Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

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Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by E46330 » Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:38 pm

Hi ,

So after having owned my Alpina for 6 months now I’ve managed to get to know all the little issues she has , and there’s nothing major just little niggly things.

The main problem I’m experiencing is a very poor start up from cold , it takes a while to start and you have to hold the key for a a couple of extra seconds. Sometimes it stalls as if there isn’t enough fuel being pumped in. When I put the key in I cannot explicitly hear the distinct sound of the fuel pump engaging which I always could in previous E46’s. I’ve very recently replaced the battery for a Bosch S5 even though there was already a fairly new one in place. Don’t think it is the spark plugs but uncertain. Not sure about fuel filter or pump but seems more likely than plugs ? Or am completely off track here ? Also would a video with sound be helpful for this ? As I can quickly record one and attach to this thread.

The battery replacement was in hope of fixing the Cog of Death issue as sometimes it throws up the light but a quick on an off of the car will get rid of it. I’ve only put the new battery in yesterday and only once has the Cog come back. So fingers crossed that was the last time. The gearbox feels fine , changes are smooth and fast , in Auto or Semi. So again no idea as to what it could be. Any advice here is greatly appreciated as this probably my most concerning issue considering how expensive gearbox repairs can be.

Other small issues which need addressing :

There is a huge build up of condensation on the front and rear windscreens and general build up in the cabin , I’ve tried putting dehumidifier bags in the car , to no avail , I’ve tried letting the air-con on and will get rid of it but by the next day same thing happens. My mind goes to vapour barriers in the doors or the seals around the glass. Not sure how to get to the source so again any tips would be highly appreciated.

And finally and definitely the strangest of ALL , both my side indicators have had their wires cut from the connectors and I cannot see the wires inside the wings either , so confused ! Only noticed when I went to replace bulbs as MOT garage pointed out they weren’t working. No idea why anyone would cut them ? But this is something I’ll be taking to an auto-electrician for as I’m hopeless with electrics. Please don’t judge as I’m clearly living up to the stereotype that BMW drivers don’t indicate ! Haha

Apologies for lengthy post , was not sure if it would have been best to write multiple threads or one long one. Will split up if that is the correct way to go.

Thanks in advance for any help , advice or tips anyone can give , you guys have the best knowledge base on these cars so I really really appreciate your time.
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by Charles » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:31 pm

When I've experienced it in the past, slow start-up was linked to an old battery which wasn't generating enough "oomph" but you appear to have addressed that with a new one. However, it might be worth checking that the "new" one is fully charged.

You might also find that the starter motor is beginning to fail and is pulling significantly more amps to do its job, which drains the battery too - particularly at cold start-up. This then has a knock-on effect on the other electrical systems needed at that point. The difference between a tired starter motor and a new one are like night and day in terms of time taken to fire up.

The fuel pump noise is probably a red herring as, if it runs normally once going, then the fuel pump is working.

The condensation issues are a strange one, assuming you haven't experienced these during the last few months when it has been really wet, as they would have revealed themselves sooner during that period (unless you are currently experiencing very wet conditions where you live). It might benefit from running the car for a while with the heater wound right up and the windows open to not only evaporate the moisture but also let it escape the interior - not just for the time it takes to clear the screen as all that has happened at this point is the moisture has just relocated within the car.

As for the cut wires, you'll need to access the wing through the front wheel arches by removing the liners. Should be an easy fix once you've found the cables and fed them back through the holes.

Hope this helps
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by hashluck » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:34 pm

The cog of death, given the symptoms you describe, sounds like it could be the Gear Position Switch - a common failure and relatively easy fix.

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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by E46330 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:31 am

Charles wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:31 pm
When I've experienced it in the past, slow start-up was linked to an old battery which wasn't generating enough "oomph" but you appear to have addressed that with a new one. However, it might be worth checking that the "new" one is fully charged.

You might also find that the starter motor is beginning to fail and is pulling significantly more amps to do its job, which drains the battery too - particularly at cold start-up. This then has a knock-on effect on the other electrical systems needed at that point. The difference between a tired starter motor and a new one are like night and day in terms of time taken to fire up.

The fuel pump noise is probably a red herring as, if it runs normally once going, then the fuel pump is working.

The condensation issues are a strange one, assuming you haven't experienced these during the last few months when it has been really wet, as they would have revealed themselves sooner during that period (unless you are currently experiencing very wet conditions where you live). It might benefit from running the car for a while with the heater wound right up and the windows open to not only evaporate the moisture but also let it escape the interior - not just for the time it takes to clear the screen as all that has happened at this point is the moisture has just relocated within the car.

As for the cut wires, you'll need to access the wing through the front wheel arches by removing the liners. Should be an easy fix once you've found the cables and fed them back through the holes.

Hope this helps
This actually helps a lot ! I sincerely thank you for your input Charles , I feel like whenever I have a 2nd opinion from you guys on this forum I am immediately filled with massive amounts of confidence.

Regarding the battery , I have not checked how charged it is , however I purchased from a reputable source and they are quoted as being fully charged too. However I shall run a test on this , mate of mine has a reader and get back to you on that. However without having looked , I genuinely don’t think battery is the issue , especially considering the last one was less than 6 months old , the gentleman I purchased it from had replaced for new on sale of the car. It was a cheap battery pushing 640A and 68AH , it was also a 100 which is the wrong size , so I thought an uprated battery would be better especially considering it has Sat-Nav , heated seats , Parrot system etc.. the Bosch is 85AH , 800A and it’s a 110.
I think a starter motor is the best place to start giving your experience and the symptoms, she’s coming on 120k miles and running an original. Any recommendations as to how I could test the current one to check it’s efficiency ?


Well , not that this helps my situation at all , I live in Sunny Scotland ! So definitely the wettest place to be , however I got the vehicle just before autumn and it wasn’t so wet and the issue persisted. I’ve tried full heat on , windows down and allowing it to dehumidify , however by the next day it appears as if the issue is back , the reason I am getting concerned is that the condensation is so bad it’s forming droplets of water on the inside of the car and mould and electrics is my worry !
Now I do very rarely see water accumulating in the cubby holes on the doors which leads to think vapour barriers ?? But the windows aren’t as bad as the windscreen and rear window hence the uncertainty. But easy enough to check I imagine , just pull the door cards off ?

The wires I’ll take to a garage to get done as I’m useless with those kinds of jobs. However I was wondering how on earth I would get access to being able to create a new wire for them , so many thanks.

Supremely grateful for your response
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by E46330 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:37 am

hashluck wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:34 pm
The cog of death, given the symptoms you describe, sounds like it could be the Gear Position Switch - a common failure and relatively easy fix.
Thanks for the response Hashluck , I really appreciate it , I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders hearing this , as I was starting to get a little concerned !

Your suggestion makes a huge amount of sense as twice in the past 6 months has it thrown the Cog of Death where I was shifting erratically from Drive to Park (in a rush , I know I shouldn’t) however it is otherwise exclusive to start ups , and quick flick on/off of the key switch eliminates it.

Sounds like something a garage will have to look into as I wouldn’t know where to start with the gear position switch , I’m trying to gather as much information as possible before I take her in for another seeing to.

So again many thanks for the suggestion. Greatly appreciated
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by BarryM » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:54 am

E46330 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:31 am
however I got the vehicle just before autumn and it wasn’t so wet and the issue persisted. I’ve tried full heat on , windows down and allowing it to dehumidify , however by the next day it appears as if the issue is back , the reason I am getting concerned is that the condensation is so bad it’s forming droplets of water on the inside of the car and mould and electrics is my worry !
Now I do very rarely see water accumulating in the cubby holes on the doors which leads to think vapour barriers ?? But the windows aren’t as bad as the windscreen and rear window hence the uncertainty. But easy enough to check I imagine , just pull the door cards off ?
Working on the basis the E46 & E39 are same era and the E39 has regular vapour barrier problems I'd plump for the same on your E46! Given how bad yours sounds I'd pull the carpets as it sounds like they are probably soaking underneath near the floorpan - E39 suffers most in the rear but the front can also suffer so I'd look at all areas. I think the windscreen & rear screen mist before the side windows regardless of where the water has managed to get in so don't take too much notice of that, but I've never heard of water in the door cubby holes (presume you mean the storage pockets) and tbh I can't see how water can get into those at all!

Good luck and be interested to hear what you find.
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by Yad3100 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:05 am

E46330 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:31 am

Well , not that this helps my situation at all , I live in Sunny Scotland ! So definitely the wettest place to be , however I got the vehicle just before autumn and it wasn’t so wet and the issue persisted. I’ve tried full heat on , windows down and allowing it to dehumidify , however by the next day it appears as if the issue is back , the reason I am getting concerned is that the condensation is so bad it’s forming droplets of water on the inside of the car and mould and electrics is my worry !
Now I do very rarely see water accumulating in the cubby holes on the doors which leads to think vapour barriers ?? But the windows aren’t as bad as the windscreen and rear window hence the uncertainty. But easy enough to check I imagine , just pull the door cards off ?
Had a similar problem on a 318is I did up. The carpet was saturated underneath and there was a micro climate in the car. It would constantly evaporate and re-condense. I would suggest that before you start ripping the car apart check underneath the carpets to see if the floor and foam is wet.

I ended stripping the interior out to dry the carpet properly and the sprinkling some talc over the floor, this will then tell you where the leak is. I found that the bottom corner of the rear screen seal was allowing water in and it was flowing under the back seat and into the rear footwell.

Of course edd China rented a smoke machine to find the potential leak,

PS I grew up in Glasgow and Manchester is the wettest place I’ve ever lived :roll:
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by JASV8S » Wed Mar 03, 2021 2:57 pm

BarryM wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:54 am
E46330 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:31 am
however I got the vehicle just before autumn and it wasn’t so wet and the issue persisted. I’ve tried full heat on , windows down and allowing it to dehumidify , however by the next day it appears as if the issue is back , the reason I am getting concerned is that the condensation is so bad it’s forming droplets of water on the inside of the car and mould and electrics is my worry !
Now I do very rarely see water accumulating in the cubby holes on the doors which leads to think vapour barriers ?? But the windows aren’t as bad as the windscreen and rear window hence the uncertainty. But easy enough to check I imagine , just pull the door cards off ?
Working on the basis the E46 & E39 are same era and the E39 has regular vapour barrier problems I'd plump for the same on your E46! Given how bad yours sounds I'd pull the carpets as it sounds like they are probably soaking underneath near the floorpan - E39 suffers most in the rear but the front can also suffer so I'd look at all areas. I think the windscreen & rear screen mist before the side windows regardless of where the water has managed to get in so don't take too much notice of that, but I've never heard of water in the door cubby holes (presume you mean the storage pockets) and tbh I can't see how water can get into those at all!

Good luck and be interested to hear what you find.
Barry has raised a good point here as water build up under the carpet is common. I had condensation like you describe and the rear drivers side carpet was damp and there was also water accumulated under the drivers seat carpet. There is also a fuse unit under the driver's seat that can get affected causing all sorts of issues. Suspect sunroof drainage channels being blocked and door vapour barriers plus the other general areas where water can penetrate.
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by Charles » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:55 pm

E46330 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:31 am
Any recommendations as to how I could test the current one [starter motor] to check it’s efficiency ?
Not easily - it gets slower and slower and then dies! In my case, having had the car from new, I was aware of what it should be like and what it had become and the time taken to fire up was getting longer and longer.

Mine was replaced at 161k miles but only 6.5 years old - so a comparison is not that easy
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by E46330 » Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:20 am

Just started the car up today and all the engine management lights came on and the engine was really struggling , the revs were bouncing around and putting my foot on the accelerator does nothing , as if the pedal isn’t even connected anymore. What on earth could this be ? I have a video but not sure how to attach it to this forum
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by Charles » Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:38 am

"Problem solving by forum" is not going to work here.

My advice is to get a full fault code check - then you will have a clear idea of what is going on.

Being based in Scotland, CPC in Amersham or BMR in Crawley are a bit too far for you to consider, but any decent BMW specialists in your part of the world should be able to pinpoint the problem(s) and plan a solution.
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by E46330 » Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:46 am

Yeah I didn’t think so either , I’m taking it to a garage on Monday just not sure if I can drive it the way it is , any ideas what’s causing this crazy over reviving and complete loss of power ?
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by Charles » Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:56 am

I had something similar to this once and it was a frayed wire coming off the throttle body which threw everything out.

Had to be recovered to the garage but was a pleasantly easy (and cheap) fix. Since then I've had all the cables recovered and adjusted their routing to prevent a repeat situation.

Might be worth a careful inspection under the bonnet, checking the cable runs for any obvious rubbing.
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by E46330 » Sat Mar 06, 2021 11:14 am

I’ll check it when I’m off work tomorrow but definitely needs a visit to the garage as that all sounds far too complicated for me but always worth a quick visual , I’m going to get everything addressed at the one time and hopefully that will be me sorted for the rest of the year. Cheers for the suggestion Charles , you guys are better than mechanics on this forum I swear !
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Re: Cold Start Up Problem and Cog of Death - Alpina E46 B3.3 2002

Post by E46330 » Sat Mar 06, 2021 11:25 am

Charles wrote:
Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:56 am
I had something similar to this once and it was a frayed wire coming off the throttle body which threw everything out.

Had to be recovered to the garage but was a pleasantly easy (and cheap) fix. Since then I've had all the cables recovered and adjusted their routing to prevent a repeat situation.

Might be worth a careful inspection under the bonnet, checking the cable runs for any obvious rubbing.
Just called the garage going to get it recovered there next week. Fingers crossed it’s all easy to do and not too expensive ! Please keep me in your prayers haha
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