I almost lost my car due to spontaneous fire - any idea what happened?

Kooshi3

New Member
Nov 9, 2018
2
1
0
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09 e92 335i
Hey guys,

Here is the story of how I almost lost my car a few days ago and am very lucky the entire car did not go into flames. I have a 2009 BMW 335i 6MT with N54 engine that I have owned for 7 years now. There is not a single thing that the vehicle does not have done on it (upgraded turbos, full m suspension, f80 brakes, M3 LSD etc.) and she is a blast to drive with only 80k miles.

I left the car for a week to go out for a short trip and before leaving the car was running great (no CEL's, no issues at all). Upon my return, trying to turn it on the car is running really rough like it is misfiring (My car is running the Bimmerlife R8 coils). I pop the hood and my engine beauty cover has the coils exposed for each access (I had a cutout previously done so when I was running PR coils so that I could still leverage the engine cover). I go in and push each of the coils down in cylinders 1-5 to make sure one of them didnt get loose.

Go back into the car, turn it on and it is still running rough. I turn the car back off, and go back to the coils and decide to try again this time actually pulling them out and pushing them back in. 1>2>3>4 when I get to 5 I burn my hand because it is so damn hot so Im not able to push it in all the way. At this point, I have the hood open and decide to wait for it to cool down before pushing it down all the way... Thats when I start to see the car smoking. It starts slowly and starts growing very rapidly. I have been around the platform too many years, to know where this is going. I run frantically through my parking garage to find a fire extinguisher. Luckily I find one and sprint back to the car, the car now has just now broken into flame around coil pack 5 where the coil pack meets the connector. I initiate the extinguisher on it, which puts it out but notice it keeps coming back (electricity will not stop running - there must be a short).

Luckily I have my tools in the car, so I sprint to get them out of the rear, pop the trunk and notice the rear is now smoking as well. I throw my 10mm socket on as quickly as I can to remove the ground while simultaneously trying to make sure the front hasnt reignited. I finally get the damn thing off and the smoke starts to slow until eventually dissipates. My stress is through the roof, I am shaking. Something that I have pour so much blood, sweat and tears and easily more than 3x what I could sell it for in mods almost burned down in front of my eyes had not so many things gone right (engine cut out right where the coils are, fire extinguisher being present close by and my tools happened to be in my car despite living in an apartment complex)

I go to check the car the next day and there is flame retardent all over the hood - but the damage looks minimal. Coil pack on cylinder 5 cracked pretty badly, but it appears fire was localized only to that aftermarket coil and harness, with potential damage to the factory harness on that one cylinder. My fear is that whatever current that was being sent and not grounded may have fried everything electrical in the car since it was smoking near the near as well (fried DME, Harness, Battery?) Could it be the harness, despite the ground wire being attached to the nut as instructed in the installation instructions, or could this be something entirely different?

I have factory coils on the way and my next steps are to rip out that aftermarket trash and put in the factory eldor/delphi coils (forgot which one I bought) and pray that the car starts and that the damage is not more severe than that. Does anyone have any ideas on what the hell may have happened? Any help or guidance would be appreciated to help assure me that I'm not insane and this must have been some type of freak accident.

Thank you in advance
i-z9WFWf5-X3.jpg
 
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tisdrew

Corporal
Jun 27, 2017
179
91
0
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09 335i 6MT
The spontaneous fires are a known issue covered under BMW NA recall -- blower motor wiring. This wiring would be directly on the other side of the firewall behind number 6. A short there has caused other engine bay fires. It could also be another unrelated wiring short.
 

Illsic_Design

Specialist
Feb 2, 2018
59
27
0
Sac, Nor-Cal
Ride
09 335i
Sorry to hear, hope you figure it out easily/quickly.

This is just the push/reminder I needed to put an extinguisher in my car. Just bought an OEM under seat mount from Latvia(ebay) and will be getting an extinguisher next.
 

Cruizinmax

Corporal
Jul 18, 2018
121
70
0
Ride
09 335i
Man, I hate to hear that happened to you! Luckily you were prepared enough and quick thinking to put it out. It's not really an answer as to why but then I worked at the Volkswagen dealership I have seen that same thing happen to a factory car that uses those same coils. IIRC there was a recall or service bulletin regarding the coils, there have been a few updates since then by something to keep in mind.
 

houtan

Lieutenant
Nov 2, 2017
629
312
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135i N55 DCT; PS2
Sorry to hear, hope you figure it out easily/quickly.

This is just the push/reminder I needed to put an extinguisher in my car. Just bought an OEM under seat mount from Latvia(ebay) and will be getting an extinguisher next.
Link?
 

fmorelli

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Aug 11, 2017
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E89 Z4 35i, F10 535d
... (My car is running the Bimmerlife R8 coils)...

Go back into the car, turn it on and it is still running rough. I turn the car back off, and go back to the coils and decide to try again this time actually

pulling them out and pushing them back in. 1>2>3>4 when I get to 5 I burn my hand because it is so damn hot so Im not able to push it in all the way.

At this point, I have the hood open and decide to wait for it to cool down before pushing it down all the way... Thats when I start to see the car smoking. It starts slowly and starts growing very rapidly. I have been around the platform too many years, to know where this is going. I run frantically through my parking garage to find a fire extinguisher. Luckily I find one and sprint back to the car, the car now has just now broken into flame around coil pack 5 where the coil pack meets the connector. I initiate the extinguisher on it, which puts it out but notice it keeps coming back (electricity will not stop running - there must be a short).

Ok gotta ask ... did you modify the R8 coils to properly fit the N54? (remove metal sleeves, cut rubber nibs at bottom, and cut the plastic index up top)

Funny thing about electrical energy - it wants to go somewhere. Think of it like water pressure. It will take the path of least resistance, and the greater the resistance, the more heat has a byproduct.

Glad your car (and you!) didn't burn down.

Filippo
 
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Illsic_Design

Specialist
Feb 2, 2018
59
27
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Sac, Nor-Cal
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09 335i

Also, that part number is for sport seats with all the functions, there is another part number for non-sport seats. Check your fitment on realoem.com
 
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chrisdfv

Corporal
Aug 29, 2017
270
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E90 335i
I've had an R8 Coil melt/ignite on me. It turned out to have a bad ground in the connector. Check all the pins in your harness.
 

fmorelli

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I've had an R8 Coil melt/ignite on me. It turned out to have a bad ground in the connector. Check all the pins in your harness.
Sorry to hear that and glad you only lost a coil!

I'm curious if your R8 coils had all three modifications necessary to make them fit to the spark plug?

Filippo
 

chrisdfv

Corporal
Aug 29, 2017
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E90 335i
Sorry to hear that and glad you only lost a coil!

I'm curious if your R8 coils had all three modifications necessary to make them fit to the spark plug?

Filippo

They were modified to fit correctly. A pin in the connector had come loose so it wasn't grounding, effectively supper heating the coil.
 
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Terry@BMS

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Platinum Vendor
Jan 23, 2017
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Glad it didn't melt down. I've never gotten why most people swap the coils in the first place. We've had no problems making 850whp+ on the newer style factory metal base coils.
 

Torgus

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Nov 6, 2016
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Glad it didn't melt down. I've never gotten why most people swap the coils in the first place. We've had no problems making 850whp+ on the newer style factory metal base coils.

I assume it is because VTT claimed huge gains of 110WTQ & 70WHP: https://bmw.spoolstreet.com/threads/vtt-precision-raceworks-coil-install-results-thread.1838/

IIRC no one else has show anything close to those gains, if any.

If coils really produced those gains it would be one of the 1st mods everyone does along with dp/ic/dci.

I think people just do it for looks. Why the r8? The red coilpacks 'look' more exotic and fancy. Perfect for your average hood popped straight brimmed oversized hat hardparker. I kid, but If Precision wants to make some $$$ they need to offer them in various colors.

What I like about the stock style coilpacks is you buy from FCP once and you are golden. You can also pick up the coilpacks locally anywhere vs. waiting on shipping if you are in a rush.
 
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GreyNBlueE92

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Oct 3, 2018
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2007 E92 335i
My 5 series almost burned to the ground after driving around with a smashed headlight. Laziness on my part for not disconnecting it, even though I thought about it. Light module started smoking from under the dash. Not a good feeling almost watching your car burn to the ground you put so much time/money into. Luckily I disconnected the battery in time. Now I carry an extinguisher just in case.
 
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turbohugh

Specialist
Nov 13, 2018
54
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E92 335
Ok gotta ask ... did you modify the R8 coils to properly fit the N54? (remove metal sleeves, cut rubber nibs at bottom, and cut the plastic index up top)

Funny thing about electrical energy - it wants to go somewhere. Think of it like water pressure. It will take the path of least resistance, and the greater the resistance, the more heat has a byproduct.

Glad your car (and you!) didn't burn down.

Filippo
I just had this problem this morning. Started the car, ran fine then started running rough. I did a code check multiple misfires and all 6 . Shut car down smelled electrical smells. Disconnected battery, opened hood and had the engine covers and strut brace off in less than 2 minutes. Expected a fire but I think I got the power disconnected in time, damage was localized to coils 4 and 5. Removed the harness and coils and reinstalled my NGK pencil coils.
BimmerLife coils, when they were delivered, had a note about 'NOT MODIFYING' coils. I modified them based on the thread you had and they ran fine for about 2 months. All of them look damaged and right before I pulled the power all of them were smoking.
First pic was from when they were installed, and modified. I just did vacuum lines yesterday and made sure they were pushed down. Drove around yesterday for 2-3 hours without an issue.

Pics for attention
 

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pysical

Sergeant
Jun 16, 2017
471
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2009 335xi E90
I just had this problem this morning. Started the car, ran fine then started running rough. I did a code check multiple misfires and all 6 . Shut car down smelled electrical smells. Disconnected battery, opened hood and had the engine covers and strut brace off in less than 2 minutes. Expected a fire but I think I got the power disconnected in time, damage was localized to coils 4 and 5. Removed the harness and coils and reinstalled my NGK pencil coils.
BimmerLife coils, when they were delivered, had a note about 'NOT MODIFYING' coils. I modified them based on the thread you had and they ran fine for about 2 months. All of them look damaged and right before I pulled the power all of them were smoking.
First pic was from when they were installed, and modified. I just did vacuum lines yesterday and made sure they were pushed down. Drove around yesterday for 2-3 hours without an issue.

Pics for attention
Lucky you were able to get the power off before it took the car. I had same coils and same problem. cylinder 5 misfire wouldn't go away. Pulled over and the top of the coil was basically melted. Fire started and took out everything in the engine bay. I got it all rebuilt now though.
 

doublespaces

Administrator
Oct 18, 2016
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Yikes. Currently I have S55 coils in the car because of troubleshooting reasons. Maybe I'll get @bahn to send over a set for the B58
 

turbohugh

Specialist
Nov 13, 2018
54
12
0
Ride
E92 335
Lucky you were able to get the power off before it took the car. I had same coils and same problem. cylinder 5 misfire wouldn't go away. Pulled over and the top of the coil was basically melted. Fire started and took out everything in the engine bay. I got it all rebuilt now though.
So I have the B58 Coil kit in a box. Guess I will try that next :( .. then again I'm back on my NGK pencils and everything seems peachy keen .. dramatic rain here so I cannot do any logging til the weather clears. ..
Contacted bimmerlife via facebook so far no response; not truly expecting any resolution, however I think the problem is the harness .. Power is via the harness and once I cut power the smoking stopped [and this was with the car off, so we can't blame the shielding or the modifications in my opinion]
 

fmorelli

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BimmerLife coils, when they were delivered, had a note about 'NOT MODIFYING' coils. I modified them based on the thread you had and they ran fine for about 2 months.

First of all, I'm glad you and your car didn't have a melt down. Man that's frustrating, though.

It surprises me that the vendor recommends not modifying the coils - the measurements and information we provide on the interference and modifications, coupled with the piece of paper they provide saying not to modify the coils, makes for a surefire win in court. Incredibly ignorant on their behalf.

BTW I looked at your photos and the nubs were left intact. We found those interfered with the seating and should be removed.

blcoils1.jpg
 
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