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BMW 3-Series and 4-Series Forum (F30 / F32) | F30POST > Technical Forums > N20, N26, B46, B48 Turbo Engine / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications > 2014 F31 320i N20 Engine failure (Thrust Bearing)
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      07-23-2018, 12:31 PM   #1
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Unhappy 2014 F31 320i N20 Engine failure (Thrust Bearing)

Absolute nightmare.

While these stories do appear to be rare, I'm currently slap bang in the middle of one.

Breakdown, Friday June 15, 6.50am, Rush Hour M25, Fast Lane.
On the way to a weekend of golf and world cup at the Belfry, Birmingham, from South London with a couple of mates. Stop start traffic between J10/11, nothing too unusual. I start pulling away and hit highish revs, about to shift into fourth when I feel the car pull back. Assuming I've somehow managed to stall it, I try to gently kickstart into 4th, then 3rd. Nothing. Around 40mph now, and people starting to go past in the inside lanes, starting to get that horrible feeling in your stomach. Stay calm, neutral, push the ignition. 'Ignition malfunction' flashes up. OK OK. Let's try it again. 'Ignition malfunction'. 'Ignition malfunction'. 'Ignition malfunction'. 30mph.

Gah. I can't turn across three lanes and into the hard shoulder, it's rush hour and the lanes are packed, I'm in a rapidly slowing car and the only thing for it is to hit the hazards and try to get as far into the centre reservation run off as I can. I end up two wheels in, two wheels out of the fast lane, cars streaming past now up to speed and no option but to stay in the car and call the AA and traffic control. Turns out we've stopped a couple hundred yards from the gantry, which immediately changes to show a massive X and for that extra layer of embarrassment, 'Stranded car in lane'. In full view. A bit of humour in a horrendous situation. We sit tight, waiting for a lorry to shunt up the back of us.

An hour later, the traffic boys show up, slow the entire M25 to a halt and help us push the car across the lanes to the hard shoulder. Finally, off the road. AA arrives 15 minutes later and as it turns out, we're 1/4 mile from the J11 turn off. I'm still assuming it's a simple ignition failure and we'll have a minor repair and be on our way in no time, ready for a 1pm tee off. So naive.

Stopping off at the nearest Shell garage, he takes a look. Tries to crank the engine. Nope. Tries again. Nope. His face is a picture. Mine is not. 'Think it's the engine mate'. Stomach goes again. OK, composure. Luckily (for the 2nd time) there is a BMW Cobham garage 20 mins drive away. Luckily (for the 3rd time) there is also an Enterprise 10 minutes beyond that. Car gets towed to BMW, key gets dropped, cart all our gear into an Uber and hire a car from Enterprise to The Belfry. All in all, about a 3 hour delay. Could have been worse, right?

I take a call in the hire car on the way to the Belfry – 'We've started to look at the car, we'll let you know what we think the issue is as soon as we can, but we’re booked in for services with a 3 week wait list.’ OK, not ideal, but they should at the very least be able to give me a date for the car to get looked at this week, right? Right?

Nope. had to wait nearly weeks to get a firm answer on when the car could be properly inspected to find the cause. In fairness to them they did do a prelim check within 2 weeks, but this simply turned up what I already knew from the AA. During this period, I was given positive (but not guaranteed) assurances that they would be applying for 100% goodwill via BMW.

The kicker
After waiting nearly 5 weeks, I had an answer to what caused the engine failure. Not the timing chain, which is a known issue and visible throughout several threads on the N20 on this forum. Thrust bearing failure, which in turn has caused the crankshaft to fail and the big end to fail. Hardly a minor issue. It’s important to clarify at this point that the car has full BMW service history, under 4 years old, and has done 52k (Previously based in Scotland, most likely used as a business vehicle/motorway miles) and was due another service in around 500 miles (just my luck). Interestingly the last oil service was at 39k – could it be that BMWs policy of extending oil changes has done for the engine here?

Goodwill or not to Goodwill
So the latest update – because the car was bought from a third party dealer (CarGiant) BMW are currently not willing to proceed any further with the claim, and have directed me to return to CarGiant to effectively repair or replace through the 6 month consumer rights rule regarding major faults and presence of said fault at POS. I’m waiting for a response from them, now entering the 6th week of this debacle. Whilst I do understand the reason for pushback on BMWs part, in my view it is still a manufacturing fault so I believe that they should shoulder some responsibility.

The customer service from BMW (I should really say Inchcape, as they’re the franchise dealer) has been so so. It’s not been terrible, but the question around where the car was purchased could have been brought up earlier, they could have worked harder to fix a date for inspection without me having to threaten escalation to get one, they should have known that calling BMW direct was a dead end as they are the ones that need to raise a ticket on my behalf, and I should not have to wait nearly a week to get a scan of the technicians report to send to CarGiant for review.

What I would say is that luckily when chasing Cobham for the report my usual contact was away so a very helpful lady forwarded it on to me within a matter of hours, so it could be something to do with pot luck regarding who you get, or possibly it was the subtle reference to litigation if it took much longer. Who knows.

Will update when I hear back from CG. Suiting up is still very much an option.
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      07-23-2018, 02:24 PM   #2
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Drives: 2013 328i xDrive
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Wow, really sorry to hear that. Hopefully you're done right by in the repair/resolution process. Thrust bearing failure too, huh? That's a new one to my knowledge.
2013 328i xDrive N20 | Bootmod3 Stage 2 OTS 93oct | VRSF Street 5" HD Front-Mount Intercooler | VRSF Catless Downpipe | NGK L/I Spark Plugs | M Performance Exhaust | K&N Drop-in | Dinan 20" Wheels Wearing Michelin PSS | F80 Style Decklid Spoiler | Debadged | F80 Style Grille |
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