BMW i3 REx Oil Change DIY

BMW i3 comes in a few different flavors and one of them comes with the range extender option. This option adds a small generator to the vehicle that allows you to extend the range on your electric vehicle. I, personally, love this option as it allows me to go much further on my EV without the fear of getting stranded, but this does add some additional maintenance to the BMW i3. One of those items is changing the oil once a year. BMW recommends putting new oil in every 12 months or 10,000 miles whether you run the generator or not since oil degrades over time. In this video, I show you how to change the oil on your BMW i3 w/REx for under $50. This is an easy DIY to tackle at home for anyone and save tons on dealership prices! BMW recommends 0w-30 oil for this engine, but I’m using 5w-30, please pick your own oil and go as per BMW’s recommendations!!

10 Things You Didn’t Know About BMW i3

BMW i3 was an engineering and a technological show piece for BMW.  The design was never meant to be  long term or reach huge production numbers. It was a showcase and a test bed for many innovations and processes. With production ended in 2022 after 8 years, I’m sure BMW has learned a lot in the process and is now implementing these finding in their new EVs. With that said, let’s talk about 10 things you probably do not know about the BMW i3.

  1. Battery Capacity/Range Anxiety:

A very cool first fact about the BMW i3 is that it was the most efficient EV on the market when it came out beating out even some current Tesla models, needing only 270 watts to go a mile. Even so, range anxiety is a real thing for many people, and I’ve witnessed this myself as my friends were asking me if I’m going to a charger because there are only 30-40 miles left on the guess-o-meter. To battle this, BMW has doubled the battery capacity in 5 years and offered a Range Extender for those needing longer trips. Until 2019, all BMW i3s also came with a heat pump, which means the range wasn’t as affected during the cold months as some other EVs. It’s optional for 2019 and newer cars, so check before buying. There are a couple of limiting factors when it comes to the powertrain as well. If you live in a very cold climate, you will have to pre-condition the battery before taking off or your power will be limited. Pre-conditioning also help in a very hot climate, if you park your car on very hot asphalt, then get in it and drive fast, your AC will prioritize cooling the battery rather than you. If you precondition the battery before leaving, it solves that problem as well. A second limitation is that the Range Extender is just that, a generator for your batteries, it cannot maintain more than 70 mph while on the highway, so there is some planning when going on longer trips. Interestingly, I have found myself strangely obsessed with squeezing as much mileage out of each charge and obsessing with efficiency. I even run my front tires 3 PSI over recommended pressure for better tire wear and better rolling resistance. While I find it fun, not everyone would agree.

  • Built with carbon fiber

Part of the efficiency comes from the way it’s built. More specifically the material the car is made from. BMW i3 uses many composite materials throughout the interior and exterior, of which many are recycled and the entire car was designed to be holistically sustainable, not just electric. Materials, size, weight, the right-size, everything. Efficient without being excessive. Of course, BMW i3 was also the first mass production car with most of its internal structure and body made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastics. There is almost no metal in this car and that includes the body panels which can replaced much easier than on a normal car. All of this results in BMW i3 being the lightest EV on the market that can seat 4 comfortably.

  • The Handling

Small battery and light body results in a car that handles a lot like a go cart. It’s a fun car to drive that’s controlled, but playful if you push it. Rear wheel drive has excellent drive characteristics and allows for an accurate and light front suspension with no torque steer. This small rear wheel drive city car is a real pressure to drive swiftly and other manufacturers are now following this formula as well. Just don’t go on the highway, but if you do, check out this video on how to make it highway worthy!

  • Forged wheels

As you can see this car has a lot of supercar-like features that no one would expect out of a little city run-about and it doesn’t end there. BMW i3 wheels are forged aluminum, which means they are lighter and stronger than a standard cast wheel. Once again, this reduced the weight of the car and improves handling due to less unsprung weight. These aren’t without flaws, of course, as the very thin wheel and tire combination can make the car a little twitchy and good luck finding more than a couple of tire manufacturers in this size.

  • Rear Doors/Windows:

There are also many design features AND even flaws that most people may not know about. Some of these make the car look more modern than anything on the road or at the very least very unique. One of the more obvious ones is that the front doors are frameless just like they would be in a convertible and there is no B pillar thanks to that carbon fiber shell. This gives the car a very unique look with all of the doors opened. While we have the doors open, if you look at the rear door, you will find that there is no power windows in the back.. they are fixed in completely. One of the more unique styling choices here is of course the window drop below the belt line. It’s controversial, but I personally love it for my dog as it gives her an unobstructed view out of the sides. I’m sure it’s great for kids as well.

Last item you may not know about the rear here is that if you want to sit in the rear of the i3 and you are alone, you will not be able to close the doors unless you climb through the front as it’s impossible to reach the front door from the back. It would be cool to have power doors that auto close or open with a button. Might have been a little gimmicky, but definitely a lot more convenient.

On the other hand, the front is very convenient since the floor is flat, so you can easily slide between the two front seats.

AD:

I have also found this VICSEED Magsafe Car Phone holder to be a very convenient way to hold your phone while driving. It can be used in any car as long as you have a tiny bit of flat surface for the 3M adhesive and a MagSafe iPhone. If your phone doesn’t support that, the kit comes with a template and a metal ring that you can put on the back of any phone. This car mount can be installed in seconds, is surprisingly very adjustable and easily holds the phone over bumpy roads with 20 built in magnets. I also really like the clean, minimalistic look when not in use. Links in the description to get yours.

  • Rudimentary Controls:

Knowing that BMW was one of the pioneers when it comes to infortainment systems, I was very surprised how rudimentary the controls and information is for charging. You cannot even select the charging speed or review any information about a previous charge. It’s limited to selecting the limit of charging speed and that’s basically it. I know you can do so much more in a Chevy Volt and it even shows much more information about the battery and other related stats.

This car also doesn’t have a way of turning off the head unit. The power button here only mutes the car. This wouldn’t be a big issue, but if you have a camera plugged into the power socket, it will stay on the entire time the car is charging.

Another nuance is the horn. Single note, and a noticeable slight delay when pressing the steering wheel button.

  • Blue Strip:

While we are here at the driver’s seat, notice this blue strip on the steering wheel? That’s not just for show, it’s actually a sensor for adaptive cruise control and even if you don’t have that option, you will still have the sensor built in.

  • Reverse Hill Assist

Did you also know that hill assist works in reverse? Meaning if you are facing downhill and put the car in reverse, it will not roll forward. Pretty cool!

  • Expensive Insurance:

Another unexpected item for me was that it costs more to insure than an average car or even BMW. Mostly because of the unique constructions and repair shops not equipped to fix them, if the shell is damaged, in a lot of cases, the car is totaled. An even simpler example would be a windshield. On most cars, it’s as simple as just replacing the glass, but on this car it’s much more involved as many trim pieces have to be removed.

  1. REx Engine:

Lastly, if you love engine specs, here are a few things you may not know about the REx engine in this BMW i3:

  1. This is a   Engine. What does all of that mean? Well, W tells us it’s a third-party engine, 2 is for 2 cylinders, 0 means it’s the basic engine. 06 is the displacement in liters, U means it’s a lower performance class engine and finally 0 tells us it’s a new development.
  2. This scooter engine produces 34HP and 40 lb-ft of torque at 4300 RPMs, but that has zero effect on how the car actually drives. The electric motor is the only thing ever driving the wheels.
  3. The gas engine operates based on how much power is requested from it which allows it to achieve 94% efficiency and it will follow 5 different operating speed strategies based on your speed and state of charge.
  4. Interestingly, this engine has a mechanical coolan pump unlike most BMW engines that rely on an electronic one. This coolant pump is force fitted onto the oil pump shaft and spins at all times. Very unusual as the delivery rate and also the flow rate through the coolant pump is solely defined by the speed of the crankshaft. There is no electrical control here.
  5. If you choose not to go with the Range Extender, make sure your car has DC charger as it is optional on 14-15 models. It’s necessary for longer trips as it allows the car to charge much, much faster.

Summary:

And there you have guys, hope you have learned something new about the awesome creation from BMW and if you have one, why not check out my top 10 coding suggestions to enable longer range and much much more! Very DIY friendly and cheap to do. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next one.

BMW i3 Problems to Expect

BMW i3 was designed from the ground up to be one of the more unique vehicles on the road, but how reliable is it?

SimpleCarGuy here and in today’s video I want to talk about some common problems you can expect on the BMW i3. We’ll discuss the difference between BEV and REX reliability, best years to buy, what to look for when buying yours and how to avoid some of these issues if you already own one.

Content:

Quirky:

Remember, this isn’t a regular EV, hybrid or a gas car. It has bespoke parts made for the i3 shared only with the i8 in most cases. Overall, it’s one of the most reliable EVs on the market, but every car has its issues; especially, experimental one like the i3.

Before I talk specifics, let me explain how the video is structured. We’ll talk about the most common issues first and then the not as common, but still, something to pay attention to. Specifically, we will discuss Mechanical, Electronic, Cosmetic and REX Specific issues. You can use chapters to jump around if you like.

BEV:

  1. 12v Battery

The most common problem across the BMW i3 range has to be the 12v battery. Judging from how many people have complained and how many forum posts you can find on this, the battery will pre-maturely fail about every 3 years and it’s not unusual to see people with only 50,000 miles on their 3rd battery. It’s recommended replacing it before it gives out. A failing battery will leave you stranded needing a flatbed as the car won’t turn on. Interestingly, the 95 and 120 ah cars have a different part number for the 12v battery and seem to be a little more reliable, but still affected.

  • Motor Mount Failure

Another very common issue is the weak motor mounts that can fail abruptly causing the car to vibrate and make lots of noise in the back. This can happen on cars even under 50,000 miles and usually more so on cars that were driven hard or on bad roads. Snapped off bolts on the motor mount are not unusual either. BMW has since replaced the plastic motor mounts, upgraded the bolts to metal ones and reprogrammed the cars to have less initial torque during the repair campaign  and on all newer cars. If this recall has not been done on your car, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.

  • Strut Mounts, Bearings, Dust Covers)

Common across the range are also a few suspension issues. Most common one being the dust covers on the front dampers. This isn’t critical or dangerous, but water and dirt will prematurely wear out your dampers resulting in an unstable ride and more expensive repair. The dried-out rubber can also get into the bump stops causing an annoying squeak. Failing strut bearings are also a common failure point and require the upper strut mounts to be replaced.

  • AC Compressor – No Cold Air (all years)

Bigger problems can be caused by a failed AC compressor. This may not be as common as the first 3 items, but it gets expensive. VERY EXPENSIVE. If you happen to be one of the very unlucky ones where the AC compressor completely fails, it can cause the cooling fan to implode sending shrapnel through the High Voltage battery pack cooling loop. Yes, on this car, the compressor runs both the HVAC as well as the cooling of the HV battery, so the repair can be over $8k+ i as the battery has to be removed from the vehicle and cooling lines replaced. This seems to be more common on 2017 or older i3s, but has happened on newer ones as well. It’s recommended to get your HVAC system checked out as soon as you hear any clicky or metallic noise from the AC Compressor. Replacing JUST the compressor can be a cheaper $3000 job.

  • Washer Fluid Pump Leak

A much cheaper issue that has come up on many BMW i3s is the leaky windshield washer pump. I’ve had this happen on mine and I just used some epoxy to fix the leak. My simple fix has lasted a few months now but, of course, you can simply replace the entire pump for only around $20. To prevent this, make sure to not get any debris into the washer fluid tank and clean out the clogged washer jets if they are not performing as expected.

Electronics:

Switching over to the electronics, other than the 12v battery we talked about earlier, there are a few other common issues to watch out for.

  • Failed driver heated seat

One of the most annoying ones in colder climates is the heated seats going out. A lot of people use their heated seats much more than in regular cars to gain some range in the winter so sometimes the elements in the seat get damaged and cause a short circuit or the thermometer goes bad causing the seats to overheat and shut off.

  • Flickering LEDs on the center panel (especially AC) Blurry/Faulty Reversing Camera

A few common but rather minor issues have to do with the LEDs going out in the climate control panel where it starts to flicker or completely burns out and faulty reversing camera where it becomes a little blurry.

  • Charge Port Door Solenoid

The charge port door solenoid can also fail and cause the charge door not to open. It usually starts with a grinding noise during operation. I had a hard time opening the charge door in the snow on my car and had to re-adjust it a little bit as well. In some cases, the solenoid does not fail but the door has to be recalibrated.

  • Airbags

On a more serious note, there was a problem with the internal components of the airbag that were not properly assembled by BMW. This resulted in the airbag deployment in a low-speed collision on 2014 and 2015 models. Similarly, the passenger restraint system on the same year cars had a tendency to show a warning even when the passenger was buckled in.

  1. KLE Failure (PCB Issue)

While this next one is not very common, it is also serious and surprisingly only occurs on 2018 and newer models. There have been a few reports of a failed KLE and EME modules due to bad solder joints. KLE module is responsible for charging your vehicle and EME is the Electric Motor controller that if fails shuts down high voltage to the motor and stopping the car in its tracks. If there are any signs of sudden loss of power on your BMW i3, the dealer will replace these at no cost.

Cosmetic Exterior

  1. Cheap materials used:

BMW i3 also has a few issues with the quality of the materials that have been used. A lot of these were advertised as eco-friendly and good for the environment and it’s mostly true, but it also means some of these materials don’t last as long as we would expect from BMW.

I have personally noticed poor quality interior on my car as it wears out very quickly. Granted, mine was neglected and abused, but looking online for used interior parts showed very similar wear and tear at only 50,000 miles. The Deka fabric appears to stain easily as well, even with water.

Other have also pointed out that the antenna deteriorates in hot climates as well as the rubber trim along the top edge of the windshield becoming crumbly or sticky. Door seals have a very similar issue. Whether it’s the design of the car or the quality of the seal, it wears out much sooner than any other BMW I have owned and others have reported the same, even stating that water has been collecting in the lower CRP frame due to poor insulation.

The door handles are also of a strange design and not often used on BMWs, so they get a little loose and wobbly over time. Last noticeable cheap material is used on the eDrive badge in the back. It can start to peel in hot weather.

  1. Roof delamination.

A more serious issue on the outside has to be the carbon fiber roof. Those that park their car outside in very hot climates will start seeing bubbling and peeling appear after about 4-5 years. This is a known issue with other carbon fiber roof like on the M3 and M4 and the best solution to protect the clear coat and the roof panel itself is to get it vinyl wrapped.

REX:

Fuel Related Issues

  1. Fuel Door

Lastly let’s talk about Range Extender specific problems. Of course, with addition of a scooter engine in the rear, there is more complexity and more problems to expect.

Luckily, not of them are very serious and the most common one is the fuel door that gets stuck and will not open unless you use the emergency release under the hood. This happens almost entirely because of a failed fuel tank pressure sensor and the reason this sensor fails is because owners are trying to add just a little more fuel after the pump stops. So, DO NOT OVERFILL your gas tanks and allow the pump to auto-stop. Fuel pump relay is another issue on the REx and can cause the AUX unit not to start and light up a Check Engine Light.

As with other gas engines, you have to do proper maintenance or risk things like misfires on one of the cylinders. In addition to maintenance, you must use high quality premium fuel as it can sit there unused weeks at a time. Most importantly, change your oil once a year if you use your Range Extender if you don’t want the cam shaft bearings to start wearing out and fail.

Before I finish up this video, there are a couple of things I wanted to mention that aren’t really problems, but good to know. If you notice, BMW i3 runs on some very skinny tires. Great for rolling resistance, terrible for wear and tear. These tires wear out in as little as 10k miles if you are an aggressive driver. Worse is that they are unique to this vehicle so are hard to find, can be expensive and with a choice of 1. 20 inch wheels look the best, but are the biggest offender and tend to go out taking out the wheel on bad pot holes.

The second none problem-problem is that the 3g cell network has been turned off in US and thus on the early cars you no longer have real time traffic, remote starts or app access. This is a huge blow for fairly new cars.

Which car do I recommend?

For that reason and many other, I would recommend a 2017 or newer BMW i3 with the Range Extender. These do not have any big real issues and offer a great range with larger batteries and 4g network support. In 2018 you also get a facelift and a more sporty i3s model. Older models are still a great buy and a lot of times a bargain as most issues have been fixed under warranty or through recalls. I have been really enjoying my BMW i3 and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quirky, fun and unique car that is no longer in production. Now that you know more about the reliability, you would be amazed how many hidden features this car has, make sure to watch that video by clicking here. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next one!


Everything Wrong with my BMW i3

If you have seen my previous videos on the BMW i3, you may have noticed a lot of issues with this car that you wouldn’t expect to see on a 5-6 year old vehicle! In this video, I go over all of things that are wrong with my BMW i3 and what you can expect to get when buying a car at an auction without inspecting it first. I will be fixing all of those issues as I continue to work on the car and posting as much of it on this channel as possible. Hope you enjoy.

I fixed my BMW i3 High Voltage Problem for FREE

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. A few days ago, I revealed my new project car, a BMW i3 that I have purchased at an auction. The car came with no key and did not power on once I got the key from the dealer, so in this video I will go over the steps I took in order to get it started, charging and actually driving.

Background:

When I finally got the key from the dealer, I was very excited, but when I got in the car, there was no sign of any life. Of course, that was discouraging, but I knew it has been a few months since the car ran and the 12-volt battery would have died by now. I tried charging it, but it wouldn’t even be recognized by my trickle charger. I then tried connecting a portable power bank that’s powerful enough to start V8 cars and that’s the first time I heard this car make a noise inside the cabin. I didn’t want to damage any sensitive electronics and used a different method to get that 12-volt battery going. More on that in just a little bit.

Later that day, with the 12-volt battery in better condition, I was able to actually turn the ignition on! I was happy and excited, but I immediately saw error messages on the center display and dozens of codes on my scanner. That wasn’t very surprising as the car has just come back to life, so I erased all of the codes and hoped for the best! Unfortunately, the codes that remained did not leave me with high hopes, especially after doing some research.

Research:

I had the generic BMW Drivetrain Malfunction error message on the display and multiple High Voltage codes. As with many problems I run into on my cars, I don’t know how to fix them from the start, but luckily internet and manuals can be a huge help here, so I started doing some research to see what I can find. What I found had me scared as it pointed to a blown pyro fuse that’s built into the battery terminal or worse, the battery pack under the vehicle. One of the codes, 21F0CB indicated that there was a serious crash detected and thus Terminal 30C cannot be switched on and of course that meant that the high voltage battery cannot be charged or used for propulsion. It was a little bit hard to swallow that I may need to drop the battery and find someone with an EOS Tester to verify the battery integrity before I could do anything with the car. Luckily, I found some wiring diagrams that led me to understand that the High Voltage system needs to have a separate signal from the 12-volt battery, so I decided recheck all of the wires. Here is how I got my 12 volt battery to charge and what I found once I started looking under the hood.

Summary/Overview on the fix:

Looks like luck was on my side and the car was able to charge after this easy and simple fix. I definitely got lucky here and now I have a million little things to work on to make this a pleasant and fun car to drive. I’ll go give this car a quick wash and I’ll show you everything that is wrong with this car now that the high voltage system actually works. That video should be out in a few days, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to see that and let me know if you think someone tried to sabotage the car by messing with the wiring. On that note, thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next one.

NEW PROJECT – Auction BMW i3

Hey Guys and welcome back to my new problem aka an auction bought BMW I3 with a broken side window, gross interior, no key and many other issues! In this video I will go over the reasons why I bought it, the very difficult process of getting a car delivered that doesn’t run and I will show you what it looks like before I start working on it.

Car History:

Before we get into why I wanted a BMW I3, let’s talk about a little bit of history and what makes it special. Anyway, the BMW I3 is very unique in the BMW world and even other brand line ups as it was specifically designed to be an electric city vehicle. The designers and engineers had lots of freedom on what they could do with it and that’s why it has such unique looks, specs and options. The i3 is a rear-wheel drive BMW hatchback that’s made out of carbon fiber which is incredibly light and yet also incredibly stiff. This car weighs only a little over 3000 pounds including the Range Extender which is 500 pounds lighter than the Nissan Leaf. It has a small foot print, but also a lot of interior space that you would just not expect from a small car like this. For what it is, it’s a surprisingly nimble, agile and fun to drive at low speeds. It doesn’t confine to a set of predefined rules on the inside either as you can see exposed carbon fiber reinforced plastics, lots of  sustainable materials and revolutionary design that many modern cars are now copying into their own models. Don’t get me wrong, there are many negatives about this car and I will make a video to talk about those in the future, but for now.. let’s talk about why I bought this BMW I3.

Why I bought it:

Of course, this isn’t the fastest or longest-range EV you can buy, but there is something about it that I always found very interesting. Not only is it very unique and quirky, but it also breaks the BMW standards that I’m so used to and I wanted to see how it feels to experience that. I’ve always liked small, fun cars and that’s why I’ve had the Mini Cooper S, the Fiat Abarth and current daily a BMW Z4. This BMW I3 perfectly fits my curiosity and now that the depreciation has done its job, I can comfortably get a project like this. Even if you were to buy one that’s in perfect condition, you can easily get it for under $20k. Of course, that isn’t cheap, but considering these sold for about $50k when new, you are getting a bargain. I got this car at auction, without a key and not knowing if it will run or even start, so I got it for less than half of what you would expect to pay for it  retail. So, in my case, it’s a $50k car that I got for cheap. Yes, I said cheap and I know people will complain that I call this car cheap, just like I had complaints on my Mini Cooper S video, but IT IS a cheap car that offers pretty cool features for the price. Of course, it was expensive when new and maintenance on these cars will be that of an expensive vehicle, but if you are willing to accept an example like I got here and do some work yourself, it is very affordable.

Another reason I wanted to get the I3 is because they are no longer selling these new! BMW has switched their concentration to the new generation of electric vehicles with the funny grills and larger SUV sizes. To each its own, but I prefer the quirky looking BMW i3 to the ‘look-at-me and my face’ BMW iX and i4. The i3 is also unique in that it has a gas generator on the rear axle and I don’t think we will see many new cars sporting this option. I find it fascinating in how it works and possibility of adding range. We’ll talk more about how cool that is in the future.

My next reason for getting this BMW I3 is that it gives me an opportunity to learn something I have no experience with. It allows me to try and experience something I haven’t had a chance to play with before. I’m also excited to see what kind of modding or ‘hacking’ possibilities an electric vehicle opens up for me and what I can learn in the process. From minimal research, I know I can increase it’s range by just coding in a larger capacity fuel tank. What else can do with simple coding? Can I increase acceleration or power output or something else like? We will find out together in future videos! That’s what makes it an interesting project for me, it’s an opportunity to learn and educate myself on something I’m not familiar with and just have fun with it!

Buying Car without a key:

Before I finish up this video, I wanted to share my experience of buying an auction car without a key and why you should avoid it if possible! I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal as I’ve purchased a car without a key before. You go to the dealer, show proof of ownership and a couple days later they hand you a key. That’s exactly what I did this time as well. However, due to chip shortage, the key was on backorder without a set date and now I had to receive the car without the key. The problem is that on this BMW I3 it is impossible to put it in neutral if you do not have a key. This may not be a problem on older cars or even many other modern cars where you can force it into neutral in some way, but on this car, you must have a key. This meant when the 18-wheeler showed up, I had to figure out how to pull it off the truck. I had to attach the i3 to my BMW Z4, chock the wheels and have the truck driver slowly drive forward dragging the car off. After that ordeal, I still had to use my rear-wheel-drive convertible to pull the car onto the driveway with the rear wheels completely locked up on the I3. So, unless you are willing to deal with this kind of delivery and hassle, avoid getting a car without a key!

Current State:

Before I finish this video, I wanted to just show you around the car and see what kind of state it came in. It was hard to tell from auction pictures what the interior looked like, but I was not expecting THIS. I was shocked when I first opened the door, to be perfectly honest.

Conclusion:

I plan on fully recommissioning this BMW i3, so subscribe to see my next video where I will show everything that’s wrong with this car,  my plan on how I will fix all the issues and how I will get it back on the road. Of course, after everything is fixed and the car is drivable and isn’t gross, I will do all of the maintenance items on it and then start modifying it to my liking. I already have a new bigger display, CarPlay  and lots of filters and oils on the way, I’m looking for better wheels and I will most likely wrap the exterior of the car in a fun color or maybe even some graphics. I’d love to hear your suggestions as I build my plan for this car and we turn it into a fun grocery getter or even more! Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next one.