Engine Light on again!

Dear Readers,

This is the third time my engine light has come on. The 2011 535i BMW has 7500 miles currently, and has been a well pampered car. I just had the oil changed and filter replaced.

This is becoming a disturbing issue. I have presented this matter on this forum before.

What is reasonable for me to do if I’m told it is the same issue for a third time? The last time, the code was the same as the first, but the part was functioning properly and was not replaced.

The car is worthless if this issue persists. I bought the car in July 2011.

That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

Check out the specific “lemon law” in your state. Most states consider 3 failed attempts to fix a significant problem as the definition of a “lemon”. Once you qualify for lemon status the remedy could be a refund or replacement of the car with another “equivalent” car by the mfgr. Laws differ state by state so research the law where you reside.

Otherwise take the car back to the dealer yet again. Keep all records and documents to build a file in case this gets into lemon law territory.

I’m at the BMW service department, and I’ll provide an update.

With whom should I meet in order to help me determine if the lemon law applies ?

Without knowing what the code was, what the symptoms (if any) were, and what part “was not changed”, we have nothing to work with. I suppose we could search the archives, but jeeze, wouldn’t it be nice if you just told us?

Post the codes, the symptoms, and any other info you have and we’ll be happy to try to help.

The logistics of the Lemon Law are that you deal directly with the mfr, not the dealership.
As a result, I believe that you would be wasting your time on this topic with the folks at the dealership.

You need to first educate yourself about the details of the Lemon Law in your state.
If the law does apply in your situation, then you need to obtain the necessary forms (likely available online from the State AG’s Office), and send the forms, accompanied by copies of invoices for all of the failed repair attempts, to the address provided in your Owner’s Manual. Make sure that you send it via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.

I agree, more info is needed. You should keep in mind that not every problem is a warrantable one that could lead to a Lemon Law claim.
There are outside factors such as driving through deep water, fuel contamination, overfilling of the fuel tank, etc that can cause problems and do not reflect upon the build quality of the car. Any Lemon Law would not apply in a case like this.

I’m not saying this problem, or plural, is in any way your fault; only presenting a theory based on no information about symptoms, codes, etc.

Some states have “Lemon Laws”, most don’t…If your state does, you need to download a copy of the law and read it carefully…If you feel it applies to your case, see a lawyer…

I am in California.

The last two time the issue was traced to the gas tank ventilation shut-off valve. The first time it was replaced, and the second time it was inspected and determined ok.

I’ll post the OBD code when the dealer gets back to me.

“Some states have “Lemon Laws”, most don’t…”

Actually, 30 states (+ DC) have lemon laws, so it would be more accurate to say that the majority of states have a Lemon Law, even if many do not.

In the case of the OP’s state, California, they have a decent Lemon Law, although it is not as favorable to the consumer as is the one in my state, NJ. Most states require 3 failed repair attempts for the same problem, but CA requires 4 failed repair attempts for the same problem. However, like NJ, CA does offer the buyer his choice of a comparable replacement vehicle or a full refund if he is successful with his claim.

The ultimate question, however, is–Was each repair attempt directed at the same problem?
If not, you are not eligible for a claim–or at least, not yet.

As to needing a lawyer, I don’t necessarily agree with that. I was able to get Toyota to knuckle under for a friend of mine, even though I don’t have a diploma from a law school.

IMHO, anyone who is able to read and follow directions precisely and flawlessly regarding the claim process, who can write an extremely good demand letter (one of my strengths, apparently), and who will persist if the mfr seems to be inadequate or lagging in their response, can receive satisfaction under this type of statute.

I think you are overfilling your gas tank. Do you continue to add fuel after the handle clicks off? If you do, you are forcing gas into your charcoal canister. When the handle clicks off, do not add even one pennies worth of gas, just hang up the handle and get your receipt. Oh yeah, California, you have to go inside and pay first, or have you all finally started getting pay at the pump?

I fill the tamk until the dispenser clicks off, not a drop more.

Most times I don’t fill the tank completely, just until half full.

Sure, one can pay at the pump with credit or debit.

.Lemon Laws:



I worked at a BMW dealer last year for a short time. That was a very common problem that a lot of people had. I would walk in the service bay and you had to be careful walking around the cars, they were connected to the computers and sometimes it would take like 6 to 8 hours for the update. If you tripped over the wire and disturbed it they had to start all over again. My sister inlaw has a fairly new 535 xi and the check engine light has come on a few times. I think Bmw’s are a little finicky.

If you are not overfilling and you are getting a code for a purge valve, then either the purge valve is bad or the wiring to it has a problem. I would suggest that you start the lemon law procedure, or at least make the dealer think you are in the process, that will get them off their…err, motivate them to fix the problem.


I missed your point about the computer update, and unpredictable illumination of the engine lite.

If these cars are finicky, does the problem ever get fixed? A car with an lit engine service warning is valueless as I understand.

They are not without value…There are locations where CEL lights are simply disconnected and ignored…They must be sold at a discount, but once a 5 series BMW rolls of the lot, it’s going to be sold at a steep discount anyway…

Now…Lets talk about the “Dark Side” of emissions requirements and CEL’s…They come on because a computer (microchip) was programmed to turn them on if certain inputs and signals are detected…These chips can be re-programed (call it “updated” if you like) so the CEL becomes less sensitive to abnormal inputs. There are specialists in this field who can cure nagging CEL lights while still maintaining the ability to pass an emissions test…It’s a growth industry, because it can transform a “worthless” car into one of premium value with just a few key-strokes…

Your vehicle is under factory warranty. BMW owns the problem as long as that is happening. Out of warranty your vehicle does drop significantly if you leave a Check Engine Light on and try sell or trade. In warranty it does not matter as BMW has to do whatever it takes to correct it at their expense.

If it does not get resolved fast enough call BMW customer service. A $50k car should not be a hassle, yet a least.

So, the consensus is that a software update will need to be installed in order to resolve the engine lite issue?

Does this fault number mean anything to anyone: fault#190302?

The number doesn’t ring a bell. It’s probably a proprietary BMW code; meaning that the boys at BMW will be the ones with the inside knowledge of the cause and cure; and hopefully a cure.

I’d give the dealer one more shot and then bring BMW’s regional office into this if necessary. Make sure that everything is documented with copies of the complaint and what was done or not done to resolve the complaint because if this becomes a Lemon Law issue you will need that documentation.

Playing devil’s advocate for a minute, not all problems are cut and dried and mechanics often face things that make no sense due to sheer complexity. It’s often assumed that problems are a matter of pull the code and voila, the answer is right there. That’s not the case a lot of times and the more complex the car (BMW is complex) the worse the headache becomes.