Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Ferndale, Washington
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1987 528e (e28) non-starting issue
I bought my 528e that was sitting for 2 years for the princely sum of $200 and was lucky enough to be able to easily drive it to the gas station for a fresh tank of gas and then to my home that was about 5 miles away. It drove pretty well in spite of sitting for so long, no weird issues or noises or other problems that I was aware of. So I get it home and I do the same thing that I always do when I get an older car...I pressure wash the engine, BAD mistake on this car. Usually, I pressure wash with the engine running making sure to stay away from the airbox, distributor area, or anywhere else that water could get in and do damage such as the oil or tranny dipsticks, throttle body, etc etc. I had it running for a good 30 minutes while I was blasting all of the grime away and it stayed running just fine the entire time. I also occasionally blipped the throttle to make sure it was still running ok. No problems there.
After turning the car off and drying everything out such as wire connectors, checking the airbox (just in case) engine oil, distributor cap, throttle body, etc etc, I tried to start it up only to have it act like it was running on 4 cylinders. It would not rev up without dying out and then it would be very difficult to start again, only to have it run like crap again. No water entered anywhere it wasn't supposed to be. I pulled the plugs, replaced them with new ones, checked all of the ignition wires and blew them all out with compressed air (no water present). Same with the distributor. The cap and rotor looked fine and dry as a bone. The timing belt was replaced shortly before I took possession of the car as well as the ignition wires and plugs.
So I replaced all of the vaccuum lines, soft fuel lines (it developed a leak on one by the driver frame rail towards the front of the car) removed the throttle body from the engine and gave it a good cleaning with throttle body cleaner. Now it wouldn't fire at all. I checked the voltage to the in tank pump and it was fine (forget the exact voltage but it was within specs according to the manuals I have). I go back and check everything that I could find and could not locate any problems. I replaced all of the bullet fuses, replaced all of the relays with new ones, cleaned all contacts to EVERYTHING and still, no fire.
The next day, I drained the fuel tank (love the drain hole in the back!!) and found a BUNCH of thick cocoa looking gook at the bottom. I replaced the filter going to the main pump without hesitation and flushed the tank with a couple of gallons of gas until it drained clear and clean. I disconnected the gas line from the pump where it supplies fuel to the engine and purged the last bit of cocoa-gas from the pump...until it ran clear and then re-installed the fuel line. I had my fiancee turn the key so I could make sure that both pumps were again running and they were. I then went back to the engine and used compressed air to blow any residual fuel from before where it enters into the engine back to the open line before the pump and it ran clear so I connected everything back up and went to start it...no go. It doesn't even act like it wants to start. When I purged the pump, it had a great output. I checked the pressure at the rail according to the manuals and it had none. Not a bit. The relays are new as well as the fuses. New fuel filter, fresh gas, new plugs, clean throttle body, good vaccuum hoses, correct high pressure fuel lines installed.
What can it be? I feel like I addressed everything that could be addressed and am now completely stumped as to what it could be. HELP! I like the car, it's my first bimmer and I would like to be able to drive it again. I have a feeling that it has to be something simple that I am overlooking.