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      02-08-2009, 05:28 PM   #1
djb
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Post 2009 M3 DCT clutch lag / hesitation

Letter to BMW Canada President, and cc. to BMWNA (USA), Transport Ministers for Province and for Canada, and NHTSA (USA):

I am writing with reference to my 2009 BMW M3 Sedan with DCT (dual clutch) transmission. I have driven the car approximately 1300 km; still within the break-in period of 2000 km. Since 1999, I have owned three 5-series and one 3-series BMWs before this.

Although I am pleased with the M3 overall, I am extremely troubled by one particular problem I have noticed from the outset: there is a significant lag or hesitation of at least 1 second between applying pressure to the accelerator and the clutch engaging and giving acceleration to the wheels. This does not happen from a stand-still, but occurs primarily when the car is in motion at virtually all ranges of speed, from rolling stop (5km/hr or less) through standard road speeds of any degree (residential 30-40km/hr, city roads 50-70km/hr, or highway 90km/hr+). The problem is acute in “D” mode, but occurs in “S” mode as well.

I should point out that this clutch hesitation symptom is distinct from the 2008/9 BMW M3 powertrain issue of unexpected engine stalling outlined in both Transport Canada's 2008-11-05 recall #2008399 and the U.S. National Highway and Safety Authority’s BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC recall Oct 30, 2008 NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID #: 08V595000. I have also experienced unexpected stalls during low-speed driving (but not rapid deceleration, as described in the recall), even with engine already warmed up and in relatively mild weather. I do not know whether this and the clutch hesitation problems are related, but the latter occurs 100% of the time while driving. I have also not received any Canadian recall notice for issue #2008399. I took delivery of my vehicle in late December 2008.

I am not the only individual who has noted this hesitation problem. Whether it is BMWNA company policy to pay attention to public Internet forums or not, there are several discussions and concerns from BMW M3 DCT owners devoted to this precise problem with the DCT transmission on 2009 BMW M3 Discussion forums on the Internet . (A simple Google search will confirm this).

In addition to the considerable frustration engendered by this issue in an otherwise state-of-the-art performance vehicle, I am deeply concerned for my own safety and that of my passengers, created by this technical problem. For example, I was carefully in the middle of a slow left turn at an intersection on Saturday, Feb 7, 2009. To avoid an oncoming car prematurely heading in my direction, I pressed on the accelerator to hasten the completion of my turn, but my car did not respond in time because of the clutch lag. I narrowly avoided being hit by the oncoming car.

If the driver is expected to yield control to DCT software designed to predict and respond safely to most driving scenarios and conditions, the driver should have total confidence in it. Understandably at this point, I do not. (The manual 6-speed transmission would not have such a limitation since the driver physically engages the clutch at will). Regardless of software controls, I expect the DCT transmission to respond to basic and immediate emergency power demands by the driver at any time. Of course, I cannot know whether this clutch hesitation problem is software based or not, but I assume BMWs professional racing teams employing this DCT technology in their cars (and which BMW has now seen fit to provide in their consumer automobiles) do not have to put up with this technical clutch hesitation behavior. (This would not be a winning formula, I expect.)

Whatever the source of the clutch hesitation problem, and notwithstanding the damage to the “ultimate driving experience” that is the cornerstone of BMW’s brand and reputation, this DCT transmission defect could reasonably result in serious injury or death to the driver or passengers. This is especially true when split-second sudden and unanticipated acceleration out of a difficult driving situation is required, as described in the common scenario I experienced above, and which experience prompted this letter.

I had similar regrettable experiences with the previous 545 SMG transmission, but had come to believe through the information provided by BMWNA's promotional literature and pre-sales advisories, that all such issues had been eliminated in the new generation DCT transmission placed into the new M3 series automobiles.

This lag and hesitation issue is beginning to raise in me a concern for driving the car at all, in large part because it represents a dangerous technical defect in safety performance, not to mention an unacceptable performance flaw in your Can$85,000 signature automobile.

I trust you will personally ensure that a solution to this DCT problem is reached in short order, and I look forward to cooperating with you in finding the timely solution this technical issue in my DCT M3. Clearly, persistence of this M3 DCT transmission hesitation is not an option, and is unacceptable to me, to all M3 DCT drivers, to yourself, and to BMW.

I have copied this letter to:
1. the head of the service department at my dealership.
2. the owner of my dealership.
3. the President of BMWNA (USA)
4. the Ministers of Transportation for Canada and for Province,
5. the Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the USA,
5. and the President of the Canadian Automobile Protection Agency.

I have also filed a separate safety notification of this problem to Transport Canada online, and the NHTSA online.

I look forward to your timely and definitive response, guaranteeing a solution to this serious safety and performance problem.


Yours truly,
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      02-08-2009, 05:44 PM   #2
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That's a fine letter, but 4 of the first 5 theads on the 1st page are already about the M-DCT issue. Why do we need another?
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      02-08-2009, 05:51 PM   #3
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Thanks, but frankly, I hadn't counted. I thought the issue itself was more important than paying attention to the number of threads on a message board.

The administrator is free to collapse this thread into one of the others if he/she wishes.

Cheers and thanks again for taking the time to read.

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That's a fine letter, but 4 of the first 5 theads on the 1st page are already about the M-DCT issue. Why do we need another?
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      02-08-2009, 05:51 PM   #4
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Good letter.
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      02-08-2009, 05:52 PM   #5
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Thanks!
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      02-08-2009, 05:59 PM   #6
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l have same car same location(toronto) and same problem.
good letter support you
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      02-08-2009, 06:51 PM   #7
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You are having a lot more problems with the lag than I ever did. Mine did happen in all modes but only coming from 3rd to 2nd gear by chose on the gearbox and not prompted by me, this only happens at just below 1000rpm so you are looking at approx 10-15mph.

If this is the same as others are experiencing and thus different to my own then I reckon the differing setups between the US spec (default S3) and the European (default D2) also holds a key.
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      02-08-2009, 07:00 PM   #8
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I shall see if my 09 M3 has this problem when I get my car in 2 weeks.
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      02-08-2009, 07:00 PM   #9
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Footie, I wish the different spec was the key My Oz spec (D2 default) has very much the issues haunting it as described.
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      02-08-2009, 07:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djb View Post
Although I am pleased with the M3 overall, I am extremely troubled by one particular problem I have noticed from the outset: there is a significant lag or hesitation of at least 1 second between applying pressure to the accelerator and the clutch engaging and giving acceleration to the wheels. This does not happen from a stand-still, but occurs primarily when the car is in motion at virtually all ranges of speed, from rolling stop (5km/hr or less) through standard road speeds of any degree (residential 30-40km/hr, city roads 50-70km/hr, or highway 90km/hr+). The problem is acute in “D” mode, but occurs in “S” mode as well.
That sounds somewhat different from what I experience and from what most people have reported on this forum. I suppose it may just be different driving styles and Drivelogic modes at play here, but I have never heard of the lag at the higher speeds you mention. It seems to be primarily a low speed issue that occurs when the engine is spinning at low RPM and in second gear.

Nevertheless, it is a well written letter and I appreciate your efforts to get the attention of those, both inside and outside BMW, who can do something about the problem.
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      02-08-2009, 07:13 PM   #11
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If we have already gotten 2 DCT software updates, why wouldn't they continue? I am sure BMW is aware of it, but I don't expect the problem to be fixed overnight.
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      02-08-2009, 07:53 PM   #12
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Very well composed letter. Having an E92 M3 on order, I've got concerns. Of course the CAs shrug them off saying there's no problem. After 2 software updates, the issue apparently remains. BMW needs to move this to the front burner... can't afford to hurt sales anymore than they are.
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      02-08-2009, 09:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkoesel View Post
That sounds somewhat different from what I experience and from what most people have reported on this forum. I suppose it may just be different driving styles and Drivelogic modes at play here, but I have never heard of the lag at the higher speeds you mention. It seems to be primarily a low speed issue that occurs when the engine is spinning at low RPM and in second gear.
+1
Ditto for my car's DCT safety issue
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      02-08-2009, 11:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by URBAN LEGEND View Post
I shall see if my 09 M3 has this problem when I get my car in 2 weeks.
Urban Legend keep us posted....Also getting my 09 shortly.....can compare notes.

BTW, good letter - we all talk about it but glad to see the letters to BMW on this safety issue...
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      02-09-2009, 12:13 AM   #15
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I don't have a DCT and I support this letter/campaign all the way. It's obviously a serious concern. Good luck to you all.
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      02-09-2009, 12:57 AM   #16
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I don't have a DCT and I support this letter/campaign all the way. It's obviously a serious concern. Good luck to you all.
+1. me too.
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      02-09-2009, 01:34 AM   #17
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Man, and BMW expect me to buy a car like this???
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      02-09-2009, 06:44 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdh2009 View Post
Footie, I wish the different spec was the key My Oz spec (D2 default) has very much the issues haunting it as described.
Oh well, it was just a thought. Another thing, what it the spec different between the fuel you are using and US petrol?
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      02-18-2009, 09:26 PM   #19
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Followup to Letter

Car with BMW Dealer now. They are working on it. (They came and picked up car at work and left me a loaner). No software alerts found so far. Awaiting input from regional technician.

BTW..... others are correct...this is PRIMARLY a LOW SPEED (rolling stop type speeds) issue. IT IS MOST TERRIBLY pronounced at the low speeds (have never noted rpm per se but is likely low).... and probably at the 2nd-3rd gear shifts, tho again, have not noted the gear numbers...too busy being frustrated by this HUGE blemish.

My stating this at higher speeds is more subtle and am willing to concede the point at the higher speeds...BUT AT LOW SPEEDS---I WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS....EVER.

IT MUST BE RECTIFIED.
BMW U.S. took my info and forwarded to BMW Canada, who acknowledged receiving the info from U.S. Customer Care... so it's "in" the system, at least....for what that's worth.

Thanks for everyone's input. Will keep you posted.
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      02-18-2009, 09:38 PM   #20
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Sadly, I have exactly the same problem at low speed in an Aussie spec car. My car has only ever been fuelled with 98 RON.
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      02-18-2009, 09:56 PM   #21
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I too will pick up my 09 with DCT in a couple weeks, will let you know. If I exp the same BMWNA will be buying this one back. Not worth taking a chance when you need to go, you need to go, your life can change in a split second, no doubt about it.
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      02-18-2009, 10:04 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Oh well, it was just a thought. Another thing, what it the spec different between the fuel you are using and US petrol?
Has always been Shell 98 RON.

Spoke with my BMW SA last week and advised him to read M3POST.COM to update him on the widespread issue of the problem - his advise was to write to BMWA so the letter in the OP comes in useful.
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