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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Fri, Apr-13-2007, 07:30:08 PM   #1
Cap'n
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Default SOLVED! Intermittent Starting Issue

Ok gents.

I think we're done with this intermittent starting deal. To clarify, this is NOT the "morning two-attempt starting/fuel issue". This is the "I turn the key and get lots of electrical power, but no attempt from the engine to start". There have been many threads on the topic. To name a few:

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=140108
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=155999
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=147494
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=140022
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=130228

For a brief history, I've had this issue since 2004, have replaced battery, battery cables, tried new keys, and had at least 3 new ignition switches installed. None of these permanently solved or explained the issue. I had towed it in twice in the past, only to have it start immediately once off the truckbed, left it there for five weeks at a time to try and replicate. This time, i was ready to sell/trade the car.

Well god forbid a starting problem come from the starter motor. My latest tow-in extravaganza resulted them finding a "bad spot" on the commutator within the starter motor. What kills me is that this isn't a rare car issue, for BMW's, M3's, or any other car. I did a google search on "starter motor commutator bad spot", and you'll find 11,000 pages telling you about this common issue in VW's, Acura's, and whatever else. These sites describe many of our experiences here to a 'T':

http://www.misterfixit.com/starttst.htm
http://www.google.com/search?l=en&q=...tator+bad+spot

Basically, the circuit is carried by brushes that rotate. If these brushes get dirty or worn down, or if the connection is broken in any way, the circuit will be open, and the car won't start. You'll notice they say you could tap the starter or rock the engine a little and get it to move only so slightly and result in the car starting. This issue will only occur when the connection rests on the "bad spot". Hence, me towing my car all the time may have been enough to move the brushes off the bad spot on and continue starting for weeks at a time, until of course I'm late for a meeting with my VP at work.

Anyway, she starts like a champ now, and I'm glad I don't have to trade down now, as I inevitably would with my first baby on the way, wifey quitting work, and finances tight. I hope this helps anyone who's been through this hellish experience.
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Last edited by Cap'n; Fri, Apr-13-2007 at 07:33:36 PM.
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Old Fri, Apr-13-2007, 07:57:38 PM   #2
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yea... iwsh i woulda saw your post about this

tha hammer trick on starters in old muscle cars is well known, to the point aftermarket starters from some manufactuerers have a flat spot on them.....
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Old Fri, Apr-13-2007, 10:06:37 PM   #3
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My old 1600-2 has the same problem, the starter brush lands in a certain spot once in a while and it won't start until you crank it once to "click" it slightly. Then it turns over normal on the 2nd try.
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Old Fri, Apr-13-2007, 10:33:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cap'n View Post
Ok gents.

I think we're done with this intermittent starting deal. To clarify, this is NOT the "morning two-attempt starting/fuel issue". This is the "I turn the key and get lots of electrical power, but no attempt from the engine to start". There have been many threads on the topic. To name a few:

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=140108
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=155999
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=147494
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=140022
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=130228

For a brief history, I've had this issue since 2004, have replaced battery, battery cables, tried new keys, and had at least 3 new ignition switches installed. None of these permanently solved or explained the issue. I had towed it in twice in the past, only to have it start immediately once off the truckbed, left it there for five weeks at a time to try and replicate. This time, i was ready to sell/trade the car.

Well god forbid a starting problem come from the starter motor. My latest tow-in extravaganza resulted them finding a "bad spot" on the commutator within the starter motor. What kills me is that this isn't a rare car issue, for BMW's, M3's, or any other car. I did a google search on "starter motor commutator bad spot", and you'll find 11,000 pages telling you about this common issue in VW's, Acura's, and whatever else. These sites describe many of our experiences here to a 'T':

http://www.misterfixit.com/starttst.htm
http://www.google.com/search?l=en&q=...tator+bad+spot

Basically, the circuit is carried by brushes that rotate. If these brushes get dirty or worn down, or if the connection is broken in any way, the circuit will be open, and the car won't start. You'll notice they say you could tap the starter or rock the engine a little and get it to move only so slightly and result in the car starting. This issue will only occur when the connection rests on the "bad spot". Hence, me towing my car all the time may have been enough to move the brushes off the bad spot on and continue starting for weeks at a time, until of course I'm late for a meeting with my VP at work.

Anyway, she starts like a champ now, and I'm glad I don't have to trade down now, as I inevitably would with my first baby on the way, wifey quitting work, and finances tight. I hope this helps anyone who's been through this hellish experience.
WOW!!

THX Cap'n for your hard work and research..

So what can i do to prevent this to happen in the future? Do i replace starter or open it and clean it?? Where is the starter located on the car? Next time this happens i can go straight to that...
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Old Fri, Apr-13-2007, 10:48:05 PM   #5
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Please D.I.Y!!!
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Old Sat, Apr-14-2007, 04:32:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grayrock View Post
Please D.I.Y!!!
I'm afraid I'm the last person you want a DIY from. Part of my battle was getting the dealer to replicate, find failure, and justify the charge to my extended 3rd party warranty. I couldn't tell you where the starter is.

Starter replacement was $700 parts and labor, which i'm sure is too high, but covered on warranty.

By the way, it seems to start "faster" than it did before, which i suppose isn't surprising, with not resistance at all from the new starter.
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Old Tue, Apr-17-2007, 01:50:29 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Non-starting M3

Glad I read your post, I have just experienced the same problem last weekend. I arranged for our garage to collect the car and when they arrived the damn thing started first time!! I couldn't believe it. I had tried starting it 5 or 6 times the day before and had no joy!
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Old Tue, Apr-17-2007, 09:18:48 PM   #8
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same thing happened to me today.... thats twice in two weeks..

I was parked on on a hill so i let the car back itself then waitied 30 seconds and it started again...

Someone please do a DIY get this resolved......
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Old Tue, Apr-17-2007, 09:25:20 PM   #9
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There's resolution - i.e. get a new starter motor installed, and there's a quick fix to get the car started. The quick fix is easy:

Put the car in gear (2nd is normally good for this)
Turn OFF the ignition
Get out of the car, rock the car forwards and backwards a couple of times
Get back in and try and start it

Repeat until it works.

All this is doing is turning the motor over a little to try and shake the starter into a different position.
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Old Sun, May-20-2007, 03:54:57 AM   #10
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Default

Add me to the list of statistics. My car doesn't start on the first try but perfect on the second. Left it with dealer for 3 days and they could not duplicate it. I did get a call from BMWNA asking to critique my service visit and I told them my concern on technicians not able to duplicate this and that I will be returning for the same problem. Now that I've read the posts about the starter motor, maybe I can get somewhere. Wish me luck!
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Discussing SOLVED! Intermittent Starting Issue in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)