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Death to electrical grimlins

March 16, 2013 03:24PM
I was driving along the other day; nice day, not too cold, open sunroof.

When all of a sudden, I got off the highway, took a gentle right turn and suddenly my E30 failed again.

I'm at my wits end with this car.

It was as though someone had taken an axe to my electrical system, I coasted through heavy traffic attempting to use my momentum to restart the car in second gear. Nothing.

Luckily, I was able to roll into the local movie theater and there we sat for two hours, me scratching my head.

No power to the E30 standard computer display, nothing on the gauges with the key on run, no stereo power. NO POWER AT ALL.

There was a slight drip under the car from coolant, and I could see where coolant had sprayed under the hood from an unknown source.
Can't find a cracked hose anywhere so I'm stumped.

Had to have her towed, and that driver was a crackpot. Just about killed us twice and only tied her down with two ratchet straps and a winch.

Any thoughts? Or where to look? I'm assuming at this point, something is shorted out but my fuses look fine. Maybe relays?
I keep reading about distributor failure, but would that happen so suddenly? And doesn't that just affect ignition?

Every month, I find another reason to get out of the E30 game. I've had 7 and they've all been daily drivers.
It's becoming more than a headache.
March 16, 2013 05:08PM
fusible link in trunk (assuming your battery is in the trunk) if not, it might be pretty close to the battery on the main cable.

alan
March 16, 2013 09:09PM
It could also be an internal failure in the battery. Check the battery load capacity.

Bob in Everett
March 16, 2013 09:57PM
Good one Bob.
That is what happened to me. One of the cells in the battery shorted out leaving the voltage too low to run the electronics but with more than enough oomph to crank the engine over.
This one does sound like the fusable link though.
rkj
March 16, 2013 11:08PM
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
I was driving along the other day; nice day, not too cold, open sunroof.

When all of a sudden, I got off the highway, took a gentle right turn and suddenly my E30 failed again.

I'm at my wits end with this car.

It was as though someone had taken an axe to my electrical system, I coasted through heavy traffic attempting to use my momentum to restart the car in second gear. Nothing.

Luckily, I was able to roll into the local movie theater and there we sat for two hours, me scratching my head.

No power to the E30 standard computer display, nothing on the gauges with the key on run, no stereo power. NO POWER AT ALL.

There was a slight drip under the car from coolant, and I could see where coolant had sprayed under the hood from an unknown source.
Can't find a cracked hose anywhere so I'm stumped.

Had to have her towed, and that driver was a crackpot. Just about killed us twice and only tied her down with two ratchet straps and a winch.

Any thoughts? Or where to look? I'm assuming at this point, something is shorted out but my fuses look fine. Maybe relays?
I keep reading about distributor failure, but would that happen so suddenly? And doesn't that just affect ignition?

Every month, I find another reason to get out of the E30 game. I've had 7 and they've all been daily drivers.
It's becoming more than a headache.

When you looked under the hood was it wet in the middle on the left side (drivers side), could be the hot water warm-up thingy on the throttle body. That gasket, it's cork, loved to blow out.

If the car is dead dead, start at the beginning (battery and connections) and work out from there.

Rick
March 17, 2013 09:39AM
Quote
Bob in Everett
It could also be an internal failure in the battery. Check the battery load capacity.

I highly doubt this, the battery is less than a month old from the last time the car was dead. :rolleyes:

Quote
alanrw
fusible link in trunk (assuming your battery is in the trunk) if not, it might be pretty close to the battery on the main cable.

alan

How do I tell if it's dead? Does it look melted like a fuse? Or do I just get a new one and see if it works?
March 17, 2013 09:42AM
Quote
rkj

When you looked under the hood was it wet in the middle on the left side (drivers side), could be the hot water warm-up thingy on the throttle body. That gasket, it's cork, loved to blow out.

If the car is dead dead, start at the beginning (battery and connections) and work out from there.

Rick

Throttle body was what I thought initially too, but I've changed that gasket on my two of my old cars and this one doesn't look the same to me.
I'll mess with it a bit more today, providing temperatures stay in the double digits. :eek:
March 17, 2013 11:24AM
But what was causing the battery to be dead? Was it the battery, or was the alternator faulty? Or would you have something grounding from time to time, drawing all the power from your battery/alternator?
March 17, 2013 11:42AM
A battery can fail internally even when new. It is an easy check to make at the battery terminals. Almost any load will cause it to open up and the voltage will drop. Just turn on the lights and check battery voltage. The battery voltage should be above 12 with no load. With a load it should not drop below 10 even with the starter running.

The fuseable link is in the wire and should look like a splice. If it is failed it would be open and it might take pushing a pin through the insulation on the cable on the side of it opposite the battery end and see if there is voltage there. I have looked at the Bently wire diagrams and do not find any mention of it however.

Bob in Everett
March 17, 2013 12:37PM
Well, the way I know there is a fusible link is I once blew mine when attempting to jump start another car. In my case, my car is a 1984 with battery in the trunk. I attempted to jump by connection jumper cables onto the front connectors. The fusible link is on a cable that splits off the main cable (which goes to the starter) and feeds all the other electrical systems on the car.

Best bet is to look at a wiring diagram for you car.

alan
March 17, 2013 01:13PM
Quote
Michiel 318iS
But what was causing the battery to be dead? Was it the battery, or was the alternator faulty? Or would you have something grounding from time to time, drawing all the power from your battery/alternator?

My battery was over five years old when I replaced it with a new one. The alternator was replaced around 7 months ago with a brand new one so your guess is as good as mine. Whenever I started the car, I had to rev it up to 2500 rpms and my lights brightened noticeably and it wouldn't go dead. Without this preemptive rev, it would eventually die, leading to the assumption that the rev somehow kicked my alt into action. Strangest quirk I've ever had.
March 17, 2013 01:18PM
Quote
Bob in Everett
A battery can fail internally even when new. It is an easy check to make at the battery terminals. Almost any load will cause it to open up and the voltage will drop. Just turn on the lights and check battery voltage. The battery voltage should be above 12 with no load. With a load it should not drop below 10 even with the starter running.

The fuseable link is in the wire and should look like a splice. If it is failed it would be open and it might take pushing a pin through the insulation on the cable on the side of it opposite the battery end and see if there is voltage there. I have looked at the Bently wire diagrams and do not find any mention of it however.

I'm currently lacking a voltmeter to check the battery but I've had batteries fail before and the radio will flicker and die; no such luck. I was driving along, subwoofers blasting, with no flicker and then it died with no obvious warning.

I found the fusible link though and she looks cracked, from one terminal to the other. I've gathered from my online research that you can pull on either end of the link and if it has failed, it should stretch. I can't tell if it does or not, however. More head scratching.
March 17, 2013 01:21PM
Quote
alanrw
Well, the way I know there is a fusible link is I once blew mine when attempting to jump start another car. In my case, my car is a 1984 with battery in the trunk. I attempted to jump by connection jumper cables onto the front connectors. The fusible link is on a cable that splits off the main cable (which goes to the starter) and feeds all the other electrical systems on the car.

Best bet is to look at a wiring diagram for you car.

alan

I thought of that, trying to jump it from the front terminals (mine is an 84 with the battery in the trunk as well), but I not only lack the voltmeter, but jumper cables as well. :wall: My cables were discovered to be broken last time I had to jump some poor motorist broken down on the side of the road.
I'll have to visit my only remaining local E30 enthusiast and borrow his voltmeter/cables.
March 17, 2013 01:44PM
Bam,, do yourself a favor, live large.:blinkey:

[www.harborfreight.com]

and grab a test light while you are at it.

alan
April 01, 2013 10:20PM
Well, looks like gravity was the electrical gremlin.

Somehow, as I took that corner at the end of the off ramp, the battery shifted and pulled the incredibly short ground wire from its bolt on the trunk wall.

A month of scratching my head for nothing.

I can't believe I didn't notice it disconnected, I'm a fool.

On the other side of the issue, my coolant pump is leaking rather rapidly. After I fixed the ground, I notices my coolant tank completely bone dry.

Is it okay to use a silicone sealant on the bottom of this to try and fix it? Or should I wait for a complete replace?
April 02, 2013 07:57AM
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
On the other side of the issue, my coolant pump is leaking rather rapidly. After I fixed the ground, I notices my coolant tank completely bone dry.

Is it okay to use a silicone sealant on the bottom of this to try and fix it? Or should I wait for a complete replace?
You'll never patch that leak from the outside -- the only effective way will be to pull off the water pump and use sealant + a new gasket. Depending on what's leaking, you might have a bad water pump, which should be replaced with a new one. They're not that expensive. And while you've got all that apart, is it time for a new timing belt? If it's close, might as well do that while you're in there.

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
sdp
April 07, 2013 04:02PM
Depending on how many miles are on the car and if it's never been replaced.. put in a new belt tensioner too.

Ours broke and blew out the entire head...... $35 part....
April 16, 2013 07:21AM
UPDATE.

My alt belt snapped off the other day, based on my drooling coolant leak.
Wasn't the coolant pump.
I've found it to be originating from just about the main engine fan.

Also, my main engine fan is vibrating violently. To the point where I can hear it with the hood closed.
Any thoughts? Experiences?
I'm pretty damn well ready to burn this car to the ground. I'm sick of these ridiculous problems. I'm about to move onto a subaru.
Help? Please? I hate asian cars.
April 16, 2013 04:48PM
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
UPDATE.

My alt belt snapped off the other day, based on my drooling coolant leak.
Wasn't the coolant pump.
I've found it to be originating from just about the main engine fan.

Also, my main engine fan is vibrating violently. To the point where I can hear it with the hood closed.
Any thoughts? Experiences?
I'm pretty damn well ready to burn this car to the ground. I'm sick of these ridiculous problems. I'm about to move onto a subaru.
Help? Please? I hate asian cars.

From your own description; it is the water pump that is shot. The fan mounts outboard of the pulley that drives the water pump.
Replace the water pump and your leak will go away and the fan will spin smoothly once more.
April 16, 2013 11:05PM
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
UPDATE.

My alt belt snapped off the other day, based on my drooling coolant leak.
Wasn't the coolant pump.
I've found it to be originating from just about the main engine fan.

Also, my main engine fan is vibrating violently. To the point where I can hear it with the hood closed.
Any thoughts? Experiences?
I'm pretty damn well ready to burn this car to the ground. I'm sick of these ridiculous problems. I'm about to move onto a subaru.
Help? Please? I hate asian cars.

From your own description; it is the water pump that is shot. The fan mounts outboard of the pulley that drives the water pump.
Replace the water pump and your leak will go away and the fan will spin smoothly once more.

Seriously? Maybe I confused myself but I thought the coolant pump was mounted on the exterior of the engine right below the expansion tank?
Well then what is the thing I thought was the pump? I can't even find it in my bentley. Although, my pdf version is missing a chapter.....

NEVERTHELESS, I think you're dead on, I just was apparently clueless on specific parts. Thanks, I'll see how soon I can get another one.
April 17, 2013 11:00AM
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
...

Seriously? Maybe I confused myself but I thought the coolant pump was mounted on the exterior of the engine right below the expansion tank?
Well then what is the thing I thought was the pump? I can't even find it in my bentley. Although, my pdf version is missing a chapter.....

That would be the thermostat :cool2:
rkj
April 17, 2013 10:34PM
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
...

Seriously? Maybe I confused myself but I thought the coolant pump was mounted on the exterior of the engine right below the expansion tank?
Well then what is the thing I thought was the pump? I can't even find it in my bentley. Although, my pdf version is missing a chapter.....

That would be the thermostat :cool2:

I think Peter, he might have an early car with the coolant tank on the right side (passenger) of the car.

Rick
April 18, 2013 12:15AM
Quote
rkj
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
...

Seriously? Maybe I confused myself but I thought the coolant pump was mounted on the exterior of the engine right below the expansion tank?
Well then what is the thing I thought was the pump? I can't even find it in my bentley. Although, my pdf version is missing a chapter.....

That would be the thermostat :cool2:

I think Peter, he might have an early car with the coolant tank on the right side (passenger) of the car.

Rick

Correct, she's an 84. The newer ones confuse me. :mmbeer:
May 10, 2013 10:18PM
Alright, I've finally ordered my water pump, it'll be in the mail tomorrow. :dance:

I guess I'm going to have to undertake this myself, but it terrifies me. Why? Timing. :pray:

Has anyone done this with a step by step they found online? Anyone got a good link?
I've read the bentley version, not impressed. Too vague for me to follow. :wall:

And for the timing.....is it DEFINITELY as easy as lining up the two marks when I'm reinstalling the timing belt?
Any tips? :hitwithrock:

This will be the biggest job I've done on any of my 7 e30's yet, after that.......I can't imagine.

Maybe someday I'll have the confidence to do my own head gasket for fun. :wink:
May 11, 2013 11:31AM
If you are a bit careful not to move the crank or cam the marks should stay where they belong. Line them up first and take a picture of them before taking the belt off. Then when you put the new belt put the tension on it and check again. This is one thing you do not want to miss.

Bob in Everett
May 12, 2013 06:35PM
Turns out, I had just enough clearance to get the pump out without removing the timing. The belt looks new anyway. :cool2:

However, as I'm standing there in the wake of my achievement, I look down and see a strange looking screw inside the pump housing hole, just kind of laying there and not attached to anything.
Any idea what this is? I've got till tomorrow when I pick up my new alt belt but I'm not slapping the new pump on there until I figure out what this is? :eek1:
May 12, 2013 06:44PM
Quote
bam_loves_his_bmw_325i
Turns out, I had just enough clearance to get the pump out without removing the timing. The belt looks new anyway. :cool2:

However, as I'm standing there in the wake of my achievement, I look down and see a strange looking screw inside the pump housing hole, just kind of laying there and not attached to anything.
Any idea what this is? I've got till tomorrow when I pick up my new alt belt but I'm not slapping the new pump on there until I figure out what this is? :eek1:

And by screw, I mean "spring".

Camshaft drive belt tensioner spring? How do I put it back? And where?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/12/2013 06:44PM by bam_loves_his_bmw_325i.
May 12, 2013 08:14PM
Never mind! I figured it out! Stupid little notch thingy.......I had to stick my head deep in the engine bay to even see it!
Got it all installed, gonna finish up tomorrow once I get my new alternator belt.

Back on the road at last! smileys with beer
May 13, 2013 01:47PM
Is there an alternate way to bleed my coolant system? My bleeder screw is RUSTED SHUT beyond anything I've seen before.

Just when I thought I was almost done...... :wall:
May 13, 2013 05:55PM
Got it, man that thing was seized. Had to take the entire thermostat cover off and soak it in CLR.

Runs prime now! :thumbup:

Now if only the hood lined up the same as it did before this fiasco...... :laugh:
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