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Article from Autoweek

http://autoweek.com/cat_content.mv?..._code=carnews&loc_code=&content_code=05803276

Munich, we have a problem: A cadre of owners raises brow—and stink—over M3 engines gone bad

By JOHN D. STOLL

“The BMW M3 is about as good as it gets.”
So read our conclusion in January after whirling an M3 around a California track and rummaging through our mailbag of owners’ comments. Then came word of engine failures.

While little has been reported about possible main bearing or connecting rod problems with M3 engines built in 2001, the problem is real, admitted by BMW, and extensively documented online at members.roadfly.com. Some 112 owners have logged complaints via the website, detailing extensive dealings with dealers. Many have had engines replaced with no explanation of what went wrong.

BMW sold 13,408 M3s in the United States over the past two years through October. Only a small percentage of owners have reported an engine failure, said BMW spokesman Gordon Keil. Those who are familiar with the situation estimate that as many as 500 owners worldwide have had problems. The automaker acknowledges “probably under 100” cases in the United States.

The problems appear isolated to models built between November and December ’01. However, the earliest reported case on the website was posted in October 2001. That owner (who signed a non-disclosure agreement and is limited in what he can say) reported the exhaust valve broke, touched the No. 5 piston, and leaked sodium throughout the cylinder. His M3 convertible was replaced.

“It’s no big deal that the car has a problem,” says another owner, John Turkell, whose often track-driven November ’01-built M3 continues to run with little difficulty. “This is a safety issue. I don’t want the engine to go with six cars bearing down on me.”

Though Turkell’s engine remains intact, he is one of the most vocal owners, fueling much of the discussion on members.roadfly.com. Turkell and other owners refer to the M3’s 3.2-liter, 333-hp inline six as the “Engine of Damocles,” suggesting the engine can blow at any time, and that the issue could eventually hurt resale prices. BMW doesn’t see evidence of plunging values and has not issued a recall. It has changed some engine parts and recommends 10W60 weight oil instead of 5W30. But BMW says the changes are not due to engine failures.

BMW North America is dealing with the blown engine issue “on a case-by-case basis” and won’t say how many engines have been replaced or what ills them. Owners have been told “The M Group in Germany [is] still methodically researching the issue.” BMW encourages owners to follow break-in guidelines, pay particular attention to oil levels, warm up the engine properly and not to rev in excess of 8000 rpm.

Wayne Sadin, whose engine shut down at Texas Motor Speedway during a warm-up lap, was pleased with BMW’s response.

Sadin said his Bimmer “was fixed quickly, courteously, and without any fuss or acrimony” within two weeks. “My attitude is that highly stressed things break, and as long as they fix them with minimum hassle, that’s cool.”

BMW’s suggestion that over-revving or missed shifts led to most failures is disproved in that failures have come in M3s fitted with sequential manual gearbox transmissions, which in theory electronically prevent over-revs. Many owners have checked the onboard computers to find failures occurred with engine speeds as low as 4000 rpm.

Even if owner abuse is the case, BMW may still replace the engine. BMW claims to be replacing one owner’s engine that was run to 9000 rpm, causing significant valve damage. Nevertheless, here’s one suggestion: Don’t push BMW’s benevolence.
 

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Andre328CI said:
Even if owner abuse is the case, BMW may still replace the engine. BMW claims to be replacing one owner’s engine that was run to 9000 rpm, causing significant valve damage. Nevertheless, here’s one suggestion: Don’t push BMW’s benevolence.
Doesn't the M3 have a rev limiter :dunno:
 
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