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Old 10-19-2012, 11:29 AM   #1
mcurcio1989
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intermittent crank but no start. . .urgent!

When the key is turned the engine turns over fine and either fires a little or just no firing at all. Then after some time or cycling the key a bunch it will start and run fine. It has done this twice the first time was 3 weeks ago and it ran fine since. It just now did it. No codes and everything works fine other than the enigne not firing. The reason this is urgent is that I am driving 18 hours to florida and then back next week and I can't have it totally fail away from home!

Obviously this sounds like fuel delivery. When it did it the first time I listened and could not here the pump cycling in key position 1. I then replaced the fuel pump relay behind the glovebox with a working relay I snagged from the AC. Both relays could be felt cycling and neither improved the situation. Then after about 20 minutes and cycling the key a handful of times it fired up and ran great until today. I went to start it and it did the same thing as before (I couldn't here the pump but I find it hard to here when it is working due to other noises and its a quiet pump), cycled the key about 10 times without going to position 2 and it started right up and ran fine. If I had a multimeter on me I owuld have liked to check if voltage was getting to the pump but I haven't.

Any ideas here? I do not know anything else this could be other than the fuel pump but it seems like a really odd failure mode. I have 103k miles. Does anyone know if these pumps are known to fail around 100k miles?

I am thinking about buying a pump and just taking it on the trip with me and then returning it if it doesn't fail. If it does I can do it on the side of the road. I hate to replace it if it is fine cause it isn't exaclty cheap. However, if these are known to go out at say 100k or 110k miles I'd be happy to spend the money to change it.

Last edited by mcurcio1989; 10-19-2012 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-19-2012, 11:32 AM   #2
scarede46er
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If the crank is intermittent, then it is not a fuel delivery issue. Could be: Starter, battery, Ignition switch, Key.
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Old 10-19-2012, 12:12 PM   #3
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The Fuel Pump does not run in Position I, it waits for Position II. Position I is for sitting in the car with the radio on, that kind of thing. There is no reason, indeed there is strong reason to NOT, turn the fuel pump on at this time. The whole idea is to power accessory items that have nothing to do with engine operations or the physical act of driving the car.

If you could hear something come on in Position I, it was not the fuel pump.

The life of the fuel pump depends greatly on how you treat it. If you fill the tank when it gets low, then you treat the pump well and it should last the life of the car -- well, that might be a stretch, but there is no Replacement Cycle that says to replace the pump at X-number of miles or months. If you let the tank run low and stop into the gas station to buy 5-bucks worth, then the pump will operate hotter than it likes and this will shorten the lifespan considerably. Gasoline in the tank serves as a heat sink for the fuel pump, and when there is little gas then the heat sink properties are not sufficient.

If you frequently drive the car -- any car for that matter -- with the fuel level very low for long periods of time, then you are operating the fuel pump in a condition that is hotter than it likes and this shortens its life.

If your budget does not allow you to fill the tank every time it is low, then you should fill it, and then top it off when it still has a half-tank or more remaining. Put in 5-bucks before the tank is empty instead of after. This strategy will help prolong the life of the pump.
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Old 10-19-2012, 01:40 PM   #4
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If it were me, I would buy the fuel pump and install it before your trip. Based on your description, the fuel pump is likely your issue.
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Old 10-19-2012, 01:48 PM   #5
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Suggest you read the 2nd link below in my signature.

You could also possibly have a faulty ignition switch as well? They are about $60 and not too hard to replace.
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Old 10-19-2012, 04:54 PM   #6
mcurcio1989
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Just to clarify, it always cranks over fine. Also, when I say position one I am talking about the position before where it would begin to crank. Most cars will prime themselves for a couple seconds in that position. The first time it did it it reminded me of when I changed the fuel pump and I pulled the fuel pump fuse out it basically responded exactly like that would. I don't know the circuitry on the ignition switch but it seem unlikely that it would fail like that. Also I replaced the relay with a working one when it happened the first time and that did nothing so I have a hard time believing the relay is to blame. To me everything points to fuel pump. Like I said I have never experienced a fuel pump failing in this manner. Basically I hate to buy a pump and put it in and then be half way to Florida and have the car die only to find that there was some common failure that I totally missed. If you guys think its fuel pump I will probably just replace that and the relay. From what JFOJ posted it sounds like I should. Just wanna cover my bases.
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Old 10-19-2012, 06:27 PM   #7
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If your car has the original fuel pump, replace it along with the fuel filter.

Could also be a camshaft position sensor, but when they outright fail, usually they toss a code.

A $3 can of starting fluid will confirm a fuel supply problem.
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Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

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Old 11-09-2012, 06:43 AM   #8
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Update - By the time I was last on here and we decided it would be a good idea for me to buy the pump but it was too late so I decided to get crazy and go for it. That worked out fine and it ran good until yesterday. I was on my way home and it started to hesitate and stumble when I would hit the gas. I had about 1/8 of a tank so I pulled over to a gas station. At that point it would start and run but stumbled and sounded like it was staved for fuel and die when the gas was pressed. I filled it up and no change so I had AAA take me the 3 miles home. It did the same thing when I tried it at home again. This morning I thought I would check and it wouldn't start at all. I am happy that it had a total failure at such an opportune time and location. It seems that either the pump is just putting up very little pressure or maybe injectors are clogged or something. I replaced the filter a couple months ago and their are still no codes.
- I would like to see how it responds to starting fluid.
- I would also really like to get a pressure gauge on their. Is their a location on the fuel delivery system where you can plug one in?
- I will let you guys now how it goes.
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Old 11-09-2012, 07:08 AM   #9
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Fuel pump relay??

Fuel pressure tap point is under the top engine cover at the end of the fuel rail near the front of the engine as I recall?
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Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose fan switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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Old 11-09-2012, 07:45 AM   #10
mcurcio1989
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Thanks for the quick reply, I plan on swapping the fuel pump relay with the HVAC relay which is the same on my car before I really try anything else. I neglected to mention that. I kind of doubt that is it because I did that way back when it did this the first time and it had no effect.

Last edited by mcurcio1989; 11-09-2012 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:08 AM   #11
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It's not a whole lot of trouble to pull the back seat out, and take the cover plate off the pump. With the seat out, you can definitely hear the pump. If it doesn't run, find a volt meter and see if power is getting to the connector. This is less trouble than switching relays, and more definitive. I would do this first and then (if it runs) start thinking about fuel pressure. If your fuel pressure is low or zero, this will be your next step anyway.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:15 AM   #12
mcurcio1989
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^ I like that idea a lot more, the seat takes all of about 3 seconds to pull out! That kind of leads me to a couple questions, what is the proper fuel pressure? and what else other than the pump could be at fault if there is in fact low fuel pressure? My only thought would be a clogged filter, which we can rule out as it was recently replaced, or if there is a pressure regulator in there.
*edit - I guess the FPR is in the filter so that was also replaced. I guess the only cause for low prssure would have to be from the pump then?

Last edited by mcurcio1989; 11-09-2012 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:33 AM   #13
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The fuel pressure should be about 40 or 50 PSI, I think.

If your pump is running AND the fuel pressure is low or zero, then:

The pump, though running, is not pumping
or
The pump, though running, is not receiving gas (plugged strainer?)
or
Your new filter/regulator is either plugged or not regulating properly
or
Something else is keeping fuel from getting from the pump to the fuel rail

The easiest of these things to determine, by far, is whether or not the pump is running.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:46 AM   #14
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...and there's a hard vac line going to the fuel filter down...and if by any chance some of these problems were still present after you did your fuel filter recently, doublecheck it. There have been a number that rigged it up wrong...and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a way to do that so it works, but not so well. I think that guys have had the fuel filter flipped the wrong way and the hoses hooked up wrong too. Nothing personal...I mention it since I was thinking fuel filter up to the point you said it was replaced.

Make sure your fuel sending unit is good too...and there are other vac lines associated with transferring fuel from one side of tank to the other. If you can eliminate the issues by staying above 1/2 a tank, that would point to fuel transfer issues.

Oh, and I believe that most swap the horn relay with the fuel pump relay. Where did you read about using the AC relay...I suppose if it's also green, you're probably good. I don't know what goes on inside relays that much!
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:53 AM   #15
mcurcio1989
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I will look into the filter directions and vac line. While it was replaced recently about 6 months ago that was over 8 thousand miles. I can't imagine it would take this long for a problem caused by improper installation to show up but it is worth checking if my pressure is low. At this point I am at a full tank. Yeah, the AC was the same color and same number so the vehicle knows no difference!
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:10 PM   #16
mcurcio1989
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Sprayed some sf in the intake and it fired a little. So I pulled off the fuel tank cover and I could not here the pump kicking on. I pulled the plug off and measured the two prongs closer together (thicker gauge wires) and at what I call position two which is the run position-it had voltage for two seconds and then went to zero and then in the start position it was giving voltage so that told me the pump was bad. That was where things got a little dicey as my tank was completely full so when I took the pump out it spilled gas all over the tank / my driveway. I siphoned 5 gallons out of the tank and bench tested the pump. It is def dead. Looks like I'll be ordering a pump! thanks for the help guys!
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:12 PM   #17
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Fuel level sensor or siphon jet pump, try filling the gas tank up.

Edit-just read your Post.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:21 AM   #18
mcurcio1989
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Follow up for future people. Ordered the part from bmaparts.com Saturday and I selected usps express mail. They had free shipping but it was coming from cali and I couldn't be without a car to long. They shipped it Monday and I got it Tues, for some reason they did next day air! NO complaints from this guy. I would recommend them! Even with that shipping they were still 30 dollars cheaper than the company closer to me. I threw the part in and she fired right up and is running great! The vehicle is a 2002 325xi and the failure occurred at 108,000 miles. I would say it has a pretty even mix of city and highway. This in mind if you are coming up around 100k miles I would recommend at least having a pump from BMA on hand. Its an incredibly quick and simple part to replace (if you can change a tire you can change your pump, just remember to unplug your battery before doing it and use extreme caution when working around large, open quantities of gas!) and should cost around $130. That said if it goes out on the highway and you have to get towed and replaced at the shop your prly looking closer to $500.

Thanks again for the help on here guys

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Old 11-17-2012, 08:11 AM   #19
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You might want to update the 2nd link in my signature with your comments.

Pretty much what I have been telling people here for quite some time.

PM your pump, save lots of money or wait until you are stranded and you have no options!

As usual, failures increase as them temps decrease!

Change your fuel filter soon. Need to change it every 30k miles regardless of what BMW suggests.
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Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose fan switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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