Starter motor issue?

Discuss the problems with your X5 (E53).
dubwud
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Starter motor issue?

Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:35 pm

Evening all,

My 2005 3.0d E53 X5 has been struggling to start over the last 6 months or so. The issue started pretty infrequently, every once in a while, probably five or six times a year, I would go to start the car, the starter motor would make a loud spinning sound and nothing would happen. It sounded as though the starter motor was spinning freely, and not engaging with the rest of the engine. I put it down trying to start the car too soon without giving it those few seconds between ignition and starting, or just minor insignificant issues due to the vehicles age.

Recently the problem has become a lot worse. Last weekend, it failed to start for a good ten minutes after being sat in a car park for an hour or so, and yesterday evening it took a good 10-15 attempts before the car started. It sounds as though the starter motor either spins freely, not engaging with the engine at all, or partially engages as the car turns over for a couple of seconds, before failing to start, and the starter motor makes the usual free spinning noise.

My first thoughts were to clean out the starter, ensuring it’s free from any dirt, debris etc. which may be causing issues with the starter engaging, or to replace the starter motor entirely. But, on the occasions where the car turns over, it sounds as though the starter motor is doing its job, at least in part, and could this point to something else? A fuelling issue potentially? I did have an issue a few years ago with the fuel system and very occasionally I still get a “fuel inject. system" error flash up on the dash. Are there any other things I could check before I start taking the starter apart? One thing I’ve noticed, is that the car starts easier in the cold. This morning, at 6 degrees, the car started first time.

Any advice appreciated.

Cheers.
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X5Sport
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:10 pm

If anyone near you has, or you have, access to a fault code reader that might help track down the issue if the starter isn’t the cause. There are a number of causes of that warning such as low fuel rail pressure caused by an old and blocking fuel filter, leaking injectors, or even a bad pump.

The common starter issue on that age E53 is a problem in the starter motore core - and it usually needs a current clamp to prove. The starter should draw no more than 180A but a failing one can be many times that.

I had one in both my E53 and E46 with the 3.0L engine fail. Both made in 2004/5, and both replaced with Bosch units. At failure point the E53 was pulling 900A from the battery!! The E46 was around 500A.

It sounds like yours is spinning so it might be the solenoid isn’t kicking the starter dog gear into place on the flywheel ring gear. If it is the starter core then replacement is your only sensible option as it’s a windings issue giving an internal short. The common symptom is slow starting until it gets so bad you need a battery recharge every second or third go! But from your symptoms that might not be the cause.
:ant: Never anthropomorphise computers. They hate that.
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Leslie
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:31 pm

My starter on my old 330d started doing a similar thing where it would seem to engage then spin freely as if it had lost drive ,it got continually worse over a few weeks , new starter issue fixed !
dubwud
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:19 pm

Just to provide bit of an update on this / a further issue.

I don’t use my X5 a lot, so I haven’t yet attempted fixed the starting issue. I drove the car yesterday morning, it started on the 3rd/4th attempt. I parked the car for around 8 hours. I got back in the evening, it started on the 3rd/4th attempt again and drove fine. I got the car home and parked up. Later that evening I needed to move the car. It started on the 2nd attempt. I moved it, and parked it on a slight incline for an hour or so. When I went to move the car back, this time it wouldn’t start. I tried 15+ times to start the car and the starter motor either span freely, or engaged for a brief period, before spinning freely again – as described above. On one occasion, the starter motor didn’t spin at all, the car made a loud beep (which sounded as though it came from the engine bay) and ‘Trans. Failsafe Prog.’ was displayed on the dash. I tried again to start the car and was met with the same error. After a few more attempts the error disappeared, and the car would just die instantly when I tried to start the engine. Almost as if the car cut out entirely.

After a bit of research, I’ve found that ‘Trans. Failsafe Prog.’ relates to the gearbox ECU. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with the gearbox. It has never shown signs of fault before (besides the occasional first gear lurch issue, experienced by many E53 drivers). And coupled with the fact that the car died completely. I believe the issue is with the battery. I’m aware that the starting current required to run the starter motor and turn over the heavy 3.0d is probably the biggest peak the car battery sees through life. Trying to start the car 15+ times in a row probably took its toll on the battery – which also tallies with X5 Sports explanation of a failing starter motor possibly drawing even more current than a healthy one, potentially leading to the car needing a battery recharge. With how complicated these cars are, the continuous attempts to start the car could’ve lead to the car displaying erroneous errors due to the low power. Does this sound plausible? Or am I talking complete rammel here?

I allowed time for the car to settle, and this morning tried again. The car turned over but failed to start. So it appears to be back in its original state. I didn’t see any error messages, however the red triangles either side of the dash display remained visible. Could this be because the fault is still logged within the ECU?

I’ve tried to be as descriptive as possible. Thanks all for your previous and continued guidance with this issue.
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henrym3
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:12 pm

Go into the hidden menu on instrument cluster and check battery voltage. Number 7 in menu is battery voltage.
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sleepyfolk
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:52 pm

As the chaps have said, double check your battery voltage and see what state it is in now, and also when running if it starts!

Personally I would change the starter motor, as x5sport says they do have a reputation for drawing excess current, this knackers the battery and then the low voltage and voltage spikes flash up all sorts or errors that don’t actually exist - trans fail wing a common one.

My starter when I bought the car used to make an almighty screech when starting which sounded horrific, I think the guy I bought it off thought it was the engine but one Bosch exchange unit later from ECP (and a new battery) and all is well!
dubwud
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:11 pm

henrym3 wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:12 pm
Go into the hidden menu on instrument cluster and check battery voltage. Number 7 in menu is battery voltage.
I've just had a look. My battery is 10.9V. Which feels low. I'd expect it to be more like 11.5-12.0V.

In case anyone stumbles across this thread, to avoid confusion, voltage is Test Number 9 in the hidden menu, rather than 7.
sleepyfolk wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:52 pm
As the chaps have said, double check your battery voltage and see what state it is in now, and also when running if it starts!

Personally I would change the starter motor, as x5sport says they do have a reputation for drawing excess current, this knackers the battery and then the low voltage and voltage spikes flash up all sorts or errors that don’t actually exist - trans fail wing a common one.

My starter when I bought the car used to make an almighty screech when starting which sounded horrific, I think the guy I bought it off thought it was the engine but one Bosch exchange unit later from ECP (and a new battery) and all is well!
The car won't start. I just tried to start the car a couple of times and it died instantly, so I think the battery has finally given out - or is too low to drive the starter and needs charging. Nice to know the errors could be caused by the low voltage though. I'm going to contact the garage in the morning to get a new starter fitted. Hopefully this will resolve the issue.

Thanks all for your help. I'll report back when I've had the motor changed.
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sleepyfolk
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:47 pm

10.9 volts for a battery means it is dead, deceased and fooked, fingers crossed a new battery and starter do the trick. When you connect back up you’ll get the yellow lights on the dash - just drive forward slowly and go lock to lock to get rid of them.
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Alan Gunn
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:05 am

R.I.P battery.
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henrym3
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:46 pm

Sorry for putting you on a bum steer with the menu number. 7 is coolant temperature :)
dubwud
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Re: Starter motor issue?

Tue May 14, 2019 8:18 pm

Just to close this out, for any future readers, replaced the starter and everything works a treat.

Thanks all for your help :).

Now to fix the 4x4 warning light...

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