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E46 M3 (2001-2006)

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Old 07-31-2011, 12:39 PM
liebzeit liebzeit is offline
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Location: Las Vegas
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 2003 M3 Coupe
New SMG pump needed?

I have a 2003 M3 coupe with only 40,000 miles. About 3 weeks ago there was flooding in Las Vegas, and my car had to go through some relatively deep water. This was a day after driving from LA to Vegas in extremely hot weather (for the first time that I recall, the temp gauge touched red).

No problems the next couple of days but, on the 3rd day after the flooding, without warning, my car wouldn't start (after starting earlier in the day) and the SMG light came on. There was full power to the dash, windows, fan, radio, etc. AAA came and checked the battery... it was fine, but said the converter registered on the very low end. While AAA was there, the car started. Car was fine for a few days and then wouldn't start. I got it started after 5 minutes (no particular tricks that I used) and took it to the dealer. It took them a long time before they decided the solution was to replace the relay.

Car was great for 3 weeks, and then I had the same problem... oddly, again after driving between Vegas and LA. The car started fine while I was in LA, except for my last start before I left for Vegas. Had to have it towed to a dealer. Now I'm stuck in LA with the dealer telling me I need a new hydraulic pump for $4200 (which includes labor). Anything I should have the dealer look at before commiting to the repair? I truly don't feel a high level of confidence in their diagnosis based on body language, etc., but maybe that is just me not wanting to believe I may have to pay $4200! I've read on threads that the hood contact, starter, brake sensor and various other things could all cause the same problem.

If you think I do need a new pump, do you know a place around LA that sells them for less than the dealer's list price ($2950) and a trusted service shop that will do it for less than the $1200 in labor at the dealer?

Thanks in advance for helping out a first-time poster having a bad weekend!
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Old 07-31-2011, 02:19 PM
suaveflooder suaveflooder is offline
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Location: San Diego
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: 2004 m3
For you, sir:

This should be a good start, but it kinda does sound like the pump. I would replace the relay one more time and see what happens. They are cheap and you can do it yourself. If that doesn't work, I wouldn't go to BMW, I would find an indy shop to do the work. You will save some money. Good luck! Keep us updated!
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:42 PM
liebzeit liebzeit is offline
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Location: Las Vegas
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 2003 M3 Coupe
Thanks for the info, suaveflooder. An update for you and everyone else...

The dealer in LA was able to start the car numerous times, but highly recommended that the pump be replaced. I asked them to try swapping the relay again, but they were hesitant (why would they want to make $250 instead of $4200! Ha!). I asked them for the keys and started the car 12 times in 12 attempts... including after driving around a bit. So, I drove the car back to Vegas (260 miles) with no incident. Over the next couple of days the car started fine. Today, the car started when I left to run errands. Half-way through my errands, on my third start of the day, it wouldn't start. I tried some of the tricks (hitting the SMG pump housing, holding the key in start for a couple minutes, slamming the hood, etc.). Nothing. I have hydraulic power... I hear the window vacuum when the doors close and I hear the pump making noise when I engage the ignition.

A few things that I've been thinking about. The first time my car wouldn't start (about a month ago now), the battery guy that AAA sent said the battery was fine but the alternator was reading very low (around 12). Even though the battery registered fine, he was concerned about the alternator. About a week before that I spent about 5 hours with the power on at a drive-in double feature... a time of big time drain on the car! There are also some similarities in the times the car has died. First, all three times it's happened a couple of days after a road trip of 250+ miles. Most of my driving between those road trips was very short... so I go long periods of time where the battery isn't able to fully charge, I imagine. Second, all three times occurred after I had started it earlier in the day... sometimes multiple times. Third, they have all occurred between 11 AM - 1 PM, very hot times this time of year in both Vegas and the valley in LA... the locations where I've had the three no-starts.

Finally, I was able to get the error codes from the dealer in LA. Interestingly, it took them over a day to "track them down" because they weren't in the computer or on the paperwork. They found 003B SMG activation clutch (twice) and 0072 SMG selector lever (once).

To everyone reading this... any thoughts on whether something other than the SMG pump is causing the no-starts?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-05-2011, 10:10 AM
sfca-325i sfca-325i is offline
humanum est errare
Location: Northern California
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 652
Mein Auto: which day is this?
When you say the car does not start, does the car crank but not start (as in fuel starved but power getting to the starter) or does the car fail to crank entirely (as in defective starter). If the latter, there is a thread at m3forum that discusses this problem. Something to do with the positioning of the starter and one bad spot that causes non-start conditions on an intermittent basis.


2004 e83 3.0, 2003.5 e46 M3 Cic, 2008 e9x 335xia, 2008 Sienna XLE Limted AWD
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:54 PM
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Yorgi Yorgi is offline
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Location: Toronto
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3,650
Mein Auto: '04 M3 / '06 650i Cab
There are several other problem areas other than the pump with SMG cars. Considering that you are hearing the pump prime when you unlock the car, and based on your error codes, I would guess you have a faulty gear position sensor (very common problem).

The starter issue mentioned above affects all M3s, not just SMG versions. If you hear a clicking sound with no start it could be the starter. Put the car in gear and rock the car, or give the starter a whack with a brass hammer. If this fixes your problem you need a new starter.

[EDIT]BTW, the salmon relay costs about $20 and you should keep a spare in your glove box. That way you can also use it to swap with your current relay during troubleshooting.
Straight lines are for fast cars...turns are for fast drivers
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Last edited by Yorgi; 08-11-2011 at 07:12 PM.
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