2011 BMW X3, Battery Replacement
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 21 time winners. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing today, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So we're going to talk about a BMW X3 that was having a battery problem. What was going on with this Beamer?
Bernie: So this vehicle came in for a regular maintenance service and battery. The battery was tested during the service and found that it was weak and needed to be replaced.
Mark: So were there any other indications beyond the readings on the testing that you guys did?
Bernie: Yeah. So how we found that the battery was weak. We have a tester, that we put on and it indicated the battery was near the end of its lifespan. The other thing that was noticeable is when you crank the engine over, it just felt a bit sluggish. It cranked over okay but it just had this laboured feel to it which you'd kind of get when a battery's weak and old, you know, the car still starts, but it had that feel. So that's the other indication we had that, Hmm, maybe this battery is not good. And the tester verified that.
Mark: So why are we talking about a battery replacement? This is pretty straight forward. Is there something different about replacing a battery on a BMW?
Bernie: Well, there is actually, there's a reprogramming process that's required that you have to do through a scan tool in the vehicle computer, believe it or not. It's never simple these days, but there's a number of different options of batteries you can put in the vehicle. And so yeah, that's kind of why we're talking about this because there's an added complication. And BMW is not unique to an X3. A lot of BMWs for, this is a 2011, you know, for at least five years previous to this, maybe longer, you know, this has been our required procedure.Failing to do so, the battery may not charge. So you put a battery in and a week later it's all of a sudden dead.
Mark: So you have to go in for service where you, they know what they're doing. You just can't do it yourself.
Bernie: Exactly. Now you might get lucky and put it in yourself and it might work, but you have to put exactly the same battery in and hope it was all programmed properly beforehand.
Mark: So is that part of why they made it this complicated?
Bernie: What, so you go back to the dealer for service? Well, that would be the conspiracy theory of it, but honestly, I mean the reason why is that they can control the, you know the electrical system can control the, make proper use of the alternators power.
It's more efficient if they know what kind of batteries in the vehicle. So, yeah, it's more complicated, but it's not really there, just so you have to go back to the dealer. Although that's probably like a nice little bonus. And of course you don't have to go to the dealer. I mean, we do it in any other good independent repair shop as has the tools and capabilities to do it.
But it makes for a more efficient charging system. I mean, these vehicles have very high electrical demands. You know, heated seats, heated steering wheels, electric power steering, you know, there's a number of things. If you get into a slightly newer model year, the start stop technology is part of it. So when you come up to a red light, the engine shuts off. And then as soon as you like your foot off the brake, the engine starts again for, you know, obviously reduced emissions and better fuel economy. So that again, requires a very good battery and a precise charging system.
Mark: So you mentioned there was different kinds of batteries. What, what. This is new to me. What, what, what batteries are different?
Bernie: Yeah, there are, yeah. So I mean, the traditional battery you know, in a vehicle is a lead acid battery. It's known as a flooded battery. And there've been you know, other technologies available, but this, this vehicle uses an AGM battery. It's called absorbed glass mat.
It has acid and lead plates like a traditional battery. But the way it's designed is different and it's much more efficient, lasts longer. Charges. quicker, has more power. So let's just get into a couple of pictures. I'll show you some stuff here. And then we can talk more about the AGM batteries.
Ok, so this is our scan tool screen that gives you the options for the battery capacity. When you replace the battery in the vehicle, you need to go into this particular, this is an auto logic, but you know, there are a variety of different scan tools that will do this particular job. So you can see different options here, 70AH, that means amp hours. So you can see these different options. Then you have the AGM options from 70 up to 105, the stock batteries a 90 amp hour AGM. And, so depending on which battery you put in the vehicle, you can put a non glass mat battery in but it, it's definitely, the vehicle comes with an AGM battery, so it's always better to use that. The other advantage of an AGM battery is, is it doesn't gas like a regular battery, like a regular lead acid battery, has gas that comes out of the battery as it charges. And because this battery is actually mounted in the trunk of the vehicle, you really don't want gas coming out.
So it does have a vent too, but the gassing is extremely minimal on an AGM battery. So it's pretty critical to use one of those on any vehicle. It has a battery inside the vehicle, but not all vehicles require that, but it's best to have it. So this is, this is the again, the screen again, we use the 90AH amp hour AGM battery in the vehicle. So that's what we programmed in.
Now other pictures here. This is our testers. So hook it up to the vehicle, says near end of life charged 62%. Now you think, well, maybe we could charge it up and make it better. But these, these testers are very intuitive. They actually test the resistance of the battery. They put a little mini load tests on the battery and they do a variety of things so it can, it can tell information about a battery that's you know that you can't often detect yourself, but as I said, we suspected the battery was weak just by the way it cranked over and the tester verified it.
So we get other messages here. Sometimes it says bad battery. Other times it'll say good battery and it isn't actually good. But, 95% of the time, these testers are really accurate. The other picture I want to show is this, this is the battery mounted in the back of the vehicle. The reason I took this picture, I mean this is just, it used to be that a battery would have a, here's the positive terminal here. You can barely see it and the negative terminal here, it would just have a one big thick fat wire coming off each of these terminals and that was it. We can see this thing has that as a, just a host of other items here, extra wires. It's like a junction box there. There are voltage and current sensors detecting how much voltage current is flowing in and out of the battery and they have it on the positive and negative side of this battery. So there's a lot of complexity here. This is mounted in the trunk. It takes a while even to just to change the battery cause you know, the hold down brackets, it's got a couple of hold down brackets and it's, you know, it's not like it used to be. We're just be under the hood. You pop two terminals off and away you go. So there's our picture show.
Mark: So what exactly is an AGM battery?
Berne: So it stands for absorbed glass mat and instead of having a, you know, just lead plates with a liquid, this sulphuric acid and water liquid floating around, it actually absorbs the lead acid mixture or sorry, the acid mixture in a glass mat plate, and it's all sandwiched together very tightly. So these batteries can handle a lot more vibration. They can be charged quicker. They have more power. There's just a lot of advantages to them. Plus they don't gas like a regular battery. There's no off-gassing, at least, or it's, I should say, it's very minimal. Now you're wondering what's the downside?
Well, the downside is the price there. There are a lot more money you know, 50% to sometimes twice the price, 50 to a 100% more money. But the good thing of it, the lifespan of this battery. This one and that's, it's hard to tell because when a battery is kept in a trunk, it all stays clean. Unlike when it's under a hood, where it is, where it often gets grungy. This battery, I'm pretty sure is original, which makes it a, we're in 2020. The battery is about nine years old. So that's pretty good life for a battery. I mean you will get the odd flooded, regular lead acid battery that will last that long, but it's extremely rare.
If you have a car that has one, you should probably go buy a lottery ticket because it's, you've beaten the odds pretty good. But you know, eight, nine years is pretty good. You know, kind of a, probably a lifespan you get out of these as opposed to the typical five years you get out of a regular battery.
Mark: And how did the X3 start and run after the battery replacement?
Bernie: Well, it was a noticeably different, you know, it wasn't like it was cranking really badly, but there was just a noticeable difference in terms of, it just felt peppier and more lively when it started. So that made a big difference, I would say, you know, about the life of these batteries is, you know, if you do have a vehicle with the start stop technology, you probably get a little less life out of it. And this issue with this battery would have probably been a little more noticeable because, you know, every time you stop the car, you know, at a light and it restarts that starters being used. So there's a lot more, a lot more activity involved. And you, you would probably notice a difference sooner on a vehicle like that. And the battery would probably live a little less long of a life because it's being used, you know, being cycled a lot more. But anyways, this is not the case with this. And the car was great.
Mark: So what's your opinion on BMW X3s, I know you actually own one of these vehicles as well. What do you think of them?
Bernie: It's a nice vehicle to drive, really nice. More issues than I'd like to see. I mean, I've you know, I'm kind of like, like anyone else. I love fixing cars, but I don't like fixing my own. And I think things tend to wear out in these cars a little sooner than they should. Things like, you know, they tend to develop oil leaks and coolant leaks. There's a lot of complexity and expense to them. So that's kind of, you know, to me, that's kind of the downside. If you own one, you're definitely getting a nice vehicle. It's a good feel, good looking, drives well, but you will spend more money, you know, for sure taking care of this and you went on, you know, say an equivalent, a Japanese or Korean type of SUV.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW or X3, if you have it in Vancouver or battery replacements, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com there's over 600 articles on there about all makes and models of cars and repairs. Over 350 videos on YouTube Pawlik Auto Repair, search on there. You can find our channel. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it, click the subscribe button.We'd really appreciate that even more and leave a review. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie; Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching. We really appreciate it.