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So I've been trawling forums for weeks now trying to pinpoint my E46's starting problem. It's a 316i SE 1.8 with 97k serviced in January that most times has problems starting, it cranks fine but won't start and will take 2 to 4 times before starting. Some days it's fine and will start others it will put up a real fight!

  • Everything drives fine
  • Idles smooth
  • MPG around 31
  • Fuel pump audible on startup
  • New fuel filter 1.5years ago
  • RPM bounces between 0 and 300ish whilst cranking

After many attempts on Thursday it started and I manged to get home (From Glasgow to Aberdeenshire) with no problems and into the safe haven of the garage. https://www.dropbox.com/s/v1ny7q0tgjjafa1/2014-12-21 14.58.33.jpg?dl=0

On Saturday we checked the spark plugs, they were replaced in January this year and had about 5,000 miles on them but they were pretty thick with black soot (suggesting a rich running or lots and lots of stop starting driving) so we replaced them with the recommended ones but it had little effect on the start-ability of the car.

We had another play around and pulled the following codes:

P1345 Misfire Cylinder 2 With Fuel Cut-off
P1341 Multiple Cylinder Misfire With Fuel Cut-off
P1347 Misfire Cylinder 3 With Fuel Cut-off

To try and rule of the ignition coils we swapped 1 with 2 and 3 with 4 but again had starting troubles and got the next set of codes :

P1345 Misfire Cylinder 2 With Fuel Cut-off
P1341 Multiple Cylinder Misfire With Fuel Cut-off
P1343 Misfire Cylinder 1 with Fuel Cut Off

This didn't come up with many answers so we swapped the coils around randomly this evening and no new codes have been coming through. Something we did notice was that it looked like the plastic on the coil had been exposed to a fair heat, ie the plastic wasn't a uniform texture and that the groves went from fine straight lines to a kind of molted merging. I've tried to take photos of it and although they look wet I can assure you they are bone dry!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/o6iq8ekjdpkwpd3/2014-12-22 19.53.55.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/aicf0qspcojcqob/2014-12-22 19.54.13.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1dse95licmoyiy6/2014-12-22 19.54.29.jpg?dl=0

We took it along to a garage (a well spoken of local indy who clearly had experience with the N42 engine) and wouldn't you know it the car started every time whilst it was with him!!!

We're at a total loss as to what it could be now, coils are still a possibility we think - maybe one is acting up periodically? Or another suggestion from the mech was the timing chain inside the casing. The plastic guides have been known to crack and loose tension but that's a big job.

Anyone got any ideas or comments that could help pin point this? All gratefully received!_a_
 
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