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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 12-10-2003, 04:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The other day, I found that I had left my key in the "on" position for a couple of days and battery was drained, which would be no problem but there was no one around to jump my vehicle. Then I remembered that my battery charger has a 55 amp starting position, fished it out, hooked it up and hit that setting.
As I started to get in to try it, I notice a puff of smoke eminating from the charger and found after trying the ignition that I had finally done the bonehead move of reversing the polarity to the battery--I never liked the colors BMW chose for the +12 (black) and ground (orangish-brown,) and figured it was just a matter of time when I would make that mistake.
After I corrected the connections, I started the engine, praying I hadn't cooked the alternator. The engine ran for about 30 seconds and finally died. I tried it again and ran it at about 2000rpm--it ran rough, but settled down so I then turned on the high drain circuits--high beams, heater fan 4, and rear window defogger, with no problem.
I drove the 88 325ix about 30 miles and the next evening approximately 30 more.
I figured it was alright until yesterday when after a 3 mile drive, it would not turn over, jumped the battery and died about 1 mile from home.
Taking it to Mr. Fixit, his meter showed no charge to my battery.
Today, I removed the voltage regulator and one of the brushes is worn, but I do not know if that is the extent of my problem. It certainly would beat buying an alternator.
My question is: Doing what I did in crossing polarity, does the regulator usually go first, before the entire component? What else could be the problem? Is there a fuse of come kind on the charging circuit?--my fusebox has no diagram and I have no service manual--owner's manual, no help.
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Old 12-15-2003, 09:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ok, so no one has any ideas pertaining to my situation. That's ok. I'll just throw in another question: Does anyone have experience using an aftermarket voltage regulator on this Bosch alternator???
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Old 12-15-2003, 01:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Usually when you hook up a battery backwards it cooks the computer so you're lucky there. I don't see a problem using a different brand but I perfer OEM brand stuff when I do repairs on my car.
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Old 12-16-2003, 01:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I can send you a German made regulator built for this Bosch alternator for $28 plus $3 for shipping.

Fits all the following BMW models, E12 76-81, E21 77-83, E23 76-89, E24 76-89, E28 82-88, E30 84-88, E32 88-94, E34 89-93
No need to spend over $200 just to correct this maintenance issue.

Alternator Regulators from Germany new in the box.

They can wear into a grooved pattern and the impact of driving can make them vibrate out of the normal groove.

Since the regulator has to increase output to jump the gap it does.

You can clean up the slider rings with abrasive paper.

You can get the brushes as a separate part requiring soldering skills or you can get a Regulator brush assembly for $70 retail at most auto parts store, or buy here.

I sell only German made, the others are always suspect.

Some instruction for changing:

It is a very touchy installation and about 5% of the installation end in the ground link bent and the alternator not functional.

You can remove correct and reinstall the regulator.

The output must be 14.25 or higher on a Volt Ohm Meter not the dash gauge. Some hints on the regulator change. Replacing Alternator Regulator

For those who work on their cars and have not had alternator problems, here is a simple action that should save you down-time and significant costs.

Most alternators on German cars fail due to brushes wearing down (as they are supposed to) between 150k and 200K miles. Brush replacement is very easy -- it should not take over 20 min. and the brushes are attached to a new regulator.

To replace regulator assembly -- back of alternator held in place with two straight slot headed screws. This has a round transistor mounted on the outside on Bosch alternators -- the other type, Valeo, is similar but uses different brushes. Pop the regulator out, after removing the screws.

Fitting the regulator back is simple, but you must install it starting at an angle, to assure that the brushes compress when the regulator is flush with the alternator and the screws are tightened. You are now ready for 200K miles of alternator life.

If you can change spark plugs you can change the voltage regulator.

Will "NOT" work on E30 89-93, E36 91-96, these are made by Valeo.


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