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    • Active Autowerke E9X M3 S65 V8 supercharger kit owner shares his blown motor and customer service experience

      Active Autowerke has been in the BMW tuning game a long time. They are a well known and established name. This blown motor is a story we reported in September of 2010. We asked for further details on how this was resolved and what happened but never received them and Active Autowerke did not seem interested in addressing it. They sure have had plenty of time to do so. Read the experience of the kit owner below and come to your own conclusion but perhaps how this was handled and other internal issues explain why certain key people have left Active Autowerke as of late.


      I'm sure you all remember seeing this thread back in September of 2010. It is my 2008 E90 M3, which I had taken to Miami and supercharged by Active Autowerke. From what they told me, it was their 4th e90 M3 that had received this kit. Unfortunately after having only 1,200 miles on the kit, while driving on the highway the motor failed and a piston left the engine of the car. After having spent several thousands of dollars to have them personally install their kit, I was quite surprised.

      While this is in no way an effort to flame what is a known BMW tuner, it is an effort to share my experience with you all. I am an Active Authorized dealer, as seen on their website, so I hope you see this as a credible post. We have installed many of their kits, products, and software tunes here in house. I am quite displeased by how this mishap was handled. In the long run I was left with a $25,000 hole in my pocket, let alone having to continue paying payments/insurance on a car that sat for 16 months...

      My experience went as follows:

      I purchased the kit from them and had them install it at their facility in Miami. We then drove 600 miles back to North Carolina where I continued driving it unmodified for 600 miles. One day, while driving down US1, under moderate acceleration, I heard a loud pop, followed by smoke billowing out the back and then several lights on the dash illuminated. I immediately pulled over, and noticed a pool of oil underneath my car and chunks of metal throughout the engine bay and underneath the car. This was NO mis-shift as I was at about 6,000 RPM when this happened and was not shifting.

      I then called a tow truck and had the car towed to my shop, where under investigation, found a huge hole in my oil pan and engine block. The cylinder 5 piston had grenaded and destroyed everything in its path. I then called Active Autowerke and their representative, whom will remain nameless told me to take pics and send them to them. I did this and received a call back from one of the owners the next day. I explained that I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary while driving and he suggested I see if the connecting rod will rotate freely on the crankshaft. We found that the connecting rod would spin freely around the block, thus ruling out a bearing or oil failure.

      I then began questioning what kind of help I could receive to get this resolved and me not be completely on the hook for the repair bill. They not only suggested, but helped aid in getting it converted back to stock and take it to the dealer under warranty. I was skeptical about this to say the least, but since I felt they were good guys, and they thought it was a 'manufacturer defect' that I would give it a try, which later I felt pretty bad about. They prompted me to remove my ECU and send it to them so they could flash everything back to original settings and that nothing would be detected that there had been modifications to the ECU. I had to purchase about $1,000 worth of parts that had been cut and altered by Active during the install to mask the previous modifications. Once I got the ECU back from Active, I sent it over to the dealership on a flat bed.

      After having the car at the dealership for a week, they came back and said they had found the top speed of the car recorded was 198mph, and that the factory settings wont allow for that. That speed was recorded while on the dyno. They denied my claim saying that modifications had been performed to the cars engine and they would not cover it. After letting Active know this, the best they would do is a partial credit for the return of the supercharger kit. Wanting to keep a good relationship with them, I reluctantly agreed and started the pursuit of finding a suitable used engine, which was practically impossible. I had asked their team several times to please look out for a used engine for me, at which one was never found.

      After the vehicle had sat for 16 months, I finally saved enough to purchase an engine and just now get it in, no thanks to Active Autowerke. I guess I should have pushed harder for them to step up to the plate and fix the issue when it happened, but in an effort to save face with them, I stayed quiet when the leak of this surfaced on the internet and let their team handle things. Now, after having to fork out over $25,000 for a new engine, I feel it necessary to let the rest of the BMW community know that when shit hit the fan, I was left to burn...

      It is very unfortunate, because I know accidents happen, and it really speaks volumes about someone or a business with how they handle them. I myself own a car shop and when one of my technicians ultimately caused an engine to fail on a customers car, I stepped up to the plate and took care of it out of pocket to appease customer-because it was the right thing to do. I know if the rolls were reversed, I would have stepped up and bought the customer(me) a new engine to correct the problem at hand.

      I have already sent Active Autowerke emails stating my side of things and what I think they should have done, but their responses were vague and essentially they don't want to help me out. I have given them ample time to take accountability for this, but it appears they do not want to do anything for me. I just hope that if someone else gets into this type of situation, they will address it in a better way for their customers.

      Again, this isn't intended to flame, but rather inform.

      Be safe with who you trust to modify your baby.








      This article was originally published in forum thread: Supercharged e90 M3 Failure started by Mpowered View original post
      Comments 125 Comments
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Promoted to front page. Let's see if we can get AA to help you. E-mails may be additional incentive Click here to enlarge
      1. Brey335i's Avatar
        Brey335i -
        Ever since trying to fit the AA Downpipes on a 335i, I have sworn never to touch Active products again. Sad to hear about this though. I have a buddy who had a AA Supercharged e46 M3 and I don't think he could have ever covered this kind of damage out of pocket.
      1. BoostAddict's Avatar
        BoostAddict -
        I honestly think BMW tuners are overly generous when it comes to this sort of thing. You don't see tuners of other platforms paying for new motors when cars blow up. When my 350Z blew up my shop helped me out tremendoulsy with labor charges though, which I was happy about. You gotta pay to play. There are better ways to handle things though, and think the situation should have definetly been handled differently by Active.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by BoostAddict Click here to enlarge
        There are better ways to handle things though, and think the situation should have definetly been handled differently by Active.
        I think this is the major point in all of this.
      1. rader1's Avatar
        rader1 -
        Unless the engine's failure is a direct result of an installation error by AA or caused by poor tuning with their software, i see no reason why they should pay for it. If i had a Z06 and ordered a turbo from Precision and grenaded the engine, should Precision have to pay for it?
        Let me ask you this, were you monitoring the engine? What AFRs did the car normally run? What boost was the car running? Was there any indication something was wrong?
        i'm genuinely not trying to sound like an ass, but there are definite risks involved.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by rader1 Click here to enlarge
        If i had a Z06 and ordered a turbo from Precision and grenaded the engine, should Precision have to pay for it?
        No, but was it a kit designed for the Z06 with a tune from Precision? See the slight difference there?
      1. leo985i's Avatar
        leo985i -
        I'm not going to lie, I kind of feel disgusting about even owning a set of AA downpipes. What a horrible customer service. I want to hear AA side of the story though............
      1. e38 prototype's Avatar
        e38 prototype -
        I think they should pay at least half of the block for trying to screw over BMW, and that not working out because on the dyno time at the shop.

        I feel that should bite them in the ass somehow for being shady.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by e38 prototype Click here to enlarge
        I think they should pay at least half of the block for trying to screw over BMW
        This part if true definitely looks REALLY bad.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Mpowered Click here to enlarge
        It is very unfortunate, because I know accidents happen, and it really speaks volumes about someone or a business with how they handle them. I myself own a car shop and when one of my technicians ultimately caused an engine to fail on a customers car, I stepped up to the plate and took care of it out of pocket to appease customer-because it was the right thing to do. I know if the rolls were reversed, I would have stepped up and bought the customer(me) a new engine to correct the problem at hand.
        In your opinion what was the cause of the failure?
      1. rader1's Avatar
        rader1 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        No, but was it a kit designed for the Z06 with a tune from Precision? See the slight difference there?
        if the tune or the turbo caused the failure due to a defect then yes, that's a different story. so, where's the failure analysis to point to the tune/blower being the cause?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by rader1 Click here to enlarge
        so, where's the failure analysis to point to the tune/blower being the cause?
        I think this is the question that still needs to be resolved.
      1. MSIZZLE's Avatar
        MSIZZLE -
        messed up story
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        Question - did you have a pulley?
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        WOW! WHAT A BUNCH OF CRY BABIES! No other platform have i ever seen so many people cry about a warranty when they mod $#@!. Even if the s/c kit was the best in the business, by best tuner in the world, no mistakes Ever, noone is going to warranty $#@! because your probably going to modify even that. They cant/wont warranty what they dont know and trust you to do with it. (like removing air filter to get more boost) Your modding a vehicle with a warranty already, so either u plan on cheating bmw in the first place, meaning you will cheat s/c company if it hapoens. OR you git the situation handled on your own if something does happen. Point is, if you dont have it in writing, dont expect it

        With that said, 198? Really? And it let go at 6k? What could you possibly be doing at 6k and not pushing the car?
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        Second, whatever the issue, even IF completely AA's fault, has to have been solved. Aks car has been beaten up by him, me and whoever else he has let. Ive never seen any issues with it.

        Lastly, in light of everything ive said, It really showcases what GINTANI did, and how impressive that is.
      1. Laloosh's Avatar
        Laloosh -
        Wait, I am confused here. You supercharged a NA motor with a kit sold by AA and the car blew up while floored. How is that their problem?This happens in every community known to man kind, if you buy a turbo kit/blower kit, they warranty their kit, not your engine blowing up.
      1. Sorena's Avatar
        Sorena -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
        WOW! WHAT A BUNCH OF CRY BABIES! No other platform have i ever seen so many people cry about a warranty when they mod $#@!. Even if the s/c kit was the best in the business, by best tuner in the world, no mistakes Ever, noone is going to warranty $#@! because your probably going to modify even that. They cant/wont warranty what they dont know and trust you to do with it. (like removing air filter to get more boost) Your modding a vehicle with a warranty already, so either u plan on cheating bmw in the first place, meaning you will cheat s/c company if it hapoens. OR you git the situation handled on your own if something does happen. Point is, if you dont have it in writing, dont expect itWith that said, 198? Really? And it let go at 6k? What could you possibly be doing at 6k and not pushing the car?
        What LM said is right, he sounded a bit harsh but he's on something. FI on NA engine is gonna cost you an engine at the end. Whomever say their kit last as long as a stock motor or even half that is talking $#@!. Sooner or later you are gonna face that problem and also most of the customers beat the crap of their cars and I as the tuner know this better than anybody else. So I'm not gonna warranty anything unless i don't care about money. Plus if you mess up with the car and make the engine blown, how can I prove that you messed with it? Bottom line is, Warranty is not for those who want power, doesn't matter if it's factory warranty or tuner warranty.
      1. akh23456's Avatar
        akh23456 -
        i am just copying a post from Sal @ evolve
        Hi Guys,

        as a competitor to Active I hope my view will be taken seriously. It's not in my interest to help anyone out but in life you have to be fair and speak out.

        I feel very bad for the OP and his issues but really AA should not be blanket accused like this without proof of their hardware/software actually causing any issue.
        Why do I say this? Well my reasons are based on experience of the S65 engine as follows:

        We have seen 5 cars here ourselves blow out Cyl no 5 in the exact same way as this case.
        Most cars were stock and blew at medium load around mid rpm's under normal driving.

        On the 2 cars that were out of warranty we decided to check by bore scoping and found pistons to be heavily damaged, spark plugs damaged and pieces of valve moving around inside or make their way into the stock CAT's.

        We know our local dealers here know of even more but won't talk too much about it. So there are more than just the ones we have seen.

        Even on the cars out of warranty BMW UK replaced the engines without question! They did try to charge labour on these cars but even then the owners gave a small fight and they gave in. What does this tell you?

        To reiterate -- all cars had cyl no 5 blow out.

        This is in our opinion a problem with the cyl head in the cyl 5 area on some cars. Not cam timing based either as if it was then you would have other pistons damaged too.

        While I was in Dubai last month I saw another car blow Cyl no 5 and that's again running stock tune.

        I know for a FACT that other tuners know about some cars blowing Cyl 5 and it surprises me they don't post about it when something bad happens to a tuner.

        The question as to if Active gave good customer service or not if a different issue. They did pay something which in our book does go a long way.

        They have plenty of supercharged cars around the world and not one has failed like this.

        We should be very very careful about pointing fingers at a company.

        This failure of cyl 5, in my professional opinion, has nothing to do with the AA supercharger kit being fitted.

        I hope this information is useful to everyone and I hope everyone appreciates the fact that it is NOT in 'business interest' to defend the competition.


      1. Mpowered's Avatar
        Mpowered -
        With all due respect to all forum members who have voiced their opinions on this matter, I appreciate it. I feel that if I created a kit with extensive R&D, offered at such a cost, I myself would own up to a mishap like this. I am curious to know if there are ANY other e9x M3 owners that have had the AA kit installed and failed. It's not like I had the kit on the car for 2+ years and it started wearing out over time. It's the fact that it just gave up completely at 1,200 miles. The fact that the bearings on the rods were fine indicates to me no lubrication issue on bottom end causing possible rod knock.

        Our car dyno'd much lower than what their claims were as well. I have been wrapping my head around what caused this for 16 months now. I keep reverting back to the thought of the tune being off enough to let go in such short time. Let's say it wasn't the tune per say, the kit was 100% unaltered from what they installed at their shop. Was it driven aggressively? Yes. But that's what you have extensive R&D on such a kit so to test in all formats and scenarios. I know how to drive a car, I'm not new to driving high performance cars, both on street and track.

        Did I understand that there is risk by modifying my car? Yes. There is always a risk. The question lies in, is their product really going to run safely on these motors? If they were so quick to try and cover this one incident up and suggest something underhanded like this, it beckons the question of is mine the only one that has failed from AA? Have they covered up others before it has leaked on to the web?

        If I made a product that caused another component on the vehicle to fail due to it being directly related to my product, would I modify it to prevent these types of mishaps? Yes. Would I come out of pocket to fix things for customer? Yes. Maybe it is just me, but I was raised to do right by other people even if it calls for personal sacrifice.

        As stated before, I have an extensive background in the automotive field, especially in BMW. I am a shop owner and if me just saying I would have handled things differently if it were my kit isn't enough, I encourage you to please see the type of operation I run, where clearly we take care of our customers and they share their positive responses in abundance http://www.google.com/maps/place?q=i...21393750738448

        Do I expect everyone to do business as I do? No. Would it be nice? Yes.

        This post was made to share my experience, and show exactly how I was treated. Others will have had great customer service with AA, as I'm sure some will have not.

        I really am not 100% sure what is going on over there, but I have always dealt with their 2 stellar customer service guys in the past. They were able to at least make me feel that Active gave a damn about their customers. These 2 guys left Active, and I doubt it was because their bosses were treating them fairly. The people in charge over there have terrible customer service experience in my experience. I have brought them 10's of thousands of dollars in business over the past few years, yet they act as though that doesn't matter.

        If there are questions I didn't answer please let me know. Thank you all again and have a great day!