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Old 03-12-2011, 03:14 PM   #1
pawcio
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Possible Electrical Problem Question

Sorry in advance for the long message but I want to explain the problem and I hope I can get some sound advice.

Its been raining a lot for the last three days and the accumulation of all that rain and moisture may have been the cause of my problem. Coming back from work yesterday the first thing I realized was that my radio controls on the steering wheel did not work...both the volume control and the next/previous track buttons. Thought it may just have been that but then I discovered another weird thing. I was on the hwy and I put my left turn signal on to change lanes...the indicator arrow kept blinking and making the clicking noise even after i put the stick in the neutral position. To test it I tried signalling to the right, the right arrow blinked but when I went back to neutral the left arrow began blinking. I restarted the car on the fly and it went away. This later happened when I signalled a right turn. Also, I turned off my radio and couldn't turn in back on. After about 5 minutes it turned on again. I got to where I was going and parked in from of a van. I could see the reflection of my lights on their rear hatch. When I put the signal to the left and back the indicator kept blinking but the actual light had stopped, same thing on the right. I tried my four-ways and even though they were flashing outside, the indicators on the dash were not at first and began flashing after 15 seconds and continued to flash after I turned off the four-ways.

I was heading home late last night when it wasn't raining and it seemed that some of the functions were returning to normal. This morning the radio controls on the steering wheel were fine as I parked in the garage to avoid more rain if possible. I'm assuming it was a moisture problem, but I could be wrong. If you guys have other suggestions then please share.

I believe it was a moisture related short or something like that. So the question is, does anyone here have the expertise to know what the turn signal wiring and radio wiring have in common. Do they run along somewhere in the same place and if so where? Maybe I can check if seals are leaky somewhere. Two of the problems were steering wheel related as the radio controls and turn signal stalk is on the steering wheel, but the radio not turning on was on the dash itself, and the 4-ways button is near the cup holders. Do all these wires go anywhere through the same location?

Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2011, 05:55 PM   #2
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Everything goes to the ECU, and I do know that some e36 vehicles have issues with flooding of that area because of blockages in the draining system around the cowling or wherever the heck. A good place to start would be there if the ecu is located in the same location on the e46. If problems continue, BMW does have special diagnostic equipment which will hook up to your ecu harness for example and test the wiring for all sorts of electrical faults such as ground faults, high resistance, etc.
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Old 03-13-2011, 02:45 PM   #3
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Everything goes to the ECU, and I do know that some e36 vehicles have issues with flooding of that area because of blockages in the draining system around the cowling or wherever the heck. A good place to start would be there if the ecu is located in the same location on the e46. If problems continue, BMW does have special diagnostic equipment which will hook up to your ecu harness for example and test the wiring for all sorts of electrical faults such as ground faults, high resistance, etc.
Sorry, mate, but DME has nothing to do with a lights, it is only responsible for Engine. The body control module on the other hand does. (at least on E46, I dont know E36).

There is a know fault of the e46s having the moisture causing problems when it enters into the isolated box in the hood drivers side. See if you got moisture there dry it out.

Don't quite me on that, but if you want to get read of the moisture in the cabin. Bring some news paper with you, they absorb moisture and great reading material while you waiting for somebody.
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:29 AM   #4
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what is an isolated box? and by in the hood you mean in the engine bay?
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Old 03-14-2011, 12:27 PM   #5
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that is correct!
It is black covered isolated box in the engine bay,drivers side has 4 hex screws.
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Old 03-14-2011, 12:49 PM   #6
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that is correct!
It is black covered isolated box in the engine bay,drivers side has 4 hex screws.
thanks. since the problem is gone there may be no moisture there now so guess i'll just take a look and then insulate it just in case.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:48 PM   #7
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thanks guys i did an extensive search today of what may have caused the problem. what i forgot or i guess purposefully omitted in my question was that the day that i had this problem i had parked on a steep hill nose down, which exposes two design flaws in the drainage and rubber seal system near the area of where the cabin air filter is. fist....the drainage holes are near the rear of the engine bay so parking on a steep downhill slope allows for a lot of water to collect. however, this isn't a major issue as the rubber seals probably hold the water, and even if they don't there are no electronics in the areas it could leak.

i did find the problem however and it was with the black covered box...however it was the seal near it and its a design flaw. the seal running along the windshield curves around and overlaps with another seal that runs by the fender. at their connection point there is a small gap that could drip water right onto the black covered box if and only if the car is on a very slanted hill. i saw where the water had dripped.

anyway...a word of warning...on very rainy days don't park on a steep hill nose first in your e46. cheers.
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:33 PM   #8
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Awesome debug. Glad you found it.
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:54 PM   #9
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http://www.bmwmotorsports.org/BMW_docs/ZKEIV.pdf
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