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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 > Spark Plug Change Failure
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      08-06-2013, 12:40 AM   #1
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Spark Plug Change Failure

I have no idea what happened but...I decided to change my own spark plugs. Got the plugs from the dealership, and the special tools from turner motorsports. After the change, the car was missing and running rough. So thinking the plugs were the wrong ones, I put the original plugs back in. Same issue.

Eventually it got to the point where the car would not start at all. It is currently on a flat bed on the way to the dealer.

Ok so let the guessing games begin...why? Coils were all placed properly back on the plugs. Plugs were properly torqued to 17 lb/ft. All hoses and electrical connectors were properly connected. Why...?
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      08-06-2013, 05:05 AM   #2
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Just a guess but ECU detected the change and now the car needs to be reprogrammed. Seems to me that just about anything you do to these cars requires a recode of some sort. Good luck with it.
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      08-06-2013, 09:25 AM   #3
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That could be a possibility. I'm almost thinking it is a coincidence - maybe something else went bad at the same time, and there is no causal relationship.

Changing spark plugs is NOT hard at all. In fact it was a simple enough job (with the right tools). I could maybe see if I didn't attach a coil right, it would run rough and throw a CEL. But to not start at all? I can't even blame the new spark plugs since reinstalling the original ones didn't fix it.

VANOS solenoid maybe?
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      08-06-2013, 10:37 AM   #4
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Curious...what made you want to change the spark plugs on a car that's less than 1 year old? Were you just bored?
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      08-06-2013, 01:31 PM   #5
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I have almost 20k miles. The car was not running quite right. This seemed like an easy enough thing to try to fix it.
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      08-06-2013, 03:32 PM   #6
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My tech tells me that the plug on cyl 3 was completely fouled. That tripped a misfire code. When he changed the plug and cleared the code, the car ran fine. He tells me that I didn't put the coil on correctly, causing the plug to foul. Not sure what I did wrong...push down as far as it can go. Slide the electrical connector onto the coil until it clicks. Close the locking tab. I'm skeptical but he has never led me wrong.
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      08-06-2013, 04:33 PM   #7
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On my E46 I'd sometimes think the coil was seated but it actually wasn't. Sometimes you have to ensure things are guttentight.
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      08-06-2013, 04:43 PM   #8
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Here's what gets me and why I am skeptical - I changed the plugs. Started the car and it was missing. So I then changed and put the original plugs back in. Still missing.

Then thinking I tripped a fault by doing the coils with the battery connected and the car not asleep, I disconnected the battery and then put the new plugs BACK into the car. Upon reconnecting the battery it would not start at all...after many tries it started and then stalled.

I can see if I put the coil on wrong once, but three times?
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      08-06-2013, 06:08 PM   #9
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Yeah. Something sounds off. Then again, these cars have so many electronic sensors that any one of them could throw a code thus the ecu throws its hands in the air. It's no longer as simple as air/fuel/spark it seems. Sad really.
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      08-06-2013, 07:14 PM   #10
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The sad part is this job is relatively easy. But now I will hesitate to do it again because for the life of me I have NO IDEA what I did wrong.

The one plug from cylinder 3 was coated in black. Maybe the computer saw the misfire and prevented the motor from firing as a self-protection measure?
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      08-06-2013, 08:31 PM   #11
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I found BMW's 100k life for plugs to be laughable. I'd change them out at the 80k mark and even at that mark they were done. It was a stark noticeable difference even at crank up. What's the book say for the N20 plug life?
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      08-07-2013, 02:37 AM   #12
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For 2012 models until mid year production, 30k mile spark plug changes are required. A new plug has been introduced to last 60k. Because of the turbos, spark plugs need to be changed more frequently, especially if tuned. Check your manual as it is not part of the CBS. I had to argue with my service advisor to get this done.

You mentioned that the car was not running well which prompted the change. Did this improve after the spark plug change at the dealer?
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      08-07-2013, 09:55 AM   #13
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According to my tech here's what happened -

The coil on cylinder 3 was not installed properly (why I have no idea - it was all the way down and properly seated on the plug in the little notch in the head). That caused a misfire fault to be stored in the ECU. My attempts to start the car drenched the plug in fuel and fouled it because the coil was not firing the plug. Due to the severity of the misfire, the ECU set a code to deactivate the fuel injection (sort of a self-preservation measure). The fix - a fresh set of plugs, clear the codes and all is well.

Regrettably the new plugs did not solve my concerns. Not sure where to go from here...
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      08-07-2013, 10:13 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mocohead View Post
According to my tech here's what happened -

The coil on cylinder 3 was not installed properly (why I have no idea - it was all the way down and properly seated on the plug in the little notch in the head). That caused a misfire fault to be stored in the ECU. My attempts to start the car drenched the plug in fuel and fouled it because the coil was not firing the plug. Due to the severity of the misfire, the ECU set a code to deactivate the fuel injection (sort of a self-preservation measure). The fix - a fresh set of plugs, clear the codes and all is well.

Regrettably the new plugs did not solve my concerns. Not sure where to go from here...
You running on the same tank of gas?
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      08-07-2013, 11:47 AM   #15
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Yes same tank of gas. My running problems have been consistent for a while now - it feels like it has flat spots on acceleration. Occasionally, in 6th gear between 50 and 60 mph, if I accelerate at 1/2 to 3/4 throttle the car will shudder badly and I can hear detonation. These two symptoms have been recurrent over many thousands of miles. But there have never been any codes or obvious signs of trouble. 3 gallons of E85 in a tank of 91 seem to help.

In fairness the car feels better this morning. After sitting asleep last night and starting-up today, throttle response is improved and there was no shudder or detonation. Hopefully I just had a weak plug and the fresh set improved matters.

It is interesting to me that the spark plug change interval on the n20 is 30k miles, but 60k on the N55. Wonder why that is?
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      08-07-2013, 12:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mocohead View Post
It is interesting to me that the spark plug change interval on the n20 is 30k miles, but 60k on the N55. Wonder why that is?
Higher boost pressures perhaps? The N20 runs about twice as much boost as the N55.
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      08-07-2013, 01:36 PM   #17
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I had the dealer recode for the last setting ASS which required the latest version for the car. It's a major upgrade. After I noticed that the car ran a little smoother. Is your car a stick or auto? Mike Miller of the BMWCCA recommends BMW fuel cleaner every 3 -5k miles In a low tank. Maybe buildup.
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      08-07-2013, 03:21 PM   #18
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My car is a 6-speed. Every few tanks I add Chevron techron. From what I am able to tell, the BMW cleaner is just rebranded techron.

Thanks for the suggestion Bobby!
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      08-10-2013, 08:23 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyP View Post
For 2012 models until mid year production, 30k mile spark plug changes are required. A new plug has been introduced to last 60k. Because of the turbos, spark plugs need to be changed more frequently, especially if tuned. Check your manual as it is not part of the CBS. I had to argue with my service advisor to get this done.

You mentioned that the car was not running well which prompted the change. Did this improve after the spark plug change at the dealer?
so spark plugs are part of the $0 maintenance? anything else that should be done before the warranty is up? i just passed 30k and haven't changed anything aside from oil.
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      08-12-2013, 12:06 AM   #20
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Think it's all in the CBS system including brakes and airfilter. I changed my transmission and final drive fluid at an Independant shop because I am following Mike Millers Old School Maintenance program as I own the car and plan to keep well past 100k miles. If you plan to keep the car more frequent and regular fluid changes should be done. Fortunately we get a spark plug change at 30k miles while the other engines and newer n20's go 60k miles.
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