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2010 2011 BMW 5 Series Forum F10 BMW 5-Series (F10) Forums General 5-Series Sedan and Wagon (F10 / F11) Forum 2011 550i and Ethanol Issue?
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      01-05-2011, 11:27 PM   #1
Drives: 2011 550i
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2011 550i and Ethanol Issue?

We have a 2011 550i delivered in Munich week 31 (we live in Seattle). I recently had two occurances where the engine stuttered and sputtered, the warning lights came on, and in the first instance the engine shut down repeatedly (I had the car towed from my driveway).

After numerous discussions and several days I learned that the fuel was testing 12%+ ethanol. I also learned that our dealership has been getting many similar complaints and they were testing the gas and finding ethanol levels from 12% to 15% in each case. According to the service department BMW is aware of the new V8's inablility to deal with high-ethanol fuel after a period of long idle (e.g., 30-45 minutes) or extended stop and go traffic, possibly related to the high-pressure fuel pump. The only recommendation they could make was to use a higher quality fuel. I typically use premium from a high volume national discount club which purchases fuel from a supplier that also has the local contract for a national brand . I've switched to one of the other national brands and so far the problem hasn't reoccured.

According to the dealership this is happening with 2011 550i and 550GT and 2010 and 2011 7-series. Question - is anyone else out there experiencing anything similar or have you heard of a similar problem/situation/response?

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      01-06-2011, 08:29 AM   #2
Drives: '11 550i + '14 X3 28i
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Ethanol is the product of Federal Farmer Welfare Funding and is worse for cars and the environment than conventional gasoline. It has no redeeming qualities.
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      01-06-2011, 11:16 AM   #3
james d
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12-15% Ethanol, sure it's not Californian Chardonnay in disguise? Agree on lack of redeeming qualities.
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      01-06-2011, 12:02 PM   #4
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I would make sure the dealer isn't trying to weasel out of fixing your car. The gas in California is marked with "contains up to 10% ethanol". 12% is really close to 10%. And my understanding is that the method the dealer uses to "measure" the percentage is very crude. I could easily see a significant error in their methods. It's not like they shipped a sample to some lab somewhere.

Having said that, I have heard of "bad gas" before. So you should be careful what you are buying. Personally, I only use Shell 91 in my car. It's the highest widely available octane in California. If you're getting Sam's Club gas or something, I'd be a little more skeptical.
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      01-06-2011, 08:23 PM   #5
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If the warranty is not being honored, I'd insist on third-party testing.
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