vreihen
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm
Location: Orange County, NY (FN21vm)

Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Wed May 15, 2019 9:06 am

Has anyone ever modified the US-spec charging port to remove/disable the charging plug lock feature? My week-old, new-to-me i3 is sitting at home firmly tethered to my house as I write this, and it seems to be a common problem. There are YouTube videos showing how to trip the release with a pointy tool, but that wasn't a realistic option in the rain that was falling this morning. I'm wondering if filing the tab off of the lock plunger would make it not lock to the plug any more, or does the charging software in the car somehow verify that the plug is really locked before enabling the power?????
2015 BMW i3 BEV, Giga World, Tech and Driving Assistant packages, 15K miles

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MKH
Gold Member
Posts: 316
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:48 am
Location: Dallas

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Wed May 15, 2019 11:04 am

Try locking and unlocking the doors a few times.

Some people have reported that reaming out the locking pin hole slightly, and/or lubricating the pin with WD40 helps.

Also check that it isn't the release on the charger handle itself, where the button on the handle is not pushing down enough to release the lock. Mine would not want to release when I was using the car's included occasional use 110 charging cable. When I switched to my new 220 charger - no more charge cable release issues, so assuming it was the charger and not the car.

Failing that, a dealer fix would be in order. I think the plug has to lock, in order for charging to initiate, in which case disabling the lock would also disable your ability to charge the car.
Mark H.
2015 i3 Rex, Capparis White, Tera World, Technology & Driving Assistant, Parking Assistant, Harman Kardon Audio System, 19 inch 427 wheels, EVoInnovate EVSE

vreihen
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm
Location: Orange County, NY (FN21vm)

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Wed May 15, 2019 3:21 pm

It looks like my car will be taking a trip to the dealer, with the OUC cable hanging off of the side. I'm waiting for an answer from BMW customer service about whether roadside assistance transfers non-CPO, so I know whether it will be making the trip on their flatbed or if I will be winching it onto my enclosed race car hauler to drag it there myself.

Jiggling/lifting the connector while locking/unlocking didn't release it. Pulling the emergency release cable resulted in a broken pull knob (no surprise given other owners' experiences). The ultimate kicker is that BMW apparently tightened up the gap in the pan surrounding the charger port in 2015, so the YouTube trick of pushing the lock plunger with a key or pointy thing is not an option without drilling. :(

I did find an invoice in the glove compartment showing that BMW warranty replaced the OUC cable for the non-BMW dealership that I bought the car from. I have no idea what prompted that action, or if the new cable is having issues with the old charger port.

In any case, there are enough reports online of that lock solenoid failing where I want to figure out how to permanently delete the feature.....
2015 BMW i3 BEV, Giga World, Tech and Driving Assistant packages, 15K miles

vreihen
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm
Location: Orange County, NY (FN21vm)

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Thu May 16, 2019 8:14 am

I tried picking blindly at the locking solenoid tab again this morning, but nothing would move. Time to punt it to the professionals.

Roadside Assistance will be picking it up from my driveway this afternoon. They confirmed that Roadside Assistance transfers to the second owner, so this is a free one. I had to call the local dealer service department and introduce myself, and give them a heads-up that they should be expecting a special delivery later this afternoon.

The RA operator had to ask a series of questions before dispatching someone. One of them was if the car would go into neutral. I laughed, and told her that she should probably ask a BMW design engineer that question because I don't even think that it will turn on with the charging door open.....
2015 BMW i3 BEV, Giga World, Tech and Driving Assistant packages, 15K miles

vreihen
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm
Location: Orange County, NY (FN21vm)

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Thu May 16, 2019 12:06 pm

I should enter this in a photo contest, with the tow truck being in view behind the error message that necessitated it:

Image

Notice the green "safe to unplug" ring light:

Image

I'm heading down to the dealership now in one of my other cars, to introduce myself and see what the plan is to fix it.....
2015 BMW i3 BEV, Giga World, Tech and Driving Assistant packages, 15K miles

Srivenkat
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:27 am

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Sat May 18, 2019 8:28 am

This is scary. Isn't there an emergency unlock lever or something. What would one to do if it happened at a public charging place while on the road?

vreihen
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm
Location: Orange County, NY (FN21vm)

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Sat May 18, 2019 9:13 am

There are emergency releases for both the door and the charger plug lock, as illustrated in this BMW Hong Kong video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lIO8D3vruc

I barely had the hand strength to pull the bottom blue knob out of the car, and it promptly snapped off of the cable. The Internet is full of other people describing how they snapped the blue cable when trying to use it, so I would suggest not counting on it even in an emergency.

If you are the lucky owner of one of the early cars, you can use this trick to release a stuck solenoid:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeZFn5Qd7vg

BMW appears to have installed a tighter shield on my late 2015 production car, to prevent someone from doing this any more (and possibly to combat snow/rain/ice incursion).

If my car wasn't under warranty, I would have taken a drill to the socket shield to make an access hole to push the solenoid. I will probably do it anyway once the plug is out and I can better see where to drill, and cover it with a piece of electrical tape to keep the weather out.....
2015 BMW i3 BEV, Giga World, Tech and Driving Assistant packages, 15K miles

vreihen
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm
Location: Orange County, NY (FN21vm)

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Sun May 19, 2019 8:00 am

Back to the topic of deleting the charging lock solenoid, my first thought was to just remove the part completely and 3D print a waterproof cap to cover the open mounting hole on the back of the socket to keep the rain out.

I'm still learning BMW's wiring diagram conventions/quirks, but from what I can determine so far it appears that the solenoid returns a magnetic hall sensor signal when the plunger moves:

Image

Image

I'm sure that a simple circuit to fake the hall signal could be whipped up with a little effort.

It might be easier to just 3D print a shim to raise the solenoid mount up a smidge, so that the plunger cannot block the plug disconnect tab from moving.

It might not even be necessary to fake the hall sensor signal. I remember seeing either a web article or video somewhere about how you could prevent the lock from actuating by either not plugging the charge connector in tight or holding the plug release button while locking the doors. That action prevented the plunger from locking the plug, and then you could finish pushing in the plug or release the button to start charging without the cable being locked. The article was for sharing the plug at a public charging station (not bypassing the lock permanently), but it implied that the solenoid movement is not monitored by the car. Of course, I can't find this page/video again now that I want to look at it again.....
2015 BMW i3 BEV, Giga World, Tech and Driving Assistant packages, 15K miles

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MKH
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Posts: 316
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:48 am
Location: Dallas

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Sun May 19, 2019 9:56 am

Seems this was a known issue with i3's built between August 31, 2014, October 25, 2014. To the point it was posted as a Defect Bulletin with the NHTSA May 2015.

You might show the dealer this:

https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2015/ ... 7-5912.pdf


This is the part the guy in the UK video was installing. Available for $105 from a parts house in Denmark that sells and ships world wide. I know a lot of BMW owners in the U.S. who buy from them, as they have items not available in the U.S., and their prices are good.

https://www.schmiedmann.com/en/product/ ... -6-805-425
Mark H.
2015 i3 Rex, Capparis White, Tera World, Technology & Driving Assistant, Parking Assistant, Harman Kardon Audio System, 19 inch 427 wheels, EVoInnovate EVSE

vreihen
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm
Location: Orange County, NY (FN21vm)

Re: Remove/disable charging plug lock?

Sun May 19, 2019 10:40 am

MKH wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 9:56 am
This is the part the guy in the UK video was installing. Available for $105 from a parts house in Denmark that sells and ships world wide. I know a lot of BMW owners in the U.S. who buy from them, as they have items not available in the U.S., and their prices are good.

https://www.schmiedmann.com/en/product/ ... -6-805-425
Interesting observation is that the cover appears to snap off by prying a few annoying snap tabs with a screwdriver, so the innards may be easy to modify, repair, or improve:

Image

Plenty of options to explore for removing this pesky feature.....
2015 BMW i3 BEV, Giga World, Tech and Driving Assistant packages, 15K miles

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