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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 11-09-2016, 10:43 AM   #1
dstudden
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Madison, WI
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My Ride: 2002 e46 325i
2002 325i no start - possibly a bad starter

So this problem started a few weeks ago. When I turn the key, I hear one click and nothing else. I brought my 2 year old battery into Batteries Plus to get it tested and they said it was working like new. This lead me to believe that I have a bad starter.

I understand that generally a bad starter causes clicking in rapid succession when the key is turned. My understanding of this is that this occurs in inertia starters, where the starter gear isn't fully engaged with the flywheel before it starts spinning. When I turn the key in my car I only hear one click, and I believe that e46 BMWs use a pre-engaged starter. A pre-engaged starter has the starter gear fully engaged with the flywheel before it starts to spin and I don't understand how a bad pre-engaged starter could cause just a single click noise? I am trying to fully understand that concept of how my starter works before I make a diagnosis and spend a $150 replacing the starter.

Also, this problem occurs rather intermittently. My car wouldn't start for a few days, and then one day it started up no problem and ran just fine for about two weeks, and now it won't start again. Any advice/things I should check or consider before I order a new starter and start tearing my engine apart?
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Old 11-10-2016, 08:31 AM   #2
markusmarkus
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It sure sounds like the starter is on its way out. But, Google "BMW E46 hidden OBC functions." Test #9 will show you the voltage as seen by the car. See what the voltage is when trying to start the car. Report back with the reading. You may have a bad ground in the engine compartment.
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:06 PM   #3
dstudden
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Test 9.0 read 117
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:15 PM   #4
dstudden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markusmarkus View Post
It sure sounds like the starter is on its way out. But, Google "BMW E46 hidden OBC functions." Test #9 will show you the voltage as seen by the car. See what the voltage is when trying to start the car. Report back with the reading. You may have a bad ground in the engine compartment.
I've been reading up on bad engine grounds and I came across this thread on Bimmer forums:

http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...s-Ground-Cable

And I did what he did: wiggled the wire under the hood that runs from the jump start terminal, and my car started right up. Does this mean that I need a new ground cable?
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Old 11-11-2016, 08:04 AM   #5
markusmarkus
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The ground cable for the engine is located on the RF of the engine at the bottom of the engine. It's a heft brown cable. Btw, brown is always ground in a BMW.

Which cable did you wiggle?
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Old 11-11-2016, 12:26 PM   #6
dstudden
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Its a cable that starts at the positive terminal under the hood and it runs kind of beneath/ in front of the cabin filter. In that other thread it says it goes to the starter and alternator
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Old 11-12-2016, 08:44 AM   #7
markusmarkus
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Sounds like either that cable is funky or the connection at the starter is fubar'd. I'm betting on the latter.
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Old 11-12-2016, 09:15 AM   #8
texaslonghorn
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Maybe begin with the easiest thing - make sure the nut is tightened at the jump terminal. Getting to the starter connection can be a pain. You may be able to tighten the connection on the starter without removing anything, but that may be really difficult. Your best bet would be to see if you can get to it from underneath. If not, you'll have to remove the airbox, intake boots for sure and most likely the DISA, IAC and throttle body.
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