View Full Version : The starter just spins and spins

07-10-2005, 08:30 PM
Hey everyone here is the crap that's been happening to my beutiful BMW. The starter just spins as if the solenoid isn't kicking out the starter gear to engage the flywheel. If I crank it enough it starts. I've replaced the starter a total of 3 times now and still the same thing. I've checked to make sure the flywheel isn't missing any teeth and everything is fine. I read that sometimes if the fuel pump relay is bad it can cause this problem. I've checked every ground caple i could find and they all seem to be fine. The other weird thing is that when i can get it started it idles really wierd, but it drives perfect, only at idle is when the engine acts funky. It never dies just fluctuates between about 500 and 1100 rpm. Any thoughts?

07-10-2005, 11:23 PM
I was having the same problem with my starter. Free spining from the starter. I too thought the solenoid was bad. The problem was intermittant for about 2 moths. It would get bad and I have to push start for a couple of days. Then work for a few weeks. I found that holding the key in the start position for a sec THEN pressing the clutch helped.

I had the starter replaced yesterday 360bucks parts and labor. So far she's starting fine. Mine too occasionally has the bouncing idle, only happens just after started. Is there be a relay going bad in the starting circut?

07-10-2005, 11:43 PM
Well i'm currently on the 3rd new starter, it all started one day out of the blue. I had replaced the old starter because it just quit working all together. The new one i put in worked fine for about 2 weeks then just started spinning without engaging the flywheel. Figured ok, that starter was used i'll get a new one. That one didn't work at all no matter how many times i tried it would just not turn the flywheel, so i took it off and tested it. BAD SOLEMOID, so i put the used one back in. Got another new one, and put it in today. Worked fine twice then started the whole not spinning the flywheel at all thing. So i checked every single ground i could find and every relay, fuse, and switch i could associate with the ignition, they all seemed fine except the fuel pump relay. So i'm guessing that's the problem, i'm gonna have to get one tomorrow to check it out. If i test the resistance of the fuel pump relay from peg 85 to 86 i get 10 ohms, I was told by a BMW tech that optimal resistance is 8 ohms, but everything should work fine at 10. Sounds fishy, i'll keep you guys updated if the new relay works, but if anyone else has had this problem please post a reply.

07-11-2005, 12:24 AM
I think I'm going to have nightmares about starters now...LOL. I don't understand how the fuel pump relay could have anything to do with the solenoid. But it does seem that something in your electrical system is burning up the solenoid. Also what kind of starter are you putting in. I heard that you can get either a BOSH or some inferior italian one...at least that's what the mechanic who replaced my starter said. My 98 had the BOSH already in it, and a new BOSH went in.

I hope mine stays fixed :ashamed: .

Goold luck, keep us posted.


07-11-2005, 12:52 AM
the first one was a magnetti marreli, the second one bosch, the third one magnetti marreli and the one in it now a bosch. Apparently if the starter relay isn't working correctly it can't complete the circuit all the way for the starter, i know it worked better when i cleaned the terminals on the relay. also if i hold down the gas it's 10x more likely to catch the flywheel and start. Don't ask me why, it's German engineering. I miss american v8's where everything is simple.

07-16-2005, 08:02 PM
Pumping the gas also helped mine to start. I thought it was a relay problem.
I'm glad to hear that just cleaning it helped.

Just wondering what did you do with all those starters? I would think some of them are still good, do you agree?


07-17-2005, 01:37 PM
Here's the thing, I replaced the starter again, then i replaced the relay, and it worked 4 times in a row, now it does what it wants to. i'm thinking its a grounding problem somewhere. I don't have all the starters, because i've gotten them all from the same place and thus have been sending them back to him because he swears up and down the only thing it could be is the starter. Oh well i'll keep everyone posted if i ever get it to run right.

07-18-2005, 06:17 AM
my car jst wont f-in start all together.. And i have no clue why....

I have checked fuses, wires, the works..

You cats have any ideas?

07-20-2005, 02:10 AM
At the risk of sounding like a wise ass...battery? gas? In all seriousness, the times I've seen that at work, I thought I'd mention the basics. I've done it before, run out of gas, figure out after an hour or 2 that your gas gauge is off lol.

ps. that was for that last post, not sure about the starter issue.

07-21-2005, 02:49 AM
hey people,

Here is my scenario...sort of like the threads listed above. 1st time I experienced this problem was about 2 weeks ago. We were on a trip and pulled off to put gas to eat when all of the sudden I went to turn on the car and heard nothing but some clicks and the lights diming. I tried several times and still would not turn over. Thought it was the battery and checked it out and indicated to be fully charged (green light). After about a few minutes had passed tried one more time and it kicked right in, up and running. Got home parked car for several days and then decided to wash it. Turned on the first time with, what I noticed to be a little bit of lag or lack of juice. Last Friday I went to turn on the car again and this time I had nothing but click, click and dim lights. What could be the main problem here? I thought it was the battery but all the light seem to work just fine. Can it be the starter? Ignition wires? The engine doesn't really do much I only hear clicks and lights dimming. ANY help or suggestion would be greatly appreciated! I called stealer to see how much Starter cost and it's about $200 +30 core! ouch!
Also, how can I test the starter/solenoid to see if they are my problem? And of course, one more...where is the starter located?
98 318ti.

thanks guys/gals

07-25-2005, 03:38 AM

Because of the lights dimming, I think the starter is not getting enough current. Maybe a poor connection, bad battery, or weak alternator? When a battery goes it will still show enough volts, but will not have enough current to fully engage the starter.

Starter problems are usually a bad solenoid. (A solenoid is the electrical part of the starter). So you'll here a free spinning sound when you try to start. The lights will still be nice a bright.

I had my starter replaced last week 350 parts and 2 hours labor.

1996 328ti
07-25-2005, 03:48 AM
Be sure your ground wires to the battery are clean and secure. Are you on the original battery?

07-27-2005, 08:23 AM
No, I replaced it on Sept. 2002. I have been having problems with it starting on and off.

08-05-2005, 08:08 PM
how hard is it to change a starter in a 95ti, i was reading the car manuel and it advise to take out the starter you have to take out the manifold is that correct?

08-05-2005, 08:15 PM
Dirty battery connections are the most common culprit.
They don't have to look gross, just a thin layer of oxide will
do the trick and mess up the starter.

The thing that usually happens is the cables get dirty (or the battery gets weak)
the battery doesn't fully recharge, then when you start the car the starter
gets too hot because of lower voltage, then when it spins the overheated
armature slings the solder out and the brushes fail.


04-28-2006, 09:17 PM
^^I will check that oh wise one...

316i compact
04-29-2006, 08:05 PM
Don't ask me why, it's German engineering. I miss american v8's where everything is simple.

american V8s that pump out 50 hp per litre and consume a looooot of fuel. and handle like a track. No american car will ever have the enginnering of a BMW.
I had same prob a week ago, the starter was spinning but not the flywheel too, and i replaced the old magenti marelli with a bosch rebuilded one. it works just fine.