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BMW X5 Cold Temp Problems

dhr48864dhr48864 Posts: 19
My "oil separator" cracked the gasket in the engine yesterday. Today, it is a $1200+ repair bill. Has anyone else experienced this before? Something about moisture in the oil... Any chance of warranty (I'm post 50k miles)


  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Ouch! I thought German cars could handle cold weather?

    A separator should be able to handle a little water so it sounds like a serious malfunction.

    tidester, host
  • have you heard of this before? Can you tell me more? There were three cars yesterday suffering the same symptoms at the dealership. :confuse:
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I've heard of separators becoming blocked due to low temperatures. We'll need to hear from other X3 and X5 owners to know whether anyone else has experienced this.

    tidester, host
  • A similar problem just occured in my car, but it is the 330ci, and we are now looking at a $2400 bill. We were told that the moisture value froze, caused a back up and then blew out and now they are cleaning oil out of every nook and crany of my engine. The dealer indicated that they had treated about 15 other cars with simiar problems due to the cold temps in the past 10 days and they are trying to determine driving habits that could have caused. But it seems to me that this was a mfg defect, especially now that the replacement part is insulated to prevent in the future.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    they are trying to determine driving habits that could have caused

    Driving habits? Such as driving in cold weather? Wow!

    tidester, host
  • The driving habits...hmmm. I remember the mechanic at the dealership referring to how few miles I drove my X5. I told him it was around 6 miles round trip to work everyday. He suggested that city driving was not condusive to cleaning/burning/circulating the oil properly and it thus accumulating moisture. I think that falls into the driving habit category. Does that make sense to anyone?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I think that falls into the driving habit category.

    Sure it does. But it also falls into the category of "normal driving" and I would not reasonably expect a separator to fail in such a catastrophic manner under normal driving conditions. Just a thought! :)

    tidester, host
  • 1. What is an oil separator on BMW's? Have never heard the term before.
    I'm looking at a 07 x-5 v-8 and got concerned looking at the postings.I spend a lot of time driving in northern WI,MI and MN. Thinking I should order something else.
  • The host seems to do an excellent job of explaining things, so I'll defer to that person.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Feel free to jump in - it's your discussion! :)

    In brief, the separator separates oil and gases emitted from the crankcase and recycles both of them.

    tidester, host
  • Must be part of the EGR system that takes crank case blow by fumes and cold start exhaust gases and returns them to the intake system. A basically simple system, seems hard to justify $1200 plus repair costs.
  • ghallghall Posts: 2
    I just had the same thing happen to my 2001 X5 3.0. In speaking with the service department at my local BMW dealer it appears that due to the severe cold weather this has been an issue lately. With my X5 the seperator actuall blew at the back so there was not any visible sign of this issue under the hood.
  • My 2001 4.4i X5 have being in for service 3 times covered under warranty. This is a serious issue for BMW, but they seem to sweep it under the rug. No real fix by BMW (hence the 3 service times) for this problem when it gets very cold. No one should be paying to have this issue corrected in my view, whether or not the car is covered by an active warranty.
  • My 2003 X5 with 31,000 miles just broke down on the highway in PA (two weeks after being serviced and coming out of the 4year/50 M warranty). The engine hyrdolocked and would not turnover. When I called roadside assistance, nobody answered the phone to help. The failure was identified as a bad oil separation value. This part was covered under the 2 year extended warranty, but the dealer is requiring I pay $550 to replace all the manifold vent lines, plugs and sensors damaged by oil in the combustion system. They also informed me that can't find any parts and I should expect it to take about two weeks to repair the car. I have called the main office but they claim they can not help. Is this consistent with how others have been treated? Is their any other recourse that can be taken ?
  • This is an inherent problem and a faulty BMW design. Once it gets very cold (single digit and below) the moisture in the engine gets frozen and causes oil leaks and a host of other problems. The core problem begins with the moisture build up. It is more of a problem if you drive short distances an the engine do not have sufficient time to get rid of the engine moisture. .....which may have cause my problem three times this season....what a pain. Another hypothsis is that ethanol than is mix into premium gas may contribute to addition moisture in the engine. In my view BMW should pay for your repairs. They have paid for mine, but my car is still under warranty. The service manager that I interact with have suggested that he/BMW is willing to pay for service due to the same issue in the future, even if my warranty runs out. Clearly they know this is a major brand damaging issue. Push back and have them pick up the bill. Good luck.
  • I called the BMW NA office and was told that nothing could be done for me. I asked that they get me in touch with the BMW NA field rep (they call it an "engineer") to discuss this further. She suggested I call the dealership, which I did and have had noone call from the dealership.

    I did find out that this was not a recall issue, even though it certainly qualifies in my uneducated opinion.

    Isn't there a governing body that we can call to find out what qualifies as a recall issue?
  • 2003 BMW X5 with 69K miles. 19K out of warranty and no extended warranty.

    February 9, I'm driving my usual route to work and the engine hydro-locks and stalls (along with the steering column), before I finally bring it off on a side street to a safe stop.

    Car is towed to my usual BMW Certified dealer and is diagnosed with a faulty oil separator, about $1,500. I authorize.

    BMW service calls me back two days later to advise that the failed oil separator has resulted in liquid oil breaching the cylinders, blocking combustion, and ultimately caused a crack in the drive shaft i.e. "You need a new engine, about $22,000."

    Not sure about post restrictions, so I'll pick up the story in the next one . . .
  • I immediately contact BMWNA National Service who, in a very friendly way, advised that they could do nothing but that I should go through the dealership to contact the field represetnative.

    Over two weeks and several conversations, I am advised that the problem is my fault for driving short distances at a time, like when I take the kids to school (I don't have kids) or when I go to the local Starbucks (Okay, I drink Starbucks but the nearest one is about 7 miles away and I always stop on my way to the office, about 20 miles away).

    I am told that BMW has no obligation because it is our of warranty and it is not BMW's fault, rather, the government regulations are so stringent on exhaust, BMW has no choice but to design the engine to capture and combust these fumes, etc.
  • I would also point out that just 10 weeks prior to this event, the X5 was in for an "Inspection II" where the oil was changed, and all systems were analyzed for parts nearing the end of useful life. I authorized $2 or $3 thousand on that trip to make all recommended replacements.

    Doing some poking around at my usual BMW Certified dealership, I learn that FOUR X5's were towed on 2.9.07 for the same problem. Additional X5's were towed after that date, one of which I became aware of when the service tech was conveying how his extended warranty didn't cover this issue. I think it was an attempt to make me feel better that I hadn't wasted the money there.

    When all is said and done, I negotiated BMWNA to give me 75% "good-faith" credit on parts, so I'll only be out of pocket about $9,000. ONLY $9,000. The service tech was quick to point out that they will be charging warranty labor rates (BMWNA mandates that they do when BMW is picking up part of the tab so I won't be charged the gouging retail labor rates) and that they are going to waive the charges on the initial work on the oil separator (again, BMWNA mandates and the dealership has contributed nothing out of their pocket).

    I particularly liked how the BMWNA field rep was so sincere when he told me how wonderful BMW was for stepping up and showing the "good-faith" on parts.

    I don't know who reads these posts and I don't know how easily my registration information could find its way to BMWNA or my local dealership, so I will refrain from any further details until the work is complete and I have the X5 back (to be traded immediately).

    I will say, though, in response to the post that inquired about taking some kind of action, there will be more information on this point in the near future. Stay tuned.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Good grief - what a nightmare! Does anyone know whether this is a recent oil separator redesign on BMW's part?

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • You are living my living nightmare! I too was given the driving habit speech; called BMW who says it "can do nothing"-->call the dealership to wrangle in a field rep. Well the dealership "were you satisfied with your service" person finally called back after 8 days. She will take it through her service mgr., the dealership mgr. to see about getting the rep out...

    I did get the impression that the redesign for the oil separator was relatively recent (-1.5 yrs?)

    It certainly can't be coincidence that during one of the coldest weeks of the year we ALL had the same problem can it? :confuse:
  • It's not a coincidence at all. One of the things the initial dealership service rep told me was, "this part just isn't designed to handle these kind of temperatures." It was about 5 degrees when this happened.

    I am astonished that BMW is clearly aware of this problem and has not instituted a recall. Had I been in a turn or at an intersection when this happened, I would have been powerless to avoid hitting anyting in my path. No warning lights, no visible signs of problems, just a sudden lock and stall on the entire vehicle.

    All I would say, DHR, just keep a record of everything and everyone you talk to.
  • Thanks, and I am keeping track of time, person and comments. I also did not have the indicator light come on and when I told the dealership this, there was no response to it. I too am looking at other vehicles right now. In cold weather, my locks (interior door)freeze and so do the door handles. I have to do multiple lock/unlock sequences to have them all open. The cloth on the covers between the front door and the windshill have puckered since the 3rd year and again, no response. I'm very unimpressed with the service I'm receiving as a faithful customer with an older (2001) vehicle.
  • alaskax3alaskax3 Posts: 1
    Lead off on a different but related thread. '05 X3 2.5 liter gas in Alaska, wouldn't start at -27F, on board computer recorded date, time, and temp when problem occurred, dealer said it was a crank sensor(tells plugs when to fire), replaced when part arrived, no further problems to date (it's been -15F a couple of days but not down to -27) will see how it goes. I also have an intermittent engine whistle when it's cold usually around 2200RPM but today also around 1900RPM (at -15F). I think it may be related to the VANOS system. I told the dealer about the problem last year when it happened, they said they weren't aware of any engine issues in cold temps (couldn't get the whistle to happen that day) now seems to happen more frequently though not when it's warm out (above ~ 40F). Anyone out there have similar cold weather problems?
  • dhr48864dhr48864 Posts: 19
    I haven't noticed on mine, but will be on the look out for it.
  • On March 6th My BMWX5 stopped on detroit freeway. I started the car in the morning and drove for about 3-4 miles and saw a huge white smoke coming out of tail pipe and within few minutes car completely stopped. The temperature was around 5degF. Towed it to the dealer and he said it was caused due to "moisture accumilation inside crankcase ventilitaion valve" Follwing parts to be replace, 1) crankcase ventvalve, 2)dipstick tube O-ring, 3) Valve cover gaskets, 6 spark plugs and vent hose. COst $1300. I bought this car new in 2003 and has 77,000 miles. This shouldn't happen this early. I have no warranty. I'm very disappointed with the car. This would be my first and last BMW. The guy who gave a ride back to work that day told me that he saw 2 other BMWs came inot the dealer for same proble. I think BMW has a huge problem on their hand and will not admit.
  • Sounds like the exact same problem, I also had a 2003 X5, 69,000 miles that died at 5 degrees F. Same story about moisture accumulation due to fumes an so on. I have a letter in to BMWNA regarding the issue and I intend to pursue the matter until they make restitution; I'll keep the results posted.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I'll keep the results posted.

    That will be appreciated! :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • dhr48864dhr48864 Posts: 19
    I wondered about the effectiveness of a letter to BMWNA myself. I commiserated with my attorney (who uses the same dealership for her Mercedes) and she suggested I try the dealership-->field rep route first. I spoke to the service mgr. at the dealership last week to check on the status with the field rep and it didn't sound like he had done it...yet.
  • I spent a month speaking with the dealership, service department, BMW sales manager, BMWNA field representative. Ultimately, BMWNA took 75% off parts and I was out of pocket about 9K on the repair. That's not good enough.

    For that reason, I issued the letter. I contacted the BMWNA customer relations 800 (888) number and asked who I should send the letter to after describing the circumstances. They told me to send it to the CEO. It made me laugh a little, but I did so anyway.

    Believe it or not, I just heard back today from a low-level somebody. He asked me for some facts and is going to do an investigation. I told him that if they could just make me whole on the repair I would drop the issue (I too am contemplating the legal route).

    I regret the day that this problem results in an accident. Seems like BMW should wise up and get some notice out on this issue.
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