Electronic Diagnostics: BMW 1-Series 2.0 petrol
Siemens Motronic MSD80 system.
Popular due to their driving characteristics, BMW’S 1-Series 2.0-litre petrol models can suffer from their fair share of diagnostic difficulties. Kim Henson and
Edward Haggar take a close look.
Arriving in 2004 and replacing the 3-Series Compact as the smallest model in BMW’S line-up, the 1-Series continued the company’s traditional approach of employing a longitudinally-mounted front engine/gearbox driving the back wheels. This provided an impressive 50:50 weight balance between the front and rear of the car for good driving dynamics, helped by a multi-link aluminium rear suspension set-up.
The BMW model designations were the E81 (three-door hatchback), E87 (five-door hatchback) and, from 2007, E82 (two-door coupé) and E88 (convertible). The range was facelifted in 2007 and 2011. Engine choices were between four- or six-cylinder petrolpowered units and four-cylinder diesels.
The 1-Series models have proved popular as a relatively affordable way into BMW ownership. Secondgeneration models arrived in 2013.
Our car is a 2008 E87 118 2.0-litre petrol model with the engine code N43B20A. A Siemens Motronic MSD80 management system is employed.
Our guide to this model’s engine and its system is Edward Haggar.
With these BMWS, the driver is able to tell via the dashboard/diagnostic equipment when servicing components are due for changing. However, note that it is very easy to accidentally reset the intervals on the dash, and we have heard of incidents where all of the service information indicators were reset at once, giving the false impression that the car had recently been fully serviced.
These engines are not equipped with an oil dipstick, but there’s a dashmounted oil level lamp, in addition to which there is also an oil pressure warning lamp. When the oil level warning lamp illuminates, owners sometimes
misidentify this as the oil pressure warning lamp. If the red pressure warning light on the dash illuminates, by the time it comes on, damage to the engine may already have resulted.
You need to be aware that the ignition lock set-up will only work for a limited, pre-set number of activations, after which it will fail. This is bad news as the vehicle can let you down at any time and, in the worst-case scenario, the car may need a new ignition lock assembly, costing about £1000.
The operation of the VANOS variable valve timing system needs to be checked. If diagnostic interrogation reveals fault codes relating to the VANOS set-up, it is worth removing and cleaning the assembly using a non-aggressive solvent. If there is any oil leaking from the VANOS unit, it simply requires a new seal kit.
IGNITION/STEERING LOCK NEEDS TO BE RESET/RENEWED
This fault has many symptoms, ranging from the warning lamp illuminating on amber to the extreme case of a vehicle refusing to start.
In certain cases a discharged battery will be the culprit – these days, as with most modern cars, having the correct battery voltage available is a must. However, the majority of the time, the problem lies with a built-in ‘counter’ system, pre-set by BMW, so that the ignition/steering lock operates only for 1000 actuations, which can then leave the driver stranded in a no-start situation. Essentially what happens is that after
NOTES: All references in our text and captions to ‘left’ and right’ sides are from the point of view of someone sitting in the car and looking ahead.