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5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60) Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)

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Old 05-08-2012, 09:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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'01 528i Dead Battery, Good Alternator

First time BMW owner and a little frustrated. A little history:

Bought the car two months ago with 167K and a motor rebuild 30K ago. Everything has been working fine until lat week.

Sun roof stops sliding back
Brake light on
Speedo stops working (works intermittently)
Odometer stops working (works intermittently)

Then yesterday the battery dies. The previous owner had JUST bought this battery so I assumed it is a good battery, throw it on the charger and while it's charging I take off the alternator. Had it tested, comes back fine.

I'll be putting the alternator back on tonight along with the charged battery. Any ideas on what I should be looking at next? I know there are a million possibilities but what would be my next diagnosis step? I'm starting to think I bought this thing on it's decline. Or maybe the seller had these issues all along and I test drove it on a good day

Unrelated question: Where can I find a trouble codes listing for my model/year?
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to Bimmerwerkz.

The sunroof is a relatively easy fix. It's common for the sunroof to come off the rails. You need to remove the motor to have the room to pop it back on.

If the battery is dying I would start by checking your ground connections. Make sure their not loose. Then check the wiring loom coming into the trunk. It's known to wear down causing fraying and short circuiting.

I believe it's the same on the E39, but on other models the speed sensor is located in the differential. If you have the ability to lift the car you can usually see the wiring for it.

As for the list of codes and what they mean, go here: OBDII Trouble Code List | Engine-Codes.com
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Lord Vader View Post
Welcome to Bimmerwerkz.

The sunroof is a relatively easy fix. It's common for the sunroof to come off the rails. You need to remove the motor to have the room to pop it back on.

If the battery is dying I would start by checking your ground connections. Make sure their not loose. Then check the wiring loom coming into the trunk. It's known to wear down causing fraying and short circuiting.

I believe it's the same on the E39, but on other models the speed sensor is located in the differential. If you have the ability to lift the car you can usually see the wiring for it.

As for the list of codes and what they mean, go here: OBDII Trouble Code List | Engine-Codes.com
Much to learn I have thanks Lord Vader!

Appreciate the tips! I'll be jumping in the back of that to put the battery in so I'll be sure to look more closely at the cables and loom back there.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Your welcome mate. These cars have been around long enough thy someone before you has experienced and documented the issue.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Update - Battery tested fine at the local parts store, got it back on along with the alternator.

I now have the pleasure of putting the new belts on. What's the easiest way to access the tension pulleys? I can get to the top right pulley but the bottom pulley looks like a bear to get to. Is it easier to pull off the fan shroud and fan or can I access it through the bottom?

My wife needs her car back before she wrecks mine LOL!
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Ok, I have everything back since Saturday and the Battery light came on again. Alt and Batt are tested and good.

I read in another post that you could do a draw test to see if something is draining the battery by using a multi meter. Anyone know how to do this? I have a multi meter I use for reading ohms and voltage
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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you will need to connect your multi meter in series with the battery and not in parallel across the positive and negative terminals. This would be OK to do this if you are measuring voltage. To measure current disconnect the negative terminal (I use the neg but you can use either), set your millimeter to measure amps and connect the meter between the battery terminal and the disconnected cable. If you don’t have an amp meter then use a 12V test light bulb. The bulb will have a very low glow due to the current drawl from your clock, computer, etc. If the trunk light is on you will want to pull the bulb or fuse. If it is brighter then a low glow then you have a short somewhere in your car. If you want to see what the difference between a low glow (low amp draw) and a high amp draw turn on your head lights. You can pull each fuse and see if there is a change at the amp meter or pull the fuse and insert the amp meter across the fuse terminals (need to reconnect the battery of course). Checking each fuse (by pulling or direct measurement) will tell most problems except if you have a worn wire short on the hot side (positive) of the fuse box which is very unlikely.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks, I'll be doing this after work tonight. Hope I can narrow this down quick.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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ok, so after 30 minutes of taking out fuses and running my multimeter and blah blah blah.....the earth/ground is not earthed properly. I can't get a good ground for the battery. Where the hell is the original battery ground suppose to go? The current location looks right but I can't get a good enough ground to even light up my test light in the battery compartment!!! Any suggestions on where to ground this bad boy?
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Is th ground on bare metal? Paint can cause grounding issues. If the connection is secure just scratch off the paint were it connects or find a bare metal surface.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:29 PM   #11 (permalink)
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got it grounded now whew! my battery light is on though. i'm getting 11.3 v at the battery, and same at the alternator. how do i check the voltage regulator? is it an internal regulator or is it the three pins coming out of it where i test it?
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:30 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I am CONVINCED it is my alternator even though I had it tested. Maybe I'm off base but wouldn't the battery be charging once the car is on? The battery discharged while it was running, now I'm sitting here charging my battery again.....maybe the idiots at autozone got it wrong.

Is there something special about these alternators that they could screw up the test? Would the voltage regulator show in the alt. test if it was failing? UGH! I know exactly why this guy sold this car.....he couldn't figure this out.
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:12 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Did you try checking the draw at each of the fuses? That would tell you were you have the draw and help you isolate the problem.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:34 AM   #14 (permalink)
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51ma is rather normal isn't it? I didn't see the need since I pulled every fuse and the draw never changed.
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:49 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm not sure the exact number for te E39, but a low draw is fine. Something like 3amps obviously is not. You say the battery drains while it is running? Does the car die after a while? Do the lights and accessories flicker before the car dies?

The battery is able to power the car for a short period of time on its own, but a common sign of alternator failure is the lights and radio cut out. If your experiencing this, go get your alternator and battery re tested.
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