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BMW Z3 1997 E36 - Starter problems and more


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Dear All,

Sorry to write this in English. Hope its ok.

I just had a great year driving the Z3. It hasn't given me any problems so far until recently. A serious one where the car simply doesn't start. Its kinda ironic since I need to get an "APK keuring"before the 18th of March. Now I just want the car to drive me to a garage and get what you call a "beurt". I will list my issues according the severity.

Starter problem

  • I had my alternator/starter replaced last year. Also bought a new battery. The car started brilliantly until just recently.
  • I have tested the battery (all good), checked some of the fuses (not sure if I have checked all correctly) and even started (to be sure) with a start cable.
  • I can hear the starter working but somehow no ignition to the engine takes place.
  • I can hear a click on the right side of the engine (which goes on and off)
  • The "toerenteller", whilst trying to start moves up and down, though no engine is running.
  • And yes, there is gas in the car..:-)
  • Since I have serious "vocht" problems in the trunk (will explain later in this topic) I checked the corrosion of the connectors to the battery.

Any suggestions?

"Vocht problems" in the trunk

I know this is a known problem on the Z3. I first made sure to create a temporary cover for the long lamp on the trunk hood. This didn't help since I still get allot of water inside the trunk. I believe , when getting the car, that the garage didn't mount the softtop correctly hence intake of rain water in the water takes place. Now I would like to have this problem solved for good. I also have a faint feeling that the cars electronics is playing a game with me hence the above starter problem. Although it didn't start in a period where it was dry.

Any guidelines what to do here?

If you need more questions asked please feel free to do so. I am also looking for a garage near the Mijdrecht area (ruud is a bit too far for this matter I think, although he did help me to diagnosis the cardon issue last year; not sure if I spelled it correctly)

I can read Dutch so no issues there.

Hope you can support me.



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Met het startprobleem kan ik je niet helpen, helaas.

Zijn asmautos of AutoExtra in MIjdrecht mogelijk een alternatief voor Ruud. Hoewel ik je toch zou adviseren met Ruud contact op te nemen. Een betere specialist is er niet!

Wat betreft lekkage: ik zou eens langs Cabrio Care in Naarden rijden (moet je Z3 natuurlijk wel eerst willen starten). Die hebben onlangs een lekkage-probleem van de Z3 van één van mijn vrienden uitstekend opgelost. Weten alles van hard- en softtops.

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Bedankt...maar niemand die mij suggesties kan geven voor de staart problemen.? :-(


Did you already check all fuses?

Battery (you used jump cables) and starter motor seem not to be the issue, the non-ignition might be your most important pointer.

I had a similar (but not necessarily related) issue once with a non-starter: mine wouldn't start due to a faulty (overheated) crank sensor during one of the Eifel tours. Quite embarassing if you want to leave after a quick 'convenience break'. :muur:

The moving rev counter makes it more puzzling, your starting revs should be too low in a NORMAL situation to have a big impact on the rev counter's needle. This does sound like elctrical Gremlins... <_<

Anyway: if all fuses are OK, you're next stop is checkingthe OBD error codes, maybe that can point you further into the right direction.

Several forum members (including me) have OBD readers, there might be one near you! :)

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I do think its electrical (gremlin indeed) but finding someone with an OBD reader nearby uithoorn/mijdrecht is more then welcome to help out and check.I will check all the fuses. Any numbers in particular I need to double check?

FYI i also have the following: I get the "check oil because the bar is now yellow on the dashboard") I have added oil but believe this is something you will need to reset after a checkup. Also my airbag sign is on for 2 min and then disappears. This has been going on for a few months.

I am aware this car needs to go through a good check but would like it to at least get to the garage..:-)


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Gast Z3-Widebody
Now I just want the car to drive me to a garage and get what you call a "beurt".

This almost looks like you want to have a "beurt"...instead of the car..

Nevertheless, all the best in solving this issues!

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Any numbers in particular I need to double check?

The oil light is a 'reset', for which you'd need an OBD reader. And I wouldn't recommend just topping up the oil (that's how I interpreted your reply), a proper oil change + a fresh oil filter is the way to go :)

Don't have the electronics diagrams at hand, so can't give you exact fuse numbers/positions, but this might be helpful:, select your version/engine, there should be relevant information there.

You could use my OBD reader (I'm appr 30mins from Mijdrecht/Uithoorn), but I'm mostly out of the country this week...

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well, my fuse collection has a wonderful german language...anyway I couldn't find the fuse diagram on your link.

I am staring to think its around the starter/alternator and even perhaps the solenoid connections. I believe you should measure the voltage around there to see if at ;east voltage is getting there?

I could try a push start but doing that alone isnt easy. Anyway, hope more comments will come up. cheers

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- Did you remove the starter key completely (for 2 to 3 minutes) between attempts? I noticed the EWSII module locks the vehicle to prevent restarting if the key is left in.

- Ignition (and fuelpump? 99% sure) will be disabled of the EWSII module (elektronic wegfahr sperre 2) is prohibiting a start with a wrong/unrecognized ignition key. It could be caused by the ignition key itself having a damaged RFID chip.

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I doubt if my key has a RFID chip since I only see the key light as a function. This is an old model. How would one solve the matter with the EWSII module?, I will try tomorrow to start with more space between the attempts.

Anyway ways to check the fuel pump functioning? Didnt hear any sounds behind the passenger seat.

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All Z3 have an RFID chip in the ignition key from factory. EWSII module uses that chip to identify the start-attempt as being legit.

By any chance the key has been in close proximity to severe electromagnetic radiation? Hospital equipment, mig/tig welding etc. etc.

Im unaware of the loudness of the fuelpump in the Z3, it engages only after the starter motor engages if I recall correctly. (DME / motormaganement drive the fuel pump relay) (no longer have that fossil equipment anymore as my Zed is electric...)

You may also investigate the fuel relay under the drivers-side dash...... I noticed the spades on the relay show discolorations from oxidation on mine when attempting to empty the fuel-tank through the fuel-pump.

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I have just realized that the click I heard from the engine is from the box (near the jump cable position (red cross)). where the DME is located. I thought this was interesting. I have tried to locate the fuel pump relay and wasnt sure which one was what. Took some pictures of the fuses for any support.

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Ah, it appears from that document the starter motor is also controlled through the EWS2 system. So if it is cranking, EWS2 is fine.

Either ignition is failing, or a crank/flywheel sensor is not reporting preventing the ECU to start/ignite the mixture. Or the fuel pump has packed in.

Ignition can be tested by pulling one HV ignition plug and inserting a old sparkplug and have someone verify the sparkplug is producing 'sparks'. Connect / bolt / make sure the ground of the 'old test sparkplug' is making propper contact to the chassis !! Note, the ignition voltage is dangerous and potentially lethal . (Something that also works with varying success which does not require pulling the actually HV leads is holding a fluorescent light next to the sparkplug wires in a shady lit garage. You'll notice the tube/fluorescent light flash weakly. )

Sensor failure is easiest diagnosed with an OBD reader.

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Hi All

Thanks to Pim who was kind enough to lend me his ODB reader I finally got one code called E and then 10. The E stands for error when the OBD reader cannot get all data and a eventually a reset is needed ( as I have read and the plug was well put into the connector) . I do have oil services and the airbag lamp (goes away after 2 min) burning on the dashboard so hence this could be the reason for the E.

Hence what I have understood its a crankshaft sensor issue. Any comments are more then welcome.


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The (oil) service light shouldn't necessitate a reset in order to read the error codes: resetting the service record and reading/wiping the error memory are two different features that can exist independently. Can't you use the 'scroll' function to read the other codes?

A bit hard to tell from the top of my head when you have the OBD reader's manual :)

And another point: are you able to detect whether the fuel pump comes into action when you start?

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