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intermittent cranking problem

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by jwcater, Aug 29, 2020.

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    jwcater

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    I have a new problem in my 1999 E39 528i. Occasionally, when I try to crank the engine, I turn the key all the way around to the start position but get nothing but the usual lights on the dash and no clicking noises typically reminiscent of a dying battery. The battery voltage itself is a little low, around 12.7V but I'm thinking that should be sufficient to at least give me a few clicks if not actually turning over the engine once or twice. What's seems unusual to me though, is that I can wait 5-10 minutes, try again and it starts up quickly and easily, no sluggishness whatsoever. I drive it around town, stopping here and there and it fires up beautifully throughout the day and may even go several days with no problems. Then, out of nowhere, I get nothing but dash lights again. I sit around for 5-10 minutes, try again, and it fires right up. It's an "all or nothing" scenario.

    I've been thinking that it could be an intermittent alternator issue except that I'm a little baffled by the fact that I can't even get any clicking noises when the battery is holding 12.7V. Ten minutes later, the voltage wouldn't be any higher since I'm not putting a charger on it so how then could it be that the starter turns with vigor on the second try but not even a click on the first?
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    charlson89

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    Sounds like a key random code issue. If you have a spare key switch to that and see if the issues goes away. Also when this issue does happen you need to check you S wire at the starter to make sure you are getting power when cranking. If you get power then the starter or engine ground is most likely the issue. If you get no power need to check the EWS (Bmw anti theft) system for the cause of the issue.
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    jwcater

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    charleson89, thanks for helping. My wife and I drive the E39 and grab each other's key sometimes. So, a couple of days after my post here, the possibility that it was a key problem crossed my mind as well. I tried each fob over the course of several days this past week paying close attention to the performance of each. Your suspicion about the key seems to be right. The problem happens with one key fairly often but never with the other. So I guess I'll bite the bullet and get a new key to replace the one that works intermittently. Thanks again for taking the time to help. JC

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