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2004 530i heated seat fire

Discussion in 'E60 (2004-2010)' started by BMWAutoSportGT, Jan 27, 2013.

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    BMWAutoSportGT

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    Driving and smelled an electrical fire... Interior then filled with smoke... Jumped out of car and saw black charring on the bottom cushion. It's at BMW now and they said that they may or may not take care of this... Anyone else experience this? I have 89k on it and it is meticulously maintained ... Obv out of warranty but I figure these things are not supposed to happen and if something wears out it should shut off, or at least trip the fuse... Not potentially kill the driver.

    Any advice or experience with this? Im paranoid now seeing how my wife and daughter are always in my car and think ill end up selling it unless they replace both seats..I am though enjoying the fully loaded 2013 328i sport line as a loaner...$51k new...ridiculous.
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    MGarrison

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    No experience on my part -

    I don't think we've had much report about this here on the forums that I recall, but, googling, sounds like you're not alone...

    https://www.google.com/#hl=en&tbo=d...429,d.dmg&fp=f57bf628413e002&biw=1027&bih=616

    I'd suggest keeping all options open - the cause needs to be specifically identified for starters. It's logical of course to think the most likely direct cause is some seat-heater problem, but all possibilities need to be eliminated. If the issue was some electrical glitch elsewhere that ended up manifesting itself in the seat heater, replacing the seats won't make you any safer, even if that seems like a remote possibility. Perhaps you've decided what you want to do already, but maybe it's worth getting the cause to decide what to do next.

    Glad you all are ok, but anything like this that causes doubt as to your car's safety, and thus your family's safety, is a big deal. Me, IF it was only the seat heaters, for sure, AND I didn't consider the heaters essential, maybe I'd dig up another matching used seat off Ebay or wherever I might find one, and disable the seat heaters - IF I wanted to keep the car and otherwise had confidence in it. I always regret hearing of things like this that can easily make one consider stepping away from the marque, with perfectly understandable justification. It's never a bad idea to keep a fire extinguisher stowed in one's car, but you certainly never want to have to use it. No doubt, things like this shouldn't happen, ever!
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    BMWAutoSportGT

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    Do you think this is something BMW should be concerned about? Should I be pushing for seat replacements or am I up the creek without a paddle here? I totally understand I'm cruising around in a 9 year old car and things are bound to break. If the heated seats quit entirely, I'd get that.. .but to ignite this seems to be a faulty electrical issue. Some forums online said there was a recall but I'm not finding anything. My service advisor is amazing and has gone to bat for me on several occassions so I'm hoping he does the same here. I'm about as faithful as they come with BMW as I've had 30 of them in the last 15yrs and I'd hate to leave the group but this may persuade me to visit another manufacturer if i'm hit with a $2600 bill for a new seat bottom.
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    MGarrison

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    Sure, I do agree this is something BMW should be concerned about. In your case, what's important is identifying the problem so it can be fixed to minimize the risk of it happening, or eliminating any chance altogether. I have no idea where BMW 'is' on this, or any other similar events - this may be one of those problems that manifests itself so far past any warranty that it's difficult-to-impossible to prove as a widespread, endemic issue, and even if there are enough incidents to prove a problem, in the past it seems to have been an uphill battle to get BMW to acknowledge issues, or it's taken a NHTSA federal ruling. Google results appear to show similar incidents, it would take some comprehensive research to show a common causality and prove an endemic problem, I suppose. Obviously, lots of variables across "old" cars and different models. However, a service adviser doing what they can for you and you being a long-time loyal customer can't but help in your chance for a more favorable resolution. I agree $2600.00 sounds ridiculous for a seat bottom - I thought you might have been throwing out a random number until I took a look at realoem.com

    http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=NA73&mospid=47758&btnr=52_3131&hg=52&fg=10

    If 'co-driver's side' means passenger side, either it's a whole lot more expensive for the passenger seat, or these are the prices for the seat cushion and leather seat cover - yikes!

    http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=NA73&mospid=47758&btnr=52_3277&hg=52&fg=10

    Those kinds of prices would drive me to other alternatives, such as Ebay or searchtempest.com

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-Genuine...ies&fits=Make:BMW&hash=item2ec2d52611&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-M5-...Parts_Accessories&hash=item4602cf03fe&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-M5-...ies&fits=Make:BMW&hash=item23275f162b&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-530...ies&fits=Make:BMW&hash=item3cce5f3dda&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Bmw-E60-Sea...Parts_Accessories&hash=item43b6d86549&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-5-S...ies&fits=Make:BMW&hash=item27c1b0fbc2&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-5-S...Parts_Accessories&hash=item415f991c57&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-M5-...ies&fits=Make:BMW&hash=item460c11a127&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-M5-...Parts_Accessories&hash=item3cccb246ca&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-OEM-E60...Parts_Accessories&hash=item20cedd9838&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-E60-M5-...ies&fits=Make:BMW&hash=item23275a34a0&vxp=mtr

    Those are just a few listings from an Ebay search of "BMW E60 Seats"

    I've taken seat covers on and off seats, specifically an older Mercedes - if that was any indication, it's a bloody damn inconvenient nuisance, so if you opted to get ambitious and replace your own seat cover, cover & cushion, swap out seat bases, or whatever, it might be well worth handing that off to an auto upholstery shop that has the tools and experience. Swapping whole seats in and out is waaaay easier.

    You can bet that if some BMW exec had their pants (or skirt) catch on fire due to a car seat problem, something would get done about it - of course, there are presumably darn few BMW execs rolling around in company cars that are anything more than a few months old.

    You certainly can push for seat replacements or whatever you want, it never hurts to try and you won't get anything without trying - I don't have any way to predict what your dealer or BMW will ultimately do, but however it works out, I certainly hope it's to your satisfaction, or at least, acceptance. Me, if I had complete confidence the issue was identified (let's say for the hell of it a short in the seat heater grid as a likely possibility, although there may be many other possible causes) and I wanted to keep the car for awhile yet, and I could live without the seat heaters knowing with 100% certainty that foregoing their usage by keeping them disconnected would eliminate both any risk of fire and the likelihood of me or anyone else being burned alive, and the dealer was throwing big numbers at me, then I might be inclined to see if a matching seat could be had at a reasonable price from Ebay or elsewhere, and swap out the seat myself or have the dealer or a shop do it, and live with the car, albeit with less-toasty buns than may have been originally or optimally desired. If you've had two BMW's a year for the last 15 years then it sounds like your experience has been positive enough, and, I'm guessing, this may be the first time for something like this - not sure if I'd throw the baby out with the bathwater, but that depends on your feelings - cars, after all, are just cars, and do not eclipse the priority of one's confidence about safety, well-being, and protection. But, I understand the frustration from being in the catch-22 situation of one's car being all you want in a vehicle but then having a faulty sub-system bring in to question an important-enough safety issue that is a genuine problem, but not one that otherwise affects other positive attributes such as crash-worthiness or the fun-to-drive factor, at least when you're not entirely engulfed in flames as you blaze down the road, which, as you've already had the great misfortune to nearly experience directly, substantially mediates the motoring fun-factor.
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    • Technical Service Advisor

    charlson89

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    Yah this is actually quite common on the early E60 BMW's. What happens is the temperature control sensor in the heated seat mat breaks after many years of use. The heated seat then keeps heating up until it burns through the seat leather and even the persons clothes as well. This happens on the seat bottom and back. If you call to BMW and tell them you want some kind of assistance with repair they might go half and half with you on it. This is of course if your dealership doesn't offer any kind of assistance.
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    BMWCCA1

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    I've seen BMW pick up the whole tab. If you have a relationship with your dealership let them initiate the contact with BMW. If you don't like the result, then take the issue to BMW yourself.
    CRKrieger likes this.
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    BMWAutoSportGT

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    After some back and forth with my service rep, BMW agreed to pick up the $2600 tab for a new seat bottom. I'm very pleased as I really didn't want a new car. I'm a big fan of the e60s. A huge thanks to MGarrison for all your help and a shout out to all the great folks at BMW Norwell in Massachusetts.
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    MGarrison

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    So glad to hear it's working out without so much out-of-pocket expense. If they're only replacing the driver's side seat bottom, it sounds like it would be a good idea to unplug the seat heater for the passenger (or rear seats, if they even have that), and maybe do the same for the driver's seat, or plan to, after maybe 3-4 years (guessing on an window of safe operation before potential failure).

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