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E36 General discussion and technical help for (E36) 1992-1999 3 series cars. 318, 323, 325, 328.

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Unread 02-26-2007, 01:22 PM   #1

Name: bearcat77070
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Your Ride: 1995 325i
Just finished clutch repair, now electrical system won't charge?

(Car is a 2/95 prod. date 325i) I was all ready to congratulate myself on a difficult job well done - I finally have the clutch done and everything back together, but the car wouldn't start, battery was dead. So out come the jumper cables, I'd disconnected the battery partway into the project (before I was working up around the starter) so at this point I was thinking it just must have run down with the trunk light over a couple of days or something. Jumper cables installed, car starts up, but was running rough - really worried me, thinking it was something misinstalled, but running things through my mind there really isn't anything that will let you misinstall it. I know now it was running rough because it didn't have good electrical, evidently the electrical system isn't charging. Car runs fine with jumper cables, slowly dies without.

I think the electrical system dying at exactly the same time I did the clutch is too big to be just coincidental, but I can't think of anything that I did that would have any effect on the electrical system. I disconnected the battery, unplugged the O2 sensor - I didn't mess with the starter other than unbolting it. I took the fan off the front of the engine so it could swing down without hitting the radiator, and replaced the flex ducting to the alternator that had gotten brittle from heat and disentegrated - if anything, that should be a plus in the electrical system health. I jumped the car, so there's a small chance an electrical surge did something nasty, but that's a pretty big fluke that of the times I've jumped the car (or jumped someone else more often) that this one when I've been doing all this other stuff would be the one to kill it.

My one big concern (and only thing I can think of) is that maybe something between the back of the engine and the firewall was damaged in the process of swinging the engine down to get the transmission in and out of the car. Is anyone familiar with what all is mounted back there, or have any other suggestions as to what might have happened?

I'm in a rental car until I have this fixed, so getting it resolved has some urgency to it - plus, I'm driving a Saturn. Please, help me figure out what went wrong and save me from that POS!!!
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Unread 02-26-2007, 01:36 PM   #2
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Name: witeshark
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I'm sure you've looked over all the obvious things. So I'd start with having the alternator checked
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Unread 02-26-2007, 02:10 PM   #3

Name: Dudesky
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First off, how old is that battery? Sometimes when a battery is old, letting it run down to a certain point will no longer allow it to hold a good charge. Or it may just need to be put on a charger for a while. Alternators aren't really designed to recharge batteries from a badly run down state.

Second, since the car hasn't had power in a while, your DME might be in the process of reinitializing itself to the correct parameters, and that can sometimes cause a heavier load on the engine and/or electricals. The rough running could be an indication of this.

Bring the battery to a shop and have them look and see what they can do with it. Let us know how it works out, and welcome to UB.c
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Unread 02-26-2007, 06:19 PM   #4
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Name: 3050rpm
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Interestingly enough mine is a 325i with a 2/95 production date as well, and much as I try to deny it, the original battery is giving up the ghost after 12 years of dependable service. I had to get jump started twice in the past few days (ominous sign in itself), and while the new battery was ordered today and coming in tomorrow, in the meantime I've taken to disconnecting the (-) lead just to maintain whatever cranking power I have left (an inconvenience for sure, but it's get me by). Earlier today I reconnected and started the car, and it sputtered and shook and ran just lousy, all of which cleared up after I got out on the street and did some normal driving. But as to what caused this, I don't know, I suspect it had something to do with a low battery charge screwing up the electronics for emissions control, so if your battery is an original and old and in a generalized weak state, that could be the source of your problem, not anything (that I can think of anyway) that replacement of a clutch would cause.
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Unread 02-26-2007, 07:24 PM   #5
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Name: c1apton
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This sounds like a low or dead battery issue. If your battery has gotten low or close to dead it's going to take awhile for your alternator to charge it up. If you just jump start it (in a dead or really low condition) you're asking your alternator to do double duty - charge and supply full voltage to all your ignition, lights etc... that explains why rough running conditions. Alternators are like a very slow battery charger - they don't blast VOLTS back into a battery instantly while providing all your electrical needs.
I'd suggest charging your battery on a REAL battery charger for at least 6 hours. If after doing this you come up dead again then it's either a tired battery or an alternator. You could have the battery load tested also but it has to be fully charged to have this test done.
If the rough running continues - put a voltmeter on the alternator & make sure it's putting out 13.1 - 15.5 volts while running - if not then you have an alternator issue.

Last edited by c1apton; 02-26-2007 at 07:27 PM..
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