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      06-30-2020, 02:02 PM   #1
patsgarageonline
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AC Compressor failures on the rise

I've received five messages in the past month from i8 owners who have indicated that they hear strange sounds from under the front bonnet, and after I refer them to the shop to have the problem diagnosed, I'm receiving feedback that the Air Conditioning (AC) compressors are failing. In some cases, the failure was so catastrophic that the AC compressor had an internal failure, scattering metal fragments inside the refrigerant lines. I posted this on the BMW i8 Facebook group and 8 people replied saying it happened to them, one of which said he had metal scattered throughout the refrigerant lines and it cost him $8,000 USD to have it repaired.

I'm going to reach out the genius email for BMW USA before doing a video on this to see what they say about their latest AC compressor parts. If this is going to cost $8,000 USD to repair when there is a failure, i8 values are going to tank.
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Last edited by patsgarageonline; 06-30-2020 at 03:25 PM..
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      06-30-2020, 09:00 PM   #2
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I prefer windows down, AC off...

But this is cause for BMW to take responsibility for a potential flaw.
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      07-01-2020, 03:11 AM   #3
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Actually, not regularly operating the AC (because it's warm, the roof open, etc.) is not rarely causing issues with the AC. I suggest to use it from time to time. To be honest I don't believe in a systematic problem of a unit that is most likely operating in millions of cars. It sounds more likely that there is a higher number of wrongly treated units in i8s, especially roadsters, but also rarely used Coupés or such who have rare operation of the AC because of eco pro mode or AC off driving to extend electric range.
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      07-01-2020, 12:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leto1701 View Post
Actually, not regularly operating the AC (because it's warm, the roof open, etc.) is not rarely causing issues with the AC. I suggest to use it from time to time. To be honest I don't believe in a systematic problem of a unit that is most likely operating in millions of cars. It sounds more likely that there is a higher number of wrongly treated units in i8s, especially roadsters, but also rarely used Coupés or such who have rare operation of the AC because of eco pro mode or AC off driving to extend electric range.
I have my aircon on auto all the time and very rarely drive in eco pro, would be interesting to know the characteristics of ownership for those that have had issues, location, mileage, type of use etc. This is the first I've heard of this, so can't be that common unlike some of the other issues (fuel filler cap, powertrain etc).
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      07-01-2020, 04:16 PM   #5
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Folks, the batteries are cooled by the air conditioning refrigerant. Whether you use the AC inside the car or not, it's running and it's required in order to drive the car. If it fails, you'll get a check engine light or drive train warning. I just spoke to someone who was quoted $18k but ended up paying $8k to replace all the refrigerant lines because the AC compressor sent shrapnel throughout the system. Imagine having every AC line replaced, requiring removal of radiators, the air distribution inside the dash, and the refrigerant lines inside the battery enclosure. That's the issue.
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      07-01-2020, 06:31 PM   #6
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I was one of the ones from the Facebook group to have this failure. For what it's worth, this is very obviously a defective batch of parts or a faulty design. I bought a 2015 i8 last fall and drove it near 700 miles home. The car only had 900 miles at the time of purchase. The A/C did not make any bad noises, just quit functioning. I had a check engine light at the time as well, and the EME and wiring harness was replaced at the same time as the compressor.
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      07-02-2020, 01:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patsgarageonline View Post
Folks, the batteries are cooled by the air conditioning refrigerant. Whether you use the AC inside the car or not, it's running and it's required in order to drive the car. If it fails, you'll get a check engine light or drive train warning. I just spoke to someone who was quoted $18k but ended up paying $8k to replace all the refrigerant lines because the AC compressor sent shrapnel throughout the system. Imagine having every AC line replaced, requiring removal of radiators, the air distribution inside the dash, and the refrigerant lines inside the battery enclosure. That's the issue.
Hmm. The EV range of the i8 significantly increases (by 20% or so) with the passenger AC disabled. I would not expect that the fans alone actually consume that much power. It would translate into something like 2kW/h and 2kW power usage if the 50km are driven in one hour. So there seems to be significant impact on the compressor load (is it really the same for battery and cabin?) whether the cabin AC is on or off.
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      07-02-2020, 01:37 PM   #8
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Read up on the new X5 having AC compressor issues as well.....doubt is the same or similar part though, not sure about manufacturers.
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      07-03-2020, 01:27 AM   #9
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I think we can be reasonably sure the electric AC is different in the PHEVs that need to cool batteries. I don't rely on Internet messages about issues to identify a systematic problem. On the internet you only have posts if there is a motivation to post. And a lot of i8 customers will be no digital natives. I would rather like to understand if there is a design issue or a PHEV specific usage pattern that increases AC issue probability. Of course a bad batch of compressors is always an option as well.
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      07-03-2020, 02:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leto1701 View Post
I think we can be reasonably sure the electric AC is different in the PHEVs that need to cool batteries. I don't rely on Internet messages about issues to identify a systematic problem. On the internet you only have posts if there is a motivation to post. And a lot of i8 customers will be no digital natives. I would rather like to understand if there is a design issue or a PHEV specific usage pattern that increases AC issue probability. Of course a bad batch of compressors is always an option as well.
Agreed, as I said earlier, the characteristics affecting each failure is important. Location, age of car, type of use, mileage etc. For example, are all of these failures in warmer parts of the USA and in 2015 models?

One to watch....
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      08-26-2020, 03:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Body Massage View Post
I was one of the ones from the Facebook group to have this failure. For what it's worth, this is very obviously a defective batch of parts or a faulty design. I bought a 2015 i8 last fall and drove it near 700 miles home. The car only had 900 miles at the time of purchase. The A/C did not make any bad noises, just quit functioning. I had a check engine light at the time as well, and the EME and wiring harness was replaced at the same time as the compressor.
They had to do the same in mine last August, 2015 model but instead of the faulty compressor it was the valve not closing/opening properly. In the same way it was after the first 800 miles of ownership... took over a month to get my car back.

Thank god I have my warranty on place.
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      08-27-2020, 03:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leto1701 View Post
I think we can be reasonably sure the electric AC is different in the PHEVs that need to cool batteries. I don't rely on Internet messages about issues to identify a systematic problem. On the internet you only have posts if there is a motivation to post. And a lot of i8 customers will be no digital natives. I would rather like to understand if there is a design issue or a PHEV specific usage pattern that increases AC issue probability. Of course a bad batch of compressors is always an option as well.
How do you turn off the AC in the LCI? Only way I've found out is eco pro (therefore sluggish acceleration etc). I can't find a way to manually turn it off. I wonder if that was part of the problem of the pre-LCI? Although if it was, it wouldn't be deactivated in eco-pro then either...so not really sure.

And I have no idea to turn it on in eco pro mode!
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      08-27-2020, 04:54 AM   #13
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yes, i posted earlier this year that there is no way of just having the fan on without the AC as well with the roadster that i have. all or nothing. A nuisance, but obviously not related to the root cause of this post's issue.
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      08-27-2020, 06:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MolarBear View Post
How do you turn off the AC in the LCI? Only way I've found out is eco pro (therefore sluggish acceleration etc). I can't find a way to manually turn it off. I wonder if that was part of the problem of the pre-LCI? Although if it was, it wouldn't be deactivated in eco-pro then either...so not really sure.

And I have no idea to turn it on in eco pro mode!
I can turn mine off by just pressing the "Off " button on the right hand side ? I have an LCI too . You will also notice an immediate improvement in the predicted electric only range ( understandably) .
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      08-27-2020, 06:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adofred View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by MolarBear View Post
How do you turn off the AC in the LCI? Only way I've found out is eco pro (therefore sluggish acceleration etc). I can't find a way to manually turn it off. I wonder if that was part of the problem of the pre-LCI? Although if it was, it wouldn't be deactivated in eco-pro then either...so not really sure.

And I have no idea to turn it on in eco pro mode!
I can turn mine off by just pressing the "Off " button on the right hand side ? I have an LCI too . You will also notice an immediate improvement in the predicted electric only range ( understandably) .
Turns off the fan though! I'd like the fan with no AC and no eco pro ideally haha!
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      09-24-2020, 07:24 PM   #16
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I have a 2014 with 17,100 miles. I wonder if the cars affected are higher mileage, driven hard/ constant use of launch control, warmer climate region and specific Model year? What are the common denominators? I live in the Bay Area, California that has moderate climate temperature all year round.

My I8 is out of coverage. I am contemplating of purchasing an extended warranty. I got recently quoted $9,200 for 3 years/ 36,000 miles of extended warranty coverage by BMW Dealership. Is it a good or bad deal?

Last edited by nuyockerinsf; 09-24-2020 at 07:38 PM..
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      09-25-2020, 04:35 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuyockerinsf View Post
I have a 2014 with 17,100 miles. I wonder if the cars affected are higher mileage, driven hard/ constant use of launch control, warmer climate region and specific Model year? What are the common denominators? I live in the Bay Area, California that has moderate climate temperature all year round.

My I8 is out of coverage. I am contemplating of purchasing an extended warranty. I got recently quoted $9,200 for 3 years/ 36,000 miles of extended warranty coverage by BMW Dealership. Is it a good or bad deal?
There doesn't seem to be a common thread among owners that have had this problem. My most recent viewer told me he had 4k miles on a 2015 and the AC just stopped working. $18k repair because the compressor scroll broke up sending metal all throughout the lines. He was in Puerto Rico, however, where it's warmer. But, please understand, the AC is running even when it's ideal if you are charging or discharging the high voltage battery. That includes driving around town at low speeds, and regenerating.

BMW dealerships mark up their extended warranties. Try to negotiate 25% off, preferably on the last day of the month when they have the chance to compare profits to what they can afford to discount.
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      09-25-2020, 06:05 AM   #18
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Anyone in the UK had this issue? I have a 2015 with 17k miles but is out of warranty.
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      09-25-2020, 11:01 AM   #19
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Switzerland 2015 i8 37k miles (60k km). No issues so far.
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      09-25-2020, 05:33 PM   #20
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52K miles, on a 2015. No issues
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      09-25-2020, 06:48 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patsgarageonline View Post
There doesn't seem to be a common thread among owners that have had this problem. My most recent viewer told me he had 4k miles on a 2015 and the AC just stopped working. $18k repair because the compressor scroll broke up sending metal all throughout the lines. He was in Puerto Rico, however, where it's warmer. But, please understand, the AC is running even when it's ideal if you are charging or discharging the high voltage battery. That includes driving around town at low speeds, and regenerating.

BMW dealerships mark up their extended warranties. Try to negotiate 25% off, preferably on the last day of the month when they have the chance to compare profits to what they can afford to discount.
Thank you Pat.. BTW, great YouTube DYI
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      09-25-2020, 07:06 PM   #22
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FWIW, I have read a handful of reports that the early i3's also suffered from grenading/fragging AC compressors. In one case, BMW offered the owner something like $2,500 as compensation for an essentially totaled car.

i3 owners are putting stone guard screens in their lower air intakes, to keep the condenser from getting punctured by stones and road debris. Cheap insurance if it also works for the i8, even if there is no direct correlation between stone hits on the condenser and compressor shrapnel.....
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