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The N52 was a fixture in BMW’s lineup for nearly a decade. It’s a reliable engine suited to the highway and the race track. However, a recent recall has made light of a potential fire hazard within their PCV systems. If you own an N52-powered BMW, this is something you’ll want to fix. 

What is the BMW 22V-119 recall?

The NHTSA states, “An electrical short can cause the PCV valve to overheat, increasing the risk of a fire while driving, or soon after driving when parked.” That’s an oversimplification and also misleading. It has nothing to do with the PCV valve and everything to do with a part called the “angle connector.” An entire portion of this article explains the angle connector, why it exists, and what it does. However, the design flaw in this system is threefold:

  1. The heating element in the angle connector is powered on constantly regardless of ambient temperature.
  2. The angle connector is powered through a spliced high amperage circuit in which a short/failure of the regulating element will not cut power to the angle connector causing it to burn through the plastic housing, potentially resulting in an engine bay fire.
  3. Production irregularities of the angle connector can result in overheating.

Nine hundred seventeen thousand one hundred and six (917,106) cars are affected by BMW’s 22V-119 safety recall. The estimated percentage of cars directly impacted and at risk is ~1%. 22V-119 supersedes two previous safety recalls 17V-683 (December 2017) and 19V-273 (April 2019) respectively. Some of the cars affected have production dates as early as January 2005, making them 18 years old at the time of writing.

 

What is the angle connector? 

It’s two things, really. Firstly, it’s an angled connector (hence the name) under the intake manifold that connects the crankcase vent hose to the inlet on the intake manifold. Inside the angle connector is a heating element that ensures that this pathway cannot freeze or become obstructed. This is a particular issue on cars that don’t reach operating temperature due to short driving cycles.

BMW N52 PCV Heater Angle Connector

This is the infamous angle connector attached to the intake manifold. The connector seen (right) is for the heating element, which receives constant 12V power when the car is on, regardless of ambient temperature. 

Freezing issues were first experienced on the N52’s predecessors, the M52TU and M54, leading to a slew of problems, including oil leaks from the front and rear main seals after getting pushed out from excess pressure. BMW’s fix was an insulated version of this crankcase ventilation system where the hoses and valve had an external sheathing to insulate them. Generally, this design worked okay except in the most extreme cases/environments. BMW looked to alleviate the frozen condensation issue on the N52 by adding heating elements to the crankcase ventilation system.

BMW_N52_22V-119_PCV_Heater_Recall_Connector_Location

 

BMW N52 crankcase vent system differences

There are two different crankcase vent systems you will find on the N52 family of engines:

Generation 1 N52 engines, identified by their magnesium valve cover, have an external PCV system (crankcase vent valve and associated hoses) with individual heating elements controlled by a relay that the DME controls. These heating elements are turned on and off based on ambient temperature. The angle connector is controlled via ignition power only and is not on the relay-controlled circuit shared by the other components.

BMW_Recall_22V-119_N52_Gen1_PCV_Kit

N52 breather system kit comprised of heated PCV valve, heated suction hose, heated oil return hose.

Generation 2 N52N and SULEV N51 engines, identified by their plastic valve cover, have an integrated PCV valve in the valve cover with a singular, non-heated suction hose. Because of the integrated and simplified design, multiple external heating elements weren't necessary. The only remaining heating element is the angle connector on the intake manifold inlet.

BMW_N52_22V-119_PCV_Heater_Recall_Product

N51/N52N breather system kit comprised of the valve cover, suction hose, and angle connector.

 

What causes the angle connector fire?

The common theme on both N52 variations is that the angle connector is only controlled by ignition power. This heating element receives power as soon as you turn the car on (in accessory mode or ignition). Ambient temperature is not a factor in the control for this part, and that’s the problem: it’s always on. The heating element is regulated via an internal variable resistor. That resistor is the only thing that controls the amp draw and temperature output of the heating element. 

BMW PCV heater wiring diagram

The circled element is the variable transistor internal to the angle connector that controls the heat output, and therefore, the amp draw on the 30amp shared circuit is powered off of. Note the location of the 30amp fuse varies from model to model. 

As the heating element rises to temperature, the variable resistor regulates amp draw and, therefore, temperature output. This is all fine and good except for one oversight: 

The angle connector shares its power source on a 30 amp spliced circuit.

BMW Crankcase Ventilation heating system

On most BMWs, the angle connector power splice is shared with the oxygen sensor heating elements. In this example (from an E9X 3-series), fuse four powers all the oxygen sensor heaters and the angle connector.

Under no circumstances can the angle connector pull enough amperage to pop the fuse on this circuit. Because of this, a failure of the variable resistor in the angle connector can cause the heating element to get so hot it burns through the plastic housing. Once the angle connector catches fire, there isn’t much to stop it from spreading to other components in the engine bay.

What has BMW done to alleviate this problem? There are two critical fixes in the latest recall, and both of these, when combined, will prevent the angle connector from going into a meltdown mode.

BMW_N52_22V-119_PCV_Heater_Recall_Update_Parts

The first part of the fix is replacing the existing angle connector with a new upgraded part. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information as to what has been done to improve this part, and quite frankly, the design flaw here is not the angle connector itself. The design flaw is that this heating element is on a shared circuit with a large amp capacity.

The second part of the fix is retrofitting an inline fuse holder and a 7.5 amp fuse. This part of the 22V-119 recall is the most important fix. It ensures that if the heating element variable resistor were to fail, it would pop the 7.5 amp inline fuse isolating a failing angle connector from its power feed and other vehicle systems.

BMW N52 PCV Heater wiring with retrofit installed

 

Which BMW models are affected?

  • 2008-2013 BMW (E82, E88) 128i
  • 2006-2007 (E60) BMW 530i/530xi
  • 2006 BMW (E90, E91) 325i/325xi
  • 2007-2010 BMW (E83) X3 3.0si/X3 xDrive30i
  • 2007-2013 BMW (E90, E91, E92, E93) 328i/328xi/328i xDrive
  • 2007-2010 BMW (E70) X5 3.0si/X5 xDrive30i
  • 2006 BMW (E90) 330i/330xi
  • 2006-2008 BMW (E85) Z4 Roadster 3.0i/3.0si
  • 2006-2007 BMW (E60) 525i/525xi
  • 2006-2008 BMW (E86) Z4 Coupe 3.0si
  • 2008-2010 BMW (E60) 528i/528xi/528i xDrive
  • 2009-2011 BMW (E89) Z4 sDrive28i

 

Where can I find the recall information, and/or how do I go about addressing the recall?

The good news is that the chance of a fire occurring is small without the fix. However, a small chance is still a chance. FCP Euro recommends contacting your local dealer to schedule an appointment to get this recall applied as soon as possible. Due to the volume of cars affected, BMW has been staggering/limiting how many vehicles they can repair at any given time, so it may be a while before a dealer can squeeze you in. All BMW recall information can be found via BMW USA’s safety and emissions recall portal:

https://www.bmwusa.com/safety-and-emission-recalls.html

Full recall information and documentation can be found here via the NHTSA:

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/cs/documentList.xhtml?docId=22V119&docType=RCL


author image
Written by :
Gareth Foley

Gareth is the BMW Make Level Marketer for FCP Euro and has been with the company since 2012. Gareth's BMW obsession started with a hand me down E39 528i when he was 17. From this car he learned how to do his own repair work while also learning more about BMW. When Gareth was at CCSU studying Marketing he had the opportunity to go to SEMA with the college car club. This is where he developed his love of the automotive industry. Since joining FCP in 2012 Gareth has sought out to develop one of the broadest and most accurate BMW replacement parts catalog. he can be reached at gareth1@fcpeuro.com


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