No start situation

Tiny
DDTECH
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 BMW 328
  • 2.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 189,000 MILES
Work I performed before the issue arose: I changed the transmission (it was not shifting, except when I used manual mode, as well as the transmission always ran in limp mode). I then changed the oil pan since it was damaged and had hairline cracks.

After changing the oil pan, I did not properly mount the starter to the trans bell-housing correctly (bottom end was not flush to bell-housing, about four to five mm) and then I over-torqued the E12 bolts where one broke off the bottom flange from the starter. Removal and/or loosening up of the transmission from the block is requited to reach two ten cm, ten mm bolts). The constraints is this area are very tight, needless to say. Hard to reach and do it right.

The original starter was operable and never had issues. After I finished with the above work on the the car and attempted to start it, there were loud, grinding noise. It was not pretty. It was obviously not aligned with the flywheel.

Second time I tried to start it after I re-positioned the starter. I used some washers and tried to get the second flange snug on the bell-housing, even though it mostly sheared off. In any case, the solenoid would activate one hundred percent of the time from when battery was re-attached. This would occur whether the key was in the OFF, ON or ACCY position. It was similar to a high whine. I checked to make sure that the four wires were properly connected on the starter and not on the wrong posts. I considered the shaft, pinion or some other internal component or components, toasted.

Third attempt to start after changing the starter (I had a second, used starter on-hand): After making sure it was properly mounted, it would just click, there was no Bendix action (I am assuming). On this starter, the dowel hole was sheared off at the top where the dowel pin inserts- but it appeared to fit properly nonetheless. Both E12 torx were okay.

Fourth attempt (third starter): I purchased a new starter (Bosch) and installed it. The starter exhibited the same behavior as the used one, which would simply click, but would not spin, same as it was doing on the second, third attempt. This is where I am now.

I do have full dash lights, but I checked the battery anyway and it was only +12.08v after sitting for a few weeks. I used a trickle charger from last night and got it to +12.79 volts. Should I remove the battery and get a full charge at an Autozone or test with another battery from another E36 (I have several)?

I was not able to rotate the crank with key in the ignition, with the selector in neutral. Aside from feeling that the trans flywheel is jammed, I am wondering about the EWS, relays and/or fuses and at this rate. I think the starter solenoid is controlled by the DME. I was referring to an electronic troubleshooting guide for this year/make/model: http://wedophones.com/Manuals/BMW/1997 BMW 318is-c - 328i-c Electrical Troubleshooting Manual.pdf.

The first time I re-attached the battery cables to the terminals, I used the positive lead first, rather than the negative first. There were a lot of sparks at that point wondering if I blew something, like the fusible bridge. since at that time it appeared that the start shaft did not even spin, with the unit only clicking.

I am not a mechanic but a BMW enthusiast. Just want to know where I can begin doing troubleshooting. I do have a multi-meter but unsure of how to use it, aside from checking voltage and resistance.
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Saturday, July 1st, 2017 AT 5:10 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
For this type of problem, a test light is more accurate. I don't think the flywheel is locked up because the engine was cranking earlier. It sounds like you already tried turning the crankshaft by hand, but to do that, the transmission doesn't have to be in neutral. It can be in "park". After all, the crank rotates when the engine is running and the transmission is in "park". An additional clue to a locked crankshaft is when trying to crank the engine, a locked starter motor will draw extremely high current, and that will draw the battery's voltage down real low. Watch what happens to the brightness of the head lights. If they get real dim, you will also find it doesn't take very long for the two battery cables to get hot.

If the head lights don't dim when trying to crank the engine, the starter motor is not drawing enough current, or in this case, none. Ground your test light on a paint-free point on the engine or transmission, then poke the probe right on the large stud on the starter solenoid, not on the terminal bolted to it. You'll find a nice bright light because there should be full battery voltage there all the time. Now observe what happens to the light's brightness when a helper tries to crank the engine. If it goes out or gets very dim, one of the cables has a bad connection or is corroded away under the insulation on one end.

Don't worry about charging the battery. It will read close to 12.6 volts when it's fully-charged. The extra you read is due to "surface charge". Those are the free electrons that haven't yet been absorbed into the plates. Turn on a load, such as the head lights or heater fan motor for ten to fifteen seconds to bleed off that surface charge. Now you'll find closer to 12.6 volts.
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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 AT 10:19 PM
Tiny
DDTECH
  • MEMBER
While the engine was functioning earlier, the flywheel and crank was indeed locked up courtesy of the inner/outer spline. I checked the voltage drop on start, with the starter directly and it was as expected, 5.9v. My freshly charged battery was 12.79v. There were no issues with the starter and/or any of the electronics. It was a simple matter of a proper transmission installation. With these bimmers (and maybe other cars), one cannot get the trans "close" and bolt it together. It will be uneven and put too much strain on the crank since it will be bolted together unevenly. I tested this by hand cranking the motor while I mated the trans to the block. I could not move the crank, when certain bolts were fastened. After I would back the bolt out (when it was not even close the block) and the crank would turn. Then I would re-adjust the trans and try again and I got the same effect. So, I rectified the issue by using several cut M12, 120 mm bolts to be used as mounting studs. The trans went on in a uniform manner and the starter was able to function.
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Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 AT 11:46 PM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Glad you could get it fixed, that kind of problem can be tough. Please use 2CarPros anytime we are here to help

Cheers, Ken
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Friday, July 7th, 2017 AT 1:55 PM

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