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Old 01-15-2012, 12:25 PM   #16
jmack
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I think if you have the 'low' cluster the procedure is this:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...1&postcount=16
http://www.cardomain.com/ride/3134093/6 (provide detail on accessing all the tests)

Another way to test the alternator, and it's often disputed as possibly damaging the car, although no real evidence exists to support that - is to unhook the battery while the car is running. If it dies, alt is bad. Apparently people do this all the time with no ill effects, but there are those who are convinced it's a sure-fire way to fry all the electronics in your car.

FYI, on a full charge with a new battery, my car didn't die until 60 km later. Depends on how much high speed driving you do (ie over 50 maybe) as that keeps the car running OK and not purging the battery as much. Also if you have lights, stereo, fans on, will juice it quicker. I thought my problems were solved on a first 20 min test drive, they weren't. Best to check the voltage at the source and see what is happening.
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Old 01-15-2012, 01:50 PM   #17
Blackedout95
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Don't unhook your battery, that is likely the stupidest thing I have heard this week.

Potentially a HUGE repair bill and down time over just replacing the alt, why risk it, makes no sense. If the alt is good and you see spikes in voltage it IS possible to fry the electronics.

Also you still havent bothered to check the connection or ground did you?
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:52 PM   #18
richie_s999
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Get an AVR test done, will tell I condition of alt, battery and starter. Think it's under $30 at most shops. Takes 10 minutes for a shop to do this test
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:27 PM   #19
Eurostyle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackedout95 View Post
Don't unhook your battery, that is likely the stupidest thing I have heard this week.

Potentially a HUGE repair bill and down time over just replacing the alt, why risk it, makes no sense. If the alt is good and you see spikes in voltage it IS possible to fry the electronics.

Also you still havent bothered to check the connection or ground did you?
Have done it hundreds of times, NO problem at all...100% safe on this car!
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:32 PM   #20
E36White
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the connections at the battery are tight and solid..where else am i supposed to look? also, no recurrences since last posted.
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Old 01-18-2012, 06:37 PM   #21
Blackedout95
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the connections at the battery are tight and solid..where else am i supposed to look? also, no recurrences since last posted.
The alt itself has a connection running into the back

Had one in last week that was having electrical "glitches" and causing the battery light to come on when you pressed the rear deforst for example yet the battery was fine. Turned out the plug at the back of the alt was very loose/not fully plugged in. You'll have to remove some bits to get to it but my advice is visit a mechanic and get a AVR test done and check out the connection at the same time, kill two birds with one stone. A good mechanic should get that done in no time.

BUT if the car is issue free why bother.

For example...

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Old 01-18-2012, 07:52 PM   #22
dcramer
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did the battery light ever come on ?
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:52 PM   #23
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BTW, 300 bucks for the alternator, 30 min or so to replace. Just did it myself
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:53 AM   #24
E36White
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no battery light never came on. checked the plug as described above and it was fine.

also, ran the 'secret' dash diag test, the voltage read 13.4v - 13.6v
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:05 AM   #25
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Mine also said 13.5v confirmed with voltmeter. Alternator was bad in the end.

Charge the battery fully before you do any more testing. Once I charged my battery, the alternator was putting out 18v.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:31 AM   #26
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Check the belt. Since you mentioned it happens on rainy days, the water could be making it slip.

Way back in the day when I was a mechanic, a colleague taught me this quick alt test. With the engine running, stare at the dome light like a hawk.

Don't even blink - then shut the engine off. If it was working, it'll dim a bit when the voltage drops to 12v from whaterver the charging voltage is. If it stays the same intensity, the alternator is not working.

Unfortunately, none of the tests would work for an intermittent problem.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:54 AM   #27
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Mine also said 13.5v confirmed with voltmeter. Alternator was bad in the end.

Charge the battery fully before you do any more testing. Once I charged my battery, the alternator was putting out 18v.
charging at 18v is WAYYY too much!!! should not be that high...ever!
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:24 AM   #28
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charging at 18v is WAYYY too much!!! should not be that high...ever!
Clearly, that's why I shut it off immediately and replaced the alternator.

My point was that before the battery was fully charged by an external charger measuring the charging voltage in the car showed 13.5. So without a fully charged battery you can get misleading results
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:24 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by windwagen View Post
Check the belt. Since you mentioned it happens on rainy days, the water could be making it slip.

Way back in the day when I was a mechanic, a colleague taught me this quick alt test. With the engine running, stare at the dome light like a hawk.

Don't even blink - then shut the engine off. If it was working, it'll dim a bit when the voltage drops to 12v from whaterver the charging voltage is. If it stays the same intensity, the alternator is not working.

Unfortunately, none of the tests would work for an intermittent problem.
voltmeters are stupidly cheap now, much more reliable.
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:51 PM   #30
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For sure... but some ppl don't have one - or you could be my dad who still uses a $hitty analog unit that makes me cringe.

More importantly, you could be pulling up to pick up a hot date and on your way, your Ultimate Driving Machine's electricals seems to be acting weird. As you pull into ther driveway, seeing that dome light go dim might provide some reassurance that you can get her home, or maybe to your pad
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