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Old 11-22-2012, 03:25 PM   #1
Mb_330Ci
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Intermittent "no-start" condition. Any ideas?

I've been reading and learning on this forum for many years, but finally need to ask for advice from the knowledgeable people here because I am stumped.

The short version of the story is that once in a while my BMW refuses to start, and when it finally does it puts up an EML light first and then a check engine light with codes P16C3 (ECM self-test - engine speed limitation reset) and sometimes p1634 "throttle adaptation sping test failed" . I think it may be a throttle body problem, or a throttle body wiring harness problem but I hope someone here has seen this or has an idea of what could be happening. Read on for the details of the car and the problem.

Car is a 2004 330Ci M-sport (Canadian version of ZHP but without the higher performance engine, 6 spd manual, build date of March 2003 (really! according to realoem.com it may be one of the first facelifted '04 models built I believe)). Car has 109,000 kilometres on it now (about 68,000 miles).

When I bought it it had a slightly rough idle (compared to my 2000 323i) along with an occasional idle "jolt" where it would almost stall. Replaced the intake boots and checked vacuum lines (hole in the boot caused a vacuum leak); replaced the VANOS seals with the Beisen solution; and replaced the valve cover gasket at the same time (it was leaking) and that cured the "jolt" pretty much, but still had a bit of a rough idle and the occasional non-start. I replaced the fuel filter, replaced the oil separator, and put an updated gasket in the DISA (German Solutions) and verified that it was working properly. As the weather got colder this fall, it refused to start more often. It now only starts once in a while, gives the mentioned engine codes, BUT runs perfectly fine once it is going.

It is very frustrating. I am going to order a cable and try to learn INPA to maybe diagnose it over the winter while it is stored. If it is the throttle body and I replace it with a new one, I apparently need to reset the adaptations with INPA before it will start again. Reprogramming the car scares me at this point, and I will probably end up trying to find an Indy who will do it. Thought I would see if anyone here had any ideas before I take it somewhere though. There isn't really a BMW guru/good indy shop anywhere near me as far as I can find.

Any suggestions are appreciated,
Mark
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Old 11-22-2012, 03:49 PM   #2
WDE46
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Have you tried cleaning your Idle Control Valve (ICV)? I know this tends to cause some sort of problem in people's cars.

Your 330Ci was definitely one of the first face lift coupes to be built. That's pretty cool. I've got a May 2003 car.
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:35 PM   #3
Mb_330Ci
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Thanks for the suggestion. I did clean the ICV when I replaced the intake boots and I also replaced the rubber connector that it plugs into. I originally thought my my idle troubles were vacuum related, so I think I was fairly thorough in that area. I also did take out the throttle body and clean it (and replaced the gasket when I put it back in). Car was putting up the same codes before and after I did that, so I don't think I caused any problems doing it.

The ICV didn't seem that dirty. I didn't actually apply any voltage to it to see if it is opening and closing, but I think it would put up a code if it wasn't. Good thought for something to check again though, thanks.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:21 PM   #4
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I would suggest cleaning the throttle body as the next step...
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Old 11-22-2012, 06:34 PM   #5
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Those codes and your symptoms lead me to believe a throttle body or wiring problem.
Did you clean the electrical connector on the TB?
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Old 11-22-2012, 06:57 PM   #6
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You wouldn't be the first to have just had a problem getting the round connector on TB on correctly...remove airbox and you can get your hand in there to check.

You're welcome!

Of other intermittent no starts...fuel pump and starter both seem to fail intermittently before going 100%. Ignition switch also gets dicey, I think...not too sure about that.
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Old 11-23-2012, 10:17 AM   #7
Mb_330Ci
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Thanks for the replies. I had already replaced the fuel pump recently so I can rule it out. It was responsible for the most recent failure to start (swapped the horn and pump relays and it was still dead), and the car does pull much more willingly now (when it starts, sigh). Since it cranks strongly, I don't think it is starter or ignition switch.

Everything I have done so far has improved the car a little bit each time, but it seems likely that it is either the throttle body, or the wiring harness (as possibly outlined in this Service Bulletin: http://www.ge39.com/files/EDK.pdf). As suggested by shovelit and dmax, I am first going to check and clean the electrical connections to the throttle body. I am also going to order a diagnostic cable with software (maybe this one that comes with all the software: http://www.bmwcable.com/ unless someone has a better source) and see if the errors point to the harness or the throttle body itself. I can work with it over the winter.

Thanks for all the help.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:14 AM   #8
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No need to work on it over the winter if it's just a loose connection. You can get to that connector by just removing the air box--two screws.

Your hand can reach into the connector--not easy, but doable. Easy to check.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:54 PM   #9
Mb_330Ci
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Got a bit of time today and worked on the car. My throttle body doesn't have the round connector ( has a square one on the other side under the tb opening). Checked and cleaned connections as much as i could but nothing changed in the end. It was -3 today(degrees celsius, about 30 fahrenheit) and car still won't start.

I am going to wait until I get the diagnostic cable and work on it again then. I will update the thread when I figure it out in case it helps someone else out. The engine codes I am getting don't seem to come up often (at least not showing up on google search). Good thing I have another vehicle...
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:40 PM   #10
Mb_330Ci
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Just an update for anyone who may have the same symptoms. Got my interface cable, finally got INPA running and started poking around. It is now pretty cold outside, and the car would crank but not start again. Cleared only the throttle adaptations using INPA, pressed the gas pedal to the floor 4 times, turned it off for 10 seconds, turned the key to on and it started right away!

Second time I started it though, it did the "idle bouncing from 500-1500rpm" that others have reported after adaptation resets, and the gas pedal had no effect. Realized this was the throttle calibration, so I turned the key off, turned it on (to point just before car starts) for 10 seconds, off for 10 seconds (resets gas pedal/throttle), and then started it again. Perfect idle this time, and I drove the car for the day without issue.

Today it wouldn't start again, so I reset the throttle adaptations in INPA and it fired up right away again. Got brave and reset all adaptations and took it for a drive. Wow, nice change. idle was smoother and car felt much more peppy.

I think this is telling me it is the throttle body, so I ordered one tonight. I will let you know how the install goes, and whether or not it fixes it. I am feeling confident about it. At least I know as long as I have my computer in the car I can start it.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:54 PM   #11
Mb_330Ci
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Well, I can finally report the ultimate resolution to my non starting issue. I hate it when people don't come back to finish the story, so I hope nobody minds me resurrecting the old thread. I did replace the throttle body in early December, and it ran okay for the day. Next day however, it was cold again and the car refused to start. same codes, same symptoms. sigh...

I noticed something though that in the end was the most important thing. When the car wouldn't start, I also couldn't connect my diagnostic software to the DME using the OBD port cable. INPA would simply report an error connecting. A bit more digging on the forum revealed that there is a way you can tell whether or not your dme is online when you try to start the car. If you turn the ignition to position two (just before the car cranks) the "check engine symbol" and "EML" should light up on the instrument cluster before it starts. Sure enough, my lights weren't coming on whenever the car would crank but not start. This meant that the dme wasn't communicating with the system at all, resulting in no fuel pump and no spark signal etc. This is ultimately why the car would not start. Some further computer diagnostics did report errors in the throttle section of the dme software and recommended replacing it.

I further discovered that if I heated up the dme unit with a hairdryer, it would come online and the car would start. Some connection in there is sensitive to temperature, and not making contact in the cold. My solutions apparently were either to buy a new DME and have it installed at the dealer (mega $$$), or install a hair dryer permanently in the engine bay...

Searching led me to RPM Motorsports who sell refurbished DME units and can also align your key to your existing engine immobilizer (EWS system) and the new DME. I ended up having to send them my EWS and my key to have them program it all. The company was great to deal with.

I received the new DME from them today, reinstalled it in about 10 minutes, and the car started immediately! I hope this saga helps someone else out someday.
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