99 540iT Electrical problems - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
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#1 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 10:40 AM
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99 540iT Electrical problems

OK. So I drop my car off for inspection today and it fails because the headlights don't work. I pick it up and on the OBC display I get the following messages:

Check Headlamps
Rear SLS Inactive

Also, the radio was reading the same time as I had it set on yesterday when I turned the car off. I've had the radio acting weirdly with the time before. It would work and be accurate for maybe a few weeks then suddenly be incorrect. Also, when this would happen, my trip mileage would reset to 000.0. I also have had the rear sls warning before but it would only appear if the car had been sitting for a few days. I changed the battery about a month ago after because the car sat for a while without being started and it was completely dead. I have no idea what is going on.

BTW: I do have the xenon headlights and I'm getting nothing out of them when I turn the switch on. No flicker, nothing. The parking lights work and the high beams come on too.

One more thing, when I unlock the car with the key the lights don't flash. That is the same thing it would do on the occasion when the trip mileage would reset. All the other times they would flash like normal.

Just checked the voltage on the battery it's about 12.6 with the car off and about 13.8 with it running and the AC on. Also, it seems the headlights flicker when I cut the switch on like their trying to fire but that's it. Could I have two bad bulbs at the same time?
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#2 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 11:33 AM
OMFG another one!?
 
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I think you may be on the hunt for a bad relay, maybe a couple of them.

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#3 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 07:22 PM
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Great. Any idea where to begin? And is there a way to test them?
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#4 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 07:52 PM
OMFG another one!?
 
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I would expect maybe in a fuse box somewhere in the engine bay as a guess. Maybe a look at realoem.com could help if you don't have the owner's manual. You might be able to get them tested at an auto parts store.

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#5 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 07:58 PM
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Thanks. I'll give that a try tomorrow.
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#6 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 10:24 PM
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No relays - output is directly from the lamp module up to the headlamps. From there on each light there is a ballast which feeds the high voltage up to the ignitor. Its not uncommon at all to have 2 bulbs fail. Ive seen it several times. Also with all of the problems you are having I would certainly go back to the battery and confirm that the cables are tight, clean and secure.

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#7 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 11:24 PM
OMFG another one!?
 
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Thanks for helping out DT!

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#8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2009, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty_Tool View Post
No relays - output is directly from the lamp module up to the headlamps. From there on each light there is a ballast which feeds the high voltage up to the ignitor. Its not uncommon at all to have 2 bulbs fail. Ive seen it several times. Also with all of the problems you are having I would certainly go back to the battery and confirm that the cables are tight, clean and secure.
The battery cables are tight I checked and rechecked. Is my problem consistent with bad bulbs? They try to come on when I turn the switch but instead of lighting, they flash like they're trying to come on but then go out.
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#9 (permalink) Old 09-21-2009, 09:47 AM
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It is consistent with bad bulbs however it could just as easy be bad ballasts. Usually when both sides are out its more likely to have 2 bad bulbs than 2 bad ballasts.
Bulbs are expensive at the dealer but I know they can be purchased online fairly inexpensive. I dont have any good sources personally but perhaps witeshark or someone can chime in.

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#10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2009, 09:55 AM
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What I'm going to do is take the plug from the car off the ballast and check for 12v coming in. If I'm getting 12v constant with the headlight switch on then I know it's either the ballast or bulbs. The cheapest I've seen the bulbs is about $65 each. I hate to replace the bulbs if it's the ballasts but I guess trial and error is what I have to go with. Thanks for your help.
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#11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2009, 05:13 PM
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Well I have 12v coming into the socket with the car off and roughly 13.6 or so with the car running. So I have power coming into the sockets feeding the ballasts. Another weird thing I don't get the headlight on warning when I turn the car off with the lights on. Anytime I leave the lights on before and get out of the car, low beams on or just parking lights on, I get the lights on warning on the OBC. All my other lights work turn signals, parking, hazards everything. Could my LCM be bad causing the lack of warning on the OBC and the lack of low beams?
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#12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2009, 01:06 PM
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Well I replace the ignition switch since that seems to be a culprit of weird electrical problems to no avail. My next task is to find a used working ballast to plug into my bulbs and see if that fixes the headlights.
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#13 (permalink) Old 09-29-2009, 02:21 AM
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good luck .. keep us posted

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#14 (permalink) Old 09-29-2009, 08:16 PM
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Well, just did an interesting test. I unlocked to OBC and did the voltage test. At the same time I had my multimeter on the battery terminals to read the voltage. The OBC consistently read close to .5 volt too low compared to the meter. With the car off the meter read 11.85 volts. I started the car and it went up to 13.6 or so. Then I turned on the headlights(keep in mind they are not coming on but I have the switch set on headlight and not parking) and the meter went down to 13.4. Then I turned the high beams on, 13.3. Then the HVAC fan and both seat heaters on high, 12.8. Finally I had the wife roll down all four windows at the same time, it went all the way down to 11.9 and the interior lights dimmed. Meanwhile, she was reading the voltage on the OBC and it was consistently .5 less than what I was getting. This to me almost points to the alternator for sure. Shouldn't, no matter what electrical load is on the car, the meter read almost a consistent 13.8 or so? This would also mean to me that there is not enough juice to fully light the ballasts on the lights, hence the flickering when they try to come on. Tomorrow, I'll take the car to autozone and get them to check out the battery and alternator and report back. I'm almost sure I'll be replacing my expensive water cooled alternator when this is all said and done.
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#15 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 07:57 AM
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I went to Autozone and had them test the battery and alternator. The battery came back good with just a low charge, something like 11.8 volts which is what I was getting on my meter at the house. The alternator came back OK but when the guy first hooked up the tester to it it was only putting out 13.1. Then he had me rev the engine and very slowly the voltage came up to about 13.4. Eventually, after about 5 or more minutes the voltage got up to about 13.6 and held steady. He said it should have been making close to that voltage when the car starts up and should hold steady. I'm assuming this is right. Could this slow build up of charge be the reason for the low charge on the battery? I mean if it's not putting out enough at start up, it won't recharge the battery, right?
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