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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 04-11-2012, 12:47 PM   #1
billythefish
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battery output question

does anyone know what the output in amps should be for a 1998 328 I six cylinder automatic car? Or even where I might find such information on the net.

I am getting varying reports, some say 70 A and others say 80, there's a big difference. I was sold a 70 amp battery and it keeps going flat, there is no drain from the car and the battery is two months old. I suspect the battery is just not man enough for my car, any input or comments greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:12 PM   #2
ChicagoRY
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Originally Posted by billythefish View Post
does anyone know what the output in amps should be for a 1998 328 I six cylinder automatic car? Or even where I might find such information on the net.

I am getting varying reports, some say 70 A and others say 80, there's a big difference. I was sold a 70 amp battery and it keeps going flat, there is no drain from the car and the battery is two months old. I suspect the battery is just not man enough for my car, any input or comments greatly appreciated.

First off, it sounds like you have a bad battery. Sometimes batteries will have a dead cell, or a failing cell, right out of the box. Hopefully you can get your money back or get it replaced.

You have a 1998 e46, right? If so, I looked up the OEM specs:



AH = amp hours, what we would call "amps" in conversation
A = CCA, cold cranking amps - amount of power available at some designated cold temperature to crank the starter. I just helped my neighbor put in a battery for his landcruiser I think it was 800-900cca. Bigger, heavier vehicles, cop cars, stuff like that tend to need more CCA.

So it looks like 70a and 80a were both available. I don't know if it is by order you could choose, or by option package (ie enough power options dictated a bigger battery by default).

I don't know what brands of batteries you have access to, but here are the current Exide models that are an OEM replacement.



There will probably be a big price jump between the 1st and 2nd. The 1st is probably a traditional "wet" battery, sealed or otherwise, these are what most cars, if not all, get out of the factory. The 2nd kind they list is an AGM or "somethingerother glass mat" which is a deep cycle battery that holds a charge longer and is traditionally considered "heavy duty" and "deep cycle" in nature. If you live somewhere where it gets really cold, or you have a lot of stereo equipment get the AGM. I have no idea what the nascar battery is.

Pretty much stick with anything that has a name you've heard of, if you're at the auto parts store. Interstate, Exide, Optima, etc. . .don't get a generic or house brand, they really do use crappier cells.

Oh and choosing 70a or 80a won't hurt your car, you're not going to hurt your electrical system by getting the 80a battery. Amps are "available" but not necessarily "taken" unlike volts. If you switched out a flashlight from AAA batteries to AA (pretend it's possible) it's not going to suddenly become brighter, it would theoretically last a little bit longer. I'd probably go w/ the 80a, working under the assumption that they picked either/or depending on how the vehicle was optioned out and you probably have power seats and all that.

Power seats are actually a giant electrical draw, you're never supposed to operate the controls when your car is off because those motors are so torquey that they can quickly drain your battery.

ps - you're in the uk, right? Where does BMW put their batteries there? I forget. I know we get them in the trunk for weight balancing but japan gets them under the hood for antiquated legal requirements.

hth!

Last edited by ChicagoRY; 04-11-2012 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:23 PM   #3
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70 should be just fine for your car really. And even if you have a 60 or even 50 amp battery it would probably seem just fine at warmer temperatures.

Most euro spec E46 have batteries in trunk as well. Im not sure specifically on the UK.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:38 PM   #4
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70 should be just fine for your car really. And even if you have a 60 or even 50 amp battery it would probably seem just fine at warmer temperatures.

Most euro spec E46 have batteries in trunk as well. Im not sure specifically on the UK.
You're getting dangerously close to my Toro lawnmower that has 12v 32ah.

But he's right about the temperate climate, 70 should be fine if that's the case. I've never even seen a 50a battery at an auto parts store here, don't know if I personally could go that low. Well definitely not based on my climate, and also I drive my e46 only about twice a week, sometimes just a few miles in one trip, so the parasitic draw would eat up a smaller battery faster without an opportunity to recharge.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:39 PM   #5
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thanks for your replies gentleman, unfortunately the original battery is no longer with me. This is the second battery I have put on the car in under a year, the first one was also going flat. Suspecting a problem I had it replaced under warranty. The one that is on the car now was supplied to me at the end of this January. That's just over two months ago. We have just gone through an extremely cold winter here in the UK. But having said that nowhere near as cold as some parts of the world. I am in the process of trying to find out from BMW what battery supplied with the car. The car comes with the electric sunroof as an option, but I never use it. It does not have power seats or a big stereo setup. I drive it daily for some distance, so this should not be a problem. If I leave the car standing for a couple of days the battery goes flat. I am disinclined to believe that both battery supplied to me are faulty, this is what makes me think the battery is not up to the job. On the printout of the original specs you provide, it interestingly provides you with an option of 70 or 80 A, I suspect the 70 A is for the four-cylinder cars and 80 A for the six.what do you guys think?
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:12 PM   #6
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You need to tell everyone how often the car is driven, I suspect the car may sit for days/weeks at a time?

You may also need to check the battery tested to rule out the battery as a problem.

See the link for Hidden OBC menu below my signature, you should be able to check battery/charging Voltage on your dash if you have the OBC.

Search FSU as one possible problem.

If the car is sitting for more than a week or 2 at a time, suggest a Battery Tender or solar charger to keep the battery topped off.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:32 PM   #7
billythefish
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thanks matey,errrrrrrr you should read my posts more carefully,i drive it most days.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:43 PM   #8
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Yes I probably should but I have only so much time to help out.

Please claify "most" days?
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:48 PM   #9
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With what you describe my first instinct is you have a problem in your charging system. Use the OBC to measure pre starting voltage, idling voltage, and then running voltage.
Report back here and we'll be able to tell you so much more.



just as an aside, we have such cheap batteries here in the US and so many alternatives, that we just put in like 900 CCA and replace every four or five years. Are batteries that expensive in the UK?
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:55 PM   #10
billythefish
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no,but the batteries only two months old,and the second one in less than twelve months.I drive it 6 days out of 7 usually for at least 30 miles.Its 19.53 here and wet and gloomy outside so i will try the obc thing in the morning and report back.
Thanks again for your input Gents.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:56 PM   #11
ChicagoRY
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Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
Yes I probably should but I have only so much time to help out.
The nerve of you!


Quote:
Originally Posted by billythefish View Post
thanks for your replies gentleman, unfortunately the original battery is no longer with me. This is the second battery I have put on the car in under a year, the first one was also going flat. Suspecting a problem I had it replaced under warranty.
I +1 everyone's suggestions to check your pre-start voltage, etc. . .that's all great process of elimination logic and I totally forgot about the OBC's ability to check that.

Also, I still wouldn't rule out the battery. Is it the same brand and model as the one before it? If so, change brands. Sometimes one manufacturer will put out the same battery under multiple labels so unusual failure rates might prevail under more than one brand at the same time too. I've just seen some funky stuff on occasion come out of battery manufacturers over the years mostly with off-label/generic manufacturers, but even with the "good ones," in 2001, Exide (an OEM to BMW at the time) had to pay $27 mil USD fine for selling used batteries as new. I'm about 50/50 on it being vehicle related or battery related. If it's been two identical batteries, I'd be even more inclined to say it's battery related.

Also try switching from SLA (sealed lead acid) to AGM, and give your main battery cables a very good inspection (I guess poor battery cables might show themselves in the voltage test, just thinking of weird reasons your battery might not hold a charge).

Quote:
Originally Posted by billythefish View Post
On the printout of the original specs you provide, it interestingly provides you with an option of 70 or 80 A, I suspect the 70 A is for the four-cylinder cars and 80 A for the six.what do you guys think?
Don't believe so, I was model specific for your e46 328i. That parts system could be imperfect though, dunno.

gl!

Last edited by ChicagoRY; 04-11-2012 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:09 PM   #12
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once again thank you for your reply, it is exactly the same brand (Bosch) a type S3 battery. Interestingly since I last spoke to you, I have noticed that in the description of this battery on the seller's website, it says it is generally used for older cars and for cars with smaller engines. As I have a six cylinder 2.8, I am inclined to suspect that they themselves realise there may be a problem. Some people have suggested that BMW fitted different batteries depending on the spec of the car, I am wondering if this may be the reason for the offering the two types of batteries.

Regards
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:18 PM   #13
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Its not that complicated just go buy a battery with a huge number written on it and youll probably be fine. Theres no such thing as special BMW electricity. An Ampere is an Apmpere no matter where is comes from. Get one of those big nasty cold weather 1000 CCA truck batteries if your that worried about it.
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:34 PM   #14
billythefish
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Its not that complicated just go buy a battery with a huge number written on it and youll probably be fine. Theres no such thing as special BMW electricity. An Ampere is an Apmpere no matter where is comes from. Get one of those big nasty cold weather 1000 CCA truck batteries if your that worried about it.
I'm not worried about it, but as I paid 72 for the battery originally, I would like either my money back or a battery that will actually do the job. Yes I could have bought the battery you suggest, but I live in the south of England, not the South Pole.I went on their website in good faith, bought a battery that they claim is suitable for my car, to discover it may not be suitable. There is a law in England called the sale of goods act, whereby if you buy something it must be suitable for the purpose for which it sold. This is why I'm curious as to what the correct battery is for my car. So, if they sold me a battery that is not suitable, they must return my money.then armed with my 72 I have the option of purchasing a battery that'll do the ****ing job. Quite frankly I have better things to do with my time, but I don't like letting a bunch of arseholes rip me off. Therefore I am spending my free time doing a little research, and if proved right in my suspicions I will be getting my money back. This will give me a warm tingling feeling all over and a feeling of euphoria and well-being.

If somebody sells you a product that you suspect is not up to the job, it consequently expires or constantly breaks down, and you do nothing about it except go and buy something else, then Sir you are a complete fool.

I greatly appreciate all positive comments, and enjoy the others. Thank you all once again for your time.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:24 PM   #15
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Ok I have some mixed questions/statements here. . .

#1. Bosch batteries have a pretty good reputation here in the US. I'm not familiar with the S3 model, and I don't know if someone in the EU manufacturers them that's better or worse than the Bosch batteries we have here. The big battery I put in my neighbor's land cruiser I mentioned before was a Bosch, it cost almost the same as your battery (much bigger though).

#2. I was unclear by your "smaller and older cars" statement if you were agreeing with the description and thinking your BMW belongs in that group, or saying it doesn't belong in that group. IMHO 2.8 liters of displacement and 3400lb of mass is probably "average" for the US, but I'd call it "large-ish" for EU/Asia. . .and I arbitrarily have thought of 1996 and beyond as what I consider "modern" cars but to each his own on that. Someone else might think a 5 year old car is "old."

#3. That's a very interesting consumer protection law you have there. I always thought of England as being more pro-business than pro-consumer, with your bankruptcy & debt laws vs. ours, but that sounds like a very progressively phrased mandate. If, after troubleshooting, it appears your car itself isn't the problem, then yes it's definitely either a failed string of batteries or a failed recommendation. The price you paid for your battery would be approximately the cost of a premium battery of proper size to work in either my '01 E46 M52B25 or my '11 Honda Crosstour. Or, at a nice repair shop that knew what they were doing that would be the price of a discount battery.

I only wish similar truth in advertising laws could be adopted by various online dating websites "I've heard about." Trust me, a lot of mis-represented merchandise out there! (most abused word in online dating: "curvy")

Last edited by ChicagoRY; 04-11-2012 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:29 PM   #16
billythefish
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Update,peeps over here say the six cylinder cars need the 80amp batterys. Any one in USA got any comments on this?
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #17
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What can we say?
All the brands are probably different from the US to the UK.
We have little in common on this issue.
A larger battery is always a good idea. And generally not any more expensive here in the US.
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:02 PM   #18
ChicagoRY
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What can we say?
All the brands are probably different from the US to the UK.
We have little in common on this issue.
A larger battery is always a good idea. And generally not any more expensive here in the US.
+1. . .our driving patterns are different, our attitude of "bigger & better" towards almost anything applicable, and evidently our cheaper access to a broader variety of batteries is different.

It would be very unusual for me to walk into a parts store here and say "what's the smallest battery that will work," I would get funny looks. Here we say "what's the most CCA you have that I can stuff into my vehicle?"

All I've ever, ever looked for when shopping for a battery is matching physical size and terminal location, and is it as many or more CCA than what it's replacing.

Long story short, this is why all foreigners think every American wears a giant cowboy hat and drives a pickup truck.

Last edited by ChicagoRY; 04-14-2012 at 02:03 PM.
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