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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So my car has the charging malfunction message. Checked battery said it was fine just low charge (and I've been able to charge the battery manually to move the car) After research I heard it could be voltage regulator so I went and took that out and it was kind of melted and one of the springs seized so I was sure that was problem. Put replacement voltage regulator in and put battery back in after charging 3 hours with small clamp charger. Car starts perfectly fine, lights work but I got the charging malfunction again and the first time I started the car it said something about battery connection problem qand high battery discharge before the charging malfunction message. So I shut car off and double checked all the bolts were tight on the terminals and that ground wire sticking off the negative terminal. Started again charging malfunction and moved it across the street so it wouldnt get towed from sitting then after about 5 minutes lights start dimming and idrive screen shuts off meaning battery is running out of juice.

When the car was running I didnt hear any clicking or anything weird like that from the alternator pulley and it appeared to be spinning.

Most people say voltage regulator fixed the problem and I know its not the battery so what else could be wrong? I have a voltage meter I got but havent used it before, I'm a software developer so I can learn if someone has steps on what to do trying to diagnose it. I also read it could be something to do with the negative terminal but I dont know how I'd test these individual components. My main concern is to prove the alternator is fine and the voltage regulator was all that was wrong so that can be ruled out. Really dont want to go to dealer and hoping not to have to replace alternator as I need my car this weekend and I'd have to order it online and wait, then have to do all that work out in the cold. I was supposed to remove the snap ring from the voltage regulator after bolting it back on the alternator right?
 

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So my car has the charging malfunction message. Checked battery said it was fine just low charge (and I've been able to charge the battery manually to move the car) After research I heard it could be voltage regulator so I went and took that out and it was kind of melted and one of the springs seized so I was sure that was problem. Put replacement voltage regulator in and put battery back in after charging 3 hours with small clamp charger. Car starts perfectly fine, lights work but I got the charging malfunction again and the first time I started the car it said something about battery connection problem qand high battery discharge before the charging malfunction message. So I shut car off and double checked all the bolts were tight on the terminals and that ground wire sticking off the negative terminal. Started again charging malfunction and moved it across the street so it wouldnt get towed from sitting then after about 5 minutes lights start dimming and idrive screen shuts off meaning battery is running out of juice.

When the car was running I didnt hear any clicking or anything weird like that from the alternator pulley and it appeared to be spinning.

Most people say voltage regulator fixed the problem and I know its not the battery so what else could be wrong? I have a voltage meter I got but havent used it before, I'm a software developer so I can learn if someone has steps on what to do trying to diagnose it. I also read it could be something to do with the negative terminal but I dont know how I'd test these individual components. My main concern is to prove the alternator is fine and the voltage regulator was all that was wrong so that can be ruled out. Really dont want to go to dealer and hoping not to have to replace alternator as I need my car this weekend and I'd have to order it online and wait, then have to do all that work out in the cold. I was supposed to remove the snap ring from the voltage regulator after bolting it back on the alternator right?
Hi there, have you measured your battery charge with a multimeter while the car is running and monitor what the alternator is pushing out? This should rule out (or not) that the alternator is the culprit.

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Will do that today after a few hours of battery on the charger. Lights and everything work but not enough juice to start and maintain idle right now. So I just need to check the charge coming out of the battery while its running or do I need to remove my air box and stick it directly behind the alternator as well? My understanding is normally multimeter will say 13.5-14.5v when its charged so if alternators working this will be higher?

When looking at how to videos to diagnose alternator they all have battery up front and have a test where you put the multimeter on psitive diode on battery and alternator to see if theres extra resistance to test the wire connections. How would I do this on a BMW seeing as the battery is in the trunk? Will touching my multimeter to the jump diodes under the hood work to see if there is extra resistance like touching the negative jump diode and alternator cage?
 

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Will do that today after a few hours of battery on the charger. Lights and everything work but not enough juice to start and maintain idle right now. So I just need to check the charge coming out of the battery while its running or do I need to remove my air box and stick it directly behind the alternator as well? My understanding is normally multimeter will say 13.5-14.5v when its charged so if alternators working this will be higher?

When looking at how to videos to diagnose alternator they all have battery up front and have a test where you put the multimeter on psitive diode on battery and alternator to see if theres extra resistance to test the wire connections. How would I do this on a BMW seeing as the battery is in the trunk? Will touching my multimeter to the jump diodes under the hood work to see if there is extra resistance like touching the negative jump diode and alternator cage?
What I did was take my meter and measure the voltage at the battery in the trunk while the car was running. This is how I found out that my alternator was the issue ( my regulator was already replaced) 13.5- 14.5 sounds about right depending on battery charge.

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Discussion Starter #6
What I did was take my meter and measure the voltage at the battery in the trunk while the car was running. This is how I found out that my alternator was the issue ( my regulator was already replaced) 13.5- 14.5 sounds about right depending on battery charge.

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When you replaced your regulator was it noticeably damaged? Mine had a stuck spring and it started to melt from it arching I'm assuming. I'm trying to see if the alternator works independent of the battery because I'm seeing that the IBS and a faulty wire could be the culprit and dont want to order a new alternator if its a connection error. I still have my battery on the charger its been on for about 2 hours and I'm going to give it like 12. My positive plastic battery connector is pretty melted from one time I left the secondary positive connector loose and it started arching one time and I'm thinking that may be a cause as I notice "increased battery discharge" message a few times in the weeks prior to charging malfunction error and taking out my old regulator.
 

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When you replaced your regulator was it noticeably damaged? Mine had a stuck spring and it started to melt from it arching I'm assuming. I'm trying to see if the alternator works independent of the battery because I'm seeing that the IBS and a faulty wire could be the culprit and dont want to order a new alternator if its a connection error. I still have my battery on the charger its been on for about 2 hours and I'm going to give it like 12. My positive plastic battery connector is pretty melted from one time I left the secondary positive connector loose and it started arching one time and I'm thinking that may be a cause as I notice "increased battery discharge" message a few times in the weeks prior to charging malfunction error and taking out my old regulator.
You know I did not ask to see the regulator. I had it replaced as the most cost effective measure which turned out not to be as such. The same mechanic then replaced my alternator, but I don't recall him stating any visible signs of damage to the regulator when he replaced it.

I also agree that when the positive connector arched, it may have caused an issue with the battery.

Let me know what you find with charge at the battery when the car is running . Good luck

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If you are see arcing at the battery terminals, that means the post could be dirty or the cable is not properly clamped to the battery post. You can measure the voltage at the boosting terminal in the engine compartment and you should see 12.5 volts when the car is off and maybe 14.5 when the car is running.

Something else to look at is the pulley on the alternator shaft. The pulley has an overrun clutch that can fail resulting in the pulley not turning the alternator stator properly.
 

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What kind of volt meter are you using?
My voltmeter is just a simple one . Think I got it for 10 bucks! But when the indy changed out the alternator, his pricey meter read the low voltage as well. Infact you can also get a voltmeter that plugs into the cigarette lighter as well.

Also you can monitor the charge via the secret menu as well. Just you tube it

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
What kind of volt meter are you using?
One of those 7 function ones from Harbor Freight. I just finished charging my battery a couple hours ago out of the car, its sitting at 12.8 volts. About to put the battery back in and pull the air box so I can put the one line on the negative boosting diode under the hood and touching the alternator cage with the other wire to see if theres resistance somewhere like this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGB6ZEjGm7Q

If you are see arcing at the battery terminals, that means the post could be dirty or the cable is not properly clamped to the battery post. You can measure the voltage at the boosting terminal in the engine compartment and you should see 12.5 volts when the car is off and maybe 14.5 when the car is running.

Something else to look at is the pulley on the alternator shaft. The pulley has an overrun clutch that can fail resulting in the pulley not turning the alternator stator properly.
Anyway to test that pulley without having to take the bumper and fan out? If I end up having the alternator be broke and I have to get a new one I'll probably keep this one and rebuild it. Would that overrun clutch failing cause the regulator to melt like that? I want to rule out a faulty wire as I've seen others replace both battery and alternator and still have the problem of no charging meaning it has to be a faulty wire in their case. I've obviously ruled out the battery and trying to rule out alternator because theres a possibility theres a frayed wire and thats why the power isnt reaching my battery or the rest of the car. I'll try to get a pic of the negative wire that sticks into the regulator, the padding at the top like slid like an old phone charger.
 

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.....
Anyway to test that pulley without having to take the bumper and fan out? If I end up having the alternator be broke and I have to get a new one I'll probably keep this one and rebuild it. Would that overrun clutch failing cause the regulator to melt like that?
You need to slip off the serpentine belt to check the pulley. That requires a Torx bit and a 3 foot breaker bar to release the belt tensioner.

If it's the pulley, you're hooped since a special spline wrench is required to remove the pulley.

Don't think that a faulty overrun clutch would cause that problem, more likely a bad connection at the brushes or the output cable.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You need to slip off the serpentine belt to check the pulley. That requires a Torx bit and a 3 foot breaker bar to release the belt tensioner.

If it's the pulley, you're hooped since a special spline wrench is required to remove the pulley.

Don't think that a faulty overrun clutch would cause that problem, more likely a bad connection at the brushes or the output cable.
We had a blizzard so I didnt get a chance to throw the battery in I got another car to use in the mean time (no garage just driveway and a pretty complete set of Harbor Freight tools including engine crane). My brush on the regulator was seized and wouldnt pop back out cause of a bad spring. Do you think the charging malfunction started when the spring seized in the regulator? This would lead you to believe theres a problem with the negative wire that plugs in the alternator and I could test this by putting multimeter on alternator cage and negative jump terminal with car running?


side question: My car has a turbo and the newTIS instructions say to remove bumper when I replaced serpentine belt after AC pulley fell off in the summer and bypassed it. Anybody with a turbo e60 know if you uld fit breaker bar with torx without removing fan and bumper? If the pulley is what broke I'll just get new alternator online and put it in since its basically the same amount of work then I'll make it a side project to replace the broken parts in the alternator and resell it if it works after replacements as refurbished as I already replaced the voltage regulator and didnt keep track of the snap ring so I cant return it.
 

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..... My brush on the regulator was seized and wouldnt pop back out cause of a bad spring. Do you think the charging malfunction started when the spring seized in the regulator? This would lead you to believe theres a problem with the negative wire that plugs in the alternator and I could test this by putting multimeter on alternator cage and negative jump terminal with car running?
The alternator works by taking the current off the stator at the slip rings. This is an alternating current. Inside the brush/ regulator package is a rectifier to convert it to direct current or DC. The body of the alternator is the negative terminal and is bolted to the block so the connection is generally always good. The exception would be if you left a bolt off of the brush assembly when you replaced it or didn't tighten things down correctly.

Therefore, when you measure voltage, you can place one probe tip on the alternator body and the other on the positive output terminal of the alternator to get the voltage reading.

As well, you should measure across the negative and the positive jump terminals, since that will give you an idea of the voltage delivery to the battery as well as voltage delivery as it passes from the alternator, to the starter motor and on to the battery.

side question: My car has a turbo and the NewTIS instructions say to remove bumper when I replaced serpentine belt after AC pulley fell off in the summer and bypassed it. Anybody with a turbo e60 know if you could fit breaker bar with Torx without removing fan and bumper? If the pulley is what broke I'll just get new alternator online and put it in since its basically the same amount of work then I'll make it a side project to replace the broken parts in the alternator and resell it if it works after replacements as refurbished as I already replaced the voltage regulator and didn't keep track of the snap ring so I cant return it.
I always remove the fan from the engine bay to ensure enough space to work with the Torx bit and the belt removal because I have big hands and don't need any more scars on my knuckles....
 

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Just so we are clear:

IF THE engine is not running.. your not testing anything

the engine must be running, put on every electric item in the car, (FULL DRAW LOAD)

then go to the battery terminals and see what the output is, It should be 14.2 vdc +/- .5

it will always be close to 2 volts more then the resting voltage of the battery,

battery load test does not test the charging systems function


CONFIRM your load charging voltage,
confirm your sleeping amperage draw when car is sleeping (if your new battery is charging but goes dead over time)

DONT rebuild alternators.. that's a waste of time
DONT unhook the negative battery terminal on ANY vehicle as some means of testing anything (thats 1960's) *and a fantastic was to end up with a paper weight of a car
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Just so we are clear:

IF THE engine is not running.. your not testing anything

the engine must be running, put on every electric item in the car, (FULL DRAW LOAD)

then go to the battery terminals and see what the output is, It should be 14.2 vdc +/- .5

it will always be close to 2 volts more then the resting voltage of the battery,

battery load test does not test the charging systems function


CONFIRM your load charging voltage,
confirm your sleeping amperage draw when car is sleeping (if your new battery is charging but goes dead over time)

DONT rebuild alternators.. that's a waste of time
DONT unhook the negative battery terminal on ANY vehicle as some means of testing anything (thats 1960's) *and a fantastic was to end up with a paper weight of a car
Ok, just got to this because of the polar vortex. I charged the battery to 12.8v and with car running dropped to 11.4v, both wth voltmeter on diodes on battery and the posts under the hood. I didnt take out my air box to put on alternator cage and positive but if I put negative on the cage and positive on the positive jump point I get 11.4 volts also. Now that you say the bolts may not be bolted in right on the regulator I did forget which bolts go where and I'm not sure if newTIS gives this information, I couldn't find it. That may be it, I'll have to check when I pull the air box out again.

I took the car to AutoZone to OBD2 scan it and I came up with these codes and nothing to do with charging which I find strange:

P0050 HO2S (bank 2 , sensor 1)
P0012 Intake Camshaft Position Timing, Over retarded (bank 1)

I did not have these errors before the charging mallfunction, but I did have misfiring errors and a valve cover gasket leak. I think most likely running right off battery and the valve gasket leak have something to do with it. I'm about to order new alternator and replace the valve cover gasket and spark plugs while I'm at it see if the alternator being bad causing other errors. This is another error I've had since I've had the car and didnt clear after cleaning MAP sensor so I just ignored it:

P0172 System too rich (bank 1)

The car was able to make it to AutoZone and back and was started 3 times no problem so I dont see how the timing chain could be bad. I also smell like a burning rubber smell the more RPMs the engine has which I'm assuming is either the new regulator melting or the stator in the alternator getting hot but not releasing power.

Also, when I removed the battery again to recharge it today I bumped one of those fuses with my ratchet and saw a spark but the lights in my car still worked and so did my door locks so I dont know if I damaged one of them or not, didn't try starting it I was trying to get back inside as it was getting dark.

Any insights?
 

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when working on the battery.. Negative terminal comes off First.. and goes on last (that will stop you from accidentally Blowing your self up)

valve cover leak has nothing to do with charging..

And it would be foolish to try to trouble shoot anything else right now until your charging system is fixed..

WHICH by now im sure you know that your not charging, correct you are indeed running off the battery and you really dont want to do that.. Its not good.. but Its not the end of the world..

you have work to do.. Let us know how you make out..
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
when working on the battery.. Negative terminal comes off First.. and goes on last (that will stop you from accidentally Blowing your self up)

valve cover leak has nothing to do with charging..

And it would be foolish to try to trouble shoot anything else right now until your charging system is fixed..

WHICH by now im sure you know that your not charging, correct you are indeed running off the battery and you really dont want to do that.. Its not good.. but Its not the end of the world..

you have work to do.. Let us know how you make out..
Just ordered new alternator. Will come back with results of voltmeter on positive and alternator cage when I get ready to replace it with the new one. May be a minute cause of the weather and the fact I have to take the bumper and fan off and everything again (and I don't want to leave my engine exposed to the elements like I did in the summer) to do the repair plus I have secondary vehicle I've been using anyway to get to and from work.

And I meant the valve cover leaking having to do with the camshaft timing over retardation on bank 2 sensor 1. I saw from my two hours of googling the error code that it could have something to do with VANOS, bent valve, or sensor itself being bad, to the chain actually going out of alignment, breaking, (on non BMW cars that use rubber belts like our drive belts instead of chains for timing jumping teeth would be a cause). Was wanting to know if this could just be due to me driving the car without an alternator damaging these sensors. The night it started saying charging malfunction I had to have someone with jumper cables charge my battery like 7 times to make it home without calling the tow truck and my battery is still holding a charge.
 
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