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Old 05-16-2006, 07:25 AM   #1
DANIMAL
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Battery charging problem?

I was driving home from work yesturday (May 16) and noticed that my battery indicator was slightly on. I checked the voltage on my car deck and it said that it was running approx 11.7V while the car was turned on. I know that this is bad seeing as how it is normally around 14.5V while the car is running. I turned some stuff off and the battery said it had a higher charge. I parked it for a while and then used the car to run an errand and it was running around 13.8 for a while then dropped back to like 11.7. When I was on the highway it seemed to charge more though. I'm fairly certain that the problem is with my alternator, but I was hoping that one of you guys might have a better idea of what the problem is. I appreciate any advice you guys have to offer, and because I am not driving the car until this is fixed I would appreciate quick responses.

Thanks guys.
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Old 05-16-2006, 08:59 AM   #2
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When I had a problem with the charging system it turned out to be a faulty voltage regulator. Since it is built in to the alternator, I replaced it as a whole. I'm not sure, but there may be someone who can chime in with tregards to having it rebuilt. Good luck, Dave
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Old 05-16-2006, 11:51 AM   #3
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I had this issue a long time ago on my E30. I'm pretty sure it was the voltage regulator too, which you can actually find seperate from the alternator, maybe change the brushed too if you can. I ended up going with the whole alternator though cause I found a cheap rebuilt one from a wrecker with a warranty. Worked perfect. If you cant find a reasonable alt (Can Tire wants like $400) check Dominion Auto in Stoney Creek......ususally about $75 less your core.
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Old 05-16-2006, 08:03 PM   #4
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Ok I talked to a mechanic friend of mine and he basicly aggred with you guys, that it is most likely the alternator but it also could be the battery. I have found a alternator for 100 bucks but it is a 140Amp whereas the one on my 320i is a 80Amp, is this going to be a problem for me? I know that the pulley is bigger on the 140, so can I get away with just using a bigger belt? I am asuming that the mounting points are the same.
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Old 05-16-2006, 09:20 PM   #5
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it's not the battery. that light on the dashboard is NOT a "battery indicator light". It's a 'charging system indicator light'. It comes on when the alternator is not outputting an acceptable voltage. This is why the light is on when the ignition is on, but the car is off. And why the light sputters and turns off as the engine cranks.

In either case, if it was the voltage regulator brushes you'd notice the lights dimming at idle, or fluctuating at idle... then brighten up as the engine is revved. If you don't notice this oddity, then it's very likely the entire alternator needs replacing.

Replace voltage regulator (new): around $60
Replace alternator w/ voltage regulator (rebuild): around $180.

You can get away with the 140A alternator, but it will put a lil more stress on your engine. You will need a larger belt. You're correct in assuming the mounting points are the same.
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Old 05-16-2006, 10:17 PM   #6
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Hey thanks for the info its really helpfull. Excatly how much more stress will it place on the engine? Like will I notice a preformance difference? and any idea on how much bigger of a belt I will need? thanks.
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Old 05-18-2006, 03:59 PM   #7
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Problem Solved.

So I returned the alternator I bought at bodyline, they claimed it was a 140 even though it was not. And I found a place that can get me a 140A alternator for $200 rebuilt + my old one. And it will be done tomorrow. Thanks guys for you help I appreciate it a lot.
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Old 05-18-2006, 04:10 PM   #8
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No problem, glad the problem is getting resolved. By the way, depending on what size your current belt is (how much slack it has) you can probably get away with the same belt with the bigger pully alternator. The performance different will not make an incredible difference, a few HP at most.
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Old 05-18-2006, 04:41 PM   #9
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The pulley on the 140A and the 80A are actually the same size (55mm) it was the pulley on the 90A and the 104A that are bigger (61.8mm). So I dont see a problem using my existing belt. unless the diameter of the actual alternator moves the pulley position outward from where it used to be.
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Old 05-18-2006, 04:43 PM   #10
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I doubt it would be pushed out further then. I've never actually seen the 320i alternator... I assumed it was similar to the 80A on the 318i.
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Old 05-18-2006, 04:49 PM   #11
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It is very similar.
318I 80A
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...08&hg=12&fg=22

320i 80A
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...72&hg=12&fg=22

But there are actually a couple of different 80A alternators that you can use in the 320i
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Old 05-18-2006, 04:52 PM   #12
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That's odd... mounting points look almost the same. When my alternator died I couldn't get a rebuilt one in time.. so I ended up bastardizing some other cars in the driveway and rebuilt it with Jaguar, Mazda Rx7, and Eagle Talon parts... I have no idea how many amps my alternator is now though. :| I had to reuse the 318i housing.
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Old 05-18-2006, 04:59 PM   #13
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Well as long as it worked thats all the matters in the end. They do look quite the same and altough they do have different part numbers im fairly sure they are the same. Yea the alternators are not easy to find, it took a couple of days looking around, but there are a lot of places here (hamilton) that can rebuild the alternator in one day if you bring them yours. An easy way to find out how many amps you have it to take an ampmeter and touch the contacts at the back of the alternator, make shure its a high current ampmeter though and start on the highest setting and work down. If you dont you will blow a fuse in the meter.
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Old 05-18-2006, 05:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 320iGuy
Well as long as it worked thats all the matters in the end. They do look quite the same and altough they do have different part numbers im fairly sure they are the same. Yea the alternators are not easy to find, it took a couple of days looking around, but there are a lot of places here (hamilton) that can rebuild the alternator in one day if you bring them yours. An easy way to find out how many amps you have it to take an ampmeter and touch the contacts at the back of the alternator, make shure its a high current ampmeter though and start on the highest setting and work down. If you dont you will blow a fuse in the meter.
Yup.. been meaning to check it out one of these days too, have to rev the engine to 1500-2000rpm to measure amperage too... but it's just a temporary solution until I can get 170A in there to power all the electronics properly. (a temporary solution that's been holding up for around a year already).. :S
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