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Thread: New Type of Starting Problem

  1. #1

    New Type of Starting Problem

    Hi,

    I have gone through the well-known intermittent starting problem over the last few years on an otherwise trouble free car, each time a brand new battery solved the issue. Recently, however, I have gone through 3 new batteries in just a few months, and the problem has resurfaced in a different form. Car is used infrequently, maybe once every month or so, but in the latest recurrence brand new, fully charged batteries were used and the problem persists.

    1) Key does not light up the dash when you try to turn the engine on.
    2) Key can be physically moved partially, but not fully, in the key slot.
    3) Same symptoms with both of the OEM keys.

    Here?s my interesting finding today ? if I fully disconnect the battery, the key works fine, the dash lights up, and the car starts ONCE. I can restart the car problem-free only if I keep the key in the ?ON? position. Once I physically remove the key from the key slot, car will not start. I then need to disconnect the battery to get the car to reset and start again.

    Any ideas? Could it be something with the key/ecu interface? Is it possible that if the battery is disconnected and the system is reset, the ecu recognizes the key, but once the key is removed it is no longer recognized by the ecu?

    My dealer experience has been spotty and unpredictable, I would like to bring the car in with some direction to give to the mechanics. Any help/ideas much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance, Carlos

  2. #2
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    Could it be the alternator?

  3. #3
    I'd suggest call Matt at Peter Pan first thing Monday, as he'll know the answer. My best guess is that the new battery you got maybe faulty, and even though it appears to be new and charged it isn't.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  4. #4
    Thanks guys, will check as suggested, although this is the second new battery in a month, and more important, immediately after disconnecting the battery and reconnecting, with no further charging, the car will start sure and strong.

  5. #5
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    My wife's truck had a bad battery since new and we had several instances of behavior just like this. Turns out it had just a few bad cells- the manufacturer eventually hunted us down and got us a replacement- and now no more problems. Just FYI.

  6. #6
    Carlos -

    It's highly likely that you would have three faulty batteries in a three month period. Since they are taking a charge and continue to turn over the engine (when you disconnect and reconnect the battery cables each time) it's probably not the alternator.

    It appears that you do have an electronic problem that a good shop can diagnose. Interesting problem! Let us know what you find out.

  7. #7
    Z8 Madness Z-acht's Avatar
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    Do you have any additional aftermarket electrics installed?
    Ton
    1 of the 71 original Dutch sold cars (jetblack/red)

  8. #8
    Thanks again for all the advice.

    No additional electrical devices installed, and outside of the starting issues the car has been trouble free.

    It could still be the battery, but as pointed out it is highly unusual to have 3 faulty batteries in a row, including one OEM.

  9. #9
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    You're right. I must have missed that part. Very strange. Seems like its Peter Pan time or another knowledgable dealer/ Z8 center.

  10. #10
    Your symptoms seem weird for a plain old battery drain. But just in case - did you remove the little spare flashlight? I think I read here that the flashlight can drain the battery. Good luck getting rid of this problem.
    Greg
    Greg AH61930 - 2003 - Silver/Black

  11. #11
    Good point on the flashlight, I will check to minimize variables.

    Yes, for the first few years, the car was absolutely perfect. I travel a lot, and sometimes the car would be unused for as much as 2 months or more, but it would start right up on the first try, zero issues.

    The last couple of years, the starting problem has become a bit of a headache.

  12. #12
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    I agree with Jerry, sounds like the alternator. 3 faulty batteries in a few months seems highly unlikely. What brand were those batteries? Any charging/jogger devices used? If they are faulty that could be a cause too. Be careful with disconnecting and connecting the battery, if the Navigation cdrom is reading (i.e. led is blinking) and you disconnect the battery, you can kill the MK3 unit (that is what appears to have happened to me).

  13. #13
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    Heres a question- are you using a tender? could the tender be faulty and actually causing a problem? Im reaching with this one but you never know.

  14. #14
    New BMW Battery
    Then Bosch OEM Equivalent
    Then AC Delco

    All batteries were tested for charge prior to use.

    It could be the alternator, but the interesting thing is that on a fully charged battery, newly installed, it would start. Right after the engine is turned off, it would refuse to start. The battery would test as fully charged. Immediately disconnect the battery, wait ten seconds, reconnect, and it starts with no hesitation..

  15. #15

  16. #16
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    What if theres some kind of electric build up somewhere? I suggest the CTek 7002 tender- but I don't think that would solve your problem.

  17. #17
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Some kind of short-circuit in starter-engine? The drained batteries must have had a lot of current drawn, and because the batteries actually died eventually the current must have kept on going..... Otherwise they wouldn't die.

  18. #18
    The puzzle is that the battery is not discharging and not going dead. It only fails to work when he actually removes the key from the ignition and tries to restart it. Then it's dead again. Not even enough juice to light the dash.

    Then if he then disconnects the battery and reconnects it, it starts again. But only once. Can't be a battery, alternator, or battery charger problem. There is some sort of electronic shut off taking over. Or something cosmic.

  19. #19
    How about just taking it to the dealer for diagnostics at this point?
    Skip Hammerman

    2002 BMW Z8 - Meisterschaft GT, PP installed, CDV delete
    2013 BMW X3
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  20. #20
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Musta10000 View Post
    How about just taking it to the dealer for diagnostics at this point?

    I agree, I think that is the right thing to do.

  21. #21
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    He said he's had mediocre dealer experiences. If in the USA I would find the closest dealer that has Z8 experience- like Peter Pan. Maybe you can reach out to Bill Stuart and ask for a recommendation?

  22. #22
    He's in Tokyo, that's why I suggested calling Matt, he's both the most knowledgable expert and in the closest time zone.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  23. #23
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    Perhaps Carlos you will want to bring in an expert or send the car to an expert- I am guessing bringing the expert to you will be less expensive.

  24. #24
    Thanks again everyone. Actually, the car is now in a farm two hours outside of Manila, nice driving roads but when something goes wrong it is a real chore to have to bring the car to Manila for the nearest authorized dealer.

    I plan to go through the car again, inclusive of the tips above including another new battery, next weekend when I have the time, and have another go at DIY. In the meantime I will also have the dealer check both keys in the unlikely event that they are the source of the issues. If that does not work, then off to the dealer.

    Will report once the problem is determined and resolved.

  25. #25
    Just spent time with the car, the symptoms are as described, and repeatable.

    1) When a battery is newly connected, no issues, car starts and runs strong, no problems whatsoever.
    2) For as long as the key is kept in place, the car can be restarted, no issues, key turns fully and all the proper dash lights are lit.
    3) As soon as the key is pulled out, once reinserted the key will not turn fully, no dash lights, no nothing.
    4) To get the car started, the battery has to be disconnected, and the cycle starts.
    5) 3 new batteries tested, and the above repeatable.

    I will try to have the dealer examine the 2 OEM keys in case they are the source of the problem, if no good results then the car will go in for repair.

    Will report findings.

  26. #26
    If you suspect keys, then also check the EWS module as that is what pairs with the key to give the start signal. There are ways (google search) to disable the EWS to check if this is the problem.

  27. #27

    Update - Problem Solved

    After almost two months with the dealer the starting problem is finally solved. They initially thought it was the key cylinder - no luck. Then they replaced the steering lock cylinder - problem solved. Apparently both parts have electro-mechanical linkages with the car's electronics.

    They did not know, until I showed them, that in these cases you can restart the car by simply disconnecting and reconnecting the battery.

    Thanks for all the help. Carlos

  28. #28
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Good news! That was a long process. At least the rest of us will benefit. Thanks for the info. Now go enjoy the spring weather!

  29. #29
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    Agreed! Great news and appreciate the information.

  30. #30

    Maybe car #2 with problem

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlosZ8 View Post
    After almost two months with the dealer the starting problem is finally solved. They initially thought it was the key cylinder - no luck. Then they replaced the steering lock cylinder - problem solved. Apparently both parts have electro-mechanical linkages with the car's electronics.

    They did not know, until I showed them, that in these cases you can restart the car by simply disconnecting and reconnecting the battery.

    Thanks for all the help. Carlos
    So Carlos, here I was crossing the California desert (115 degrees) - a ways away from Manilla. I stopped to get a drink and came out to the car to find that I could not start it. What to do?? Fortunately there was internet signal. I went to BMWZ8.us - the best car site in the whole world and was saved by reading this thread - amazing. From nightmare to an easy drive home to a safe garage.

    Thanks to you, Carlos and Andrew.

    Now to the matter of fixing this, Carlos.
    You changed the key cylinder and then the steering lock cylinder before you got it to work. Do you think that it was necessary to change the key cylinder and the steering lock cylinder or just the steering lock cylinder?
    There is also an ignition switch that you don't mention. Do you recall having to change that also?

    This is important because some of the parts are over $500 and, because they are ordered from Germany, they are not returnable even with a restocking fee.

    Thanks again.
    Ted

  31. #31
    Ted,

    Glad to have been helpful.

    My dealer and I tried the cheapest solutions first, based on their reading of the problem. We replaced the key cylinder initially but that did not work. Then we replaced the steering lock, which did the trick.

    Agreed on the issue of having to order, pay, and wait in Manila (or any other place) for non-refundable parts, which is why my problem took about 2 months to resolve. But the joy is back in driving the car.

    Yes, thank you again to Andrew for a site that spreads the knowledge and the passion for these cars.

  32. #32
    A little follow up.

    Since I had a little time, I decided to try to skip replacing the key cylinder and just replace the steering lock. Well, three hours of Irvine BMW labor later, the car starts fine again. (Though I was getting into the habit of disconnecting the battery every time I needed to start the car. It made me think that we might have more in common with the Series II Jag XKE than I thought. )

  33. #33
    Good to see you posting again Ted!
    C.A. Cardenas (AKA Dan)
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