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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all.

I have a real headache with my 2001 e39 M5 which I have owned for nearly a year now with no major problems.

A couple of weeks ago out of the blue my car wouldn't start, engine wouldn't crank over at all. Called my breakdown company, they sent one of their senior mechanics out and he came and said it was definitely starter motor failure. After reading on the forums whilst waiting for him to come out to me I read weak batteries could be the cause so I also got the mechanic to test battery voltage with a tester and it was fine, over 12V, and also attempt a jump start from his massive brand new flatbed recovery truck, which failed to start my car, engine still not cranking over (which ruled out battery as the cause?). He was going to give the starter motor a whack but couldn't get to it. So he towed me so that I could bump start my car in gear and it started right up. But as soon as I turn it off it doesn't start, I have to push/bump start it in gear to get it going.

This car not starting problem of mine happened a week after I started having some seriously strange electrical problems. When I indicate/full beam headlights/hazard lights, the interior dash lights intermittently doesn't show any signal or click/sound so it is as if my indicator is not flashing, but this is despite outside the indicators are actually fully on and working (I have checked from outside). So when I indicate, inside my car I hear no noise and see no signal that I am indicating, then out the blue it flashes then goes off again, whilst outside is completely fine. Same for full beam headlights, hazard lights and fog lights. And my sat-nav screen doesn't work anymore, it constantly flashes on and off fast, and when it is on the controls to all the functions are frozen and unusable so I cannot access any option whether sat-nav, computer, radio etc. And also my wireless key fob does not open the car sometimes, I have to manually open it using the key. And sometimes I get "DOOR OPEN" warning on the dash whilst driving even though all the doors are closed. Also the PDC parking distance control sometimes stays on beeping after the car is turned off and fully locked and in neutral. And also very strangely my RANGE on the dash started displaying in KM whilst everything else is correctly in MILES (trip distance, fuel consumption etc all in MILES)! All of these strange electrical problems happened at the same time as each other so they have to be linked, then soon after my car decided not to start intermittently :confused:! Since they started occurring all together randomly about a 3 weeks ago, the electrical problems always happen whether my car starts or doesn't.

I ordered a new starter motor the next day but then suddenly whilst waiting for my starter motor to arrive I randomly try to start my car and it starts right up! I thought ok maybe a sticky solenoid in the starter so I will still put a new starter motor in. But still all my electrical problems remain. So the new starter motor arrives and I get it fitted hoping to solve my electrical problems as well as starting issues. All the connections were proper and correct. But still all the weird electrical problems remain and the next day with the brand new starter motor installed my car doesn't start again, exactly the same problems, engine doesn't crank at all, unbelievable :sad1:!

Then I seek advice from a BMW technician, he tells me the ignition switch could be faulty, as well as some of you very helpful people on here have recommended to others with similar problems that it is a faulty ignition switch. So I order a brand new ignition switch from BMW and install it hoping this will be the solution. But no change to my problems, I still have all the weird and annoying electrical problems and again my car does not start most of the time. The other day I went to start my car it didn't start at all, engine doesn't crank over. I come back a few hours later and it starts. And yesterday I went for a 30 minute drive after my car started up fine, went to fill up fuel, then try to start my car again and the engine doesn't crank over at all no matter how many times I turn the key, I have to bump/push start it in gear to get it running.

My fuel pump was replaced 6 months ago as a precautionary maintenance at 100k miles and I can hear it priming every time the ignition is switched on.

And my car is a UK car so it doesn't have any clutch pedal switch/button.

No fault/warning messages showing on the dash display.

Any suggestions guys to what is now becoming a nightmare for me? What on earth could it be?

Thank you in advanced
 

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im a bmw tech and i would have rec'd an ignition switch also so don't feel bad about going that route. do you have access to diagnostic equipment that you can scan the car and post any stored codes? no crank/no start issue and you've replaced the starter and ignition switch so the next culprit i would look at is a possible ews/key issue. though the other issues you're having are throwing me a bit as a bad key or ews i doubt would cause these. first make 100% that the battery and charging system are ok. a battery can show 12v and still be bad, these cars do all kinds of crazy things when confronted with low/high voltage issues. after that you need to get a wiring diagram and check the inputs/outputs to the ews when it is acting up. other case scenario is they are two unrelated problems.

two things you can check that come to mind that i've seen cause weird electrical issues on e39's. first one is the fuse box under the passenger side carpet. if you were sitting in the pass seat directly under your feet is a distribution block with a bunch of fuses in it. if water got in at some point and corroded the connections it could be the issue. other one less likely but still have seen go bad is the power distribution block in the rr trunk area. though first codes/a scan of the vehicle would be helpful.
 

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TheShafro's date

I've been having some weird electrical things in my car for the past 2-3 months. Like sometimes when I would flick the highbeam or even use the turn signals, and everything would shut off in the car and restarts like WTF just happened?? It's not doing that anymore, but it would come and go every week or every other week, etc.

Story time!
So last Friday, I finally get to take this girl out on a date who I've been talking to on and off for ~2 years. I picked her up and pull into a gas station to fill up before we go anywhere. Gas is filled up and I get in to start the car, then ------- everything is dead LOL. No interior lights, no remote, no cluster, absolutely ZERO. Like WTFFFFFF:confused:, of all times it could've died on me, it had to be this exact time and place. I was mainly confused because 2 weeks prior it had been running great, I did all my coolant stuff, vanos, hoses, thermostat, etc. car felt fresh!

SOOOOO, I ask someone for a jump and connect the jumper cables to the positive and ground terminals under my hood. Everything inside the car powers up! I let it charge for a bit and I looked at my battery voltage on the cluster and I was getting a steady 12-12.2V. I then try to start the engine *click click click click click click*, nothing. I tried waiting and waiting, still nothing. (Mind you how embarrassing the situation is, especially since she knew I was obsessed with cars and all, trying to keep my cool was way too difficult haha:hihi:)
My next idea was to try to jump it from the battery itself, maybe that woulda made a difference?:dunno: I disconnect the negative terminal so I can get the black plastic cover off, done. Upon reconnecting the negative terminal (so I could hook up the jumper cables) my interior lights and my nav and everything start right up! So I jump into the car and VIOLA! Beast comes alive!:M5rev:

tl;dr:
disconnect your battery's negative terminal and reconnect it
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
im a bmw tech and i would have rec'd an ignition switch also so don't feel bad about going that route. do you have access to diagnostic equipment that you can scan the car and post any stored codes? no crank/no start issue and you've replaced the starter and ignition switch so the next culprit i would look at is a possible ews/key issue. though the other issues you're having are throwing me a bit as a bad key or ews i doubt would cause these. first make 100% that the battery and charging system are ok. a battery can show 12v and still be bad, these cars do all kinds of crazy things when confronted with low/high voltage issues. after that you need to get a wiring diagram and check the inputs/outputs to the ews when it is acting up. other case scenario is they are two unrelated problems.

two things you can check that come to mind that i've seen cause weird electrical issues on e39's. first one is the fuse box under the passenger side carpet. if you were sitting in the pass seat directly under your feet is a distribution block with a bunch of fuses in it. if water got in at some point and corroded the connections it could be the issue. other one less likely but still have seen go bad is the power distribution block in the rr trunk area. though first codes/a scan of the vehicle would be helpful.
Thank you so much for reading my long post and your detailed reply. This problem really is bugging me. I am going to try and get to a M car specialist who has the full diagnostic computer to scan for codes. Will probably be Monday now. And also lol my car started no problem first time today every time I drove somewhere but all of the weird electrical problems persist :dunno:!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've been having some weird electrical things in my car for the past 2-3 months. Like sometimes when I would flick the highbeam or even use the turn signals, and everything would shut off in the car and restarts like WTF just happened?? It's not doing that anymore, but it would come and go every week or every other week, etc.

Story time!
So last Friday, I finally get to take this girl out on a date who I've been talking to on and off for ~2 years. I picked her up and pull into a gas station to fill up before we go anywhere. Gas is filled up and I get in to start the car, then ------- everything is dead LOL. No interior lights, no remote, no cluster, absolutely ZERO. Like WTFFFFFF:confused:, of all times it could've died on me, it had to be this exact time and place. I was mainly confused because 2 weeks prior it had been running great, I did all my coolant stuff, vanos, hoses, thermostat, etc. car felt fresh!

SOOOOO, I ask someone for a jump and connect the jumper cables to the positive and ground terminals under my hood. Everything inside the car powers up! I let it charge for a bit and I looked at my battery voltage on the cluster and I was getting a steady 12-12.2V. I then try to start the engine *click click click click click click*, nothing. I tried waiting and waiting, still nothing. (Mind you how embarrassing the situation is, especially since she knew I was obsessed with cars and all, trying to keep my cool was way too difficult haha:hihi:)
My next idea was to try to jump it from the battery itself, maybe that woulda made a difference?:dunno: I disconnect the negative terminal so I can get the black plastic cover off, done. Upon reconnecting the negative terminal (so I could hook up the jumper cables) my interior lights and my nav and everything start right up! So I jump into the car and VIOLA! Beast comes alive!:M5rev:

tl;dr:
disconnect your battery's negative terminal and reconnect it
Thank you to you too for reading my lengthy post and your reply. Strangely all of my interior lights work it's just the many other electrical problems mentioned. Also the negative and positive battery connections were removed when the starter motor was changed. I have never heard any clicks when starting my car or when key is in ignition.

The problem is when my car doesn't start and doesn't crank at all it happens so randomly and with no common circumstances. Sometimes after a long drive, then I turn my car off for 1 minute it won't start for 1 day even if I push start it and drive it around for hours. Then suddenly out the blue it starts. And it is not a weather issue as on hot days as well as cold nights I've had this problem. I am thinking it has to be something causing all my electrical glitches :confused3
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Off-topic: holy sh!t can we hear your exhaust?! You basically have headers-back? Whaaaaaaaaaat?! SHOW ME NOW!!11oneone:1:
Yes you can, get your ear defenders ready :hihi:. Have a look at this video after I destroyed a Lamborghini Aventador in a rev battle in Central London (I wasn't even revving over 4000RPM), jump to minutes 2:20 and I'm sure you'll think the registration plate is appropriate :hihi:: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VZCOM8DajRg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 

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Yes you can, get your ear defenders ready :hihi:. Have a look at this video after I destroyed a Lamborghini Aventador in a rev battle in Central London (I wasn't even revving over 4000RPM), jump to minutes 2:20 and I'm sure you'll think the registration plate is appropriate :hihi::
Hahahaha that's amazing. Started off as a Lamborghini video, then ended up being an M5 video. Next video you're in, we need to see some flames! :haha:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Lol I went back to evolve to get a dyno run and subsequently fuel ignition settings (I think that's the name) altered so that I get flames and bangs on the over-run, however following multiple attempts on the evolve dyno, my car was so loud that it was effecting the dyno cell giving negative power readings. They must have got up to 3500RPM before they had to keep abandoning due to decreasing power figures I think iirc the power readings decreased as the RPM on the dyno increased, and Sal said it was due to the sheer loudness of my car! So he couldn't adjust the fuel ignition timings to give me flames and pops and crackles as they needed a full dyno run to analyse and change the relevant settings.

If that makes sense lol?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Some update guys on my electrical problems after going to see a mechanic (haven't had a chance to go to BMW indie specialist yet).

All the electrical problems disappear for a split second every time I accelerate in all gears including reverse or suddenly brake, so it seems like a loose cable somewhere but where? Earth cables? Any cables around gearbox or bottom of engine? So when the indicator is on, if I suddenly accelerate or brake the dash indicator light will begin blinking and the sat-nav screen will come on, but then goes off after a second. Definitely seems like a lose connection somewhere. Any ideas?
 

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Sure sounds like a major connector is loose. One connector that's kinda known for coming loose is where the battery ground (negative) cable attaches to the body behind the RHS trunk removable panel. Try seriously wiggling the battery ground cable with the engine running.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sure sounds like a major connector is loose. One connector that's kinda known for coming loose is where the battery ground (negative) cable attaches to the body behind the RHS trunk removable panel. Try seriously wiggling the battery ground cable with the engine running.
Thanks. Is that connection accessible from the trunk where the battery is?

I do have some serious serious vibration on acceleration due to the completely straight through exhaust setup I have so lose bolts and connections wouldn't be a surprise!
 

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It's accessible from the trunk. To access the connector, pull back the RHS cover using the built-in handle and remove the two round black plastic clips holding it down to the trunk floor. (To remove them, just pry the round head up.)
 

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Do you have anything foreign connected to the electrical system like dice for the phone/ipod? You wanna start by disconnecting anything electrical that did not come with the car and begin troubleshooting there. If not, disconnect you CD charger and see if your problems disappear.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
It's accessible from the trunk. To access the connector, pull back the RHS cover using the built-in handle and remove the two round black plastic clips holding it down to the trunk floor. (To remove them, just pry the round head up.)
Just done that, couldn't wait so went to nearby fuel station (good LED lighting there) at 4:30AM!. The cable is perfectly fine and solidly connected to it's earthing point:



I did notice after checking this that the indicators start blinking on the dash for a split second if I close the trunk and doors hard enough to shake the car ever so slightly? Weird :(. Any other suggestions where could this lose connection be?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Do you have anything foreign connected to the electrical system like dice for the phone/ipod? You wanna start by disconnecting anything electrical that did not come with the car and begin troubleshooting there. If not, disconnect you CD charger and see if your problems disappear.
No nothing at all since I bought the car nearly a year ago.
 

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Just done that, couldn't wait so went to nearby fuel station (good LED lighting there) at 4:30AM!. The cable is perfectly fine and solidly connected to it's earthing point:

I did notice after checking this that the indicators start blinking on the dash for a split second if I close the trunk and doors hard enough to shake the car ever so slightly? Weird :(. Any other suggestions where could this lose connection be?
I'm out of my depth. nightkrawler has some suggestions above about some major connections that could have come loose.

I also wonder if you have a bad communication bus. It's not unheard off. There are so many different modules associated with your strange behaviour (RAD, NAV, LCM, IKE, GMIII, PDC) that it can't be a module going bad, so it might be a problem with one of the busses that communicates between the modules. The attachment below suggests some ways of testing the busses. This is black art to me so, failing that, I suggest a good automotive electrician.

View attachment BMW Vehicle Communication Software Manual Snap-on.pdf
 

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Disconnect your radio module, nav player, disconnect the instrument cluster from the car and try to start it. The symptoms that you are having might be caused by instrument cluster that has a internal short. Make sure all the ground wires are not loose. Disconnect the positive and negative cable from the battery and clamp them together for 30 minutes so that it discharges the electrical system. Have you spilled any liquid in the car?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Disconnect your radio module, nav player, disconnect the instrument cluster from the car and try to start it. The symptoms that you are having might be caused by instrument cluster that has a internal short. Make sure all the ground wires are not loose. Disconnect the positive and negative cable from the battery and clamp them together for 30 minutes so that it discharges the electrical system. Have you spilled any liquid in the car?
Nope no liquid spilled in car. I've already done that to the battery cables but no difference. If I disconnect the instrument cluster I won't know if the indicators etc blink and flash. At the moment my car has been starting fine for the past few days but all the electrical problems remain. I will attempt to take it to a local indie tomorrow. I'm lost :(
 

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Disconnect your radio module, nav player, disconnect the instrument cluster from the car and try to start it. The symptoms that you are having might be caused by instrument cluster that has a internal short. Make sure all the ground wires are not loose. Disconnect the positive and negative cable from the battery and clamp them together for 30 minutes so that it discharges the electrical system. Have you spilled any liquid in the car?
i was going to suggest this. the IKE(cluster) is the gateway for the other modules so if there is a problem with it there is a good chance it could intermittently take down the I-BUS causing all sorts of issues. also if you're going to do a battery reset try and use a fused jumper wire as opposed to just holding the terminal connectors together.
 
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