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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 02-01-2013, 10:49 PM   #1
nola mike
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Car won't start/plan of attack?

OK, so leaving the hospital parking lot this evening (just had a kid...), car with low power. At a light, I turned it off and tried to restart. No go. Managed to push it back into the hospital lot after much futile cranking. Had been running fine, though I noticed a bit of a hiccup at idle the other day. Nothing much though. So, it was 20 something degrees and dark...
Checked fuse 54, looks fine.
Pulled glovebox, attempted to swap fuel pump relay, realized it was a PITA and I was cold. Noted that FP relay was clicking though.
Couldn't hear FP running, but have a lot of beeping buzzing whirring crap in this car that makes it difficult to hear. Back seat is now littered with car seats. Including one that needs the top lowered to remove (seriously). Couldn't remove seat.
Decided screw it, will come back tomorrow.
I have 1/4 tank gas.
I'm guessing that it's my FP. Nothing local, tomorrow is saturday. Lovely. So I'm thinking...
1) Fill gas tank
2) Check schrader valve on fuel rail (should not have fuel if FP prob)
3) Check voltage at FP (if 12v, that should rule out relay, right?)
4) whack with hammer
5) Replace FP if no sounds after all of the above. Replace fuel filter while I'm at it.

If I hear the FP, obviously we'll try a different course. This seems most likely culprit though. May also spray some gas down intake and see if that does anything.

Thoughts? I remember reading checking the fuel levels through the computer, but can't find that info at the moment...
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:34 AM   #2
kraimer
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First of all, congrats on a baby!!

What do you mean car with low power? Also, when you tried starting it was it cranking over?

When my pump went out, a day before that it was cranking for a while before it started, but once started, I didn't experience any power loss. Next day I couldn't start it.
Turn the ignition key to ACC2 position where the dash lights are lit, this will prime the pump and If you don't have fuel at the fuel rail then chances are it is the pump. My advice is go to AutoZone (if there is one near you) and get the fuel pump from there - it was the same exact pump (VDO - I think) as I pulled out the gas tank at a fraction of what the dealer wants.
p.s. fuel filter is an inline type under the car - around where the driver seat is. When you buy the new fuel pump, it comes with a new strainer.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:44 AM   #3
nola mike
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Yeah, cranks fine. It was running rough with low power. I shut it and tried to restart, and from then on it just cranked.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:18 AM   #4
BMWCaptain
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Don't fill your gas tank all the way. If you have to replace the FP the gas will make it more difficult. Try adding a gallon or two if you have less than 1/2 tank.

Here are some things to ck or try:

Try starting with your spare key
Check your battery voltage at +B terminal in engine compartment
Check voltage at FP 12 V When key turned on
Check for pressure at schrader valve

If you do not have voltage at FP, then check glovebox fuse and e-box fuse.

Let use know what you find, and we can look into it further.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:56 PM   #5
nola mike
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Ok, so I have voltage at the FP with the key on, at least for a few seconds. That corresponds with the click that I could feel at the relay. Didn't sound like the pump was running at all. Checked for fuel at the rail, opening the valve let out maybe a drop of fuel. Cycling the key maybe gives another drop. Bentley says it should be 45-75 psi, but I wasn't sure if that was operating or residual. I guess I should have done that with the key on, but either way I think I should have something out of there. So it certainly sounds like the FP, right? Found one locally, but they close at 3:30, so I'll go grab one...
If anyone can think of what else it could be, LMK.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:23 PM   #6
BMWCaptain
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Yes, if you are getting 12v for about 5 seconds when you turn the key to position 2, then your relay & fuses are working as it should. This is the priming of the fuel. When you are cranking the car with the starter your FP will be turned on. When you depress your schrader valve, you should get a lot of fuel spraying out. Even after you turn the car off, you will have fuel pressure at the rail. You need a rag to cover it when it is working properly and you test it.

Sounds like your fuel pump. Go ahead and change it. You did you investigation and it is pointing to your FP. Good work and you saved yourself a lot of money.

Last edited by BMWCaptain; 02-02-2013 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:52 PM   #7
nola mike
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Well, it was indeed the FP. That repair was so easy I can't believe it was on my bimmer. Took maybe 15-30 min. A couple of observations:
For diagnosis:
1) I'd start just checking out the FP directly. It's loud enough to hear pretty easily once you remove the access cover. Taking out the seat/removing access cover takes 5 minutes. The relays are much harder to get at.
1a) If the FP isn't working, check the voltage. If you have 12v, replace the pump. If not, check the relays/fuses (well, might as well check the fuse first. Easy enough to get at).
2) Messing with the schrader valve probably isn't necessary. I long ago didn't replace the rear bolt on my fuel rail cover, so I didn't need to remove the air filter assembly. Took 30 seconds to get at it. If you have to remove the whole assembly to access the valve, I wouldn't bother if the pump isn't running (BTW, the schrader valve sprays a decent amount of fuel, even car off, as noted above.)

Replacement:
1) In addition to the pump, you might as well buy the o-ring and retainer ring. I didn't because they weren't in stock, but it sucks getting stuck because you didn't buy a $5 part.
2) Get a regular hose clamp as well.
3) Fit the o-ring in the fuel tank, rather than putting it on the fuel pump. That was the only part of the repair that was any trouble. Once I figured that out, it went smoothly.

Thanks for the help guys! Even paying more for the FP ($185 for a VDO locally), I can't imagine what this costs at the stealership. And I saved myself the time/trouble/expense of a tow as well.
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:26 PM   #8
0385951564
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This is pretty much what happened to me. A good way to establish fuel problems is to buy a can of 'easy-start' and spray it into the inlet and crank the engine. If it tries to start then its lack of fuel and you know where to look.
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:41 PM   #9
BMWCaptain
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A lot of things on our BMWs are easy to repair. Only that it takes a lot to figure out what the real problem is.
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Old 02-05-2013, 01:56 AM   #10
TitanSilverE46
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Looks like I have this dreaded FP problem.

Wife went to drive her car today and car cranks but no start. Lucklily I haven't sold the 93 525i yet so wife still had transport, otherwise doghouse for me.

Fuel Filter replaced Sept 2011 (24,000km ago)

1. I tried second key, no better
2 Fuses OK.
3 Voltage at Fuel Pump plug (White/Blue to Brown = 11.92v) (Low voltage with lots of trying to start.)
4 No sound of FP clicking
5 Giving battery a charge as low with wife persistently trying to start car.

Got accused by wife of fiddling with car last night. Had just bought BMWScanner PA Soft and truly all I did was plug it in and do a scan. Honestly ! The car started and I backed into the garage after scanning so was still OK after scanning.
Wife said on first try it nearly started, and then just cranking.

Have ordered a new FP so will try installing tomorrow.

Why is it the FP usually goes just after you have filled with fuel? I am going to lose a lot changing the pumps over.
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