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Old 02-05-2015, 11:39 PM   #1
Thate46Life
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Question e46 Electrical Problems

Hi guys, Tonight when I was leaving work I went outside to warm up my car before I left as I usually do. I went out, turned on my carand started up without any problems problems. when I turned on my headlights I noticed they were really dim. After further analysis I noticed that my cluster was also dim. I couldn't think of what it was so I just let my car sit there and warm up, as I was walking away from my car and back to the store, it shut off. I didn't know what happened so I went back and tried to turn it on again. when I try to turn it on again It was as if it had a dead battery, it did not crank it just clicked. so I went inside the store and asked my friends how do you know if your alternator is bad, they were clueless just as me. sadly no one had jumper cables to try and jump start it, so I had to lock it up and leave it at the store. I remember the other day that the headlights seemed more dim than usual, and also when the car died I could still lock it with my key fob and the interior lights were bright like the battery was fully charged but the windows went up very slow and the driver only halfway. the only thing that I've done to my car electricaly is putting an aftermarket radio in which I almost never use and aftermarket 100w headlights. does anyone have any idea what could be wrong, need help fast as this is my dd. Thankyou.
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Old 02-05-2015, 11:52 PM   #2
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That happen to me & it was my alternator . Was it ever replaced ?
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:00 AM   #3
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I have no clue, I bought the car with 150k miles and little to no idea of what was and wasn't replaced.

Last edited by Thate46Life; 02-06-2015 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:02 AM   #4
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First check battery connections for corrosion or looseness. Then check alt connections, belt and tension. If you have a meter you can test voltage at battery with car running, if it's over 14v, your alt is probably okay, battery suspect. Less than 14v, likely bad alt. Any local autoparts store should be able to test your battery.

The symptoms do sound like a bad alternator.

Last edited by TerryH; 02-06-2015 at 12:06 AM.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:03 AM   #5
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Did the red battery light ever come on or stay on since you owned the car ????
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:06 AM   #6
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The past 2 days it has been turning on, I had no noticeable mechanical or electrical issues, other than the dim headlights but I thought it was just my eyes at the time. The car won't turn over so how do I measure the voltage.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:15 AM   #7
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Battery charger or jump. Once you get the battery to ~12.2v the car will start, but won't run long if the battery is draining.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:18 AM   #8
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I will try and jump it tomorrow. Ill try and rent a battery meter or something.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:29 AM   #9
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Yeah I really think it's your alternator bro . If you are mechanically inclined it's not hard to change at all. All you need is the right tools and it's a breeze . Since I had my car the battery light kept coming on . Car would always start on first try then when it got bad it gave me starting problems . It's tricky thou cause I even unhooked both my battery cables and the car still ran . But I wasn't taking no chances I just changed it . Now when I start it battery stays on for 2 seconds then turns off .
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:31 AM   #10
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Start by cleaning your battery terminals. Use an actual battery terminal wire brush from the parts store. Should be like 3-4 bux.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:32 AM   #11
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What I'll do tomorrow is jump it off and move it to the side, and I think I got a friend with a multi meter, I'll check the voltage and see what needs to be done. Is there any fuses that may cause these problems by any chance.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:34 AM   #12
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Thanks Invisible Man, I'll start there and then go further. Just hoping it's in one piece when I get there
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:58 AM   #13
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Read section 1 low voltage in my no start thread.
There is no need to guess, simple test will tell you what's going on.
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Old 02-06-2015, 08:14 AM   #14
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Wow that is a lot of help, this guide is going to save my bacon. Thanks IszIszx
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:30 PM   #15
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So I went to the store and proceeded to jump off my car, once it was jumped off I took off the jumper cables and the car died moments after. Before I jumped it off the battery measured 11v so it was a little dead. Is this the alternator?

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Old 02-06-2015, 01:36 PM   #16
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Sounds like it. Your battery is clearly not being charged by the alternator. It's a pretty easy and straight forward DIY. I would get your battery charged while you fix it.
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Old 02-06-2015, 01:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thate46Life View Post
So I went to the store and proceeded to jump off my car, once it was jumped off I took off the jumper cables and the car died moments after. Before I jumped it off the battery measured 11v so it was a little dead. Is this the alternator?
11 Volts at the battery is not a "little" dead, it has 0% charge left, it does have capacity or power, but anything below 12.0 Volts is considered a battery with 0% charge.

The battery needs to be charged and tested or replaced.

Then you have to sort out if there is a charging system problem, a bad connection or ground or a parasitic load on the battery.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:14 PM   #18
Thate46Life
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Right now I'm taking out the alternator and going to get it tested and then replaced.
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:01 PM   #19
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You can buy a multimeter for nothing. Buy one.
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:52 PM   #20
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Not sure the thought process of people these days.

Even if the battery is good, it still needs to be charged. You do not want to try and charge the battery with the alternator.

Buy a battery charger and Voltmeter. Look on Craigslist, Harbor Freight, local parts stores or Amazon.

Alternator can be tested on the car, assuming the serpentine belt routing is correct, otherwise the alternator will slip and not charge properly. Heck you do not even need a Voltmeter to check the alternator on the car using the Hidden OBC menu.

I just do not get it.
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Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temp, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

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Lower hose temp switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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