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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 11-15-2004, 11:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The last few days my check engine light has been flashing every now and then. I looked up the code and it means, "BATTERY VOLTAGE OUT OF RANGE". Code 1231.

I took the car to Les Schuab and had them check the charging system. the guys tell me it's a bad battery. So I go to the place where I bought the battery since it was still unter warrenty and they tested the charging system and told me it's not the battery, it's the alternator. I told them I wanted to see them run the diagnostic, so they showed me the gauge and it showed my alternator putting out what they said was overvoltage. The next day the check engine light didn't come on and has not been on since(2 days).

This afternoon I went out to start the car and it wont start at all. All the lights work and the car turns over when I turn the key so I know the battery isn't dead, but it wont start. Could the alternator cause this? I hat to swap a $200 alternator if it isn't the problem.
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Old 11-15-2004, 11:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Overvoltage can be worse than undervoltage, it can kill electrical components by overheating them, and it can even start fires... and you definately dont want that. Think of voltage as water pressure inside a pipe system. The wires and electrical components (IE: pipes, valves, shower heads, washing machine, dishwasher) can only hold so much voltage (IE: water pressure) and will overheat (IE: burst) and fail or even catch fire.
Undervoltage isn't TOO BAD of a problem, it just means you don't have "pressure" in your system. It too can cause damage, amplifiers really don't like undervoltage and so do many other electrical components. A good steady DC voltage with no ripple is what electrical components like.

If you have a bad alternator, you NEED to replace it, or at least fix the viltage regulator. If I'm not mistaken, the voltage regulator is built into the alternator, so either way, it's coming out. You don't want your DME going bezerk or curise control module going nuts on the highway because your alternator's putting out bad voltage ranges do you? (probably will not happen, but you get the idea. most likely parts will just start failing.)

BTW, An alternator is an alternator is an alternator, there's nothing fancy about them and are basically a spinning magnet, a coil of wires and a voltage regulator that regulates the voltage it outputs. (remember: your engine's RPM ranges from 500rpm to 5,000 rpm. Different RPM's produce different voltages and amperages, so there's a voltage regulator to compensate for that range)
So, you don't have to go to the dealer to get this fixed but I do sugest an OEM battery if you replace it.
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Old 11-16-2004, 12:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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So if my alternator finally took a dump, could this be the reason why my car wont start right now? I just didn't know if the car could still start with a charged battery, but a bad alternator. I guess my next step is to pull the alternator tomorrow and take it into an auto parts store and have it tested.
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Old 11-16-2004, 02:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I took the alternator out and took it to the auto parts store. They tested it and said it was good. Then i took the battery out and took it to the same place and they said it was good too. Now I'm stuck. Any suggestions?
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Old 11-16-2004, 05:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, at least your charging system is in order.
If el presidente would come in here, he could help you out with the starting issues, I forgot what his solutions were..

If you have a manual, you can always clutch it to start it. Put the key in the run position, roll the car forward while in first, get it rolling with some momentum and pop the clutch and it should start.
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