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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 02-12-2015, 08:42 PM   #1
Dev02
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Angry Cranks but won't start...? Any ideas?

Recently bought a used 2004 330 with 100k. 1 owner with tons of maintenance records. I think what's happening might be my doing (and that all manner of sucks!).

What I did:
There was the dreaded AC stink in the car, so after doing TONS of research I took everything out down to the blower motor and accessed the Aircon there.

I used an engine cleaner tool to spray some Simple Green through the fins, then dumped a can of Klima-clean over the entire thing.

This was a week ago and the car has worked well, but for one issue, since then (not including the starting problem): the MPG gauge below the speedo has been acting weird.

Then last night the car just died while driving, all electricals were working. I thought I might have ran out of gas and the gas gauge wasn't working correctly so I walked home (fun when it's -3) and got some gas, put it in the car and she ran fine. I filled up this morning and went to work, no problem. Get off work and she won't start, again all electrics work.

It acts like a bad fuel pump or other fuel issue but I'm terrified I fried the ECU.

Has anyone else experienced this, or have an idea what's going on? Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:16 PM   #2
IxIFelIxI
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First things first. do you hear the fuel pump working when you put key into 2nd position? take the seat out to make it easier to hear
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:22 PM   #3
Dev02
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Unfortunately it is still at work and I'll have to get it towed home tomorrow, but no I could not hear the pump. I listened for it. I am thinking it IS the pump and just a coincidence that it happened after the AC cleaning.

Thanks!
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Old 02-13-2015, 09:36 PM   #4
jmo69
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At least it's an easy fix. Good time to do the filter too. Make sure you get an OEM pump. BMA parts has the best price, $129.63.
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Old 02-13-2015, 10:52 PM   #5
Dev02
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I'm doing the pump, filter and relay. Seems like the consensus (I'm a horrible forum member and didn't find the easy-to-find thread 'save yourself $200 and change your fuel pump' until posting this!).

Unfortunately I paid a total of $360 for everything to have the parts today, but that's not too bad. The shop wanted $1200 to have everything done by Tuesday. Even in 11 degree weather I'll still be happy doing it and saving.

I got the VDO pump that I was told WAS the OEM pump without the BMW name. Not sure that's true, but I know BMW uses a lot of VDO...?
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:16 PM   #6
White_Knuckles
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I'll remind all that crystal ball troubleshooting is a guessing game. Intermittent shut down can be several things. My car Christmas Tree-ed (sudden shut-down where all dash lamps come up) several times with no notice just bang - dead. This problem is not related to recent work or a smoked ECU. So the theory you're experiencing loss of fuel at the rail or low fuel pressure is sound but not absolutely the fix. Typically a failing fuel pump will surge creating a start-die-start-die symptom when attempting to start the car initially. Or a DOA pump that will never fire - no fuel present. You can pull the rear seat and listen to the pump or measure the fuel pressure at the rail but hold on there may be more to this?

My intermittent sudden deaths turned out to be the Intake Cam Sensor. The sensor stops sending pulse data to the ECU who decides it can't see a cam so it stops firing the cylinders. Nice. No warning just shuts down while moving or parked. It always restarted within a couple minutes and acted fine - for days. This part is notorious for causing death and is well documented. My point is I got lucky on that one. Guessing what is croaking your car is a mystery science. Assuming it's fuel or sensor related does give you good direction. You're down to throwing parts at it to see the results. Testing for intermittent fuel loss or cam position data is not practical as this is intermittent probably never duplicating under testing. The intake sensor is about $50 and can be swapped in a half-hour. Pump/Filter you're looking at $300 and 3 hours labor.

Good luck!
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Old 02-14-2015, 03:02 PM   #7
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VDO is the OEM pump, as far as the CPS, that could be it too like White Knuckles said. I would think it would show a code. When my pump went out I pulled the MAF plug and tried to start the car and it threw the corresponding code.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:52 AM   #8
Dev02
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Knuckles, I agree about this being a guessing game, and that other things might be at play. This seems to be the case (maybe) and I think I might have addressed a symptom without fixing the cause.

I verified I was getting power to the pump, and that the pump wasn't pumping. So yesterday I changed my fuel pump (super easy, maybe 30 minute job), the relay (also easy, maybe 10 minutes), and the filter (complete PITA! Took me 4+ hours! Though I now have all new soft hoses, clamps and a shiny filter). The car started up almost immediately after. It ran well and strong, however... The mpg gauge is still acting erratic.

Does anyone know why the mpg gauge would act so weird? It will stay at 50mpg for a bit when I start out, seem to average out around 30 as I drive, then shoots up as I come to a stop (says I am getting 13mpg as I coast to a stop).

I am thinking something is wrong and the car is making erratic demands on the pump, and this killed the last one.

Both you and Jmo have great ideas with the CPS and MAF. I need to research and find how to get the fault codes, and what they mean. I'm used to working on much older cars. My 2002 doesn't have a computer or codes.

Thanks for the help, it is greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:55 AM   #9
biglittledog
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Tidbit: when you take the rear seat out and put the key in position 2, the fuel pump should come on for about three seconds and then shut off. It's not supposed to keep running continuously yet.
Just to mention it, my fuel pump died a sudden death with no warning which seems to be common. All of a sudden it wouldn't start. You're also about the mileage where they just die so it's a good guess.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:57 AM   #10
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BTW, when our fuel pump crapped out there was no code. Same thing when I flooded the engine by starting it when it was very cold out and shutting it off after moving the car 30 feet. No code.

The easiest way to check and see if it's your fuel pump is to get a can of starter fluid and spray some into the intake (I loosened the hose clamp just past the airbox and sprayed it behind the sensor). The car should start for a second or two and die if the pump is bad.
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2002 325xiT (have 2)
1967 Jaguar 420G
1945 Dodge WC52 Weapons Carrier (snowplow now)
2003 Harley Dyna Super Glide
1989 Honda XR600r
1968 BSA Shooting Star

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Old 02-15-2015, 10:16 AM   #11
Dev02
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Biglittledog, after doing research and finding the thread about fuel pumps going bad I figured that was the answer. What has me concerned is that the mpg gauge is still flipping out. I'm worried something else is wrong and THAT'S what killed my pump, not age.

Strangely enough I cannot hear the pump at all, even with the seat out and everything quiet.
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:06 PM   #12
daewon774
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http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1011677

Go through the list. Come back with answers. We will help
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:09 PM   #13
biglittledog
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Smile

Yeah, that's a weird one. Beyond my scope of knowledge I'm afraid…
I'll follow along and see what the cure turns out to be.
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2002 325xiT (have 2)
1967 Jaguar 420G
1945 Dodge WC52 Weapons Carrier (snowplow now)
2003 Harley Dyna Super Glide
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Old 02-15-2015, 01:15 PM   #14
Dev02
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Dog, I'll keep updating the thread as I go. Thanks for your help!

Daewon, thanks for the link! I went through it but don't see anything about an erratic mpg gauge. I will have the codes read today and post them (and research what they might be). While the fuel pump replacement has the car running again I fear it was just a symptom.
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Old 02-15-2015, 03:28 PM   #15
White_Knuckles
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Couple things, the fuel upgrade will confirm-if it was the shut-down culprit. That good. The cam sensor can be elusive and not throw codes. I believe it hits so fast the engine management control can't trap the error? I did throw one "ICS out of range" error code after about 5 shut-downs with no codes.

Your MPG gauge may be completely unrelated. These handy devices (not) are traditional BMW amenities and have been around awhile. I'm pretty sure they're a glorified vacuum device. Where exactly the V-source plugs in and how the metering works I don't know. Maybe someone can chime in? What I'm saying is a defective gauge vac diaphragm could create crazy needle deflection who knows? The fact the engine runs correctly and is not exhibiting vacuum fluctuation madness may mean it's simply a wack gauge? To verify this a conventional vac gauge can be inserted at an engine vac source and compared. The MPG gauge is not an intelligent device tied into fuel system output monitoring. It's simply a dampened vac device to give the (idiot) driver a clue whether they have their foot into it or not. You can tell from its behavior on a normal working unit. I had an old 60's Pontiac that had a big chrome factory "mileage" gauge mounted on the console that read - good, fair, and poor with green, yellow and red bands. It responded the same as ours. It looked cooler though.

The MAF is not a shut-down suspect. The system is designed to run with the MAF in or out of circuit where a total MAF fail will not kill her. Clear the codes and monitor reoccurring ones coming back to greet you.
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Old 02-15-2015, 03:59 PM   #16
Dev02
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Great info, didn't know that about the MAF. Also wasn't sure how the mpg worked. Thought it might just be vacuum, or maybe controlled by engine mangement (which was what had me worried).
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Old 02-15-2015, 06:15 PM   #17
Dev02
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Well I went and got the OBD read... No faults. Guess I have to go to the dealership and see if they get codes.

On top of the mpg gauge freaking out the computer is telling me my average mpg is 18.1, I am sure it was higher last time I checked it a couple weeks ago. And I have noticed it seems to put out more exhaust plumes than I'd expect. I had assumed that was just because it is ungodly cold here, but now wonder if the car is running rich...

I just don't think its a coincidence all these things are happening at exactly the same time. I'll update with new info when I get it.
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Old 02-15-2015, 10:37 PM   #18
White_Knuckles
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Your amber Check Engine Soon lamp will come on when any significant "running/emission" code is registered. Before dashing to the dealer to read secret codes realize any they find may not be even running related. Those who own generic code readers find that if the CES lamp is tripped the code(s) listed make sense and you can clear them. The BMW proprietary codes (generic code readers can't see) are normally outside the OBDII required engine data that is what you're looking for. What that means is - you're not throwing codes. Nothing engine or emission related has popped.

I think you're a little sensitive to your car right now. The average mileage report of 18 is not unusual if 20 was a prior read. You live in a refrigerator and probably are doing long warm-ups? A clogged CCV can make an exhaust "plume" but very noticeable in most cases. If it's white it's water burning out of the system as condensed from sitting. If it's blue you're blowing oil. The car going rich would be strange.

If it dies again I suggest you try the sensor swap it's really easy and good prevention anyway. Just buy the genuine BMW part which is Bosch. Look for a good Euro independent shop should you need another opinion but the dealer is a last resort for most of us.
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Old 02-16-2015, 10:51 AM   #19
Dev02
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Hey Knuckles, I didn't know that about the BMW codes, very cool. I have a scanner coming and feel better knowing that anything critical would be on the OBDII. My only thought of going to the dealer was to get the BMW codes read, not to get repairs done. I have a couple very good shops near me I'd go to if I can't fix something. I'm happy not to go to the dealer now that I don't have to!

I totally agree I'm uber sensitive right now, I hate getting abandoned in the winter (but hey, I don't live on the east coast right now so that's something!). It might be that the fuel pump fixed the main issue and the car is good-to-go and the gauge is just a coincidence, just seems strange timing to happen right after I dismantled, crawled around on and reinstalled a bunch of stuff in the engine bay. I DID park in the parking ramp again this morning so I guess I trust it a little.

I'm not so much worried about the average MPG as I am curious if it is related to the MPG gauge and white plumes out the tail. And to the white billowy stuff (I hesitate to call it 'smoke'), in 25 years in this state I've never had a vehicle put out this much even in the dead of winter, especially AFTER it was warmed up. a 45 minute drive into work and it still kicks out a lot of condensation. I normally let the car sit after starting for 5 minutes, then drive easy till the water temp is at 11:00 or so (not the oil temp I know, but I don't get on it when it's that cold out).

My plan is to continue to look for a cause of the weird MPG gauge, and to see if I can find a reason for the excessive condensation (what I think is excessive). If the MPG gauge is vacuum driven then it seems to follow I have a vac leak, though I do NOT have a rough running engine, and should find that; if the gauge is controlled by the electronic input then I should find out what's going on there. I'll do a smoke check as soon as it gets up around 20 or warmer, and probably do some MAF cleaner rather than just buy a new MAF. And for the condensation I THINK I should do the CCV as you pointed out, but hate to just throw parts at a problem (been guilty of this in the past though) so is there some way to tell if I need to do this? A test?

Thanks again for all the help. Sorry to be so long winded, I just know when I read a thread with the same issue I'm having I like to get as much info as I can.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:46 PM   #20
bk_856er
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My understanding was that the instrument cluster instantaneous MPG gauge is driven off the injector duty cycle and info comes from the ECU. I'm pretty certain it's not vacuum based.

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