BMW 5 Series - Battery Problem

bizzymumbizzymum Member 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 Member Posts: 17,048
    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.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2021 Sahara 4xe 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

  • bizzymumbizzymum Member Posts: 2
    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 Member 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 Member Posts: 17,048
    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.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2021 Sahara 4xe 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

  • professor6professor6 Member Posts: 3
    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 Member 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.
  • id4yuxianid4yuxian Member Posts: 1
    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 Member 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.
  • professor6professor6 Member Posts: 3
    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.
  • jim367jim367 Member Posts: 1
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.
  • 5series5series Member Posts: 5
    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 Member 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.
  • 5series5series Member Posts: 5
    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.
  • kchowdhurykchowdhury Member Posts: 1
    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.
  • 5series5series Member Posts: 5
    I suspect some of your electricals have water damage. If they are located like mine at the lowest point of the trunk (under the spare tire), there may have been water collected from a blocked drainage. If you need to replace the electrical modules anyway think about relocating them to the left side panel, so they won't be at the lowest point of the car even if there is water leakage. I finally did that after $4000 damage, then it was all good. Learned the hard way, bad design!!! Good luck!
  • maynardamaynarda Member Posts: 1
    Just found this site and I'm amazed by the number of people that are having trouble with such a simple thing as a battery. Me too!! I have a 2007 530xi that has been giving me indications that something was going to happen to the system. Finally, today, I got the message " high battery drain" When it was checked out by my dealer, the battery did not pass the test and I needed to purchase a new battery at the cost of over $400!!! BMW makes everything too expensive and too complex for the "common" driver to deal with. COMSUMER REPORT has made this statement for years....their systems are very complex and hard to deal with. I got the same answer as you did.."drive the car more." I own two other cars and one of them is a Dodge Van. The battery is over 7 years old and has not given me any problems except I had to charge it about 3 time. The engine is a 3.8 and it includes everthing except GPS. Sometimes this van will sit for weeks and will start without problems. The other is a '98 Toyota truck and it gets very little useage but will start the very first try. I also noticed that a lot of people can't locate the battery. I looked in the trunk and can only hope it is under the spare tire because I can't see anywhere else it could be. Maybe that is why BMW charged me almost $200 to change it out! They couldn't find it either! I do know the Germans over do everything and this is one reason they lost the war....their tanks were too well built but parts, service and gas could not keep up...Seems they did not learn anything from that.
    I don't think there is a new BMW in my future either!!
  • audir8dreameraudir8dreamer Member Posts: 2
    Here's a new possible reason that I haven't read on this thread. I have a 2000 740i and the battery just recently started dying. Each morning I'd have to jump start it. Took it to AAA repair center and they said the battery was dead and so I bought a new one ($300 if you don't mind). Same problem started with the new battery. This time I took it to my independent BMW mechanic and, after testing the entire electrical system, he found my nav unit was faulty, that it was constantly draining the battery. He disconnected the nav to test it for a couple of days, and sure enough, no more battery drain. Since the nav in that year is useless, I've left it disconnected. Just a thought . . .
  • james27james27 Member Posts: 433
    More and more things are potentially 'on' in the modern cars even when the ignition/switch is off. Since they are essentially run by computers (often many more than one), and you don't want to wait for them to boot up when you want to start the car, they go into sleep mode. This does not mean that they stop drawing power, but it gets to be quite small when everything is working properly. The older the car, the less it has that may still be on, until you go way back, then nothing is on at all except maybe a clock.

    No battery likes to be deep discharged and will be degraded each time it needs a jump start.

    For a vehicle that is not driven much, or, has lots of short trips especially in cold weather that taxes the battery even more, it's a good idea to purchase and USE a trickle charger. This is becoming true of ANY new, complex, modern car; not just BMW. The more do-dads there are, the bigger the problem. Think about it; stuff like the remote receiver needs to be on all the time so it can respond to you pressing the open button on the fob. Most of these cars have an alarm system with ultrasonic detectors (or maybe radar) that try to keep the vehicle from being stolen, or at least make some noise when it happens, and, a gps system might try to turn on once in awhile so you get a quick position fix when you actually do turn it on.

    Now that I'm retired, I may need to take my own advice. I pick up a new GT in a little over a week (well, I drove it in Germany in APril, but it's still new). I've been filling the tank on my current vehicle maybe once a month or two..not many miles.
  • miamlomiamlo Member Posts: 1
    I think I may have this same problem. How did u get ur insurance to pay for the damages?
  • 5series5series Member Posts: 5
    If you have comprehensive auto insurance it should cover replacing the electrical panels caused by water damage (less ur deductible). Best if your shop can move the panels to the left side of the trunk instead of their original location at the bottom of the trunk (because your drains will continue to have the risk of being clogged by crushed leaves if you use your sunroof at all). My BMW dealer would not relocate the panels so I had to go to an independent BMW repair shop (Dinan Cars in Mountain View, CA). Good luck!
  • thierrryopthierrryop Member Posts: 1
    hi , im also having huge issues with my e60 battery/car - had your fan issue also,seemed to have a mind of its own just coming on randomly whenever and possibly draining the battery ???? 3 batteries later still having problems the latest being a burnt out ibs sensor on the batteries negative cable - ive only just discovered this damage this morning, and my car has been off the road for 10 days! can i just go and purchase this replacement cable/sensor myself from the dealer - disconnect the battery replace the part and reconnect the battery? im really losing patience with this vehicle 2005 e60 saloon msport pack 530i petrol i would really really appreciate it if you or anybody else could offer any advice on this matter as its really getting me down - it couldnt of happened at a worst time of year either im totally stranded over xmas - ill keep my fingers crossed somebody/anybody can help - [email protected] :sick:
  • majkomajko Member Posts: 3
    i think the negative battery cable with the ibs sensor cost around $ 270 from the dealer, replacing it should be easy. They don't sell any parts of the cable by itself, I needed new bolt for the negative terminal, dealer told me I have to buy the whole cable with the ibs sensor and terminal, LOL ....
  • brngmnywtchabrngmnywtcha Member Posts: 1
    I am having the same problem many have described about the battery dying. I had my 2008 BMW towed twice last April within three days due to the battery being dead. The strange thing is my car was serviced a few days before the problem started happening. The second time my car was towed I demanded a new battery; they replaced the battery. I have now reached the end of my warranty. I had my car serviced last week and wouldn't you know it three days later the battery is dead and would not start. I had a mechanic charge the battery and took it back to the dealer. They are checking to see what happens when it goes into sleep mode. I was questioned about if I had left any items plugged in like navigation or radar detector which I answered no. Also was mentioned about driving short trips. I drive it everyday to work which is 22 miles and every other weekend for 150 miles on the highway. I asked if this was a problem other owners were having and they said no. Now I read here many are experiencing the same problem. BMW needs to step up to the plate and fix this issue! We have got to get together and form a combined effort to get BMW to address the problem!
  • gardisgardis Member Posts: 185
    Guys, I have a 2007 530i CPO which i love. Never had a problem with it, still under warranty until JUNE 2012. BUT - in 2010 I noticed something wrong with the idrive. Took it to the dealer. They called me and said one or two of the battery cells were dead. Truth is, I don't do a lot of driving. In two weeks, I drive maybe just under 300 miles. So what the manual says, I have to pay attention to that about driving the car sufficiently. Anyway, replaced the battery at a cost of something like $300. Problem gone. All systems operating beautifully, vehicle has about 42K miles and never needded a thing except oil changes.
    Remember something: these new vehicles ALL (Audi, Lex, etc) all have sophisticated electronic systems. Even Hyundai now has a push button start for example. I'm use to sitting down at the beach with the car radio on (former 1996 328i) but back then, there were no iDrives. We just have to be aware, these systems draw more current from the batt.

    Re Sunroof: i learned the hard way in my 1996 328i, those sunroof carriage assemblies can go bad. Now, I NEVER open the sunroof (why do you need to?) Just use it for the beautiful sunlight coming through, and keep it closed. And you won't have to worry about that problem. Keep it simple guys. Don't blame the vehicle. You think Mercedes is going to be less complex?

    I love my car otherwise.
  • 550iguy550iguy Member Posts: 1
    This is a response to brngmynwtcha's post, have a '08 550i which just got back from a routine service which I paid $1,200+ for and also Paid $69.95 for a vehicle scope check which is supposed to be a multi point inspection apparently that a profit for the dealer since battery died completely 2 days after getting my car back which makes me suspect, of the multi point inspection since they never detected this issue. I also see high battery drain error messages on a regular basis and have to reset time and date a lot, this started happening while car was under warranty, dealer would keep my car for days and tell me they were doing draw test on every single system and would call me after a week and give me a BS solution to the problem, last one was my rear comfort access was faulty and was replaced at no cost to me and this fixed the problem but started having same issues a month later!!!! Car is awesome except for this major electrical / battery issue.
  • conchitacoliconchitacoli Member Posts: 1
    I thank you all for posting your battery issues. I have a 2009 528i that left me stranded in a parking lot. Called tow truck to take the car directly to the dealer on a Thursday evening. Come Friday, I was told the car was ready for pick up and that all it had needed was to recharge the battery. I showed up to pick up my car on Saturday. After browsing the new models for a while, decided to get it appraised for trade-in value. Would you believe that they ran it , parked it and then could not start it again! Well, it was obvious that I would not be going home in my car that day. So, I gave them the keys and traded it for a X1 which has less bells and whistles.
    After reading your postings, I'm relieved to know that my suspicions were correct. At least now it will not be my problem and the Dealer will have to figure out and correct the problem if they want to make a profit.
  • safeman7safeman7 Member Posts: 1
    I just encountered a battery issue with my 2007 525XI and the car is still being repaired (4th day). I left my car at the airport for 3 days for a business trip. When I returned the driver front window was open and some water was on the back floor. The car wouldn't start and the horn blared. I got a jump, drove for about 5 minutes an the horn died out. the next day when I went to start the car, the horn went off again, Brought it to BMW. They said the battery was at 60% charge, probably low voltage caused a module to blow and a short in the steering column and bad wire to the tire sensors. All this for a low battery which I did not have a warning about. oF course the car has been out of warranty for 8 mos..The car has been fine until now. Has anybody experienced this.
  • jb928jb928 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 05, 545i, just replaced the battery a few months ago .... have electrical problem after electrical problem .... sometimes 20 faults per hour!!! Car will roll down windows, engage cruise control, wash windows, change radio stations, even adjust you right into the steering wheel while driving .... no, much more serious than many have posted above.

    This month though, the car has decided just not to start. In trying to trace the current problem, I notice that the IBS is burnt out. I saw at least someone else mention this. I've found it for as little as $150 US but would like to know why this happened? I though with a degree in CIS, I might be able to handle these problems ... but it's not quitting anytime soon.

    I was thinking of checking the ECM as I here that many of these items send/receive info on a data bus of varying types back & for to the ECM. Any thoughts where to check myself?

    Jonathan Burke
  • rednandorednando Member Posts: 0

    i have a 550I and Im having issues with my fan fuse blowing out,would a bad battery also be the problem or a bad blower motor

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