UPDATE: BMW i3 REx Plagued By Check Engine Light In US


Many people that order the range extender option on the i3 do so because they just aren’t comfortable with the BEV i3’s 81 mile EPA range rating. Personally, I really didn’t want it, but my driving demands dictated that I really needed it. If the i3 had 15% to 20% more range I would not have ordered the REx and I suspect there are a lot of others that would fall into the same category as me on this.

We know it’s there and we aren’t particularly proud of hauling around the oil, gasoline and the rest of the muck that goes with it. So, the last thing we really want is to be constantly reminded that we have a gasoline engine in our shiny, new electric cars. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening.

There's That Check Engine Light

There’s That Check Engine Light

The day after a picked up my car the check engine light (CEL) illuminated for a few hours and then shut off. I called my dealer as soon as it went off and was told to bring it in so they could check it out. Then, when it turned off. I called back and was told to monitor it, but it wasn’t necessary to bring it in unless it comes on again.

I then dropped my car off to be wrapped so I wouldn’t be driving it for a week. During that time, other range extended i3s were getting delivered and just like what I observed, within a day many other people were reporting the same thing. Some took their car back to the dealership where they downoaded and cleared the fault codes and released the cars. The dealers don’t yet have any answers and are basically saying there is nothing wrong with the cars and the light is coming on erroneously. Some people were told that if in fact there was indeed a problem with the engine the CEL would blink, not just light up and stay on, as that is what’s happening.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears of Tom’s blog.  Check it out by clicking here.

Check Control Says All Systems Okay

Check Control Says All Systems OK

Unfortunately, I got a flat tire last week and needed to get towed to my dealer so it was a good time to have the CEL looked at. The service manager said they pulled the codes and reset everything but didn’t see any problem. Unfortunately ,the light didn’t go on while they had it, but I doubt that would have made any difference. I’ve had reports from others that did indeed bring their car in with the light on and the dealer was just as stumped as to the cause. I also find it odd that the car’s Check Control reads “All systems OK” even when the light is on. This offers more evidence that there really may not be any physical problem, but perhaps just some software bug that is turning the light on.

This Is How My Display Should Look - No Check Engine Light

This Is How My Display Should Look – No Check Engine Light

If that’s the case, then why haven’t we seen this reported for the past five months or so that the i3 REx has been available in Europe? I suppose the cause could be rooted to the fact that the US i3 REx operates differently than the European version, with restrictions on how and when it operates. To complicate things even more, only weeks before the REx was to launch in the US, BMW had to restrict the size of the gas tank from 2.4 gallons to 1.9 gallons. This meant the existing built cars needed to have some kind of retrofit done post-build. Could that work have triggered some kind of software conflict which causes the CEL? That would certainly explain why BMW hadn’t seen this issue before and why every i3 REx (that I know of at least) in the US has this issue.

The Temporary Fix

The DIY Fix

I know for a fact the engineers at BMW of North America are working on this. Hopefully they will get it resolved soon. I expect we’ll get a phone call at some time asking us to bring our cars in for a software update, but who knows, maybe there actually is a physical problem it is detecting. However, at the moment, nobody from BMW or the dealers seem to be able to provide any real answers. If I don’t hear anything soon, I may be forced to just fix it myself!

*UPDATE: BMW has a “fix” in the works.  Here’s the technical bulletin on the matter:

i3 REX – Check Engine Light, IRAP Solution

Intermittently, a Check Engine Light (CEL) may be illuminated on i3 REX vehicles, without a relevant fault code stored. It is an erroneous display and it’s not affecting drivability, emissions, or functionality of the vehicle. To eliminate this software glitch, a temporary IRAP solution has been implemented. In case of customer’s complain of CEL illuminated (without emissions related faults stored), submit a PuMA case titled “i01CEL – No Faults” requesting IRAP reprogramming. Make sure that the vehicle’s integration level is at 14-03-505 prior to the IRAP session. SI B12 10 14 is going to be released shortly.

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24 Comments on "UPDATE: BMW i3 REx Plagued By Check Engine Light In US"

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How did he get a flat already? Are those slim tires more prone to flats?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I’ve had to get 3 tires replaced over the course of 3 years with the Volt, I just don’t like flimsy LRR tires. At least I could get Michelins to replace the crappy Goodyears, which would be my only beef with the i3’s custom rubber size.

I love the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires that came on my Volts. They grip the road extremely well, dry, wet, ice, and snow. They are quiet and LLR as well. Goodyear and GM worked hard to make an LLR tire that would also provide great sporty performance. I think they succeeded brilliantly.

What issue did you have with your Goodyears?


Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

The first one ate a chunk of metal, so that’s a fair loss. The second (about 3mo later) had a nail, then there was one with a slow leak that I got rid of when I switched to Michelins all around. After I traded that 2011 in for a 2013, about 2 months in I had another puncture, but I bought the extended coverage so that one only set me out $15 or thereabouts.

I’ve never had another car that’s eaten a tire a year, which leads me to believe that LRRs tend towards flimsiness for their light weight. The driving dynamics of the Goodyears also stink compared to even a midrange Michelin all-season, and I’d rather have more traction and be safer than eke out 2-3 miles per charge.

if you got rid of a tire because of a nail or a slow leak, then you sound like someone who just wanted to ditch the tires because both those are inexpensively fixable problems.

I have slim tires on my Imiev and actually did get a flat once but I dont think they are more prone to flats. They may be even less prone because there is less surface on the road for a nail or whatever to puncture it….

Sounds like BMW electronics to me.

Was tire replaced? or repaired did the dealer have the tire in stock and of so how much was it?
One concern of mine is tire durability and tire life and cost as they are so new.In addition as the Rex models have a stagger setup rotation is not possible and treadlife will be reduced.

I’ve had the check engine light come on several times on my Volt over the last 2 years. It always goes out before I get home and I’m never able to find a code.

What? No over the air software updates like Tesla? Hmmm…

Does the i4 have a spare?
Aren’t you the least bit upset that your 3rd generation EV has less range or about equal than the first generation?

“If the i3 had 15% to 20% more range I would not have ordered the REx and I suspect there are a lot of others that would fall into the same category as me on this.”

BMW i3 main traction battery: 230 kg = 507 pounds (!), 22.8 kWh (100 Wh/kg .. disappointing for a vehicle with such a focus on weight)

REx cost, weight: $3850 and 265 pounds

Expanding the battery by 20% would likely add less than 100 pounds and $3k to the price of the vehicle .. quite a bit lighter than the REx and a little less expensive.

I’d still be a REx buyer @1.2(71 miles). In several weeks, we’ll probably see the first tank mods. I’m sure Insideevs will be on the story.

Well, the pure EV version of the i3 is rated at 81 miles and 1.2*81 = 97.2 miles. That would be a pretty good range for an EV not made by Tesla.

I have the REx and the CEL has not come on, but then again I have not had the gas generator ever come on either, so I wonder if it has to come on for this check engine light to come on… It would be a good poll to take.

BMW are not worth the premium as they have too many faults


My CEL came on a week after I bought my i3 Rex. The first time It came on I checked the gas cap and it went off. It came on again last week after a month and stayed on this time until I was on my way to the dealer to drop it off and it went off. First the dealer kept it 3 days and said it was a software issue. Same day I picked it up the light came on again after driving 4 miles on gas. I brought it back to the dealer the next morning and they kept it 4 days and said it was a defective air meter. So Far the CEL has not been back on. My car has 2,000 miles on it.