How to open BMW i3 with a dead battery ?

Perhaps the subject line can be more accurate however I just wanted to create this post to share with everyone the issues that I have had so far and what needed to be done to solve them.

1. Main battery was drained to 0% and then the aux battery was drained dead as well.

Problem: you cannot charge the car if the batteries die completely.

Solution: pop the hood open, unscrew the cargo bucket, and jump start the small battery to give you enough energy so car can start up and charging module will begin charging.

Problem: you can’t pop the hood open with a button

Solution: right under the hood open button is a small latch into a compartment that houses a thing you can pull on to release open the hood.

Problem: you cant open the charging door if the battery is dead.

Solution: next to the right passenger door latch there is a small foam thingy you can pop off. Behind it you will see 2 blue circles. One releases the door and the other i havent tried but looks like it releases the charging cable.

P.S. i used one of those portable powerbank type jump starters, not another car.

P.S.S i also have one of those cigarette light auxillary charging port c.harger that you can plug in to both cars. It may work on regular cars but I tried it in this case and it did not.

2. If none of the above works for you and you still need the car towed:

Problem: cant switch to neitral to roll car out.

Solution: make sure you call a tow truck that can lift the rear tires off. Flat bed or not they need to have a sled.

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

There is an emergency circuit that will recharge the 12vdc battery from the EVSE connection. that can take awhile to build up enough charge in it to then start the normal charging routine, but if the 12vdc battery can accept a charge, it should work. It is not immediate, and it won’t look like much of anything is happening until that 12vdc battery builds up, but if you have enough time, it can restore things to full operation. Keep in mind, though, that no battery works great long-term if you fully discharge it.

Using a 12vdc battery charger could damage things, and they warn you not to do that in the user’s manual. Obviously, if you disconnect the 12vdc battery, the car won’t care, but I’d be leery about contradicting the operator’s manual’s instructions and charging it while the battery is still connected..

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

Kucloma wrote: ↑ Sat Dec 24, 2016 6:19 pm Solution: pop the hood open, unscrew the cargo bucket, and jump start the small battery to give you enough energy so car can start up and charging module will begin charging.

Problem: you can’t pop the hood open with a button

You missed a step:

Problem: The hood (frunk) button is inside your locked car and you can’t use the remote to unlock the car with the battery dead.

Solution: Pull on the keychain hole of your remote. Press the button on the back of the remote to unlatch the key. The key will then slide out of your remote. Under the door handle is an opening. Insert the key there to pop off the cover over the mechanical lock. Then use the key to unlock the mechanical lock.

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

In my case the i3 didn’t warn me that the battery had a problem until it was dead. I got the «battery discharging» warning and that afternoon while out it as died (also gave me some parking break error code). I called BMW roadside assistance to get a tow. While on the phone with them I tried it again and boom she started. Lucky I was able to get it home, because when it dies you can’t move the car. You cannot get it into Neutral, so, need to find a flatbed with a trolley to get the back wheels off the ground. Glad I didn’ have to do that.

So the 12v battery has died; its been 5 years, so I’m not upset about that.

First I called around looking for a the OEM battery. Couldn’t find it locally, but could order it on-line for roughly $150 including shipping. But, days to deliver it. My BMW dealer wanted $200 and said he could have it in 3 days. I was good with that, but didn’t want the car sitting waiting for a battery to arrive, so I contacted another dealer near me and they had one in stock. As asked what they wanted to install it. They said $400 (2.5 hrs). I said that can’t be right, they said it was. I drove down, bought the battery and didn’t consider having them install it. The other dealer wanted $360 for battery and installation. So, I planned on going there with the battery in hand.

The next morning the car was dead. Thank goodness I was able to open the frunk, which gave me the opportunity to replace the battery myself and get the car running again. I’m no mechanic, but the whole process was about 40 minutes. Everything went as planned. Car is up and running. Only problem now is the «battery discharging» message is still there. Turns out the new battery has to be registerd with the car. I have no idea why this is necessary. So, now I have to make a trip to the dealer so they can tell the car a new battery is in there. Don’t know what they will charge, but my expectation is that it will be way more that I think it is worth.

So, when you have this problem. 1) address it quickly becuase you will be surprised how quickly the car will become useless, 2) if you have a 12v battery that is over 3 years old have it tested, if its anywhere around 8v buy a new one and replace it, 3) don’t pay BMW to do it — it doesn’t require unique tools and is straight forward.

Here is the link to the replacement video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKRj8gLcsfI

Hope this helps.

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

Many of the service centers dealing with BMW can register the battery. PepBoys around here will do it for about $30. Basically, unless you’re changing the size or type, all that needs to be done is to tell the car a new one was just installed. takes all of about 3-minutes, and a lot of that is hooking up the tool and finding the right menu to then send to the car which takes maybe a few seconds. The paperwork takes longer.

Unless there’s still a real error, that message will eventually time out. It can probably be reset with an OBD-II reader if you wanted it gone earlier.

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

I love the way you posted this info! Awesome format gets to the point. Thorough and concise.

Wanted to add some info too that some may find useful. I just got off the phone with BMW of Concord, CA and they quoted me some outrageous prices:

12v 20ah battery: $235 + tax and requires a trade-in of the original battery. W/o trade-in is an extra $18.
Registering the battery: $215, yes really. I was horrified and had to ask again and yeah that’s the price. Crazy.
Replacing the battery: Meaning including labor and parts and registering the new battery, $500 ish last time I checked a year ago.

Re: Dead Battery and other problems

sipabit wrote: ↑ Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:29 pm I love the way you posted this info! Awesome format gets to the point. Thorough and concise.

Wanted to add some info too that some may find useful. I just got off the phone with BMW of Concord, CA and they quoted me some outrageous prices:

12v 20ah battery: $235 + tax and requires a trade-in of the original battery. W/o trade-in is an extra $18.
Registering the battery: $215, yes really. I was horrified and had to ask again and yeah that’s the price. Crazy.
Replacing the battery: Meaning including labor and parts and registering the new battery, $500 ish last time I checked a year ago.

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