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7 Series - E38 (1995 - 2001)

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  #1  
Old 12-30-2012, 03:23 PM
edognight edognight is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 e38. schwartzx2
1997 e38 no headlights, no start.

I need some help!

I'll recap:

Bought a basketcase that the owner drove to a shop, wouldn't start, and decided to sell. The key wouldn't turn, and it wouldn't start. He did drive it there. I buy for cheap.

Took my tools, and took the steering clamshells apart. separated ignition switch and turned with a screwdriver, and it started right up. Let engine run with heat on max and the ignition key park lock came unstuck. Happy day.

Drove around, and the tire was so flat spotted and frozen, it wouldn't roll. Shut it off, and had it towed to my house.

Went to start it again after tow, and nothing. It had just run an hour before. Instruments work, radio, everything inside but the headlights, and the car wont start.

So: key in ignition, screwdriver in switch and no start, and no headlights, but everything else works.

Any help appreciated!

Had battery tested, its fine, but not the one the car calls for, the previous owner put it in because the stock one was toast. It is 750 CCA and tests fine with a load test. It did start the car before, but not now.
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:52 PM
edognight edognight is offline
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update

Bought a new battery and bypassed the ignition switch by jumping it on the wiring harness and nothing...
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2013, 08:03 PM
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BMWFatherFigure BMWFatherFigure is offline
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The car has a factory alarm/imobliser that registers if the wheels rotate while the alarm is armed. Towing will do that. The system will imobilise the car until the alarm is reset. Might be your problem.
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  #4  
Old 01-04-2013, 06:16 AM
edognight edognight is offline
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Thanks!

BMWFF, thanks, you are my new BMWBFF.

Any idea how to fix it? I suspected something like that, but i have no experience with BMW's.
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  #5  
Old 01-04-2013, 05:23 PM
First740i First740i is offline
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That is poly dealer issue. I think you need codes and computer, but don't quote me.

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  #6  
Old 01-07-2013, 06:52 AM
edognight edognight is offline
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Update: This is a weird one. New battery. It was sold as charged, but the trickle charger shows it has been charging for a day or so and counting.

Ignition switch shows + on a test light on the black and yellow wire with a ignition screwdriver twist (black and yellow wire lights up in 3rd position.)

Headlights do not work, taillights do not work. (the headlights did work before, but not now, all bulbs are fine.) I think when I started it previously, I pushed on the brakes--if that matters.

I checked power to the battery with jumping it off, and it does spark at the starter. Grounded the engine to the negative on the shock tower, and tried to start it.

I have checked all fuses, and wondering about relays. I have never heard a straight answer on if an e38 has a starter relay or not. Mine has three lime green boxes in the ebox that I assume are relays. All fuses appear fine.

I previously did get this car to start, it smoked at first, but seemed to run fine. I let it run for over an hour with no problems, had it towed home, and now i just cannot get it to start.

I will check the wire to the starter with a turn of ignition switch and see if the car is telling the starter to start, but I suspect it is not due to security issue. Any other diagnostic ideas? I will do it.

Thanks.
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  #7  
Old 01-07-2013, 07:02 PM
First740i First740i is offline
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Major electrical issues. That's what it sounds like to me. Maybe a short in wiring harness I don't know. I'm a DIY that's to in depth for my knowing. Wish I could help more

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  #8  
Old 01-08-2013, 01:28 PM
edognight edognight is offline
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i hear ya.

I am starting to wonder if I got in way over my head. I had a hot hand on fixing cheap cars and selling them until this...
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  #9  
Old 01-11-2013, 10:51 AM
Limitless08 Limitless08 is offline
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Mein Auto: 97 E38 740i
Ground connection

I have not had the no start problem, but I did have a problem with lights coming on. Under the hood on the passenger side, there are 3 little black boxes attached to the apron. They should have brown wires conning out of them. In my case, some of the wires had come off causing my lights to not come on. Once I reconnected them my lights came on no problem.

May or may not work but its worth a shot. And check ground connections elsewhere too.
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  #10  
Old 01-12-2013, 06:49 AM
edognight edognight is offline
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will do.

Did the lights plug into some sort of 'light module' ? I was doing some checking, and both the headlights and taillights come through the light module thingy ( i forget what it is called) and the connections can go bad.

Also, the previous owner had some sort of jerry rigged circuit running up there under the glove box. it was jumped off the fuses in the trunk, and then run up there under the carpet. The wires were jumped off the hot side of the fuse, and run up under the GB.

It looked very 'un stock BMW ish'

This car was cheap and I LOVE the styling of e38's, but it has been a nightmare to get running!!!
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  #11  
Old 01-12-2013, 01:31 PM
Limitless08 Limitless08 is offline
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Not sure

I never really got that far into it. I just changed a plug and reconnected the ground wires, and it solved my problem.
Sorry I couldn't be of more help...
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  #12  
Old 01-18-2013, 10:53 AM
kupplung kupplung is offline
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Thanks, I'm glad if I can help. Tackle the no-start and the lights as separate issues. Let us know the result of the voltage test on the black and yellow wire going to the starter solenoid terminal 50. If there is no voltage, it is EWS. If there is voltage, suspect your starter, or like you were asking, the starter relay.

FWIW, yes, there is a starter relay. Through 1996 it was underneath the left side dashboard, in 1997 it moved to the E-box in the engine compartment, under the control modules.

The reason for your lights not working is probably a fuse or the lighting control module. The lighting control module is located by the passenger's right foot. You have to remove the sill and pull back the carpet. The fuses that provide power to the LCM are f112, f113, and f23. F112 and F113 are 80 amp fuses located in the fuse panel under the right front seat. F23 is a 5amp fuse in the fusebox in the engine compartment.
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  #13  
Old 01-18-2013, 11:10 AM
kupplung kupplung is offline
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Also, no I don't think you need to actually reprogram anything. You just need to sync the EWS. INPA can reset the EWS. There is other software available to do actual programming, but I don't think you need to.
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  #14  
Old 01-18-2013, 05:17 PM
edognight edognight is offline
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Thanks

Thanks kupplung, I'm on it. I'll post when I check what you told me.
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  #15  
Old 01-19-2013, 11:06 AM
edognight edognight is offline
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Update

I took the front seat out I found about an inch of water (ice) in the bottom of the floor pan!!!

There is water in the back part, behind the front of the seat and about two inches of water in the front part. All those fuses and wires were about an inch deep, so...

This is why you don't buy a car on a whim...so i'll dry everything out, and see what I got...

I can only imagine all the damage, hopefully, I can replace, clean, etc. I will let you know.
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  #16  
Old 02-05-2013, 02:37 PM
edognight edognight is offline
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flooded floor pan

Anyone have any idea if a flooded floor pan (and the fusebox immersed in water) would cause a no-start, funny electrical symptoms, etc?

I have a new box on the way, and hopefully that fixes it. But I am not naieve enough to think that what looks like the problem with cars is actually the problem. In my experience, it usually doesn't work that way.
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  #17  
Old 02-06-2013, 06:05 AM
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BMWFatherFigure BMWFatherFigure is offline
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The water in the fuse box will at least confuse or at worst bugger up most of the electronics. You need a good stealer or indy to get to the bottom of this; and that is after you have got everything cleaned, dry, tight and electrically sound. Once all the boxes and their joints and earths are good the car will come right. Might need a reprogram though, because of the water over the terminals.
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  #18  
Old 02-11-2013, 08:19 AM
edognight edognight is offline
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update, small victory.

I have a small update in my quest to get 'the car that could not be started' started.

I found out that the pass. side floorboards were flooded, and for those of you in the loop, there is a fuse box down there. There was about an inch of water (ice) and I melted it and cleaned it out, removed the carpet, etc.

I got a used fusebox, cleaned up all the wires and installed it. Car still does not start, but the headlights now work!

Which is a small victory for me. Previously, the headlights did not work (though sometimes the did, and sometimes they flashed like the alarm was on) because the fusebox was literally under water for some time.

So after reading every no start thread on the net, I am reasonably convinced the EWS module is disallowing a start and I will need a DIS environment to reset it.

Anyone have and help, I am all ears.
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  #19  
Old 02-11-2013, 09:03 PM
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BMWFatherFigure BMWFatherFigure is offline
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Beck to the clean, dry, tight electrical stuff. Check further in. I guess you will find more corrosion.
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Good - Fast - Cheap: Pick any two.
Current:
E23 735i; E30 318i; E32 735iL (X 2 - 1 Alpine White and 1 Glacier Blue); E34 535i; E38 735iL; R50 Cooper; R55 Cooper Clubman.
Previous:
E21 318i; E32 735iL; E34 535i; E38 730iL; E53 4.4i
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  #20  
Old 02-13-2013, 08:08 AM
edognight edognight is offline
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is there anything else in the passenjer side floorboard that will cause a 'no start' if covered with water?

I havent taken off the right side cover (white cover, held on with cable ties)
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  #21  
Old 02-14-2013, 04:53 PM
jitsjaf2009 jitsjaf2009 is offline
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This may be a dumb question. Dis you check the starter itself? May have died after that one start and the headlights versus non-start are two separate problems.
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  #22  
Old 02-15-2013, 07:06 AM
edognight edognight is offline
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I jumped a wire to it, and it will spin, but the solenoid will not engage. So it will not crank, but will spin with a hot wire to it, so maybe it is the starter. The light do not dim, like there is any current going to it, and I can't get a peep out of it, but it is certainly possible.
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  #23  
Old 02-15-2013, 07:50 AM
jitsjaf2009 jitsjaf2009 is offline
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It may be the starter solonoid, which I think on these is mounted on the starter. Coil or contacts in these can fail without warning, usually with just a couple prior "stumble". If you locate it, and determine which (smaller) is the solonoid engage power, check it for 12vdc when key is in the start position. If not trace back or it is your immobilizer. You can also run a "hot" lead jumper from positive to the terminal on the coil to see if it 'kicks'.
Starter spins, so it is good.
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  #24  
Old 07-23-2013, 12:20 PM
edognight edognight is offline
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I got a unlocked DME from Canada, and boy did that thing start beautifully. I like I like. This ended almost six months of 'no start' research and fear of having to go to the dealer and being taken for a ride. I just realized I didn't clean this thread up, and in case someone needed help, You go to RPM motorsports in BC Canada, mail them your DME and they will blank the EWS and all security stuff. I took the car to the Indy here in Twin Cities, (JB Eurotech didn't even charge me to tell me 'I can fix it, but it might be more than 500$, just get an unlocked DME and be done with it. He was pretty sure something was bad, but it would be hard to diagnose) I really do respect them for this, because I would have been steamed if I had a 1300$ bill on a 900$ car. Plus they seemed a little put off because my car is all taken apart and looks like an extra in The Road Warrior.

This was a very difficult problem to diagnose, and I found exactly one thread, I believe the guy was from overseas, and he had the exact problem I had, and same error message on PA soft (starter disabled) and he bought a key, DME, EWS and lock tumblers. So I am not exactly happy with 500$, but it isn't the end of the world either. I am pretty sure the car's battery was low (and the seller had the wrong battery anyway) and that ticked off the EWS, and long story short, it starts, and I do not foresee and more no start problems in my immediate future.

In the end, this was a tough one, and all of the traditional automotive 'no start' logic just didn't apply. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought the key, DME, EWS package because I found one for $250, but oh well. This car drives like 10,000$ for $1000, and I am happy.
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  #25  
Old 07-23-2013, 12:43 PM
jitsjaf2009 jitsjaf2009 is offline
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Wow...thanks for getting back and letting us know your resolution. I am very happy for you being on the road and enjoying your machine. And thanks for the resource.
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