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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 08-23-2014, 06:10 AM
wil33562 wil33562 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2007 X3 / 2007 335i
Advice needed: X3 randomly won't start from time to time

I have a 2007 X3 3.0si with about 150,000 miles on it. I have a very frustrating problem that I am lost on. The X3 randomly won't start sometimes.

When I try to crank the engine, all lights on the dash come on like normal, but I get no cranking. Sometimes I can immediately try again and it will work. Other times I may wait a couple of hours and try again and it will work. Also, sometimes I can hold the key in the start position for a minute or so and it will fire right up.

Here is what I've done and my indy mechanic has done:

1. Replaced vehicle battery with brand new unit.
2. Tried both sets of keys. Problem exists with both sets of keys.
3. Indy mechanic tested the voltage at the starter and said it was getting power, but not a signal from the EWS to start.

Most signs pointed to the EWS, but then it cranked and started for the indy mechanic and worked fine for well over two weeks. This past week I started having issues again.

I feel comfortable in fixing this issue myself if I can pinpoint the cause of the issue. Obviously, if its the EWS I will have to take it to the dealer though. I did speak to my former SA at the dealership about the issue. He said that he would place his money on the starter. He said in all of the years that he had been with BMW, he had only seen a handful of EWS modules replaced on X3's, but had seen hundreds of starters replaced. Here are the only things that I can think of that could be causing the issue:

1. the ignition antenna ring
2. the ignition switch
3. the EWS
4. the starter

How can I rule out the ignition antenna ring or the ignition switch? How can I test these?

Thanks,

-w
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  #2  
Old 08-23-2014, 08:27 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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testing

How can I rule out the ignition antenna ring or the ignition switch? How can I test these?

its called check by substitution .....unless you have very expensive data loggers and some blind luck like we do in industry plus because electronic stuff and solenoids plus many things with insulated windings etc often fail in only high heat or cold situations and then work ok when temps/vibrations/moon position change we have to gut up, take an educated guess after exhausting all the code based/experienced based remedies and just plain swap/substitute the components

starters that are in part fail mode sometimes only need a few degrees of bump to make em ok again......the downside is the wife or ma in law will beat you up if asked to hammer on the starter too many times !....thus ..... best to swap the diy way for lowest cost and happy famille

did the tech say how much power at the starter solenoid ????.....also he said the ews didn't give permission .....was that picked up from an analyzer ?????.....on most starters if you have 12 solid volts at the solenoid input it will energize the solenoid and crank without any other inputs.....you can do this off the car with jumper cables even

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 09:01 AM. Reason: add tips
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  #3  
Old 08-23-2014, 08:34 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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a good link

a good ews etc link


Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 08:36 AM. Reason: add link
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  #4  
Old 08-23-2014, 08:45 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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ews ring antenna test

some good info in link below

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  #5  
Old 08-23-2014, 08:57 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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kit swap approach

all the best folks have swap kits around .....add the antenna ring too

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  #6  
Old 08-23-2014, 09:18 AM
wil33562 wil33562 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swampX3 View Post
did the tech say how much power at the starter solenoid ????.....also he said the ews didn't give permission .....was that picked up from an analyzer ?????.....on most starters if you have 12 solid volts at the solenoid input it will energize the solenoid and crank without any other inputs.....you can do this off the car with jumper cables even
Wow Swamp! Thanks for the videos and info. That last one about swapping the DME and EWS was pretty cool.

No, the tech didn't say how much power was at the starter, he just said it was getting power. I assume that it was picked up by an analyzer not showing permission was being given.

Here is a quick question on that: I know that the thick white wire from port 23 of the wiring bundle under the hood, up by the driver's windshield, goes to the starter. Do you think I could get a test light, ground it, and stick the probe into the port 23 connection (where the white wire is), and see if the light would come on when trying to start the vehicle?

If it came on, this should show that a signal is being sent. If not, then no signal would be sent.

Do you think that would work?
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  #7  
Old 08-23-2014, 09:24 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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it should

anything 12 volt ....a bulb ....a meter ....will help illustrate what is going on...we once had an old 6 volt semaphore turn indicator from a wrecked split window 1947 vw beetle just for fun as a test light on an ebony stand .....the semaphore would turn up 90 degrees and a light would illuminate inside the early orangey plastic of it .....the ebony came from captains cabin trim on one of the first polaris subs .....also had a nice rosewood one ....gotta make work fun as much as possible

have to make good connections ......nothing corroded or brass/bronze/copper based stuff oxidized.....connect clean to clean !

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...art=38&ndsp=20

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 09:47 AM. Reason: add link
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  #8  
Old 08-23-2014, 09:45 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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also ....fuel gauge on window gig

to try and catch pesky / intermittant fuel flow problems some folks run a rubber faced gauge strapped to the windshield to catch variation in pressure during road tests or just outright pressure loss ......same logic as you would use.....try several on and off starter cycles and see what results with the bulb/meter hook up.....very tough to catch heat/vibration or cold related failure though

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 09:47 AM.
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  #9  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:00 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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correct wire ?

shoudda said to double triple quadruple check you have the correct wire.....any doubt then crawl under or do whatever to hook up a good connection to the 12v in to the solenoid....ensure you are on the solenoid wire !.....you can get better access underneath by popping of the vacuum canister in the way
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  #10  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:05 AM
wil33562 wil33562 is offline
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Thanks SwampX3 for the advice.

To show how frustrating this is. I just went out to the X3, it fired up with no issue at all twice. I then did some yard work for about 15 minutes. I went back to the X3 and tried to start it. No crank at all. I tried about 5 times and couldn't get it to start. I then came inside for about one minute to get something to drink. On the way back out to do the rest of the yard work, I tried to start the X3 again and it fired right up with no issues or hesitation.
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  #11  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:05 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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image of in the way canister

found this with good extension setup info for top and bottom bolts on starter

-Remove the nut (lower middle of pic) to get the vacuum canister out of the way since the starter is directly behind it
-Now you have eyes on the starter and the real fun can begin
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-K...031_225329.jpg

-Just feel around up there so you can get a sense of where things are and supposed to go since the bolt removal is almost entirely by feel.
-Build your extension & u-joint contraption:
_____-For the lower bolt it's much easier and you can get away with about a foot and a half of wobbly extensions (I used E12 socket-3 inch-Ujoint-6inch wobble-10in wobble)
_____-For the upper I used a bit more to get up the transmission tunnel, over towards the center, and up to the interface where the bolt is. E12 socket-3inch-U-joint-6inch straight-U-joint-6inch wobble-10inch wobble-ratchet-big box end wrench for torque) You'll have to guide it as it'll be long and floppy going into the tight space
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  #12  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:15 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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hang tough !

our baddest one ever was when critters ate cable in a loom on a sub in dry dock .....2 week sail delay ......could't find it for anything .....we thought they were gonna launch us on one of the missiles !......got er in the end though !
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  #13  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:30 AM
wil33562 wil33562 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swampX3 View Post
found this with good extension setup info for top and bottom bolts on starter

-Remove the nut (lower middle of pic) to get the vacuum canister out of the way since the starter is directly behind it
-Now you have eyes on the starter and the real fun can begin
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-K...031_225329.jpg
For some reason that link is not working for the picture.

Do you think it is much easier to try and remove the starter from the bottom than the top? Also, do you think that any of the symptoms that I've been having point directly at the starter?

Would a starter work intermediately like I've been experiencing?
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  #14  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:09 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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link etc

try the link and advice for starter removal in this series of recent posts
and a big yes that it could be the stater that's the culprit.....intermittent stuff that defies logic and drives you nuts.....but it could also be several of the other things we discussed

bottom removal of the starter is very doable as the post will show ......it saves you risking messing up the ccv and it's often found hardened ready to crack plastic tubes etc......but if you have time and will you can go in thru the top and do some maintenance

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...0&goto=newpost

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 11:12 AM. Reason: add tips
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  #15  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:22 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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the starter combo is~3 things

good to keep in mind that the starter combo is at least three things .....a bunch of cables to send a lower current to actuate a solenoid which is a big bobbin switch to pull in a gear and link to a bigger current wire that gives a high torque motor the chance to turn....then a big current carrier goes to the alternator in lots of apps ......so a breakdown in any of it can mess things up
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  #16  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:27 AM
wil33562 wil33562 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swampX3 View Post

bottom removal of the starter is very doable as the post will show ......it saves you risking messing up the ccv and it's often found hardened ready to crack plastic tubes etc......but if you have time and will you can go in thru the top and do some maintenance

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...0&goto=newpost
If I go in through the top, what do you recommend I look at doing as far as additional maintenance?

I know that I will need to get a set of intake manifold gaskets if i go through the top. What else do I need?
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  #17  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:33 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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thru top items

if yours is an 07 I would sure replace the CCV and its hoses....clean idle air control and throttle bodies ....just 8buck can of cleaner....replace the gaskets on those items and the manifold ......clean injectors and replace their o rings

I think yours has the disa under the inside of the manifold as well as one on the outside .....check their ops and sealing.....a couple of screws each
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  #18  
Old 08-23-2014, 03:28 PM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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vac hose/heat trace wires

also .....if you go in thru the top.....get some good lengths of generic vac hose to replace any baddies under the manifold ...better yet.... just replace any you find

I think you have the N52 engine but double check .....that unit has the heat trace wires under the insulation of the CCV hoses and separator.....they plug into a little manifold that takes just a minute to hook up.....they use tiny plugs like mini speaker plugs
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  #19  
Old 08-23-2014, 03:30 PM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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bolts for starter

get two new bolts with the starter

also get the 5 buck oil tower gasket and change it

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 03:38 PM. Reason: add tip
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  #20  
Old 08-23-2014, 03:35 PM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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good images that might help

http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/tech..._med/pic20.jpg

https://www.google.com/search?q=bmw+...F%3B1024%3B768

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 03:37 PM. Reason: added link
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  #21  
Old 08-23-2014, 03:51 PM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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buy a ccv hose kit

ccv hose kit .. best to get the complete kit....get the COLD weather kit with the foam sleeves etc

https://www.google.com/search?client...%3B1584%3B1056

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 03:54 PM. Reason: cld weather kit option tip
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  #22  
Old 08-23-2014, 04:01 PM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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ccv hose with elec heat trace image

this is a typical foam sleeved and heat traced ccv hose ......see the tiny elec plug at wires end

http://images.oreillyauto.com/parts/...17-125-007.jpg

http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/de...4163&ppt=C0023

Last edited by swampX3; 08-23-2014 at 04:03 PM. Reason: add link
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  #23  
Old 08-27-2014, 09:17 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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as simple as this

this just in .....from fester MASISM .....check ignition switch ....a simple fix/clean or swap

Ok sorry I haven't been able to update, it's been crazy here and I'm finally at a motel half way home.

So after all the tests and checking the starter under load it was my thought it was between the starter and key. I didn't have time to order a new key. So I started checking the ignition switch wiring and found a loss of voltage at one of the terminals when if start position. So I cleaned the ignition switch, used an eraser on the contacts as I didn't have much else. Reinstalled and started right up.
I'm half way home and have ordered a new ignition switch, which I put in when I get there.

So after everything the final problem was the ignition switch.

Which can also be temporary fixed with a hard turning of the key and I read in old bmw models with same ignition that if you hold the key in start for 90secs. Either of these I don't recommend, just fixes to get you going. If you have time, take apart your steering column shield, clean all the fuzz out (mine was very dusty and fuzzy), take out ignition switch, clean it all out (there's great rebuild videos on YouTube). This process doesn't take too long and could save you lots of money and time in the long run.

Thanks swamp and all for your help.


Sent from BimmerApp mobile app

Last edited by swampX3; 08-27-2014 at 09:18 AM. Reason: add info
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  #24  
Old 08-30-2014, 09:10 AM
wil33562 wil33562 is offline
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Hey SwampX3,

Thanks for the update. I was also kind of thinking about the ignition switch since my starting issues are very random.

I had already ordered a starter, starter bolts, and manifold gaskets. I was going to do the 6+ hours job today. I've been dreading it all week!! After you posted the above comment on Wednesday, I really started honing in on the ignition switch and researching issues related to it.

Basically, what I found out is, if you have electrical gremlins in your BMW that you can't quite figure out, it is a good chance it could be the ignition switch.

Other than the random starting issues, I've also experienced two other issues in the past year or so that only occurred one time:

About a year ago, I started up the vehicle and the blower on my air condition didn't work. I stopped and started the vehicle a couple of times and it never worked for an entire day. The next day I started up the X3 and the air condition blower has worked fine ever since.

About two months ago, my radio didn't work after starting the vehicle. No power at all on the radio. Late that afternoon I started up the vehicle to return home from work and the radio worked fine and has ever since.

With these couple of issues, I decided to replace the ignition switch. I picked up one from Autozone. It was a Duralast, but to my surprise was made by Valeo which is the OEM supplier and the stamped numbers on the switch matched the one I pulled out.

It took me about 30 minutes to replace the switch on Thursday night. In the two days since, I've started the vehicle about 20 times with no issues at all.

I'm going to drive it throughout the week and see if any more issues occur. If not, I'm returning the starter and getting about $165.00 back!!
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  #25  
Old 08-30-2014, 09:18 AM
swampX3 swampX3 is online now
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good sleuthing !

good progress/sleuthing ....well done ......maybe with so many issues on older units around starting/elec gremlins we need to add an ignition switch cleanup to the maintenance spreadsheet to head trouble off at the pass

or even just a straight ignition switch swap if not too many $$$$$

keep us posted on things
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