a problem with idle speed control. As you decelerate to a stop, the engine control system may fail to switch over to idle control mode in a timely fashion, causing the engine to stumble or stall (because the signal from the EML [throttle pedal] says "fully closed"). I am being somewhat vague here by saying "control system" because such a fault could lie in a sensor, the DME (ECU) or somewhere else unknown to me. It might not record a fault code if, in that particular instance, the system simply failed to respond in time to a rapidly-changing set of conditions at the edges of the "normal" ranges.

I see this every once in a great while (we're talking at most 10 occurrences in ~4 years) while stopping for traffic, intersections and such. If there is rhyme or reason to it, I haven't noticed. With a manual transmission, it is no big deal: A gentle blip of the throttle averts a stall and stabilizes the idle.

The big, big difference from your situation is that on the few occasions where I failed to react in time and the engine stalled, it could be restarted immediately. Your inability to restart your car for many minutes is a strong indicator of a more serious problem.
What can cause the car to stall that would not generate a code and not affect other electronics?
Hi Zeichen311,

Your situation is very interesting. My problem started out in very similar conditions, where the engine began dying at near idle under 10 mph and has started right up the first 2 times. However, this has escalated to the engine stalling at various speeds up to 40 mph and at above idle in the last 3 times. The last 3 times it took between 5-15 min to restart.

Luckily, I have not yet seen this happen at higher speeds. The dangerous part is that when this happens the power steering and the brake assist also shut off.

I have been fortunate to avoid some hair-raising situations in primarily CA highway driving. As such, I do not want to keep pushing my luck as in the last situation on 4/21/14, I was very nearly rear-ended because the car came to an abrupt stop. The car behind me was just inches from my rear bumper and and the gentlemen even got out of the car to yell at me for my "terrible driving". Once I showed him what is going on he got the point.

Embarrassing yes. Dangerous certainly. No what you expect from a 50k+ BMW. I am hoping that BMW gets their act together and offers a reasonable solution.

Mine is an automatic transmission by the way.

Cheers,

Alex
The car came to an "abrupt stop". Was that because you were vigorously applying the brakes, or did it seem to stop quickly with only normal pressure?

Were you playing your radio? Did the radio shut off?

The guy behind you stopped and got out of his car on a highway to berate you? On a highway you engaged in conversation so that you could explain your predicament?
Hi Zeichen311,

Your situation is very interesting. My problem started out in very similar conditions, where the engine began dying at near idle under 10 mph and has started right up the first 2 times. However, this has escalated to the engine stalling at various speeds up to 40 mph and at above idle in the last 3 times. The last 3 times it took between 5-15 min to restart.

Luckily, I have not yet seen this happen at higher speeds. The dangerous part is that when this happens the power steering and the brake assist also shut off.

I have been fortunate to avoid some hair-raising situations in primarily CA highway driving. As such, I do not want to keep pushing my luck as in the last situation on 4/21/14, I was very nearly rear-ended because the car came to an abrupt stop. The car behind me was just inches from my rear bumper and and the gentlemen even got out of the car to yell at me for my "terrible driving". Once I showed him what is going on he got the point.

Embarrassing yes. Dangerous certainly. No what you expect from a 50k+ BMW. I am hoping that BMW gets their act together and offers a reasonable solution.

Mine is an automatic transmission by the way.

Cheers,

Alex
This sounds like a battery cable recall issue.

Call dealer ask them to run your vin against that recall campaign.

Check all electrical grounds. Even at the battery itself
Not so sure. Check invoice 17Feb2014. Sounds like they were quite thorough.
This sounds like a battery cable recall issue.

Call dealer ask them to run your vin against that recall campaign.

Check all electrical grounds. Even at the battery itself
Hi DSXMachina,

I dropped off the car on Saturday 5/24 and per your advice requested the service advisor at Stevens Creek BMW (Ken Evan) to enter a complaint in the "Customer Complaint" section stating that the vehicle is a hazard to drive.

The response was that they "cannot and will not enter introduce such information in the paperwork". Further, Ken refused to watch the video that I presented as evidence, which I shared with this forum. More than that, he proceeded to immediately walk us to the loaner desk to get us out of the dealership as quickly as possible as other customers began to hear our conversation.

No manager was on duty on Saturday. I was told that one will be calling me today. BMW of North America is supposed to be coordinating this visit with the dealership and the supposedly arriving engineer.

So far we are off to an expectedly negative start. I will try to escalate this directly to BMW of North America and to see if they have any authority to get a legitimate expert to look at the car.

Will keep everyone posted. Please feel free to respond with any suggestions.

FYI, I have filed an official NHTSA case# 10593767.

Cheers,

Alex
Hi DSXMachina,

To clarify your question of the "abrupt stop", let me walk you through what happens when this issue is experienced. Unfortunately, I was not able to capture that in the video, as there is not way to predict when it happens and the video was shot after the fact.

As you are driving or coasting, the engine shuts off but you do not realize it, as it is pretty quiet. What you do realize is that the transmission is still in gear and perhaps not the right one for the speed, so the vehicle abruptly engine brakes to a standstill. Also at that point you realize that the steering is heavy and eventually that the brakes are hard to modulate.

As you are not expecting to brake at that moment, the deceleration is alarming and outside of your control. This creates a very real rear-end collision possibility. Especially, in the traffic situation that I was in the last incident. This is the reason that the gentleman driving behind me was so upset as he nearly rear ended me.

I was not applying the brakes at the time (so the brake lights were off, hence confusing the driver of the vehicle behind me) and all electronics seem to be working as normal (radio was still on). This is evident from the video.

Now, this does not always happen, but I have seen this 3 out of 5 times. The last incident being the most severe example.

What I am going to do at this point is to invest into a dash cam, so that I can record the experience as a whole the next time it happens and share it with BMW and this forum.

I am hoping it does not get to that point (and I do not get to an accident) and BMW fixes or remedies the issue.

Cheers,

Alex
My buddy had an N55 and he once has an issue with stalling. There was a TSB released for a sensor which caused the random stalling.

The dealer warrantied the sensor even though he was FBO. Let me do some digging...
I think it was a sensor on the fuel rail. My buddy just text me back and told it was a fuel timing issue and the VSOS sensor. That acronym doesn't ring a bell so he's probably not recalling that correctly.
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