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      11-18-2011, 12:06 PM   #1
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A question about BMW re-programming our cars

I have a question regarding BMW "updating" the software in cars to change the performance after they have been sold. The fact that BMW feels they have a right to do this has come as a big surprize to me since I've never run into this with other new cars.

I own a 2011 135 DCT and over the last few months I've been keeping an eye on the threads about a software update that some people have reported quiets the exhaust sound, smooths out the shifting and improves the gas mileage a bit. I've read various opinions on this, including ones that have said it was done to give the car a wider appeal by being quieter and smoother and those that said it was done to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions. I bought my car because I like it the way it is. I like the fact that the DCT shifts fast and hard in sport mode and I like the way it sounds with the performance exhaust. I have no interest in having any of these things changed.

When I took my car in for an oil change a few weeks ago the SA told me that they needed to do two "updates" and he seemed shocked when I told him I didn't want it reprogrammed. His first reaction was to question if I had aftermarket software on it. I explained that I bought the car and I have a right to refuse reprogramming that will change the performance. He went along with it for then, but made some comment about reporting this to his manager. Needless to say, I don't care much for their attitude.

Now I have taken the car in to have the defective radio replaced and they told me Tuesday afternoon that they needed to hook it up to the programming machine to make the radio work and that it would apply all outstanding updates whether I want them or not. Either take the updates or live with a broken radio in my one year old car. Three days later they still have my car tring to do the updates, but that's beside the point.

I'm new to BMW (other than a used Z3 that I serviced myself) so this attitude is new to me. It's as if they feel the car belongs to them and they should be able to do whatever they want to it, even though I own it. Why is that? Is it because they are used to dealing with leased cars? Is this normal for all German car companies, all more expensive cars, or is it just the way things are with all new cars these days?

I am extremely happy with my car, but have come to hate taking it in for any service for this and a few other reasons.
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      11-18-2011, 12:32 PM   #2
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it's like buying windows and getting updates. Get it or you lose support.

if you don't have hard evidence on changes but have only posts that speculates, then it's not real. some people are just paranoid.
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      11-18-2011, 12:46 PM   #3
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For what it's worth, my 128i had an software update a couple of years back and the only thing I noticed was that the TPMS system now identifies which tire is low - a definite improvement. Why do you assume that re-programming will be detrimental to your car?

And my computer's Windows OS constantly requires updates as does my anti- virus program, Acrobat Reader, TurboTax, etc. , etc. etc.

With all the software based systems in a modern BMW, why should it be any different? Of course you can refuse updates - but by doing so, you cannot expect to retain optimum (or even adequate!) performance.

It is what it is - welcome to technology!

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      11-18-2011, 01:04 PM   #4
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I went through this issue about a month ago and I agree with you 100%. I was furious when i got my car back and it wasn't the same. I complained that i wanted the car i test drove before signing the contract. Unfortunately old software cannot be reinstalled per BMW, so I complained more and more til I got the BMW PPK for free(minus labor). You really can't take it out on the dealer or your service adviser because they have no control on software updates from BMW. I did file a complaint with BMW NA so at least they have a record of it. This experience however has had me thinking twice about buying another BMW, but in the end very few cars that are affordable and satisfy my taste for performance and practicality.
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      11-18-2011, 01:05 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick replies. You guys are obviously happy with the update situation, where I tend to believe in leaving things alone if they don't have a problem. I'm guessing maybe you've been driving BMW's longer and knew what you were getting into when you bought your 1 series. I didn't. As for where I got the idea that the updates could reduce performance, most of it came from this thread:

http://www.1addicts.com/forums/showt...1+DME+firmware

Sometimes "new" and "change" are better but not always. Today will be the 4th day my car is in the shop for a simple radio replacment due to the complexity of getting the replacement radio to work with all those wonderful software based systems in my car. Gotta love that!
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      11-18-2011, 01:08 PM   #6
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Lee

I can tell you to definitely be wary of that software. It made all the differences you mentioned in my 2011 DCT car and really made it feel as if the balls had been cut off. It lacked that bit of raw edge the car originally had and worsened the lag issues I was experiencing with clutch engagement from a standstill. It worsened things to the point that it became dangerous to pull out in traffic unless I had a LOT of space between me and approaching traffic. I could never guarantee how the car was going to act. I no longer own that car due to the fact that the problems couldn't be resolved even after BMWs engineering dept got involved.
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      11-18-2011, 01:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddhaPilot View Post
Lee

I can tell you to definitely be wary of that software. It made all the differences you mentioned in my 2011 DCT car and really made it feel as if the balls had been cut off. It lacked that bit of raw edge the car originally had and worsened the lag issues I was experiencing with clutch engagement from a standstill. It worsened things to the point that it became dangerous to pull out in traffic unless I had a LOT of space between me and approaching traffic. I could never guarantee how the car was going to act. I no longer own that car due to the fact that the problems couldn't be resolved even after BMWs engineering dept got involved.
Unfortunately it's too late now. They've already done it. I don't have the car back because they are still trying to get the radio to work. Hopefully I'll get it back today and find out for myself. If the lag from a standstill is any worse, I'll end up selling the car. That's the only thing (other than service) that I dislike about car now. Any worse would be intollerable. It's good to hear from someone else who realizes it's the clutch engagement. People try to tell me it is "turbo lag." I suspect they never drove one with a manual transmission.
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      11-18-2011, 01:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee123 View Post
Unfortunately it's too late now. They've already done it. I don't have the car back because they are still trying to get the radio to work. Hopefully I'll get it back today and find out for myself. If the lag from a standstill is any worse, I'll end up selling the car. That's the only thing (other than service) that I dislike about car now. Any worse would be intollerable. It's good to hear from someone else who realizes it's the clutch engagement. People try to tell me it is "turbo lag." I suspect they never drove one with a manual transmission.
If you wind up selling the car, I'd advise ordering your next one with a good old fashioned manual transmission. I suspect that all current automatics (including so called "Automated Manuals" like DCT) are software controlled which means interfacing with other software and the probability of updates being required in the future.

And naturally, the proprietary nature of the software makes DIY even more difficult.

Tom
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      11-18-2011, 01:36 PM   #9
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Something else to consider with these updates that you're refusing. The software changes could be easing some unseen stress on other engine/transmission components. They're doing them to prevent future breakdowns and issues you may have. By declining updates they could say it was gross negligence in the maintenance of the car that led to the failure and deny any warranty claims you may have for a critical part failure.
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      11-18-2011, 01:38 PM   #10
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I had the latest SW updated on my N54 back in March done to my 135i. I have nothing but a NEGATIVE feedback with how it changed my N54 for the worse. I totally agree with the OP. BMW's latest SW gutted the performance of the throttle response - and they never asked me or told me how their latest SW would impact the way the engine behaves. Or even how other systems such as the DSC would change - due to thier "update".

As some have posted, that the N55 responds to the latest SW update.... I think that is all in the beholder's mind. I think BMW is changing the way our cars behave - so that they can cover their ass from "buy backs" (Lemon's) and future service complaints. I feel that BMW thinks the people who buy thier "normal cars" are not real BMW enthusiasts. I think that BMW believes that it's real enthusiast customers only buy //M products! That is simply NOT true!

From what I understand about BMW latest SW update... it also contains some anti-tuner software to defeat some piggy back and "power box" tunes out there. Espically for the N55 motor.


Dackel


And for anyone who thinks that the SW update is all in "our heads" should take a look at this 223+ page thread on the dreaded turbo lag from a simple SW update(N54).

Has anyone contacted BMW regarding 29.2 and lag?

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showth...3#post10610023
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      11-18-2011, 01:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Focusedintntions View Post
Something else to consider with these updates that you're refusing. The software changes could be easing some unseen stress on other engine/transmission components. They're doing them to prevent future breakdowns and issues you may have. By declining updates they could say it was gross negligence in the maintenance of the car that led to the failure and deny any warranty claims you may have for a critical part failure.
Yes, no doubt you can ease some stress on the drivetrain by reducing the the power a bit, easing the clutch out even more slowly and cutting the balls off the car, as BuddhaPilot said a couple posts back. I don't doubt that for a minute. All I'm saying is you test drive the car and evaluate the performance when making a decision what to buy. It would be a bit dishonest for a manufacturer to reduce performance after the sale in order to reduce warranty claims, don't you think?
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      11-18-2011, 01:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by doublevanosrc View Post
I went through this issue about a month ago and I agree with you 100%. I was furious when i got my car back and it wasn't the same. I complained that i wanted the car i test drove before signing the contract. Unfortunately old software cannot be reinstalled per BMW, so I complained more and more til I got the BMW PPK for free(minus labor). You really can't take it out on the dealer or your service adviser because they have no control on software updates from BMW. I did file a complaint with BMW NA so at least they have a record of it. This experience however has had me thinking twice about buying another BMW, but in the end very few cars that are affordable satisfy my taste.
Did the PPK restore the performance? I was thinking of buying it, but the fact that today is the 4th day they will have had my car trying to do the programming to get a replacement radio to work makes me scared to death of having them try to install the PPK. It would be their first, from what I've been told.
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      11-18-2011, 01:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Yes, no doubt you can ease some stress on the drivetrain by reducing the the power a bit, easing the clutch out even more slowly and cutting the balls off the car, as BuddhaPilot said a couple posts back. I don't doubt that for a minute. All I'm saying is you test drive the car and evaluate the performance when making a decision what to buy. It would be a bit dishonest for a manufacturer to reduce performance after the sale in order to reduce warranty claims, don't you think?
Really just depends on how you look at it. If you believe that they did it on purpose with an agenda to goad people into buying cars, then yes it's shameful. However, coming from the IT world. Many a times we do things with a small group and everything seems wonderful, then we roll our to our whole org and find there are issues that for some reasons didn't pop up with our beta groups and we have to make changes to everybody which sometimes proves unpopular. Yes it sucks for a few but it makes it better for the greater population. I would tend to think that with BMW it's the later...but that's just me.
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      11-18-2011, 02:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee123 View Post
Did the PPK restore the performance? I was thinking of buying it, but the fact that today is the 4th day they will have had my car trying to do the programming to get a replacement radio to work makes me scared to death of having them try to install the PPK. It would be their first, from what I've been told.
It did, most important the throttle response and exhaust burbles came back. The main issue was throttle delay or turbo lag, I wasn't sure which one but i just couldn't live with it. The car had been neutered, at one point i decided to sell but it was just cheaper to go with the PPK software.

I love these cars and my local BMW center is great but sometimes BMW does some things that makes me wanna punch them in the face.
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      11-18-2011, 03:32 PM   #15
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I really don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I kind of feel like the software only PPK price was dropped in an effort to get more people to buy it to restore their car's performance back to the same level before the dreaded update. There are alot of us who will pay $800 to get the throttle response and everything that seemed to be lacking after the update. I'm one of the N55 owners who saw nothing but a negative effect. When I drove the car prior to purchase, the reaction of the car was instantaneous whenever you stepped on the throttle hard. When you gradually rolled on it, the clutch engaged at a rate commensurate with that. After the update, it stunk all around and there was very noticeable delay even when you turned off the DTC and planted your foot to the floor.

I had my 2012 6MT delivered with the PPK installed at the dealer, but wish I would've waited until it was through break-in instead. That way I would've had a better picture of performance prior to and after. At this point, I really don't feel like it performs even as well as my old 135. Honestly, the amount of lag and throttle response is worse in some cases.
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      11-18-2011, 04:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddhaPilot View Post
I really don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I kind of feel like the software only PPK price was dropped in an effort to get more people to buy it to restore their car's performance back to the same level before the dreaded update. There are alot of us who will pay $800 to get the throttle response and everything that seemed to be lacking after the update. I'm one of the N55 owners who saw nothing but a negative effect. When I drove the car prior to purchase, the reaction of the car was instantaneous whenever you stepped on the throttle hard. When you gradually rolled on it, the clutch engaged at a rate commensurate with that. After the update, it stunk all around and there was very noticeable delay even when you turned off the DTC and planted your foot to the floor.

I had my 2012 6MT delivered with the PPK installed at the dealer, but wish I would've waited until it was through break-in instead. That way I would've had a better picture of performance prior to and after. At this point, I really don't feel like it performs even as well as my old 135. Honestly, the amount of lag and throttle response is worse in some cases.
I thought the same thing.
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      11-18-2011, 04:55 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simsims View Post
it's like buying windows and getting updates. Get it or you lose support.

if you don't have hard evidence on changes but have only posts that speculates, then it's not real. some people are just paranoid.
+1
Not trying to question anybodys perception, but I have to say I never experienced any of the performance letdown from software updates that have been reported. No increased turbo lag, reduced accelerator response, nothing. Now I will also admit, maybe my seat of the pants is just not sensitive enough to tell a 5 torqe dropoff, and I don't have DCT.
My advise, don't be paranoid. Do you really think BMW will purposely reduce the performance on one of their cars without telling the owners. Consider how much of an impact that would be to their reputation. From a business perspective it makes no sense.
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      11-18-2011, 05:05 PM   #18
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I've thought all along this might be a conspiracy. It's almost as if BMW gets the new or potential owner addicted to the brute force of the n54 or 55 engine, only to de tune it and later release a "performance kit" to return your car back to it's glory. But at a premium of 700 bucks. Kind makes a person wonder.
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      11-18-2011, 05:07 PM   #19
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Really wish someone could/would post some accurate before and after software updated dyno results. Or maybe someone already has?
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      11-18-2011, 05:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simsims View Post
it's like buying windows and getting updates. Get it or you lose support.

if you don't have hard evidence on changes but have only posts that speculates, then it's not real. some people are just paranoid.
Exactly.
I don't think BMW (or any manufacturer) would waste their time issuing an update for already sold cars, unless that update fixes things that could be considered a liability on BMW. In other words, despite rumors, it's unlikely that the patch they issues is just to mellow your exhaust. It must be fixing something else, like their emissions not meeting EPA regulations.
Once an update is issued, that's the current "trunk". If they need to fix another issue (the radio, for example), the fix goes on that trunk. BMW is not going to keep several software branches around and back port fixes to all of them.
That's how the software industry works, unless of course, you're a particularly big customer to warrant them to keep a private software tree just for you.
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      11-19-2011, 01:48 PM   #21
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Quote:
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I don't think BMW (or any manufacturer) would waste their time issuing an update for already sold cars, unless that update fixes things that could be considered a liability on BMW. In other words, despite rumors, it's unlikely that the patch they issues is just to mellow your exhaust. It must be fixing something else, like their emissions not meeting EPA regulations.
I never even suggested that they did it just to change the sound, that would be ridiculous. It is not ridiculous to think that they did it, as you suggested, to me EPA regulations (which are at times ridiculous themselves, but that's a different subject), or to reduce the load on drivetrain components to reduce warranty claims, or for some other business reason and that reduced acceleration, slower shifting, or a different exhaust sound is fallout from that.
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      11-19-2011, 02:13 PM   #22
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^^Did the software update fix your radio?
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