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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 12-15-2008, 09:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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E34 Not Starting

Hi... new to the forum because my son's purchase of a '92 525i has me getting sucked into his car problems!

Our first issue was the spinning key cylinder. After some research we determined the issue... a broken ignition housing. We managed to get the key cylinder out and there was the broken piece. It appears from some other forum threads that this is a fairly common problem and others have dealt with it. A pair of needle-nose Vice Grips got him around for a while as he used them to turn the pin that leads into the ignition switch.

So, we ordered a used steering rack off of Ebay (to strip the ignition housing off of), but while we were waiting for it to arrive he started to experience trouble with getting the car to start. We thought that his battery might be going dead since it was getting cold out at night.

Yesterday we replaced the ignition housing successfully and now we can turn the switch with a key again. But as was his problem with the Vice Grips, the engine isn't turning over. We got out some jumper cables and tried a jump for about 5 minutes... and finally after a bunch of tries and holding the key for a few seconds the starter jumped and the car started.

We ran it for a while, took it for a ride, my son was thrilled. Back to the house we shut it down... and it wouldn't start again. So we pulled the battery and ran it down to the local part store. They tested it and claimed it was low voltage, probably some bad cells. So, we dropped $100 on a new battery and installed it. And of course, it is still didn't start.

When we turn the key the Aux comes on... but it almost like it isn't turning far enough to close the starter ignition circuit. I don't hear the starter clicking... if it were getting power would it click repeatedly or just once? Is it possible that him pulling the pin in and out of the ignition switch with the Vice Grips damaged something inside the switch?? Or are we looking at other possibilities... like starter motor or a electric issue to the starter (a short?). Since we now know the battery is good, it could only be one of those I think. I'm not a good electrical guy, but I figured maybe I could buy a little tester and check to see if power is getting to the starter when we turn the key. Can anyone give me an idea where or how to check this? Or any other ways to pinpoint the problem?

Thanks.
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would say the ignition switch is shot, the starter will click once with a good battery, which you have and sound like a machine gun with a total dead batt, your old batt had some power so was clicking once but not enough to turn her over.

Do check the wiring to the switch and also check the connections to the alternator.

All that said, you could always hot wire it if you know how,then it should start no problem , then you would deffo know its the switch, apart from that im virtually certain its the switch.
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Get under the car and check if there is power getting to the starter when he turns the key. If yes, then the starter decided to pack up, if not, then the problem is somewhere before that.

btw, download the pinned Bentley e34 manual pinned at the top of the forum.
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Get under the car and check if there is power getting to the starter when he turns the key. If yes, then the starter decided to pack up, if not, then the problem is somewhere before that.

btw, download the pinned Bentley e34 manual pinned at the top of the forum.
I actually already printed out the Battery/Starter/Alternator section while I awaited responses. I just need to get a meter and check what they refer to as terminal 50 of the starter motor. Only accessible from beneath, huh? Wonderful. I really can't tell how far down the starter sits from the Bentley picture. Appears to be about halfway down... I guess there is too much other junk in the way?
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