E39 540i Sport Starting Problem - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
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#1 (permalink) Old 05-03-2011, 11:23 AM
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E39 540i Sport Starting Problem

My 1998 540i has a starting problem that is progressively getting worse. When the ignition switch is rotated to the start position a solenoid "clack" is heard with no starter activation. Usually, with repeated turns to the "start" position, it will eventually crank. The problem has been going on for several years and is getting to the point that I am nervous about taking the car out.

1) The battery condition is good. The voltage checks at better than 11.5 volts even after extended time parked. The lights remain bright. This problem has occurred even when getting a jump-start from an running donor vehicle.

2) At one point there seemed to be evidence that the clutch position sensor was preventing the start but this was inconsistent. The solenoid "clack" always occurred which did not seem consistent with a switch problem.

3) I replaced the original starter with an aftermarket unit. This seemed to cure the problem for maybe a month but the symptoms returned.

Any ideas, please?
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#2 (permalink) Old 05-03-2011, 12:08 PM
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I would still suspect the starter as your alternator seems ok.
What did you do with the old starter? I would have had that one reconditioned...
A solenoid will sometimes still click even if it's starting to fail, this could simply be dirty internal contacts - same applies to relays too but they are usually cheap enough to replace.
HTH DAZ
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#3 (permalink) Old 05-03-2011, 12:23 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply!

I was wondering if I might be unlucky enough to have the same problem twice.

The original starter is on my workbench in the garage. I will get it to an overhaul facility and have it worked on. If nothing else, it will be good to have a spare.
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#4 (permalink) Old 05-03-2011, 12:26 PM
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No problem buddy... Please introduce yourself in the Newbie Section...
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