Let’s start over: BMW allowing dealers to reprogram 3 Series auto start/stop

2012 BMW 335i front

As part of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics measure aimed at reducing CO2 emissions and enhancing fuel economy, BMW introduced an automatic start/stop feature in its new 3 Series. In theory, the auto start/stop feature is supposed to make your driving experience more efficient. By all accounts though, it has proven more of a nuisance as evidenced by our recent 2012 BMW 335i review.

In addition to having trouble with the feature ourselves, we had to reengage the ignition on numerous occasions with the key (rather than automatically starting up again as intended). Of course our workaround was simply to disengage the function altogether, however that option is marred by the fact that the auto start/stop function reengages to “on” by default. This means you must manually deactivate it every time you start the car. Annoying? Yes.

Now, according to reports from Bimmerfile, BMW is dealing with that issue by allowing dealerships to activate the system’s Last User Mode, which eliminates the need to consistently deactivate auto start/stop every time the engine is engaged. Apparently, enough drivers of the new 3 Series expressed frustration with the system, prompting BMW to allow dealerships to reprogram the vehicle and allow the car to start in the same mode it was shut down in. Interestingly, owners of BMW M models come with Last User Mode enabled automatically.

Despite a few hitches, we wholeheartedly approve of automatic start/stop technology, especially when considering that fuel economy can increase by up to 12 percent when equipped. As it turns out, we’ll start to see more and more vehicles equipped with automatic start/stop technology. Right now, the technology is limited to automakers such as BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes in the U.S. (Ford has plans to offer it in its upcoming 2013 Fusion as well), but recent study by Lux Research found that by 2017 around eight million vehicles in North American will feature some form of automatic start/stop.