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APIM or BCM? Skeptical of Mechanic


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The past week has been very strange for my little Fiesta, and I'm trying to sort out what's really going on here. I'm highly skeptical of the dealership service center that I’ve been using, for reasons that I will explain. This is a certified Ford dealership, by the way, with numerous other dealerships for other manufacturers all over the state.

Basically, I went in last weekend to have the APIM replaced. I arrived with a properly functioning car. When I left later that same day, my car was not working properly. Touch-screen console dead, auxiliary ports dead, dashboard indicator lights for turn signals/headlights not working, turn signals not making any sound when I use them. The dealership tells me I need a new BCM.

The car: 2014 Fiesta SE sedan, purchased in 2015, automatic transmission. Under 40k miles. No prior mechanical or electrical issues.

The incidents: I’m going to explain the sequence of events, so bear with me for a minute.

First Incident: early March 2018

·         Touch-screen console has a malfunction. My screen is the model with four display panes, if that helps. The power button did not start the sound system, the pane for the sound system was non-responsive, and the other three panes were operational but sluggish, with no beep when I tapped them.

·         48 hours later, battery is flat and car will not start. Jumper cables applied, car starts and functions normally. Car was not driven during the 48 hours, and was last driven in daylight, so no lights were left on.

·         New battery is installed. At dealership service center, advisor Ivan tells me that the problem was low voltage in the battery. No further problems until…

Second Incident: end of April 2018

·         Touch-screen malfunction happens again in exactly the same way, but with the new battery this time. Same malfunction, two different batteries.

·         Returned to dealership, expressed concerns of an underlying problem not related to the battery itself. I was worried that the dealership had failed to catch a bigger problem.

·         Hard reset performed on new battery, console goes back to normal.

·         Manager decides to test the APIM. I took my concerns to the manager after being shrugged off by Ivan. Manager agrees that there could be a bigger problem and assigns new advisor.

·         APIM is tested. The manager tells me that the APIM passed, but he was failing it on principle and would have it replaced under warranty.

APIM Replacement, May 25th (yes, it took them a month to order a new APIM for me, and even then I had to call for a status update after weeks of waiting to hear from them)

·         Friday morning, I arrive with my car functioning normally. I’d had no further problems since that second malfunction. I still wanted the APIM replaced for peace of mind.

·         AFTER THE APIM REPLACEMENT: I’m told there’s a lack of communication between the APIM and the BCM. New advisor Lisa tells me that the BCM needs replacing, a cost of nearly $700.

·         Lisa tells me that she doesn’t know for certain if the BCM is the culprit. It might also be the ACM. Lisa says there’s no way of testing either part, she wouldn’t know for certain until they install a new BCM. If that doesn’t work, I’d have to pay for the ACM replacement as well.

·         Lisa tells me that if the console malfunction happens again, I might be able to manage it by resetting the battery. I assumed this meant that my car was currently functioning normally, and that the BCM problem was intermittent and manageable. I was told nothing that indicated otherwise.

·         I drive away that afternoon, only to find my touch-screen console dead, my turn signals silent with no dashboard indicators, no indicators for my headlights (it was raining and my lights are set to automatic, so I expected them to be on. I pulled over to verify that the headlights and turn signals were functional). Auxiliary/USB ports are nonfunctional.

·         I was not made aware of any of these issues before I left. I had no idea I was being sent home with my car in this state.

·         Battery reset performed, does not bring systems back online.

Follow-up visit, three days after APIM replacement

·         service advisor did not know about the new problems. Lisa tells me that when I left on Friday, she knew that the console was out, but the other issues are a surprise to her.

·         A certified Ford dealership sends customers home in cars with uncaught electronic issues? Issues that affect the dashboard indicators and are potential road hazards? Makes me wonder if no one tested any of this before they gave the car back to me.

I ask advisor Lisa two questions: “What went wrong during the APIM replacement that could have caused such a widespread catastrophic shutdown?” AND “If this BCM lack of communication was the problem to begin with, then why did it only become this big of an issue after the APIM was replaced?” From there, it got weird.

·         Lisa tells me, “The techs said those systems were not working when you brought the car in on Friday.” THIS IS FALSE.

·         Lisa tells me multiple times that there is nothing they can do until I agree to replace the BCM. She cannot answer my questions. I ask to speak to a technician.

·         Lisa leaves, a tech arrives, and THE TECH DOES NOT MENTION THE BCM AT ALL.

·         The tech says that the APIM might have gotten fried during the replacement—the new one could have gotten overloaded and shut down when they installed it.

·         The tech goes away to get more information.

·         When the tech comes back, SUDDENLY HE’S SAYING THAT THE BCM NEEDS REPLACING, TOO.

So, to me, this whole thing reeks. In Googling the problem earlier, I found that a few other people have had issues with their APIM draining their battery. I suspect that's what caused the first problem. Here’s what I want to know:

1)      What can I do to test or verify these issues on my own?  I’ll get a second opinion from another dealership, but I want to know what’s going on so I’m not at their mercy. I have no mechanical or electrical experience but I want to be informed on this matter.

2)      What might have gone wrong, theoretically, during the APIM replacement?

3)       Is it plausible that something happened to the BCM during the APIM swap?

4)      Is it really impossible to test the BCM without replacing it? Please note, when I asked that question to Lisa, she DID NOT say “The lack of communication is all the proof we need, that is the test.” She said “There’s no way to test it, we just have to replace it and see if that solves the problem.”  It seems weird to me that such a crucial part can’t be tested before replacing it.

Any help is appreciated.  This car had functioned just fine up until that first malfunction, and the malfunction only happened twice, and the battery only went flat once. Other than that, the car’s been running perfectly ever since I bought it. The APIM swap was just supposed to prevent further issues. Clearly something went wrong here and no one at the dealership will give me a clear answer. I can take any necessary pictures of components of the car.





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Have you check to see if the system is throwing any codes? Comms failures should register so you should be able to tell what isn’t communicating. 

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I would suggest doing what @ThaiFiesta has suggested and using Forscan as the diagnostic tool. You will need a windows laptop, modified ELM327cable and Forscan licence. Assuming you have a laptop then it’s will cost around £15 for the cable (from tunnelrat) and the Forscan software/extended licence is free. This will scan all the modules on the car and report back with any DTCs. 

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