BMW project car resurrected from the dead
My car may or may not be considered a classic or vintage, but Doug DeMuro did say it is the best looking 4 door sedan ever made...and it was in the James Bond and Transporter movie so I'd call it special enough to become a new classic, but a troublesome one at that, to own.
Mine was bought one fall when I saw it parked with a for sale sign on it at a local retail location.
2000 740i in grey leather and silver exterior. Under 80k miles and for only a couple thousand.
Knew they were a nightmare to keep running as dailies and thought why not a cute (I'm a girl BTW) weekend cruiser. I have always been into cars, Corvettes, Mustangs, Cadillac, Lexus, learned stick on a Miata I bought before knowing how. This would be my first BMW.
Took the belly pan off and it was oil leak city. Changed out the VCGs, TCGs and Oil filter housing gasket and then the pesky o-rings that feed the block oil lines, the ones against the block by the motor mounts. Used aviation paint remover to completely remove the gaudy gold from the VCs and made them flat black like the M cars. Looks so nice now! Darth Vader engine instead of Elton John or Liberace.
While doing all this I put maybe 100 miles on the car the summer after getting it. Other cars to drive and it was getting targeted for keying and door dinging because this is Metro Detroit.
Garaged it and put it out of my mind, in the far back thinking maybe in the future I'd only use it for trips away from Big Three worker towns. After it happened to me, I noticed no BMWs in the area that weren't scarred up from vandalism. Drivers doors, hoods and gas caps are what they go after first, so you don't miss it and know you are their enemy in the car world.
Lots of modern BMW people see them as tools and don't care about vandalism but I LOVE my cars and it hurts like they have stabbed me instead of the car each time a new mark is found.
So as this is going on with it not being used and needing to be moved, the battery fell low enough to get the car to a crank but no start condition.
Everyone here said crank sensor etc. That did not solve it and I ran out of ideas, as the DME and wiring were pristine. I took out the seats and checked under everything. Changed out the ignition switch, all the usual suspects.
That is when I gave up entirely. Not going to trailer it to the dealership 30 miles away for them to tell me it needs ten hours of software updates or some B.S. I have plenty of other cars to drive and added more while it sat in the corner as a garage display.
After a year I decided that unless I was going to sell it for scrap, (interior is immaculate like no one has ever sat in it) which would kill me since I love the styling and that V8, time to learn some new skills.
Then I happened on a video on Youtube were a crank with no start was blamed on the rolling codes of the anti-theft not being in sequence. Like how your garage door opener works. Low voltage when trying to start it, means that one module may not be operating and one is and when the key is turned one rolls forward to the next code on the list while the other does not because it is 'asleep'.
When the battery is recharged and both modules are now active they are out of sequence and each attempt to start is thwarted because the DME will not run the fuel pump or cycle the injectors. This rang a bell with me, because I had verified a year ago that the car ran with starting fluid for a few seconds until the spray was stopped after a quick burst. (Starting fluid is terrible for engines)
Problem is now, I was not sure if maybe the key battery being low might be an issue. How do you recharge a battery that needs a running car to charge it? Googled it and found that you put the car on a battery tender and put the key in the ignition and put it in possition 1, which is the first indent, position two (circuit 15) is the run position and position three is to engage the starter.
You leave it in position 1 for 30 minutes and you get like a dozen clicks of the key fob for functions and starting. If you leave it in for 16 hours it is fully recharged. Nice to know for any of you that store you collector cars long term and the keys lose their charge.
Looked online for an adapter to read from the engine port and also fell for a $20 cable to talk to the car from a laptop. Big mistake, that package with the K-DCAN cable and a included tiny cd from China, just gave me spyware. At least now I had the round adapter cable out of the deal. The CD and K-DCAN with no switch got tossed in the trash.
Next I took a chance and bought a $100 hand held code reader designed only for BMW, MINI and Rolls Royce. Seller on Amazon said it could do it all. Nope, but it did tell me that the DME and EWS were not aligned and the anti-theft was engaged as a result. Seller was wrong, it could not reset that issue and returned it.
Soul crushing amount of things have to be done to install the proper software and my little laptop had zero chance of storing the nearly 200 gig of files for ISTA-D and others that everyone said was the way to go if I planned on owning any more BMW and especially newer ones.
So I spied the one listing online that said they would give a one click install and would back up the sale with in person support if needed, plus a cable with the needed switch to talk to E series BMWs. Switch to the left for them and switch to the right for all others.
Installed Teamviewer after I screwed up the one click install and gave the guy my computer I.D. and password (desktop with huge hard drive and new processor) for the teamviewer session and in a few minutes the screen went to a black background and he started moving the cursor from the U.K. instead of me here in the U.S.A.
After two hours of him downloading the files I forgot to do, he spent just a few minutes and had the software up and running. Ask Nathan from Nathan's DIY Garage, how amazing this guy is, he can do so many more things for his cars, after getting the same software from him.
First try, I forgot to turn the car to position 2, then I needed to hook up a CTEK battery charger, since this was going to take a while to figure out, ISTA is like drinking from a firehose the first time you use it.
Then I still had no communication, since the switch was to the right instead of left, on the cable, plugged into the round adapter I bought with my first try at diagnostic software. Ughhh! So many new processes to learn.
Finally got it right and I was in! Found the EWS 3.3 code and clicked on it and then selected the button to create a diagnostic plan and it showed all the options and then clicked the reset for the DME and EWS and after it was performed by the software I had to take the key out of the ignition for ten seconds and then put it back in and then immediately start the car.
It did. Kind of. It was a new nightmare. Scared me quite a bit.
Tried it again. Same clatter and bash with just a second or two of running at maybe 500 rpm.
I could feel my cheeks getting red and crying wasn't ruled out (again I am a girl).
Cleared the codes, scanned again after one more noisy start attempt.
EWS code was gone but crankshaft position sensor code showed up.
What? I replaced that. Luckily I saved the old one, it looked fine when I pulled it almost two years prior.
Jacked the car up, crawled under with my 5mm hex on a wobbly shaft extension and 10mm to deal with the big cable box that is in the way of the crankshaft sensor under the engine.
Looked at the new one versus old and the new one had this big green o-ring that at the time I thought was stupid because it did not fit inside the bore with the sensor but was instead proud like between 1/8th to 1/4" of an inch.
Put the new o-ring on the old sensor and put it in place and when tightening the hex bolt I noticed that the o-ring makes the sensor section with the bolt hole profile stay way off the engine when tightened, flexing it down. Germans don't build things to seat like that, it started to make the light bulbs go off in my head.
10-1 this will make the same stutter start and stall. Yup it did.
Now I grew a pair of lady balls and said to heck with that o-ring!
Got under there pulled it out, put the old sensor in with it now flush with the engine housing and replaced the hex bolt.
Started right up and the engine clatter went away as soon as oil pressure built up and allowed the timing chain tensioner to 'pump up' with oil, like a hydraulic lifter.
Turned it off after ten seconds and cleared codes. Then started for another ten seconds and checked again. All codes gone except for the rain sensing wiper. Will use the ISTA to re-calibrate it later. You have to make the windshield spotless first.
Dropped the car down, pulled it outside and listened to it chew up the storage condensation moisture (milkshake) in the engine oil as it heated up over about ten minutes. It is dead quiet now, just like it was before the no start began.
The only concern that came with this ISTA adventure is that it said the car has nearly double the mileage that is shown on the instrument panel inside the car.
My research says that ISTA lists the highest mileage module in the car as the mileage shown on the car identification page on program startup.
There are many modules that record mileage and if one is swapped from a higher mileage car it will give a false reading when the car is scanned.
Hopefully that is my case. The previous owner was an older truck mechanic that said he was in over his head with the car. Maybe I was gullible, but at least I've learned some new skills, that car is certainly no Lexus or Honda.
Now I know why car guys raise their eyebrows when I say I have a project E38, the big 7 series from the movies.
"Really? I don't know if I could keep one of those on the road. How many times has it been trailered to the dealership?"
Zero. I don't give up, I take my time and figure it out myself. Those cars were designed to make the dealer money from people so wealthy that they throw money at any problem.
Hope this helps someone else in the future, don't try to start one of these cars when you think the battery may be low! It will think you are trying to steal it and lock you out.
Thank you! It was so satisfying just now to go out and have it start right up!
Still looks unreal, out of the garage and back in the sunshine.
Would love to put classic car plates on it, but in Michigan it has to be 25 years old.
For now I have to keep paying the full registration price that is taxed based on its as new selling price.
BMWs may depreciate fast, but the State of Michigan will tax you every year at the factory window sticker price.
It is part of the reason you do not see many older exotics here, the fixer uppers, that an enthusiast can make run from an insurance totaled car.
The cost to register them is ruinously expensive and never goes down, only up and up.
Mileage discrepancy issue solved, it was ISTA
Got a note from the ISTA expert about my issue where the program was reporting almost double the mileage from the what I see on the instrument cluster.
It being a German program it always reads out in kilometers. Did the calculations on Google and when I entered in the ISTA number and pressed convert the number was exactly what I see inside the car!
Thankfully I don't have to worry anymore that someone rolled it back. Guys in other forums advised me to also look for a dot next to the mileage next time, that will indicated that the cluster has been manipulated from its true reading.
The only way to convert a car with a tampering dot is to buy a new cluster that is virgin and install it, where the DME can then initialize it with the correct mileage. It cannot be done with a tampered with cluster or one from another car.
Thought this might help anyone else when using ISTA and getting what they think is the wrong mileage readout.
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