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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
2004 330xi with 216k miles. Manual trans. MS43. I bought it new 17 years ago.

(TL;DR - replaced a failing battery and still have no crank. Outputs of DME and EWS appear correct. Roll-starting works. Is my next step to pull the intake so I can confirm that the voltages at the starter are good, and probably replace the starter?)

For a number of years, there's been an occasional grinding sound for a second or two from the starter after the key is released, so I expected that at some point, I'd end up replacing it.

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed that the car has been hard to start. Battery voltage as reflected in the instrument cluster or PASoft would not be much above 12V before starting and would drop to under 10V while cranking. Audibly, my V1 radar detector would let out a dying squeal during starts; the last time it did that was when my alternator started to fail a few years ago. Once running, the alternator output is a healthy 14.1-14.2V.

Saturday morning, two 30-minute drives. First start the car struggled a bit to start, and second start for the ride home was fine a few hours later.

Sunday evening, tried to start the car. First start worked. Shut it off and immediately tried to start it again. Turned over a couple times slowly and started. Third start - nothing. No crank.

Attempted a jumpstart from another car. While battery voltage in the E46 appeared much better (13.x), still no crank.

Today, I've done the following:

- Checked a bunch of fuses (I forget which ones)
- Replaced the battery with new. It's fully charged.
- PASoft EWS live data shows all green when I press the clutch pedal with the ignition switch at ON
- Confirmed the output of EWS pin #1 (solid black) goes to 12V when turning the key to START (this should exclude any problem with EWS or a bad key)
- Confirmed the output of DME (pin 6 of X6011 in the E-box, Black/Yellow) goes to 12V when turning the key to START (this should exclude any problem with DME)
- Battery voltage appears to drop 0.1-0.3V when START is engaged, and recovers when I let the key spring back
- Scanned for codes with PASoft. Nothing relevant.
- Roll started the car - works. Helpful that my driveway is a tiny decline, which is enough to start the car, but slight enough that two humans can roll the car back up the hill.

So, I think that the issue is either a bad connection at the starter (perhaps either the DME or EWS control signal), or the starter itself. I can't think of any way to get to the starter connections to check them without doing everything necessary to get to the point of removing the starter, so I'm thinking that maybe I should just replace it and hope that's it. I've read through all the "no start" threads, and watched a number of DIYs, and since this is an XI, the replacement is a daunting task from the top.

My questions:

1. I can barely see the starter through all the crap in the engine compartment. Would it be worthwhile trying to reach the starter with a broomstick and then give the other end a couple whacks with a rubber mallet, while my trusty helper tries to start it?

2. Anything I've missed? Anything I should try before I start ripping things apart to get to the starter and replace it? I'm not keen on replacing this thing if I don't have to.

3. Anything I should also replace while I'm in there? Already did the CCV. Will look at the hard coolant hoses, but won't replace them unless necessary. Was thinking that the crank sensor and coolant temp sensor are right there and super cheap so maybe replace those. If I pull the intake, I'll replace the gasket. I'll replace the rear vacuum hoses for sure. What else?
 

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2004 330Ci 85k miles
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(TL;DR - replaced a failing battery and still have no crank. Outputs of DME and EWS appear correct. Roll-starting works. Is my next step to pull the intake so I can confirm that the voltages at the starter are good, and probably replace the starter?)
First off, kudos for such a thorough first post in the thread. Like...wow, you covered a lot. And I can see why, because....well.....XI starter! On the XI, you really wanna be sure before tearing into it. Yes. It sounds like a starter gone bad to me. I would jumper the starter post terminals to see if it still doesn't turn over.

If you***8217;re removing the IM to replace the starter, you might want to add a few PM things for while you're in there.
 

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Can you check the voltage at both the starter’s main power connection and the signal coming from the EWS? That might require getting the car in the air. The main red power cable comes up the right side of the car and terminates at the jumper post located under the red plastic cover under the hood. The main power cable going to the starter originates at that jumper post. I’ve heard of a couple of instances where that connection at the jumper post becomes corroded. Disconnect the ground cable at the battery and disassemble the jumper post. If it’s ok then I’m betting the starter is toast.

As Dawg said, pulling the intake to get to the starter gives you the ability to replace some parts located under the manifold. The highest priority is replacing the 2 plastic coolant pipes, one of which plugs into the cylinder head. There is at least one thread on this job. The big issue is the corrosion at the hole in the head. The pipes are parts 5 & 8 in the link. I’d also replace the crankcase ventilation system (CCV), all vacuum hoses, the oil filter housing gasket.

https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/showparts?id=BN53-USA-07-2000-E46-BMW-330Ci&diagId=11_2200
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It's my understanding that the main power cable comes from the battery, to the jumpstart post on the passenger side, across and down to the starter, and then over to the alternator. I'd presume (?!!!) that if the voltage at the battery, the jumpstart post, and the alternator are all the same, and there's no voltage drop from the battery to the alternator, then can we conclude that since the starter is in the middle of that, that the starter is getting good power?

Does this starter actually require TWO +12V signals to operate? One from EWS and one from DME? That seems wacky.

I've already done the OFHG and CCV separately. Which just makes this all the more frustrating, because I've had half of those components removed more than a couple times.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
.... I would jumper the starter post terminals to see if it still doesn't turn over....
You mean apply power directly to the starter, while it's still mounted to the bellhousing? I can't figure out how I'd get in there to do that, without taking everything out.
 

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Your understanding of the power distribution is correct. The jumper post is where 3 cables come together. One cable goes directly to the starter and the other to the fuse boxes.

Yes the starter needs 12VDC from the battery and a voltage from the EWS. I believed it’s also 12VDC.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Following up with GOOD NEWS.

It was the starter. Well, that's probably not good news, because what came next was a lot of work.

Removal of the intake was, well, removing the intake. Lots of work, and spilled some gas (I should have let it run dry by pulling the fuel pump fuse).

Removal of the starter was a NIGHTMARE. Two days of PB Blaster. I broke a 3/8" box wrench (an antique, stamped "MADE IN WEST GERMANY"). Ended up using a 3/8" flexy ratcheting box wrench with a helper wrench for the top bolt, and like 3-4 feet of socket extensions (two wobblers) with an E12 socket to get the bottom bolt. But it finally came out.

Reinstall was the reverse order of removal. The surface of the intake was SUPER dirty, and lots of dirt fell into the intake during removal. Blew it out the best I could, and lots and lots of cleaning afterwards. There was a lot of fuel stuck in the fuel rail (I didn't remove it - I left it on the intake - see above) so lots of spillage ON THE STARTER when reinstalling, so I let the car sit for a day so the gas could evaporate. I elected to NOT replace any of the plastic coolant hoses or the hidden sensors. I did replace every vacuum line, though.

When starting - START was fantastic (you don't realize how bad your starter is until you put in a new one - it sounded SO MUCH BETTER than the old one), but running was super bad; every second, it'd surge to 2k rpm and then immediately drop. Threw a code 73 (115), and it turned out that I had not firmly installed the connector on the throttle body. Oooooops.

Fixed that. Car starts great, and a trip around the neighborhood was perfect. I've got a ~50mi roundtrip tomorrow, and a ~500mi roundtrip this weekend...
 

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Thank you for the follow-up with your success story! I'm dreading the replace starter job. Sooner or later, it must be done. Still working at this time...
 

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We replaced a starter about a year ago on a 330Xi A from underneath. Just to prove it could be done.

What a huge PITA. I think my forearms are still scratched. Didn't save much time but reduced the chance of follow on issues, as much less was taken apart in the process.

W/O my entire toolbox and years of know-how it wouldn't have been possible. It still required 2 technicians here and there.
 
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