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This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series.
One of the most annoying problems with older cars can be an intermittent electrical problem. This project will give you some tips for troubleshooting your electrical system, but it's not meant to be a step-by-step guide for fixing all of your problems. The first step in troubleshooting is to make sure you are armed with all the latest and greatest information available for your car. First, disconnect the trunk (E36) and engine compartment (E30) light before beginning any testing.
Starting from the rear of the electrical chain, the first point to be concerned about is the actual device itself. While the horn is unplugged, another excellent test to perform is to check the electricity in the wires leading to the horn. Many electrical components on the car are also switched through the ignition, enabling them to be turned on and off when you start your car.
Finally, if all the other tests fail to locate the problem, the wiring itself may be at fault.
If none of these steps succeed in helping you pinpoint the problem, then you may have made a mistake somewhere along the line or there might be a short circuit hiding somewhere in the switch or the wiring of the car. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. Followup from the Pelican Staff: First thing I would do is to check the vehicle for fault codes.
Followup from the Pelican Staff: the seat switches send the command over a bus system tot he seat module. Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is likely a fault in either the abs or drivetrain, component or bus system related. Comments: HI, i have a 99 318 i bmw cabrio , please if somebody can help with an adress to find a electric drawing for complete electric discover . Comments: Hi Pelican Staff, my BMW 316i compact 2000 has a crank no start problem, I drove 125 miles on sunday and monday morning it would not start. Comments: Hi I wondering if you can help with my issue when the car is running and I operate the turn signal either way they continue to flash at the instrument cluster but cancel at the headlights outside the car fine also if I flash my lights the full beam light on the dash stays on but the full beam is not stuck on outside the car . Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pick one of the faults and focus on it, you may find the cause to everything. Comments: hi i have a 318i 1995 E36 AC just stoped working after i regased it the ac light also not comming on . Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be an issue with the lamp control module or the wiring. Comments: I have a question abt my 2006 525 Bmw at first the screen on the dash started going off then finally it just went out and the battery started to go dead if I charge the battery the screen will turn on quickly but then turn off again I finally noticed that the cd n did player don't turn off how do I fix this? Followup from the Pelican Staff: If cycling the key in the driver door makes it stop, the issue is likely with the alarm. Comments: Hi Nick, I have a 2008 116i and a couple of days ago I noticed that when the engine was off and the radio was on the battery sign yellow was coming up and the Car was then automatically completely switched off.
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The yellow battery warning light can mean a poor connection, an aged battery, low voltage or engine too hot.
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the wiring to the trunk, it runs along the trunk support arm and cold be damaged.
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You've located the circuit, now take a wiring diagram and identify each component on that circuit, focus on loads. In a way, it was the end of a 15-year era for me and the Tacoma, Toyotaa€™s smaller pickup truck. The a€™97 Tacoma served me well, but at the end of 4 years, I wanted something with a few more perks.
As nice as my new pickup was, it still lacked one basic feature that was also missing in the a€™97 a€“ a clock. Fast-forward 5 A? years: I notice that my a€?newa€? truck is starting to struggle ever so slightly on startup. At the end of the 4-year lease in 2005, I gladly entered a purchase contract to pay off the remaining balance. At this point I would like to regale you with amusing anecdotes about things that happened in and with my Tacomas.

I started with some Internet research to determine the approximate value of my a€?newa€? truck, and after checking out the RAV4 options, I quickly fell in love with the Pacific Blue color.
I knew I could get more for my truck if I sold it myself, so I consulted my brother, who is an expert (nay, I say, genius!) at handling such matters. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts.
Obviously, the most important item you need is a copy of the electrical diagrams for your model year. Say you leave the car sitting for a week or two, and when you come back, you find the battery completely drained. If you look carefully at the electrical diagrams, you will notice that there are actually six points of failure for most electrical devices. If you press the horn button on the steering wheel and there is no power going to the wires that power the horn, then the problem lies somewhere else. If a device such as a window motor doesn'Â't work, along with a host of other equipment, you might have a faulty ignition switch. Especially on older cars, the connecting wires tend to become brittle and sometimes break, even if the outer insulation is intact (see Photo 2). In that case, you will need to continue with more painstaking tests using a continuity tester in order to locate the source of the problem once and for all. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.
Located on the rear, left side of the engine compartment, the relays and fuses inside are sometimes vulnerable to corrosion and failure. The entire right aide running lights dont work, instrument cluster light is out and the vanity mirrors dont light up as well. If your friend was able to activate the seat using a scan tool, that means the seat module and motors should be OK. I have checked all the grounds and they all seem fine nothing else is playing up on the car only these lights not cancelling out on the dash .
Start by voltage drop testing the engine ground and positive battery cable to the alternator.
This idle drop happens for a second, rumbles the car like ot wants to stall then comes back up to where it was. If so, check the ignition signal tot he body module, check voltage to the window switches with the key in both positions. When the headlight goes out, is it losing voltage or ground? I would also check the vehicle for fault codes. My suggest is to monitor the low voltage circuit for the headlamps from the module to the Xenon modules on the lights.
It will have the wiring and fuse locations. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. As bizarre as it sounds, electrical problems like these have become more and more common as cars have become increasingly complex. First and foremost, every time the car is sold, there is a big chance the new owner will do some modification to the wiring that only he or she will know about. Carefully watch the ammeter to see if the current drops to zero when a particular fuse is pulled. For lack of a better example, we will use a horn to explain and demonstrate the electrical troubleshooting process. When the horn button is pressed, the relay should make a slight clicking noise, on and off.
Also, keep in mind that the spade-type fuses that BMW uses are sometimes affected by corrosion building up on the terminals.
One clear symptom of this can be seen when the dashboard lights and other equipment turn on and off as you jiggle the key back and forth.
Using a continuity tester, check each of the wires in the harness that powers the blower motor to see if any have lost continuity. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. Typically, when I encounter an odd electrical problem, I check the fuses and the relays first, since they are the easiest and cheapest solution to annoying electrical gremlins.

The lights are controlled by the Light Module, if faulty, it could activate those lights independently. Also the odometer is now not working, not sure when exactly and also I cannot get oil level. You can use the diagram to trace the circuit and find the cause of the short. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. When the headlights are switched completely off '0' setting, I sometimes notice that the main beams dipped will come on for a few seconds and then switch off again. 2.
The radio, antenna, instrument cluter lights, passenger tail light, speedometer, license plate light arent working. A day after, this problem remains when the Car engine is off and the radio is on the yellow battery sign keeps coming up. I can close them all either with the engine on or in accessory mode however it happens again, and again and again.
Installing a new stereo, European headlamps, a radar detector, or worst of all, an aftermarket alarm system can seriously mess up your wiring configuration if it's not performed correctly. BMW has published books with extensive electrical diagrams in the past, but these can be difficult to find.
Start your troubleshooting process by disconnecting your battery ground (see Project 84) and connecting an ammeter between the battery negative and the chassis. Swapping out relays with one that is known to work is a good method of checking the proper operation of the relay as well. However when a friend at shop hooked up computer he was able to control seat movement once connected up to car. When the headlights are switched on to main beam position 2, both headlights and the dashboard will cut out briefly then reignite and I can see the headlights self levelling. It always affects both headlights at the same time, never just one.
You are left holding the mess, armed with only a few sporadic clues as to what is causing the problem. The ammeter will show the amount of current that your electrical system is draining from the battery. As shown in the main image, repeatedly opening and closing the trunk makes the wires and insulation brittle and causes them to break. There was an issue a while back with defective parts, however it was years ago and I would assume they have all been repaired by now. Then determine which components on that circuit is causing the draw You can isolate by removing fuses.
Troubleshooting electrical problems is a tough chore and one most automotive repair shops will not perform without telling you they charge an $80-an-hour diagnostic fee.
When you hook the meter up, it will most likely show that there is some small current flowing through the system. Look at the electrical diagrams, and see if you can tell what components are located on that circuit. Remove the wheel, and check the switch with a continuity tester to make sure it is working properly.
Solder the two broken wires together, and cover any missing insulation with tape, as shown in the photo inset. I have looped one at I time all optics still no change but did notice hardly any volts going to component such as I drive module 5 V and screen 1V but no fuses blown. If I leave the key in position 2 and check under the hood, I can hear the injectors opening and closing while the engine is at rest not turning over.
Warning: Don't start the car or turn on any electrical accessories, because this might blow up your meter.
The head and rear lights are working, so is the radio and the windshield wipers. Clearly there is an electrical issue but I am not able to find the culprit, can you shed any light on my predicament? This only happens when i turn on the lights and didnt happen when i first bought the car but started a few months ago after hitting a bump on a gravel road. I've also checked the tail light assemblies bulbs not replaced but removed and reseated and ground wires and connectors show no signs of damage or burning. Any help really appreciated!

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