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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 08-06-2012, 11:23 AM   #1
Grover62
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: San Diego, CA
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My Ride: 2002 330xi
330xi Won't start

Recently purchased a 2002 330xi with 98K miles. Sports package, GPS, Cold area package, etc. Got it all (almost). Sweet ride. Everything works or did. Original owner had the engine replaced before I bought it due to oil pump failure and scorched main bearings. Dropped in a used engine with 68K miles.
I've owned it for 2 weeks now and the battery light started flashing a couple days ago. I checked the battery (12.08 volts), removed the cables and cleaned them and added almost 20 oz of DI water. Reattached cables and now it won't start. All I get is a single solenoid sounding click.
Charged the battery overnight (now 12.8 volts) and same click - no start. Jumped it with my double-batteried truck (13.6 volts) and still same single click. Waited until dark and turned on headlights to check brightness. Nice and bright for as long as I wanted to keep them on. Tried starting with headlights on and the headlights stayed bright, no dimming.
No codes on OBD with readout tool. All interior and exterior lights work. Can someone help me with an explanation? When I saw the battery light flash on and off, I thought alternator or battery. Battery is on its 4th year of an 8 yr warranty. Now it sounds like starter or solenoid but no major drawdown in voltage like if it was shorted????? Starter R&R sounds like a b*&ch so I'd rather avoid that unless verified it's the cause.
PLEASE HELP!
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:01 PM   #2
Kubica
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You have a bad alternator or loose connection between the battery and alternator.
Check the connection at the alt, battery terminal under the hood, and battery connections in the trunk.
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:03 PM   #3
Kubica
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Did you try jumping from the battery or the terminal under the hood?
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:33 PM   #4
SamDoe1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubica View Post
You have a bad alternator or loose connection between the battery and alternator.
Check the connection at the alt, battery terminal under the hood, and battery connections in the trunk.
Even if there is a bad alternator, the car should still start with a properly charged and properly functioning battery. It won't stay running without issues though.

My guess is your starter is shot. Solenoid is probably still good if you're hearing the click but swap it anyway since you're in there.
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:48 PM   #5
Kubica
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^my car won't jump from the battery, only from under the hood.

I don't think a bad starter would flicker the battery light either.
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:53 PM   #6
SamDoe1
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Originally Posted by Kubica View Post
^my car won't jump from the battery, only from under the hood.

I don't think a bad starter would flicker the battery light either.
My car jumped from the battery and under the hood just fine.

A bad battery or bad connection wouldn't strongly power interior and exterior lighting though...

OP, do all other interior and exterior electrics work? ie. power seats, windows, mirrors, radio, etc...
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:46 AM   #7
Grover62
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Answers

Yes, I jumped to the terminals under the hood, not the battery in the trunk. All interior lights, radio, power seats and mirrors, etc. work. The no-start condition started after disconnecting the battery. Is their perhaps an evil BMW code only known to dealers that must be entered or reset like the old radio code? I had a dead battery once on my old 525i that was so dead that it wouldn't let the doors open with a key (battery was conveniently located under the rear seat). AAA couldn't get it open even with a slim-jim and the dealer knew nothing. My son (who needed the car to get to his college final) found a trick on line that had you turning the key in the passenger door lock one way and then the other, holding it for 5 seconds, that finally released the door lock solenoid.
Thanks for your help so far. I'll check the alternator connections and get back to you. Going to be 97F today so I better do it early.
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Old 08-07-2012, 06:25 PM   #8
tomoyer
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Since you had to add so much distilled water to the battery, have you had the battery tested? It could be the battery. Once you get it started, you will want to have the alternator tested to see if it is putting out more than 12.5 volts. You didn't say how many miles the alternator has on it, but the brushes do wear out and when they wear out, they don't contact the armature to produce voltage to charge the battery and run the car. Are the cables you had off and cleaned tight? The solenoid clicking can indicate a bad battery that has no cold cranking amperage left, a bad starter motor, or a solenoid that is partly fried. Do you own a DMM? If so, you can take voltage readings at the battery, at the jump point in the engine compartment, at the starter and at the solenoid.
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Old 08-08-2012, 02:49 PM   #9
thurston512
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my 03 325xi did this and it was the starter. My indy shop replaced it for $450 total. dealership was $700 to $900 so find a private shop.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:17 PM   #10
Kubica
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Originally Posted by thurston512 View Post
my 03 325xi did this and it was the starter. My indy shop replaced it for $450 total. dealership was $700 to $900 so find a private shop.
You had a flickering battery light too?
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Old 08-09-2012, 05:25 PM   #11
Grover62
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Some progress

Tried repeatedly to start the car yesterday and behold it kicked over and started. I was so shocked that I turned it off and tried to start it again. No luck. I once had a bad bendix in a starter that lodged in the flywheel and prevented the car from starting so I tried rocking the car while shifting in and out of gears. Behold it started again but this time I didn't panic. I drove in to an alternator/starter rebuilder of repute to have the alternator checked out. He measured 13.5+ volts in the engine jump points and the same at the battery terminals. He noticed a rebuilt Bosch alternator had been installed to replace the original French one. That impressed him so he feels it's not the alternator as a Bosch rebuilt at their factory is as good as new. Never turned it off and drove home where now it just clicks again. Battery light didn't flicker during the drive (40 miles). I agree with you that its the starter and if I can get it to start once again, I've got a guy who'll work on it for me. I let you know how that went.
Thanks again for all your efforts and time!
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:26 PM   #12
tomoyer
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You have ruled out the battery and the alternator, which was a good thing to do. You can still check the voltage with a DMM at the starter motor and solenoid. Most likely you have a solenoid that is bad, but not completely burnt. If you try to start the car with the headlights on, what happens to the headlights?
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:20 PM   #13
Kubica
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grover62 View Post
Tried repeatedly to start the car yesterday and behold it kicked over and started. I was so shocked that I turned it off and tried to start it again. No luck. I once had a bad bendix in a starter that lodged in the flywheel and prevented the car from starting so I tried rocking the car while shifting in and out of gears. Behold it started again but this time I didn't panic. I drove in to an alternator/starter rebuilder of repute to have the alternator checked out. He measured 13.5+ volts in the engine jump points and the same at the battery terminals. He noticed a rebuilt Bosch alternator had been installed to replace the original French one. That impressed him so he feels it's not the alternator as a Bosch rebuilt at their factory is as good as new. Never turned it off and drove home where now it just clicks again. Battery light didn't flicker during the drive (40 miles). I agree with you that its the starter and if I can get it to start once again, I've got a guy who'll work on it for me. I let you know how that went.
Thanks again for all your efforts and time!
I don't know man. At least remove the air box and check the connections to the alternator and starter. If you can get it to pop start I'd agree it's the starter, but the motor swap and flashing battery light suggest other issues. How long ago was the motor swapped? Who did the swap? Did you get the codes scanned? Crank sensor, key, EWS are other options but it still sounds like a loose wire between the alt and starter.
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