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Thread: Starter Has New Solenoid but Engages Sporadically

  1. #1
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    Starter Has New Solenoid but Engages Sporadically

    I replaced the solenoid on my '84 E30 320i Euro (6-cyl) with a new Bosch because it was sticking in the "engage" position (turned out to be very jammed-up with gum). With the new Bosch solenoid I now have the opposite problem: sometimes I have to turn the key 4-5 times before the starter will actually engage the ring gear. Other times it engages on the first try. The starter always spins when I turn the key, BTW; it just doesn't always engage.

    I have had the starter out of the car three times now and, if you have ever done that job, you know what a pain-in-the-butt it is; nothing I do seems to help. Suggestions?

    Jeff

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  2. #2
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    I have never just replaced the solenoid, I only replace the complete starter I don't know if that would change things

  3. #3
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    Thanks, Jbird; I've had someone else tell me that.

    Jeff

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  4. #4
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    Have you bench tested the starter before putting it back in the car to see if you could get it to engage that way ?

  5. #5
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    Yep; it works just fine on the bench.

    Jeff

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  6. #6
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    I would check the ground strap and positive cables, and battery to make sure the starter/solenoid has the ability to draw enough power, and then try loosening the starter bolts just in case something is binding. If the starter can wiggle a bit it might work more consistently but that would indicate a problem of course. I’ve had this problem before myself (on a different brand of car) and I hate to think you may ultimately end up with a new whole new starter assembly.
    Last edited by msservices; 05-06-2019 at 07:33 PM.

  7. #7
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    That's a good suggestion regarding the ground strap and cables; I'll check it out.

    I already tried loosening the starter; no luck there, but thanks.

    Jeff

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  8. #8
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    I have had the same issue and I ended up just getting another starter because after awhile it would only go half way and it knocked some teeth off the flywheel which made me have to replace the flywheel
    no e30s of my own, but I am financing two for my kids

  9. #9
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    Thanks, superj; yikes, that's scary. What is the most economical source for a starter (anyone)?

    Jeff

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  10. #10
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    A forum member who happens to have a spare most likely

  11. #11
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    only the kids e30s
    yup. otherwise its one of the online guys, like rockauto, or the local parts store.
    no e30s of my own, but I am financing two for my kids

  12. #12
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    Otherwise you could remove yours one last time, make sure the connections are right, dissect the starter itself, see if there is more gunk in it. Sometimes the 4th time is the charm.

  13. #13
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    This is my spare motor from a 90 325i. The wire that has been cut is black/yellow, so I’m pretty sure that was for a starter disable/alarm
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
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    While the starter was off the second time, I cleaned it as best I could. Admittedly I could not get it "all the way apart" and I didn't wish to force it. From what I could tell, the starter itself was mostly gunk-free but I blew it out with compressed air and otherwise cleaned what I could.

    To recount the entire story: My original starter problem was that the solenoid was sticking and kept the starter engaged even after releasing the key. My logic was that there was nothing wrong with the starter itself so I rolled the dice and ordered a new Bosch solenoid without actually being able to see the original part number (I was unable to get the original BMW Eurospec part number to cross to a Bosch number).

    Well, I now know that I ordered the wrong solenoid the first time (though I thought it would work since only the exciter terminal seemed to differ and I was able to adapt the exciter wire to it). I'm now guessing that I simply exchanged a sticking solenoid (and it WAS INDEED full of gunk) for an incorrect solenoid.

    So call me crazy, but I'm going to be a masochist and order the correct solenoid this time (Bosch 0331 303008) and hope for the best.

    Thanks for all of the advice, guys.

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  15. #15
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    Or you could just try to wire yours is a different way in the event that you just have the two smaller wires reversed? Maybe somebody could chime in and shed some light on what the other (small gauge)wire does because it doesn’t make sense to me
    Last edited by msservices; 05-08-2019 at 11:17 AM.

  16. #16
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    The small-gauge wire, when energized, simply trips the solenoid to allow it to receive full battery voltage.

    You see, on my Eurospec car there is no starter relay; the battery is wired straight to the solenoid. Therefore, there must be a way to keep the solenoid from engaging until the key is turned to "start". Honestly, I sort of thought that even the U.S. versions were that way since the U.S.-spec solenoid I bought had such a terminal (and it was numbered the same as the old solenoid --- "85" IIRC).

    J.

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  17. #17
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    I can't see what solenoid makes a difference as long as it gets a 12 volt wire that trips the switch that engages the heavy gauge wire from the battery to the starter motor. You may have a bunged up starter drive or fly wheel. Let's hope your new solenoid works!

  18. #18
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    Well for some reason the photo I posted earlier has two small gauge wires going to two different terminals on the solenoid
    Your saying you only have one wire? Then does that mean you have an extra terminal because it would be more similar to my spare motor which has two

  19. #19
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    only the kids e30s
    American ones are the same way, the large cable is from the battery and the small one is a relay, or solenoid, that allows full power to run through the brushes and turn the main copper wound core.
    no e30s of my own, but I am financing two for my kids

  20. #20
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    To msservices: Yep!

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  21. #21
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    What I am asking though, what is the extra small gauge wire for on the US models, if the solenoid just needs 12volt positive to engage?

  22. #22
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    My E30has a large-gauge wire running directly from the battery to the solenoid, so it has a 24/7/365 source of power running down to the solenoid. It then needs an "on-demand-only" way to send that available energy to the starter motor, otherwise the starter would turn constantly. That is what the small-gauge exciter wire does: when the key is turned to "start", that wire "excites" a switch inside the solenoid so that the solenoid simultaneously energizes the starter and pulls the starter drive gear into contact with the flywheel. It is this latter that concerns me; perhaps there is some misalignment or spatial difference in my new-but-incorrect solenoid that is not permitting the starter drive to fully move into contact with the flywheel teeth?

    J.

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  23. #23
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    219A7C89-3A21-4CFE-8C2B-82CB978CEBB4.jpegD294E156-84DC-4126-90EB-C759C37C4BFF.jpgSo that explains the single wire but I tried to attach a photo that shows two small gauge wires going to the solenoid but I’m not sure if it’s posting on anyone else’s page except for mine. It shows the thumbnail photo if I use the full site option but since I am on my mobile device all the time and I am sure a lot of others are I’m not sure if the photo that I posted is showing up
    Last edited by msservices; 05-09-2019 at 10:54 AM.

  24. #24
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    I see them but i'm not sure what the second small-gauge wire is for; mine has only one IIRC. I'm sure it has to do with the difference between Eurospec and U.S. spec.

    J.

    1984 320i Baur TC2 5-Speed Opalgrün (Jeff's)
    1987 325e Sedan A/T Zinnoberrot (Dawn's)
    1984 633 CSi 5-speed Bronzit (Ours . . . if she says so)


  25. #25
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    My reasoning would be, if I put a starter like mine in your car like yours , is it possible to hook your single wire to the other terminal and result in not getting the right amount of voltage or amperage to the solenoid to positively/consistently engage it

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