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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 05-16-2011, 08:49 AM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Resting Battery Draw

Tossing this out for the group in the hopes someone can toss me back some ideas and/or numbers.

I realize the actual numbers will probably vary depending on what options are installed (and mine does not have BlueTooth, which seems to be a common module for battery draw problems to develop), but does anyone have any idea (generally) what the voltage draw on the battery is on an X3 when it's at rest (i.e., ignition off, locked up and parked)? For reasons that aren't really relevant to the question, I've currently got mine stored in a relative's garage at the moment, hooked up to a Battery MINDer charger, and the charger is exhibiting some peculiar behavior of late.

Now, I've used these chargers on a number of other vehicles and never had any issues whatsoever with them, nor observed what I'm about to describe. But I'm trying to ascertain whether it's just normal behavior for a Bettery MINDer on an X3; a weakened battery (pre-weakened, not due to the use of the Battery MINDer; and these Battery MINDers are supposed to recover weakened batteries -- which this one had appeared to do in the case of my X3); or a potential problem with either the Battery MINDer, the vehicle, or the power supply available in my relative's garage (older house with older wiring).

OK. What's supposed to happen with these Battery MINDers is they will charge the battery to 14 volts, then automatically switch into their maintenance mode (about half power). Once they switch into this maintenance mode, I've never seen one connected to any of my other vehicles come back out of it until I "reboot" the Battery MINDer (i.e., disconnect it from the vehicle, then reconnect it), and it goes through the charging/maintenance cycle again. However, the Battery MINDer connected to my X3 seems to cycle in and out of maintenance mode pretty frequently (on the order of minutes).

When last I drove my X3 (about a month-and-a-half ago, to get the PA state inspection done), it ran just fine, and I didn't note any anomalous electrical behavior, so I tend to lean away from vehicle or battery problems. As an aside, I also did not note this "cycling" behavior with the Battery MINDer at that time. VDC (the manufacturer) Technical Support didn't seem to immediately suspect a problem with the Battery MINDer unit, but rather suggested something that I'd already considered: that the resting draw on the battery was greater than maintenance mode could supply, causing the battery to drop below the voltage threshold used by the Battery MINDer to switch between maintenance and charge mode. Then, when it goes back above the threshold, it briefly returns to maintenance mode before the resting draw pulls it back down below the threshold again.

VDC suggested, as a starting point, that I check the setup with a digital multimeter, but I thought I'd gather some information first. So, does anyone know how much resting draw there is on these vehicles...? It can't be much, as I know my X3's battery can ostensibly sit all night (or even for several days) without depleting... Is the Battery MINDer somehow causing modules that would otherwise be "asleep" to remain active, thereby increasing the battery draw under these conditions...? Any thoughts...?
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Last edited by timfitz63; 05-16-2011 at 08:56 AM.
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  #2  
Old 05-17-2011, 06:45 AM
AddictedToBoost AddictedToBoost is offline
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Tim,

I recently started using a Battery Tender Junior on my '07 X3, which is the .75 amp model. My X3 is usually only driven on the weekends. After the initial connection or a 'reboot' such as you describe, the tender will go into maintenance mode - red led. Once the tender gets the battery voltage up and goes into float mode - green led, I do not notice the tender switching back to maintenance mode in minutes as yours is. I realize these are two different manufactures of chargers, but their charging algorithms shouldn't be that far off. For reference, my X3 does have Bluetooth. I'll pay more attention the next time I'm out in the garage working, but I've yet to see my tender switch back to maintenance mode. I know it has to from time to time but it is at a very infrequent interval.
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  #3  
Old 05-17-2011, 10:23 AM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedToBoost View Post
...I recently started using a Battery Tender Junior on my '07 X3, which is the .75 amp model. My X3 is usually only driven on the weekends. After the initial connection or a 'reboot' such as you describe, the tender will go into maintenance mode - red led. Once the tender gets the battery voltage up and goes into float mode - green led, I do not notice the tender switching back to maintenance mode in minutes as yours is. I realize these are two different manufactures of chargers, but their charging algorithms shouldn't be that far off. For reference, my X3 does have Bluetooth. I'll pay more attention the next time I'm out in the garage working, but I've yet to see my tender switch back to maintenance mode. I know it has to from time to time but it is at a very infrequent interval.
Interesting. I wonder if, after yours has been on a Battery Tender for several months, that it won't start to cycle more frequently...? Initially, mine didn't seem to exhibit the 'rapid' cycling behavior -- or any cycling that I noticed at all between charging and maintenance modes -- but I wasn't standing there watching it either... But now that I've noted it, I have to wonder... I've certainly never seen it do this on any other vehicle on which I've used a Battery MINDer...

I agree that the algorithms should be similar, but their 'kick-over' thresholds could be different enough to account for the differences operationally...? But it seems a bit counter-intuitive that it would naturally exhibit this behavior only after ostensibly getting a strong charge on the battery; I would expect it might happen with a weaker battery (i.e., one that won't hold a charge very well), but that doesn't appear to be the case here...?

Anyway, thanks for the feedback!
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  #4  
Old 05-17-2011, 01:17 PM
kenza kenza is offline
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Tim,

I know that what I am going to tell you will not help much, but my CTEK charger behaves just as like AddictedToBoost's. It charges the battery and then switches to maintenance mode. Have never seen it go back to charging mode until it gets rebooted. It behaved like that with my car's battery and many batteries that were stand alone (taken out of a car, lawn tractor or boat).
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  #5  
Old 05-17-2011, 02:20 PM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenza View Post
Tim,

I know that what I am going to tell you will not help much, but my CTEK charger behaves just as like AddictedToBoost's. It charges the battery and then switches to maintenance mode. Have never seen it go back to charging mode until it gets rebooted. It behaved like that with my car's battery and many batteries that were stand alone (taken out of a car, lawn tractor or boat).
Well, all information is useful in some way or another, so I appreciate the thoughts. Like Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying (and I'm probably paraphrasing): "Eliminate whatever is not the cause, and whatever remains, however unlikely, is the culprit." And this is the only time I've seen this kind of behavior with the Battery MINDers I've used; my experience otherwise has been the same as what you and "AddictedToBoost" describe...

But unfortunately, I don't think I'm able to eliminate much at this stage... It's sounding like the X3 itself would not normally cause this kind of behavior, otherwise you or "AddictedToBoost" would likely have seen it with your respective chargers; so my X3 could have developed some sort of glitch... The jury is still out on my battery and the Battery MINDer unit itself, either of which could be defective at this point. And the electrical supply in my relative's house is certainly not above suspicion at the moment.

Still need to know if there's any specifications out there on resting battery draw... Doesn't sound like that type of information is readily available...?
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  #6  
Old 05-17-2011, 02:50 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
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My "BMW Advanced Battery Charging System" (a.k.a. a Deltran Battery Minder) behaves the same as kenza and AddictedToBoost describe.

It claims to be a 3-stage device (bulk charge, absorption charge, float charge), but from what I read that may be more marketing than electronic fact.

And may not even be desirable in some cases according to:
http://www.donrowe.com/battery_charg..._document.html

Possibly the cycling you describe could be attributed to random battery loads in the absorption stage if yours was a 3-stage charger.

But it sounds like yours is definitely a 2-stage one.

Not sure why you see that behaviour with the X3 now.

As unplugging one of these when in Float phase and immediately reconnecting it sends you back to square one suggests they are not exactly precise or intelligent devices in general.

Therefore, seeing the cycling you observe with your X3 may not be all that surprising, or of any real consequence.

Sorry, can't help on the the normal battery draw at rest question either.

I agree you can't rule out your neighbors old electrical system,
or the X3 or the charger itself, or the three of them when in combination.

How's that for getting no further forward with the conundrum?
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  #7  
Old 05-18-2011, 11:50 AM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supercourse View Post
My "BMW Advanced Battery Charging System" (a.k.a. a Deltran Battery Minder) behaves the same as kenza and AddictedToBoost describe.

It claims to be a 3-stage device (bulk charge, absorption charge, float charge), but from what I read that may be more marketing than electronic fact.

And may not even be desirable in some cases according to:
http://www.donrowe.com/battery_charg..._document.html

Possibly the cycling you describe could be attributed to random battery loads in the absorption stage if yours was a 3-stage charger.

But it sounds like yours is definitely a 2-stage one.

Not sure why you see that behaviour with the X3 now.

As unplugging one of these when in Float phase and immediately reconnecting it sends you back to square one suggests they are not exactly precise or intelligent devices in general.

Therefore, seeing the cycling you observe with your X3 may not be all that surprising, or of any real consequence.

Sorry, can't help on the the normal battery draw at rest question either.

I agree you can't rule out your neighbors old electrical system,
or the X3 or the charger itself, or the three of them when in combination.

How's that for getting no further forward with the conundrum?
Thanks, "Supercourse!" That's a good bit of information on the different classifications of battery chargers.

While I can't find anything in the instructions or on the VDC web site that specifically states it, I suspect from the information those sources do contain that the Battery MINDer is a two-stage charger as well. But that would be a good question to pose to VDC Technical Support...

It seems that my particular unit (Model No. 12117), per the instructions, has a trip voltage (the voltage at which it will cycle from 'charge' mode to 'float') of 14.4 volts, but only maintains 13.4 volts during 'float' mode; I'm guessing that (13.4 volts) is the lower threshold to switch it back to 'charge' mode. I know that, in the past, when I've done something like open a door on other vehicles connected to a Battery MINDer, the dome light coming on will draw enough power to switch the Battery MINDer from 'float' to 'charge' mode within a few seconds, so this behavior may not be too out-of-the-ordinary. I just wonder where the draw is actually coming from if the vehicle is closed and locked...? Maybe I inadvertently left a map light on or something, and the Battery MINDer keeps the X3's automatic battery discharge sensor from detecting it and shutting it down...?

So, it remains a bit of a mystery, but I'm hopeful that you're correct: that this is just odd, but "normal" (at least non-harmful) behavior with this particular combination... I'll check it out more thoroughly next week when I'm back home in Pittsburgh.
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  #8  
Old 05-18-2011, 02:07 PM
AddictedToBoost AddictedToBoost is offline
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I checked and Battery Tender lists a float mode voltage of 13.2v and a bulk charge voltage of 14.4v until amp draw drops to less than .1 amps. I can't imagine that the .2v difference in float mode voltages between a Batter Tender and BatteryMinder would be causing the behavior you are experiencing though.

Have you performed a load test on your battery? Are you still running on the original battery in your X3? A DMM to monitor your battery and chargers behavior might help out now. I can hook one up to mine and monitor as well if you need me to.

I lifted this out of the BT JR manual, which I think you've already listed all as possibilities:

THE RED LIGHT COMES ON AGAIN AFTER THE GREEN LIGHT CAME
ON. There may be another appliance drawing electric power from the battery causing
its voltage to drop below the reset level. The battery charger then goes back into full
charge mode. Also, the charger connections at the battery may be intermittent or the
battery may be defective.

Last edited by AddictedToBoost; 05-18-2011 at 02:09 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2011, 06:46 AM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedToBoost View Post
I checked and Battery Tender lists a float mode voltage of 13.2v and a bulk charge voltage of 14.4v until amp draw drops to less than .1 amps. I can't imagine that the .2v difference in float mode voltages between a Batter Tender and BatteryMinder would be causing the behavior you are experiencing though...
Yeah, I tend to agree. But I suppose it's still within the realm of possibility... At least the difference is in the 'right' direction to support the theory that the Battery MINDer is kicking back into 'charge' mode after a small draw-down that might not be enough to cause it with a Battery Tender...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedToBoost View Post
... Have you performed a load test on your battery? Are you still running on the original battery in your X3? A DMM to monitor your battery and chargers behavior might help out now. I can hook one up to mine and monitor as well if you need me to...
Haven't done a load test yet. The Battery MINDer folks send you a free battery tester, which amounts to nothing more than a volt meter that lights up some LED's (red, yellow, or green, depending on the 'condition' of your battery). It's a marketing trinket...

The battery, so far as I know, is original; it looks like the standard-issue BMW battery, and there's nothing in the 'official' maintenance records about it being replaced. The battery could have seen some extended periods of storage, when the previous owner just kept the vehicle stored in his garage; don't know if he'd put a charger on it or not. But the Battery MINDer is supposed to recover weakened batteries...

VDC suggested the same thing about checking whats going on using a digital multimeter; I will try to do so when I'm home next week. Having some numbers to compare against would be useful. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedToBoost View Post
... I lifted this out of the BT JR manual, which I think you've already listed all as possibilities:

THE RED LIGHT COMES ON AGAIN AFTER THE GREEN LIGHT CAME
ON. There may be another appliance drawing electric power from the battery causing
its voltage to drop below the reset level. The battery charger then goes back into full
charge mode. Also, the charger connections at the battery may be intermittent or the
battery may be defective.
Yeah, I'm hopeful this turns out to be something simple -- like a map light that's still on, or 'normal' interactive behavior between the vehicle and the Battery MINDer.

I'd considered an intermittent or 'weak' connection as well, but can't really check that until I get back next week. One of the nice things with the Battery MINDer is that VDC supplies you with both a standard set of alligator clamps and a quick-disconnect wiring harness that you can 'permanently' mount to the battery terminals (you just pull the battery terminals, slip the loop through the bolt, then reconnect everything). With all other vehicles on which I've used a Battery MINDer, I've used the 'permanent' quick-disconnect harness; on the X3, I really didn't have a good way to connect that -- the rings are a bit too small to fit on the remote battery terminals in the engine compartment, and being a bit pressed for time when I put the vehicle into storage, I just didn't take the time to map out how I could hook all of this up directly to the battery mounted in the rear cargo area without damage to the wiring or keeping all the interior lighting off... So I went the easy route with the alligator clamps on the remote terminals in the engine compartment. But perhaps I should re-visit use of the 'permanent' connection harness...? How is your Battery Tender connected?
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  #10  
Old 05-19-2011, 02:37 PM
AddictedToBoost AddictedToBoost is offline
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I installed the BT quick connect harness on the remote terminals in the engine bay. I ran into the same issue with the BT harness as you are having with the BatteryMinder quick connect - the rings were slightly too small to fit on the negative post of the remote terminals. I enlarged the negative ring terminal slightly with my dremel and it was good to go.
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:03 PM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedToBoost View Post
I installed the BT quick connect harness on the remote terminals in the engine bay. I ran into the same issue with the BT harness as you are having with the BatteryMinder quick connect - the rings were slightly too small to fit on the negative post of the remote terminals. I enlarged the negative ring terminal slightly with my dremel and it was good to go.
Hmm. Now that I've stated it publicly once again, I'm starting to wonder if there's enough loss in the connection through the remote battery terminals (via alligator clamps) to cause this behavior. Perhaps a more-or-less direct connection wouldn't exhibit this...?

I ran into a similar situation with both battery terminal bolts on my '89 Firebird Formula. I solved the problem by replacing the positive terminal bolt with an after-market bolt that had an additional, smaller terminal on top (with its own nut); the small ring from the Battery MINDer quick-disconnect fit onto it fine. Then, I ran the negative lead from the quick-disconnect harness straight to the vehicle ground, which in this case was conveniently located close enough for that lead to reach. But if the same size incompatibility exists with the X3's battery terminal bolts, I may need to replace both of them...

How do you route all the cords? I haven't really thought out how to do this so it would be relatively convenient to make use of (which is entirely the point of a quick-disconnect harness); it seems that you'd need to crack a window or something to allow the cords to reach the charging unit or an outlet while preventing the interior lights from remaining on...?
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:29 AM
AddictedToBoost AddictedToBoost is offline
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Tim,

Excuse the dirty engine bay! Because I'm using the remote battery posts, I can connect my BT and route the cord along the edge of the fender and hang it on the outside corner of the passenger headlight. I usually lower the hood down to the safety latch but not all the way down to the second latch. With the weather seal on the underside of the hood, you can close it completely and not pinch/cut the cord - the weatherstrip will actually hold the wire in position well without putting excess stress on it.

When the quick connect is not in use, I loop the protective dust cap around the wire harness behind the washer fluid reservoir and then plug in on the quick connect. The quick connect is held in place, tucked behind the reservoir and you hardly even notice it.





Quote:
Originally Posted by timfitz63 View Post
... How do you route all the cords? I haven't really thought out how to do this so it would be relatively convenient to make use of (which is entirely the point of a quick-disconnect harness); it seems that you'd need to crack a window or something to allow the cords to reach the charging unit or an outlet while preventing the interior lights from remaining on...?

Last edited by AddictedToBoost; 05-20-2011 at 09:49 AM.
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  #13  
Old 05-20-2011, 11:36 AM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedToBoost View Post
... Because I'm using the remote battery posts, I can connect my BT and route the cord along the edge of the fender and hang it on the outside corner of the passenger headlight. I usually lower the hood down to the safety latch but not all the way down to the second latch. With the weather seal on the underside of the hood, you can close it completely and not pinch/cut the cord - the weatherstrip will actually hold the wire in position well without putting excess stress on it...
OK. That's exactly the same routing I'm using with the Battery MINDer alligator clips. I thought you'd found a way to connect the quick-disconnect directly to the battery back in the cargo compartment.

That was the other hurdle I hadn't worked out: how to run the positive lead (of the quick-disconnect) out of the little 'protecto-box' that houses the positive terminal. Did you have to cut or modify the box at all, or did you just find enough room in the existing pass-through? Guess I'll have to look at it more closely -- with some better lighting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedToBoost View Post
... When the quick connect is not in use, I loop the protective dust cap around the wire harness behind the washer fluid reservoir and then plug in on the quick connect. The quick connect is held in place, tucked behind the reservoir and you hardly even notice it.
That looks exactly like the quick-disconnect that is supplied with the Battery MINDer! They must all use the same supplier!

Thanks for the photos!
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Old 05-20-2011, 12:05 PM
AddictedToBoost AddictedToBoost is offline
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I didn't want to cut up the protector box either. I remember now that I had to trim the sides of the positive ring terminal in order for it to fit through the side exit of the box. I just used wire cutters to trim off a bit off each side of the ring terminal until it would fit through the wire access hole. I think I also cut off the plastic 'D' shaped molding at the base of the positive ring in order to make it slim enough to fit through the hole. Use a box knife to slice through it, being careful not to cut down to the wire and you should be able to split it open and remove it off the wire/ring terminal. It is a tight fit to get the positive wire through the box but obviously will work. It took me maybe ten minutes to modify both the negative and positive rings to fit without having to hack up the X3.


Quote:
Originally Posted by timfitz63 View Post
OK. That's exactly the same routing I'm using with the Battery MINDer alligator clips. I thought you'd found a way to connect the quick-disconnect directly to the battery back in the cargo compartment.

That was the other hurdle I hadn't worked out: how to run the positive lead (of the quick-disconnect) out of the little 'protecto-box' that houses the positive terminal. Did you have to cut or modify the box at all, or did you just find enough room in the existing pass-through? Guess I'll have to look at it more closely -- with some better lighting.



That looks exactly like the quick-disconnect that is supplied with the Battery MINDer! They must all use the same supplier!

Thanks for the photos!
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Old 05-27-2011, 01:32 PM
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OK. Quick update to this point.

Got back to Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon and took some time to observe the behavior of my Battery MINDer first-hand. Sure enough, it was just as my brother had described: cycling in and out of 'float' mode about every 5 minutes. Looked inside, no map lights on or anything of that sort to put a load on the battery.

Removed the Battery MINDer from my X3. Got in and it started right up (strong battery). So far, so good. No signs of strange electrical draws; no weird errors, electrical hiccups, or problem lights in the dash.

Drove it from my aunt's house to my parents' house; ran just fine. Got out and checked the little "status eye" in the battery; nice and green (again, indicative of a strong battery). Took the Battery MINDer with me, where I swapped it onto another vehicle I have stored in my brother's garage on a different Battery MINDer. Once connected to the second vehicle, the Battery MINDer I'd had on my X3 almost immediately went into (and stayed in) 'float' mode, which is not too surprising since the battery on the other vehicle had been on the 'float' charge for months now. I forced the Battery MINDer out of 'float' and back into 'charge' mode by opening a door and putting a draw on the battery, shut everything up and went off to eat some dinner. By the time I'd returned, it was back in 'float' mode, and has remained in 'float' mode up to this point. I want to get the second vehicle out and run it anyway, but we've been getting some heavy rain and storms, so that probably won't happen until tomorrow. After I run it, I'll put it back on the X3's Battery MINDer to see how it handles that situation, but I now believe the Battery MINDer unit itself is functioning properly.

So... It's looking like this behavior is either (basically in my current order of suspicion):
  1. Normal with the X3/Battery MINDer combination, possibly due to losses/imperfections in the alligator clip-to-remote-terminal connection
  2. Related to possible power supply issues caused by my aunt's older house wiring
  3. Something flukey with my X3

Stay tuned. Inquiring minds (or MINDers) want to know...
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  #16  
Old 05-29-2011, 10:04 AM
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Alright. Latest update (and we're slowly zeroing in on it, perhaps...):

Subject Battery MINDer ostensibly functioned perfectly on a different vehicle (using the quick-disconnect) during a continuous 24-36 hour period. Pulled it off of that vehicle, put the X3 back on its Battery MINDer, but this time hooked up to the power outlet in my brother's garage. It seemed to work normally for about 12-16 hours (initially in 'charge' mode, switched over to uninterrupted 'float' mode after the first 6 hours or so). When I check the X3 about 09:30 this morning, it was once again cycling in and out of 'float' mode at the rate of ~3 minutes in 'float' and ~6 minutes in 'charge.' However, a few hours later, I watched it remain in uninterrupted 'float' mode for 15 minutes before I disconnected the Battery MINDer to move the X3.

So, that potentially eliminates strange power fluctuations at my aunt's house. And since the Battery MINDer worked "as advertised" on the other vehicle for 24-36 hours using the same power outlet, that potentially eliminates malfunctions with the Battery MINDer unit itself. Leaving just (again, in relative order of suspicion):
  1. This is normal (but odd) interaction between the Battery MINDer and X3, potentially due to:
    1. A simple 'sleep' draw on the battery that trips below the 'charge' threshold
    2. Losses in the connection (still alligator clips on the X3 remote terminals)
  2. There is a fluke in my X3's electronics (which I find doubtful, since there are no other indications of such)
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