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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 05-01-2009, 11:21 AM
bmw2001-325ci bmw2001-325ci is offline
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Please help! Starter went bad

First of all, I would like to let you know that I really appreciate this site and all the comments everyone posted here. Some are really useful (KrisL) and some are just hilarious. Now to my problem:

On a rainy Saturday, I moved the car out from the driveway into the garage. Car started just fine. On Monday I wanted to take it to work but it wouldn't start. Whenever I cranked the key, I heard the click click click sound and the headlights went on and off. Tried to jump start the battery. Didn't work. Hoping that it would put out some codes, I borrowed a OBDC reader but got none. So I suspected that the starter/solenoid went bad. I consulted the benz svc manual and saw the section but was not confident in getting started on the job of replacing the starter. I proceed to call the dealership and OMG they quoted me 1200 for replacing a starter ??? They said that they have to remove the auto transmission to replace the starter (mine is an auto). Curiously the benz manual said that it is the manual transmission the one that would have to be detached, not the auto! I looked up our wiki here but it did not seem to have anything about replacing a starter. In order to avoid another sticker shock after I already got one back in 2001 when buying this car new, please help:

1. Has anyone replaced the starter? If so would you please share your experience.
2. Can someone confirm/rebut the dealership's comment?
3. If you know of reputable indie shops in the Milwaukee,WI area, please let me know.

Thank you in advance.
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  #2  
Old 05-01-2009, 11:41 AM
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spazmataz spazmataz is offline
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Alright.. first things first, you might want to go and try a different battery before doing anything... and by anything.. I mean anything else! 2001 car... Your second battery is probably on its way out; or in your case, its out! If that's not it, then you'll hear from everyone else. I only know this because I had the same issue when my battery died! good luck!
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  #3  
Old 05-01-2009, 11:47 AM
marlin1881 marlin1881 is offline
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I typically haven't had a starter fail immediately, as you mention. And, I've had starters on BMW 3 and 5-series go to 200K miles, and still work strong. Unless, of course, something else was wrong, and someone leaned on the starter repeatedly for 30 seconds at a time, then a starter will fail. (long story behind that comment...). Most of the time the starter will start to get weak, and not engage the flywheel all the time. Finally, it won't turn the engine over, but you'll hear the starter spinning by itself.

I'm thinking you have an electrical connection problem somewhere, and I'd suspect the large-diameter cables that attach to the battery. I'd also have the battery tested under load, by most any auto parts store, as I've seen this issue also prevent being able to jump-start a car before. Don't replace the starter until you've thoroughly tested some of these other items first.

Marlin
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  #4  
Old 05-01-2009, 12:06 PM
VFRShorty VFRShorty is offline
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I would also have to say the battery is your likely culprit here. Mine did the same thing - the clicking, headlight flashing, worked fine one time not the next, couldn't jumpstart, etc. The 49-DL from Autozone is a great replacement and also much cheaper (and a little more powerful) than the OEM battery. If you opt to get your battery tested before replacing it, keep in mind that often they will test ok but still be bad. I tried putting mine in the truck we had at the time, it would start the truck but not my car!
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  #5  
Old 05-01-2009, 12:41 PM
Latoilette Latoilette is offline
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By your clicking noise, i can tell that your battery is bad.
I've heard starting job is really difficult to do.
and there are ways of replacing this without taking the tranny down.
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  #6  
Old 05-01-2009, 01:21 PM
bmw2001-325ci bmw2001-325ci is offline
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Thanks for the encouraging words. I called another dealership and the second advisor told me to try out the battery first as well, for which I was skeptical. Why would a BMW behaves differently than another brand? Isn't the battery just used for starting the car and if the battery is dead, a jump start would be sufficient to get it started again but restarting is a different story. To relate, back in 1992 poor me used to drive a beat up 1979 Datsun 200 sx (?) I bought for $200 to school and the thing was so beat up that the hood couldn't be closed tightly and I had to tie it down with some cable. One day I got back to my car late and since it was parked in a not so good neighborhood, I had a feeling that there would be something wrong with it. It turned out that someone had stolen my battery!!! Luckily I had a friend who came and gave me a jump start. That beast started right up and I drove 30 minutes home without any problem and parked in the driveway but of course had to run out and buy another battery the next day before I could start it again. So that explains my skepticism but I would heed your advise and try out the battery. Just in case, I hope someone can still give me a name of an indie shop so if it turns out to be the starter (crossing my fingers)
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  #7  
Old 05-01-2009, 01:35 PM
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OP....there`s a 99.9% chance that it`s just the battery....anything beyond 4 years on the original battery is "borrowed time"....
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  #8  
Old 05-03-2009, 10:05 PM
bmw2001-325ci bmw2001-325ci is offline
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Update:

I went to autozone, checked out the battery racks and saw the 49-DL. I went to the counter and the worker pulled up my car info. It didn't show the 49-DL as a compatible. It showed the 94-DL as the battery but they didn't have any and it costed more. I went home empty handed and disappointed. I was about to check Battery Plus and Sears but then I happened to read another post in this forum about the same issue and someone pointed out that the autozone computer is not accurate. So I went back and purchased the 49-DL, went home and bingo, it fitted. The car started just fine! I am very relieved at this point. Thank you so much for the information.
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  #9  
Old 05-04-2009, 08:12 AM
Latoilette Latoilette is offline
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Man we are good. All of us pin pointed the problem perfectly with just some description.

kudos for us.
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  #10  
Old 05-04-2009, 08:24 AM
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smolck smolck is online now
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No go to the dealer and make a HUGE fuss in the showroom and tell them they are crooks!
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  #11  
Old 05-04-2009, 08:56 AM
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phlfly phlfly is offline
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But anyway, do you have to remove trans(auto) in order to replace starter?
I had Acura TL, so my starter went bad, but it was not flywheel, it was solenoid. The car went dead, I had changed a battery no help, then hit a starter couple time and car started.
So I ordered solenoid, by itself, took me 15 min to take starter off the car, another 20 min to replace solenoid. So it was easy job.
So BMW will be a like 3 hours of work?
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  #12  
Old 05-04-2009, 09:51 AM
Latoilette Latoilette is offline
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Good question. If you search starter, you don't find too much information. Simply b/c it is a bulletproof part on these car I assume. People state the starters are good for over 200K miles.
From the few searches, I found out you can do this without removing the tranny (difficult). However, removing tranny is the easier way.

anyone actually had to replace a starter.. speak up now..
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  #13  
Old 05-04-2009, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phlfly View Post
But anyway, do you have to remove trans(auto) in order to replace starter?
I had Acura TL, so my starter went bad, but it was not flywheel, it was solenoid. The car went dead, I had changed a battery no help, then hit a starter couple time and car started.
So I ordered solenoid, by itself, took me 15 min to take starter off the car, another 20 min to replace solenoid. So it was easy job.
So BMW will be a like 3 hours of work?
If you are "gumby like" you could probably get in there and change it without dropping the trans. But I am not sure you would be able to get it all the way out.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #14  
Old 05-04-2009, 10:42 AM
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elhombre elhombre is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phlfly View Post
But anyway, do you have to remove trans(auto) in order to replace starter?
I had Acura TL, so my starter went bad, but it was not flywheel, it was solenoid. The car went dead, I had changed a battery no help, then hit a starter couple time and car started.
So I ordered solenoid, by itself, took me 15 min to take starter off the car, another 20 min to replace solenoid. So it was easy job.
So BMW will be a like 3 hours of work?
Most RWD vehicles I've worked on have starters mounted aft toward the bottom left or right side of the engine, fairly accessable. The e36/46 starter is mounted toward the top under all the intake plumbing and just about impossible to see or touch. It's a pretty labor intensive job no matter which way you go at it - my .02
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  #15  
Old 05-04-2009, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el****** View Post
Most RWD vehicles I've worked on have starters mounted aft toward the bottom left or right side of the engine, fairly accessable. The e36/46 starter is mounted toward the top under all the intake plumbing and just about impossible to see or touch. It's a pretty labor intensive job no matter which way you go at it - my .02
YOu did a better job of saying what I was trying to say........
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #16  
Old 05-04-2009, 04:17 PM
pfcusmc1345 pfcusmc1345 is offline
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This guy has.... It was on a 00 323 It did take some gumbying around but it is definitely possible, I posted how to do it about a month or two ago. Prolly about two hours+
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