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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 03-13-2006, 12:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Possible Alternator trouble

See if this sounds right. Last night I was stopped at a stop light, had a little bit of idle trouble, the tach bounced up and down a bit. I tapped the gas pedal a few times to settle it down, which usually works. Only this times the idle completely dropped, the headlights, radio and dash lights all went out and a yellow warning light poped on under my tach. This happend for about half a second then everything came back on. WTF? So I get to my girl friends house and stay there a while. Get back in my car excpecting the alternator and battery to be dead, car starts right up and I drive back home. I get out my multi -meter and check the batter terminals, the multi meter reads between 13.1 and 13.4 volts, going up and down beteen there for about a min. I called a friend of mine and he said a diaode (sp?) on my alternator poped and I don't need to replace it right away, but if it does it another time it should be ok, but if it does it a second time, bye bye alternator.

So does this sound like what happened? And if so where is the cheapest place to get quality alternator? I have heard a place called zygmunt (http://www.bimmerparts.com/index.html) is good, is there some where better?

Also, how hard it is to change an alternator in a parking lot with only a ratchet and a few other hand tools with a car too low to reach underneath for anything? I've got the bently manual but don't have time to look it up because I am on my lunch break, so detailed steps aren't needed, just a difficulty level.

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Old 03-13-2006, 02:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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wait which light went on? the battery light? its a bright red one on teh upper part of the gauge cluster. that will indicate any issue you have with the charging system, i would suspect you would have saw that light come on, can you describe which light exactly came on? (theres an FAQ on all the lights in teh FAQ forum)... its possible that the alternator could have acted up, but i would rule out every possiblity before you go and buy a new or rebuilt one.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds like it might be the voltage regulator, which is on the alternator. Alternator still has to come out. It is on top , so if you remove the airbox, the cooling duct, and release the belt, it may not be a big problem.
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Old 03-13-2006, 04:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Furious
wait which light went on? the battery light? its a bright red one on teh upper part of the gauge cluster. that will indicate any issue you have with the charging system, i would suspect you would have saw that light come on, can you describe which light exactly came on? (theres an FAQ on all the lights in teh FAQ forum)... its possible that the alternator could have acted up, but i would rule out every possiblity before you go and buy a new or rebuilt one.
It was a yellow light under the tach. Looked like the check engine light, or whatever light comes on if you stall the car or forget it is in gear and take the clutch out...
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