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BMW Z4 Electrical Problems

ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,222
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  • I've had two problems that have stumped the dealer:
    1. My driverside door has spontaneously opened 3 times. No seat belt was stuck in the door (it was latched), I didn't unconsciously open the door and the door was not locked. I don't lean on the door. The last time this happened I was doing 80 on I-95 straightaway. You can hear it unlatch and must swing the door open and pull it close.
    2. The interior dash "alarm" started beeping for reasons unknown to me. I had trouble getting the car unlocked and had to open/close it with the key several times. The seatbelt was NOT stuck in the door. I opened and closed all the doors and restarted the car 4 times. I had to drive 5 miles with it beeping, then left it (still beeping) while parked and no key in ignition. Came back in 2 hours and it had stopped.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Sounds like two electrical problems, potentially related.
  • Tech found internal fault in dash cluster and cluster was replaced. Evidently this is a known issue. Hopefully, it was related to the door problems. thank you.
  • jen4227jen4227 Posts: 2
    I just leased a 2007 z4 and for some reason the cigarette lighter does not work to charge the cell phone. The charger fits in but I am not getting electricity. It seems to work fine as a cigarette lighter...The charger works in other cars. Anyone had this problem? Thanks.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,222
    Just a guess, but could it be a blown fuse?


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  • kch82kch82 Posts: 1
    I bought a huge rug today and was going to place it in the front seat with the top down. I put the top down and something was in the storage space behind the head rest and it wouldn't open anymore...I got the thing out and it would only it won't open...any ideas?
  • I just bought a 2007 Z4 coupe. Have the same problem with my Garmin GPS. I'll take it back to the dealer on Friday. I'll keep you posted with the result of this appointment.
  • I also just bought a 2007 Z4 coupe -- same problem -- the salesman said that as long as the lighter works, BMW feels there is no problem, end of conversation. Seems crazy -- I know my charger(s) work on other cars. I hope you will post any result from your appt.
  • esfoadesfoad Posts: 210
    My father-in-law has one of those electric cooler/heater units. On his Ford Taurus it works perfectly However, on my brother-in-law's 2007 Maxima, it did not work at all. So we looked closely at the plug on the unit and the socket in the car. We found out that they are incompatible. I purchased one of thos "Y" lighter cords from Walmart and that solved it. The Walmart plug works in the Maxima and the cooler's plug works in the adapter.

    I know the vehicles are different but could the problem be similar?
  • i just got 2007 Z4- i am having problems with my cell phone charger and gps system plugging into the lighter - any suggestions ?
  • ahvaahva Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Z4. I have had problems in the past with the power steering shutting off occasionally, when taking sharp turns, Replacing the sensor unit in the steering column took care of that. Now the power steering is shutting down driving straight. I have had the car in for service and the technician tells me that the EPS control unit needs to be replaced. According to the technician the control unit is completely integrated into the steering column, that is, the complete steering column needs to be replaced. This sounds like a major design flaw. Has anybody made the same experience?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,453
    This has been an ongoing problem for BMW, and probably replacing the entire column is their best way to try and solve it.

    Many Z4 owners seem to experience this issue, if one goes by reading various forums on the 'net. Certainly NHTSA has heard about it time and again.

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  • earlyoutearlyout Posts: 1
    The lighter socket is more shallow than a standard socket, so the plug-in adapters that come with cell phones and GPS units can't be inserted far enough to make contact on the side.

    BMW's response to this problem (I asked) is that they don't support the addition of any third-party products.
  • Fuses are OK, is there a manual open/shut somewhere?
  • bauvoisbauvois Posts: 1
    I have the exact same issue with my Z4 (2003) and I nearly had 2 accidents already... BMW did reprogram the electric steering chip mechanism but I am still experiencing the same problem. This is very very dangerous... They plan to replace the complete steering mechanism, my car only has 60,000 km and I would like them to pay for the repair. Unfortunately they have a different opinion... Did you succeed to get an explanation or a document showing that this is a BMW known defect?
    Thanks and regards,
  • pocmanpocman Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Z-4 with power convertible top. The top recently stopped opening or closing. I've been told that the likely cause is water intrusion into the roof pump/motor assembly as early model z-4's did not have this sealed properly. Has anyone else experienced this problem? Since it is a manufacturers defect is it covered by BMW even though my warranty has expired? What is the cost to repair? Thanks...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,453
    Never heard about water intrusion and no TSB mentions it. However, there is a TSB which might very well relate to your problem: These are TSBs not recalls, so if you are out of warranty you'd have to pay for the repair.

    if it's just the microswitch that shouldn't be too expensive, although it's hard to get out of a BMW for less than $300 it seems.

    SI B54 05 05
    Special Roofs

    July 2005
    Technical Service

    This Service Information bulletin supersedes Service Measure B54 202 04 dated May 2004.
    Convertible Top Fails to Operate

    E85 (Z4)


    Customer may complain that the convertible top fails to operate.


    The micro switch for the variable stowage compartment indicates that the compartment is not in the lowered position, due to incorrect adjustment or a damaged switch.


    On a customer complaint basis, check the micro switch actuation and replace the mount as required.


    On cars produced prior to 2/03, replace the micro switch mount, part number 54 31 7 072 815, and if the micro switch is damaged, replace with part number 54 31 8 236 846.

    On all cars, check the actuation of the micro switch, and if necessary, use washers under the mount to get correct actuation of the switch.

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  • steve_msteve_m Posts: 2
    There is most definitely a bulletin, and a problem with the early Z4 soft top motors. The bulletin is SI B54 03 03.

    One of the best resources I've found that shows how to fix it (for the brave and talented) or at least shows you what the dealer will need to do and why the repair is so expensive is shipkillers site at:

    The best for showing how to clean the drains so it doesn't happen again is:

    Why the dealers pretend there is no problem is beyond me. It's the same with Dodge Durango PCM failures that the dealers pretend is an isolated problem, yet a simple web search shows you tons of people experiencing the same problem.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,453
    Right you are, it's not in the ALLDATA data base however. I did see it on the NHTSA site.

    Well could be either TSB problem, right?

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  • steve_msteve_m Posts: 2
    Yes, it could be either TSB. But if it was the microswitch, nothing should happen when the "top down" button is pressed.

    If the electric/hydraulic soft top motor is bad, the windows should still go down, and the top latch should disengage. But the top won't power down any farther than that.

    It seems like some people have been lucky recently getting BMW to cover the cost of the repair, others have been paying a little under $2000. I would imagine the better the customer you are at a dealer, the more likely you are to get the repair done for free.

    That said, I understand BMW extended the warranty on the soft top, but my 2003 still falls outside the range, even though it only has 39,000 miles on it. And given that I like to do my own repairs, I'm not in the good customer category, and will probably tackle the repair myself.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,453
    My experience has been that the "better" dealers, who are cosier with the factory, are sometimes given extra discretionary funds for "good will".

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  • jdecolajdecola Posts: 3
    This is only an observation, just recently I have had this same problem of the top not opening or closing when pressing the appropriate buttons.

    Now the interesting thing is that I am also having problems with my outside temp sensor. I keep the car outside uncovered ( I know, horrors...) and when it's been very wet and damp outside and I start the car, the temp sensor indicates -40 degrees. As the car warms up and I drive the temp rises to almost normal, and then may drop again.

    Now mostly this is annoying, but I noticed that when the temp was in the neg range the tops wouldn't work. But when the temp went up it did.

    While I was reading the manual on how to put the top up manually, it mentioned not operating the top if it was below -10 (or so). So other than it may be a general short in the system that is also affecting the top, couls it be a temp interlock that prevents operating the top in really cold temps to prevent cracking?

    Sorry for being so long winded...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,453
    I certainly wouldn't put it past the Germans to design something like that and forget to tell anyone.

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  • Hi,

    I had the same issue today coming into work. I have a 2005 Z4 and live in northerN VA. The power steering light came on abruptly thrice and shut of the electricals in the car i.e. the nav screen folded in and up suddenly. Something tells me I need to be on the lookout for a hefty bill...please advise as to how you remedied this problem and the cost (if you don't mind). Thanks!
  • Well I'll let you know later this week, I'm bringing it in tomorrow to fix.

    After I posted my original, I brought the car in for another problem, my fuel indicator was showing less then full on a full tank. There are two senders in the fuel tank (at least on my year) and one was bad. So they had to drop the gas tank to replace it (access ports in the trunk would have been a good design idea).

    I think the final bill was over $1k, I don't remember the exact price (brain tries to protect itself after a traumatic incident).

    I also had them fill the tires with Nitrogen, the car actually ran better with that (I'm not using run-flats).
  • Just following up on the Electric Power Steering issue, was the dealer able to diagnose and advise you on the problem? If so, what was the remedy and a painful question is of course the cost to remedy......
  • Sorry for getting back so late on this. The temp sensor had a loose connection. They played around with it, and it appears to be OK. Thankfully only took 1 hr labor.

    They did verify that the top is interlocked with the temp sensor, so, below 40 degrees top won't operate.
  • kperesskperess Posts: 29
    Wow, the Z4 has a top nanny along with speed nannies :) I live in the U.P. of Michigan and still have my M roadster out (about to back into the pole barn for the winter) and if it ain't raining or snowing the top is DOWN -- that's what heaters are for!

    There is something exhilarating about driving top down in the late fall and early spring.
  • My 2004 Z4 developed "notchy steering" about 2 years ago with less than 15000mi. I took it to a dealer in Houston, TX while on a trip and they told me it needed a new battery which did nothing for the problem. I seldom drive the car and we took it to our winter home in FL and I took it to a dealer in Ft. Myers this week. The service tech. knew what the problem was as soon as I described it and told me I need a new steering column. I asked him to contact BMW to see if they would do the repair even tho the car is out of warranty it still has only 18000 miles. It was declined by the area rep. and I contacted BMW customer relations. The man I spoke to there was very cool and seemed mistrustful of my account and as if they have never heard of the problem. I asked him to contact the area rep. to fully explain my situation and he said he would do so and call me. He called today and says the dealership has offered to discount the repair 15%. BMW offers nothing. He also tells me I have no further avenue of appeal.
    I believe this is a design/manufacturing defect that is dangerous and should be repaired at no cost to owners. I certainly intend to contact every governmental agency I can find and would encourage every Z4 owner to do the same. Even tho your car may not be affected today it may start tomorrow and you will be facing a $3000 plus bill with a car company that doesn't know you.
    If anyone has any ideas please contact
  • I had a terrifying experience with my 2008 Z4. It was parked at work in the underground garage, completely turned off. About 2 hours after arriving the building security came to get me. The entire inside of then cabin was smokey, and whole elements of the interior had melted, including then drivers side dashboard, the sun visor, and the rear view mirror. The electrical heat had apparently been so intense that the windshield on the drivers side was bubbly and cracked. On the trunk above the break light, the heat had burned throughout the metal and left a burn mark on the outside surface of the trunk. I live in Paris, and the car had had some lights changed when it was converted by an official BMW dealer to European specs from US specs. The car has been shipped to Germany for inspection and hopefully repair - we'll have to see if it was the dealers work on it or BMWs fault. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing before?? Scary.
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