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Discussion Starter #1
I had to drive to the dealer to get a replacement upper radiator hose for my old hose that lost its o-ring causing a pretty bad leak. Now when I try to start the car it doesn't try to turn over at all and the gauge cluster lights just blink and flicker. The first time I tried to start it the radio went out and wouldn't turn back on. Just tried again and the radio turned on but then it turned off again once I tried to start the car. My low beams came on when I put the key in the ignition although the switch was turned off (wtf). I'm hoping things get better in the morning once things are dry.

How screwed am I? Do you think the alternator is hosed? (pun intended)
 

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That would be a logical explination. You could have messed up the alternator if there was coolant spraying everywhere while you drove it. On the other hand, I hosed my engine down while it was running after I used engine cleaner on it.

Try starting it with a fully charged battery, it could be that since your alternator crapped out, your battery died on the way to the dealer.
 

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Take battery out and make sure it is charged. Let the car sit and dry out. Open the hood and let it dry. Hope this helps.

EDIT: Never drive a BMW when you know it has a coolant leak.....could lead to bigger problems.
 

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Hmmm? If the alternator failed coz of coolant being on it, then I think it will dry out...

Otherwise, this sounds like something I've been saying a lot recently...and just learned a couple of weeks ago...ignition switch ...search it and radio. Evidently, a wonky ignition switch wrecks all sort of havoc around.

But for now, just hope it's the coolant.

That said, coolant might not dry out as quickly as water...so I'm thinking out loud a little here...and don't suggest you do this yet pending others' opinions, but I wonder about rinsing off alt with water...since we know it works when wet with water.

Also, got to say if you have a leaking coolant system, not good to drive...and for that hose, you might've risked way more than you wanted to save the cost of asking a friend for a favor or renting a cab.

But, since the car started, the battery still had enough power, then that's dictating your issues...even though it gets fed by the alt.

Try the cluster test or measure voltage on and off with multimeter s/b around 12 off and 14 on.

I'll bet she's fine in the a.m....but consider rinsing off with just water as I wonder whether the stuff in coolant might be allowing current to pass through it and messing things up...don't know...just thinking it might conduct better than water...also, you might try cleaning out the contact for the vr in case coolant seeped into it. Also, of course, coolant on belts isn't good either...so rinse those off with water too...coolant is very slippery and really not good on belts and lack of drive on the alt belt would also explain electrical issues.

Anyway, sleep well...she'll be fine in a.m...97% sure!

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmmm? If the alternator failed coz of coolant being on it, then I think it will dry out...

Otherwise, this sounds like something I've been saying a lot recently...and just learned a couple of weeks ago...ignition switch ...search it and radio. Evidently, a wonky ignition switch wrecks all sort of havoc around.

But for now, just hope it's the coolant.

That said, coolant might not dry out as quickly as water...so I'm thinking out loud a little here...and don't suggest you do this yet pending others' opinions, but I wonder about rinsing off alt with water...since we know it works when wet with water.

Also, got to say if you have a leaking coolant system, not good to drive...and for that hose, you might've risked way more than you wanted to save the cost of asking a friend for a favor or renting a cab.

But, since the car started, the battery still had enough power, then that's dictating your issues...even though it gets fed by the alt.

Try the cluster test or measure voltage on and off with multimeter s/b around 12 off and 14 on.

I'll bet she's fine in the a.m....but consider rinsing off with just water as I wonder whether the stuff in coolant might be allowing current to pass through it and messing things up...don't know...just thinking it might conduct better than water...also, you might try cleaning out the contact for the vr in case coolant seeped into it. Also, of course, coolant on belts isn't good either...so rinse those off with water too...coolant is very slippery and really not good on belts and lack of drive on the alt belt would also explain electrical issues.

Anyway, sleep well...she'll be fine in a.m...97% sure!

Doug

I took your advice and dumped several gallons of water over the alternator, belts, and sensors to get the coolant off. What have I got to lose right? I'll definitely be sleeping with my fingers crossed tonight, we'll see what happens.
 

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I took your advice and dumped several gallons of water over the alternator, belts, and sensors to get the coolant off. What have I got to lose right? I'll definitely be sleeping with my fingers crossed tonight, we'll see what happens.
Well, I was thinking more of a light rinsing with a hose...but my car runs in the rain fine, so yours should too!

I say this a lot, that I believe in proximate causes...and in your case, the only one we know of is the cooling leak...so deal with issues related to that first (which you've seemingly done well!) and go from there.

If belts were slipping and battery was a little low, the alt wouldn't have been charging coz belts were slipping...or worse, the voltage was going up and down as belts were slipping...and that'd certainly piss your car off no end...so I think your odds are better than decent...and if not tomorrow a.m....then maybe in the afternoon. Let us know...I'll be curious!

Doug
 

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There is a possibility that one of your ground connection is loose or bad.
 

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*****MORNING UPDATE*****

This isn't good. When I turn the ignition switch it still just flickers the cluster lights and makes a clicking sound. Doesn't attempt to turnover at all. The battery seems to be fine, voltage across it is ~13V. I guess my only hope is that everything isn't completely dry yet.

Any suggestions?
 

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I know that a battery can read 12.x volts and still not have enough power to start...but there is a load test that will tell you whether it's good or not.

So, my advice...take battery out, have friend/taxi take you to autozone, have it tested and if needed get new $100 battery (or OE is $300 I think!).

I suspect that either your battery is old(ish), or you don't drive long enough, frequently enough and that it just ran down...

With electrical things, bat always a good place to begin...but study the threads a bit on battery testing...you might be able to load test it yourself...might be some way of doing that...as in cluster test (if you can get to that), then turn on lights, radio, etc...might be similar to what an autozone would do.

Still though, might need more drying time...

Guys, any chance of just spraying off alt with an elect. cleaner? I think they make one that would work...though do not try to start car until it's dried (or find one that is safe on energized elect. stuff...not sure about this, but am vaguely recalling something like that might exist).

Sorry...I've been there...sucks!

Doug
 

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E46s do crazy things when the battery is low. Flashing lights, dash sticking on etc.

Battery is flat. maybe your alternator is faulty due to the coolant spilling on it, or maybe the battery has just died at the same time.

Jump start it, and measure the voltage when running to see if you've fried the alternator. Then see if it holds charge..
 

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Discussion Starter #11
*****EVENING UPDATE*****

Jump-started the car when I got off work and had no issues. Voltage across the battery with the car running is around 16V. Hopefully everything is fine now, thanks for the help.
 
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