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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello;

No doubt there are many posts similar to mine, and for that I apologize; However, I've found this board to have some of the best advice out there for my E46 and with the local mechanics confused, I fear the dreaded 'stealership' and hope someone here might have some advice;

I've got an 02 325i 5 speed with approximately 66k miles on it. In the three years I've owned it, beyond replacing the friction plate assembly on the transmission at purchase, I've only had regular maintenance issues...until now.

This past year I've had repeated burn outs of one or more bulbs in the passenger's brake light assembly and a faulty indicator that seemed to turn on and off at whim. As it didn't affect the vehicle, I made certain the bulbs worked, and ignored the indicator. The electrical problems took a turn for the worse yesterday.

Having washed the car I took a drive into the countryside when the battery indicator light in the center of the hazards console flickered on briefly, then off; confused, I ignored it as everything seemed fine. I went a bit further and heard a loud "pop!" which sounded electrical. I determined it came from the stereo speakers when the audio signal dropped from the radio. Then began the occasional flickering of the DSC light, the Brake light, and the ABS lights. At this point I knew trouble was brewing and hoped to limp home. With the battery light flickering along with the three driver's aid lights the vehicle finally cut out and the entire christmas tree of warning lamps illuminated.

I pushed the car off the road, had it towed to a local who charged the battery and determined the alternator is working, the fuel pumps are properly functioning, that everything seemed great; after paying for that diagnosis I picked up the car, and while the battery indicator no longer flashes, the stereo began crackling shortly thereafter; I should mention this happened in sync with activating the turn signals, turning the windshield wipers on and off, etc, until finally it appeared the power was simply too little to power the stereo.

This time around I did limp home, and the vehicle's parked, but I don't want to send it off again without trying a thing or two; since I can cycle to work I do have a bit of leeway until I have to go grocery shopping again.

The Important stuff; I think I've got a chassis ground short somewhere, but I can't figure out which culprit it might be; conversely I know my uncle who owns a 330i from a similar year had a failure that was the result of a relay in the vehicle. The car needs it's idle stabilization valve cleaned, and I've got a new lower throttle body intake ready to go, the battery is FLAPS circa two years ago matching the OEM specs, and this problem began after a car wash.

I've also got a video clip of the Driver's aids flickering, I know the quality is garbage, but hopefully it's at least a sign of what's going on. At the time I had every non-essential device switched off, the windows up and Air Con off

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B07FukLDpDI

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, This car's been flawless up until now! Thanks in advance for anyone who takes pity and knows more about the E46 then I do (which is fairly easy if we're honest here :hi: )
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks! I'm going to look into cleaning them tomorrow, would this cause the battery light to flicker as well? I noticed after parking the car briefly to run quickly into a store it seemed drained when I restarted it this afternoon; it's a stretch but do you think a bad wheel speed sensor could cause an eddy draw and affect the charge?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
DME or Change Relay?

I've been looking into other options and I'm wondering if it's a bad relay in the relay bank located just at the firewall; going to do an inspection this evening, and I'm curious if the DME or the "Relay Changer" could be causing these issues; I imagine in one of my over zealous attempts to clean the engine compartment I might have hastened their demise. any thoughts? Thanks again!
 

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Yep, this type of intermittent failure could be a bad ground. Thoroughly check the grounding points on the car, particularly the engine to chassis ground strap on the passenger side engine mount bracket. They can look alright at first glance and still be chewed up.

List of grounding points:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=490893

The other possibility is that water got in somewhere where it shouldn't have.
 

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Not speed a speed sensor...battery light will not come on, Check the battery connections for loose connections, see if jiggling the battery wires has any effect ....do these lights ever come on at idle?
 

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My car 2001 325Ci had a similar problem. While driving the car in the city or on the highway, the radio cut out, various warning lights (DCS, ABS, Airbag, Battery, etc) came on. Soon after that the headlight turned off. I drove the car about 4 miles. Eventually, lost control on E-throttle (no change in RPM when the throttle was depressed). By the time I pulled over the car, I could not restart the vehicle since not enough charge was left in the battery........

Initially, I thought the charging system went bad since the alternator and battery was replaced 2 years ago. After a charging system and battery test, discovered that EVERYTHING was in good working condition.

A BMW tech told me to check the IGNITION SWITCH (when I told him what was going on with my car, he knew right away what's wrong with my car)

Cause: Bad ignition switch!


This was about a year ago and I haven't had a problem since then.

Comes to electrical issues, you have to be open minded before you decide to replace alternator and battery multiple times for no reason.
 

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How old is the battery? I'm guessing it is your battery. While the car is revving, alternator is fully powering and charging. When it dips below 700, is when you lights flash. They can flash because they are not getting a constant voltage to the module.
Now, first cheapest option is, Search Easter eggs on the forum, and follow the instructions to get your voltage readout on the display and monitor your voltage. Procedure is something like, hold down the odometer stalk until it goes into the menu, then push and release the stalk multiple times until you hit 9.0 and it will show your live voltage reading. It shouldn't be dropping below 12.0 volts when your alternator stops charging under 1,000 rpm. And at 14.1V with the car on.
 

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I'm going to throw my oar in for grounding. If you take the designed grounding routes away from a car, you'll often find they ground through the weirdest routes. I had a Rover Metro when I first started driving that when I left body side of the battery ground loose, it grounded down the accelerator cable causing smoke everywhere.

Check all the maor grounds again, make sure they're clean inbetween the straps and the points. Check the cables and check the voltages at key points. If you've a bad ground, I'd expect the voltage to be bouncing with your issues?
 

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I always agree with Kalim...so yes grounds...but as soon as I heard blinkers, wipers, and radio, I thought ignition also.

It's the only thing I recall reading about that ties together steering wheel function issues with the radio.

Search ignition switch and I think you'll put it as a highly probable.

...and, of course, check all battery connections too...wiggle, jiggle, get under the terminals under the hood and check them while you're checking the other grounds.
 

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Not always the case I'm afraid iv had electrical probs with my vert 325i 2001 for a while,,left mirror won't go up down all lights indicators work,,no noise click or lights on instrument panel radio works cd intermittent,,, last time this happened I checked all wires for stereo and it was a speaker wire wrapped around the contact I put a spade on and everything sprung into life,,, just having similar probs 6 months on and back to same issues,,, so it's not always ignition switch lads!!!
 
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