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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 01-28-2012, 11:00 AM   #1
LeMansteve
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: USA - GA
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Compared: Bosch 94R-730B battery vs BMW

Well, my E46 was starting to show signs of a weak battery, sluggish starts on cold mornings being the main sign. I parked it at the train station for a few days in December and it barely turned over when I got back. The next morning it started even weaker. I decided it was time to proactively replace the battery before it left me stranded somewhere. The battery was original and roughly 7.5 years old.

Lots of research told me the BMW battery is the most expensive though a perfect match of the one I would be replacing. Duralast would be the cheapest replacement battery by far, but the information I found on forums regarding size, fit and vent tube were inconsistent. Some people say it was a direct fit, others had to screw around with modifying it to accommodate different sizes and vent tube locations. I went with the Bosch mainly because it was 99% identical to the original battery, had more CCA and was less than what a dealer would have charged. It even has the "magic eye"! Yes, I paid 2x more than I would have at Walmart. I don't care.

Here are my notes and observations:

Bosch 94R-730B (94R group size, 730 CCA)
*SKU: 9456178
*730CCA @ 0F
*875CCA @ 32F
*140 minutes reserve charge @ 25 amps. This is not important to me because I rarely use the battery when the engine is off.
*lead acid battery
*$136.15 at PepBoys, after $12.84 core and $10 coupon

BMW 61 21 6 946 333
*640CCA @ unknown temp
*140 minutes reserve charge @ unknown amps. I assume 25A, but not important per above comments.
*lead acid battery. I got scared for a minute that it might be AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat), which is supposed to require "programming" by a dealer for optimum performance. Wouldn't have been able to to that myself. AGM appears to have been introduced to the 3-series on the E90 chassis.
*I never called dealer, but saw prices on forums anywhere from $160-200 for just the battery.

*Both batteries are exactly the same overall size.
*The plastic on both appear to have been produced using virtually identical molds.
*Vent tube hole is in the same exact place. The Bosch battery has a blocked-off hole on the opposite side of the battery where the BMW battery is blank. See pics below.
*Bosch battery has the same holes that hold the red cover over in place over the positive terminal.

Overall the replacement was easy. Lifting heavy batteries into and out of the corner of the trunk was a little awkward, though. The Bosch battery fits exactly as the original battery did. I did find one stray 3-pin connector. It is routed behind the trunk trim with the positive cable and BST cable. It does not go on the battery and I can't figure out what it plugs in to! Feedback on this connector would be appreciated.
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Last edited by LeMansteve; 01-28-2012 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:49 AM   #2
flashmeow
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 2,220
My Ride: E30-E46-E90-E90M-F30
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Well, my E46 was starting to show signs of a weak battery, sluggish starts on cold mornings being the main sign. I parked it at the train station for a few days in December and it barely turned over when I got back. The next morning it started even weaker. I decided it was time to proactively replace the battery before it left me stranded somewhere. The battery was original and roughly 7.5 years old.

Lots of research told me the BMW battery is the most expensive though a perfect match of the one I would be replacing. Duralast would be the cheapest replacement battery by far, but the information I found on forums regarding size, fit and vent tube were inconsistent. Some people say it was a direct fit, others had to screw around with modifying it to accommodate different sizes and vent tube locations. I went with the Bosch mainly because it was 99% identical to the original battery, had more CCA and was less than what a dealer would have charged. It even has the "magic eye"! Yes, I paid 2x more than I would have at Walmart. I don't care.

Here are my notes and observations:

Bosch 94R-730B (94R group size, 730 CCA)
*SKU: 9456178
*730CCA @ 0F
*875CCA @ 32F
*140 minutes reserve charge @ 25 amps. This is not important to me because I rarely use the battery when the engine is off.
*lead acid battery
*$136.15 at PepBoys, after $12.84 core and $10 coupon

BMW 61 21 6 946 333
*640CCA @ unknown temp
*140 minutes reserve charge @ unknown amps. I assume 25A, but not important per above comments.
*lead acid battery. I got scared for a minute that it might be AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat), which is supposed to require "programming" by a dealer for optimum performance. Wouldn't have been able to to that myself. AGM appears to have been introduced to the 3-series on the E90 chassis.
*I never called dealer, but saw prices on forums anywhere from $160-200 for just the battery.

*Both batteries are exactly the same overall size.
*The plastic on both appear to have been produced using virtually identical molds.
*Vent tube hole is in the same exact place. The Bosch battery has a blocked-off hole on the opposite side of the battery where the BMW battery is blank. See pics below.
*Bosch battery has the same holes that hold the red cover over in place over the positive terminal.

Overall the replacement was easy. Lifting heavy batteries into and out of the corner of the trunk was a little awkward, though. The Bosch battery fits exactly as the original battery did. I did find one stray 3-pin connector. It is routed behind the trunk trim with the positive cable and BST cable. It does not go on the battery and I can't figure out what it plugs in to! Feedback on this connector would be appreciated.
The cable you found is no longer needed. It was originally used when bmw transported your car. I hope this helps. Good luck

sent from HTC EVO
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:58 AM   #3
daguzz
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Good info. Thanks for posting.
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:11 PM   #4
LeMansteve
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flashtwosix View Post
The cable you found is no longer needed. It was originally used when bmw transported your car. I hope this helps. Good luck

sent from HTC EVO
Thanks! What was the cable used for?
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:46 PM   #5
eneka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Thanks! What was the cable used for?
IIRC, it is for a little LED that runs to the cabin so after it's shipped here they just look at it to see if the battery is still good or not (?)
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:06 PM   #6
Nervous
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Where did you buy it?
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:23 PM   #7
LeMansteve
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nervous View Post
Where did you buy it?
Read it again
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:33 PM   #8
Nervous
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Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Read it again
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:00 PM   #9
xi_ter
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To me the looks and specs of the Bosch 94R and the Exide 94R are the same. My BMW OEM battery lasted 6 years before I replaced it with an Exide 94R. The Exide 94R only lasted 2 years even though CCA were higher. The warranty on the Exide was great - 3 years free replacement, graduated replacement to 7 years.
BMW must demand a sturdier build from its battery suppliers. The service life is dependable around 7 years and Canada is tough on batteries.
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:20 PM   #10
ankrummg
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Hey Nervous, He got it at PepBoys.
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:47 PM   #11
Turkishtaffy2
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Landenberg, PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Well, my E46 was starting to show signs of a weak battery, sluggish starts on cold mornings being the main sign. I parked it at the train station for a few days in December and it barely turned over when I got back. The next morning it started even weaker. I decided it was time to proactively replace the battery before it left me stranded somewhere. The battery was original and roughly 7.5 years old.

Lots of research told me the BMW battery is the most expensive though a perfect match of the one I would be replacing. Duralast would be the cheapest replacement battery by far, but the information I found on forums regarding size, fit and vent tube were inconsistent. Some people say it was a direct fit, others had to screw around with modifying it to accommodate different sizes and vent tube locations. I went with the Bosch mainly because it was 99% identical to the original battery, had more CCA and was less than what a dealer would have charged. It even has the "magic eye"! Yes, I paid 2x more than I would have at Walmart. I don't care.

Here are my notes and observations:

Bosch 94R-730B (94R group size, 730 CCA)
*SKU: 9456178
*730CCA @ 0F
*875CCA @ 32F
*140 minutes reserve charge @ 25 amps. This is not important to me because I rarely use the battery when the engine is off.
*lead acid battery
*$136.15 at PepBoys, after $12.84 core and $10 coupon

BMW 61 21 6 946 333
*640CCA @ unknown temp
*140 minutes reserve charge @ unknown amps. I assume 25A, but not important per above comments.
*lead acid battery. I got scared for a minute that it might be AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat), which is supposed to require "programming" by a dealer for optimum performance. Wouldn't have been able to to that myself. AGM appears to have been introduced to the 3-series on the E90 chassis.
*I never called dealer, but saw prices on forums anywhere from $160-200 for just the battery.

*Both batteries are exactly the same overall size.
*The plastic on both appear to have been produced using virtually identical molds.
*Vent tube hole is in the same exact place. The Bosch battery has a blocked-off hole on the opposite side of the battery where the BMW battery is blank. See pics below.
*Bosch battery has the same holes that hold the red cover over in place over the positive terminal.

Overall the replacement was easy. Lifting heavy batteries into and out of the corner of the trunk was a little awkward, though. The Bosch battery fits exactly as the original battery did. I did find one stray 3-pin connector. It is routed behind the trunk trim with the positive cable and BST cable. It does not go on the battery and I can't figure out what it plugs in to! Feedback on this connector would be appreciated.
Lemansteve, excellent post. Figures, the Pep Boys comes through with the best solution! So, there was no reprogramming needed with this swap?
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:52 PM   #12
jsmith08
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Found the OEM BMW battery on Tischer for $136.00:

http://www.trademotion.com/parts/ind...&siteid=214672
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:12 PM   #13
Nervous
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ankrummg View Post
Hey Nervous, He got it at PepBoys.
Thanks! to me.
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:22 PM   #14
LeMansteve
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turkishtaffy2 View Post
Lemansteve, excellent post. Figures, the Pep Boys comes through with the best solution! So, there was no reprogramming needed with this swap?
No dad, no reprogramming needed.
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:25 AM   #15
LeMansteve
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JpSmith View Post
Found the OEM BMW battery on Tischer for $136.00:

http://www.trademotion.com/parts/ind...&siteid=214672
+$15 for ground shipping, couldn't get a price for other delivery methods. I needed a battery NOW, couldn't wait for shipping. Nice price though. If only Tischer was directly across the street like PepBoys...
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:29 PM   #16
TopDownMike
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Thumbs Up Thank you LeMansteve!!!

Thank you LeMansteve!!!

My OEM battery just died today and I was lucky to find your forum post.

I have the 2006 326i convertible (the last year of the E46 ragtop) and the convertible must take the Group 94 battery. There is a single clamp (by the interior trunk light nearest the tail light) that holds the battery in place. Unlike some sedan versions (via some YouTube videos I saw), there is only a single hole drilled in the base plate to take the clamp. Thus, only one size length will fit without retrofitting the base plate. Therefore, I needed an exact fit and your post was extremely helpful.

The OEM battery post was stamped "33 05" so I assume that it was manufactured the 33rd week of 2005 (~mid August 2005). I thoroughly suspected it was the battery.

To be sure, I wanted to make sure the alternator was functioning properly. I checked online and found a nice test procedure to measure the alternator output.



There are also other YouTube videos depicting the same procedure.

On my first alternator test attempt, the battery was so discharged that it wouldn't start the car. I then charged it for a couple of hours with a battery charger and got the car to start. The test procedure showed my alternator delivering 14+ volts, so I am comfortable that the nearly 7 year old battery has met its maker.

I am headed to Pep Boys in Pleasant Hill, CA tomorrow to get the Bosch battery. I called ahead and it is in stock. They charge $158.99 with exchange of my core. Worth it to me to be assured of an exact fit.

Because of your excellent post, I was able to find the correct battery.... Just crossing my fingers I get a fresh one!
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:42 PM   #17
Stinger9
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TO OP-----------

I like the way you use an objective side by side analysis of all the data possibly available, but leave out the choice of hundreds here on this board.
It's an easy adaptation that no one has ever given up on. And it's not that hard to wield a heavy battery into a tight corner of your trunk because the 49DL comes with a very easy to use carrying strap.
You didn't overpay by that much because the Autozone price has climbed up to the $100 range in most places. But it is a big walloping battery with gobs of cranking power.

Last edited by Stinger9; 04-25-2012 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:05 AM   #18
TopDownMike
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To whom are you replying to?

Stinger9,
To whom are you replying to?

If me, there aren't many Autozones near my location and nearest shows no stock. Autozone is not a viable option for me.

If for the original poster, well then I have no answer. ;-)
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:19 AM   #19
LeMansteve
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TDM - Thanks for your reply. I don't have the Bentley manual in front of me, but I believe the E46 convertibles do not take the same exact battery as the sedans and coupes. I will look it up when I get home. The Bosch battery I used may very well fit and work in a convertible, but *technically* may not be the correct battery.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:01 AM   #20
TopDownMike
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Same BMW part number

Just as an FYI. My OEM battery in my convertible is the same BMW part number in your post, so I am assuming the Bosch one is the same size per your photos.

Since I took out my old one (i.e., using another car to go to Pep Boys), I will double check the sizes before purchase.
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