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Class Action Suit On BMW N54 Turbo Engine For Defective High Pressure Fuel Pumps and Turbo Chargers

News | October 13th, 2010 by 33
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Here at BMWBLOG we don’t only report on positive BMW news, but we also cover any topics that are less favorable to the brand. Objectivity …

Here at BMWBLOG we don’t only report on positive BMW news, but we also cover any topics that are less favorable to the brand. Objectivity has been and will always be our main goal, and any valuable story will make its way onto our pages.

With this being said, we wanted to bring forward a class action lawsuit initiated by the legal firm of Kershaw, Cutter and Ratinoff, LLC of California, that alleges BMW produced the N54 engine which suffers from serious defects.

This isn’t the first lawsuit on the N54 fuel pump failures and BMW has previously acknowledged the problem and offered affected owners an extended emissions warranty.

According to the law firm, the problem with the turbochargers is that defective examples cannot run at full capacity, resulting in strange noises underhood and noticeable throttle lag.

Class Action Suit On BMW N54 Turbo Engine For Defective High Pressure Fuel Pumps and Turbo Chargers

We have first covered the BMW N54 fuel pump issues in early 2008 and the article has been the most commented story we have every published here at BMWBLOG, with over 350 people presenting their concerns, suggestions and feedback.

Before we jump into the lengthy press release, we would like to present BMW’s response to this lawsuit through a short statement issued for Autoblog.

We are reaching out to BMW for more details. Stay tuned!

BMW has discovered that certain 2007-2010 model year vehicles may experience partial failure of the High-Pressure Fuel Pump (HPFP) which is part of the direct fuel injection system on certain 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, X6, and Z4 models. Specifically, vehicles powered by the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine (internally dubbed “N54″) are affected. Symptoms include long engine starting times and sometimes the illumination of the Service Engine Soon lamp in the instrument cluster, possibly accompanied by reduced engine performance (Fail Safe operation).

As a result, 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.

The aforementioned fuel pump is evidently prone to failure, and when they go south, the car loses power and goes into ‘limp mode’ since it can’t drink gasoline. Such failures could have serious safety ramifications depending on when and where the pump packs up. According to Autoblog sister site Daily Finance, this isn’t the first lawsuit regarding N54 problems.

Press Release:

Class Action Law Firm takes on BMW for Systematically Concealing Safety Risks of Defective High Pressure Fuel Pumps and Turbo Chargers

Lawsuit alleges that BMW systematically concealed information from the public and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding defective fuel pumps and their risks to consumers.

Flawed engine design of BMW twin turbo models leaves consumers stranded

Sacramento, CA (Vocus) October 5, 2010

Sacramento, California based class action law firm Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff, LLP, recently filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of individuals who own various BMW vehicles released between the years of 2007-2010. The lawsuit, No. CV10-2257 SI filed in the Northern District of California, seeks to compel BMW to initiate a recall in order to replace all of the high pressure fuel pumps (HPFP) in the affected vehicles.

According to the complaint, in 2006, BMW announced with much fanfare the development of its new N54 twin turbo engine. BMW touted the new engine as incorporating state of the art technology that included dual turbo chargers and a newly developed fuel injection system. BMW represented to the public that this new technology would eliminate ‘turbo lag,’ a common problem in turbocharged vehicles, and that its new state of the art fuel injection system greatly increased the performance and fuel efficiency of its vehicles.

Plaintiffs allege that the new engines that were so highly touted by BMW in fact contain serious design flaws that render the vehicles unsafe to drive. There are essentially two design flaws at the center of the case. First, the plaintiff asserts that BMW’s new fuel injection system that supposedly incorporates a new ‘state of the art’ fuel pump actually malfunctions at an alarming high rate. As a result, many BMW owners have had to repeatedly replace their fuel pumps, sometimes within 1,000 miles of vehicle ownership.

Lead attorney on the case, Stuart Talley of Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff, noted, “When these fuel pumps fail, the car comes to a complete stop or loses substantial power. If this happens while someone is driving on a highway at high speeds, this can create a very serious safety hazard. We believe the defect is so significant that it makes these cars unsafe to drive.”

The second problem relates to the BMW turbo chargers. Specifically, the complaint alleges that owners of the affected vehicles were told that BMW’s new engine had eliminated ‘turbo lag.’ ‘Turbo lag’ is the delay between the time that driver of a vehicle presses the accelerator and the time that turbo chargers on the engine essentially ‘kick in’ to provide added power to the engine. However, shortly after the vehicles were released, BMW began to receive complaints from owners that they were hearing strange noises from the engine along with a delay in throttle response. BMW eventually discovered that these problems were the result of a design defect in the turbo chargers.

Plaintiffs allege, however, that rather than repair the defective turbo chargers, BMW implemented a secret ‘software fix’ to hide the problems from consumers. Any time a consumer brought their BMW in for repair or routine maintenance, BMW would ‘upgrade’ the vehicle’s software. This software tweak kept the turbo chargers from operating at full capacity, ensuring that their defects would go undetected.

Apparently owners aren’t happy. A number of user generated forums, petitions and blogs have cropped up criticizing BMW for their handling of the issue. On the BMW Blog, several consumers reported their BMW’s going into ‘limp mode.’ They also complained of excessive power loss and ‘turbo lag,’ the very condition BMW said it had eliminated with its ‘state of the art engine.’ The plaintiff’s complaint seeks to force BMW to repair the defective turbo charges and/or reimburse consumers for the diminution in value to the vehicles.

Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff have demonstrated their dedication to protecting the legal rights of consumers, as well as their ability to devote substantial resources through trials involving large corporations. Their product liability lawyers have represented thousands of victims of defective vehicles and dangerous products in cases throughout the United States, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuit recoveries for their clients and the classes they have represented.

  • Laszlo

    well this isn’t the 1st and the last regarding to that engine. It was/is a really good one if all works fine. Early models had no oil cooler and thus resulted in extremely high temperatures inside the engine. This has negative long term effects. I would not be surprised to see a lot of these N54 early engines with major breakdown after 4-5 years and 100k+ mileage.
    BMW engines used to last a long time, nowadays they last the warranty time plus 25%.
    Its a shame as the engines sound and perform extremely well. A little extra money should have been used to make them last longer.
    Take away iDrive, iPad connection, all the useless gizmos and give me an engine that has 300HP and deliveres 40mpg and lasts 250k miles with real maintenance.

    The European diesel engines are a disaster, the swirl flap issues are piling up. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a lawsuit in regards to them.

    • wazon8

      You’re funny man, how the hell did you figure out that it’s not the last issue for N54? As for cooling problem, the biggest problem is that most of owners of early versions of this engine didn’t noticed ait. So, it doesn’t concern all cars without oil cooler. As for overheating, usually it has immediate consequences, not consequences in long term and it concerns all recent engines, not only BMW. If someone doesn’t notice any cooling problem in early version, milage won’t be affected and 100k miles is not a peoblem for these early engines. I know two people who did in them 250k km and they still work without trouble.

      Now, the poblem with fuel pump seem to be problem of some deffective fuel pumps serie, since it appears in one and doesn’t appear in another engines. Faults happen, but what’s important is that BMW took resposibility and fix problem.

      As for diesel, could you explain us who these disasters become to be one of the most reliable diesel egnines on market? Each diesel driver expect some repairments comming: injectors, flying wheel, pumps. They belong to standard list of repairments for any diesel and there are not any other issues for BMW diesel. Contrary, they proved to be the best options: reliable, efficient and powerful.

      • bmwFan

        they still did not fix the hpfp. i got the 09 model, and they recently replaced it with a new series of pumps, but i’ve heard it does not fix the problems, as people with them already went to get them replaced.

        bmw fucked up, plain and simple, i have turbo lag,and my pump is going to fail at least 2 more times before i give the car back… i love the car, but don’t like bmw for advertising shit that is not true about the car.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1497041056 Daniel Hoang

          If you really want reliable service, take your BMW to a certified Mechanic instead of the dealership. The dealership jacks up the price for parts by a ton and they are not that reliable either.

      • FreudeKing

        You clearly do not know what you are talking about. The E46 320d is well known for giving their owners massive problems all the times – due to the defective turbos in those engines, both the pre LCI and LCI.

        I know why BMW does not want to recall their cars – imagine having to recall all their 1, 3, 5, Z4, X6 (and I would imagine the X5, X3 and the whole bunch would have to be recalled as well) to fix their massively faulty fuel pumps – this will be bigger than Toyota’s recall and sink the entire company. So, who’s to blame here? The management team who took over in 2005 and immediately embarked on cost cutting strategy and proudly tally the number of jobs that they have cut within the company every year since their strategy implementation till 2008. They clearly did not test their products properly and now are sitting with the problem.

        This problem is also not just in the US. It is all over the world, so I would encourage owners in other parts of the world to start legal action against BMW’s defective products as it is in the sales agreement that they have to rectify any defects.

        I am rather shocked at BMW’s way of treating their customers by hiding issues with software tricks. These cars are unsafe to drive, clearly.

        As for the shareholders, maybe you should consider pulling out of BMW’s stock. You have all placed confidence in the management of BMW and thought that they could generate greater profits by cutting costs. But I have warned them about the dangers of such actions, possibly leading to tremendous financial and company image losses. Now that we have a possible recall of millions of vehicles produced from 2007 till now for almost the entire portfolio of BMW Group products, making it much larger than Toyota’s recall not only in magnitude of the number of vehicles, but the complication and costs involved of having to replace fuel pumps and turbos – I think it is time to pull out. This company’s stock bubble is about to burst. I wouldn’t be surprised that the stock drop by about 30 ~ 40% on announcement of this recall.

        • wazon8

          Better read the long term test drives of 320d e46. Almost in each, it’s stated that this car is reliable one. Most of problems with turbos come from owner’s unfamiliarity with them. How often do you see people letting their engine run above 1 min. on parking lot after journey in oder to cool charger? I see most people don’t do it and then it’s not a surprise that tubos break down.

          Another problem is why pumps went out in diesels. As everybody knows, they are sensitive on fuel quality and since so called bio components became a constituent of fuel problems with pumps became more often with it.

          As for my knowlegde about 320d: it’s not as bad as you presume. Actually, my borther made in 320d e46 above 400k km and I knew history of this car. All I can say is that if you maintain it properly, it gonna be reliable. In that time I had 330d e46 and it was reliable also, despite having small issues with pumps. But the problem is that pump issues are common for each diesel egines no matter which one you choose. They’re not ethernal and you have to count with changing them along with turbos: 120k – 150k km. I’ve got a lot of infos about 318d from my cousin which is basicly the same engine as 320d e46. Once again: reliability was a case. Finally, I had 335d, made in 270k km and – perhaps surprisingly for you – it was reliable. In this period, one turbo, pump and injectors regeneration was needed. But maybe, we’ve got different standards of reliability.

          And finally, I find it really funny, when I see people speculating about some unrevealed issues by BMW. Why do I find it funny? Mostly because even revealed issues rarely happen. Even very femous problem with cooling in early 335i is rarely occur. When my friend was convincing me to buy 335i, we drove his sedan in mountain with no excuses. It was 120k at that time or something around and oil temperature keep around 120 degree of celcius all the time. Numbers of people reports on formus that they don’t find this problem in their early 35i. As for unrevealed issues, you can get DEKRA and ADAC reports, where you’ve got pointed out what happens in cars with issues. Even statistically worst maintained by owners BMW, namely 3-er e 36 doesn’t reach a percentage you suggest. And each newer model is of course higher in ranking that it. Some of BMWs diesels are in top 3 reliability in their respective classes, so I find your speculations ungrounded. Once, because of this reports, second because of my own experiences. Oh… sorry, I obviously don’t have idea what I’m talking about.

          • FreudeKing

            Are you telling me that I should sit there in my car like an idiot for one minute everytime before I (want to) switch my engine off. If that is the case, I think they should stop selling and promoting BMW Advanced Diesels in the US.

          • FreudeKing

            What about the BMWs with auto start stop then???

    • Theo

      I have the same fears regarding the turbo petrol engines, on the other hand BMW did clearly err on the safe side since the engines, especially the N54, are capable of significantly better performance than BMW has limited them at, inherent safety perhaps.
      On the diesel engines I strongly disagree, the flap issues are not that common and dealers are nowadays well aware of it and advise timely manifold raplacement. With the flaps removed or replaced the diesels can run relatively problemfree till 500K if you would want them to…

  • Babken

    It’s a shame. It’s such incidents that bring the brand value down. Anyway, the problem is now gone with the new engine.

    • FreudeKing

      I don’t think so, they are still using the same fuel pump as they have been since 2007 and they sold many engines with that problem. So, I am ready to see a repeat of Toyota here, just that this time, it is much bigger. almost all BMW cars since 2007 till now!!!

      • BIMMER1

        They are not using the same pump as they did in 2007, it’s been redesigned twice since the original pump. So it’s now 3rd generation and they still fail, but not nearly as often. Which leads to more questions about fuel quality and it’s involvement in the failures.

  • FreudeKing

    Everyone that I know with this engine is having the same problem. It is about time that BMW issued a recall (again – 9th time this year). What’s up with the DELAY???

    I hate to say this again – but this is exactly the result of BMW’s recent cost cutting efforts leading to a lack of proper controls to ensure good quality and reliability of its products! Pending 9th with currently 8 official recalls on different BMW products this year alone is not something to view lightly. One can learn from Merc’s cost cutting mistakes a few years back. This will hurt the company tremensdoulsy in the near future already.

  • http://www.bmwblog.com sg

    Just my 2 cents:
    BMW doesnt build this pump by themself. They get them from a supplier – when BMW started with their N54 production the supplier was called Siemens. But Siemens was in financial troubles so the thought lets sell that division of my company to Conti. So BMW started to work with an entire new supplier. New contracts. New production-, management- and quality stuff at their supplier. Start from the beginning. Well time passes and Conti was sold to Schaeffler. And the wheel startet to spin again.

    Guess what: BMW is not the only company that buys those pumps from that supplier. Volkswagen and Porsche also do. Guess what: they have the same problems. Guess what: Volkswagen (which means Porsche as well) are shareholders of Schaeffler after their critical movement last year during the financial crisis: Guess what: they putting much more pressure on Schaeffler as BMW would ever be able to do. Guess what: probably BMW is forced through a contract to buy that stupid pump till two-thousend-and-whatever. Guess what: The injection valves in the N54 are supplied from the same company Siemens/Conti/Schaeffler.

    I dont want to believe that BMW didnt test the pumps during development right. the whole crap that happend with the supplier makes me believe that the qualtiy of the parts got worse every time they changed the owner.

    BTW: i own a 335i (N54) and with 152.000 km on the clock the car never made any problem.

    • XC

      Now we are talking…

      • XC

        Want to now more REAL facts? Check the Houlihan Lokey European Supplier Report:
        “Who Supplies Whom which provides a unique insight into the supply base of the major carmakers and brands in Europe. The data is extracted from the SupplierBusiness Who Supplies Whom Databases, which contain details of who supplies which component to over 200 European vehicle models.”

    • wazon8

      Good point: BMW coopeate with Siemens or Bosh in this respect as for my knowledge. I bet that few recent series have some defect, perhaps inclusing those that are provided as replacement of defected one.

      • FreudeKing

        I don’t care who supplies who. The problem is between the customer and BMW. BMW should have tested the stuff properly before giving their products to their customers. If they cut cost and staff to trash controls to ensure good quality and reliability, then they are the ones to pay for it. No matter how wrong the suppliers were, BMW is to blame for chosing those financially unstable suppliers that supply poor quality goods and BMW is to blame for not testing the goods and not realise that there are quality problems. What’s even worse is that BMW, knowing there is a problem is trying to push the problems to the customers and cheat their customers.

  • Tom

    shit happens

  • http://www.aboutjimscott.com Jim Scott

    I am currently shopping for a used 2008 or 2007 535i in the US. The comments in this article have raised some concerns about this car. Is this a real lemon. I drive a 2000 540i 6-speed which has had its’ radidator issues but nothing like this. Thanks

  • Burned by bmw

    Had (I stress HAD) a 2008 335i with aformentioned N54 engine. Went through 3 HPFP’s in 1st 16 months of ownership. The last 2 were the supposed “new design’, which didn’t last as long as the original between failures. BMW North America refused to replace it a fourth time until a “fatal flaw” occurred, which happened on the way home from the dealership (car shut completely down, including power streering doing 70 mph on highway, luckily at 9 pm,). I knew this would be an issue for life of ownership and took a bath on trade-in (BMW dealership offered nothing). Evidently, the market is well aware of the issues, the car lost 55% of original value in less than 1.5 years of ownership! The car was my wife’s, so it was VERY lightly driven, yet it still needed a new fuel pump every 5-6 K miles. Hope this helps. STAY AWAY FROM THIS ENGINE!!

  • BIMMER1

    I know everyone hates this HPFP situation including myself. I had to replaced the pump in my 2010 135 with just 4400 miles on it. Part of the problem with modern day issues like this is the manufacturer actually makes money off the parts failing, because the manufacturer of the part has to pay 2-4 times what the car company paid them up front for each part failure.

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    • JMLBMW

      BMW lied to everyone! They mislead everyone! I have been fighting them for over a year and I will continue to do so until I win! It’s going to cost them for screwing with me for the past 14 months!

      • BIMMER1

        Please tell me (citing exactly what they said and when) where BMW ever lied about this situation. I await your response.

        • FreudeKing

          @Bimmer1: Do you now want a flock of unhappy customers who have been fooled by BMW to comment here???

          It is so obvious! Let’s not say they lied about the situation (which they and the dealerships did). The worst of all is that the treated customers as fools, tried to hide the problems by impairing customers’ vehicles’ performance so they don’t notice the underlying manufacturing and design defects.

          • BIMMER1

            First of all there is a big difference b/t a dealer telling us something and BMW telling us something, and it’s important to differentiate between the two. A dealer is just a franchise, nothing more. They are not related to BMW in any way other than they sell and service BMW’s products. Probably 20-30% of service advisors actually know what they are talking about, the other 70-80% are feeding you whatever they “think” is the right thing to tell you. It’s usually not completely accurate and the info they feed you does not always come from BMW and is more their or their shops opinion. BMW has never lied to anyone about this issue as far as I know, so I asked you to provide me with a specific example of such an instance which you still have not. I’m not saying the issue shouldn’t have been corrected sooner, but the fact remains that BMW has been working on the fix for this for a long time. It’s not like they were just sitting around doing nothing about it telling everyone they will never have an issue. They even sent everyone a letter and told them this part may have an issue, until there’s a fix the pump is covered for 10yrs/120k miles. That’s pretty up front in my mind, and certainly was not a lie or misleading. Did Toyota send their client’s a letter about the floor mats and sticking throttles before they had a fix? No, people were dying and they stayed quiet. Have you ever thought just maybe it actually took this long to find a proper fix? What were they going to do, give every N54 owner a 328 to drive until their n54 was fixed? We both know that is not a reasonable expectation. Considering the circumstances, they did the best they could. They tried several software changes, which despite what people say did not effect the performance of the car. BMW never “impaired” your car or anyone else’s. Perhaps the adaptives were reset at that time and that’s why the car “felt” different to the owner. However the engine is still 300hp/tq. The only update that did effect the performance a bit on the low end was the initial fix for the wastegate noises which very few cars even had. This created a change in peak torque from around 1600 rpm to 1800 rpm, which is practically impossible to notice on the butt dyno. Then they attempted to redesign the pump 3 times! Each redesign had less and less failures, and now they feel that they’ve corrected all the problems. Like any other business would also do, they explored several options and tried and rectify the issues without spending more money than they had to. You can’t blame them for that, it’s good business practice and any other company would have done the same or less maybe. My honest opinion is that they did not know the ultimate cause of failure of the pump. They knew what was failing in the pump, but not why it was failing. How do you fix something before you know what the cause is? Most people who have been inconvenienced by these issues ignored the warning signs and waited too long to get the car in to service. If your engine cranks for 10 seconds before it starts, that’s not normal. Most people blow it off and wait until the car dies on them. Then they complain they almost were in an accident when the car broke but it was cranking excessively for the past two months. Whose fault is that? The car had symptoms for a long time and the owner did nothing about it. I have seen maybe 5-6 cases where there were no symptoms or flags prior to pump failure that rendered the car unable to be driven. All of those cars had 17% or more ethanol content in their fuel. Where is the law suit against fuel suppliers for selling fuel with more than 10% ethanol? They sell this poor fuel all the time and no one is doing anything about it. It says right on the pump “contains up to 10% ethanol”. Who’s to say poor fuel quality isn’t a contributing factor as well, and no matter what they do to the pump if the fuel isn’t what it’s supposed to be you’re still going to have isolated failures. And just FYI, the other car companies that use this same pump are also having these issues as well yet they have not recalled them as far as I know. I wonder why that is?

            Many of us do not have a realistic expectation when it comes to our cars, how they are built, how they are serviced, and how reliable they are. The days of making 1-2 trips to the dealer a year for service are long gone. With all of the technology that’s been added to cars today, we’ve also added a lot more complications and problems. Products are also not built to last anymore, they are built to be consumed and recycled. I doubt cars built later than say 2005 are going to last much more than 10 years. Just wait until E15 hits the pumps, then we’re really in for a show.

          • Jkb1936

            any update on this situation. I am about to wage my personal war with BMW re my 2008 535i. Fuel pump replaced four times already (twice since the recall). Continuing to exhibit slow crank and acceleration problems. My assumption is that BMW is taking some cars back for those who scream the loudest in exchange for confidentiality agreements. Anyone have thoughts?

  • JMLBMW

    I have had 12 nagging problems with my 2010 BMW 135i Coupe! The N54 engine is a piece of crap… mine stalls… shakes the car… rattles… whistles… and in general gives me very poor gas milage. I have owned or leased a 325ci, M3 Coupe, Z4 M Coupe and this piece of SH*T. I won’t be doing so again… I will go back to Mercedes or perhaps Porsche the next time. I tried to trade this piece of crap at 2 different BMW dealers and was offered less then my residual value… which comes 2 years from now!

  • JMLBMW

    BMW NA will nickle and dime you to get you to give up and then make you sign a release so that you can’t go after them… even you are injured in an accident! What a bunch of BS… I am here to tell you… that if I have any injuries from driving this piece of crap… there will be major law suits!

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  • Brooke1317

    I realize your post was from more than 4years ago, but your statement of “long term effects, 4-5 years/ 100k mileage” is dead on, for me at least.

    My 2008 535xi made it until April 2014- just over 5 years & 103k miles; engine needs replaced. It has been a complete nightmare, and BMW could careless. This was my first BMW, and with the level to which this has financially screwed me + the total lack of responsibility accepted by BMW, this without doubt will also be my last.

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