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N20 Timing Chain failure Drivetrain malfunction. BMW F25 X3 2013 53,000 miles

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My wife's 2013 X3 just stopped and gave a drivetrain malfunction error in the middle of the road while she was driving.

I was unable to move it and could not push it.

I tried the emergency electronic release but after 20 minutes realized no matter what I did it would not work.

Then I remembered the manual release screw under the car!

This video helped.... But I had to remove the panels underneath with a 8mm socket to gain access to the Allen wrench screw.

Let me say..... what a pain in the ass!

Finally got the car out of gear and towed home. To make matters worse warranty just expired 3 months ago, car now has 53,000. I swear BMW does this on purpose.

No I am trying to diagnose the problem..

I am hoping its something simple... I have seen where the ignition coils have failed locking out the transmission to prevent damage...

ANy help would be appreciated. I cant believe how dangerous this car is designed. I was stuck in one spot for 1 hour trying to disengage the gear lock. I hope this helps someone else. The car was unable to be moved or towed until the lock is disabled.

Anyone have any idea on what it could be?...

The timing chain and or timing chain guards failed resulting in a total loss of the engine.

I have had many people with the BMW N20 issue email me of similar failures and am keeping a list here...

Please add your comments to this forum if you had a similar experience.


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I saw your post in another thread and am glad your X3 was taken care of by the BMW dealer. Can you elaborate on what happened when your car "stopped in the middle of the road"? Was it a sudden jerk to a stop from like 40mph to 0mph?

Crossing my fingers here for my X3 2.8i...
My x3 has about 54000 on it. I feel sick to my stomach because BMW told me it was going to cost 23k to replace the engine . My car stopped in the middle of the road. The tech found the timing chain module broken and metal in throughout the valve train. The vehicle jumped timing and there is excessive wear present in the valve train.

They are calling BMW tomorrow to see if they are going to help. Let's hope they do the right thing. Please any documentation any has on this please send my way: God Bless!!

Wow.. that's terrible. I drive more on freeways than local roads myself, and I have a 528i that I had to tow without being able to get the car into Neutral either.

BMW needs to issue a recall for this ASAP, but I doubt BMW North America will want to spend that much money replacing engines pre-emptively. Good to know you were safe and that no one was immediately ahead of you.

I appreciate the quick responses! Are you off from work today as well? All joking aside though, did the dealer provide you with a full explanation of the defect in writing? My car has not been worked on yet, it is a '14 X3 x28i with only roughly 35,000-36,000 miles on it so far. I bought it as a CPO so any powertrain failure will be covered till 2019 or 100,000 miles on the odometer, whichever comes first.

However, a wrecked car is a wrecked car if my engine dies all of a sudden on a busy road while driving at 55+ mph... I will need to research into any class action lawsuits that may be growing because this defect (especially if BMW is aware of it) is a serious issue.
I read somewhere on this site too that the problem was supposedly taken care of for 2014 and newer X3's. It's still the same engine though, if I recall correctly. Anyhow, you'll hear me ranting non-stop on this site if I have any problems, and if I have problems on my '14 ... you know other people will too!
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