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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 05-30-2012, 08:55 PM
aawesq aawesq is offline
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Exclamation 2002 Z3 Alternator and Top Issues- Coincidence?

Hello All. I am the original owner of a 2002 Z3. I have not had many problems with it - and it only has 22,000 miles on it. First problem was I needed to replace the battery about 2 years ago. After replacing the battery the radio code wouldn't work. I didn't worry about it for a while. Then my rear plastic window cracked. So, I took the car to BMW - they replaced the window and also fixed the radio - for whatever reason the original radio code no longer worked and they gave me a new code.

So, I drive the car for a few days after getting it back and one morning the battery is dead. I jump the car, drive it for the day, park it--next morning- battery dead. jump the car again, drive it for th eday, it sits over night, battery dead. Over the weekend my next door neighbor trickle charges the battery for me. He then load tests it twice-battery is fine. He tests the alternator it reads that it is putting out 14 amps. It is a nice weekend-finally-decide to put the top down --and you guessed it - nothing. No noise, not attempt to work, it just does nothing.

I drive the car back and forth to work 6 days straight. Then the car sits for 24 hours - battery has a little juice but not enough to start the car. I jump it, make an appt. with BMW bring it in.

Results - BMW tells me that the car needs a new alternator and a new battery. In addition, the hydraulic pump for the top needs to be replaced. When I question them they tell me that the alternator is only putting out 12amps, the battery is not a BMW battery and needs to be replaced. As for the top, they tested all the relays and then put juice directly to the pump and the pump doesn't work so it is bad.

They want- $1700 to fix alternator and replace battery and $1300 to fix top.
My thoughts-WHOA are they ripping me off?
I complain a little and they release the car to me with no charges. I drive the car home - in traffic it takes nearly 2 hours - I make it home no problem--but of course, now the battery is dead again.

I am not a mechanic but my gut it telling me that there is something that is drawing on the battery when the car is not in use. Or am I being suspicious where I shouldn't be? What if I pay all this money to have everything fixed and then the battery just goes dead again...confirming my initial thoughts??

Does anyone have any thoughts on this or has anyone had a similar experience?

Last edited by aawesq; 05-30-2012 at 08:58 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-30-2012, 09:11 PM
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kbeamer kbeamer is offline
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So I don't have a z3 but if you search my user name you'll find I have had this same issue to the T. Took mine to BMW on Tuesday, did a full electrical test($55) comes back with bad ground strap. My alternator quote was 842$ I believe. I'm getting that reread tomorrow when the new ground strap is installed. Will let you know if it works, my car is an 02.

Also if it ends up being the alternator I'm going to attempt to change it myself for 250$
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  #3  
Old 05-31-2012, 05:58 AM
fw_fw fw_fw is offline
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I think you need to find an independent shop that specializes in BMW.....battery needs to be replaced because it isn't a BMW battery: that's pegs the BS meter right there. Especially after the alternator and battery have already tested good.

Your gut instinct is right, something is drawing current when the car is turned off and drains the battery. Unfortunately most techs, and especially techs at dealers are specialists in changing out parts, they know little on how to diagnose anything past what their computer tells them. You need somebody who will sit there and check the current draw on each circuit and determine where the culprit is.
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  #4  
Old 05-31-2012, 08:44 AM
aawesq aawesq is offline
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Angry

So kbeamer I read your posts-it does sound ALOT like what is going on with my car. I am wondering if anyone has had low voltage issues with their power top. Does anyone know if there is a reset or something similar?

About the battery - the BMW rep told me that there isn't a battery other than the BMW battery that is "big" enough to work properly with my car. Now, folks, I may be of the female pursuasion but I know BS when it is being flung my way.

I am going to check to see if the ground cable and the earth strap are both tight on my vehicle-then once again re-charge the battery and have the battery and alternator tested. If anyone has any other thoughts or ideas I would certainly appreciate them.
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  #5  
Old 05-31-2012, 10:08 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...t=trunk+wiring should be useful.
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  #6  
Old 05-31-2012, 10:42 AM
aawesq aawesq is offline
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Do you think that the battery and top issue are connected?
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  #7  
Old 05-31-2012, 11:08 AM
fw_fw fw_fw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aawesq View Post
Do you think that the battery and top issue are connected?
Could be, but get the battery & alternator retested first. If one of those is bad and requires replacing then verify the problems still exists. If both the battery and alternator are ok and the problems still exist, then chase the current draw (which could be something in the top circuit). After that is fixed and the top is still isn't working then worry about it.
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Last edited by fw_fw; 05-31-2012 at 11:11 AM.
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  #8  
Old 05-31-2012, 12:48 PM
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kbeamer kbeamer is offline
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At BMW now. I can tell you I had issues with my sunroof when my battery started acting up. Im At BMW now getting a new ground strap. We will see if this fixes the issue, if so its a cheap and easy fix. I was told the alternator can get a proper reading when the ground strap is bad. I have a Walmart battery and my SA said that's perfectly fine. Might want to recheck you have the right size battery in your car even if it isn't BMW.

I'm a female as well and I have butted heads with my SA but I have proven that I know a lot about my car and they now respect me which is nice.

If the alternator comes back bad I'll be doing my third DIY.

Last edited by kbeamer; 05-31-2012 at 12:50 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-31-2012, 03:03 PM
aawesq aawesq is offline
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Many thanks. I will get definately get the battery and alternator re-check. I am also going to start looking at everything else I read in other posts I have found regarding the top. The service rep did tell me that they bypassed all the relays and put juice right to the hydraulic pump and nothing happened which tells them that it definitely has gone bad.

But, I will start mapping this issue out by startin gwith the atlernator and the battery and go from there. My battery is still under warranty anyway- it is an 84 month battery that isn't even 2 years old so it may be a direct swap out- I will have to find out about that too.

Please keep me updated on yhour issue and I will do the same with mine.
Thanks
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  #10  
Old 05-31-2012, 09:03 PM
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kbeamer kbeamer is offline
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Had my ground strap replaced today and then the alternator rechecked and came back perfectly fine. Let's hope that the ground strap is the issue.
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  #11  
Old 05-31-2012, 09:54 PM
aawesq aawesq is offline
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So what did they end up charging you for the ground strap?
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  #12  
Old 05-31-2012, 09:55 PM
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66$
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  #13  
Old 05-31-2012, 09:55 PM
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kbeamer kbeamer is offline
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It's easy to change the part is 44$ you could do it yourself if you'd like.
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  #14  
Old 06-23-2012, 04:55 AM
gary810 gary810 is offline
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I have a 2002 z3 as well. Short answer: You can get an inexpensive volt meter that plugs into the lighter and it will tell you are draining when the car is shut off or if the charge system isn't getting it done. Long answer below.

For the last year I was experiencing similar problems. Took it to an independent shop that specializes in German brands and they replaced the battery (with a non BMW battery). $150. They said there was no draw and the charge system was working. After a month it died. Took it back and they said I must have got a dud battery. They got a BMW battery from a dealer and installed it (free). Confirmed charge system o.k. and no draws. After a month, it died. By now it was almost time to put it away for the winter so I charged it up decided to deal with it in the spring.

Spring comes, car won't start, charged it up and took it to a different well respected independent shop specializing in BMW's. Diagnosis: No draws and your charge system is working fine. Belt is a little worn and might be slipping but "you need to drive it more". I'm pretty skeptical but decide to have the belt replaced as a preventative thing ($200).

A month later, the batter dies, and starts dieing every 3'd day or so. I buy a battery meter online that plugs into the lighter. "Equus Innova - Battery & Charging System Monitor" Cool gadget for $18. It shows that on startup my voltage comes up to expected running value (13.8 volts) but after a minute or so drops way down. Voltage bleeds off whenever I idle and struggles to come back at speed. After a few trips not enough juice left to start. It also confirmed it wasn't losing voltage when parked/not running so no draw.

Take it back to the shop and the guy confirms what I describe. Replaces the alternator with a re-build/2 year warrenty and problem appears to be solved. $650.
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  #15  
Old 06-23-2012, 07:01 PM
tonywintn tonywintn is offline
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What gary810 did was the smart thing to do. Monitoring the electrical system voltage is easy to do and you can quickly tell if you have a battery issue, power drain issue or an alternator/charging system issue. A simple multi-meter will also work but the device gary810 describes sounds like a great way to monitor the electrical system. First of all, your battery should be above 12.5V in the morning when you get in the car before turning the key or lights on. If it is lower than that then it is either being discharged overnight or it is just about worn out. Watch the voltage while cranking the engine. If you see the voltage dropping below 9V and it is not outside in the cold dead of winter, then the battery might be on the way out. You can get the battery load tested at your local parts store to confirm. Now after the car starts and you give it a minute or so to stabilize, the voltage should be above 14V as long as the battery is not real hot. Hot means like in a 110F or hotter environment. Hot batteries cannot take a charge as fast and your car's electrical system will sense that and lower the voltage. If it is lower than 14V and you are not sitting in the hot desert sun, then the charging system may have issues. These are general numbers but should be clues to what's happening with the car's battery and electrical system. When your car is running, the electrical system has a lot of load on it from the engine computer, fuel pump, fuel injectors, lights, radio, fan blower, etc. If the charging system cannot keep up with suppling energy to all of those electrical devices the system voltage will drop down to the battery voltage and the battery has to then help support the load. So now the battery is discharging while you are driving your car to help support the electrical demand instead of getting charged and staying topped off all of the time. It is just a matter of time before the battery discharges to the point that the engine computer, fuel pump, etc cannot keep operating and the car stalls or is not able to start.
I had a 1996 328i in the 90s. I used to leave the key in the ignition when I parked it in my garage. I didn't have a problem when I drove it everyday, but I bought an old SUV that I started driving back and forth to work on the bad weather days and to the airport on trips. When my car started sitting in the garage for weeks at a time, I would come home and find a dead battery. I replaced the battery two times, kept checking my electrical system and not finding anything wrong. I then removed the battery cable and set up my multi-meter as an ammeter. I saw 20ma with the key off. That is within specifications. Finally, I turned the key on and then back off. I saw 150ma on the multi-meter and it stayed that way until I pulled the key out of the ignition. Once I started taking the key out of the ignition, no more dead batteries! It was that simple, but cost me a new battery to figure it out.
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  #16  
Old 06-26-2012, 10:59 AM
aawesq aawesq is offline
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Thanks

Well, I took my car to an independent shop now- they are telling me that the alternator is bad - - only charging at 12 1/2 or 13 -- they test the battery and they say that the battery is fine. They are going to test for a draw when everything is shut off because I don't think that they did that. Their initial diagnosis is replace alternator-which it seems like I am going to have them do - - they are going to charge me somewhere around $550 I think.

None of this answers why the top just stopped working-I don't believe in coincidences. But, I am going to take care of one issue at a time.
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  #17  
Old 06-26-2012, 01:42 PM
tonywintn tonywintn is offline
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12.5 volts sounds like an electrical issue, but like others on this thread- they found that they had a faulty ground wire. Did the dealer verify that the grounding is ok?
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  #18  
Old 07-09-2012, 05:12 AM
aawesq aawesq is offline
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A light at the end of the tunnel......

So, turns out, the radio must either have been re-connected improperly by the wonderkins at BMW of Manhattan or somehow developed a "short" after I brought it to them as the radio is what was causing my battery to go dead. After hours of diagnosising the independent shop figures out that is what was causing the issues. So, a week and a half ago they took the fuse for my radio out. I used the car for a couple of days, then went away for a week-came back--yup, you guessed it...the car started right up.

So, we are going back to BMW to see what, if anything, they are going to do to make this right as now I have a radio that is no good and a top that does not function --and I would hazard a guess that this was due to whatever their tech did to my car.

Last edited by aawesq; 07-09-2012 at 05:13 AM.
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