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Thread: Red battery light on the dash. Anyone had this happen?

  1. #1
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    Red battery light on the dash. Anyone had this happen?

    So yesterday the red battery light came on my dash. I read into it and found out its the alternator not supplying the battery with the juice she needs. Anyone had this problem before? Do I just need a new alternator?

  2. #2
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    It could be one of two things... either your alternator is tango uniform or your battery is toast. First; How old is your battery, and is there a shop that can load test your electric system? Secondly are you getting any other unusual dashboard lights?
    V/R Zachary Pullins Sr.
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    " Vision without resources is just hallucination"

  3. #3
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    Update, I had my diagnostic reader in as I was attempting to drive it home, started lagging so I checked the data and it said fuel system 1 off and fuel system 2 off., friggen died on my on the busiest street in rush hour (it was the only way to get to my place) it was so dead that my 4 ways wouldn't even come on. I'm thinking it might be the battery because doesn't it usually charge itself up while your driving? And if it died while driving (twice) then the battery isn't holding. I charged it to my buddy's car for 10 mins and I was able to make it home. Now the fun starts. I'm gonna take the battery in tomorrow to get tested

  4. #4
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    Update, I had my diagnostic reader in as I was attempting to drive it home, started lagging so I checked the data and it said fuel system 1 off and fuel system 2 off., friggen died on my on the busiest street in rush hour (it was the only way to get to my place) it was so dead that my 4 ways wouldn't even come on. I'm thinking it might be the battery because doesn't it usually charge itself up while your driving? And if it died while driving (twice) then the battery isn't holding. I charged it to my buddy's car for 10 mins and I was able to make it home. Now the fun starts. I'm gonna take the battery in tomorrow to get tested

    Update, I just got home so I was able to search the web and it turns out it's the alternator isn't charging the battery. Then the car runs on the battery till it dies. Time to make my wallet anerexic seeing as I don't have the shop anymore
    Last edited by 1235kjd; 10-24-2011 at 07:32 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  5. #5
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    Often, an instantaneous red battery light is indicative of a broken accessory belt. If the belt comes off or breaks, you'll no longer have power steering, alternator, or (most important) water pump. Continuing to drive in this condition will present a severe risk of overheating and engine damage.

    Your first step would be to check to see if belts are still intact.

    If belts are not intact:
    - Check idler pulley and tensioner pulley
    - Check water pump bearings
    - Replace/R&R as needed

    If belts are intact:
    - Check battery terminal connections
    - Check connections at back of alternator
    - Check ground cables
    - Check voltage at battery terminals while car is OFF - should be approximately 12 volts
    - Check voltage at battery terminals while car is idling - should be approximately 14 volts
    - Check voltage at battery terminals while car is revved up a little (maybe 3k-4k RPMs) - should still be approximately 14 volts.


    If voltage is irregular while the car is running, it might be the voltage regulator which is part of the alternator. But, replacing the voltage regulator is just as much work and almost as expensive as a fully remanufactured alternator... so if you're certain the connections are all good, and you're not getting a consistent 14 volts at the battery terminals while the car is running, then I'd probably go for a remanufactured alternator.

  6. #6
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    All connections are good, belts are good, etc.
    The car is completely dead so I can't check the battery and what not.

    What all should I replace while I'm down there doing the alternator?

  7. #7
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    There's not much else that you need to remove to get to the alternator.

    If you're really looking for a "while you're in there," then maybe look hard for any evidence of a leaking oil filter housing gasket. Shine a bright light down in the hole behind the oil filter housing, look for grime and oil on the waffle-textured area on the side of the block. If it's dirty there, you likely need a new oil filter housing gasket. The part is cheap, and it'll take maybe an extra hour to replace that while you're doing the alternator. The alternator has to come out to get to the gasket, so if it needs to be done, now's a good time.

    Otherwise, just do the alternator and be done with it.

    You can probably pull the alternator and have it bench-tested at an auto parts store... just to be sure.

  8. #8
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    Asesome, thanks! If I need a new alternator, what size amp should I be using?

  9. #9
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    I don't remember, other than that there are at least two versions. I think there's probably a sticker on your existing alternator that should tell you what you need.

  10. #10
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    Wow. Dtealer wants $950 plus $100 core. Yet online you can get one for 200... How do they sleep at night? Wait I know.... In a bed of stupid ppls money!

  11. #11
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    I believe that if you go to a BMWNA dealership, and have a new alternator installed by them, it'll carry a lifetime warranty*. So, there's that.

    Still, one or two more $200 alternators should last the life of the car.


    * last time I went to Fields BMW in Orlando, they had a sign in their service department stating this. That was a few years ago though.

  12. #12
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    K so I took my battery in to get charged. It was put in back in feb 08. Turns out the battery is no good... I'm gonna pull my alternator out to get checked in a few days also

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1235kjd View Post
    K so I took my battery in to get charged. It was put in back in feb 08. Turns out the battery is no good... I'm gonna pull my alternator out to get checked in a few days also
    If the battery was toast I would be hesitant to blame the alternator...

  14. #14
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    How come?

  15. #15
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    3 years seems to be an unbelievably short life span for a battery.

    iirc, the BMW battery is guaranteed to last 10 years, no?


  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2kBMW3Series View Post
    3 years seems to be an unbelievably short life span for a battery.

    iirc, the BMW battery is guaranteed to last 10 years, no?
    5-7 years is typical.

    2/2004 330i ZHP l 18x8 ET45 BBS CK's wrapped with Conti DWS's @ 245-40-18 l KW V1 Coilovers l BMW Performance Rotors l AFE Pro 5R Dry Intake l UUC StrutBarbarian l Racing Dynamics Rear Strut Bar l Jim Conforti Shark Injector l Silver Cube Interior Trim l Bimmian Celly Mount l Weisslicht A/E's l 3 Trunk Mat l l e90 Performance E-Brake & Shift Knob l 3 Tri-Stitched Boots l AL Headlight Retrofit with ZKW Lenses l CobyWheel Wrap w/ 3 Stitching



  17. #17
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    Is there any warrenty on a BMW battery?

  18. #18
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    I would think it would follow the warranty of the car. Dunno.

    2/2004 330i ZHP l 18x8 ET45 BBS CK's wrapped with Conti DWS's @ 245-40-18 l KW V1 Coilovers l BMW Performance Rotors l AFE Pro 5R Dry Intake l UUC StrutBarbarian l Racing Dynamics Rear Strut Bar l Jim Conforti Shark Injector l Silver Cube Interior Trim l Bimmian Celly Mount l Weisslicht A/E's l 3 Trunk Mat l l e90 Performance E-Brake & Shift Knob l 3 Tri-Stitched Boots l AL Headlight Retrofit with ZKW Lenses l CobyWheel Wrap w/ 3 Stitching



  19. #19
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    I just don't want to buy a new battery and put it in my car and it turns out my alternator is pooped too and kills the new battery lol

  20. #20
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    K.. So I they charged the battery and told me that it was bad... I decided to test the battery with my tester and it was putting out 14.... Isn't 14 good?

  21. #21
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    Was car running?

    2/2004 330i ZHP l 18x8 ET45 BBS CK's wrapped with Conti DWS's @ 245-40-18 l KW V1 Coilovers l BMW Performance Rotors l AFE Pro 5R Dry Intake l UUC StrutBarbarian l Racing Dynamics Rear Strut Bar l Jim Conforti Shark Injector l Silver Cube Interior Trim l Bimmian Celly Mount l Weisslicht A/E's l 3 Trunk Mat l l e90 Performance E-Brake & Shift Knob l 3 Tri-Stitched Boots l AL Headlight Retrofit with ZKW Lenses l CobyWheel Wrap w/ 3 Stitching



  22. #22
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    Nope, it's not hooked up

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by nathancarter View Post
    Often, an instantaneous red battery light is indicative of a broken accessory belt. If the belt comes off or breaks, you'll no longer have power steering, alternator, or (most important) water pump. Continuing to drive in this condition will present a severe risk of overheating and engine damage.

    Your first step would be to check to see if belts are still intact.

    If belts are not intact:
    - Check idler pulley and tensioner pulley
    - Check water pump bearings
    - Replace/R&R as needed

    If belts are intact:
    - Check battery terminal connections
    - Check connections at back of alternator
    - Check ground cables
    - Check voltage at battery terminals while car is OFF - should be approximately 12 volts
    - Check voltage at battery terminals while car is idling - should be approximately 14 volts
    - Check voltage at battery terminals while car is revved up a little (maybe 3k-4k RPMs) - should still be approximately 14 volts.


    If voltage is irregular while the car is running, it might be the voltage regulator which is part of the alternator. But, replacing the voltage regulator is just as much work and almost as expensive as a fully remanufactured alternator... so if you're certain the connections are all good, and you're not getting a consistent 14 volts at the battery terminals while the car is running, then I'd probably go for a remanufactured alternator.

    Thank you for this detailed reply. I had a similar situation happen to me with the red light and it turned out it was one of the belts like you suggested. Cheers mate.

  25. #25
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    Last time I heard BMW battery's had a 1 year warranty. Your alternator should have a label on it and it will say for instance 120a, 140a ect meaning the amperage out put of the alternator and it would probably say Bosch or Valeo also you do not want to install marginal battery with a new alternator, it could damage the new alternator

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