BMW E46 Fanatics Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So, I am new to e46 forums, and unfortunately my first post is a problematic one. I should have said Hello! first and then this wouldn't seem so sour :) I'm having trouble with my 00' 328i. Purchased it used with 104k miles about a month ago. It has an aftermarket battery in it currently (Duralast 49L I believe). 2 weeks after purchasing it, I went to start it in the morning and it was dead. In turning the key to the 1 and 2 position, the lights and electronics in the car worked, when turning it to the ON position, I heard a Click click click click sound. I tried only once or twice more, and got the same kind of sound, but stopped trying to avoid any damage. I jumped it with my roommates car and started up fine after about 2-3 minutes of charging (She has a hybrid, and I think I might have used her smaller battery to do this which might be why it took 2-3 minutes). I didn't think anything of this, just thought perhaps I left a light on or something and that's why it died. After jumping it and driving around the block, I turned off the engine and checked the voltage of the battery with my multimeter and got a 12.1V reading. I thought that was that.

Fast forward about 2 weeks later (last Friday). Go to start the car, same symptoms. No turn over, batter appears to lack juice, but not be dead. Same click click click click (I should say that I don't know for sure how many clicks, but they were at constant intervals until I released the key). The lights worked, just no start. This time I'm a little more confused. I get my neighbors portable battery jumper. This thing was about halfway charged (has a possible 300 cranking amps start) and it jumped my car right away. It died again after I failed to drive it around the block to maintain the charge, but jumped right back up. Then I took it around the block, and parked it. I tested the volts with the car off and got about at 12.1V reading.

At this point, we decided to go on with our lives, take the portable jumper with us, and set out for the day. We probably drove around about 30 miles that day, and had no problems starting the car after that. Or the next day for that matter. I read through as many forums as I could trying to figure out what the problem might be. I spent about 10 hours doing this, and decided to test the battery numerous ways at different intervals with my multimeter. We drove the car to work Sunday (2 days after the 2nd incident). After work, the car had been off and parked for 8 hours. Here are the results:

With the engine stopped and having been off for 8 hours I got a 12.15 V reading. Then I turned the engine on and got a 13.77 V reading.

Then we drove 10 hwy miles to the store and tested it again. 12.66 V while off, and 13.92V while on. We went into the store, did 20 minutes of shopping and came back out to test immediately again. First with the car off the battery tested 12.47 V. Then after turning it on it tested in the same 13.8V range.

I should add that I tried to do a load test on the car using the OBC. I followed the instructions from this post: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=44922&highlight=On-Board+Computer+(OBC)+Hidden+Codes

I'm not a 100% sure I did it right. And embarrassingly, I can't remember for sure what reading I got... but I think I got 110 which according to that post is 11V. One thing to note is that, the engine was NOT running while I did this test. I tried turning the key to turn it on, but it doesnt go on. Is this correct? If I'm trying to perform a load test to see if my alternator is bad, shouldn't I be driving?!? The alternator won't be in use unless I am.

ONE last note. I performed a amperage drain test numerous times. I'm trying to rule out the possibility of my LCD screen (which shows no display, however all the radio stuff works) draining my battery. Also trying to rule out the FSR or other possibilities of battery drain. I got a 3.3mA reading after the car had been off for 8 hours, then 2.16mA after I'd been driving for 10 miles. Then I got a 3.45 mA reading after a 20 minute rest. This morning I got 3.36mA. Okay, something about that seems incorrect. I'm about 99% positive my multimeter is working correct. I'm a 100% positive I had it set to mA and not uA or A. However, normal range of amperage drain (according to these forums) is between 20-60 mA. Why in the hell would i only drain 3mA! I'm almost skeptical that the meter is giving me an Amp reading instead of mA. I will triple check this tonight.

Please help! What am I to do?!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26,261 Posts
I can't say what it was based on your report...but will say this...

New battery, under $100 might solve issue and is good insurance anyway since you don't know how long other battery has been in.

But, based on what you've said, if the jump worked, I'd expect it not to start after you turned it off after just a short trip...30 miles might be closer to it...but given how low it was, I'd drive it longer.

The numbers on your battery seem a little low, but probably in the neigborhood...I think I hear 12.6 V for charged bat and 14 v coming from Alt.

Just read of a guy yesterday who replaced brushes and voltage reg in alt...not to hard to get out...if need be...or get rebuilt alt.

First, if you've had it reliably start, I'd make sure I take her on a long drive more. That's one. Two--aftermarket stuff often is the source of low bats and issues...especially if it's draining when car is off...and they seem to often be wired to do that...so maybe drive car...pull fuse for your aftermarket stuff (find out what line it draws power from that way...might not be right).

HTH...maybe not!

Doug
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
378 Posts
Good lord, dude. That's alot of testing for a bad battery. Generally speaking, a battery provides the power for initial startup. Once the car is running, the car's alternator takes over the duties of providing power for the car. So if the car runs fine once it is jumped and you can drive around without issue, then it's generally the battery. However, if you jump the car, drive off, and the car dies on you a ways down the road or the head lights get dim and such as that, then it's generally the alternator. Plus you stated that the votage jumped to almost 14v while running, that tells you the alternator is doing it's job. The one other thing it could be is a bad connection/corroded connection somewhere, generally at the battery. But I'd say there is a 99% chance you have a failing battery. Also, 12.1v on a 12v battery is an indication in and of itself that the battery is on it's way out. But check the connections at the battery to make sure. You can clean any corrosion off with baking soda mixed with water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,899 Posts
I would say your battery is probably dying , i've had some batteries that were dead and could only be jumped.
Then all of the sudden they charged right back up and continued working a few months.

Replace battery since your alternator seems to be fine :)

How did you perform the drain test? (where did you measure it)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Performed drain test at the battery terminals, NOT the jumper terminals under the hood. The terminals and connections look clean. But isn't 13.7-13.8 V on the low end of Voltage reading for a car that is running. My friends e36 gets about 14.-14.5V while running.... Any thoughts on battery drain?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,899 Posts
Performed drain test at the battery terminals, NOT the jumper terminals under the hood.
Then most likely your battery has an internal fault either preventing it from getting charged sometimes or draining it (most likely)

3mA drain is normal unless you've got aftermarket stuff plugged in :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I have no aftermarket stuff plugged into the car. As I said, I'm a little skeptical about the LCD screen which sometimes stays backilt after the car is turned off for a little while, and then eventually goes off.

What should a resting battery be at? 12.5V?

Can I take this battery to Autozone or Kraegan Auto Parts and have them test how many CCAs are left in the battery? I've heard that those places are going to give you biased tests towards needing a new battery though. Seems like this should be the first thing I should check. I'll do that tomorrow I guess. Any ideas how much CCA a healthy battery should have (Duralast 49L) Also how often do these batteries go out. The car is 10 years old, so I guess if you replace a battery every 3-5 years, it would make sense I'm due for a new one. Will my Volt reading while the car is running (ie the charge with the alternator) go up if I get a new battery? For example, maybe jump from my existing 13.8V reading to a healthier 14+V reading?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
660 Posts
AutoZone tests batteries for free... it's definitely where you should start 1st. 13.5+ Volts during operation seems to indicate that your alternator is fine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,899 Posts
I have no aftermarket stuff plugged into the car. As I said, I'm a little skeptical about the LCD screen which sometimes stays backilt after the car is turned off for a little while, and then eventually goes off.
Lets say the LCD screen draws a max of 1A(i belive my 8" LCD draws this) , a 70aHwould still be able to drive the starter after 24 hours if it's kept in good shape.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Lets say the LCD screen draws a max of 1A(i belive my 8" LCD draws this) , a 70aHwould still be able to drive the starter after 24 hours if it's kept in good shape.
What do you mean 70aH? And this is assuming that the LCD is drawing that power. When the car is off... it may not be. Anyway to JUST pull the LCD fuse or does it not have its own fuse? Either way, if I'm getting a correct reading of 3-4 mA draw, that is very low, and very normal correct.?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,112 Posts
You are describing a dead battery that is connected behind a working alternator. When you get the car to start, and you drive it for a while, the battery charges enough to start the car again later, but not the next day, or day after that. Whatever.

Consider that an '00 car is 10 years old. The factory battery is good for four or five years, and the replacement battery is also good for about 5 years. You are at the end of life on the second battery.

An LCD screen should draw something in the range of milliamps, which a thousand milliamps equals one amp. So a one milliamp draw should be able to be supported by a good battery for something on the order of thousands of hours.

When you start your car, the clicking noises are the Starter Relay -- which can be externally mounted on a fender or built into the starter -- closes (one click) and feeds high current to the starter motor but the battery can't support the demand so the relay turns off (the next click) but you are still holding the key to START so the relay fires again (anohter click) to drive the starter motor that the battery can't support so the relay clicks off (another click).

Your car has 12v to work with. But it has to provide a certain amount of power at that voltage or stuff doesn't work. The starter draws the most of any automotive system, but if the battery can't support the draw then the voltage available drops and other stuff shuts down. Bottom line, all you need is a battery.

Since you bought the car used one month ago, it's a very old trick that the car dealership or private seller for that matter would install an old used battery if the one in the car already is not performing well. Since the car worked okay for a few weeks after you bought it, then assume this is what happened. The seller installed a used battery because whatever was in the car already was worn out even worse. OR it was brand new and they have a friend with a car that takes the same battery. Either way, you have described the symptoms of a dead battery, and you fix it by putting in a new one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
Interesting. My car is coming up for 10 yrs old this july, with 83k miles on the clock. I bought it in 2006 with 46k and AFAIK it has the original battery. I recently got a bluetooth OBD ELMscan 327 and was checking my voltages on a cold start (ie overnight) via the OBD Scope software and got the following:

Pre engine start up (position 2): 10.3 Volts
Minimum drop during cranking: 8.3 volts
once engine started up: 13 volts

I dont know what to make of this, my car starts up first time every time. But i did read somewhere that the alternator or voltage regulator?? can compensate for an old or dying battery..... but you dont want it to be doing that for too long because then the alternator or regulator are put under undue stress and can eventually fail?? :hmm:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
655 Posts
I just wanted to sing with the rest of the chorus - you need a new battery (search some threads for the options - I spent $75 or so at Walmart and got one with more CCA than the original). A dying battery can seemingly "pull a Chucky" and come back to life to do more mischief - the reason is that the conductive stuff that sloughs off the battery's plates accumulates at the bottom, and eventually shorts out the cells. Jump charging or even charging heats the battery, and can (very) temporarily remove some of the short circuits in the bottom of the battery... which is why you need to start shopping for a battery the first time you have any starting problems (after making sure it's not the alternator, of course).

Batteries here in Arizona tend to last only a few years - I took my old (!) battery from my Alfa into Autozone to get a replacement (so I wouldn't have to pay a core charge). They insisted on testing it (I told them it was in the "ballast only" status)... when they saw how bad it was the clerk checked the date... he thought he was misreading the build date (the one that showed the battery to be over seven years old). It acted precisely like the OP's battery (and every other one I've had that failed as well).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Would a newer battery give me a higher Voltage reading while the car is running than what I already have. I.e. instead of getting a reading of 13.8 V with a aging battery and good alternator will I get over 14 V with a new battery and good alternator (while the car is running of course)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
655 Posts
Interesting. My car is coming up for 10 yrs old this july, with 83k miles on the clock. I bought it in 2006 with 46k and AFAIK it has the original battery. I recently got a bluetooth OBD ELMscan 327 and was checking my voltages on a cold start (ie overnight) via the OBD Scope software and got the following:

Pre engine start up (position 2): 10.3 Volts
Minimum drop during cranking: 8.3 volts
once engine started up: 13 volts

I dont know what to make of this, my car starts up first time every time. But i did read somewhere that the alternator or voltage regulator?? can compensate for an old or dying battery..... but you dont want it to be doing that for too long because then the alternator or regulator are put under undue stress and can eventually fail?? :hmm:
Wow.... I have to wonder about those voltages. 10.3 under the (minor) load of "position 2" would indicate a VERY bad battery. I'd swap it before it leaves you stranded! Any good battery that's in a car that's been driven recently should read at LEAST 12.0 volts (possibly a little lower in a really cold climate, but I avoid those so don't know the right value).:excited:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
Wow.... I have to wonder about those voltages. 10.3 under the (minor) load of "position 2" would indicate a VERY bad battery. I'd swap it before it leaves you stranded! Any good battery that's in a car that's been driven recently should read at LEAST 12.0 volts (possibly a little lower in a really cold climate, but I avoid those so don't know the right value).:excited:
I wonder if the OBD port is giving an accurate voltage reading?? I'll check it in the coming days with a voltmeter at the battery terminals and while i'm there see if i can find a build date on it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
712 Posts
i got the same issue last week. new battery works for this issue, as I'm sure you've been slammed for it already.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for all the input!

Thanks to everyone for their input. I know I risked sounding like a noob questioning all the advice, but I really wanted to make sure it wasn't the alternator or something else. Battery is EASY! I did go to a mechanic to test the battery and the alternator. Here is the results:

Battery Test: Ratting 850 CCA
Results: 572CCA, 12.39V ---> Battery replacement is Highly Recommended!

On the second go round it showed 567 CCA,

The alternator test showed this:
13.87 V with no load, 13.84V with load It was in between the Max/Min ranges and came back "No Problems"

I guess that about solves it.

Any suggestions for batteries to replace it? Thanks to everyone for their input!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,112 Posts
The reading while the car is running is NOT the battery voltage, it's the charging system (alternator) voltage. 13.8 indicates the charging system is doing it's job, and this explains why the car will start again after a short drive and then a wait of a couple of hours, but not start again the next morning.

I like American Battery. Their only business is batteries. I've never gotten a bad battery from them, and I have gotten every battery that I have needed for the past 20 years there, except for some RV deep-cycle batteries that I bought at Costco which were rated for 36 months, and were dead in the 38th month.

BMW convertibles take a special battery. My neighbor with an '04 (I think) 3 Series convertible just bought his replacement from American Battery and got a much better price than at BMW.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,696 Posts
Sounds like you need a new batt!

Dont be fooled into thinking you need a BMW battery either. I bought my car used from a ford dealer and the battery was dead, I jumped it and took off thinking it was just from sitting, but it was dead the next day. I dropped it off and told them I didnt care what brand as long as it fit in the hole....and guess what?!! my car starts and runs fine!
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top