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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 06-02-2013, 10:56 AM   #1
Subys0le
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Strange electrical problem that is causing a domino effect

Okay.. so heres the story according to my wife.

2003 BMW 325xi facelift

The worst day ever
- A true e46 horror story

" Let me start with the first butt bender
- My landlord signed a lease to someone else without informing me, I had to find a new place within 2 weeks during finals and packing.

but here's where the rest of my luck unfolds.. on to my bmw

I was out sometime last week and had the air condition on and it was working as well as ever. Later that day on my way back home as i was driving, I heard what sounded like i had run a plastic bottle over or something and then I heard something dragging. i pulled over and realized a piece of the driver side under panel was ripped off. I honestly don't recall if I had the AC on on my drive back home when the under panel ripped out. After doing some research, i later found out that the ambient external temperature sensor had been ripped out. the only strange thing that started happening was my temperature kept beeping from a -40 to a 122 degrees, which is why i assumed it was the sensor. I didn't need the AC from this point on so I never checked turned it on because it was chilly for the next 2 days. 2 days later, as i was driving to a u-haul to pick up my truck to move out, I felt like the car was driving with less power than I've ever felt it before. i had my right blinker on while i was driving. after i turned the wheel to turn the corner to pull in, the right blinker remained on even after i tried moving the turn signal lever for the blinker to turn off or to try to turn the left blinker on. It continued to stay on and I turned off the car when i arrived to the u-haul place. I turned the car back on and the blinker had stopped blinking but my Service engine soon light came on. Maybe 5 minutes later, I signed the paperwork and got the keys to the truck and went to turn my car on and it didn't have enough power to start. I took the key out and waited for a minute and hoped and prayed it would turn on so i can go about with my moving day. It did turn on, but as i was driving, i realized none of my turn signal indicators came on inside the car, but I stopped to see if the lights were working on the outside of the car and they were indeed on. The instrument cluster no longer was lit up red so at night I could not see how my MPH, my gas, etc. My turn signal indicators still didn't light up, my hazard button in the vehicle didn't light up, I couldn't switch through the different computer functions such as temperature, time, miles to E,etc. The passenger side view mirror no longer goes down when the car is in reverse. The other day, the radio would not turn on for a couple moments but a few minutes later turned on while i was driving. The trunk doesn't pop from the inside of the car and the car no longer locks automatically at 5mph when i driving.
On the morning of a scorching 90 degrees, I got into the car to go to work and turned my ac on and maybe you can all guess what happened next! the AC blew out hottttttttttttttttttttttttttttt air at 59 degrees at the highest power. i made sure there were 3 blue dots by the vents. I made sure to press the AC snowflake button and still, no cold air. I left it on hoping it needed to cool off for a while but after arriving to work 20 minutes later with a sweaty forehead, back and thighs, i soon realized there was a bigger problem on hand.

i tried putting freon hoping this would solve the problem. no go. i replaced the external temperature sensor. Good thing the car is now just rubbing it inot my face that its 82 degrees and i have no working AC.

So now, i dont know where to go from here. "


Okay e46 fanatics, we need your help. We are on a budget here, we are students and have other priorities but still responsible enough to maintain our lifestyle and cars and etc.

lets look at the facts

FACTS:
- Freon levels are fine, the car has freon ( did not get a pro to get it at the exact level though, I just know according to the freon cap its in a safe zone)

- The sensor was replaced and can read the temp. but did not fix any AC issues

- Fuses in the glove box all check out fine ( have not replaced them yet )

-

ISSUES
- AC does not blow cold air
- Instrument Cluster does not light up
- Doors don't lock automatically
- Side mirror does not face down in reverse anymore
- Indicator does not light on cluster but lights function outside the car


ISSUE Fixed..
- Service Engine Soon light is on (came on when she turned the car off 2 days later at the uhaul place [refer to horror story] ) / this finally went away I guess from fixing the outside temp sensor..

We are willing to go to a shop, but we want to be specific with what to tell him to check
also if anyone in the tri-state has any goof referals for a shop let me know you can even text us
848-565-6004 we need this fixed, NJ has been HOTT the last couple of days.

THANK YOU ALL in advance!

Last edited by Subys0le; 06-03-2013 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:44 PM   #2
Subys0le
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Bump update the service engine soon light went away assuming because of the temp sensor... Is it possible that another harness is located on the bottom that might mess up this electrical issue?
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:15 AM   #3
Subys0le
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Bump again, as far as the instrument cluster everything lights up except the mph, and the dials next to them everything underneath lights up ill post a pic later
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:27 AM   #4
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Re: Strange electrical problem that is causing a domino effect

Have you had the car scanned for codes?

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Old 06-03-2013, 10:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Subys0le View Post
Bump update the service engine soon light went away assuming because of the temp sensor... Is it possible that another harness is located on the bottom that might mess up this electrical issue?
Certainly possible, why not go under there and have a look? Other thing that could have happened is that something shorted out when the temp sensor was damaged...particularly the GM5 module.

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Have you had the car scanned for codes?

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Please do this. Even though the light is off, that code should still be stored and you should probably know what the deal was with that light. Go to an auto parts store and scan the car for free.

Last edited by SamDoe1; 06-03-2013 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:17 PM   #6
Subys0le
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Originally Posted by SamDoe1 View Post
Certainly possible, why not go under there and have a look? Other thing that could have happened is that something shorted out when the temp sensor was damaged...particularly the GM5 module.



Please do this. Even though the light is off, that code should still be stored and you should probably know what the deal was with that light. Go to an auto parts store and scan the car for free.
-
Ill def have to check under there, im not too used to all these sensors lol subarus arent the most luxurious machine, but i have learned a good amount about bmw with my wife having one and all.

i found a link in case i have to replace that GM5 Module



-

Yeah looks like well stop by Advance auto sometime this week

Thanks everyone so far, still looking to see if other people have these similar problems and might have solutions.

Last edited by Subys0le; 06-03-2013 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 06-06-2013, 09:01 AM   #7
Subys0le
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Bump

update:

so this story gets better and better lol she went to autozone to get the codes read and it said ambient tempertare sensor but I'm pretty sure that's what we replaced ? The sensor near the driver fender that reads the outside temp, anyway, se got in her car and guess what? It didn't start since she was there they checked the battery and it was fine checked around all was good we think its the starter bought one I driver out to her and called aaa got it towed to a shop and now they're replacing the starter hope all goes well
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Old 06-06-2013, 09:37 AM   #8
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Strange electrical problem that is causing a domino effect

Are you sure it was ambient temp sensor or intake air temp sensor. A fault with the ambient sensor shouldn't trip a CEL since the computer doesn't care what that value is. It does however care about the intake temp.

Also you should get the alternator checked out.

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Old 06-06-2013, 07:18 PM   #9
Shauno
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Re: Strange electrical problem that is causing a domino effect

I would also get the ignition switch chhecked. Had a E39 5 series in the workshop the other day with very similar symptoms.

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Old 06-06-2013, 07:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Subys0le View Post
I heard what sounded like i had run a plastic bottle over or something and then I heard something dragging. i pulled over and realized a piece of the driver side under panel was ripped off. i later found out that the ambient external temperature sensor had been ripped out.
what with parts flying off the car and a sensor being ripped out, i would start with inspecting the harness the sensor was connected to.
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:00 PM   #11
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Strange similarity with what happened to me back in 2002 on my 2002 330i. I hit road debris and it ripped off my external temp sensor. My external temp went crazy like yours and my AC would not work. AC must work based on the external temp? I made a service appointment to get it fixed. Before i got it in, a day or two later, my gauge cluster went haywire much like yours. Keep in mind this was over 10 years ago so I don't remember the exact symptoms. I remember the gauge needles getting stuck in weird positions and the turn signals not working. Anyway when it finally went in for the repair, they said I also needed a new cluster. IIRC that was it. A new temp sensor and a new cluster and I was good to go. I wonder if the temp sensor shorted something when mine gotten ripped of and took the cluster with it? It's odd though because it worked fine for a few days before things went to hell.

Good luck with whatever your issue is but sounds eerily similar.
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Old 07-03-2013, 08:27 PM   #12
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^ thanks for the info, not for nothing but glad someone else had a similar issue lol..

Okay so heres an update with the car. After her car wouldnt start we went to a shop and got the starter replaced (it was a shady shop but we had no choice at the time because it was an emergency) after they replaced the starter we took it to BMW to do an inspection they had it for a couple days everything turned out fine except the fact that they mentioned we had aftermarket wiring (umnitza angel eyes) AC still does not work, its been at another shop here in NJ (trustworthy shop) they had the car for 2 weeks ! they sent out the cluster to get repaired because they said a message wasnt being sent so it wouldnt start the compressor or something when they jumped it manually it works for about 30 seconds or something like that? but it wont stay on when u try to turn the ac on by itself. again they had the car for 2 weeks!! and still nothing? really this shop cant fix this??! am I missing something? like do you have to reset something put some bmw code in or something after replacing the outside temp sensor? because it reads fine I just dont know where to go from here this poor girls been out of work for 2 weeks she pays all her bills on her own shes not some rich spoiled girl from jersey whose parents pay for everything it just sucks right now and shes shelling out money left and right and im helping her as well I just need to know if im missing something here, if anyone has some advice or knows a real bmw shop that can help plz help me out.. thanks for taking the time to read this
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Old 07-03-2013, 08:57 PM   #13
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This very much sounds like the General Module or part of it is fried. There are quite a few different parts of the electrical/computer system that are routed through the General Module and if there is a dead short OR positive current that gets into the ground system, the General Module doesn't like it. Case in point; I took my 2003 325xi to the dealer to have the tail light recall done (I did have one of the cars that lost the functions of the tail lights and rear turn signals because of a poor ground). My mistake was making the appointment for a Friday afternoon, 1 hour before closing time. The Tech failed to remove the ground from the battery before performing the warranty repair, adding another ground wire to each tail light assembly. What happened was her touched a hot lead to the trunk light and it back fed to the General Module. I didn't notice anything unusual till I drove the 10 miles home. When opening the trunk, the trunk lights would not come on, the dash instrument cluster was not working correctly, the power mirrors would not adjust, the interior lights by the rear view mirror and the map/reading lights would not light (all these things worked prior to the tail light recall fix). When the Tech put positive current thru the ground, the first place it went was directly to the General Module and it shorted part of it out. The General Module is roughly a $400 piece and once installed, the entire car and computer keys need to be re-programmed. They wanted to charge me for the entire job and I requested to speak with their factory service rep and he agreed with me that it was very possible for that to happen if the battery ground was not disconnected when doing the tail light recall and BMW did the entire repair for free (I have worked as a certified tech and also know how to read wiring diagrams since I am also an electronics engineer).

So, what I am saying here is that, and it sounds as though you did knock off the outside ambient temperature sensor, the wires could easily have contacted metal and sent a short directly to the General Module,since the ambient temperature goes thru the General Module. In the extreme cases, if the General Module is "fried" enough, the car will not start or run, in "minor" cases, there are any number of things that will not work or not work correctly.

A BMW Dealer should be able to plug the car in and test the General Module to make sure it has all its functions working and that will most likely be a $100 bill for diagnostic time. My guess is that you will find that you will need to replace the General Module from the information that you have stated here.
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:48 PM   #14
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^ thanks for that info you def sound like you know your stuff .. I did some research on that after your post I found these 2 links

http://www.bmwgm5.com/

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ght=door+locks

The thing is nothing was mentioned about the ac or compressor or anything like that I just don't want to get into something that won't fix the main problem which is having no ac In 100 degree weather.. I'm going to call that guy in the above link to see if this might work and then ill take it from there.. The 1 thing we did notice is that the trunk won't open from inside the car which is 1 of the issues to come across for a bad gm5 I don't know well see I appreciate your post though because it might be bringing me closer to a solution have a great 4th of July!

Anyone else with a story please post or anyone with another assumption or solution
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:59 PM   #15
hizhinezz
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Strange electrical problem that is causing a domino effect

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomoyer View Post
This very much sounds like the General Module or part of it is fried. There are quite a few different parts of the electrical/computer system that are routed through the General Module and if there is a dead short OR positive current that gets into the ground system, the General Module doesn't like it. Case in point; I took my 2003 325xi to the dealer to have the tail light recall done (I did have one of the cars that lost the functions of the tail lights and rear turn signals because of a poor ground). My mistake was making the appointment for a Friday afternoon, 1 hour before closing time. The Tech failed to remove the ground from the battery before performing the warranty repair, adding another ground wire to each tail light assembly. What happened was her touched a hot lead to the trunk light and it back fed to the General Module. I didn't notice anything unusual till I drove the 10 miles home. When opening the trunk, the trunk lights would not come on, the dash instrument cluster was not working correctly, the power mirrors would not adjust, the interior lights by the rear view mirror and the map/reading lights would not light (all these things worked prior to the tail light recall fix). When the Tech put positive current thru the ground, the first place it went was directly to the General Module and it shorted part of it out. The General Module is roughly a $400 piece and once installed, the entire car and computer keys need to be re-programmed. They wanted to charge me for the entire job and I requested to speak with their factory service rep and he agreed with me that it was very possible for that to happen if the battery ground was not disconnected when doing the tail light recall and BMW did the entire repair for free (I have worked as a certified tech and also know how to read wiring diagrams since I am also an electronics engineer).

So, what I am saying here is that, and it sounds as though you did knock off the outside ambient temperature sensor, the wires could easily have contacted metal and sent a short directly to the General Module,since the ambient temperature goes thru the General Module. In the extreme cases, if the General Module is "fried" enough, the car will not start or run, in "minor" cases, there are any number of things that will not work or not work correctly.

A BMW Dealer should be able to plug the car in and test the General Module to make sure it has all its functions working and that will most likely be a $100 bill for diagnostic time. My guess is that you will find that you will need to replace the General Module from the information that you have stated here.
Thanks for this great detailed post and analysis as I think I did something similar, and good for you for preventing onerous overcharge.

Hope mine ain't fried.


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Old 07-10-2013, 11:01 PM   #16
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Strange electrical problem that is causing a domino effect

Quote:
Originally Posted by Subys0le View Post
^ thanks for that info you def sound like you know your stuff .. I did some research on that after your post I found these 2 links

http://www.bmwgm5.com/

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ght=door+locks

The thing is nothing was mentioned about the ac or compressor or anything like that I just don't want to get into something that won't fix the main problem which is having no ac In 100 degree weather.. I'm going to call that guy in the above link to see if this might work and then ill take it from there.. The 1 thing we did notice is that the trunk won't open from inside the car which is 1 of the issues to come across for a bad gm5 I don't know well see I appreciate your post though because it might be bringing me closer to a solution have a great 4th of July!

Anyone else with a story please post or anyone with another assumption or solution
I've had almost the exact same symptoms as described after being a dumbass and bunging up things swapping in and out various electrical componentry. If I fried my GM unit and its costing me 400 man am I pissed at myself... Cripes.


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Old 07-15-2013, 08:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by hizhinezz View Post
I've had almost the exact same symptoms as described after being a dumbass and bunging up things swapping in and out various electrical componentry. If I fried my GM unit and its costing me 400 man am I pissed at myself... Cripes.


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I'm having similar problems myself...check out my thread

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=996944

Now I'm starting to think that maybe the GROM unit fried part of a module overtime. I really hope this isn't the case.
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