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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,

Last Thusday I went to the grocery store on the way home from work. When I got back in the car to head home and started driving throught the parking lot, suddenly the I-Drive display starts flashing and the speedometer needle starts going up and down about once a second (from my current speed to zero) even though I was maintaining constant speed. After a few seconds it stopped and then was fine for the 3 mile trip home.

I didnt drive the car all weekend due to other issues, but I thought maybe it just had a glitch or something.

Then Sunday evening my girl and I decided to go out to dinner so we started on our way. Driving through my neighborhood for about 1.5 miles it was fine. I decided to turn on the headlights since it was getting dark. (I keep the auto lights off since I don't like it turning them on just for me to back out of the garage, afraid it will wear out the headlights faster.) Everything was still fine for about a half mile after that, driving around 45mph. Then suddenly the I-Drive started blinking and the speed gauge needle started going from my speed to zero and back up again, like someone was turning it's power on and off. The tachometer was not affected at all. I decided to pull over and restart the car to see if it would fix itself (like rebooting Windows for the PC or something).

Upon restarting, and beginning to drive, the I-Drive was still blinking on and off and the speed needle was acting crazy, then the car started chiming and flashing warnings on the intrument panel and I-Drive, but because it was blinking I couldn't read them and drive at the same time. I pulled into a gas station and shut it down and then me and my girlfriend walked in and got some soda to let it sit a few minutes.

About 5 to 10 minutes later we went out and I started it, and I had the same chiming, I-Drive blinking, and speedometer stuff, then the Idrive stopped blinking which allowed me to read it, and it said "Servotronic Failure, DSC Failure, and Start assist failure". I also noticed that the steering effort was difficult, like the power steering was only working halfway or less.

Well, I took the car home and parked it. Found some info online where some other types of BMWs (7 series, etc) had the same trouble and had battery issues. I decided to hook it up to a battery charger and let it charge overnight. I disconnected it from the charger yesterday and drove it around the block (very short drive) and everything was fine. No warnings, service requests, or anything... like it had amnesia that anything was wrong the day before. But I was busy so I could not drive it longer.

This morning I started it, and everything was fine. I drove it to work, and then out for lunch, which is a total of about 25 miles, and no issues. Not even anything listed in the check control. No warnings, service requests, or anything. I am taking it into the dealer tomorrow for them to check it (warranty). My service advisor said that the last time my car was in (about two months ago for inspection) it reported a low battery level so they charged it. He said the battery is about 4 years old (original one, 2008 MY) and they typically last only 3-1/2 years, so they are going to check the codes, do an overnight discharge test or something (checking to see if the car is drawing too much when it's just sitting asleep) and figure out if it needs a new battery or not. My appointment is Wednesday.

The service advisor said that the 5-series has a computer specifically for monitoring power in the car, and if the car is getting too low on power it will start shutting down non-essential functions to keep the car driving. He suspects this is why the power steering, DSC, and start assist may have been shut down. It makes sense because my 2005 530i had a similar issue when the battery was going, losing the steering wheel adjustments and power seat controls. Once the battery was replaced in that car everything was fine for the next 60000 miles until I traded it for the M5.

Wish me luck. I hope it's just the battery, but if it's not that may be a blessing too since my warranty is still active.
 

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Funny. You just described the problems my car has and is in the shop for right now to a T. I have a MY08 and it did what you described on 3 separate occasions this past Friday so I parked it and had it brought to the dealer first thing yesterday.

When my car acted up the first issue I got was an ABS warning, followed by a Servo error message and a low battery indicator before all hell broke loose and ever error code was thrown and the dash light up like a Christmas tree. The speedometer was also fluxuating between current speed and 0mph. In addition to the problems you described, I also noticed my air going on and off, during one of the occurances I could have sworn that my power steering shut down briefly.

I will let you know what my SA turns up. He did mention he thought it was possible that the alternator was "spiking" (his word) causing the problems, however he was saying this before anyone looked at the car.

-Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Funny. You just described the problems my car has and is in the shop for right now to a T. I have a MY08 and it did what you described on 3 separate occasions this past Friday so I parked it and had it brought to the dealer first thing yesterday.

When my car acted up the first issue I got was an ABS warning, followed by a Servo error message and a low battery indicator before all hell broke loose and ever error code was thrown and the dash light up like a Christmas tree. The speedometer was also fluxuating between current speed and 0mph. In addition to the problems you described, I also noticed my air going on and off, during one of the occurances I could have sworn that my power steering shut down briefly.

I will let you know what my SA turns up. He did mention he thought it was possible that the alternator was "spiking" (his word) causing the problems, however he was saying this before anyone looked at the car.

-Brian
I didn't notice whether or not the A/C or anything else was working or not. Charging the battery overnight appeared to fix the problem (at least so far) so hopefully that's all it is. I don't remember getting a low battery warning, however.

I'll let you know what the result is. Also, let me know what your service guy says too. One thing I wish is that BMW would include some way to see the battery voltage, coolant temperature, and oil pressure. All of the performance cars I've ever had provided gauges for watching these things except for the ones from BMW.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Well, after driving several times during the day yesterday with no issues, on the way home from work my car did it again. Same thing. I charged the battery again over night and this morning it was fine again. The battery needed a long time on the charger before the current draw went down, so it looks like the battery could definitely be the problem as long as the alternator is working properly and there is no heavy draw by something when the car is off.

My service appointment is at noon today so we'll see what happens. I got the malfunction on my I-Phone video so I'll try to post it later.

-David
 

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As you say hopefully just the battery. Still waiting to hear back on my car. Will post update once I have something to report.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, dealer said that after running some tests the Alternator appears to be bad and wasn't charging the battery properly. They ordered another one and I should get the car back on Friday.

He said they were still going to do a battery test overnight, but from all indications the alternator appears to be the culprit. It's being covered under warranty thankfully. My warranty will expire a month from now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, dealer said that after running some tests the Alternator appears to be bad and wasn't charging the battery properly. They ordered another one and I should get the car back on Friday.

He said they were still going to do a battery test overnight, but from all indications the alternator appears to be the culprit. It's being covered under warranty thankfully. My warranty will expire a month from now.

Clarification:

He said the alternator was trying to OVER charge the battery which is why the car never reported an alternator issue. Supposedly it only reports that if the voltages drops, not goes up.
 

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Unlike your car, it turns out mine was being caused by a battery issue. My SA said that even though the car is still under warranty I would have to pay for the battery because I was not driving it enough. I have a MY08 that hast just under 26,000 miles. Evidently BMW thinks I need to be driving my car 10,000-12,000 mi/year to keep it in proper working order. I would assume BMW would appreciate owners who drive less because less driving = less opportunity for things to break under warranty.

My SA said he went to bat for me at got BMWNA to pick up ~50% of the battery or $200. He said if I bought a battery conditioner for $75 to prevent this issue from happening again in the future he could most likely get BMWNA to foot the entire cost of the battery.

This all sounded a little strange to me so I searched the board and found several theads where BMW had charged other members for batteries while their cars were still under warranty. Sucks but what else am I going to do? The way I see it at least I'm only out $75 and I get a battery conditioner.

My only question now is... what else is not covered if you don't drive your car 10,000 mi/year?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think it might come down to the dealer. My SA said that the typical battery life is around 3 1/2 years here in Florida, so given that I'm not sure if BMW warranty will cover that since it's probably going to fail within the warranty period. Who knows? I had the impression that if it was the battery it was going to be covered under warranty but I am not sure. The alternator would have cost over $600 dollars so I'm glad that's covered.

When my 530i battery failed I got a replacement from Autozone for around $120. It was fine for 60000 miles more. I was surprised they carried a replacement since the battery in the 5-series is larger than your typical automotive battery, but they had it (I think it was Autozone.)

I'm supposed to get my car back today but they haven't called me yet.
 

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No. My car is back in the shop. Week after the battery was replaced started doing the same thing again. Dropped it off a couple of days ago. Still waiting to hear back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
My car is also having issues again. The Servotronic and speedometer junk is fixed, but now I get a "Driving Stability" error. It comes and goes. Usually after I drive for a while (30-40 minutes), but then the next morning it is fine. I have an appointment Monday.

This scares me, because my warranty has less than a month left, and since the alternator just was replaced because it was "spiking" the voltage as the SA described , I'm wondering if all my modules got hit by high voltage and now they'll all start failing right as the warranty goes out.

I've owned three other BMWs and no problems, but it seems like this car is in the shop more than it's in my garage, or it's generally sitting in my garage doing nothing waiting for Monday so I can take it to the shop. I'm pretty much disgusted with it. I cannot believe the amount of problems this car is giving me. I don't believe I will buy a BMW again after this. Nice cars when they run, but WAY too expensive to maintain, even if you're replacing your own parts.

My most reliable vehicle is my old beat up 1999 Chevy pickup truck sitting in my driveway with a 4.3L V6. I picked it up for $3000 at an auction in 2006 and it had 150,000 miles on it. I now have 200,000 miles on it and all it's needed (outside of normal oil changes) was the throttle body cleaned. Runs perfectly. But it's very bare-bones... no power windows or anything.

Maybe I'll look into a CTS-V as my next car. That's basically a standard GM V8 in there, so parts would be relatively cheap to replace.
 

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I'm guessing this has to do with the alternator, but DaveCmC changed his alternator so not sure. I have had a alternator go bad on a minivan once same symptoms, battery light on and all the dials move up and down, I thinks lights flashed also but that is one way to tell the alternator is on it's way out.
 
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