By on February 5, 2014

Nitin writes:

Sanjeev,

I read your blog about the problem in BMW. I have a 2009 BMW 535i X drive with turbo. The car just ran out of warranty and has 45000 miles only. My car started having engine problems last week. First, the BMW said it needs new spark plugs as they were dirty. That cost me $740 dollars. That did not work. They said it needs new fuel injectors. That was another $2100 dollars.

I picked up my car yesterday evening and drove it on the highway. The problem is still not fixed. The Car is still shaking badly. I will have to get it back to service. I am afraid they don’t have a handle on this problem. I called another mechanic who works on BMWs. He mentioned the probable need for walnut shell blasting. What do you know about it? Do you know of any pending lawsuits regarding this problem? Would appreciate your insight.

Sajeev answers:

And here’s another reason why European cars should be leased, or sold immediately after the warranty expires…I mean, when you’ve seen people being burned by the fire so many times…WAIT YOU GIVE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW YOU LITTLE…

Sanjeev retorts:

Listen, Sajeev–if that really is your name–I am sick of hearing your reverse elitist, MBA-toting hipster bellyaching on cars you wouldn’t buy.  But should buy.  Your co-workers, your friends and even your family are ashamed that you bought (special ordered, no less) a Ford Ranger instead of getting the nearest 3-series with a premium package.

So stop being a disappointment to everyone and answer the question correctly.  Jerk.

Sajeev re-answers:

Perhaps I should start over. Direct injection problems are commonplace for many brands, and multiple fixes are used to cure the carbon buildup/misfire problems.  So maybe you did need spark plugs, as that was the most logical and cheapest place to start.  And from there…well, the spiraling cost is unfortunate because it seems they are “throwing parts at the problem” and hoping for the best.  Which is never pleasant for the customer, as they will never know the truth of the diagnostic tree behind their repair bill(s).

The walnut shell blasting thing is a very logical next step.  Perhaps it shoulda been the first step, considering the (low-ish) mileage on the plugs/injectors. But will it work?  Hopefully so.

Lawsuit? Perhaps…but it’s not worth your time because you can probably get something by reading this, especially the following quote:

“BMW will extend the emissions warranty coverage period to 10 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first, on affected vehicles in all 50 States. If the HPFP fails during the extended warranty coverage period, BMW will replace it with a newer-production version. Customers who experience long starting times or notice the Service Engine Soon lamp should contact an Authorized BMW Center to schedule a service appointment. Customers with further questions should contact BMW Customer Relations at 1-800-831-1117 or email customer.relations@bmwna.com.”

Sometimes, even if this isn’t the source of your specific problem, BMW N/A will cut you a break in the name of customer goodwill.  Because you already spent a ton of cash with their dealership and they do feel bad about that.  Why would they feel bad? Because a few bucks back in your pocket might get you back in a newer Bimmer. Customer Retention is the name of the game, and it wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.

So best of luck to you, from me and Sanjeev.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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100 Comments on “Piston Slap: Fix My Beeeemer, Sanjeev!...”


  • avatar

    I have seen other references to carbon buildup due to the inherent nature of direct injection. Not an assuring thing to consider when shopping for a new vehicle. Hopefully manufacturers are working on solutions.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      They have. I don’t know about BMW, but VWAG and Toyota use dual style injection, combining direct injection with valve cleaning traditional port injection. ALL direct injectiion only cars will have this carbon build up problem, which takes a lot of cars off the market unless you are willing to add the $$$ of a valve cleaning and some kind of catch can system to the purchase price. I was super close to buying my wife a B6 Passat wagon until I came across the FSI carbon build up problems. Just didn’t have the scratch or time to deal with it and got her a Rabbit instead.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        A big reason why Chrysler stuck with port injection on the Pentastar engine. They were designed for DI, but in the end they could perform as well with port injection and save the hassle of carbon buildup and a more expensive injection system.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Look to GM”s Ecotec engines for carbon free combustion chambers. They been doing it since 2006 on the LNF 2.0T.

        Not ALL DI engines have carbon build in the combustion chamber. But ALL engines, DI or non-DI, suffer from carbon build on the intake valves. The worse are carbon build up in the combustion chamber as it effects emissions and drivibility.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        If VW uses port and direct injection together (like Toyota does), that’s a recent development. Prior to that VW patented a mechanism that rotates the intake valves when they open, so the same side of the valve is not exposed to the crud entering the intake manifold from the PCV system. Doesn’t sound like a solution to me, just postpones the time when the problem becomes a problem (like, maybe after the warranty has expired?).

        The absence of a stream of gasoline (with detergents and so on added) to clean the top of the intake valve and valve stem seems to be a significant problem for gasoline DI engines. What I don’t understand is why its not a problem on diesels, which are all DI. Do diesels have a different kind of crankcase ventilation system . . . perhaps because they operate at atmospheric pressure and have no engine vacuum?

        The charges for this do seem excessive. The plugs on all BMW inline sixes are on the top of the engine and very easy to access. Perhaps the price included replacing all of the coilpacks as well as the plugs. I thought plugs were supposed to be good for 100K miles. The fact that they are fouled does indicate a problem . . . engine running too rich or else excessive blow-by oil getting into the intake.

        Personally, I’m a little afraid of gasoline DI engines: the high pressure fuel pump makes them extremely sensitive to fuel quality — a big issue here in the U.S. with hygroscopic ethanol being added to gasoline — and then there’s the question of how the intake valve stems (which are in the intake airflow) get cleaned without any gasoline vapor passing over them. If I owned a DI engine, I’d be tempted to do an annual cleaning with Seafoam or one of those other cleaners that you spray into the intake manifold . . . of course that would void the warranty.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The Lincoln dealer I’ve gone to does an intake cleaning with a BG product. I’m not sure which one. Apparently it won’t void a warranty, but I don’t know if it works.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It’s most likely BG 44K.

            I am very skeptical of most additive products, whether to “clean” fuel systems or super-lubricate things, and view most of them as cleverly marketed and packaged snake oil, but both BG 44K and Chevron Techron CONCENTRATE (in the black bottle & preferably in the 20 ounce size) fuel system cleaners both do work to a certain degree consistent with their stated claims – Seafoam, not so much, in my experience.

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          Who told you is not a problem with diesels?

          They suffer from the issue too. Long time ago someone told about carbon buildup as a recurring issue in a truck diesel engine from a very known brand.

          • 0 avatar
            SatelliteView

            Ooooo! Gotcha, VERY know brand. Changes everything, because if the brand would be known, but not very….

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          Rotating valves are nothing new, in fact it’s an essential part of sound engine design…but I love how VW tried to credit for it. If you look at the geometry of most valvetrains, the rocker arm or roller finger follower touches the valve stem slightly off-center, which promotes valve rotation.

          Valves that don’t rotate properly can eventually develop an oval shape to the valve head which of course leads to poor cylinder sealing and misfires.

          Chrysler had issues with the 3.7L V-6 a number of years back (mid-2000’s) where the valve keepers had too many burrs on them and would not allow the valves to rotate. The fix was revised “burrless” keepers that were super polished so they would allow the valves to rotate properly.

          As far as the OP’s issue, I doubt the spark plugs were bad at all with only 45K on them. Sounds like a case of a dealer playing the guessing game with the customer’s money. Funny how they don’t play the guessing game as much under warranty – because they know the claim will be charged back!

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Old style diesels didn’t have enough engine vacuum to suck enough carbon out of the crank case. The new style diesels with throttle plates have carbon problems.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          Volkswagen’s latest EA888 engines (as of 2013) have both port and direct injection. I don’t have details on specific model applications, though.

      • 0 avatar
        vtecJustKickedInYo

        If not the Ignition Coils or ICM then I would have to agreed. 2007 RS4’s have this issue even at 40k with meticulous maintenance (airfilters etc.) and it would not be uncommon to clean the valves. I recently took apart a standard GDI 2010 Audi 2.0T (CAEB) with 80k miles and I was appalled by the build up on the valves.

        Exhaust gas residual inside of the cylinder can be a pain in the ass.

        What about vacuum lines and is the intake after the MAF staying properly pressurized and not leaking?

        • 0 avatar
          vtecJustKickedInYo

          Regarding Vac lines I’m specifically talking about crankcase ventilation hoses because I believe the ventilation would vent back into the intake like on most modern engines and a vacuum leak can cause misfires.

          And for the Intake the computer would think it is getting more air into the engine than what is actually happening causing it to misfire. Pressurizing the intake would be a quick way to test this.

          Im actually surprised the Technician did not replace the Ignition Coils during the spark plug replacement if the car was misfiring that badly. That honestly should be standard procedure.

        • 0 avatar
          SatelliteView

          Have you taken apart engines without DI with 80k miles? And?

          • 0 avatar
            vtecJustKickedInYo

            No where near as bad. Its because gas is a really good parts cleaner so valves tend to be cleaner on port injected cars. That is why auto makers are integrating dual injection as a temporary fix until a permanent solution can be found because it is not as advantageous as a straight GDI setup.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            What’s the down side of a catch can? It seems like a simpler solution than combining port and direct injection. I assume manufacturers have already looked into this and decided it’s not a viable solution?

          • 0 avatar
            vtecJustKickedInYo

            Its mainly emissions reasons. Turbo engines have a particularly high blow by so the crankcase gets filled with combustion chamber gases at positive pressure which easily can blow out seals. A catch can would vent these gases to the atmosphere so you would be venting untreated combustion gases and hydro carbons (major emissions problem). Also having the ventilation on the intake manifold will have a negative vacuum so you can create a better cyclone effect in blowby gas oil separators. Using these separators that mainly rely on using a cyclone/centrifugal force to separate the gaseous oils from the blow by gas, you have much cleaner blowby gas going into the intake manifold so you have less build up on valves.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    $740 for 6 spark plugs? Even at $100+ an hour labor that seems excessive. Does it take an hour labor per plug – because that’s the only way I could see them justifying that.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      My Sienna needs new spark plugs at the upcoming 120000 mile service and it will be >$600 to replace because of the way the V6 engine is placed in the engine bay. It involves alot of labor to reach the far three.

      • 0 avatar
        johnhowington

        $600 still doesnt justify the fact that a proper mechanic has plenty of socket extensions, mirrors, and the proper tools to do a spark plug replacement on a V6 engine.

        • 0 avatar
          kmoney

          Gotta love flat rate and book times. The manufacturers set long labour times so the techs have no incentive to rush or skip the back 3, even though most techs quickly learn to beat the book time. I had several tech friends at dealerships who would just cherry pick these jobs when they came in to book several hours on what could be a 45-60 min job.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Manufacturers actually set pretty agressive labor times, so much so that technicians constantly whine about it. It’s the aftermarket labor time books like Chilton or Mitchell that dealers and private shops use for retail repairs that pad the time by typically doubling the warranty time alloted by the car manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Early model KIA Sedona’s had that same issue, with the engine so far back that only half the plugs were accessible. Many less-than-ethical mechanics would only change 3 plugs due to the labor involved, because a lot of people didn’t want to hear that a plug change would run up $400 or more in labor.

        Pretty much had to set aside a whole day to disassemble the engine… good time to put on a new head gasket too. :O

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      I was thinking the same thing. An inline 6 should take an hour at most to replace the plugs on, unless there is something you have to remove to get it done on these things.

      • 0 avatar

        Betcha there’s a good chance that the twin turbo setup will be a bit complicated to remove to get to the plugs.

        • 0 avatar

          WRONG nah, I just recently watched a guy do spark plugs on an E60 525i then do the plugs on a 535i. It didn’t take any longer to do the turbo motor than the NA one.

          • 0 avatar
            mikedt

            Just watched a couple youtube videos on DIY plug changes on modern BMWs and there is no way this is a 6 hour job. Maybe a little over an hour if you’re a new and extremely slow and fastidious. My gut says they’re padding the job because they can.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          The only items you need to remove are the cabin filter housing, strut brace, and engine cover. That won’t take long.

          Parts markup doesn’t even explain this. My favorite parts database shows a list price of $21.32 for the spark plugs.

          BMW seems to raise their prices faster than that website can keep up, so let’s assume a greedy dealership wants $30/ea for the plugs. The labor rate at a BMW dealership near me is $195/hr. Allowing 1.5 hrs of labor, and even these ridiculous rates only get you to $472.50. Relatively high CA sales tax brings that up to $510; still a decent chunk of what the OP paid.

          The OP was robbed on the spark plugs, and probably the injectors too. I recommend having words with BMW NA. Despite what many think about companies like BMW not caring what happens after the warranty is up, I believe they do. Stories like this do their brand no favors, and they are aware of that.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Agreed – the OP was robbed on those plugs. I’m so glad I know how to take care of stuff like this myself and don’t have such a high opinion of the value of my time that I would farm it out.

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      My father in law, who’s a fleet technician for large shop that uses exclusively Ford F-Series trucks, told me that when he inquired at Ford dealer about the process of changing the plugs on F superduty with V10, first part of the steps involved taking a cab off the frame…. That’s the example of some of the laziest engineering.

  • avatar
    redav

    I like this Sanjeev guy. He tells it like it is. TTAC should give him a permanent job.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “First, the BMW said it needs new spark plugs as they were dirty. That cost me $740 dollars. That did not work. They said it needs new fuel injectors. That was another $2100 dollars; thirdly, they said, ‘Hey you need a new BMW\'”

    All the more reason to dump one of those dogs before the warranty expires. My sister runs into that same kind of sad sack $hit with her 328; $400 oil changes and such from the BMW stealership. The thing to do is to ask around and find a good independent shop who knows BMW’s.

    • 0 avatar
      calgarytek

      What an absolute nuissance it must be to own one of these vehicles. I’m surprised that quality/durability/reliability have gone by the wayside when it comes to spending on big ticket items.

      It would seriously p*ss me off if I had bought a luxury vehicle and it broke down frequently. That’s not luxury people… Am I making too much common sense? I mean people actually defend buying these cars.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Why is she taking the car to a dealership for an oil change? Most independent places that knows BMW’s will charge $80-$150 for synthetic oil changes – still too much, but not dealership bad.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      It’s not a nuisance if you follow the recommended service procedure during term ownership – most dealers have a fleet of loaners that are higher spec that the thing you drive to try to up-sell you.

      Anything that happens after that magic paper runs out is your responsibility, because a majority of their customers do not retain vehicles that are not covered under a warranty for an extended period of time. I am sure at some point when the car was coming due the dealer offered to sell a warranty extension, or a 3rd party warranty, or to re-certify the car, and all of those options should have come in under the $3k he is already out to fix this problem.

      Now you’re stuck. So:

      1. Find an independent mechanic if you are unhappy with the service at the dealer -and-
      2. If the Mechanic recommends service, always establish what happens if the service does not fix the problem. 90% of the Injector work was labor, and you should have been compensated with additional diagnostic time when that failed to resolve the issue. I would call the dealer, explain politely that they have failed to fix the problem, and ask them what they recommend as the next step.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Actually, DI injectors are a lot more expensive than the typical low-pressure injectors used on non-DI cars, so 90% labor is probably a bit high. Even if the ratio was 50/50, it was still a rip-off since they were just being parts-changers and not properly diagnosing the issue.

  • avatar
    fiveohstillslow

    This type of carbon buildup was a big factor in my decision to sell my 2012 MazdaSpeed 3 that was otherwise in new condition. I kept seeing pictures on the forums of people cleaning out noticeable carbon buildup out of their cylinders in less than 20k miles. The main way of preventing this seemed to be installing an oil catch can or bypassing the EGR, but it seems excessive to resort to such measures to keep the cylinders clean, especially with all the emissions headaches that can be involved.

  • avatar
    fiveohstillslow

    When I say cylinders of course i mean valves….

  • avatar
    MOSullivan

    No codes?

    The high pressure fuel pump is the first suspect. When it starts to fail it you have to crank longer than normal to start the car and it can cause misfiring. It’s covered by an extended warranty. Fuel injectors can fail in these engines but you’ve paid $2100 to find out they’re not the problem. Carbon buildup is common in DI engines; BMW shell blasts the valves to clear it out.

    The Bosch plugs for the N54 engine are ~$90 each. I think they’re supposed to last for 60k miles. The fact they were dirty at 45k is a symptom of the underlying problem, not the cause. If you don’t find the cause soon you’ll wind up with more dirty plugs.

    I think I will keep my 540i. It’s simple enough to be serviced by an independent mechanic. The plugs cost $25 and they looked almost new when I changed them at 100k/km.

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      I must have missed a memo or something. When did sparkplugs go to $90 each? I can’t remember exactly what I paid for my Chevy Tahoe, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t over $200 (for 8 plugs installed). Is there something unique to the BMW version?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Yes, they are reverse osmosis unobtanium plugs handcrafted in zee Black Forest, and technicians have to be certified just to remove & replace these at Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s Top Secret facility in Munich, which requires 6.832 years of intensive schooling & training.

        This is a classic case of a stealership giving a nice, long golden shower to a customer.

        The “let’s throw parts at it because we’re so flummoxed” act is really hilarious, especially since they have the diagnostic equipment to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem in nothing more than 5 minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      Huh? Turner BMW has the Bosch ZGR6STE2 for $15.95

      • 0 avatar
        cheapthrills

        I’ve recently learned that ordering spark plugs from Amazon will almost always be the cheapest way to get them. In this case, they are $11.25.

        BMW has put their name on Bosch spark plugs and charged 3-10 times the price for a few years now.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Many BMW owners must have ‘Sucker’ plastered on their forehead. Just a little bit of knowledge of what things cost would keep BMW owners out of dealerships forever.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        That knowledge would also probably keep them away from BMW showrooms to begin with!

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        BMW’s are not bought for driving. They’re bought for social acceptance / money status indicator. Better performance can be bought cheaper and/or more effectively.

        Sorry, but if you can afford $3,000 for spark plugs and injectors, you can afford $10,000 for cleaning. They can also afford $100 for parking in the handicapped spot, $250 for making lefts on red, $450 for doing 92 mph in a 65 mph zone, and all the other jack assery BMW drivers are known for.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      http://www.amazon.com/Bosch-ZGR6STE2-Super-Plus-Spark/dp/B001C5Y3ZA

      Those Bosch ZGR6STE2s are $10.40 a piece, and the internet assures me they are the OEM plug for an N54.

      $90 a piece *with installation*, if the dealer is profiteering…

  • avatar
    mikenem

    Did they check the coil packs? A friend has one with a Cobb tune and goes through them regularly..

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Holy Sh** how much for spark plugs? at 45K , I get it is a pricy car but really $740 hope you got dinner with that, makes my volvo or VW repairs bills seem cheap. I do not think I spent that much in 8 years on my wires pilot in repairs, I assume a plug change at 45k is not regular maintenance but I could be wrong.Find a good indie and hope they can solve your issues if not run from this car. Did the OP also drop $2100 in it after the spark plugs were changed? for a car with 45 K ?????

    • 0 avatar
      dude500

      Lol, the spark plugs are as much as a timing belt change on an Audi 2.0T

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I changed the plugs on my V-6 Stratus 3 times in 126,000 miles myself and have less than $100 into the parts involved. I also figured out a way to do it without pulling the upper intake as recommended by the shop manual, all in less than 40 minutes to boot! This poor schlub definitely got ripped off, especially considering it didn’t even fix the problem.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    $740 for a spark plug change at 45k miles.

    Plugs made from only the purest of rare metals mixed with a dash of German Engineering. We all know German Engineering costs more. Precision and stuff.

  • avatar
    MK

    Yeah that’s the price you pay to drive in style I guess. That’s an expensive way to fix the problem though.

    Anecdotal but I was talking with a flatbed tow operator and asked him what kind of car he picked up most often, he didn’t even have to think about it and answered BMW X5. Surprised me a little bit because I don’t even notice that many of them on the road, ill consider that warning enough.

  • avatar
    snabster

    can we just stop the brown on brown violence, and just focus on:

    1) Why do Indians think BMW is the new buick?;
    2) Who pays $700+ for spark plug changes;
    3) what exactly are the engine problems here?

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Jesus, is EVERY non-American car over $50,000 a defective product?

    This is the kind of thing that killed the reputations of the Detroit 3 in the 70s.

    When I was in high school, I had a German friend who’s dad had been transferred to the US office of his company for four years, so here he was.

    He used to say that “Fahrvergnugen” actually meant “foolish American.”

    • 0 avatar
      MOSullivan

      That was then and this is now. The difference is the lease market. The kind of quality that lasts well beyond the warranty doesn’t matter to the leaser or the manufacturer. The money is in getting people to bite on the lease bait decorating the showroom. The manufacturer can flip a leased car twice and do it quickly, likely within the warranty period. Both transactions are profitable. The second one sees the car, the new owner who bought it off-lease and the warranty all go away where the sun don’t shine. The money isn’t in making a reliable and durable car so somebody who buys one new will come back in 10 years for another one.

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      Acura makes some reliable cars over 50K.

  • avatar
    E39luv

    And that’s why I keep my easy-to-repair, simple, ancient E39. My coworker and I, both BMW owners, have both watched the local dealer spend our money like drunken sailors, only to take it to the indy and have it fixed right for a reasonable price. Forty dollar relay in her case, five hundred dollar (parts/labor) thrust arm bushings/alignment in mine. My feeling is that even with the best DIY skills, cars are not being designed to repair anymore, and the dealer’s part-replacers are not much better than us when it comes honest-to-god troubleshooting. For that, one needs a craftsman, and they’re usually at your local indy.

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      Actually modern cars are quite easy to diagnose in most cases. However, its easier and more profitable to play a guessing game fueled by customer greenbacks. A dealer has access to all of the factory documentation which include component and system tests. That said, good techs are in very short supply. Find a good local independent that has the proper BMW tools and documentation.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Isn’t the “I know, we’ll replace parts, including some really expensive ones, adding in a buck fifty per hour shop time based on an artificially inflated labor hour standard, until we find the problem or you go bankrupt – whichever comes first – rather than running a comprehensive diagnostic at the outset, which would pinpoint the specific problem in less than 5 minutes 99.5% of the time” approach awesome?

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        To be fair, a lot of factory troubleshooting guides that the holy BMW tech will use are simply flow charts with yes/no questions. Is resistance across pin 5 and pin 17 in the range of x to y ohms? if yes then ____ if no then replace module so and so. The problem is that rigid flow charts are oftentimes dead wrong, leading to the parts-throwing.

        There exists a whole profession of traveling diagnostics experts, that both indy mechanics and dealers (especially dealers) will call in to find the root cause on cars that have the dealer techs stumped.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          if it’s an actual licensed BMW dealer, they have the CAN-bus, current EOBD scangauge, and proprietary BMW diagnostic scan tools, which, in all but the most rare of instances, would be ble to quickly and successfully pinpoint the component or part, or identify the problem area, that’s causing the issue.

          This is my opinion based on experience, and that experience tells me it’s at least highly suspect that they’re literally throwing new parts at the problem in what the OP seems to suggest is a trial-by-error, expensive process.

          I’d bet that if the car were under factory warranty this issue would have been resolved already and with a lot less expense, b.s. and “guesswork.”

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah the factory scan tool will give a lot of information, but I think some basic core competency and application of logic is needed at least some of the time. Kind of like a catalyst inefficiency OBD2 code is assumed to be “just an oxygen sensor” on the forums, where the real chain of issues can turn out to be that a headgasket leak is causing coolant to foul and ruin the catalytic converter, thus tripping the code most often associated with a wonky O2 sensor. That example is all too common on the ej25 Subarus.

            i just googled around for common n54 issues, and carbon build up is indeed a common culprit in misfires. Seeing as the injectors and plugs have already been replaced, I’d say that is your next thing to check. Have a competent independent look down your intake manifold with a boroscope to look at the condition of the valves before you dive in head first.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    And there are still people who will tell you with a straight face that the current crop of German cars are high quality, durable and reliable.

    What a joke!

    Push that piece of crap into the nearest river. It’s not worth your time or your money.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      That or trade it in for a Japanese luxury car. Then he can sleep at night.

    • 0 avatar
      Numbers_Matching

      It’s more a symptom of DI engine technology when applied at the time of that engine’s develpement. If you research the problem of carbon build-up on DI engines, you will see that it is industry wide – not just BMW. Due to these deficiencies in technology, the quality and durability of an engine can be fully independent of reliability – something many on this board don’t always understand.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I would certainly ask for my money back on the previously mis-diagnosed repairs.

    I expect that sort of parts throwing from Billy Bob’s garage, but fancy BMW factory techs should know better. That’s just plain embarrassing.

    I’d think the first thing to do would be to look around at forums and find people with similar problems. I’d put money on carbon build up being the culprit, offhand.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    New plugs for the car in the article’s picture run about $9.50 at your local parts store. And that’s for all six of ‘em.

  • avatar
    rmwill

    Too little data to diagnose anything. The only thing that is clear is the dealer is playing a guessing game and not diagnosing anything. Sees the boy as a sucker.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    If you drive an out-of-warranty German car and still take it to the dealership to get serviced then you kind of deserve what you get. Why would anyone do that?? Dealerships are great when someone else is footing the bill. Once you have to pay for it the FIND AN INDEPENDENT MECHANIC you can trust. Oh and it wouldn’t hurt to spend some time on the online forums to educate yourself in the most common problems and how to fix them before you go for your raping. It would appear that every turbo BMW is a ticking time bomb of required repairs. It’s not like those are very difficult repairs, you probably could have saved yourself $2k and done it yourself.

  • avatar
    dude500

    Are you sure this is carbon buildup? Wouldn’t carbon buildup manifest as a gradual problem rather than a sudden problem (ie. suddenly had engine trouble last week)?

  • avatar
    Swedish

    Trade for a Volvo S80 T6, AWD standard, INLINE SIX, no direct injection to worry about.

    • 0 avatar
      spyked

      Are you absolutely sure about that? I almost recommended an S60 to a friend of mine who doesn’t care to maintain cars with regularity, but ended up not doing it because all my research pointed to the I5 and I6 being newly DI’d. I knew she wouldn’t bother getting a BG intake cleaning every once in awhile.

      The I6 is not current DI? I wish I would have known that!

      I don’t personally have a problem with DI. It’s just a bottle of techron every 5k miles or a BG cleaning every few years (on Mercedes anyway). But I wasn’t convinced Volvo implemented it properly.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Scotty once said: ‘The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier to stop up the drain”

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Trade this car in immediately. If you agreed to pay $740 for spark plugs, you should be in a car with a warranty.

    I see OEM plugs for the N54 for $15/ea or less online. You only need to remove the cabin filter housing, strut tower brace, and engine cover to get to the coils/plugs. It’s a little more of a nuisance than a Honda I4, but this isn’t a V6 mounted sideways and stuffed back as far as it will go. The turbos and plumbing aren’t in the way either. I would be surprised if BMW allows for more than 1.5 hours for this. $740 is criminal.

  • avatar
    dude500

    I had my 335xi’s spark plugs changed at ~40k under the maintenance plan (ie. free to me). Your service advisor may have saw that plugs were scheduled service, and therefore assumed that this was creating your problem since you hadn’t gotten the plugs replaced yet.

    BMW, land of 15k oil changes and 40k spark plugs!

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I hope your dealership at least took you out for a nice dinner before screwing you twice. You need to find an independent mechanic – fast. Never take a BMW to the dealer out of warranty unless you have a connection there.

    There was a recall on some fuel injectors on MY08 and early 09’s with the N54. Since your dealership replaced those already and charged you for the privilege, there’s no way to know if yours were affected.

    http://www.e90post.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=502741&d=1301421967

    There’s also the well known HPFP issue that’s warranted to 100k miles now. Usually the symptoms of that are that it goes into limp home mode though. Never heard of walnut blasting…

    I looked at the 535 when I was in the market, but the HPFP, injector, and turbo wastegate problems scared me away. Ended up going with the NA 530 instead. I don’t regret it after hearing these stories.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    My god if the car is out of warranty don’t take it to the dealer. Stories like this are how people get suckered into new cars when their old one is perfectly serviceable and fixable for thousands less than what a dealer charges.

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    This strikes me more like a potential VANOS issue. I certainly would have the BMWNA Tech rep inspect your car and the readouts. Sparkplugs are due around that time, do it’s not unreasonable, or a waste, to replace them.
    Some N55 engines (not in your car), had a bad set of VANOS bolts that could cause some catastrophic issues. Easier remedies could be VANOS solenoids, which you could even replace yourself.

    In any case, since you’re in this deep, I would definitely make sure BMWNA is involved and is able to remedy the fix.

  • avatar
    sdb8440

    On my now departed ’07 328, we were experiencing a lot of idle variation and shaking, but not what this sounds like. On the E90 forums, walnut shells likely should have been the first option, but I went with a change in fuel to Petro Canada who use a similar additive to Chevron’s Techron, which you can buy at your local station. It took about 6 weeks and the symptoms disappeared and were never to return.

  • avatar
    spyked

    This isn’t the classic (and repaired for free) BMW HPFP issue?

    Even if it’s carbon build up, I’d not dump a nice car that is “paid off” for carbon build up. Just remove the build up! Lesson learned. That was one of the early DI adopters. Even cars that don’t have dual injection systems like VW and Toyota have improved their DI sytems. BMW fixed the MINI Cooper S engine around 2010. You better believe Honda Earth Dreams, Mazda Skyactiv, and Hyundai/Kia did their research (like MB and GM did). Let’s hope Ford did too.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Thanks to all those who actually attempted contribute something constructive to the conversation and too help Nitin out. The rest was just more addled noise.

    There should be a new TTAC rule, to go along with not banging each other over the head with personal attacks, and that should be… ‘Stay on topic’, and forget your lame prejudices and constant attacks on this or that brand or vehicle, country, etc. This site would become much more valuable to those of us who want to learn something or contribute tangible and valuable input, if we had that rule. Of course that would cost TTAC, clicks, most of which are valueless to everybody, so there will be no effort to do that.

    A lot of the posts here on TTAC, I have already seen somewhere else, but TTAC is graced with some good writers who put a sometimes unique or interesting, even entertaining spin on the topics dryly presented elsewhere . For that reason I will continue to peek in on occasion and read the posts, but refrain from wasting time reading the comments.

    I have too suspect that others give up on TTAC and other car blogs for the same reasons I do.

    So, I wish the staff and TTAC well, but I’m out of here.

  • avatar
    WolfgangGullich

    Nitin,

    since your BMW is just out of warranty, you should ask you SA to apply for a ‘Goodwill’ Repair. The dealer applies for BMWNA to pay for all labor and parts. You can check out the requirements to qualify by searching for “BMW Goodwill Repair SIB”.

    I just had one of my headlights fail on my ’11 X5d. It was literally 1800 miles out of the mileage part of the warranty when one of dynamic headlights’ mechanisms failed. I’m out $145 for the diagnosis, but I was saved a couple hundred $ in labor and $2400 in parts.

  • avatar
    Avatar77

    Since the OP is out of warranty, I can’t believe he is not going to a reputable independent shop to get this kind of work done. Dealers in general, but especially luxury dealerships, are absurdly expensive when it comes to performing this kind of work.


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