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      05-11-2012, 07:04 PM   #1
Jax543210
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Z4 noise, crunching from center console

Z4 2007 coupe
A couple of days ago my car started making a strange noise. If the noise had always existed I wouldn't worry, but it's 40k miles and 5 years old and just now started making this noise. The noise is fairly loud too.

When the ignition-key is turned to position 2 (position right before engine starts) all of the electronics in the car come alive, but the engine is still off so the noise can be best heard at this time. The noise does not occur in ignition position 1.

The noise comes from inside the dash sort of between the center stack and the glove box area. The noise sounds like vent flaps are crunching, tapping, moving. The sound last for a few seconds only. If I immediately turn the car off and back on the noise does not re-occur. However, if the car sits for 15+ minutes the noise re-occurs. The noise happens every time I start the car (as long as the car has sat for a little while).

I took some videos of the noise. Unfortunately, the camera phone mic distorted the sound a little and picked up a lot of other noises as well.
The bad noise from the dash can be heard at seconds 10-15 which is right when I move the key from position 1 to 2. (Seconds 0-9 are normal noises from me putting the key in the ignition and turning it to position 1)


follow link for video of noise
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      05-11-2012, 10:17 PM   #2
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Sort of sounds like the mechanism that switches from the vent locations, like the upper, middle and footwell areas. How does your HVAC work out? Can you switch between the 3 areas?
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      05-11-2012, 10:27 PM   #3
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Weird sounds.. Almost like the Navi screen trying to come up but can't.. However, I know that is not it because you would have noticed immediately,... if you have Navi.. I feel sure someone on here will be able to help you..
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      05-12-2012, 07:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MHeavNC View Post
Weird sounds.. Almost like the Navi screen trying to come up but can't.. However, I know that is not it because you would have noticed immediately,... if you have Navi.. I feel sure someone on here will be able to help you..
I don't have navi, but good suggestion.
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      05-12-2012, 07:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekurgan View Post
Sort of sounds like the mechanism that switches from the vent locations, like the upper, middle and footwell areas. How does your HVAC work out? Can you switch between the 3 areas?
I agree.
Regarding the HVAC: I can switch between upper, middle, foot no problems and air blows from all locations accordingly. A/C blows cold, air is not restricted, heater is hot, auto setting works too, defogger works too.

Strange thing is with or without the HVAC on it makes that noise during start-up.

It's like there is a mechanism in the dash that moves each time the car starts and if the car has 15 minutes or more to sit the mechanism resets or settles down (from gravity or such) allowing it to make the noise again when the car starts-up again.
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      05-12-2012, 07:58 AM   #6
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try switching from vent to recirc and see if it makes the noise. it definitely sounds like a jammed mode door
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      05-12-2012, 02:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trialskid View Post
try switching from vent to recirc and see if it makes the noise. it definitely sounds like a jammed mode door
I can't seem to find a situation where the noise does not occur.

Test results:
vent on (no recirc) = noise
recirc on = noise
HVAC off completely = noise
Auto HVAC on or off (manual) = noise
A/C on or off = noise

The fact that even when the HVAC is off completely the noise occurs is somewhat surprising.
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      05-12-2012, 05:43 PM   #8
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The more I listen to this, the more it sound like it's engine bay. Have you had someone turn the key while you examine the engine bay, perhaps near the throttle, at the same time this sound is heard?

I got a cd stuck in my drive ones, it sort of sounded like that, but it popped out, doesn't sound like you have that issue though.
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      05-12-2012, 06:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekurgan View Post
The more I listen to this, the more it sound like it's engine bay. Have you had someone turn the key while you examine the engine bay, perhaps near the throttle, at the same time this sound is heard?

I got a cd stuck in my drive ones, it sort of sounded like that, but it popped out, doesn't sound like you have that issue though.
CD player tested with and without CD. = noise still there both ways
Stereo on (volume low) and stereo off = noise there either way

I'll check the engine bay tomorrow. However, in person the noise sounds like it's inside the dash ( I know it's hard to tell where the noise originates from on video). I made another recording with my video camera to see if the sound is any better than the first video I made with my camera phone.

Here's a link to the second video:


(second 3-4 is the key click from turning)

(second 5 [immediately following the key click] through second 7 is the "problem noise", sounds like thumping/flapping)

(second 10 + is the HVAC systems fan/blower engaging because in this test I had left the HVAC on auto, but as mentioned above HVAC on or off makes no difference with regards to the problem noise)

Last edited by Jax543210; 05-12-2012 at 06:39 PM. Reason: spelling error
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      05-12-2012, 09:32 PM   #10
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Jax,

FWIW, my 2006 3.0i has made a similar noise under pretty much the same circumstances you describe. It's happened ever since I bought the car 3 years ago, with 23,000 miles on it at the time. I agree that it seems to be coming from inside the dash, more towards the passenger side.

I've never tried to track it down. It doesn't sound "destructive," just odd.

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      05-13-2012, 09:07 AM   #11
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Anyone have a schematic or diagram of what all is behind the dash and glove box area?

...trying to track down all the items located there, hoping it will help narrow down the list of potential items that could be causing this noise issue.

I've found these, but they haven't really given me a great understanding of what could be going on in the dash.

http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...50&hg=51&fg=30

http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...71&hg=64&fg=05

http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...81&hg=64&fg=45

Last edited by Jax543210; 05-13-2012 at 09:07 AM. Reason: spelling error
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      05-18-2012, 02:06 PM   #12
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I have exactly the same symptoms. Everything you described is happening in my car. I also did the same digging and can't find where exactly it's coming from. Mine started 2 months ago!! I was going to start a thread about it but I found that you have the same exact issue.

My car is 5spd with 65k miles.

Last edited by AlexTheMan; 05-18-2012 at 04:57 PM.
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      05-18-2012, 05:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexTheMan View Post
I have exactly the same symptoms. Everything you described is happening in my car. I also did the same digging and can't find where exactly it's coming from. Mine started 2 months ago!! I was going to start a thread about it but I found that you have the same exact issue.

My car is 5spd with 65k miles.
I have an extended warranty, so I'm taking it to the dealer next week. I'll post what they say when I hear back from them.

I'm thinking its a servo drive or similar.:
http://tis.spaghetticoder.org/e85/Z4...ith_operation/

(another forum helped me find this link)
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      05-21-2012, 09:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jax543210 View Post
I have an extended warranty, so I'm taking it to the dealer next week. I'll post what they say when I hear back from them.

I'm thinking its a servo drive or similar.:
http://tis.spaghetticoder.org/e85/Z4...ith_operation/

(another forum helped me find this link)
That would be extremely helpful. I am out of warranty so I will either live with it or fix it if it won't break the bank. Thanks.
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      06-02-2012, 04:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexTheMan View Post
That would be extremely helpful. I am out of warranty so I will either live with it or fix it if it won't break the bank. Thanks.
My original appointment was pushed back. It's going into the shop tomorrow.
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      06-04-2012, 02:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jax543210 View Post
My original appointment was pushed back. It's going into the shop tomorrow.
Good luck. Please keep us updated.
Thanks in advance.
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      06-06-2012, 07:52 PM   #17
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The service advisor said that the plastic gears in the actuator(s) are broken, (lost some teeth on the gears).

I'll try and see if I can get more info when I pick up the car.
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      06-12-2012, 05:11 PM   #18
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Further details.
They had to rebuild the a/c air box and install new actuators. One of the plastic shafts that moves the flaps snapped off and some plastic gears were broken as well. To access and repair/replace the parts they had to take the dash out of the car.

If not under warranty it would have been 15 hours of labor at $130 an hour plus $400 for parts, so well over $2000.

So out of pocket, I would recommend living with the clicking noise or seeing if an indy shop can repair just the gears or actuators without taking all of the interior out of the car. Some things can be accessed by removing the panels under the dash by the footwell as well as the glove box, while other stuff requires better access.
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      06-12-2012, 05:36 PM   #19
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PS
one of the flaps in the dash has a spring. When the car turns on the flap opens or tries to open, but when the car turns off the spring pulls the flap shut so the car doesn't heat up from engine heat. The noise comes from the system trying to open the flap, but not being able to because plastic gears and plastic shaft(s) etc are broken.
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      06-13-2012, 09:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jax543210 View Post
Further details.
They had to rebuild the a/c air box and install new actuators. One of the plastic shafts that moves the flaps snapped off and some plastic gears were broken as well. To access and repair/replace the parts they had to take the dash out of the car.

If not under warranty it would have been 15 hours of labor at $130 an hour plus $400 for parts, so well over $2000.

So out of pocket, I would recommend living with the clicking noise or seeing if an indy shop can repair just the gears or actuators without taking all of the interior out of the car. Some things can be accessed by removing the panels under the dash by the footwell as well as the glove box, while other stuff requires better access.
Holy shit! That is one expensive noise fix! You never noticed any flow issues from the HVAC I take it? This is a good find and I imagine all Z4 owners may eventually have this issue, coupe and roadster.
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      06-13-2012, 06:07 PM   #21
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Quote:
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Holy shit! That is one expensive noise fix! You never noticed any flow issues from the HVAC I take it? This is a good find and I imagine all Z4 owners may eventually have this issue, coupe and roadster.
Actually I did have air flow problems very sporadically as well. Difficult to replicate so it was a pain to get the dealer to fix under warranty as I could not reproduce the problem. It would happen maybe once a week on its own and I could get the problem to go away simply by cycling through the vent settings. One day when it happened (no air flow out of any vents, but you could hear the air blowing - where it was going no-one knows) I drove to the dealer and showed them the problem.

Dealer claims the air flow issue was/is unrelated to the noise problem because the noise problem had not yet started when I took the car in for the air flow problem.

For the air flow issue they replaced the HVAC control panel. To access the panel you have to remove the center dash vent and radio so labor is not that expensive, but the control panel itself is expensive. I think the panel (the automatic one at least - three knobs that control air temp and fan speed) costs close to $900 for the part alone (a few hundred less for the manual version). However, replacing the panel did not solve the air flow problem, it still happened sporadically. I told them its an actuator, but they said no.

I'm thinking/hoping that the airflow problem was related to the broken gears and broken plastic shaft that they fixed, but I haven't had my car back long enough to say for sure.

PS
For what it's worth the broken plastic gears/actuators/plastic shaft from the air box/flaps is not a problem isolated to BMW. Friends I spoke to said they encountered similar problems with their Lexus, Ford and Volvo cars. And my old Jeep has a similar issue as well.
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      06-15-2012, 12:42 PM   #22
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Thanks a lot for the update. Considering that I am out of warranty, I hope it does not get worse in my car to more than the gear noise.

I bought my car a year ago and the noise started a couple of months ago. I don't have any air flow issues, but I have a weird symptom since buying my car. When I start the car, warm/hot air would come out from the vents for may be 10 seconds as if the heater is on. It then changes to cooler air.

This may have something to do with the flap not closing so some hot air from engine gets initially in the car. Don't know. AC and heater function OK with the exception of the noise!!
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