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zach
11-17-2009, 08:11 AM
The M3's been sitting in my parents' garage for about a month. Is that long enough for the battery to completely drain? I tried starting it on Saturday and it was completely dead. The battery itself is only about 3 months old.

SARAFIL
11-17-2009, 09:07 AM
The M3's been sitting in my parents' garage for about a month. Is that long enough for the battery to completely drain? I tried starting it on Saturday and it was completely dead. The battery itself is only about 3 months old.

An old battery? Sure. A new one? Only if something else is not working, or maybe you got a defective battery?

Is the alternator original? Any other recent electrical issues pop up?

Terry Kennedy
11-17-2009, 09:10 AM
The M3's been sitting in my parents' garage for about a month. Is that long enough for the battery to completely drain? I tried starting it on Saturday and it was completely dead. The battery itself is only about 3 months old.
Could be. The usual culprit for this sort of thing on an E46 is an aftermarket stereo / alarm / whatever that doesn't honor the i-Bus "go to sleep" command (the CD changer power connector is always live). I've also seen this from leaving the glovebox flashlight on and in its charging socket. There was also a software issue with the General Module which would randomly cause the car to not shut down - you could see this if you had an automatic transmission as the gear indicator light would never turn off. Other than stuff like that, an E46 battery shouldn't die in a month - I've left mine for several months on occasion. Note that this is with the German factory battery and a Varta purchased from Interstate (exact same as the BMW Germany one except for the case color). I'm told that the replacement batteries at US BMW dealers aren't the same quality and don't last.

Having said all that, no idea about earlier (or later) 3-series generations, but some or all of the above should still apply.

zach
11-17-2009, 09:32 AM
There was an issue several months ago where car wouldn't start. I had it jumped and it was acting VERY strange (lights flickering, etc.) so I drove it to the mechanic, who said that the contacts for the battery were dirty. He cleaned them and everything was fine. This was with a prior battery.

Should I just try to jump start the car and see if it takes?

equ
11-17-2009, 09:32 AM
I think his is an e36.

equ
11-17-2009, 09:33 AM
Should I just try to jump start the car and see if it takes?

Sure, that's what I would do (but then again I know almost nothing mechanical).

TD
11-17-2009, 09:51 AM
Jump it and then let it run for at least a half an hour. Then see if it holds the charge (or even got charged). I'd suspect the alternator and this could confirm.

lip277
11-17-2009, 10:13 AM
I put a brand new battery in my '95 E38 and then a week later went away for two week vacation. The car sat in my garage for that time.

When I returned - The car started but was not very energetic doing so. That was my introduction to 'new' BMW's and how they love to drain batteries. I remember when I was turning the key - I thought it would not start. That is what started my use of the BatteryMinder's on my cars & equipment.

Since then - I have not replaced a battery on any of my vehicles that I keep a charger on.
FWIW - I still have the original battery on my '01 E38. Whenever that car sits - it is connected to a BatteryMinder.

I may just replace that battery 'just because' - I know I am pushing the envelope on that car and I don't want to find out the hard way I need a battery on that car. But still - I think 9 years on a battery for this car is pretty impressive....

zach
11-17-2009, 10:14 AM
Thanks everyone. I'll jump it and see if it works.

kognito
11-17-2009, 10:19 AM
Parasitic draw is a bitch!

I have 4 honkin huge batteries in my Volvo 780. They are all in good condition, but the parasitic draw on that truck is almost 2 amps while sitting still! Battery bank lasts a little over 2 weeks if I don't start it.

Just bought a battery battery tender to wire into the truck so I can plug it into a 120 line while sitting still.

If you are good with a meter, it isn't too hard to measure the parasitic draw.

lip277
11-17-2009, 10:27 AM
Thanks everyone. I'll jump it and see if it works.

My thought -
If you are able to - I'd put a charger on it and let it sit for a while. BatteryMinder - Battery Tender - whatever... there are several out there that are good.

Otherwise - if that is not possible...
Jumping.... If you need to.

rumatt
11-17-2009, 11:39 AM
Your car is telling you that it is old and tired and it does not want to be resuscitated.

zach
11-17-2009, 11:39 AM
Your car is telling you that it is old and tired and it does not want to be resuscitated.

Get your bumper fixed.

rumatt
11-17-2009, 11:41 AM
Get your bumper fixed.

Bumper is 4rd on the list, after

1) Window regulator
2) Funny burning smell coming from the engine
3) Brake fluid

:speechle:

SARAFIL
11-17-2009, 01:20 PM
Bumper is 4rd on the list, after

1) Window regulator
2) Funny burning smell coming from the engine
3) Brake fluid

:speechle:

You BOTH need to stimulate the economy with a new car purchase!!!

Optimus Prime
11-17-2009, 03:04 PM
I know it's too long for a BMW motorcycle to sit. Even brand new. Rumor is that BMW's computer is a relative energy hog. Not sure if their cars are the same way, ours doesn't sit for more than a day or two at a time.

zach
11-17-2009, 03:14 PM
I know it's too long for a BMW motorcycle to sit. Even brand new. Rumor is that BMW's computer is a relative energy hog. Not sure if their cars are the same way, ours doesn't sit for more than a day or two at a time.

Could be. I figured it would at least give some sort of unhappy attempt at starting rather than being completely dead. :dunno:

Jeff_DML
11-17-2009, 07:04 PM
bump start it, not jump start it, more fun:D

Nick M3
11-17-2009, 07:11 PM
I know it's too long for a BMW motorcycle to sit. Even brand new. Rumor is that BMW's computer is a relative energy hog. Not sure if their cars are the same way, ours doesn't sit for more than a day or two at a time.
We've had to put a lot of new batteries in K's 650CS. It's annoying. We need to install a quick disconnect.

clyde
11-17-2009, 11:32 PM
There was an issue several months ago where car wouldn't start. I had it jumped and it was acting VERY strange (lights flickering, etc.) so I drove it to the mechanic, who said that the contacts for the battery were dirty. He cleaned them and everything was fine. This was with a prior battery.

Should I just try to jump start the car and see if it takes?

I'm confused now...battery died X months ago. You jumped it and things weren't quite right. Battery contacts were cleaned and things were okay, but you replaced the battery shortly after that. After driving the car very little with the new battery, you parked it, and now it's dead.

I bet the alternator overheated after the first jump trying to charge the old battery and is not able to keep the new battery charged, now. Have you checked it with a multimeter?

Go ahead and jump it (or better, plug it into a charger and let it charge up "naturally"). If it works and everything is groovy, sweet. If it's the alternator, the alternator is already bad and you'll find out pretty quickly.

zach
11-17-2009, 11:49 PM
I'm confused now...battery died X months ago. You jumped it and things weren't quite right. Battery contacts were cleaned and things were okay, but you replaced the battery shortly after that. After driving the car very little with the new battery, you parked it, and now it's dead.

I bet the alternator overheated after the first jump trying to charge the old battery and is not able to keep the new battery charged, now. Have you checked it with a multimeter?

Go ahead and jump it (or better, plug it into a charger and let it charge up "naturally"). If it works and everything is groovy, sweet. If it's the alternator, the alternator is already bad and you'll find out pretty quickly.

The battery was replaced when they cleaned the contacts. Everything worked great for the next few months...the car sat for 2 weeks once and started right up after that. Now it has sat for a month and won't start. :dunno:

I'm going to put a charger on it and see what happens.

Terry Kennedy
11-18-2009, 05:28 AM
The battery was replaced when they cleaned the contacts. Everything worked great for the next few months...the car sat for 2 weeks once and started right up after that. Now it has sat for a month and won't start. :dunno:
Seasonal PSA: Don't let your batteries go dead in freezing weather. As the battery discharges, the chemistry changes (reversible by charging) and the water in a dead battery can freeze, which will permanently kill it by deforming the internal plates.

SCA
11-20-2009, 06:02 PM
I know it's too long for a BMW motorcycle to sit. Even brand new. Rumor is that BMW's computer is a relative energy hog.


No doubt!

zach
12-01-2009, 07:30 PM
Update:

I jump started the M3 on Saturday and it grudgingly started. I drove it around, but it was acting weird – lights dimming, radio turning on and off intermittently. After about 5 minutes of driving, I brought it back to my parents’ house and stopped, left the engine running and turned on the headlights. The car immediately died and wouldn’t restart – it wouldn’t even turn over. We pushed it back into the garage. FWIW, this is exactly what it did a few months ago. At the time, the mechanic said it was bad battery contacts. I also replaced the battery at the time and everything worked fine again until this most recent issue.

My mechanic said to check the battery contacts again (even though they were cleaned a few months ago), make sure the engine ground cable is good, and that the battery cable to chassis connection is good.

Any other ideas?

Nick M3
12-01-2009, 08:38 PM
Checking grounds is important. You really need to get a multimeter and see if the alternator is charging the battery.

bren
12-01-2009, 08:43 PM
Sure sounds like the alternator.

Re-charge the battery to get the car running again and put a meter on the terminals.

zach
12-01-2009, 09:05 PM
I'll pick up a multimeter this weekend and check it out. My guess was the alternator as well...

zach
12-01-2009, 09:08 PM
Sure sounds like the alternator.

Re-charge the battery to get the car running again and put a meter on the terminals.

One thing though: I tried to re-jump it right after it died and it wouldn't take. It barely turned over - not enough juice to start.

Nick M3
12-01-2009, 09:12 PM
You've drained the battery to zero by driving it around.

bren
12-01-2009, 09:17 PM
One thing though: I tried to re-jump it right after it died and it wouldn't take. It barely turned over - not enough juice to start.
Let it sit a little longer before trying to start, sometimes it helps to rev the other car a bit to get its alternator really working.

Most auto places will test the battery for free - might be worth a few minutes to cross that possibility off the list.

zach
12-01-2009, 09:25 PM
Let it sit a little longer before trying to start, sometimes it helps to rev the other car a bit to get its alternator really working.

Most auto places will test the battery for free - might be worth a few minutes to cross that possibility off the list.

Tried the revving thing, no dice. It'll have sat all week before I get to it this weekend - hopefully I can get it going.

Nick M3
12-01-2009, 09:30 PM
You may have killed the battery too. Pull the battery, get it tested. If it's bad, replace it and check the alternator.

Nick M3
12-01-2009, 09:31 PM
...and if you're storing it at your parents' place, get it on a battery tender.

kognito
12-01-2009, 11:49 PM
What are you using for the jump start?? This may sound weird, but it is true . . . Turn on the headlights of the vehicle that is being used as the "jump" battery.

ECM's in vehicles now days are programmed to not "draw" full power from the alternator unless the headlights are on. Revving just doesn't do it like it did in the days before ECM's and other car computers.

Also, make sure you don't waste money on a battery tender that is just a float device. Make sure it can put out at least 1.5 to 2 amps.

zach
12-02-2009, 08:55 AM
What are you using for the jump start?? This may sound weird, but it is true . . . Turn on the headlights of the vehicle that is being used as the "jump" battery.

ECM's in vehicles now days are programmed to not "draw" full power from the alternator unless the headlights are on. Revving just doesn't do it like it did in the days before ECM's and other car computers.

Also, make sure you don't waste money on a battery tender that is just a float device. Make sure it can put out at least 1.5 to 2 amps.

Very interesting. I was using my 2004 Tundra as the jump vehicle. I'll try the putting the headlights on when I jump it this weekend. Your comment about headlights makes me think. Since the M3 died when I turned on the headlights last weekend, would that indicate an alternator issue?

clyde
12-02-2009, 10:16 AM
Very interesting. I was using my 2004 Tundra as the jump vehicle. I'll try the putting the headlights on when I jump it this weekend. Your comment about headlights makes me think. Since the M3 died when I turned on the headlights last weekend, would that indicate an alternator issue?

It indicates that the battery didn't have enough of a charge to run the engine and the lights...but it's a red herring. The alternator is bad. Replace it and the battery (as its been deeply discharged at least twice now, I wouldn't trust it...and you should be able to get a warranty replacement) and this problem will disappear.

Remember what the battery and the alternator do. The battery supplies the electrical power for the car and the alternator charges the battery. When an alternator dies, you can stick a brand fully charged battery in the car and the car will start up fine and run fine initially and you'll think everything is rosy. You pull out and go drive around. Since the battery isn't being charged by the alternator, you'll only make a few miles before it dies (about 25 miles the last time it happened to me).

When you jump start a car, the alternator has to work extra hard for a while to recharge the battery. In most cases, everything will be okay because because the battery doesn't have *that* low of a charge to begin with and the alternators in most cars are designed to handle that kind of duty for a little while without causing damage. Some alternators (like in early C4s) are relatively weak and cannot charge a battery after a jump without overheating. Once an alternator overheats, its life is likely to be drastically shortened (again, if you jumped a C4, you had to plan on an alternator replacement within the next 500 miles or so). As an altenator ages, like many things, its performance decreases. If the alternator wasn't already bad, I'm sure that the jumps and such took whatever remaining life it would have otherwise had.

kognito
12-02-2009, 11:48 AM
I want to clear up a little bit of what I said, using the Tundra for reference. Tundra idleing + no lights = not much output. Tundra >1000 RPM + no lights = more output. Tundra >1000 RPM + Lights = most output.


Alternator output test is very simple. Battery output is about 12.6 volts. With engine running, a working alternator will put out between 13.7 and 14.2 volts, but this is only a voltage test, it does not show how much current the alternator is putting out. (I.E. you could have an alternator that has some bad diodes, and it can still put out voltage, but not the correct current.)

Basically, what I am saying is if you don't have 13.7-14.2 the alternator is toast, but if voltage is good, the alternator could still be bad.

I hope it goes without saying that belt tightness is very important to alternator output. I watched a demonstration where a current meter was in line and watched a good alternator put out 95 amps. Then the fan belt was loosened by 5% (added about 1/4" of belt deflection) and the output dropped to 72 amps!

Don't want to argue with Clyde, but the new battery might still be OK. Deep discharge might be OK as battery is not too old. If you can leave the M3 for a while, remove the battery, give it a good stiff charge, and see if it holds the charge (out of car) for 2 weeks. If it turns out the battery is no good, speak nothing of other problems when you return the battery for a prorated one!!!

Good luck with everything!

zach
12-02-2009, 12:17 PM
Thanks everyone! :)

I will take a look at it this weekend I hope.

clyde
12-02-2009, 03:18 PM
Don't want to argue with Clyde, but the new battery might still be OK. Deep discharge might be OK as battery is not too old. If you can leave the M3 for a while, remove the battery, give it a good stiff charge, and see if it holds the charge (out of car) for 2 weeks. If it turns out the battery is no good, speak nothing of other problems when you return the battery for a prorated one!!!

Not arguing at all. Assuming the battery was relatively new when originally installed in the car, it'll probably be fine once it's fully recharged. I'm just saying that *I* wouldn't trust it...especially when it *should* be exchangable for free. (I think he said he's only had it for a few months and I think most batteries don't start being prorated until after 12, 18, or 24 months, but maybe I'm wrong.)

zach
12-02-2009, 04:16 PM
Not arguing at all. Assuming the battery was relatively new when originally installed in the car, it'll probably be fine once it's fully recharged. I'm just saying that *I* wouldn't trust it...especially when it *should* be exchangable for free. (I think he said he's only had it for a few months and I think most batteries don't start being prorated until after 12, 18, or 24 months, but maybe I'm wrong.)

I need to find out where my dad bought the battery and whether he has the receipt (extremely doubtful).

Optimus Prime
12-02-2009, 04:27 PM
I've got one of these (http://www.xtremechargers.com/) for the BMW motorcycle and love it. It will put out 2.5A when needed, pulse, and float.

zach
01-04-2010, 10:52 AM
It was the alternator. Battery was toast as well. Thanks everyone for the input. :)

clyde
01-04-2010, 12:51 PM
It was the alternator. Battery was toast as well. Thanks everyone for the input. :)

Assuming it's all a-ok now. :)

Kinda funny...right after the snowstorm here, the wagon wouldn't start due to a drained battery. Hooked it up to a charger overnight, started in the moring, and everything's been fine since. Multimeter shows 13.9-14.5v while its running (doing the OBC test mode thing shows it down as low as 13.7 when idling in traffic, seat heaters are on, blower at max, etc).

Left it in the airport garage from the 27th through yesterday and was paranoid that between sitting and the cold, it wouldn't start when we got back, but it turned over as quick as ever.

bren
01-04-2010, 01:10 PM
Kinda funny...
Our Jeep did the same thing yesterday.

I tried to go to Home Depot and it wouldn't start. The battery showed 12v, and 14+ at idle, but I left it on the charger overnight anyway - hopefully it will straighten itself out.

Pretty annoying that it happened the day before I'm supposed to go back to work after a week and half off, plus the battery is only 2 years old and the alternator was rebuilt about a year ago.

John V
01-04-2010, 01:46 PM
The starter sounded pretty marginal when we went to lunch the other day...

clyde
01-04-2010, 02:00 PM
Our Jeep did the same thing yesterday.

I tried to go to Home Depot and it wouldn't start. The battery showed 12v,

When the wagon wouldn't start, I think it was only showing 11.5v or 11.7v.

I think we've traced the problem to one of my daughters not closing her door all the way...which is something she's been doing lately. I thought that the E46 was supposed to kill power after 10 minutes in that situation to prevent battery drain, though? :dunno:

clyde
01-04-2010, 02:00 PM
The starter sounded pretty marginal when we went to lunch the other day...

which car?

John V
01-04-2010, 02:22 PM
Bren's Jeep

bren
01-04-2010, 03:28 PM
The starter sounded pretty marginal when we went to lunch the other day...
It's always been a little slow to start, like the engine has too much compression for the starter.

The last couple times I drove it I noticed that the dash lights were dimming/flickering, but like other "issues" it has, I was hoping to ignore that too.

John V
01-04-2010, 03:46 PM
Starters can start to suck a lot of current when they go bad.

Terry Kennedy
01-04-2010, 09:01 PM
I think we've traced the problem to one of my daughters not closing her door all the way...which is something she's been doing lately. I thought that the E46 was supposed to kill power after 10 minutes in that situation to prevent battery drain, though? :dunno:
That's the plan, but BMW never got it quite right. I think they gave up after fixing the problem where if you fiddled with the climate control under some conditions, the car wouldn't correctly go to sleep after being parked.

On an automatic, you can tell when the car has gone to sleep because the gear indicator LED on the center console goes out. I don't know if there is a similar way to tell with a stick.