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3-Series (E21, E30) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.

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Old 07-27-2008, 07:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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BMW e30 Distributorless Ignition help? Please?

This has not been a good week for me and my BMW. (I have a 92 e30 model - the last e30 made). I went to move it, parked it, and went to move it back not half an hour later, and it almost started...

Cranked it up, sounded like it was going to turn over, then it failed. Now it rotates, but won't turn over.

My boyfriend and I checked the easy stuff - battery appears to be good, fuses intact, sparks and wires look good, etc... now please forgive my lack of car expertise. I know a bit, bit not enough. So, after eliminating the easy things, we tried testing the ignition, by pulling out a spark plug wire, putting in an older plug, grounding it and starting the engine. Instead of the blue sparks, we got pale, intermittent yellow ones. He said the sparks weren't even consistent - sometimes we didn't even get any sparks.

So, we are thinking it's the ignition at this point, right... is that reasonable? We went to test the coil to see if it falls within the ranges specified in the Haynes manual - only there isn't one. This one has one of the distributorless ignitions...

Great... except for the fact that I have no idea how to test it. Or maybe it's something earlier in the system. I don't know, and my brain hurts from trying to dig up data on this ignition system that I know nothing about.

Help? Please?
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Old 07-27-2008, 09:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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One thing to have a look at would be the voltage regulator.
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Old 07-27-2008, 09:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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to test your coil pack, use the attached illustration(The coil pack connector) for your guide:

1) Resistance at terminals 1 & 3 should be 0.45 ohms ( +/- 10%)
2) With ignition ON, test for voltage at terminal 3 of the electrical coil connector
- reading should be 12 volts
3) test circuit terminal 2 & ground - you should get a reading of 0 ohms. If not, check circuit for open/s

*with a weak battery, sometimes you will get a yellow spark( and that is still ok). I suggest you charge the battery first though.

TIP: intermittent spark. you may need to check the integrity of the crankshaft sensor and rule that out as the culprit ;-)

Good Luck
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Old 07-27-2008, 09:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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My second thoughts based on how you described your problem...

You said: "Cranked it up, sounded like it was going to turn over, then it failed. Now it rotates, but won't turn over."

THINK BACK... did it sound like a "putt...putt... putt..." and then die? If yes, then your prob might be a fuel prob and not an electrical one ;-)

You can try to check your filter and see that fuel actually flows through it.

OR u can try to shoot some brake cleaner up the AFM throat and try to start.
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