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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 03-10-2014, 09:59 PM   #1
insufferable
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Brantford Ontario
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My Ride: 2001 330xi
Looking for the root cause to elctrical issues

Hey there. So, allow to me to explain what I have going on here.

Recently my car has been causing me a head ache, literally. I have what sounds like alternator squeal. That's what my audio guy calls it. It's a high pitched whine that comes from my speakers when I accelerate. I also have an odd sound coming from within my dash. It's hard to describe the sound. It's similar to nails on a chalk board but not as intense combined with the sound of a bird flapping its wings against a window. The also happens when I accelerate. To top it off, my drivers side head light keeps going out. If I turn it off then back on, it works again.

I need to mention that this problem is intermittent. I either have all three issues or none at all.

Anyone care to share their thoughts?

btw, I have an 01 330xi
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Old 03-10-2014, 10:50 PM   #2
White_Knuckles
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First these should be unrelated as all have dedicated circuits (fuses) and ground points. What style headlight? If halogen, they are quick to inspect for lamp or socket issues. HID lamps have more components and you'll need understanding of ballast and ignitor functions (and cautions) when troubleshooting for intermittent operation. The dash sound may be an HVAC stepper motor cycling a flap or deflector? It may not be able to find the "home" position or is stuck making "flapping" noises? That's a total guess but I can't imagine any other thing that produces this type of sound. The whine heard in your stereo may indeed be a failing filter that removes noise from the alternator output power. You'll have to research if this is performed at the alternator output (most likely) or at the head input. A simple in-line DC audio power filter placed in series with the positive head connection will likely remove the sound. This should never be needed with our factory systems.

One question, when the RPM dependent pitch change is heard when it's producing the dash sound is also a similar change of pitch is noticed in your audio? Meaning, only when the dash is squealing you hear the varying audio frequency. If it's the dash culprit, let's say a stepper motor creating high freq. then it could be emitting RF the head picks up. Solve the dash problem - audio cured. The headlamp makes no sense why it would be in the party.
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:04 PM   #3
insufferable
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White_Knuckles View Post
First these should be unrelated as all have dedicated circuits (fuses) and ground points. What style headlight? If halogen, they are quick to inspect and for lamp or socket issues. HID lamps have more components and you'll need understanding of ballast and ignitor functions (and cautions) when troubleshooting for intermittent operation. The dash sound may be an HVAC stepper motor cycling a flap or deflector? It may not be able to find the "home" position or is stuck making "flapping" noises? That's a total guess but I can't imagine any other thing that produces this type of sound. The whine heard in your stereo may indeed be a failing filter that removes noise from the alternator output power. You'll have to research if this is performed at the alternator output (most likely) or at the head input. A simple in-line DC audio power filter placed in series with the positive head connection will likely remove the sound. This should never be needed with our factory systems.
I guess I will have to take this one step at a time. The stereo is aftermarket. The factory stereo started skipping CDs and the tweeters were blown. The aftermarket is an Alpine deck with type R speakers front/rear and a class D JL Audio amp with JL Audio 10 inch sub. The system was installed in early February and had no issues until the past few days.

I've been researching the flapping sound in my dash and it looks as though you are right and I have a big job ahead of me. From what I can tell, I can only gain access through the glove box. Correct?

I have xenon headlights. I will worry about this issue when time permits.

Thank you for your response.

Kurt
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:22 PM   #4
White_Knuckles
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Um, not sure on the glovebox access due to several motors hiding in the system? Isolate the exact noise location and dive in from there. The aftermarket system may have a failed filter often an external, plastic black-box containing the fuse. Xenons (HID) use a strike to start and a ballast to maintain lamp voltage. Re-strike kick starts them back to life again. Read up on your lamps to troubleshoot.
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:27 PM   #5
insufferable
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Originally Posted by White_Knuckles View Post
Um, not sure on the glovebox access due to several motors hiding in the system? Isolate the exact noise location and dive in from there. The aftermarket system may have a failed filter often an external, plastic black-box containing the fuse. Xenons (HID) use a strike to start and a ballast to maintain lamp voltage. Re-strike kick starts them back to life again. Read up on your lamps to troubleshoot.
The noise in the dash seems to be coming from the area right above the stereo, behind the vents.
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:33 PM   #6
White_Knuckles
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Maybe pull the head and poke around up there? Those upper vents are definitely motor controlled. Go to RealOEM.com and study diagrams of the inner dash assembly. The blown out diagrams of parts helps us see what's back there.
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:35 PM   #7
insufferable
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Awesome. Thanks for the link. That just might save me some head aches.

Cheers
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Old 03-12-2014, 09:35 PM   #8
insufferable
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Update. If you're familiar with our weather is Southern Ontario, you will know that any sane person has not been driving around with their windows down the past few months. Yesterday we reached a balmy 11 degrees C and I got to enjoy a little fresh air while driving. Anyway, with my windows down, I noticed that I had a screeching sound coming from the rear drivers wheel that coincided with the noise coming from behind my dash. Crazy the sound would transfer like that. Today we had a snow storm so I took the car to my mechanic rather than pull the wheel myself. Emergency brake shoe had sprung a spring and was grinding. The dust shield was trashed as well. We removed both. Problem solved.

Onto the next issue.
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