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View Full Version : Dumb question- Battery won't hold charge.


TD
04-04-2003, 11:40 AM
My wife's E36 convertible's battery is not holding a charge. I had to go jump it Wednesday night and by Thursday morning, it had lost it's charge. It was jumped again and I drove it to work (beautiful day, had to take the convertible) but then it was dead when I went to leave for home at the end of the day. Fortunately one of my staff was still at work and I got him to drive his car over so I could jump it again. I cheecked it again this morning (before leaving for work in MY car) and it's dead again.

So, can I safely assume I just need to replace the battery? Or is it something else? The car is now about 4 years old, but that still seems early for a battery to go.

Ack
04-04-2003, 11:43 AM
The battery might not be holding a charge due to a bad alternator. Or it could just be that the battery is old and needs replacing. The more you charge a battery after it has died, the less of a charge it can actually hold. I would get a new battery and see if this fixes the problem.

Does your wife work close to home? If not, it probably isn't an alternator issue since the car wouldn't be able to run very long on just the charge held in the battery.

Kaz
04-04-2003, 11:44 AM
Aren't BMW batteries notorious for early failures? 4 years isn't unreasonable, especially for something like a convertible that has the extra loading from the top mechanism (given that its used).

Typically when a battery won't hold a charge that means one of the plates inside the battery has shorted out.

It could be the alternator but you'd likely have other symptoms as well if that were the case. When I come across a car with a dead battery I always take a DMM to it when its running just to check.

Time for a new battery, methinks.

SARAFIL
04-04-2003, 11:50 AM
Originally posted by TD
My wife's E36 convertible's battery is not holding a charge. I had to go jump it Wednesday night and by Thursday morning, it had lost it's charge. It was jumped again and I drove it to work (beautiful day, had to take the convertible) but then it was dead when I went to leave for home at the end of the day. Fortunately one of my staff was still at work and I got him to drive his car over so I could jump it again. I cheecked it again this morning (before leaving for work in MY car) and it's dead again.

So, can I safely assume I just need to replace the battery? Or is it something else? The car is now about 4 years old, but that still seems early for a battery to go.

I think that while on the early side of the range, it is still somewhat reasonable. You will probably be best of getting a new battery, but it wouldn't hurt to have a load test done to see if it really is the battery. I knew a guy that had a 5 series that kept loosing its charge, and it turned out after replacing the battery and alternator, the problem was the "general module" for the electrical system that kept drawing power from the car. X5s and E39s also had a problem with the radio at one point that would cause it to not "go to sleep" on cold days and it would continue to draw power with the vehicle off.

I would have a local mechanic load test the electrical system before I just put a battery in it. BTW- how many miles on the car?

TD
04-04-2003, 11:52 AM
Let's assume I need a new battery. Do I need to get a BMW battery?

Ack
04-04-2003, 11:56 AM
There is no real need to pick up a BMW battery. Their are tons of different battery manufacturers that will work perfect in your car.

Kaz
04-04-2003, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by TD
Let's assume I need a new battery. Do I need to get a BMW battery?

The thing with BMWs is they (and MBs too) use an odd size (not a standard BCI Group) and an interesting hold-down technique. I don't know about E36s (and I know convertibles on E46s have yet their own battery) but lots of BMWs rely on a lip around the bottom edge of the battery to keep it in place. Aftermarket ones don't have this. Most aftermarket batteries I've seen 'for BMW' are shorter in length than OEM, and don't have the recessed posts.

IIRC, Douglas supplies BMW batteries for US-made models (E36/7-8, E53) and this OEM one CAN be found in the aftermarket.

AC Delco is my absolute favorite car battery brand, though they don't make a BMW-sized one AFAIK. :cry:

JST
04-04-2003, 12:10 PM
Check this thread:

BF.C (http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=62622&highlight=battery)

And this info. (http://www.ecubed.com/bmw/ServInfo/battery.htm)

Kaz
04-04-2003, 12:18 PM
Oh, and I would NEVER EVER buy an Interstate battery. They are the absolute worst perofrming batteries ever made considering they are the most expensive out there (next to spirals, etc.). IMO I think Johnson Controls sells their better ones to other makes and saves the junkers for Interstate.

TD
04-04-2003, 12:24 PM
I looked up Douglas batteries but cannot figure out what Douglas product corresponds to my battery.

So I called two local dealerships to get their price w/CCA discount.

VOB wants $126.90 + tax and Sterling wants $139.59 + tax. This is AFTER discount.

But Sterling gave me the P/N (61-21-8-381-722) so I have something else to search on.

Nick325xiT 5spd
04-04-2003, 12:25 PM
Call Tischer, as well.

Jetfire
04-04-2003, 12:37 PM
Not to point out the obvious, but are you certain three isn't something you're leaving on in the car? My wife's old car had a little light in the trunk that was impossible to see, even at night. We almost replaced the not-too-old battery until I noticed it by accident one day.

TD
04-04-2003, 12:39 PM
Originally posted by Jetfire
Not to point out the obvious, but are you certain three isn't something you're leaving on in the car? My wife's old car had a little light in the trunk that was impossible to see, even at night. We almost replaced the not-too-old battery until I noticed it by accident one day.

I'm quite sure.

TD
04-04-2003, 12:43 PM
Called Tischer. They had the highest list price (by far) but the lowest post-CCA discount price.

Tischer: List- $166 CCA- $123
Sterling: List- $155 CCA- $140
VOB: List- $141 CCA- $127

But considering VOB is a few minutes from my house and Tischer would take about 90 minutes round trip, I'll drop the extra $4.

Jetfire
04-04-2003, 12:51 PM
Wow. I never thought I'd find higher list prices than Sterling's. There's an eye-opener.

Hey TD, what color is the convertible's interior?

TD
04-04-2003, 12:52 PM
Originally posted by Jetfire
Wow. I never thought I'd find higher list prices than Sterling's. There's an eye-opener.

Hey TD, what color is the convertible's interior?

You saw it on Sunday. Tan.

The HACK
04-04-2003, 01:06 PM
There was some "tech talk" article a few months back that discussed BMW batteries...The OEM ones from when the car seems to last 3-5 years but if you buy a battery to replace the OEM ones they only seem to last about 2 years.

I'd say go with one of the light weight batteries...They're about $80 and are MUCH lighter than BMW OEM batteries.

TD
04-04-2003, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by The HACK
There was some "tech talk" article a few months back that discussed BMW batteries...The OEM ones from when the car seems to last 3-5 years but if you buy a battery to replace the OEM ones they only seem to last about 2 years.

I'd say go with one of the light weight batteries...They're about $80 and are MUCH lighter than BMW OEM batteries.

This car *may* still be put up for sale soon, so I want it completely stock.

Jetfire
04-04-2003, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by TD
You saw it on Sunday. Tan.

I meant, what is the official BMW name of the interior color. Is the answer still "Tan?"

SARAFIL
04-04-2003, 01:11 PM
Make sure you still have your radio code card in the car as well...

TD
04-04-2003, 01:12 PM
Originally posted by Jetfire
I meant, what is the official BMW name of the interior color. Is the answer still "Tan?"

I think so. I'll check the sticker tonight.

TD
04-04-2003, 01:13 PM
Originally posted by SARAFIL
Make sure you still have your radio code card in the car as well...

BMW did away with the "Code" prior to the 1999 model year.

scottn2retro
04-04-2003, 01:14 PM
Originally posted by Kaz
Typically when a battery won't hold a charge that means one of the plates inside the battery has shorted out.

That's what happened to the battery in my previous e36 M3.

for info - The Ron Stygar battery (Interstate) thread

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6608&highlight=battery+AND+M+Coupe

SARAFIL
04-04-2003, 01:15 PM
Originally posted by TD
BMW did away with the "Code" prior to the 1999 model year.

Really? I'm pretty sure all the E36-based models had codes until they started using the newer radio design (2000+ Z3s). I could be wrong.

TD
04-04-2003, 01:17 PM
Originally posted by SARAFIL
Really? I'm pretty sure all the E36-based models had codes until they started using the newer radio design (2000+ Z3s). I could be wrong.

The radio switched with the '99s. My '98 has the C33 (with weatherband) while my wife's '99 has the C43.

Jetfire
04-04-2003, 01:22 PM
Originally posted by TD
The radio switched with the '99s. My '98 has the C33 (with weatherband) while my wife's '99 has the C43.

Ah, so the C43 does not have the radio code "feature?" That's good news; I never got the code and I always wondered if I should go get it.

TD
04-04-2003, 01:25 PM
Originally posted by Jetfire
Ah, so the C43 does not have the radio code "feature?" That's good news; I never got the code and I always wondered if I should go get it.

I'm honestly not sure if my C33 has it or not. I haven't disconnected the battery yet, so I haven't had to worry about it.

LMC
04-04-2003, 01:29 PM
Originally posted by Jetfire
I meant, what is the official BMW name of the interior color. Is the answer still "Tan?"

Official name: Sand

JPinTO
04-04-2003, 01:37 PM
Originally posted by Jetfire
Not to point out the obvious, but are you certain three isn't something you're leaving on in the car? My wife's old car had a little light in the trunk that was impossible to see, even at night. We almost replaced the not-too-old battery until I noticed it by accident one day.

I had the same thing on my 88 300E. 6 months later, quite by accident I find a very dim lightbulb under one of the doors that would not shut off when the door was closed. Ripped the bulb out and the battery retained it's charge. :banghead:

JST
04-04-2003, 01:39 PM
Originally posted by TD
I'm honestly not sure if my C33 has it or not. I haven't disconnected the battery yet, so I haven't had to worry about it.

My C33 has it.

Brashland
04-04-2003, 03:26 PM
My 99 323i convertible's battery died in November last year (manuf date of 3/99 I think). Although batteries are listed as long as '6 year life' the manufacturers know it won't last that long. That way when it dies you come in, they prorate the battery for the years of use, and then bill you for the new battery (nicely keeping you in their namebrand). Go to AutoZone or O'Reilly's (where I went) and they will test it for you and install the replacement. The BMW battery from the dealer was going to cost me around $300 with installation. O'Reilly did it for $83 (with better cold cranking amps).

They are odd sizes though and as the thread said, the clamp downs didn't fit with the new one. Instead they put some thick tubing at one side of the battery to prevent it from sliding. As it is not fastened down, I can't do a motorcross event (it's considered a loose part), but other than that it works fine.

edit: my stereo needed the code to reactivate

JLee
04-04-2003, 08:35 PM
hmmn, last time i ran into this problem i took the battery out and filled up the water levels again and its been working ok...

have you tried that ? i don't know if it has anything to do with it but it worked...

jeff

TD
04-04-2003, 09:31 PM
Originally posted by Brashland
My 99 323i convertible's battery died in November last year (manuf date of 3/99 I think). Although batteries are listed as long as '6 year life' the manufacturers know it won't last that long. That way when it dies you come in, they prorate the battery for the years of use, and then bill you for the new battery (nicely keeping you in their namebrand). Go to AutoZone or O'Reilly's (where I went) and they will test it for you and install the replacement. The BMW battery from the dealer was going to cost me around $300 with installation. O'Reilly did it for $83 (with better cold cranking amps).

They are odd sizes though and as the thread said, the clamp downs didn't fit with the new one. Instead they put some thick tubing at one side of the battery to prevent it from sliding. As it is not fastened down, I can't do a motorcross event (it's considered a loose part), but other than that it works fine.

edit: my stereo needed the code to reactivate

I actually bit the bullet and picked up the special vinration resistent battery for the convertible at my dealer on the way home tonight. I talked my way into getting it for their wholesale price ($112) and am working on installing it RIGHT NOW. I've been at it for about an hour and I just have to put the carpet, etc back in the trunk and I'm finished. Much of my time was spent figuring out how everything comes apart so I could get the old one out and the new one in.

TD
04-04-2003, 09:32 PM
Originally posted by JLee
hmmn, last time i ran into this problem i took the battery out and filled up the water levels again and its been working ok...

have you tried that ? i don't know if it has anything to do with it but it worked...

jeff

Too late. Bought new battery.

BTW, I saw those pics of your Summit Point roll over at Bforums today. YIKES!! :yikes: Note to self- Don't do that. :D

TD
04-04-2003, 10:25 PM
Update- Everything installed and put back and it works perfectly.

The new battery is not the same P/N as the old one. They are both 12V but the old one is 320 amps while the new one is 570 amps.

The radio DID require the code which, fortunately, was in a file with other paperwork including the original window sticker. The car is officially "Sand beige" on the interior. And I am shocked at how much it cost (although we did buy it new). The damn thing stickered for $40,720. I don't know what we were thinking back then. That's a lot of damn money. (I do remember getting out the door, tax and tags included, for under $40K.)

Nick325xiT 5spd
04-04-2003, 10:30 PM
Did you option it up? I wonder if the pricing scheme was anything like the current 325Cic and 330Cic... It seems that if you plan on loading the 325Cic, it's stupid not to just get a loaded 330. (About a $2k difference, I believe.)

TD
04-05-2003, 07:13 AM
Originally posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
Did you option it up? I wonder if the pricing scheme was anything like the current 325Cic and 330Cic... It seems that if you plan on loading the 325Cic, it's stupid not to just get a loaded 330. (About a $2k difference, I believe.)

Oh yeah, it's loaded.

Base MSRP $34,700
Premium $2750
Sport $750
Rollover protection $1450
Heated Seats $500
Destination $570
TOTAL $40,720