• 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. akh23456's Avatar
        akh23456 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Mpowered Click here to enlarge
        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!
        I know of the guys you speak of and they were both great and the only people i dealt with. I have one of their kits and have put alot of abuse on it and everything is fine with my car so far. I believe your the only motor that is blown with the active kit.
      1. akh23456's Avatar
        akh23456 -
        i have 15000+ miles of boost on the car and total 60,000 miles on the car. only problem was idle valve when i first bought the car.
      1. ar design's Avatar
        ar design -
        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 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?
        x2. This entire thread is ridiculous. There is ZERO EVIDENCE in this thread that the issue was related to the supercharger or tune. Great for stirring up some drama, and thats about it. Click here to enlarge

        Show us a bunch of melted pistons, a lean dyno graph from AA, something. Stock motors fail sometimes when they are 100% stock. Frankly, that looks a lot like a money shifted motor.

        Lastly - who pays $25k for a motor if they own a shop!?!? You can get an S65 for $10k pretty easily.

        And this is coming from someone that competes directly with AA and would love nothing more than to steal their entire market share, LOL Click here to enlarge
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Mpowered Click here to enlarge
        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.
        maybe that is signs of a failing motor BEFORE S/C...?

        I apologize for being harsh, thats a $#@!load of money, i hear ya, I dont want to be in that situation.

        I cant think of any AA car thats had issues, but i cant speak of their CS, but ive only heard/seen firsthand good things from akh.

        Now, if you has signed an NDA, like a certain three letter bmw tuner so you cant talk about any issues, and still came forward, that would be a different story Click here to enlarge
      1. Andrew@lutzperformance's Avatar
        Andrew@lutzperformance -
        Guys, I really think you should let AA speak on their own behalf on the situation and rest assured, they WILL be responding this time, I know Karl and the AA family personally as well as being a dealer for them for over 4 years, I feel that the OP's story has signficant holes, and I think AA has earned the right to be able to respond to the OP's acusations made in this thread. I'm the owner of this shop, and we have done multiple AA E9x M3's and quite a few E46's, E36's and a hard drive full of flash tunes and custom files done by Karl himself, and YET to have any significant issues with anything, and AA has always stepped up and taken care of us and our customers if any issues arrised.

        Please sticky, be respectful and allow AA to respond, which I know personally they will, and I think you'll find there is more to the story here, and I'm not biased, I do agree with the OP if AA's product is directly responsible then that is a different story all together.
      1. ar design's Avatar
        ar design -
        I agree. Bashing AA with one side of the story is pretty weaksauce.
      1. Laloosh's Avatar
        Laloosh -
        So you were at one point a shop owner and have an understanding of tuning ect. Did you ever log your car? Any logs showing at least the basics? If no then you simply have no case here what so ever. If you left AA and the car was surging/bucking backfiring ect, then you might have a case. However you drove 1200 miles reporting no issues and the motor simply let go, thats on you unless YOU can show data providing otherwise.

        Like other here have stated, motors blow randomly, yours might have been on the way out, and the added boost was the straw that broke the camels back. I personally wouldnt even post the fact that you hid all this and tried to get it covered by BMW, as they too read forums and if someone is spiteful enough you can open up another can of worms.

        Next time you try to FI a NA car, do a little more reasearch of what you are doing. What are the other companies running boost wise? what do their tunes look like, which included meth and failsafes ect ect. That is all on you to pick a product you feel will give you waht you want safley. However if you want my recomendation lol, dont ever FI a NA motor unless its minimal boost without building the bottom end, otherwise its just a ticking bomb that you can make last longer by being extremely anal with tune.
      1. DBFIU's Avatar
        DBFIU -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Laloosh Click here to enlarge
        So you were at one point a shop owner and have an understanding of tuning ect. Did you ever log your car? Any logs showing at least the basics? If no then you simply have no case here what so ever. If you left AA and the car was surging/bucking backfiring ect, then you might have a case. However you drove 1200 miles reporting no issues and the motor simply let go, thats on you unless YOU can show data providing otherwise.

        Like other here have stated, motors blow randomly, yours might have been on the way out, and the added boost was the straw that broke the camels back. I personally wouldnt even post the fact that you hid all this and tried to get it covered by BMW, as they too read forums and if someone is spiteful enough you can open up another can of worms.

        Next time you try to FI a NA car, do a little more reasearch of what you are doing. What are the other companies running boost wise? what do their tunes look like, which included meth and failsafes ect ect. That is all on you to pick a product you feel will give you waht you want safley. However if you want my recomendation lol, dont ever FI a NA motor unless its minimal boost without building the bottom end, otherwise its just a ticking bomb that you can make last longer by being extremely anal with tune.
        I rarely agree with you, but when I do, it's for post #46.

        Attachment 13816
      1. ar design's Avatar
        ar design -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Laloosh Click here to enlarge
        So you were at one point a shop owner and have an understanding of tuning ect. Did you ever log your car? Any logs showing at least the basics? If no then you simply have no case here what so ever. If you left AA and the car was surging/bucking backfiring ect, then you might have a case. However you drove 1200 miles reporting no issues and the motor simply let go, thats on you unless YOU can show data providing otherwise.

        Like other here have stated, motors blow randomly, yours might have been on the way out, and the added boost was the straw that broke the camels back. I personally wouldnt even post the fact that you hid all this and tried to get it covered by BMW, as they too read forums and if someone is spiteful enough you can open up another can of worms.

        Next time you try to FI a NA car, do a little more reasearch of what you are doing. What are the other companies running boost wise? what do their tunes look like, which included meth and failsafes ect ect. That is all on you to pick a product you feel will give you waht you want safley. However if you want my recomendation lol, dont ever FI a NA motor unless its minimal boost without building the bottom end, otherwise its just a ticking bomb that you can make last longer by being extremely anal with tune.
        Quoted for truthiness.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Mpowered Click here to enlarge
        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!
        This issue began in 2010. I'm just wondering, why did you stay quiet for so long?

        Why is it that now you are posting this basically everywhere? Is it at anyone's insistence or is it your own doing?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Andrew@lutzperformance Click here to enlarge
        Guys, I really think you should let AA speak on their own behalf on the situation and rest assured, they WILL be responding this time, I know Karl and the AA family personally as well as being a dealer for them for over 4 years, I feel that the OP's story has signficant holes, and I think AA has earned the right to be able to respond to the OP's acusations made in this thread.
        I look forward to AA's response but why in the world didn't we get this response over a year ago?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Andrew@lutzperformance Click here to enlarge
        Please sticky, be respectful and allow AA to respond, which I know personally they will, and I think you'll find there is more to the story here, and I'm not biased, I do agree with the OP if AA's product is directly responsible then that is a different story all together.
        AA absolutely will be allowed to respond, no reason they wouldn't.
      1. 0-60Motorsports's Avatar
        0-60Motorsports -
        Def a bit more to the story I feel. Lets hear AAs side of it.
      1. RTA's Avatar
        RTA -
        Again a bash the vendor story.... I'm always wondering a bit about the purpose. And with the highest respect, why should a company go public on Bimmerboost? Is this a court? I mean let them do their business, people do not have to buy stuff from them. And that is something completly different that a shame and blame approach bimmerboost intends to take, is bimmerboost a party in this issue? Don't think so.. so why should they come to you? Because you force them by a one side story? Does not look that well! Focus on technical content and sharing knowledge and experience... this looks very negative for this nice site...
      1. Andrew@lutzperformance's Avatar
        Andrew@lutzperformance -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        AA absolutely will be allowed to respond, no reason they wouldn't.
        I wasn't insinuating you weren't going to, I just felt this thread was not fair as AA needs their opportunity to say their end of the story and I felt the first page or so was not fair to them, that's all
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Andrew@lutzperformance Click here to enlarge
        I wasn't insinuating you weren't going to, I just felt this thread was not fair as AA needs their opportunity to say their end of the story and I felt the first page or so was not fair to them, that's all
        I hope I did come off the wrong way there, guest vendors are allowed to post for this very reason. We'll see what AA has to say.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Got this in my inbox:

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by viral@activeautwerke.com Click here to enlarge
        To address the allegations laid against us by Jordan Russ of Import Motor Werks, formerly M Powerered Automotive, please see as follows:

        Jordan purchased a Level 2 SC kit for his E92 M3 from Active Autowerke, it was installed at our facility in August, 2010, mileage 24,345. In October, 2010; approximately 6-7 weeks after, we were informed that his engine blew . We immediately requested pictures of spark plugs, etc., and also to look at the ECU as this will also provide information on what went wrong; all were provided along with the request from Jordan to return the ECU to stock.

        Real evidence lies within the stored ‘Shadow Memory’ of the ECU. Active Autowerke never suggested that Jordan take his car to BMW to claim any kind of warranty, as we know it would be a useless claim because the shadow memory would be checked and the data would show cause of engine failure. Here were our findings when we viewed his ECU:

        The Maximum engine speed recorded indicated 8705+ RPM when the factory rev limiter is set to 8300, and Active Autowerke clearly set the rev limiter to 8100RPM for the supercharged cars.

        He was not at 6000 RPM when the engine failed.

        The throttle position showed 36% opening and not 100% opening when the engine failed, this would indicate that the engine most likely was in a deceleration mode. Active suspects a driver mis-shift going from 4th to 5th gear and hitting 3rd by mistake. Why? Because the road speed at the time with the 36% throttle opening indicated a 207 KM/hr speed (128 MPH). If the supercharger created excessive load on the engine to break the connecting rod, the shadow memory would most likely indicate that the throttle would be closer to 100% opening where the maximum supercharged power is developed.

        He claimed that his car was pushed on the dyno to 190+ MPH, the gearing on this vehicle makes it impossible for this to happen; it allows for maybe 183-185 MPH at 8150 RPM, this is the rev limit that was set by Active to the SC. In addition, Active Autowerke’s Mustang dyno does not allow for road speeds above 160 MPH.

        He said he drove the vehicle for only 1,200 miles, the recorded mileage in his ECU was 26,183 (42231 KM); therefore 26,183 less 24,345 = 1,838 miles driven after the SC install. If the SC system was the problem, damage should have occurred within 200 miles and not after 1,800 miles.

        All his spark plugs showed that the engine had no problems with any kind of improper tuning that would lead to “meltdown” due to lean mixtures or improper ignition timing, also, the pistons were not overheated due to ‘meltdown’, ‘meltdown’ is indicative of poor tuning, too low a fuel octane number, lean fuel mixtures..

        The engine connecting rod that failed clearly showed that it was still free to move on the crank pin journal, it was also free to move on the small end where it is attached to the piston; this was confirmed by Jordan when he was asked, his pictures also supported this. This verifies that lubrication was sufficient and the failure was not due to the connecting rod “seizing” against the crankshaft rod journal.

        There was no evidence of valves floating or broken due to contact with the piston of the damaged cylinder.

        In summary, E9X M3’s equipped with Active Autowerke’s Level 2 SC have run on the race tracks for driving and racing events, of which there has been no engine failures. Dan Schaut ran his 2008 BMW M3 equipped with the Active Autowerke Level 2 SC system in the 2011 One Lap of America event placing 1st in his class. In this race, cars are subjected to maximum use of power under the most rigorous condition for 7 consecutive days and covering over ~~4,000 miles of road and track. The E9X Active Autowerke supercharger system in Level 2 configuration has with stood the test of maximum reliability and at the same time delivering maximum performance under rigorous conditions and has shown that our SC system is well engineered and manufactured.

        In conclusion, Senior Technician, ‘Scrappy’ and Technical Director, Karl, in looking at the recorded data in the “Shadow Memory” of the engine’s ECU along with all of the stated observations, have concluded that the damage done to the engine was due to “driver’s error.”

        After no determination was shown for fault due to the SC system, an agreement was made for reimbursement for the cost of the system. Evidence of this reflected in the fact that both Import Motor Werks and Active Autowerke have mutually enjoyed a year of business relations. Recently Jordan emailed and demanded us to pay $25,000 or he would go to the forums. Although sympathetic to his loss as no one ever wants to ever have to pay for a broken motor, Active Autowerke cannot accept liability for damages it did not incur.

        Active Autowerke is a reputable BMW tuner and is now in its 31st year of business. We have sold innumerable forced inductions kits since 1995 and have always stood by our products.





        Best Regards,



        Viral Vahia

        Active Autowerke Sales Consultant

        Phone: 305.233.9300 / 800.830.3596 ext 227 (

        Fax: 305.253.8921
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Active lowers the redline on supercharged cars?
      1. DBFIU's Avatar
        DBFIU -
        AA has always been a great company to deal with.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Active Autowerke Click here to enlarge
        He claimed that his car was pushed on the dyno to 190+ MPH, the gearing on this vehicle makes it impossible for this to happen; it allows for maybe 183-185 MPH at 8150 RPM, this is the rev limit that was set by Active to the SC. In addition, Active Autowerke’s Mustang dyno does not allow for road speeds above 160 MPH.
        Checking the math Active is wrong here. The manual gearing allows for 205 mph in 6th gear at 8400 rpm. Even 8100 rpm is going to be enough for 190.

        What you guys say about the Mustang is likely true though.