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General E46 Forum
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:05 PM   #1
92coupe
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Fuel Gauge Issue to Trump All - Yes I've Searched a lot!

So I'm battling with the fuel gauge always showing empty, and absolutely nothing I've tried thus far has worked. The car is a 2001 330ci. I've searched countless threads and none of the posted ideas have worked.
Here's what happened: Fuel pump died. Bought new fuel pump and float assembly complete, changed it all, fuel gauge didn't work after that at all.

Now, here's what I have tried:

-Used hidden menu, right side fuel level shows 000 on the right side always
-Checked the ohms in the level sender, was within spec when full and when empty
-pulled pump back out, played with float while it was still plugged in, moving it up and down did NOT move the gauge, nor show more than 000 on the OBD menu. So, nothing that happened on the float changed the right side number from 000.
-bought another fuel pump and sender, changed the ENTIRE thing, same results, moving it manually by hand did not change it from 000 on the right side readout ( readout was 117000) or something
-changed fuel filter
-reset gauges in the OBD 21 menu

So, to summarize, help!

Thanks for anything

Last edited by 92coupe; 10-11-2014 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:10 PM   #2
Stinger9
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Could be in the connector pin(s) to the fuel pump. Or broken wiring. Could be pinched when you removed the rear seat. It is fragile.
I suspect something in that area as it's the last thing you worked on.
Unless you unplugged the unit when the circuit was hot and send a spike to the gauge cluster. But that is unlikely.
You need to do some continuity checking of the wiring and thru the connector. Good visual check is in order too.

Last edited by Stinger9; 10-11-2014 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:16 PM   #3
jfoj
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A few things:

Are you 100% sure the connector bail has been fully seated??

The connector can be partially seated and the pump may run, but the level sensor may not work.

Did you verify that the female terminals on the smaller wires are not loose or backed out?

Try connecting a 400 Ohm resistor between the 2 smaller wires on the sending unit connector. This should cause the gauge to move and/or the Hidden OBC should show a full tank.
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

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Lower hose fan switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:18 PM   #4
92coupe
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Broken wiring was basically the only thing I could think of otherwise. I did check the plug and it was OK ( got a consistent OHM reading from the wire the same as putting the multimeter directly on the contact), but if there wasn't anything else I'm missing then maybe the wiring is broken further up, out of site? Thanks for your help!
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:20 PM   #5
92coupe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
A few things:

Are you 100% sure the connector bail has been fully seated??

The connector can be partially seated and the pump may run, but the level sensor may not work.

Did you verify that the female terminals on the smaller wires are not loose or backed out?

Try connecting a 400 Ohm resistor between the 2 smaller wires on the sending unit connector. This should cause the gauge to move and/or the Hidden OBC should show a full tank.
I have had the connector on and off a lot now, but everytime it appears to be fully seated. If I'm taking an ohms reading from the wire directly on the level sender, Im thinking it must be connecting through the female terminals otherwise it would read 0. I like your idea of the 400 ohm resistor, that would provide a bit more clarity. Thanks. Anything else it could be?
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 92coupe View Post
I have had the connector on and off a lot now, but everytime it appears to be fully seated. If I'm taking an ohms reading from the wire directly on the level sender, Im thinking it must be connecting through the female terminals otherwise it would read 0. I like your idea of the 400 ohm resistor, that would provide a bit more clarity. Thanks. Anything else it could be?
Bentley Manual claims:

For right side - 70 Ohms Empty, 395 Ohms Full
For left side - 70 Ohms Empty, 310 Ohms Full

Also keep in mind both level sensors play into the gauge reading, however, you should be able to see something other than 000 on the OBC for the right side of the tank. Assume anything between 0-70 Ohms would read empty? So if the wiring was shorted or grounded it you would always see 000 on the OBC.

You may want to pop the connector off the drivers side and see what the OBC reads as a comparison?
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose fan switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:48 PM   #7
92coupe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
Bentley Manual claims:

For right side - 70 Ohms Empty, 395 Ohms Full
For left side - 70 Ohms Empty, 310 Ohms Full

Also keep in mind both level sensors play into the gauge reading, however, you should be able to see something other than 000 on the OBC for the right side of the tank. Assume anything between 0-70 Ohms would read empty? So if the wiring was shorted or grounded it you would always see 000 on the OBC.

You may want to pop the connector off the drivers side and see what the OBC reads as a comparison?
Those were the ohm references I used when I checked ( I think it was from one of your posts a while back), and they were spot on. I guess Im concluding from hearing this that it pretty much has to be a broken/grounded wire
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Old 10-11-2014, 10:25 PM   #8
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Must be the cluster, if you want to do more trouble shooting on the wiring to make certain, this might help:

Pin outs at the instrument cluster.

Driver's side sender:

Pin 11. black/red/white
Pin 12. brown/black/white

Passenger side sender:

Pin 15. black/red/yellow
Pin 16. brown/black/yellow
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Old 10-12-2014, 01:48 PM   #9
92coupe
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Thanks for the help guys. I question whether it could really be the cluster itself due to the timing that the gauge stopped working. If it stopped working randomly, then maybe, but what are the chances the cluster died right when I changed the fuel pump? I'm going to see if I can trace the wires a bit farther up. Thanks again!
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Old 10-12-2014, 02:31 PM   #10
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Check fuses and/or disconnect the battery, touch the cables together for 30 seconds, then reconnect the battery.

I know funny things happen with the fuel gauges on these cars.

E39's, not sure about the E46 will have the fuel gauge hang if you fill the car with the ignition on. This happens in my E39 as I have a NAV unit and in order to listen to the radio the key has to be on, its not like the standard radios where you can just power up the head unit once the car is turned off.
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose fan switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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Old 11-24-2014, 02:13 AM   #11
92coupe
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Well for an update on this, I still haven't figured this out and it's of course still driving me crazy. I pulled the kick panel and checked the wires there, and the resistance numbers were still correct from there so there can't be a break in the wire to that point. Any other suggestions?
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Old 11-24-2014, 04:35 AM   #12
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Mine showed empty like yours. Gas light always on.

I could fill it up and it would stay on empty.

When I reset the cluster with inpa it would show correct fuel on the gauge. Once it hit empty I would just reset it again.

The problem was mice chewed through both of the wires to the sending unit. It would have done the same if even one of the wires were broken but both of mine were in just one side of the tank....luthe drivers side.

Don't know if that helps you but my situation was similar. Try a reset with inpa and see what happens
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Old 11-24-2014, 12:44 PM   #13
92coupe
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Thanks for the response. I haven't actually used the INPA thing, I've only done the cluster reset itself through the OBC. However, mine does exactly what you've said yours does. The wire for the right side can't be broken up to the kick panel at least, and it doesn't make any sense that something further up happened at the exact same time the fuel pump went. Did you ever take a look at your readings in the OBC for what it showed?

Is there any chance that it's the left side one and somehow computer's reading incorrectly? ( I really dont see how thats possible, but I have not replaced the left side).
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Old 11-24-2014, 11:15 PM   #14
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My OBC button doesn't work.

You took the seat out......Maybe messed up the wires on the left side.
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Old 12-03-2014, 03:43 PM   #15
92coupe
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Hey guys, just an update on this and looking for some input...

I took out the cluster and tested the wires from the back of the cluster. The right side wires read around 300 ohms at 3/4 tank, and left side was about 215. This means no breaks in the wires. The cluster still shows as 000 on the 6.0 Test OBC Readout menu.

Is it safe to say at this point the cluster is bad? Thanks for all the help!

Last edited by 92coupe; 12-03-2014 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 12-03-2014, 04:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 92coupe View Post
Hey guys, just an update on this and looking for some input...

I took out the cluster and tested the wires from the back of the cluster. The right side wires read around 300 ohms at 3/4 tank, and left side was about 215. This means no breaks in the wires. The cluster still shows as 000 on the 6.0 Test OBC Readout menu.

Is it safe to say at this point the cluster is bad? Thanks for all the help!
OBC shows zero for both tanks?
Points in the direction of the cluster not working if you seemingly get readings from both gauges. Too bad you can't get to senders to move the float while measuring the ohms.
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:28 PM   #17
jfoj
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinger9 View Post
Too bad you can't get to senders to move the float while measuring the ohms.
Easy enough to pull the senders out and manually move them while connected, not fun, but it can be done.

Also if the OP has at least 1 old sending unit, he could plug it in an manually move it saving the effort to pull the right side fuel pump/sender out.

I did not re-read all of this, but did the OP perform a cluster test to make sure the gas gauge motor is actually working?
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose fan switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:44 PM   #18
Stinger9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post

I did not re-read all of this, but did the OP perform a cluster test to make sure the gas gauge motor is actually working?
great point
if not, do this
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:56 PM   #19
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Between the hidden OBC monitoring the fuel levels, using the old sender to check the wiring and that the OBC level at least for the right side changes and the cluster test this should pretty much help answer the questions as to what is going on.

If it is just the gas gauge motor, I think you can get this repaired pretty cost effectively.

Personally for the short term, I would just use the trip odometer and OBD to determine when the car needs to be filled up. 250 miles ever fill up and you should be fine until you can get the issue sorted.
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose fan switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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