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BMW 5 Series - Battery Problem

bizzymumbizzymum Posts: 2
I bought my BMW 520 (first registration Sep 01) in Nov 2008. In Jan 09, the battery was going flat often. Since then, the battery has been changed 4 times, alternator changed twice and an electrician has checked the drainage system but i tried starting the car yesterday after a new battery was fitted on Thursday 31st Dec 09 and it was flat. I dont know what to do now. Help.


  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,301
    Is the electrical tech familiar with late model BMWs? The current draw must be checked after the motor has been shut down and all doors, hood, and trunk are closed in order to see if the car's electronics are going into "hibernation" properly. Have you noticed any problems with the climate control fan? A bad final stage unit(AKA 'hedgehog") can sometimes result in a mysterious discharge. If that's the culprit, the fix is a fairly simple R&R.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • I dont know much about cars unfortunately, but everything's been working perfectly and i haven't noticed anything different with the climate control fan. Thanks for the tip. The mechanic has booked the car in with the electrician to check the draw. Thanks again.
  • m1c1m1c1 Posts: 1

    I'm experiencing the problem that you've discussed. I bought my 530 BMW (2004, premodel) several years ago, and have experienced my fan turning on during random times as I drive. I noticed a lagg when I turn the ignition, and then in October of last year, my car battery just died. I took my car into a shop that works on only BMWs. After doing some research, I learned that the final stage unit can cause the climate control to act improperly. So when the shop told me the problem was my battery, I questioned them. They said that the problem did not act up when they had my car, and they did not find a draw. I bought a brand new battery from them and went on my way.

    However, when I took it home, I noticed that the fan did not turn on when I drove it, but instead the fan turned on when the car went to sleep mode. So when I started the car, the fan would be running. I took it back to the shop, they checked it again, and they said that it was blower motor resistor. I was upset that they didn't diagnosis it before and had me buy a battery. I wanted to get a second opinion, and took my car to the BMW dealer. I told the dealer my problem and the technician said it's probably the blower motor. But after they looked at it overnight, the service writer said that they found no draw. This is quiet perculiar to me because my battery keeps on dying. The dealer said that I needed to buy a brand new BMW battery....I told them there is no such thing and there are only a few battery manufactures that everyone buys from.

    So my car is still not fixed, and my brand new battery is completely dead and has to be jumped. I'm waiting for the new BMW recall list this month hoping the final stage will be on there. Do you know why I'm getting the run around from these companies? It's ridiculous how my problem points to the final stage unit, and the dealer is trying to sell me a battery I don't need. Any advice on what I can do?
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,301
    If you have an E60 5 Series have the shop check the Intelligent Battery Sensor(IBS) which is part of the negative battery cable.
    If it's an E39, replace the FSU yourself.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • I have a 2008 535i that is driven short distances to and from work (about 5 minutes each way). The clock sometimes loses its setting, and the BMW technician and BMW's help line both tell me that I need a trickle charger. (They replaced the battery-not a gel filled one-once, and that worked for a few months.) The charger is variously described as 'trickle with auto shut off', 'maintenance charger', and 'float charger'. I am prepared to purchase one, but I prefer to stay away from BMW's private brand ($$$).

    Anyone with any experience with such a charger?

  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    If they've determined that the battery connections are clean, the alternator is working properly, and the battery is not defective, then any 12v battery charger with a trickle or automatic setting should work. If the 12v outlet is always on, and not switched with the ignition, you can get one that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket. Those are often limited to about 1-2 A, and may not be enough to recharge the battery overnight. ANother thing that should be checked is a leakage or load test to determine if something is not shutting off properly when it should, and thus drawing the battery down. The alarm and clock circuits are the only things that might draw much (and not much) power while the car is off after it has cooled off. The cooling fan on some cars can run after shutdown, but there aren't many other things that do run that draw any significant power. A simple lamp that stays on for some reason can draw a battery down overnight.
  • I have 2008 550i and have been having the same exact issues with my car as well as with the BMW service center. They replaced my battery after much complaining by me and out of "good faith". I stated to them all these issues in previous posts and they treated me like a fool. I did not appreaciate my experience with them so far. Don't expect to have anything fixed by them.

    I have been looking into solar trickle chargers but I'm not sure if it will solve your battery problem. I'm still trying to find a cheap resolution to keep my battery from draining. However, according the BMW service center rep, I have to drive my car 45 miles A DAY to maintain the battery charge. That's ridiculous.

    So far, I have good luck driving my car once every two weeks for a 1/2 hour. 50% of the time i have to redo the clock and date (which I should not have to do).

    Anyway, my point is I know exactly what you are going through and been told a solar trickle/maintainer might help.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    If you know how to use a multimeter, you could check the current draw on the battery when everything is off. My guess is it is probably in the low hundreds of milliamps. If it is higher, try pulling fuses to try to isolate what is drawing the power. Many multimeters can measure up to 10A, so don't turn on anything or try to start it, or you'll blow the fuse in the meter. If you can set the interior lights to not come on, do that.

    Any courtesy lamp that doesn't turn off (trunk, glove box, footwell, engine bay, lighter, etc. can, over time, draw a battery down.
  • A belated thanks for your response to my 27 January post. I am comfortable with the BMW technician who says that he has checked the battery, alternator, and has also checked for any abnormal electrical leaks. I have looked for any lights that might be on after the car is shut down (including disconnecting the trunk light), and I don't think that is the problem.

    I contacted Schumacher, who makes several models of trickle chargers, and they recommended one that they make for Sears. I purchased this unit ($30.00), and it is basically fool proof. Of course, how long it will last is another question.

    Thanks again for your input.
  • Has anyone heard of reports of water leakage and electrical problems with 2008 535's? I have the wagon and apparently water leaks in through seals in the sunroof and, instead of draining as designed, water flows to the "trunk" area where all of the electronics are located. The result is a complete electrical short and failure (we're talking TPM, airbags, ABS, level systems, etc). This has happened to my vehicle 3-times in an 18-month period and BMW has been less-than-helpful. I'm interested in learning if this is a common problem with this make/model/year or if I just have a bad car.
  • jkaudia6jkaudia6 Posts: 77
    edited February 2010
    Greetings Re: BMW 5 series battery issue [professor6]

    I've read through most of the thread on your electrical problem but one thing is not clear to me.
    Are you talking about the interior ventilation fan or the engine cooling fans?
    To the point, the engine cooling fans are thermostat activated and will run if the sensors say the motor/water temperature is to high.
    Many good ideas posted here but one that no one touched on.
    The interior lights are activated by a switch on each door. Many years ago this was
    a small button style switch located near the door hinges. In Particular BMW has gone to a "Door guide switch" to activate the interior lights. I'm speaking about that black & aluminum bracket located on the C Post between the front & rear doors.
    Check those to insure the switch portion is working correctly.
    There is also a gas cap door switch which I believe is electrical, make sure that's in working order. You may have to pull the trunk side panel out to get to the switch
    and related wires.
    One last area! I had a 1990 BMW 5 series and found a bunch of electrical relays located under the rear seat bottom. Good place to look and check for loose connections.
    Battery trickle chargers are great little device. I'm not sure why I should have to buy one of those for an automobile, made in Germany, that cost $40K or more, but that's me.
    Good luck with those electrical Gremlins.
    Best Regards :shades:
  • 5series5series Posts: 5
    edited March 2010
    >--Electrical problems caused by water damage in trunk

    I have a 2006 530 wagon (with 46,000miles) that has the same exact problem. Brought it to Dinan and the tech is still trying to figure out the extend of the damage and the cause of it all. So far, he's found 5 panels in the trunk area all rusted and corroded, an puddles of water under the spare tire and battery. He need to first replace these to check further since the computer is not communicated all the way through for fault codes. My I-drive is also dead. Unfortunately the warrenty expired 11/09. The dealer tells me it's not a common problem at all (of course not). Is your problem fixed? What was the cause and cost for repair? Thx much!
  • mewertmewert Posts: 1
    My 2002 525it's battery kept discharging when not in use. I traced it to the vehicle system not going into sleep mode. It took a while trouble shooting but after disconnecting the factory navigation system it would go into sleep mode. I disconnected it by removing the two connectors at the back of the nav unit. Only thing is, now, not only do I not have any nav but my monitor is also dead so I cannot adjust the clock, radio tone settings, etc. The battery however keeps a charge. Any idea of a fix??
    tkx, Mike
  • purnapurna Posts: 1
    I have similar problem on my 2008 BMW 535i where water/liquid inside trunck damaged caused module failure and as a result see TPM and Electric Malfunction messages. BMW NA is not willing to pay for labor charges. This looks like common problem and BMW should fix their design and now cover this under warranty. If not I will take this up to BBB and Consumer court and not sure who else can help me out here.
  • tomekktomekk Posts: 310
    There is a technical bulletin out for those trickle chargers.
    Here's the text:

    Battery maintenance requirements from the Owner’s handbook
    Battery Care
    If your car is driven only for short distances of less than 10 miles over a prolonged period of time, without an occasional drive at highway speeds, the engines charging system will not properly maintain the battery.
    Insufficient use of the vehicle could result in short term starting problems and in the long term could damage the battery.
    In case the car is not operated for several weeks it is advisable to:
    A. Consider using a proper trickle charger, following the charger manufacturer’s
    instructions, to maintain the battery’s state of charge.
    Advanced Battery Charging System with Alligator Clips
    This Advanced Battery Charging System can help you extend the life of your battery. Simply plug the 1.25-amp charger into
    a standard 115-VAC wall outlet and connect the alligator clips to your terminals under the hood. The device's on-board
    microchip monitors and regulates the charge- virtually eliminating sulfating. It can even help extend the life of your battery.
    (PN: 82 11 0 406 881)

    B. Consult your BMW center regarding battery removal.
    Once removed, the battery must be charged and stored in a cool, dry place where it can be protected
    from freezing.
    If the battery will be stored for over 3 months, it must be recharged every 3 months, or else it will become
    damaged and useless.
  • majkomajko Posts: 3
    I have a 2006 530i and got the same problem, iDrive is dead due to water somewhere in the trunk, i have found 3 blown fuses but replacing them didn't help.
    What part is most likely affected by this, assuming located in the trunk, and how the water got in there?
    Any ideas would be appreciated.
  • My water damage came from clogged sunroof drainage caused by crushed leaves. The leaves that were blown in while leaving my sunroof vent open were crushed when the sunroof is retracte. Five electrical panels in the truck were all fried and need to be replaced. You may be able to detect rust or water underneath the spear tire. My insurance paid for the repairs due to water damage. Good Luck.
  • majkomajko Posts: 3
    Woow, thanks for the reply, my problem is going to be the same, roof was retracted when slightly rained, I forgot to close it.
    Do you know by any chance what electrical components were replaced in your car ? There are several in the trunk, stereo equipment is there also, amplifier etc...
    If you still have the paperwork from the repair, maybe they listed the panels they replaced.
    Thank you very much for any help you have.
  • there were 5 panels: Air supply, micro power module, tailgate lift, PDC, Satelite Radio.The trunk only floods if there is debris blocking the end of the drains.
  • I have a 2008 528xi, and I have the same electrical problem with the car. The display resets every few days, and all kinds of error messages pop up: e.g. 4x4 system has malfunctioned etc. This is not the first experience though, I had a 528 i before, and had the exact same issue!

    BMW technicians only say that I need to drive the car more. Well, I drive it every day about 20 miles. How much more I need to drive? They won't specify that. How ridiculous is it to drive around the town aimlessly just because one owns a BMW!! They should add this as part of their wonderful ownership experience.

    I called BMW customer relations, and I was rater hastily told that the owner's manual had battery maintenance instructions, and it was my problem that the car was experiencing electrical problem. (I checked the owners manual, it had nothing that stated anything that applied to my problem whatsoever. It stated "if the car is not driven for 4 weeks....". But, I drive it every day!) I am sure they train their customer relations reps to say that because they know about the issue, and are unwilling to fix it, and are just trying to avoid a recall.

    I am done owning BMWs. They make overpriced pieces of junks.
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