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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E46 (1999 - 2006)

E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-20-2013, 10:07 AM
Gallant0 Gallant0 is offline
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2003 320i Will not Start

G'day!

Yesterday before work, I jump behind the wheel of my 320, slam the key into the ingition, and twist it to the crank position.

The headlights come on, the dash lights up, the window defrost screams to life, but there is no crank what-so-ever.

I pop the hood with the hey inserted into the ignition, and I hear coming from the engine, the sound that is made when you push the igniter on a BBQ. The sound of electrical arcs, about 6 per second, and continous.

When I try to crank, the headlights dim, and I hear a humming under my seat (fuel pump?).

Ran upstairs, grabbed my laptop and started searching for answers.

I use the built in voltage meter to determine that my battery runs at 11.6v - and goes down to 11.3 when I try to crank. The battery should be OK, right? I mean, it COULD be better, but if it's above 10 volts it should crank? The ingition switch clicks, so it's probably ok?


That leaves me with a few ideas:

- 1) My key needs to be replaced. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, because the remote unlocks the doors and trunk without any issues. Is there a simple way I can rule this out?

- 2) There is an issue with wiring between the ingition switch, and the starter.

- 3) The starter itself has an issue. I have come to understand that replacing the starter on an E46 is.. a very, very big job. I don't really want to spend a grand on having the dealer take care of it, and may opt to try to do this myself. I would like to however rule EVERYTHING out first.

Any help at all would be greatly appreciated!

I know very little about cars, but I work on heavy machinery all day, so I am sure with the help of google and youtube I should be able to follow your suggestions, and at least diagnose this. I am also fairly comfortable on a multimeter.

Again, at this point I am looking for diagnosis.
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2013, 10:54 AM
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j_schroeder j_schroeder is offline
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I would have to say battery. Take your battery and charge it, or get a jump from a friend. If either one works it means you need a new battery and it the process didn't cost anything.
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  #3  
Old 01-20-2013, 10:57 AM
Gallant0 Gallant0 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j_schroeder View Post
I would have to say battery. Take your battery and charge it, or get a jump from a friend. If either one works it means you need a new battery and it the process didn't cost anything.
I begin by re-instating the fact that I know very little about cars:

If all the internal lights/headlights work as expected, it can still be the battery? I have no understanding of these things.

In any case, I believe I will try this after work. Thank you for your reply!
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:35 AM
769034 769034 is offline
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I experienced the same situation 3 weeks ago at the airport. I was lucky that a person had a set of jumper cables with him. Managed to get started after a jump, but did not charge battery at all on way home. Went to Lordco, replaced battery and voila, all is good. A load check on old battery revealed a screwed battery. Not bad though given that the replaced battery was 10 years old.
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:00 PM
Gallant0 Gallant0 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 769034 View Post
I experienced the same situation 3 weeks ago at the airport. I was lucky that a person had a set of jumper cables with him. Managed to get started after a jump, but did not charge battery at all on way home. Went to Lordco, replaced battery and voila, all is good. A load check on old battery revealed a screwed battery. Not bad though given that the replaced battery was 10 years old.
Do you have any idea what the voltage was reading when you had to jump it?

I will likely replace the battery tomorrow anyways, but I am curious.
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  #6  
Old 01-20-2013, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gallant0 View Post
Do you have any idea what the voltage was reading when you had to jump it?

I will likely replace the battery tomorrow anyways, but I am curious.
Re: batteries:

Engines require Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) to start. HUNDREDS of them. Your battery might have enough power to run lights, radio, etc., but these are all "low draw" items which do not need CCAs to function.
Change that battery....
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:13 PM
769034 769034 is offline
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I did not check voltages before the jump start. Fast Bob is right my friend. Just change out that battery and all will be well.
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  #8  
Old 01-20-2013, 09:25 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Cranking amps to spin an e46 should be a nominal 175 amperes.
You should be able to spin the engine if your voltage does not drop below 11.3v measured when you try to crank. To eliminate the battery as a problem, jump with another battery. Leave the battery connected for five minutes while the other car is running before you try to turn the car over.

If you still can't start the car, best to check the starter directly. Measure the voltage at the main starter terminal to engine ground. If you get 12v there, next jump the small (solenoid) terminal from the large terminal and the engine should spin. Caution; make sure the car is in neutral. If the starter won't turn, bad starter!

Let me know if you try these things and want further counsel.
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