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Thread: 1999 328I E46 won't start or starts and then stall. Please help!

  1. #1
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    1999 328I E46 won't start or starts and then stall. Please help!

    Hello all,

    This post may be long as I would like to give you all the information and symptoms.. I am also a fairly new owner of a bmw so please be patient. They are very different then most cars.

    To start I have a 1999 bmw 328I (E46)

    Here we go,

    about a week ago after a rain storm, and i note this because i thought it might be relevant.. I went out to start my car and it did not start, it cranked very strong but just wouldn't start. I read some posts and thought that maybe it was the battery. I then charged the battery over night. The following day I went to start the car and it started no problem. I thought hey, maybe there is some sort of drainage occurring. I didn't really look much into it as the car was now running normally,.. which it continued to until about 4 days later... early morning, i get in the car to start it, starts no problem. I get to work about 10 minutes later.. I'm idling till its time to go in and the car stalls. I try to start it again, but i get the same result as before (strong crank, no start). I pulled the battery out and brought it home to charge as this is what worked last time ? upon bringing it back and trying again, no go this time. Seeing as there was a rainstorm the night before i think it might be relevant as it was the common factor with the last time it happened. i checked the ecu/dme for water damage, bone dry. checked all fuses, all okay. so now im baffled, I go back the next day and try to start it, it starts but stalls almost immediately. It will do this a few times before it goes back to only cranking. If i leave it for a few hours and try again, it will start but then stall and then go back to only cranking. I then think its the fuel pump ? however i do hear the pump prime etc. if i press hard and fast on the gas pedal i can hear fuel injecting ? (that may not be the right term but that is what it sounds like). still only cranks or stalls right away if it does start. Today i was able to pull some codes from it.. I had a bunch that were 02 sensor related but i had these prior to this problem occurring (codes: p0156, p0161, p0500 and p01183). The only reason i continued to drive the car with these codes is because i had all sensors changed 6 months prior and i have only put about 10000 km on it since, if even. I also didn't really have the money to spend again, I would do it myself but the post cat sensors are a nightmare, at least my first attempt was. I had to have it towed mid job because it just wouldn't come off. Anyway, among those codes there was a new one, P1421. I did some googling and read that it may be due to failure of the secondary air pump, however, none of the symptoms match up. From what I'm reading all can still start their car.

    that is the end of my rant. I am not quite sure what do from here. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    I thank everyone and anyone in advance

  2. #2
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    It's not the battery, it's not the O2 sensors, it's not the secondary air pump.

    My best guess, with no testing, is that your fuel pump has failed. Never mind whether you "hear it priming"....what matters is whether or not it is delivering 51 psi of fuel pressure.

    Now, being a pro tech, I always insist on a proper fuel pressure test. But let's give you a chance to prove that the problem IS the fuel pump. Be aware that the following cannot prove that the pump is NOT the problem, it can only prove that it IS.

    Open the hood, remove the little caps, and then the 10mm bolts holding the center engine cover. (You can sneak the rear one with a short socket, without removing the cabin filter box above it; not easy but possible. The cabin filter box is held in with T30 torx screws)

    Under that cover, you'll see the fuel rail; a skinny silver metal square tube. At the front of that is a small cap, on top of a schrader valve....which is a tire valve, essentially.

    Open the cap, MOVE YOUR FACE AWAY from the possible high pressure spray, and use a small tool (small screwdriver, ball point pen, etc) to gently press the center plunger of the valve. Now, it is almost certainly going to spray - some. It may even seem like a lot, to the uninitiated. But 51 psi will easily reach the open hood. Go ahead and hold the valve down until the pressure is gone, and it's just dripping. And then wait for five minutes, for that gas to evaporate, to add just a little safety.

    Then go try to start the car, cranking the starter for at least 7 seconds. Then go push the valve again. IS THERE A LOT OF PRESSURE NOW?

    If not, and IF YOU'RE SURE you hear the fuel pump priming when the key is turned to "run", then you need a fuel pump.

    Buy only a genuine OE or OEM (VDO Siemens) complete fuel pump assembly, plus the large o-ring which seals the tank. Do NOT buy cheap Autozone or O'Reilly crap.

    Reliable suppliers are FCP Euro, RM European, and getbmwparts.com.

    Chris Powell
    Racer and Instructor since, well. decades, ok?
    Master Auto Tech, at an independent, formerly @ dealer
    BMWCCA 274412 SCCA 334928

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmwdirtracer View Post
    It's not the battery, it's not the O2 sensors, it's not the secondary air pump.

    My best guess, with no testing, is that your fuel pump has failed. Never mind whether you "hear it priming"....what matters is whether or not it is delivering 51 psi of fuel pressure.

    Now, being a pro tech, I always insist on a proper fuel pressure test. But let's give you a chance to prove that the problem IS the fuel pump. Be aware that the following cannot prove that the pump is NOT the problem, it can only prove that it IS.

    Open the hood, remove the little caps, and then the 10mm bolts holding the center engine cover. (You can sneak the rear one with a short socket, without removing the cabin filter box above it; not easy but possible. The cabin filter box is held in with T30 torx screws)

    Under that cover, you'll see the fuel rail; a skinny silver metal square tube. At the front of that is a small cap, on top of a schrader valve....which is a tire valve, essentially.

    Open the cap, MOVE YOUR FACE AWAY from the possible high pressure spray, and use a small tool (small screwdriver, ball point pen, etc) to gently press the center plunger of the valve. Now, it is almost certainly going to spray - some. It may even seem like a lot, to the uninitiated. But 51 psi will easily reach the open hood. Go ahead and hold the valve down until the pressure is gone, and it's just dripping. And then wait for five minutes, for that gas to evaporate, to add just a little safety.

    Then go try to start the car, cranking the starter for at least 7 seconds. Then go push the valve again. IS THERE A LOT OF PRESSURE NOW?

    If not, and IF YOU'RE SURE you hear the fuel pump priming when the key is turned to "run", then you need a fuel pump.

    Buy only a genuine OE or OEM (VDO Siemens) complete fuel pump assembly, plus the large o-ring which seals the tank. Do NOT buy cheap Autozone or O'Reilly crap.

    Reliable suppliers are FCP Euro, RM European, and getbmwparts.com.
    Hi,

    thank you for your response. after writing this, i spoke with a buddy about the problem i was having and he said the exact same thing you just did. I will try this tomorrow and get back with the results.

    thank you again,

    fingers crossed !

  4. #4
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    Hey Chris,

    I so happened to have a fuel pump from a parts car I had. The pump currently in the car only has 2 prongs on the connector and the one I have has 4 ? am i missing something ?

    Thanks again

  5. #5
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    Update.

    I did the test . No gas came out at all when I pushed on the plunger of the valve . I then checked to see if I was getting power to the pump .. I grounded to the bolt ends by the pump and shoved the tester in both sockets of the connector, it did not light up .

    No power? .. so what now ? :/

  6. #6
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    Errrrr, my first guess is that you are not testing for power correctly. And my guess is that you're on the wrong side of the car. Are you aware that the fuel pump is on the passenger side? And that you'll only get power for two seconds while the starter is cranking?

    Chris Powell
    Racer and Instructor since, well. decades, ok?
    Master Auto Tech, at an independent, formerly @ dealer
    BMWCCA 274412 SCCA 334928

  7. #7
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    You're guess would be correct 😕😐.
    They look awfully similar .. I feel extremely silly. I will check the other side tomorrow and update .

    Thank you 😞

  8. #8
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    Aw, no worries, mate. I've made far more silly mistakes than you ever will....it's how we learn.

    Chris Powell
    Racer and Instructor since, well. decades, ok?
    Master Auto Tech, at an independent, formerly @ dealer
    BMWCCA 274412 SCCA 334928

  9. #9
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    Good day !

    Thank you for your advice, my pump was definitely dead.. the sound of it operating is very distinctive and 100% wasn't there before.
    So, I got the new fuel pump in .. car started everytime but would stall when trying to accelerate .. unplugged the maf sensor and the car runs .. I'm now pulling code p0101 ..
    New maf sensor ? Air leak ? Is there something that would go hand in hand with the fuel pump going ?

  10. #10
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    dworthy is offline Wagon meister :) BMW Tech Expert
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    More than likely you have a vacuum leak caused by all the messing around under the hood.

    A smoke test will find the leak or leaks, but you can also visually check the vacuum lines as well as the intake boots for rips, tears or cracks. It's just rubber and after 15 years, tends to go bad and cause vacuum leaks.
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  11. #11
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    Good evening,
    A bit of a late response as ive been swamped. I just wanted to thank everyone who helped. fuel pump has been fixed, the air leak has been found and my car is back up and running.

    Thanks again !

    Cheers

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