Check Battery light came on...but very dim and ghostly looking!? (pics)
This happened whiles I was driving this morning. What does this mean? Its not on all the way, just faded!
Normally the lights are this intensity when you have the key in position 1 (Car is on, but Engine is not started).
So Since Memorial Day weekend, I've been ontop of all my maintenance;
New Belts, O2 Sensor, Fuel Filter, Spark Plug, BMW Fuel Injection Cleaner and as soon as my intake valves and gaskets and ICV hoses come in at the dealership I will change and clean out the ICV and Throttle Body. As a result, my car has driving perfectly with the exception of the rough idling at the stoplights which should end when I do the ICV and Throttle Maintenance.
So today I take the 318i on 30 mile drive into the hilly roads of upstate NY and my Check Battery light is on, but very faded almost ghostly looking...(see 1st pic above).
I played around with the dash light and dimmer switches to see if I was seeing things but there it was; a dim check battery light on.
What can this be? My Battery is pretty new as of 2 years ago (even though it died and remained dead for a few months because I had my 318i in storage when I was abroad for a few months working in Canada. However, I revived it with the basic jump start and have beend driving fine on it since March.
I have no clue what that light being on and at that idim ntensity means?
New Battery needed, Power surge somewhere, New alternator needed?
You guys are slow today...I guess Google and eHow sort of cleared it up...but my Check Battery light isn't on 100%, its dim!
How to Respond When Your Car's Battery Light Goes On
By eHow Cars Editor
The battery light is misnamed: It doesn't go on when the battery is low. The battery light will go on only if the alternator is not charging the battery.
Things You’ll Need:
Step1: Do not panic - you have some time. You don't have to pull over right away. But don't ignore this light! You have anywhere from a half-hour to a day or even longer, depending on how much charge is left in the battery.
Step2 Turn off all unnecessary electrical accessories, such as the radio, heater, defroster headlights and windshield wipers.
Step3 Avoid using the horn, turn signals, flashers, dome light and power windows.
Step4 Avoid turning the engine off and on. Starting your car uses more of the battery's charge than anything else.
Step5 Drive to your auto repair shop if you can. Ask your mechanic to do an alternator output test to check if the alternator is charging.
Step6 Take the following steps if you can't visit the mechanic right away.
Step7 Turn the engine off and open the hood.
Step8 Look for whitish/bluish powdery corrosion on the battery cable ends. Clean with a wire brush if it's in evidence.
Step9 Make sure the battery cable ends are tight. You shouldn't be able to turn them at all.
Step10 Check the negative battery cable end. Make sure it's tight and secure at both ends.
Step11 Check the alternator belt (see "Check Your Engine Belts," under Related eHows). A loose belt will cause the alternator to undercharge and trip the battery light.
Step12 Make sure all the connections at the back of the alternator are secure.
Remove both the battery and the charger and have them bench tested at an AutoZone or similar -- it's free.
Basically, your battery indicator light will come on whenever the charge circuit is not working. That is why when you first turn your key before you actually start the car, the light is at full brightness -- the engine is not running, thus there is no current being fed by the alternator.
How long have you had the alternator currently on the car? Don't ask me to explain this, because I do not know the details, but sometimes what fails in the alternator is actually the voltage regulator. On our cars, the regulator is integrated into the alternator assembly. Well, I tell you all that to tell you the following: Voltage regulator failures usually aren't apparent until after the regulator eats up, i.e., you will not be able to see it on a bench test at AutoZone. Pay attention to whether the dim battery indicator illuminates as soon as you start the car, or whether it only appaears after you have drive it for a while.
You can always just wire a voltmeter to your battery and keep the voltmeter with you inside the car, checking the voltage. I'd expect to see about 12.8 V (don't quote me on this) with the car off, and about 14.5 V (I am more confident about this figure) while running. If while you are driving, the voltage drops and stays low (~12.5 V or so), then that would indicate that your charging system is ftl.
Does the light come on intermittently? Does it stay on at the same dim level at all times, or does it fluctuate? Does it worsen if you start turning on more electrical systems (radio, A/C, headlights, brake lights, etc.)?
Edit: I just noticed that you Google up some stuff and found some of the things I covered on my post. Anyhow, I wish you would have Googled first, just out of courtesy. Moreover, I am sorry it took so long to reply. Some of us have jobs at which we actually work during the day.
I think some of these guys just make this stuff up and say it. Regardless of whether it has any basis in truth.
To understand the likely problem you have to understand the basics of how batteries work. Nicad and nimh batteries have a normal state of zero charge. What that means is that they are naturally uncharged and suffer no ill consequences from being discharged. In fact they discharge rapidly on their own over time(relative to naturally charged type batteries). Running them to zero charge or letting them sit is fine and they can easily be recharged afterward.
Now what you have in a car is a lead acid based battery. Its natural state is charged. Running a lead acid battery down and leaving it that way for months will destroy the battery cells and they ability for them to hold a charge. It doesnt matter how much you charge it after that. It will not hold the charge for any significant period of time. The thing to remember is that a battery can still work with a very damaged cell. As long as there arent too many of them. But based on everything you said your battery is the likely culprit. Don't ever run a car battery down and leave it that way.
The previous poster was correct. Put a meter on the battery with the car running. If it registers about 14-15 volts it isnt an alternator problem or a regulator. Also correct is that with the car not running it should be lower 12.5-13.2 volts in general as each cell usually generates 2.2 volts and there are 6 of them- 6X2.2=13.2. (when a battery is manufactured).
If youre getting a good charge off the alternator then the problem is the battery isnt ACCEPTING the charge and that means damaged or dead cells.The light is coming on because the problem is on the edge of the sensing system as the battery is taking some charge, so youre getting a ghost light. Keep running the battery and youll get a solid light eventually as the battery gets worse. Replace the battery after you put the meter on to check the charging system. And dont believe everything you read.
Originally Posted by 94BMW325i
any flickering if you were to turn on your radio, headlights and other accessories?
Last edited by 97_528i_03_330xi; 07-11-2008 at 02:55 PM.
any flickering if you were to turn on your radio, headlights and other accessories?
yeah. Sorry for the long reply to the replies.
All your comments are very helpful. Thanks.
I actually broke down on the Highway the same night I posted this thread and have been dealing with that drama ever since. My battery and/or Alternator stop working right then and there. I needed a flatbed tow truck to take the car home.
So the deal is I found out that the Battery I have, the infamous DieHard International #33348 is known to be defective and give very similar problems to what I went thru.
So The deal is I'm picking up a new Optima battery in the morning and I ordered a new Valeo Alternator just to be on the safe side.
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