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E63 / E64 6 Series (2003 - 2013)
The E63/E64 BMW 6 Series builds on BMW's sporty heritage with aggressive lines and an incredible motor to back the design up. Available in coupe and convertible trims with a standard 4.8 liter engine producing 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque, the 6-series is a popular choice that exceeds expectations.

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  #1  
Old 01-22-2014, 11:32 AM
retcav1sg retcav1sg is offline
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Mein Auto: 2005 645ci
Alternator Question

This is a follow on thread to my original thread when I bought my car. The 800 RPM fluctuation that the previous ownerís indy diagnosed as the eccentric shaft, levers and motors needing replaced has not materialized since Iíve owned the car (about 350 miles of driving). Iíve been getting a couple of random malfunction codes (dynamic drive) that clear when the car is stopped and restarted. The codes donít cause any drivability issues. Research here said possible alternator/battery issues. I couldnít determine the age of the battery that was in the car or whether it had been properly registered so I went ahead and put a new battery in it and registered it (friend has proper software). I drove it today while it was hooked up to my friendís laptop to check alternator output while we were driving. Output stayed pretty steady at 14.3-14.8. Every now and again there would be a spike to 15 and change or a drop to low 13s but most of the time it was pretty steady. Total drive time today was about an hour, back roads and some interstate. Radio was on most of the way and climate control was off for all but about 10 minutes. I did get the dynamic drive malfunction about 40 minutes into the drive but it cleared itself when we got home and shut the car off and restarted. Iíve had no drivability issues since owning the car, just weird gremlins. It runs great, sounds great, handles great, no leaks, drips, rattles or creaks. I'm thinking about replacing the alternator as preventative maintenance as it is original and the car has 147K miles on it. The question I have (finally) is what should normal alternator output be? Am I overreacting? Itís only ever going to be a third vehicle for me, something thatís driven for fun on weekends and nice days.

Thanks for any thoughts
Mike
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  #2  
Old 01-22-2014, 01:18 PM
Skarv Skarv is offline
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Hey Mike:

It sounds to me like you diagnosed the problem. The voltage should never rise above i think it is 14.1. There is a semiconductor gizmo called a regulator bolted to the regulator that is supposed to ensure that you never overfeed the car's electrics. If you do, many of them will go into a 'self protect' mode. If this gets worse, you will start to have more intrusive failure messages like "Transmission Fault" ... and the box will be stuck in 4th gear. Not good! Worse, you may boil your battery and ruin it too.

I was surprised that this could happen as I tested mine and would get steady voltages, but got lucky at the battery shop as when they connected their meter, we by chance saw a voltage spike where it climbed up to 19. I thought solid state stuff either worked or didn't... but these regulators seem to be able to get intermittent.

The regulator its self is only a $60 part, but you have to take the alternator out to swap it. Given your mileage, and given you can get a Valeo OEM replacement on eBay for $300, I would replace the whole thing. I also caution you against going for the cheaper alternatives. I ended up doing the alternator twice in a week because a cheap one (all I could get on the road) failed in the first 200 miles.

If you are slightly adventurous, there is an EXCELLENT DIY instruction sheet for doing this replacement yourself. $300, a couple of hours, a six of beer, vs. $1600 at my BMW dealer.

The good news is you may find that the whole thing runs much better when all of its computers are getting the right voltage. I had a wandering idle before this replacement, and now a steady purr.

The old adage... 90% of carburation problems are in the ignition system.
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  #3  
Old 01-22-2014, 01:31 PM
retcav1sg retcav1sg is offline
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Thanks Skarv,
My buddy and I have already eyeballed that Valeo alternator, we're leaning heavily towards that solution. Where is the DIY instruction sheet you're referring to? I've searched and not come up with anything. I'll keep looking though.

Thanks again
Mike
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  #4  
Old 01-22-2014, 01:50 PM
HerbP HerbP is offline
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If the voltage gets above 14.2 volts, the control modules will go into the protect mode. They must stay at a constant 5 volts to work properly. I chased this problem for 6 months, before catching the voltage spike very soon after the Dynamic Drive Warning. Voltage above or below 14.2, will cause all kinds of problems. The regulator can be purchased for around 80.00. With 150k miles on the alternator, a new one might be best. While you have the alternator off, you need to inspect the alternator o-ring for oil leakage. This is mounted behind the alternator bracket, & is a 8 to 10 hour job. It is not fun to get to it. Anyway I will attach the pdf for you.

Good Luck!
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  #5  
Old 01-22-2014, 02:15 PM
retcav1sg retcav1sg is offline
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Thanks Herb,
The alternator bracket gasket was replaced by the Previous owner by the dealer at 118K miles. The previous owner really had a lot of work done (previous thread hits on most of it). Thanks for the PDFs. I think a new alternator may be in order.

Mike
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  #6  
Old 01-24-2014, 10:51 AM
Tampa645 Tampa645 is offline
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I have a similar issue with more detail. I have a 2005 645 automatic coupe with approx 100k miles. I installed a AGM battery last year. I used the Bav Tech program to register the battery. It is a Duralast H7-AGM. 800 cold cranking amps. I also get the Charging Malfunction message. I also get a Dynamic Drive Malfunction message on the display. Yesterday I also got the Transmission Malfunction error and the car went into limp home mode in 3rd gear. I drive it about 50 miles almost everyday. I fully charged the battery last night just to make sure the voltage would not be an issue. There are no obvious issues such as dim lights and it starts fine.

I hooked up a Schumacher battery charger and it said the alternator is putting out between 14.4 and 14.5 volts. This is with the lights on and the A/C running.

I then ran the Bavarian Technic program and I got back this info:
Error Code 2E97 Generator
Battery voltage 11.59
From generator received target voltage 14.90
Degree of efficiency generator 8.59%
Exciting current generator 4.0 A

Does this also sound like a regulator issue? I am curious what the degree of efficiency message is. Is the alternator about to die? Maybe it is putting out proper voltage but not enough amps. Any help is appreciated.

Last edited by Tampa645; 01-24-2014 at 10:57 AM.
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  #7  
Old 01-24-2014, 03:09 PM
Skarv Skarv is offline
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Best Alternator instructions

The best instructions for a sixer are:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=706673

I wish all DIYs were this good.

You really can't screw it up if you follow these steps. For someone visual like me, much easier to follow than the manual pages.

Good luck.

As for the second questioner, something is definitely wrong with your system if a new battery is not holding a charge. I'm not going to guess, but the output seems too high, and the current may be low. I would guess that this would lead to module faults, and no effective charging. The only thing I would wonder is if the car had the new battery registered properly, and as an AGM vs a Lead Acid. The two take a very different charging profile. Bonehead mechanics may not know a setting has to be changed if you change to an AGM.

Otherwise, it does sound like your alternator isn't getting the job done.

Last edited by Skarv; 01-24-2014 at 03:11 PM.
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  #8  
Old 01-24-2014, 04:49 PM
HerbP HerbP is offline
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You really need to check your battery voltage at the time of the dynamic Drive error. As long as the regulator see the battery needs charging, there is not a problem. The problem starts when the battery is topped off, & the voltage starts spiking when not needed. This is when the regulator goes crazy. I saw spikes up to 16.5 volts. When the voltage is overcharging, the modules go into protect mode, thus tripping all of the warning commands. The modules must stay at 5 volts, to operate properly.

Good Luck
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2014, 01:10 AM
645/333's Avatar
645/333 645/333 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarv View Post
The best instructions for a sixer are:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=706673

I wish all DIYs were this good.

You really can't screw it up if you follow these steps. For someone visual like me, much easier to follow than the manual pages.

Good luck.

As for the second questioner, something is definitely wrong with your system if a new battery is not holding a charge. I'm not going to guess, but the output seems too high, and the current may be low. I would guess that this would lead to module faults, and no effective charging. The only thing I would wonder is if the car had the new battery registered properly, and as an AGM vs a Lead Acid. The two take a very different charging profile. Bonehead mechanics may not know a setting has to be changed if you change to an AGM.

Otherwise, it does sound like your alternator isn't getting the job done.
AGM batteries are the ONLY batteries that should be fitted to these cars, there are very important reasons for this to do with initial amp-age drains when starting the cars, I would not be surprised if many of the ongoing problems people have is because they do not have one installed when it was replaced..............They all leave the factory with AGM batteries!!!!!
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Last edited by 645/333; 01-25-2014 at 01:12 AM.
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  #10  
Old 01-25-2014, 08:37 AM
HerbP HerbP is offline
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The 645's have a lead cell battery, not AGM. They can be upgraded to the AGM.
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  #11  
Old 01-25-2014, 10:21 AM
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645/333 645/333 is offline
Michael
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Never one to disagree, but BMW did an official document on the why, and use of the AGM battery in the 6 series car. I know that they do different things in different parts of the world, but it was quite informative as to the reasons why! You may also find a similar reference in the TIS documentation.
The reason they chose AGM batteries is that the 6 series has one of the highest current drains when starting the car and AGM batteries are designed for this type of high amp-age drain. The fact is lead acid cannot recharge/recycle as effectively/efficiently as an AGM, especially if the charging profile/drive profile would necessitate the engine being started multiple times in a short periods of time. Lead acid batteries are apt to fail early when subjected to this profile.
I know that here in the UK the batteries from the factory are AGM.
My 6 series had its original battery for 7-8 years and 85k miles, only once did it fail, when I first bought it and the BMW engineer who came out to assist told me two things, 1) do not leave anything plugged in overnight 2) if you are not going to use it much remember to keep it charged up, and from that incident I learnt about trickle or full charging once per week/fortnight subject to how much I used the car.
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Last edited by 645/333; 01-25-2014 at 10:24 AM.
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  #12  
Old 01-25-2014, 06:07 PM
Skarv Skarv is offline
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I have no specific knowledge of the differences between the batteries, but my car is on its second lead acid battery, and has always worked fine. Never hesitated to start once.

The first one was only replaced only because the toasted regulator boiled it to a pulp.

This however is a good reason to go with AGM. If there is an overcharging situation, I don't think AGMs put out the kind of fumes that a lead acid will. And the battery is in the trunk... essentially in your passenger compartment. There is a little vent hose that goes from the battery through the floor to take the fumes out of the car if you have an issue. If this is forgotten (like my battery guy did) or knocked loose, you will get a potentially life threatening situation in the car with the sulphur acid fumes being pumped into your 'living space'. Even with the vent hose, the stench was remarkable, and the air not breathable. Fortunately, I knew exactly what was going on so I was able to vent the car and get to the next town. Someone in the dark could have killed themselves.

This risk and liability makes me think that any car with the battery inside the passenger space, including the trunk, should have an AGM. I would guess this is why BMW might recommend it now even after having started the 645s with Lead Acid. And I too would have gotten an AGM if they had been available in the town where I had my breakdown.

Regardless of the choice you make, the car needs to be programmed for the kind of battery you go with, and if they get the charging profile wrong, you can get some flaky behavior.
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:48 AM
Tampa645 Tampa645 is offline
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Euro Asia Parts

FYI - I ordered the Valeo alternator with the attached regulator from Euro Asia Parts off eBay. Their price is $295.59 and includes tax & "Expedited Shipping." There was no other shipping option. The EBay delivery estimate was for 1/28 - 1/30.

I ordered it 1/24, Friday, at 1154 am pst. They are in California and I am in Florida. Expedited Shipping per eBay is supposed to mean "Expedited Shippingóincludes many USPS services available when you pay for postage and print your shipping labels from My eBay. Estimated delivery time to your buyer is 1 to 3 business days."

The order was not even picked up by UPS until 1/27 at 709 pm pst. The store said they were busy. Now the UPS estimate is that it will not be delivered until next Monday, the 3rd.

Just an FYI to stay away from Euro Asia.

I will post what happens after the swap.
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  #14  
Old 01-28-2014, 11:57 AM
retcav1sg retcav1sg is offline
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Ordered mine from Rock Auto last Friday, came today...a day early. Will be installed on Thursday.
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  #15  
Old 01-28-2014, 09:33 PM
Skarv Skarv is offline
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Another endorsement for RockAuto. I got Oxygen sensors there for the wife's Lexus, and they screwed up their listings and sent me pre-cat sensors with the wrong plug. Regardless, I didn't see the problem until the job was all done, and all I had to do was plug them in... and couldn't. Plug looked right, but the mating grooves were wrong.

Anyway, despite their admonition on the paperwork that O2 sensors were not returnable once opened, they stood up for their error and took em back even though they were greasy, had anti-sieze applied, and had wrench marks on the flats. Good on them!

Alternator-wise, I got my Valeo from BuyAutoParts.com via eBay. They were great too.

Enjoy the alternator install. It is one of the more satisfying jobs on this car.

My memory is bringing up two warnings for simplifying the job:

1) Get the precisely correct drives for the pulley bolts. I think my kit had a T45 when it really was a T50 on the car. (ignore my numbers as this is from my feeble recall) The point is that I got one off without trouble with the "almost right" driver. The next one stripped and I had to go find a fancy hardware store in an oregon town on sunday and then pound the 'right' one into the bolt and cross my finger that it would hold and come out. It did, but don't play with fire! If it hadn't, that would have been a multi hour detour... more than it was.

2) Wiggling the old alternator out is very strangely difficult. Muck and road grime make it kind of jam in there. The fresh new one would slide in and out with no trouble. Remember, I had to do the job twice thanks to an AutoZone cheapo. So don't fear. Get a big screwdriver and pry it out. It will come out, and you are just moving caked dirt out of the way. Don't worry and over think the final removal. I spent half an hour thinking I was doing it wrong until I just pried it out.

oh, and finally, remember to plug in the radiator fan when you are done. Easy to overlook and could cause you big trouble.

Good luck.

Last edited by Skarv; 01-28-2014 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:34 AM
retcav1sg retcav1sg is offline
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Thanks for the tips skarv, but I'm going to take the easy way out. I have an indy near by that I use quite often. He's going to do it for $150 (2 hours of labor). I've done brakes, all fluid changes, simple wrenching stuff but I'm still not 100% trusting of my wrenching skills and don't want to screw something up on the engine. All the other work I've done was on older model BMWs, this is the newest one I've had and it kind of worries me a bit.

Last edited by retcav1sg; 01-29-2014 at 04:42 AM.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:03 PM
Skarv Skarv is offline
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For 150, yours is the right call!

And upon reflection, I'll add that this is emblematic of the problem with dealers, and BMW dealers in particular.

In my alternator crisis on the road, the BMW dealer wanted $650 for the part and $1000 for the job... $1650 total plus tax!

Now I ended up doing it myself, and yes, that should be cheaper. $300 for the OEM part, and two hours of my time.

But should BMW be taking over a 100% markup (over someone esle's retail price) the alternator? Debatable. They are free to do so, but my point is there is a brand impact from gouging so hard.

More importantly, I think they are being outright dishonest with the labor charge. They say their shop rate is $150 and yet $1000!

On my first try it took a couple of hours. Their mechanics with the right tools right there, and several practice runs through the job should be able to do it in WELL under an hour.

Bottom line: Support your indies. Dealers prey on people's unfamiliarity with how cars work as well their fear of greasy hands to pay for fancy digs. Honest indies earn their money.

Last edited by Skarv; 01-30-2014 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:37 AM
Tampa645 Tampa645 is offline
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Alternator and voltage regulator changed out. Voltage now dead on at 14.0. Still have transmission fault even after clearing it. I even changed the trans pan, filter and fluid. Off to my mechanic.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:50 AM
Skarv Skarv is offline
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I hate to suggest possible bad news, but your voltage may have gone so high as to actually fry the transmission module.

If that is the case, condolences, but lesson to all that think about delaying alternator repairs when the car starts to go wonky.

Do it ASAP!

In my car's case, when the stars aligned, voltage would just rise and rise and rise. The one time we saw it, it had reached 21 volts before we stopped the engine and said whoa! better fix it before it catches fire.

I hope I'm wrong about your case... though on reflection, the module might be cheaper than internal repairs.
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:34 AM
Tampa645 Tampa645 is offline
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I ordered and installed a new alternator and voltage regulator and I installed them Tuesday. The voltage from the alternator now reads exactly at 14.0 and does not fluctuate. The transmission code still will not clear. Appears previous post may have been right about frying the solenoid.

I checked the transmission fluid and it was fine. I still replaced the pan/filter and the fluid.
Bav Tech reader still shows bad pressure valve in the transmission codes.

Took it to Fields BMW in Lakeland. They said one on the solenoids is bad but, of course, they "have to" replace the entire mechatronics. (I just love that name. Sounds like a Transformer) They want $4500. I made sure to tell them this is why they are known as stealerships. I have a good relation with them so it was a friendly conversation. They "really" want to replace the entire transmission for $9000. (sorry to kind of hijack this thread about the tranny)

I checked another post and CTSC was recommended to purchase the ZF parts from since they are the US rep for the German tranny builder. Solenoids are just under $500 including shipping.

They only offer ground shipping from California. Their site does not have a phone number and I want to try to get them asap. Anyone have a phone # for Klaus at CTSC?

Thanks to all for Bimmerfest and its vast knowledge. Really helps.
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:44 AM
Tampa645 Tampa645 is offline
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Found post on another forum. I guess CTSC no longer offers phone support.
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  #22  
Old 02-07-2014, 09:34 AM
Skarv Skarv is offline
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Stealership alright!

This Mechatronics repair thing is another one of those dealer scams. First, these things fail far to early and frequently than becomes a high end quality car. BMW should step up.

Second, the repair is extremely easy if you have a lift and the right tools. A BMW dealer should be able to do this swap in max 2 hours. Don't get me going, but ... $4000!!!!


Support your indie, or take up wrenching as a hobby.

I do the latter, and while I fundamentally enjoy mechanics, I really enjoy fixing something for $300 when BMW just asked me for $1650.

Mechatronics would take that pleasure to a different level when $600 of parts saves me $4000 or $9000 at BMW.

I make good money, but it is hard to make enough after tax to swallow those kinds of repairs. It makes spending a weekend day under the car (if it took that long) one of the best 'paying' days you'll get anywhere.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:45 AM
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645/333 645/333 is offline
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There are some very videos on stripping down the mechatronics and changing the solenoids etc. I think there is one on the 5 series forum if not try Youtube. I had a mechanic say that it is possible to get the solenoids to work hard by driving the car in manual mode changing gears, he mentioned that sometimes it can free a sticky one. If you are comfortable with the amount of work involved then why not!!!!!
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