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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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Old 09-27-2013, 11:51 AM
ReasoN ReasoN is offline
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Location: Dallas TX
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: 92 325i
Alternator Questions

Hey guys I don't post much but I have a 92 325i, it's become my daily driver and I've done tons of maintenance on it. I've never had to post about any issue before, you guys have literally gone over any problem this car can possibly ever have haha so thanks for all the indirect help

Now I recently had a battery issue, car did not want to start, I jumped it, it then ran but did not hold a charge. I got a new battery and went to autozone to have the alternator tested in a attempt to figure out if there was any additional issue i had to address.

I had the alternator tested, I don't know the proper way to do this but the guy working connected the tester to the power box? and grounded it on the car.
The alternator read out to shortly under 13 volts, the guy said it was suppose to be between 13.5 - 15 volts and that I needed to replace it.

I asked a buddy of mine (a technician at infinity) if what the autozone employee had said was correct. He let me know that most new cars run at about 15 volts but mine being 21 years old might just be like that.

I was wondering if any of you have any info on this topic? I'm guessing if I keep driving and it losses charge eventually it will be the alternator but I figured one of you guys might have a faster answer.

Thank you to all for the help I've seriously fixed a ton of issues without ever having to post, you guys are awesome
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:27 PM
hnaz's Avatar
hnaz hnaz is offline
BMW CCA Member
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 3,395
Mein Auto: 128i M, M3, 530i M
My cars are also approaching 20 years old and they are pushing 13.9 - 14.2 Volts. I think the buddy of yours and the autozone are not correct. If your alternator is putting that low a voltage, it is time to replace it.
Harry // 1995 Avus Blue M3 - 2003 Titansilber 530i M Sport - 2010 Black Sapphire Metallic 128i M - Sport // BMW CCA #453346 - North Capitol Chapter // 2000 Silver Audi B5 S4
My Previous Work:
My 325is M-Tech Restoration Thread
My 98 M3 and 03 530i Restoration Thread
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:41 PM
vmaxman vmaxman is offline
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Location: oakdale
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 206
Mein Auto: 95 325i
Yup your voltage should be reading around 14v at the battery on a good alternator regardless of year of your car.... unless of course we are talking about the 50s and older but before you go and spend $200 on new alternator, pull the regulator off the back of the alternator and check the brushes... my buddy just had the same issue on his 93 325i and all we had to replace on it was the regulator which is only $40 on autozone want $130 for there regulator

Basically if the alternator spins good and teh bearings arent bad the regulator is usually what goes out and these alternators have replaceable regulators

1995 325i SOLD
Black 18" Hamman wheels
umnitza exhaust
M3 bumper
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Old 09-28-2013, 08:31 PM
ReasoN ReasoN is offline
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Location: Dallas TX
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: 92 325i
Crap crap and thanks vmax I will definitely look into that first.
I actually drove the car a good amount yesterday and a little today, seems to be doing ok so far but I'm still going to be looking to get that fixed, thanks again for the input guys!
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