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Old 05-12-2012, 04:43 AM   #1
MJLavelle
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Unstable idle? I fixed mine!

I know there has been a ton of discussion about e46's with idle issues on this forum, and I have had the same issue myself since I bought my 2001 330ci, almost 4 years ago. Since I bought it in the summer, I was not aware of how annoying it was until the fall, since I always drove with the AC on, and it is much more noticeable when the AC is off.
When the AC is on, the car compensates for the additional load by raising the idle speed somewhat, which made the unstable idle a lot less noticeable, although it did still fluctuate.
With the AC off, the idle was really bad. It would bounce up and down, and it would seem to drop so low that the car would feel like it was on the verge of stalling out. On two occasions, it did stall out. It also would create a serious vibration when the idle dropped low, to the point that the steering wheel would shake quite a bit.
This would only happen when the car was in drive. If it was in neutral or park, then the shaking would stop, but the idle would still bounce around.
This is pretty much the same thing I have read on hundreds of threads on here, with more posted every week.
So, about my solution - Several times in the past week, the car has refused to start. It would turn over, and I could hold the key in the crank position for a long period of time, but it would not start. In every single case, I was able to get it to start after numerous attempts, just holding the key in the start position for as long as about 90 seconds or more. That 3 year old AutoZone battery is still wicked strong!
I figured it had to be either the fuel filter, or the fuel pump. I had both on hand. I have been buying parts for a major rejuvenation for over a year, but due to health issues, I have not been able to get a single part installed.
So, Wednesday night, I replaced the fuel filter. I also noticed that the flexible section of hose that connects to the integrated fuel pressure regulator looked old and ragged. I could not find any cracks in it at all, but I replaced it, since there was no way I was going to leave it on there.
Well, the big suprise was that the idle issue has gone away. The idle is rock solid now, and with the AC off, it seems to have a slightly higher idle, and it does not drop down so low, and there is no steering wheel shake at all. Just to be clear, my idle issue was constant. It never went away. It was always unstable, and refused to settle on a solid idle.
I know that some people have tried everything from replacing DISA valves, Vanos seals, IAC valves, plugs, coils, O2 sensors, and software updates to get rid of their idle issues.
I AM NOT saying that this will fix every single car with an idle issue. To be honest, I did not expect it to do a thing to fix my idle issue. In fact, I have every single one of those same parts sitting in a closet, waiting to be installed when I am well enough to work on my car again. The fuel filter took me 3 hours, and left me wiped out, and in a lot of pain.
I have driven the car about 300 miles since replacing the filter, just to see if the no-start issue or the idle issue would return. I realize that it could still return, but this is the first time in 4 years that the car has idled correctly.
I am embarrassed to say that this was the original fuel filter, with 120k miles on it.
My illness started about a year after I bought the car, and during the first year, I was working 60+ hours a week, and there was just no time to do anything to it.
I do plan on replacing the fuel pump, when I recover some from the fuel filter install, because it is time to do it.
Also, please note that the 330 fuel filter is different from the other models, so I have no idea if this could apply to anything but a 330. I know that this may not be of any use to a lot of you, who have probably replaced your fuel filter and a lot of other parts, trying to fix this issue. But, I felt like any success in fixing this issue was worth mentioning, since it is so common, and maybe it will help someone else out there.
BTW - if you have a BMW that does not have this issue, please don't feel the need to post something along the lines of "I have had my car for XX number of years, and XXXk miles, and I have never had this issue". It does not add anything to the conversation, and just makes you look like a douchebag. Just leave it for the people who have struggled with this problem, and may have something useful to say. You know who you are.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:37 AM   #2
jfoj
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Glad you were able to sort out for idle issue with just a fuel filter and some vacuum hose.

This type of maintenance item is overlooked quite often and the assumption is before many of the other parts are replaced things like spark plugs, air filter and fuel filter should have been changed out.

As for your fuel pump replacement, good idea as it is a maintenance item in my opinion. The good news it is should be much easier than the fuel filter.

Helpful hint, put the fuel sender gasket in the tank rim then install the fuel send/pump. If you do not do this, you will hate your day!
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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, Temp, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

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Old 05-12-2012, 06:42 AM   #3
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Nice MJ!

Please take it easy on yourself, would ya?

Someday this summer, I'm feeling like a nice drive. Maybe, just maybe, it'll take me down to NC and you'll let me play with your car a bit! I promise to only screw up one or two things!
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Old 05-12-2012, 02:18 PM   #4
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Thanks for your information.

I have a feeling that the issue I am having with my 03 325 xi is similar to your issue. Only thing is I have issue at the start up. The car starts but has hard time when the engine is cold from being parked over night. It becomes fine after the first stall.

Perhaps you could take a look at the problem here? http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...912&highlight=

Thanks
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:17 AM   #5
MJLavelle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
Glad you were able to sort out for idle issue with just a fuel filter and some vacuum hose.

This type of maintenance item is overlooked quite often and the assumption is before many of the other parts are replaced things like spark plugs, air filter and fuel filter should have been changed out.

As for your fuel pump replacement, good idea as it is a maintenance item in my opinion. The good news it is should be much easier than the fuel filter.

Helpful hint, put the fuel sender gasket in the tank rim then install the fuel send/pump. If you do not do this, you will hate your day!
Thanks for the advice on the fuel pump!
I am a major fan of maintenance on my cars. My last 5 cars have gone over 220k miles.
I was not clear about this, but while the car was running on its original fuel filter, I have only driven the car a total of 5k miles in the 4 years I have owned it. I used to drive 40k miles a year, because my daily commute was about 90 miles a day. If I was putting that kind of milage on this car, I would have replaced the fuel filter, and a lot of other stuff, a long time ago.
But we moved to a downtown condo, about 4 blocks from where my wife and I work, back in 2006, so we walk to work (well, my wife walks to work, I have been on medical leave for 2 years now).
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:29 AM   #6
MJLavelle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boongsin12 View Post
Thanks for your information.

I have a feeling that the issue I am having with my 03 325 xi is similar to your issue. Only thing is I have issue at the start up. The car starts but has hard time when the engine is cold from being parked over night. It becomes fine after the first stall.

Perhaps you could take a look at the problem here? http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...912&highlight=

Thanks
Since it runs well the rest of the day, I would think that it is not fuel related. If it starts happening at all times of the day, then it could very well be a fuel issue. Also, if you have more than 30-40k on the fuel filter, it should be replaced. The good news is that the 325 fuel filter is cheaper than the one for the 330.
I see that several people responded that if was a vacuum leak. I hate when people just post a few words, and don't give any real direction. I think it could very well be a vacuum leak. Since it happens on a cold car, it could also be a problem with the Secondary Air Pump.
Do you have any error codes? Let's start there. Let me know if you have a Check Engine Light, and if you have a way to get the codes read. I have a code reader I could loan you, if you need it. The regular ones they use at AutoZone do not work with our cars. BMW codes are BMW specific.
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:46 AM   #7
MJLavelle
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Originally Posted by dmax View Post
Nice MJ!

Please take it easy on yourself, would ya?

Someday this summer, I'm feeling like a nice drive. Maybe, just maybe, it'll take me down to NC and you'll let me play with your car a bit! I promise to only screw up one or two things!
Is that an offer to help? You may regret that. But I would take you up on it! I have an impressive amount of parts collected for my car right now. I want to do a pretty thorough rejuvenation on it, and I have had two years of sitting at home, with nothing to do but buy parts, and read tons of DIY's. My wife swears I am buying a new car, one part at a time.
I keep hoping for the day that I am feeling well enough to actually start doing the work, but that day has not come. And it looks like it is going to be a long time before it gets here, based on my last visit to the Mayo Clinic. It was a rough visit, and not good news. I was always wishing that I would have more time to do more work on my car, when I was working 60+ hours a week. Now, I have the time, but......
So, for now, my work is pretty much limited to emergency fixes, like this fuel filter/pump. I still have not been able to get to the pump.
From the looks of things, the cooling system is going to get critical very soon. I saw a ring of white stains on my crankshaft pulley when I was under the car last week. It looks like a slow leak on the water pump. I have only had to add a few ounces of coolant the last few months, but any leakage from the pump is not a good sign.
I have all of the parts though! I even have a shiny new Stewart water pump, and every single other part.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:38 AM   #8
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MJ,

It's almost an offer of help. It's really a 'hoping' to help and maybe we can work it out somehow. You're only a 10 hour drive...probably less!

What sort of facilities do you have? Garage with jack stands; free flowing tonic, bitters, and lime; maybe the occasional black and tan and Whopper, no pickel, extra onions? (Settle down my California friends!)

Who's around in Charlotte with you that can turn a wrench...or can listen well to instructions?

And, most importantly, you have a place I can sleep...or maybe another random Fanatic in Charlotte does and wants to contribute to the cause? I really hate working on my car, but I love working on cars...because on others, it doesn't matter if I mess up not being a mechanic...it's not MY car!

Maybe I organize a caravan down to Charlotte for a live dmax car repair seminar? See who we can pick up along the way? I can bring my tent and camp out in your backyard...then it wouldn't see quite as Internet-creepy that I'm writing about this!

I'm considering it, MJ...seriously. Could be fun! I don't know how to do everything; have written about many things I only 'know' about but haven't done...but usually I remember lefty loosey, have a good feel for torque, and can follow instructions!

Let's explore this and see where it gets us.

Gotta run...Spanish F1!
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:26 AM   #9
jaymemaurice
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Nice & Congrats on solving your issue. Did you disect the fuel line you replaced, was it blocked/collapsing?!

As for fuel filter life, I'd think it would be mostly related to the fuel and sediment it was filtering (which is not the same for every car)
Did you notice any changes under other operating conditions?!
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Old 05-13-2012, 01:01 PM   #10
boongsin12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJLavelle View Post
Since it runs well the rest of the day, I would think that it is not fuel related. If it starts happening at all times of the day, then it could very well be a fuel issue. Also, if you have more than 30-40k on the fuel filter, it should be replaced. The good news is that the 325 fuel filter is cheaper than the one for the 330.
I see that several people responded that if was a vacuum leak. I hate when people just post a few words, and don't give any real direction. I think it could very well be a vacuum leak. Since it happens on a cold car, it could also be a problem with the Secondary Air Pump.
Do you have any error codes? Let's start there. Let me know if you have a Check Engine Light, and if you have a way to get the codes read. I have a code reader I could loan you, if you need it. The regular ones they use at AutoZone do not work with our cars. BMW codes are BMW specific.
Thanks for the response,

I have replaced the DISA valve and upper and lower intake boots myself about a month ago. Before that, I was getting 4 CEL codes.

P0171 = Fuel Trim, Bank1 System Too Lean
P0174 = Fuel Trim, Bank2 System Too Lean
P1083 = Fuel Control Limit Mixture Too Lean (Bank 1, Sensor 1)
P1085 = Fuel Control Limit Mixture Too Lean (Bank 2, Sensor 1)

After fixing these things and removing the CEL using my code reader, the CEL codes have not yet bothered to come up. The first time I had the code was from 2 hours of highway driving. Since the fix, I have been on a highway trip from Ann Arbor, MI to Dayton, OH, about 200 mi each way. And I have been constantly driving within the city. On one hand, I am glad that the CEL code hasn't come up. But now I need to know if computer is lying or not.

For your information, I used a tool that is not for BMW. I had one tool I got off Amazon for the other car. It was able to read all the codes. I am getting BMW scanner 1.4.0 shortly to see if I have more problems with my car.

I just posted a video of what happens to the car in the morning here,
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=919912
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