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Old 08-09-2019, 02:34 AM   #1
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Default Engine Bay Whine and Batt. Warning Light

Hi, Everyone,

I've got an issue with my ti. The issue started earlier today when I was driving home after lunch, and as I turned into my street I noticed the ASC and ABS lights in my dash. I was at AutoZone earlier today getting some NGK plugs, funny enough. I thought, '"Oh, well. Looks like I'll have a little more maintenance to do." I started perusing the forum for what could've triggered the ASC and ABS lights and after some browsing the likely culprit would have been a speed wheel sensor.

I grabbed my things and was going to head over to a trusted shop, to get an exact reading and pinpoint the faulty sensor. Lo and behold, when I tried to turn the engine over, I got nothing. The ACC key position lit everything up, and my alarm unlocked the door so I didn't suspect a bad battery. I always turn on my headlights, even though I know that shortens the lifespan of the H1 bulbs, so I turned them off and tried again but the battery was D-E-D dead. There were warning lights all over the place and the car just wouldn't turn over.

Admittedly, this was an old battery so I thought maybe it's just time to replace. I had some issues last August which turned out to be a bad alternator. When I replaced that I kept the old battery so I figured it was about time the battery went. I borrowed my wife's Honda and drove to Pep Boys where I paid a prorated cost for the replacement Bosch battery.

I slapped the battery on and started her up. Weird. She turned over strong, but the battery warning light was still lit. I hoped the elec. system was getting to know the new battery. Silly me. But the worst of it---and the reason I'm turning to your expert advice---is there's now a loud whine coming from the engine bay, near or around the alternator. I looked again on the forums to look for similar symptoms and came across a thread where user:Jean H.318TI says that if you remove the engine oil filler cap with the engine running and the whine stops, the problem is a bad Crankcase Vent Valve.

I tried that and as soon as I remove the filler cap the idle gets all wonky; the engine gets shaky and the revs increase/decrease. The whine subsides but I think I can still make it out. When I place the cap back on, the whine definitely gets louder. Oh, and the whine is there as soon as the engine turns over, no need to warm her up. I worry, however, because the whine doesnt seem to altogether go away when I remove the filler cap.

What do y'all think? Belts? Pulleys? Bad alternator? Or bad Crankcase Vent Valve? Something else I haven't considered?

BTW, this is a '97 Sport, M44, 5-spd. with 186,628mi. on the odo. I replaced my ICV and air filter recently, so before this little issue my idle was rock-solid. It still is, unless I remove the filler cap. And of course, there's the whine now and that damn battery light which won't turn off. Please help.
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:39 PM   #2
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Been doing some more reading, and since I do get idle surge when removing the oil filler cap I think it's safe to say my Crankcase Vent Valve is probably ok. So, it's probably something to do with the charging system. Alternator, or belts. I'm thinking I need to remove the alternator and get it looked at and/or replaced. How difficult is it to remove?
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:28 PM   #3
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If you've replaced your starter anytime recently, make sure your starter nuts are tight. That made for some wonky charging issues with my car.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:48 AM   #4
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Step 1 would be to take the belt off and try spinning the tensioner on the alternator - could just be the bearing in there. The belt comes off really easy with just one bolt that releases the tension on the whole belt drive (except AC). Not a bad idea to just change all the tensioners, especially if they've never been done before. Maybe when you removed the oil cap it just changed the pitch of the whine because the idle changed.
'96 318ti California Edition- Montreal blue
'68 1600-2-Caribe blue
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:17 PM   #5
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An update: Bad Alternator! She's back on the road after my mechanic threw in a new one. I haven't replaced the starter. I've had a few no-starts since owning the car (6yrs.) and I always suspected my elec./charging system but one time it was a bad fuel pump and another time way back it was actually the battery. The battery was 5 years old when I replaced it a few days ago. I figure that's a respectable run for the little Bosch. Pep Boys are the only ones who carry these in my area and I only looked for another because it's what was in the car when I bought it from the PO.

The alternator was replaced by a mechanic last June, and I was incredulous that it would crap out after so little time, but I guess it's not unheard of. I'd love to get a new unit from the dealer but it's pricey and according to Pelican the OEM supplier is Valeo. The reman. unit I bought last year at Oreilly comes in an Ultima box, but the replacement I got yesterday had a Valeo stamp on it. Whatever the brand, I hope this one lasts more than 15 months.

I am thinking now, however, to preemptively chase down any electric gremlins. I've had some issues with my euro lights, but I tracked that down to a loose ground cable in the Umnitza PnP adapters. I kinda want to just go in there and hardwire the Euro lights, for peace of mind. But I'm thinking now of replacing the headunit, and maybe y'all can provide some insight. I have the original C43 tape deck in there. I installed a USA SPEC iPod adapter shortly after buying the car and promptly threw out the CD changer in the trunk.I've always noticed a slight ground whine when using the aux port of that adapter and didn't mind since I just used an old iPod anyway and rarely needed the aux function. But, every once in a while I would get a loud piercing ground whine from even the iPod connection. Maybe a wire's pinched or stripped somewhere along the way but I'm thinking maybe this zapped my alternator because if I recall anytime I connected my iPod (or iPhone) to the USA Spec adapter the device would begin charging, even if the car was off. So I'm suspicious and am hesitant to re-connect the adapter.

I'll probably just replace the headunit. Even if I hate the idea of throwing something in there that is aftermarket, I will feel more at ease knowing that the iPod adapter is gone. Am I just crazy here?

Last edited by teamjoe; 08-14-2019 at 05:18 PM. Reason: Formatting
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