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Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Katy, TX
Posts: 25
Intermittent No Start Problem

My daughter's 94 318is w/ 5sp manual trans, build date 3/94 has a problem w/ intermittent no start and intermittent engine/ins. panel stoppage. Engine runs fine and battery connections are clean, dry, and tight.

Car will run fine for days or weeks, but occasionally while driving, the engine and electrical system will momentarily stop and then restart a few seconds (usually very short) or so later.

Yesterday, it quit w/ her on the road and she had to push to side of road and call a tow truck. I arrived w/ the tow truck and tow truck driver attempted to start. No starter rotation, no headlights, no instrument panel lights. A few minutes later he tried again, and engine started. I drove car home w/o incident and parked.

I've reviewed the Bentley manual wiring diagrams and it looks to me that the Starter Immobilization Relay (SIR) must be the culprit to completely disable the electrical system. This is apparently a anti-theft device that immobilizes the car when vehicle door locks are thrown from the door key lock. An intermittent open in the SIR relay solenoid coil would disable in the same manner as the lock system. It could also be a wiring defect, but that seems less likely.

I removed the lower left side dash panel and knee boster to access the Splice Panel where the Bentley says the Starter Immoblization Relay (SIR) is located. I found one relay w/ six wires instead of 5 as the SIR should have, and a huge glob of wires and connectors. I don't think the relay is buried in that mass, and tearing into that by attempting to disconnect all those splices is not appealing. The Figure 5 image in the Bentley manual does not resemble what I see, so I'm wondering if my build date may be "Early 1994" as per the Bentley manual and does not have a SIR. It would then have a Starter Relay located behind the footwell speaker grill. Why not put starter relay inside the vehicle throttle body for "better access"!

Questions: 1) Does anyone have any experience w/ locating the SIR and can confirm the changeover build month in 94 when the SIR began to be included?
2) Any other thoughts on possible alternative reasons for the intermittent start/drop-out problem?

See you down the ROW
Old 04-24-2004, 10:19 AM
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