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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 Tue, Apr-12-2011, 06:56:22 PM   #1
NMU_M3
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Default Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

Car specs: 2003 M3, 99k miles, original starter motor.

Symptoms: 6/10 times when I go to start my car I turn the key and all electronics come on like normal, but instead of the car starting, the starter motor does not engage the flywheel and all I can hear is the motor spinning away with no start. After attempting to start a few more times, it finally starts up.

Did a whole lot of searching on the topic and have come to the conclusion that something with the starter needs to be replaced. Is it the solenoid switch that is causing the problem by not engaging the starter motor to the fly wheel? The actual starter motor itself sounds normal.

I am on a budget so I would rather fix the problem rather than just say F it and replace everything. If I can save ~$200 and just replace the solenoid switch that would be best.

Prices:
#1, New starter motor: $283 +core PN:12417835735
#2, New solenoid switch: $103 PN: 12417832149



Input/opinions welcome. Thank you in advance.

Last edited by NMU_M3; Tue, Apr-12-2011 at 07:18:10 PM.
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Old Tue, Apr-12-2011, 07:08:30 PM   #2
jongyoo
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NMU_M3 View Post
Car specs: 2003 M3, 99k miles, original starter motor.

Symptoms: 6/10 times when I go to start my car I turn the key and all electronics come on like normal, but instead of the car starting, the starter motor does not engage the flywheel and all I can hear is the motor spinning away with no start. After attempting to start a few more times, it finally starts up.

Did a whole lot of searching on the topic and have come to the conclusion that something with the starter needs to be replaced. Is it the solenoid switch that is causing the problem by not engaging the starter motor to the fly wheel? The actual starter motor itself sounds normal.

I am on a budget so I would rather fix the problem rather than just say F it and replace everything. If I can save ~$200 and just replace the solenoid switch that would be best.

Prices:
#1, New starter motor: $283 +core PN:12417835735
#2,New solenoid switch: $103 PN: 12417832149



Input/opinions welcome. Thank you in advance.
I had the same problem about a month ago. I started my car and nothing, I just heard some whirling which I think is the fuel pump running.

I ripped everything out and pulled the starter (which was a pain in the ass). I took the starter to a rebuilder here in Houston and I paid him $145 and he did a great job.

I put everything back together and.....nothing. So I take it to a shop and turns out that I blew a fuse to some relay that starts the car so that gets replaced. Apparently it was because I might have touched the NEG lead to the battery first.

A week later, the same problem but this time, I can jump my car from another car, no problem. But I cannot start it on my own. Turns out the cable that runs from the battery to the starter is easily unraveled so it was hanging on by a thread so no current could get through. They fixed that and it hasn't been a problem since.

I'd suggest getting it rebuilt and while you're at it, get the alternator rebuilt too with metal parts instead of plastic. The guy I went to said that alternators for the BMW's tend to go out after 60k anyways so I just got that rebuilt with better parts.
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Old Tue, Apr-12-2011, 07:20:11 PM   #3
NMU_M3
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jongyoo View Post
I had the same problem about a month ago. I started my car and nothing, I just heard some whirling which I think is the fuel pump running.

I ripped everything out and pulled the starter (which was a pain in the ass). I took the starter to a rebuilder here in Houston and I paid him $145 and he did a great job.

I put everything back together and.....nothing. So I take it to a shop and turns out that I blew a fuse to some relay that starts the car so that gets replaced. Apparently it was because I might have touched the NEG lead to the battery first.

A week later, the same problem but this time, I can jump my car from another car, no problem. But I cannot start it on my own. Turns out the cable that runs from the battery to the starter is easily unraveled so it was hanging on by a thread so no current could get through. They fixed that and it hasn't been a problem since.

I'd suggest getting it rebuilt and while you're at it, get the alternator rebuilt too with metal parts instead of plastic. The guy I went to said that alternators for the BMW's tend to go out after 60k anyways so I just got that rebuilt with better parts.
Where is this cable exactly?
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Old Tue, Apr-12-2011, 07:29:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

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Originally Posted by NMU_M3 View Post
Where is this cable exactly?
I asked the shop that and they couldn't tell me bc apparently, it was pretty deep inside somewhere. Sorry.

But go to any shop and ask for a full electrical diagnostics to see if it's the battery, starter, cable or relay fuse.
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Old Tue, Apr-12-2011, 08:07:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

Just did mine this past weekend. If it ends up being your starter and you end up doing the job yourself here are a couple of links to DIY's that I used that was posted by some fellow members.

Starter DIY posted by dsm918 is one of the best detailed DIY I’ve seen and if you have an SMG like myself here is a DYI for the intake manifold removal as it is different.

If you do the work yourself you will be able to answer your own question in regards to replacing just the solenoid vs the whole starter. You will probably not want to do that job again. If you have a shop do it and your paying for the labor I wouldn't think you would want to pay twice. Do it once, do it right and be done with it. IMO

Definitely shop around for the starter, I bought a brand new OEM Valeo for $155 and was quoted $135 for the Bosch rebuilt. I got a bro deal but that should give you an idea of what most of these shops pay for it.
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Last edited by bryosb; Tue, Apr-12-2011 at 08:47:23 PM.
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Old Thu, Dec-01-2011, 04:16:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

I have the exact same car and Irvine BMW just quoted me $990 for a starter replacement. They said SMG required a "special" starter. Would you mind sending the model number for the OEM Valeo starter you bought? That way I can just purchase the part myself and save some money by having a BMW repair shop take care of the labor. Thanks very much, I appreciate it!
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Old Fri, Dec-02-2011, 08:19:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showt...hlight=starter
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Old Fri, Dec-02-2011, 08:33:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

Check your front hot jumper terminal first. I replaced my starter (which is a HUGE pain in the ass) just to find that i needed to tighten up that god damn front hot jumper terminal.
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Old Sat, Dec-03-2011, 03:01:55 AM   #9
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Default Re: Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch?

Yeah, a voltmeter and check before removal - since it's tedious, could save a lot of this. This is from April, but the OP had the right idea and most of the other posts miss what he said: His starter spins, so it is in fact likely to be the solenoid. Personally I'd consider a local rebuild of the starter while it was out for the new solenoid if my miles were over 50-60k, since these starters seem to fail frequently and I'm betting the starter has to come out to get to the solenoid.

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Discussing Replace whole starter motor, or just solenoid switch? 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)