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Old 07-08-2012, 10:24 AM   #1
tomoyer
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No Start Condition - Read On

Looking for some expert advice to go along with my diagnostics/testing so far. I have a 2003 E46 325xi with 5 speed Manual Transmission. The car will not start, the starter motor DOES NOT engage NOR does the solenoid CLICK. Testing battery voltage, 12.75 Volts, hydrometer test, all cells float the float in the green, automatic battery tester says battery is good at 12.6 volts, cold cranking amps at 725. For some time, you would have to depress the clutch pedal 2 or 3 times to start the car, until finally depressing the clutch pedal, no start (all other electrical system are working, and all fuses are good). This car being a 2003, it has the clutch switch module attached to the clutch master cylinder at the top of the clutch pedal. The clutch switch module part number is 61 31 9 122 702 (there is also another part number listed, 61 31 9 231 129 for the same year, etc. and looks the same). Obviously this clutch switch module is working by way of a magnet being pulled when the clutch pedal is depressed, the clutch master cylinder rod moving to move the magnet to complete the circuit. Voltage check at the 4 pin connector (brown/black, blue, violet/yellow, blue black) shows 11.98 volts to ground, meaning, there is voltage coming from battery/fuse block (checked with fluke DMM). Also using DMM on audible alarm, and on any combination of pins with the probes and running a steel tool along the length of the clutch switch module, the alarm does not sound, meaning there is no connection made between any 2 of the 4 pins. To go further, all connections at battery are clean and tight, all major grounds are clean and tight, there is 12.75 volts when measured at the positive battery jumping location under the hood, the connections are all clean and tight at the starter motor. Is this clutch switch module a switch that has been prone to going bad (I know the early model E46s with the 2 switches, one for the clutch interlock and the other for the cruise control, were prone to going bad after some time/mileage)? Please refrain from answering that its the key, its the battery, its the alternator, as these items are all ok and have been checked (in the case of the key, the valet key doesn't hold any charge as it has no capacitor in it or eprom). This clutch switch module is not a very expensive part, ranging in cost from $39.27 to probably double that at a dealer and is a special order/non-stocked item and being an electronic part, not returnable, so I want to be even more sure than I already am that this switch has given up the ghost and is ready to be replaced. Any insight is appreciated, and besides posting to the thread, I can be directed contacted at tomoyer@verizon.net. Thanks.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:10 PM   #2
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That is one thorough diagnosis on a really cheap part. I understand though, half the fun is in the "why".

Given the symptoms leading up to it, the fact that you've tested all peripheral components, plus the somewhat regular occurrence of dead clutch safety switches I've seen in this board, and the lack of continuity between any pair of the 4 pins while it's "switched", I'd say it's good enough to take the leap of faith on the new part.

I checked my favorite dealer for (OE) sensors. Thebmwpartstore has it for 33.99 shipped.

Good luck with the repair.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:31 PM   #3
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Tom,
Sorry if this seems stupid, or off base, based on your trouble shooting.

Do you by chance have a custom clutch stop installed?

Mine for example can be unscrewed just barely(1/4 turn), and will prevent the clutch switch from engaging.

I used this once as a theft deterrent when I stashed the key under the car, for my girlfriend to use, knowing she would have to snug the clutch stop back to start the car.

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Old 07-08-2012, 12:37 PM   #4
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So you've ruled out the starter?
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:34 PM   #5
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Like I said in your other post, bypass the clutch switch before buying a new one. Scan your codes too.

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Old 07-08-2012, 04:08 PM   #6
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Found a DIY Thread here that told you how to bypass the clutch switch module to add a button instead of having to push the clutch in. DIY instructions said to jump between the violet/yellow and blue/black wires. I did try this and still have nothing, so the module may not be the source of the problem. BTW, there is an after market clutch pedal stop installed, however, the very first thing done was to remove it to rule that out, not letting clutch master cylinder travel far enough to activate the switch (actually was working fine when installed after fine tuning the adjustment, so it doesn't come into play), and it wasn't an off base reply, it was relevant as when you install them, you have a good bit of fine tuning the height adjustment to get the clutch switch to make but also limit the pedal travel some. Have I ruled out the starter/starter solenoid has been asked. From past experiences, the starter solenoid usually doesn't go like that (intermittent having to depress pedal more than once to start AND just up a quitting without warning), they usually let you know that they are failing by clicking when you go to start the car, HOWEVER, all things are possible AND the only way to disprove the starter/starter solenoid is to check voltage at lug 30, and then at the solenoid trigger right down on the starter motor, which just happens to be a big sweet PIA on these cars and easier done with car up in the air and pans removed (this is the next check I will be doing once it starts to cool down a bit, about 100 degrees right now and very humid. Having several E30s, one a 1984, on all of them I have never had to replace a starter/solenoid and all have more than 200,000 miles on the clock. To me, the Clutch Switch Module seems like the weakest link in the chain, AND several people did respond to the DIY instructions to jump it, that it didn't work for them and their starters were good. Quite a puzzle. I don't have a Peake Research Code Reader, but if I'm not mistaken, the Bavarian Auto Code Reader is a Peake Research unit and doesn't seem to have codes for other than emissions, misfires, and engine management problems, but let me see what code(s) if any it spits out, no codes are stored.
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:04 PM   #7
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Ok, checked everything at the starter and starter solenoid, all cables clean and tight, on Terminal 30 measured 12.34 volts, at Positive Jumper location measured 12.35 volts and at battery 12.35 volts. With clutch pedal depressed, key to start position, measured 11.94 volts at terminal 50 (the solenoid trigger from ignition switch), but with key held on to start position it did drop to 0 volts and no audible sound of solenoid clicking to engage. Now leads me to believe that indeed the starter solenoid is bad and needs to be replaced (or the entire starter motor assembly which includes the motor and the solenoid). What do our experts think?
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Old 07-09-2012, 02:39 PM   #8
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Here's an update and something to remember. In my last post I mentioned that when depressing the clutch pedal all the way in and holding the key in the start position, I had 11.94 volts at terminal 50 (the solenoid terminal at the starter) and 12.34 volts on terminal 30 at the starter. However, the voltage of 11.94 volts quickly dropped to zero even though the clutch pedal was depressed and the key was still being held in the start position. Cause? There is an ignition switch control module that is located in the steering column and connected to the key cylinder. Its purpose is to supply current to start the engine, supply current to keep the engine running and accessory current when engine is off. Upon studying wiring diagrams and talking with 2 very experienced techs (more experienced on the E46 than I am, I'm much better on the E30s, so I have some of the quirks of the E46 to still learn), they both told me that this ignition switch control module is a known fail point and is a major cause of a no-start condition when NOTHING happens when you try to start the car. (a shorted starter motor and/or shorted starter solenoid would have this effect; if you have the headlights on, trying to start the car, if either were shorted, the headlights would dim or even go out indicating a short. Having ruled out all else in my case, I have ordered the ignition switch module (both dealers and several of the BMW aftermarket parts stores can not keep them in stock as they are a hot item) and will replace that part. Once replaced, I will add what happens to this thread.
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Old 07-09-2012, 02:54 PM   #9
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Tom,

You're right that the ignition switch seems prone to failure, but it often seems to me that it wrecks havoc somewhere else also...like the radio, or some cluster lights or something.

Another thing to check, while awaiting the ignition switch is the fuse pack in e-box...lots of significant items run through there. I think a bad crank sensor will cause no crank also and it's on one of those fuses.

Easy enough to check if you haven't.

GL!
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Old 07-09-2012, 08:14 PM   #10
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dmax, haven't checked in the e-box under the hood, so it is something I will quickly do tomorrow. Certainly is something worth checking and very quick and easy to do so. All fuses with in the passenger compartment were checked and are ok, though. Unless the E46 is vastly different that the E30s, a bad crank sensor and/or bad cam shaft sensor(s) should let the starter motor crank over the engine, but because the computer doesn't know where the crank is in relation to the cam shafts, it will not start, at least that is how it worked on the M42 4 cylinder motors. Had to replace the cam sensor and crank sensor twice on mine in the 230,000 miles, and always replaced them as a unit as even the BMW Scan tools and program could not definitely tell you which one was bad. I'm still leaning towards the ignition switch module because of the voltage at first being present at the starter solenoid but quickly dropping to 0 volts. We will see and I'll report back once I have the module and have it installed. (The module is far cheaper than a starter motor and much easier to replace, lol. The module is $80.00 whereas a re-man starter motor will cost $200.00 once core is returned.)
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