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Thread: Starter and starting problems check list.

  1. #1

    Exclamation Starter and starting problems check list.

    There are a series of reported starter issues with our cars, and I will try to address them all here in a single post for ease of reference.

    First thing to say is that 90% of all starting issues are directly related to the battery. These cars need a full charge on a strong, fresh battery to start.


    Common symptoms.

    A click when you press the starter button. (sometimes starts on second try).

    Common causes and solutions in the order you should try them.

    1.) Hold the starter button down for at least 3 seconds, and be sure your clutch pedal is fully depressed.

    2.) Recharge and check your battery is holding its charge, and giving full power. It has been often noted that the battery does not keep its charge in the Z8 due to the constant drain that is part of the Z8's electrical systems, even when the car is off, and the flimsy BMW charger cannot keep up with the rate of discharge.

    3.) Make sure your key is charged, leave it in the ignition in the off position overnight, with battery on trickle charge.

    4.) Replace battery. The Z8 Club recommends BMW's new style AGM-batteries (Absorbent Glass Mat-battery). There are many, many instances of fully charged batteries failing to start the car, then a fresh battery is installed, and all is good.

    5.) Check and replace the starter motor. Several have been replaced both here in the US and with the Club in the EU, however this starter has been used for a number of years on many other BMW's with no indication of a problem. The starter motor is common to both the Z8 & the Alpina. (Bosch PMGR 1.7kW/12 Volt, CW, 9-Tooth Pinion). The solenoid does seem to be part of the problem, but it is an integral part of the starter, and can only be replaced with it.
    The BMW OE part # is 12-41-1-468-622, 12-41-1-729-981.



    NB: Out of all the owners here and in the Z8 Club only one had a problem with the actual starter button. Similar symptoms to a flat battery, but only changing the switch solved the starting problem.

    Also two Z8 Club members in Europe and two of our board members here have had problems with the ignition lock. This can disable the car completely, and require return to the dealer to replace the unit.




    Harvey2 posted this info on the cars starting system in one of the other threads.

    I've been digging through some documentation. Here is some info from BMW.

    There are several ?relays? or electronic functions that must be satisfied or ?good? before the starter motor will receive power after the start button is pressed.
    - Electronic Immobilizer Control Unit (EWS)
    - Start relay (not the one in the starter motor assembly)
    - DME control unit
    - Fuse 21 supplying the start button switch
    - Fuse 107 supplying the EWS
    - The relay built inside the starter assembly (this relay has two coils with separate inputs)

    A discussion of the Vehicle Immobilization System is the place to start to understand the start sequence. For interest, and not really on topic, but anyways, here are some key points about the Vehicle Immobilisation System (as read from BMW literature pertaining to the Z8)

    - the key does not require an internal battery to start the car. There is a transponder chip inside the key that is powered by magnetic field coupling from the ring coil in the ignition key slot. While not explicitly mentioned, this is obviously separate from the wireless remote functions in the key as those obviously need a battery to function.
    - A fault in communication between key transponder and EWS3 control unit would be logged in the fault code memory, separate fault logging for each key.
    - Don?t lose too many keys, as the control unit can only handle a maximum of 10 key codes, or 6 replacement keys.

    Ok, so let?s look at how the car starts. First you insert your key. The key communicates with the EWS3.3 control unit. When it satisfies the EWS by sending data for identification and start enable, the EWS releases (enables) the starter relay located in the control unit and also sends a coded enable via datalink to the DME. This enable has to be communicated successfully for the car to start as the DME is responsible to enable the fuel supply and ignition functions. After the engine starts, sends a code change into the key and a new code is also stored in the DME.

    Both the EWS and the DME maintain identical tables of codes. These codes are changed every time you try to start your car. Engine start is allowed only if the code sent by the EWS agrees with the code in the DME. Since the codes of the DME and EWS are matched in production of the car, you can?t do swapping of one or the other of these units for test purposes. If faults cause the codes to not match anymore, it is possible for BMW service to rematch the codes.

    EWS3 is used on various BMWs and I note that automatic transmissions also have an enable switch if the selector is in P or N which must be satisfied for the car to start. This may apply to Alpinas. Interestingly the EWS gets this signal along two paths, one via K Bus and the other via data link. If one or the other is not received, noticeable start delays ranging up to 2 seconds might occur, but then again, this only applies to automatics.

    If a new key is used for the very first time, there is a delay of up to 2 seconds before start.

    Below is a diagram showing the electrical connections enabling the starter. With this kind of information, and the help of a BMW tech to find the various points, it is possible to put a multichannel recording device to show which nodes receive voltage and which do not upon a failed start sequence (the infamous "click" but no start). That seems like the most effective way to find where this problem is occurring. But it implies that the logging device is attached and left on a car for a long period in hopes that the fault will occur. I wonder if this capability is actually built in to the car already.

    edit: the fact that we hear a click indicates that an electromechanical relay or solenoid is being powered on the press of the button. There are only two that I can see for sure, one is the "start relay" and the other is the relay in the starter motor assembly. It isn't clear if there is one on the EWS also, but yes I think there might be. The "start relay" is a small white relay located at the right rear of the engine compartment under a cover located beside the DME box, which is high up just under the hood and ahead of the firewall.


    The attachment is a simplified diagram showing how power gets to the starter motor. I admit to being a bit puzzled about the configuration of the two solenoids in the starter. I copied this directly from the symbol used in the BMW document. Of the two solenoids, the one on the left of the diagram clearly operates the relay contacts, but the one on the right is a bit unusual.


    Thanks Harvey2 for the great info.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  2. #2
    Sport Button On - DSC Off gutMD's Avatar
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    WOW
    many thanks again Andrew. You rock
    I'll be looking for the diagrams
    ---------------------------------
    Regards,
    Gary
    2002 Topaz // Crema

  3. #3
    Thanks to Harvey, Dirk, JŁrgen and all the other board members for all the great info that went into this simplified thread.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  4. #4
    The issue was cured by...

    Replacing the battery
    zilver8 x1 and also had starter motor changed later on
    calmsea


    Recharging the key battery
    Juergen Wunderlich


    Replacing the starter motor
    The CE
    Jacouziel
    tomfakes
    DirkZ8 x1 but problem later returned
    zilver8 x1 but problem later returned
    Rich x2 !



    Unresolved
    forest
    Lupin
    alpinabluealpina
    harvey2
    ron's rocket
    Z8 Dave
    CarlosZ8
    pandaman
    ZMates
    gutMD


    Please keep us updated with your starter issues and fixes so we can build the knowledge base.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  5. #5
    Team Z8 tomfakes's Avatar
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    I've replaced a starter motor once - fixed it for a while

    I do notice that this problem is worse if the battery isn't absolutely full. Driving 5 miles each way to work isn't enough charge on even a 1 year old battery to keep it full enough to avoid the problem. The battery tender works to keep enough charge to not see the problem very often.

  6. #6

    Starter Replacement DIY

    Hi, how easy is it to replace the starter on the Z8 as a DIY? Where is the starter located on the S62?

    My nearest dealer is close to a hundred miles away through some dense traffic, the car was recently serviced and otherwise runs perfectly, so I am weighing options on my intermittent starting problem which has become worse recently.

    Thank you in advance.

  7. #7
    Z8Mania
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    Thank you. Great great info. You can put me in the replaced battery category. This summer I am due to replace it again as a way of staying ahead of the problem.

  8. #8
    Sport Button On - DSC Off jim's Avatar
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    I don't drive her as often as I should and found exactly what you describe, nada on start, but then a second press maybe. I've since installed a Deltran ($60.) Battery Tender thru the license plate and she starts first time, everytime.

  9. #9
    Alpina: silver / black
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    I've had repeated problems with starting since I bought my Alpine nearly 4 years ago. So far, I've been through 2 batteries (now using a glass mat battery), a new starter motor and have had a switch on the gearbox changed. Each time, the z8 would come back from the workshop starting like a dream. The trouble was this also happened even when it went in to try and find out what was causing the endless starting problems - with no solution found. Which began to make me suspicious: how come the car was always fine after time in the workshop, but not at home on a trickle charger? Finally, a bit of light dawned: just maybe it was because the key was being left in the ignition for lengthy periods of time and given time to re-charge. So, despite the advice from local BMW mechanics that it would make no difference, I simply left the key in the ignition overnight and put the battery on trickle charge. That was a month ago, and the car hasn't missed a beat since: starts first press every time. It may not be the answer to everyone's problems with the dreaded 'click' but having had to press the starter up to 30 times before getting any response in the past, it certainly seems to have worked for my Alpina!

    Hope this helps,
    Stephen

  10. #10
    It is a great idea and also something that has been discussed before here. I always leave my key in the ignition when the car is on trickle, and I cycle through both my keys a couple of times a year.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  11. #11
    Z8Mania
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    First of all, welcome! Interesting suggestion. I wonder if there are different suppliers used over time. I've never seen this problem with my 13 year old Z8 but it seems you've found a good solution for those with this issue.

  12. #12
    Z8 Novice
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    just discovered my Z8 has a dead battery. any issues jump starting the car (no electrical problems will result?). who do you recommend in the LA area to service the car (I'm overdue) and replace the battery? or should I just head back to the dealer?

  13. #13
    Z8Mania
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    There should be no problem jump starting the car. I don't know the rest, though I **think** BMW Irvine has a Z8 Specialist.

  14. #14
    My car is currently getting its ten year service at Center BMW - Jack is the master tech there who is a Z8 specialist, and we have all been taking our cars there since Marty found and recommended him. Call Paul Sanhaphakdi - 818 907 9995 - he's the service advisor who works with Jack, and will schedule your car in.

    Jumping the Z8 is no problem, the jumper connection points are in the engine compartment with plastic tabs marking them.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  15. #15
    Team Z8 tomfakes's Avatar
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    If you can't start the car with the jump points in the engine bay, going direct to the battery has worked for me in the past

  16. #16
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Tom, the red one goes to positive! ... JK

  17. #17
    The Other Red ZAchterbahn's Avatar
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    Quick fix

    Upon inserting the key and before even turning it you should hear a click. If you don't you still can turn the key but the starter button will not do its job. This can happen with a new battery installed and trickle charged.

    Here is a quick fix that so far has always worked for me: remove the key, disconnect the battery for a minute, reconnect it, insert the key and the click is back. The car starts right up.

    I am now working on relocating the battery between driver and passenger seat. Should make for a nice armrest too.
    ZAchterbahn
    2001 Z8

  18. #18
    Any new insights into Alpina starting "click" problems since the good info from Andrew in 2010?
    Mine always starts - but may take numerous attempts. Has a new starter + strong Odyssey battery.
    Usually OK after trickle charge, but when away from the "car barn" it has the click again !
    Mike HHI

  19. #19
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Clicking again

    Hopefully this time it is a discharged ignition key (as it may very well have been in the past when I replaced the battery and the starter).
    It apparently takes 30 hours to get the key fully charged. To charge the key, it has to be in the "accessories" position and not in the "off" position as mentioned in post #1 of this thread.

    I'll report back in a few days
    Dirk

    Alpina #142
    www.bmwccca.com

  20. #20
    DSC Off Gammaman's Avatar
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    So no problem leaving the key in acc. position for an extended period with trickle charger on? I had left the key in the ignition all winter but in the off position. Finally got my car on the road yesterday. No problem starting when I left my house, but took it to get an inspection sticker 3 miles away, and when I went to start it got the dreaded click. Finally started after at least a half dozen attempts. I certainly don't mind replacing the starter if that's what it takes, but from what I've read in this thread I'm not convinced that will do it.
    61345 ​Jet Black/Sport Red

  21. #21
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gammaman View Post
    So no problem leaving the key in acc. position for an extended period with trickle charger on? I had left the key in the ignition all winter but in the off position. Finally got my car on the road yesterday. No problem starting when I left my house, but took it to get an inspection sticker 3 miles away, and when I went to start it got the dreaded click. Finally started after at least a half dozen attempts. I certainly don't mind replacing the starter if that's what it takes, but from what I've read in this thread I'm not convinced that will do it.
    Sorry for not reporting back earlier. Left the key charging for 48 hrs in the accessories position and the dreaded clicking has disappeared. I'd say it is certainly worth trying. I regret not having done so 2 starters ago
    Dirk

    Alpina #142
    www.bmwccca.com

  22. #22
    Starting on second try.

    I have had this problem as well. My car is being serviced and the mechanic (who is very familiar with the Z8 engine but less familiar with the Z8) has suggested that this problem can also be related to the vanos system. He says that when the starter is depressed the cam variators are rotated left then right. This is a valve timing check. If this checks "ok", the motor starts if not the system waits for another start try. The need for good electrical power to perform the rotation may explain why a poor battery (poor charge) results in this problem. My Z8 is a "garage queen" (2000+ miles) and he has suggested that this might have something to do with the problem - something about the engine oil.

    We are in the middle of this right now. If anyone can add something please do.

    Phil
    Philip Thackray
    61115 Topaz/Crema

  23. #23
    Sport Button On - DSC Off harvey2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thackray View Post
    Starting on second try.

    I have had this problem as well. My car is being serviced and the mechanic (who is very familiar with the Z8 engine but less familiar with the Z8) has suggested that this problem can also be related to the vanos system. He says that when the starter is depressed the cam variators are rotated left then right. This is a valve timing check. If this checks "ok", the motor starts if not the system waits for another start try. The need for good electrical power to perform the rotation may explain why a poor battery (poor charge) results in this problem. My Z8 is a "garage queen" (2000+ miles) and he has suggested that this might have something to do with the problem - something about the engine oil.

    We are in the middle of this right now. If anyone can add something please do.

    Phil
    Philip Thackray
    61115 Topaz/Crema
    This is very interesting Phil. I can't see anything in this suggestion that conflicts with any of the symptoms we have been seeing, so it fits so far. There is a clear link between the car sitting idle for long periods and the dreaded click, but the link is not so obvious to simple battery condition, key charge condition and so on. Please keep us informed.

  24. #24
    I have been a long time away from my Z8 (for various reasons) but I'm back to driving now and enjoying it.

    I too have the dreaded click problem but I made a little test this afternoon that supports the state of the battery charge theory.

    Last week I put a brand new Interstate battery in the car and connected a CTEK MULTI US 7002 12- Volt Battery charger to the charging posts under the engine hood.

    A few days later I tried the start sequence and had several "clicks" before the engine actually turned over and started. I took a quick drive and put the car away again with the CTEK charger connected as before.

    A few more days pasted and I decided to make some very accurate voltage measurements using a Fluke digital (4 digits) DC meter. Before doing anything else I measured the battery voltage at the battery. It measured 13.32 Vdc with the charger still connected. I then disconnected the charger and performed a start sequence, there were three "clicks" before the engine turned over and started. I took the car for a 20 minute trip around some back roads (I live in the Western PA countryside north of Pittsburgh, PA) when I returned to my garage I left the motor at idle and measured the battery voltage at 14.23 Vdc. I turned the motor off and attempted a restart and got an immediate starter motor response and engine start.

    In my post above of July 2nd 2015 I mentioned the possible vanos involvement requiring a really good battery charge. The mechanic I mentioned there is actually Dan Mackay at the Bradan Group in Long Island NY. He has a lot of experience with the E39 (in the M5) which I believe is the same as the Z8 S62.

    Can anyone suggest other tests while I'm at it??

    Phil
    Philip Thackray
    61115 Topaz/Crema

  25. #25
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Just have them replace the starter and your issues will be solved. Mine was clicking again a few months ago. Didn't take it to the dealership but had my mechanic remove the starter and we opened it up. Solenoid making bad contact. Got a Bosch replacement starter (which looked newer then the replacement one that I got from the dealer two years ago). I am good to go for another few years hopefully.
       
    Dirk

    Alpina #142
    www.bmwccca.com

  26. #26
    Dirk,

    Bad solenoid contacts causing the problem is consistent with higher battery voltages causing fewer non-start events.

    Do we know if the non-start events increase with increasing mileage? When I got my Z8 in 2010 it only had about 2300 miles on it and I had a significant number of non-start events. My Z8 still has less than 3000 miles on it and just the other day when starting "cold" (with 13.32 Volts on the battery) I had 5 or 6 "clicks" in a row before it started.

    Can anyone confirm the vanos sequencing that I described in my July 2, 2015 post above (information provided by Dan MacKay at Bradan)? If the variators are sequenced as Dan described this would account for different current requirements for a cold engine a hot engine and an engine that had sat for a while as the amount of oil and oil viscosity in the vicinity of the variators would differ under various conditions. My worst clicking experience this spring occurred at my first start attempt since putting the car up last year (even with the brand new battery).

    I would also note that the particular battery charger will yeild different final battery charge voltages. For example, I have 4 "identical" CTEC battery chargers on four separate Interstate batteries and the full charge voltages were 13.32, 13.5. 13.53 and 13.6 volts. These are all a far cry from the 14.23 Volts that the Z8 itself, when running, puts on the battery.

    Phil
    Philip Thackray
    61115 Topaz/Crema

  27. #27
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thackray View Post
    Do we know if the non-start events increase with increasing mileage?
    I am on my 4th starter and 4th battery during my 10 years of ownership. Purchased with 7,000 miles, the car now shows 17,000 miles. Never had other issues with it, and consider this the (small) cost of owning one. Several BMW mechanics have mentioned to me that the 745i from that same era suffers from the same problem.
    Dirk

    Alpina #142
    www.bmwccca.com

  28. #28
    Hi, one of the problems I *haven't* had with my car is with the battery, even though I drive about 2000 miles a year. I've replaced the battery 1x since 2012; however, I did that in connection with a control module issue that was not letting me unlock the passenger side.
    Anyway, the "secret" tip I got is to make sure you disconnect the mini flashlight behind the seats. Apparently, it drains the battery. Not sure if that gave me extra battery life, but the car always starts, even when I go 2 weeks between drives.

    Best,
    Greg
    Greg AH61930 - 2003 - Silver/Black

  29. #29
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    Hello,

    I have a big problem. Car was sitting for months and I couldnt start. So I hooked up external mobile battery, starter turned over but didnt start. Fuel was low, I added fuel but still same issue. Is that a key issue related to EWS or can anybody, ANYBODY give me some helpful hints here? Thanks a lot to all!!

  30. #30
    It sounds a bit vague, as in there could be many possible reasons for your lack of starting, so hard to give a clear answer, but in your position I'd call AAA and see if they can start it, if not flatbed it (never tow) to you nearest BMW specialist.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  31. #31
    Well, it's the beginning of the 2019 driving season here in Western PA and click, click, click goes the starter! I'm surprised that the last post here was June 2017 - has the starter clicking problem been solved somewhere else on the Z8 forum? I have tried everything listed above (except for replacing the starter motor) and still the problem persists. As DirkZ8 stated above, replacing the start motor seems to be only a temporary fix. How can this be on a high end BMW??? I only have 3100 miles on this car. I'm afraid to turn off the engine when I'm away from my garage for fear that I'll be stranded some place when the car finally will not start at all. I'll continue to experiment electrically (see my posts above) and report here. Philip Thackray Renfrew, PA USA.

  32. #32
    Z8 Millennial Monster 2112's Avatar
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    Subscribing.

    Mine does it sporadically. Not sure what I do to fix it but it seems to start after many tries on the days it is acting up.
    2000 Red over black
    heavily modified for performance. Although, not to the level of GM's car

  33. #33
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2112 View Post
    Subscribing.

    Mine does it sporadically. Not sure what I do to fix it but it seems to start after many tries on the days it is acting up.

    Yep, until one day it wonít
    Dirk

    Alpina #142
    www.bmwccca.com

  34. #34
    If anyone is wondering why values of our wonderful cars seem to hang back a bit further than what might be expected with just higher production numbers, here you go. Wondering whether we can start our cars. Geez. Thanks BMW. We might be better off banding together and hiring someone who worked in the appropriate department at BMW to find a solution to this vital problem - and take it off the Z8 problem list. It's such a pity that these magnificent and beautiful machines are marked by these quirky problems. We have waited for BMW to stand by their work (especially when cars have a few as 3100 miles) to no avail. Perhaps it's time for us to make some group investments to find solutions to our primary concerns. Simpler yet would be a registry that we could set up here to have our members post copies of their work invoices when their problems are fixed, for the benefit of all.

  35. #35
    Beyond the Valley of Z8 Madness
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    So frustrating. While I have not experience the starting problem yet, the anxiety and fear is always there as I'm about to push that black button.
    2003 Z8
    2019 GT3 Touring

  36. #36
    I have owned my Z8 almost 16 years. The car now has about 28,000 miles. The car is driven regularly for about 4 months of the year and sits on a very old trickle charger the rest of the time. I have replaced the battery just twice, but it looks like it's almost time for a third. Occasional starting issue has reappeared. I've never replace the starter. I guess I've been lucky. I have also not experienced many of the other common problems which people write about on this site.
    Eric Wentzel
    2001 Z8 silver / black
    1984 M635csi agate green / nutria buffalo
    1969 2002 golf yellow / black
    2016 Jaguar F-type R Italian racing red / black

  37. #37
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericw View Post
    I have owned my Z8 almost 16 years. The car now has about 28,000 miles. The car is driven regularly for about 4 months of the year and sits on a very old trickle charger the rest of the time. I have replaced the battery just twice, but it looks like it's almost time for a third. Occasional starting issue has reappeared. I've never replace the starter. I guess I've been lucky. I have also not experienced many of the other common problems which people write about on this site.
    Why is it on a very old trickle charger Eric? Why not invest in say, a CTEK? And what have you done about the occasional starting troubles?

  38. #38
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirkZ8 View Post
    Yep, until one day it wonít
    That day has come for me Dirk..... Just pushed the switch about 10 ten times....: Nothing...... Voltage is 12.9, EWS is clicking, key seems charged, I guess I have to do like you did; replace the starter. Thanks for the extra info; will ask my dealer specifically to get a (newer?) Bosch starter instead of a BMW OEM starter.

  39. #39
    Z8 Millennial Monster 2112's Avatar
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    Is the BOSCH starter new? All I can find is remanufactured units.
    2000 Red over black
    heavily modified for performance. Although, not to the level of GM's car

  40. #40
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2112 View Post
    Is the BOSCH starter new? All I can find is remanufactured units.
    No, at least not over here in Holland. I made some phonecalls (first one to Bosch) and was not able to find a new one, just refurbished ones.

    Strange: today, after about 5 times, suddenly my Z8 came to life ! After starting, I stopped the engine and tried to start about 10 times; started every single time.... What is wrong?? Could it be the 'position of the starter wheel' against the flywheel? Could the clicking sound be that the starter wants to get a grip in the flywheel but because of the position it is not able to make 'full contact' and thus will not turn??

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by RRZ8 View Post
    No, at least not over here in Holland. I made some phonecalls (first one to Bosch) and was not able to find a new one, just refurbished ones.

    Strange: today, after about 5 times, suddenly my Z8 came to life ! After starting, I stopped the engine and tried to start about 10 times; started every single time.... What is wrong?? Could it be the 'position of the starter wheel' against the flywheel? Could the clicking sound be that the starter wants to get a grip in the flywheel but because of the position it is not able to make 'full contact' and thus will not turn??
    Could it be the ignition switch that is about to go?
    Skip Hammerman

    2002 BMW Z8 - Meisterschaft GT, PP installed, CDV delete. 100,000 Mile Club
    2013 BMW X3
    2015 Porsche 911 Targa 4S

  42. #42
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Musta10000 View Post
    Could it be the ignition switch that is about to go?
    I can clearly hear the starterrelais clicking so I donít think itís the ignition switch.