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e46 323i sounds like it is eating itself

Discussion in 'E46 (1999-2006)' started by silversnl, Apr 16, 2010.

    • Member

    silversnl

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    So, a little background. I have a 1999 e46 323i with about 183k miles on it. Oil changes by the dealership every 15k is miles (Based off the clock on the dash), driven mostly city/suburbs with an occasional jaunt down a twisty canyon road.

    About 2 months ago or so I noticed a yellow oil light occasionally coming on. I did the research and talked with BMW techs and found out this is just an oil level warning, so I make sure to keep an eye on my oil level. Today, I drove to work no issues. Drove home for lunch, again, no issues. When I started the car up to head back to work, it sounded like it was tearing itself apart from the inside. It was a very noticeable rubbing noise (not so much grinding, more metallic rubbing), so I shut her down and jumped on the bike to head to work. I intend to take a closer look in the morning when there is daylight available (I work a swing shift, so lunch is at 10ish pm). Just curious if anybody else has run across an issue similar to this.
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    silversnl

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    And now the odd part. I just got home from work and fired my car up. Runs like normal. Maybe it is just a shroud rubbing on the fan? I will check it when it isn't dark and see if I can see anything.
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    lcjhnsn

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    Very strange! There's nothing worse than a random/intermittent/non-repeatable problem!!

    Keep us posted of any further developments
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    silversnl

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    Well, it happened again today, but yes, intermittent.

    cwbiii guest

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    Sounds like a water pump or belt tensioner.

    Chuck

    bimmertech guest

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    ^^^Yeah, next time it happens I would take the belts off and see if the noise goes away. Or, you could go ahead and take the belts off and check all of the pulleys. My bet will be that it is the idler pulley b/w the water pump and alternator. Good luck.
    • Member

    silversnl

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    I suspect that it isn't the water pump, I just had it replaced (the shaft broke just a few months ago), but the belt tensioner is a possibility. I'll have to look into it. Thank you for the suggestion.
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    silversnl

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    After talking with a mechanic, it looks like it is the starter. The starter is engaging, starting the motor, then remaining engaged (think holding the key in the start position after the engine fires up). Now the good. As long as the starter disengages, I am fine to drive the car. Now the terrible. I need to replace my starter ASAP. Part: $250 Labor: $400ish (two different dealerships gave me that price) My mechanic (lives in another state) had labor listed as about $250, so his rates must be significantly lower than the dealerships.
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    bcweir

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    Let me save you some money either way.

    Sounds like the bendix in your starter is melting or failing, causing it to stick or be reluctant to disengage. The bendix acts as a sort of clutch to disengage the motor from the crankshaft once the engine is running. It's a common issue when a starter is about to fail for good. Your starter is on borrowed time if that's what's going on.

    a) Buy a Bentley manual for your car and learn to change it out yourself. You don't need a mechanical engineering degree if you have a basic set of tools, can follow illustrated instructions, and have the patience to do the job.

    b) If crawling under your car and doing your own wrenching scares you, get a price estimate from an independent. http://www.bimrs.org is the website for independent BMW service centers.

    http://www.autohausaz.com usually beats the dealer for parts prices, and the last time I checked, they also honor the BMW CCA discount!
    • Member

    Zeichen311

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    "Patience" being key.

    Be advised (kneedragger), starters are robust little widgets that rarely fail (in the grand scheme of things). As a result, ease of replacement isn't always a high priority when they are designed into the car. Although the starter itself is simple to remove and reinstall, getting access to it can sometimes take hours.

    I've seen cars where the starter was secured by just two bolts--one of which you could spin out in five minutes, the other absolutely unreachable without removing the exhaust header and cats. While I doubt BMW's design is that stupid, be sure to consider whether that kind of work will bring you satisfaction or aggravation in exchange for saving a few hundred dollars.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    You didn't mention your production date or bodystyle so I had to guess at it

    An M52 ("baby DOHC six") generally isn't that bad (relatively speaking -- I am not saying it's easy, just not as bad as some cars, like mine). A true horror story is getting at the starter on an M70. Changing the starter on MY car would truly strike fear into you.

    I found a link to help you out if you feel like attempting this as a DIY.

    The following illustrated link is for changing the starter on a 2000 740iL. Most of it will be similar to your car. The idea is to give you a basic bird's eye view of the process.

    http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/403220

    One other very important thing - replacing the starter will require you to disconnect your battery cable. Do it to avoid a nasty shock to yourself and possible damage to your new starter or to your car's electrical system.

    If you disconnect the battery, you may have to reset your radio's security code (if you don't have that card with the code printed on it, it MAY require a trip to the dealer).

    As an alternative, you can purchase this very handy device from Bavauto. Basically it's a 9 volt battery that plugs into your cigarette lighter and preserves your radio settings. For $10, it pays for itself the first time you use it by sparing you a trip to the dealer to get your radio working again.
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    tiFreak

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    I think the whole intake manifold needs to come out, kind of a pain, but easier if you label everything as you disconnect it and keep all your bolts organized

    cwbiii guest

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    My experience with the 2 I've changed 1983 733 & 1997 740i is that tey were'nt that bad... but I have a deep tool box with all the stuff to get in some tough angles and a lot of years of wrenching. If you have a rusted in bolt and simply gorilla it you will make a whole lot more work for yourself... The aluminium used in late mode engines and bell housings is easily subject to galling which can be worse than rust. Some things are better left to pro's... but theres no problem with taking a stab at seeing if it is going to be easy to reach and loosen up... if so then it might just be a great DIY... just don't forget to disconnect the battery before you go any further than simply testing the bolts to make sure they are going to give for you. You can do an awful lot of damage to stuff if you dont.
    Chuck

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