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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-15-2012, 04:27 PM
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ethereal45 ethereal45 is offline
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Help! Key turn kills the entire electrical system - all lights go off, no crank.

Hi all,

About three weeks ago, I left my lights on overnight and killed my battery. The battery was 100% dead -- no cabin lights, no cranking of starter, no clicking, absolutely dead. The battery sat dead for about 2 weeks until I recharged it with a battery charger.

Tonight, I went to start the car. The cabin lights came on and the doors unlocked electronically upon pushing the keyless entry button.

I turned the key, and everything went off -- all cabin lights, etc. No starter cranking/spinning/clicking.

I got out of the car and shut the door and all the cabin and dash lights came back on. The OBC said "Input Time."

I repeated this process about three times....sure enough, the cabin lights came back on each time I got out and shut the doors.

What on earth do I do? This doesn't sound as simple as just replacing the battery....
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  #2  
Old 11-15-2012, 04:34 PM
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Im leaning towards it being the battery cause my brothers e46 would click and the lights would flash even though the battery was charged and it was being jump started

once he bought a new battery the car cranked up on the first try without a jump
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  #3  
Old 11-15-2012, 04:36 PM
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This doesn't even click though...when you turn the key it's literally like you flipped an "off" switch for the entire car.

The battery dying last week does seem too coincidental to not be related though -- I never had the battery tested, I just hooked it up to a charger. The charger was on it for about 24 hours and didn't report any problems (although it was a cheap $45 charger), and the car cranked back up with no issues following charging it, and proceeded to start several times after that until this happened.
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:36 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Actually, to me it sounds exactly like your battery is pooched. I'd have it tested before you do anything else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ethereal45 View Post
This doesn't even click though...when you turn the key it's literally like you flipped an "off" switch for the entire car.
This is precisely what happens when your battery is really, truly dead.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 11-15-2012 at 04:38 PM.
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  #5  
Old 11-15-2012, 04:38 PM
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I do have a portable jump starter I can try actually, I'll go hook that up and see what I find.
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  #6  
Old 11-15-2012, 04:40 PM
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I guess I was getting thrown by the fact that three weeks ago when it was completely dead, I didn't get any cabin lights coming on.
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  #7  
Old 11-15-2012, 04:46 PM
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It's because you have a trace amount of charge in the battery now, which is depleted each time you turn the key and attempt to engage the ignition/starting process, but it then recoups slightly after a moment, which then allows the interior lights & locks to function somewhat. When your battery was dead before and nothing worked at all, it was because there was truly nothing in the battery.

I had the exact same scenario in my previous car, and it was a dead battery. Also, fully bringing a car battery to absolute zero is very hard on it, so it's likely that when your battery was dead before, it was the last nail in the coffin regardless of your attempt to recharge it afterward.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 11-15-2012 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:49 PM
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That was my theory also, but it sounded too dumb when I thought it up. Now that you say it that does make perfect sense.

Also, the headlights don't come on when I turn the switch....even when the cabin lights are on. I assume that supports dead battery. The orange corners came on though....
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  #9  
Old 11-15-2012, 05:12 PM
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Yeah, the headlights pull a lot more juice than the lower wattage bulbs such as the corner and interior lights, so they won't turn on if the battery is as low as yours seems to be. It's the same reason your interior lights work, but the starter doesn't even click.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 11-15-2012 at 05:15 PM.
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  #10  
Old 11-15-2012, 06:14 PM
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im surprised the hazards didnt start flashing

my car flashed the hazards when my battery was dead and i kept trying to start it
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  #11  
Old 11-15-2012, 07:33 PM
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yeah, sounds like a battery. without a properly charged battery all sorts of goofy things can happen. this also goes for wonky grounds as well....



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  #12  
Old 11-15-2012, 08:41 PM
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Thanks again for the suggestions -- I'm going to see if I can jump it with a portable jump starter and drive it in for a battery test. I'll post updates when I figure it out (hopefully tomorrow).
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  #13  
Old 11-15-2012, 10:13 PM
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Carry the jump box with you. You'll probably need it.
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