Common 1 Series Problems (E81, E82, E87, E88) (2023)

Here is a list of common 1 series problems with solutions that most people have found to work.
Please keep this thread clean, if I've missed anything out please PM me Common 1 Series Problems (E81, E82, E87, E88) (1)

Loss of power (Petrol engines)
This is a common problem with the 4-cylinder petrol engines. The problem is down to faulty coil packs. Indications that you may have this problem are:

  • Lack of power
  • Heavy engine vibration
  • Amber Engine warning light
  • Rough idle
  • Car goes into "limp mode"
Common 1 Series Problems (E81, E82, E87, E88) (2)

In-period, BMW released an optional quality enhancement which they would fit for free. Nowadays, unfortunately your only option is to replace the coil packs. Stick with name brands like Bosch or Delphi - cheap or used coil packs are likely to make things worse, or fail again very quickly.

Timing Chain Noise/Failure
Probably the best known and most widespread issue with BMWs 4-cylinder. Affecting all 4-cylinder models released between 2007 and 2015, with the potential for catastrophic engine damage if it's ignored.

We have a megathread on this subject with loads of info – click the link below.

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N13, N20, N43, N47 Timing Chain Issues Megathread

What is the Issue? The timing chain, its guides, and tensioners on BMW's N13, N20, N43 & N47 engines were poorly designed and constructed. Because the engines are of an interference type, there is the potential for catastrophic engine damage when the timing is not correct. The substandard parts...

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Swirl Flap Failure
The swirl flaps, little plastic flaps in the intake manifold that are fitted to all diesel models pre-2015, degrade over time and will eventually break loose. Either the flaps themselves (M47) or the clips/bushings holding them (N47) can get sucked into the engine, causing potentially significant damage.

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We recommend that all owners of diesel models have their swirl flaps removed and blanked off. It's a common procedure that any BMW specialist should be familiar with. The likelihood of failure increases over time, and by 100,000 miles it's almost guaranteed to occur at some point. The only downside to removal is a very slight loss of low-end torque, which is rarely noticeable without a dyno.

Wet rear seats

This is most likely to be down to the rear filter (see below, "Various dash board lights and PDC Error"). Water stores below the rear seats and comes up through these threaded holes

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Inside car. Leaking seatbelt-bolts:

Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18

Show Content

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Underneath the car there are two plugs, take these two plugs out and allow any water to drain out.

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The plastic plugs:

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Once you have done this, see "Various dash board lights and PDC Error" to check the rear filter

Clutch judder
This is a common 'characteristic' of BMW's clutch and manual gearbox, caused by the clutch delay valve which protects the drivetrain from poor driver technique. When pulling away in first gear, you'll feel the car judder as the clutch is at biting point. The only way to cure the issue is removal of the clutch delay valve, which is generally without downsides as long as you're a reasonably skilled driver who uses the clutch correctly in the first place.

ABS/DSC Symbol
If your BMW ABS Pump Module is faulty then your ACS / DSC (traction control) lights will be illuminated on the dash and you will be unable to turn them off. If you have taken your car for a diagnostic check then you would have the following fault code; "5E20 - HYDRAULIC PRESSURE SENSOR INTERNAL"

This fault code means that your ABS pump Module unit has failed and will need to be replaced. BMW do provide a "kit" which fixes this fault.

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Common failing part numbers:

  • 3451-6777158-01
  • 3452 6769779-01
  • 3451-6769778-01
  • 3451-6772213-01
  • 3451-6784763-01
  • 3451-6769844-01
  • 3451-6778163-01
  • 3451-6776055-01
  • 3452-6778239-01
  • 3451-6772213-01
  • 3451-6771486-01

Various dashboard lights (Christmas lights effect) and PDC Error
This is most likely to be down to a wet PDC unit located in the boot. This could be due to the filters in the wheel arches being fitted upside down by BMW.

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The best way to see if its this, is to check your PDC unit

Lee_2f2f said:

Right, a few people have mentioned of a problem with their PDC (Parking Distance Control) and a special Icon showing up on your dash when put in reverse, like this:-

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First of all, start by removing the floor carpet which basically lifts and pulls out like so:

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Next is to remove the plastic boot strip, located either side is 2 plastic Caps which you can remove with a flat-head screwdriver like so:

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Under these caps consists of a Philips Screw.... You know what to do.

Once you have removed the Screws if you look at the bottom of the plastic panel there are 2 plugs, simply Prise them out with a flat-head screwdriver like so:

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Then using some pin-nose pliers or another tool, simply pull. They are not attached; they are just plugs to secure it. Like so:

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Your side panel will then be accessible more easily like this.

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Next is to undo the bolt on the side which attaches some Trim to the hook:

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It requires a Torx Screwdriver, but I simply found a long enough Flat-Head screw driver useful.

For more ease you need to remove the plastic panel above which holds your rear speaker in place, I however left it there because it is very fiddly to remove.

I also recommend removing the rear light for more accessibility into the PDC's well.

Now that you remove all the nessicery parts, Simply Pull on the Arch cover, pulling it out from the boot seal and out as far as it will go (don't bend it too much, it is fiberglass.)

The PDC is located down here:

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Now..... Model of your car MAY differ; I noticed some of you do not have the Polystyrene Holster for your PDC Module, whereas I do:

Example pictures here:

2009 FL 3-door M-sport Hatchback:

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Remy's Pre-FL 5-door M-Sport Hatchback (Notice the water issue she has)

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To remove the PDC:

For anybody with a PDC holster like Remy's simply pull the tabs apart either side and pull the PDC out.

For people who have the PDC like mine, the Wire is tacked to the polystyrene, simply Pull on the wire, and then slide the PDC Module out, leaving you with this:

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Now if there is water damage, and water in the well, GET IT OUT!!!

Disconnect it, get it in a bag of rice, and leave it in a warm location for 72 Hours (3 days)

Hope this helps you all.

Lee. Common 1 Series Problems (E81, E82, E87, E88) (24)

Start/Stop not working
Firstly the engine has to be warm until the start/stop will kick in, so don't expect it to work 2mins up the road

If you've been driving for a fair bit of time, this could be an indication that your battery isn't holding enough charge to power the start/stop. If your car only does short trips or rarely used, its recommended to take it on a long run to fully charge the battery. If the car is regularly used on long trips, its recommended to get the battery tested as it could be on its way out.

Occasional clock reset, milage reset and error message
This is an indication that the AGM battery is on its way out. The best way to check is to get a battery tester on it and replace if needed.

A replacement battery will need, at least, registering with BMW / ISTA / Carly software. You can't just DIY swap them willy-nilly. Battery Registration does 3 things:

1) Logs Mileage
2) Tells the car a new battery is installed
3) and records the condition of the battery at 80% of the charge

If you have changed the size or construction type, you will need additional coding too, with aforementioned software. Options are:


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Uneven Tyre Wear
When checking your front tyres, you may find your tyres are wearing more on the outsides. This is due to the camber pin, to solve this you have two options on how to remove the camber pin.

The First

Gray135i said:

Okay, several people have mentioned removing the alignment pins in the front to gain additional negative camber (and reduce understeer). My stock runflat tires are close to bald with the outsides wearing much more than the insides, so the additional negative camber should actually help tire wear.
For those of you that don't have the means to measure the camber, I'd personally just move the strut top as far inwards (towards the engine) as the slots allow.
I started this with -.5 degrees on the front left and -.7 degrees on the front right. (-1.5 on right rear and -1.8 on left rear in case anyone wonders)

Tools needed:
13mm open end wrench
13mm deep socket or 13mm shallow socket with extension
floor jack
pair of Vise-Grips with pretty good teeth

Step 1
Jack up front side of car until tire if off the ground

Step 2
Loosen all three nuts of strut tower, I personally just loosened the one under the strut tower brace and removed the other two.

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Step 3
Holding Vise-Grips vertically with jaws facing down, latch onto the alignment pin.

Step 4
I'd try to rock the pin back and forth for just a second to loosen it before you pull it out. It popped out pretty easily on both sides for me, but I'm sure some people will need to pull a little harder. Pictured here is the pin you're removing, its grooved but not threaded, so you don't need to unscrew it.

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Common 1 Series Problems (E81, E82, E87, E88) (29)

Step 5
Once the pin is removed, you'll need to pry the top of the strut over. I used the handle of my ratchet and stuck it down in the rubber lined hole in the middle of the three strut tower studs. Pry the top of the strut so that the three strut bolts move as far towards the engine as the slotted hole will allow. Once you've moved the bolts as far as they will go, tighten down one of the strut stud nuts. You can now tighten the other two strut nuts. At this point, you now have more negative camber and can lower the car back to the ground.

Step 6
Repeat on the other side of the car and make sure all strut nuts are tight.

On the left side, I now have -1.0 degrees of camber. On the right side, I did not max out my travel and ended up at -1.2 degrees.

If nothing else, this will help my tire wear being uneven and hopefully provide a little less understeer. Good luck!

The Second Option

sonicvanman said:

so for anyone thinking of doing this, it is very easy as i found out.

as above but my pins were not very proud so couldnt use mole grips so i drilled mine out & as marco said mine were hollow to, but once drilled i use a wheel brace to push on the rubber & then righten up the other nuts & repeat & its as easy as that.


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After positon of the bolt

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i took it out for a test drive, not 100% sure if its just me think its better in corners, but i think it felt smoother & easyer to steer & i felt more confident but maybe its in my head i will keep testing it as i drive about.

Still writing, just posting to save bit by bit

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