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Old 12-05-2012, 05:40 PM   #1
UnoriginalUsername
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Another one of those "car won't start" threads

Ok, yeah, it's another BMW wouldn't start thread.

Here's the story:

So about a week ago, my car started to act up and not start. The thing is, when I put the key in the ON position, I can hear the fuel pump priming, so it's not the fuel pump. And it's a fairly new pump; I actually replaced it almost 2 years ago. And if it were, then the car would still crank(it was my last issue -- a busted fuel pump).

Right now, it won't crank.

I initially thought it was the battery as last week, I tried boosting it and worked. I used the onboard voltmeter and it was registring below 12V. The next day, it wouldn't start again. I tried boosting it again, but didn't work that time. I thought it was a degraded battery, so I bought a new one. No dice. Same issue. So I *think* it's not the battery. I could still be wrong though.(I guess a related question, would the car still crank even though it's putting out 11.9V in the stopped state?)

Anyway

I've read numerous threads about similar issues and other people say that it was their key. I used my spare but it wouldn't start. So again, it's probably not that.

When I turn the key to start, after the pump has primed, I can hear a faint turning/buzzing sound. I'm not sure if that's the starter motor turning or what.

I'm thinking it might be the ignition switch, starter motor, or alternator.

What are your guys' thoughts? I'd like to see what you guys think. It's sitting in my driveway right now, and I'm still looking for a mechanic that can do house calls. It's cold where I am right now, so I figure that could be a factor to what's going on as well(-8C/18F -- relatively warm, to be honest -- the car has started in colder weathers, but I'm wondering if some part is just too old and degraded that a little cold could trigger a failure).

Thanks
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:03 PM   #2
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I believe EWS/key issues would prevent the fuel pump from priming. The first diagnostic step is to fully charge or jump the battery again. You may have a parasitic draw, or an alternator that isn't charging to the proper voltage. 11.9V is a little low.

The next diagnostic step after that is to rule out the ign switch by checking the current of the small wire going to the starter when attempting to crank. My guess is that the starter itself is bad. Or, try to isolate that buzzing while having someone turn the key. If it's coming from the starter (more accurately, the solenoid), I'd be pretty confident in installing a new, not remanufactured, starter.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:32 PM   #3
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I think you can rule out the ignition switch because if the switch was bad the car would still crank and not start... I believe you should begin with the alternator, because these vehicles are always drawing power even when their not moving; therefore I think your battery is being drained and not being recharged by the alternator. Can you get the car to a shop or the alternator to a shop to get it tested. If the starter was bad your vehicle would still try to start... Just my two and a half cents worth...
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zchild View Post
Can you get the car to a shop or the alternator to a shop to get it tested.
There is no need for a shop for this. If he gets it running again (say, by bump-starting it), he can check the hidden menu for voltage to verify the alternator is working. The alternator doesn't effect starting anyway, so a full charge or jump rules that out, at least for now.
Quote:
...you can rule out the ignition switch because if the switch was bad the car would still crank and not start.
Fasle. If the switch never contacts the "crank" position, there will be no signal sent to the starter. Cranking = working ign switch...not to say they can't fail intermittently.
Quote:
If the starter was bad your vehicle would still try to start... Just my two and a half cents worth...
This is also false. Often nothing happens, or there is just a buzzing noise like he describes. Cranking = working starter...not to say they can't fail intermittently.

OP, do the dash/headlights dim when you try to crank it?
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:53 PM   #5
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
There is no need for a shop for this. If he gets it running again (say, by bump-starting it), he can check the hidden menu for voltage to verify the alternator is working. The alternator doesn't effect starting anyway, so a full charge or jump rules that out, at least for now.
When my alternator failed my bimmer wouldn't start because when the battery depleted there was no juice to crank the starter.

Fasle. If the switch never contacts the "crank" position, there will be no signal sent to the starter. Cranking = working ign switch...not to say they can't fail intermittently.
When my ignition was failing my bimmer would start every 5th time I tried to start it...

This is also false. Often nothing happens, or there is just a buzzing noise like he describes. Cranking = working starter...not to say they can't fail intermittently.
If the starter failed the car would crank and not start... The starter failing wouldn't kill the battery; clearly something is draining the battery...

OP, do the dash/headlights dim when you try to crank it?
IMO; you can't rule out anything because all things are probable...
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
There is no need for a shop for this. If he gets it running again (say, by bump-starting it), he can check the hidden menu for voltage to verify the alternator is working. The alternator doesn't effect starting anyway, so a full charge or jump rules that out, at least for now.
If I connect the cables and access the onboard voltmeter it'll go up to ~14V. That should be more than enough to start it, right? If it were the alternator, shouldn't I receive a low battery light even though when the car's running?(Which was not the case because when it initially failed, I jump started the car and it worked and was able to drive it for more than an hour. The issue came back the next morning and when I tried to jump it again it wouldn't even crank, even though it's registering about ~14 volts when the key is in the ON position EDIT: by that I meant, the jumper cables were connected when I put the key in the ON position)


Quote:
OP, do the dash/headlights dim when you try to crank it?
Actually, no. Which means the battery still has enough juice, correct?

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Old 12-07-2012, 02:57 PM   #7
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Voltage doesn't really mean anything, especially with an external source (like the alternator of the donor vehicle) pulling up the system voltage. You need to get your car running on its own, then check. However, driving for an hour pretty much confirms that the alt is good, and your suspicion is correct, you generally would get a warning light if the charging system isn't working properly.

A new battery pretty much rules out that as the issue.

The fact that the lights don't dim means that there is no load applied from that starter. Like I said, the next step is to make sure the starter itself is seeing voltage on the small wire in POS3. After that, R&R the starter.
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
Voltage doesn't really mean anything, especially with an external source (like the alternator of the donor vehicle) pulling up the system voltage. You need to get your car running on its own, then check. However, driving for an hour pretty much confirms that the alt is good, and your suspicion is correct, you generally would get a warning light if the charging system isn't working properly.

A new battery pretty much rules out that as the issue.

The fact that the lights don't dim means that there is no load applied from that starter. Like I said, the next step is to make sure the starter itself is seeing voltage on the small wire in POS3. After that, R&R the starter.
Thanks, I'll do that then(testing). But forgive me, but how do I do that? By that I meant, digging in to the starter and testing the terminal)Do know of any tutorial I can refer to? I see a tutorial on how to replace the starter so I'm assuming it's the same way to get to the starter's terminals.

Thanks I appreciate it
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:31 PM   #9
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You should be able to pull the airbox and maybe one or both intake boots off and snake a lead down in there. It won't be fun, but easier than replacing it to find out it wasn't your issue. Do you know how to use a DMM?
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:36 PM   #10
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Ah yes, Looks like pretty much the same steps I've read on how to replace the starter. Thanks

And yes, I have believe I have one lying around. I'll see if I can test it tomorrow(providing it won't snow as bad) and I'll reply to this thread.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:35 PM   #11
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Ok, I just got to working on this since it's been a while since we got clear skies and warmer days. I've successfully took out the airbox, and the firewall, but can't figure out the location of the starter.

This is what I'm looking at right now(yeah, it's a bit grimy as it's been almost two weeks sitting outside and it's winter):

(brake fluid reservoir in foreground)


(same angle but closer)


Anything else I need removed so I can get a clear view of the starter? Or do I have to actually go underneath the car to get access to it?

Thanks

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Old 12-14-2012, 03:39 PM   #12
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I think you can see it under the intake manifold, down under the ICV, but to service it; I believe, but not entirely sure, you need to be underneath the car.


Edit. Are you sure the starter is the culprit?
What else have you done to troubleshoot?
If you don't already have this document, check out specifically unlocking the OBC and checking voltage at the battery
Menu 19(unlock) then Menu 9(Voltage)
If your voltage with car off is less than 12 your battery at the very least is too low. I know when it falls below 11V on my car, it won't start.
http://db.tt/e37Zrkmb
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:02 PM   #13
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Did you check to see if the starter is getting voltage like I suggested?

Also, that's not your power steering, lol.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ///MPR77 View Post
I think you can see it under the intake manifold, down under the ICV, but to service it; I believe, but not entirely sure, you need to be underneath the car.


Edit. Are you sure the starter is the culprit?
What else have you done to troubleshoot?
Initially I thought it was the battery, so I bought a new one, even boosted it -- no dice.

Like I said, the fuel pump would prime, as I can hear it. After I let it finish priming, I turn the key to ignition position and I can hear a faint buzzing sound coming from the engine. I'm assuming that's the starter motor. My guess is it's the solenoid that's not working. But I might be wrong

I wanna get to the starter to test if there's voltage coming through, as lcoleman suggested. If there isn't I can rule out the starter. I've read other threads and some have suggested it's the ignition switch. I just wanna make sure if it's the starter or not before I take out the cover on the steering column and work on the ign switch.

starting voltage is about 11.9v right now, but even if I boost it(it would go up to ~14v, which should be more than enough to get it cranking), still the same symptoms.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
Did you check to see if the starter is getting voltage like I suggested?

Also, that's not your power steering, lol.
Sorry I meant brake fluid haha

yeah, I'm trying to get to the starter but I'm not sure where exactly it is located
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:35 PM   #16
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It's down there, you'll probably have to take off both intake boots. I can't find a good picture with Google right now, maybe someone else has one.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:44 PM   #17
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Here is a picture i found for you. from an e39 M54, should be the same I would imagine.
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Old 12-15-2012, 02:12 PM   #18
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Ok I was able to take out the in intake boot and see a little bit more.

I'm assuming what I'm looking is the starter?



If it is, which wire is the positive end? I'm assuming the yellow and black one

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Old 12-15-2012, 04:02 PM   #19
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Yes, that's the starter. I'm thinking you're correct about the yellow/black one being the signal wire, but check both for 12V against a ground (the alternator case will work well) while attempting to crank.
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
Yes, that's the starter. I'm thinking you're correct about the yellow/black one being the signal wire, but check both for 12V against a ground (the alternator case will work well) while attempting to crank.
+1

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