First the power steering stopped, then lights gradually started coming on! - MINI Cooper Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2017, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
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First the power steering stopped, then lights gradually started coming on!

Hi,

I've done some searching on the forum but couldn't find anyone with exactly the same symptoms, so would really appreciate opinions on this please. Car is a Cooper S, 2004 (R53).

Drove to work, all great, came back to the car, started fine but there was no power steering & the battery warning light was on. I didn't have any option but to try & drive home so off I went building up my muscles with every bend.

As the journey went on, warning light after warning light gradually came on. First it was the ABS, then airbag, then another, then eventually the radio went off. Luckily I made it home but by that point I'm pretty sure all the warning lights in the speedo were flickering occasionally.

What do people think this sounds like? Could it be the alternator at the heart of the problem - not giving enough voltage via the battery? I've only had the car for a year so not sure if it's had a replacement alternator from new.

Thanks in advance,

Steve

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2017, 11:41 AM
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So the battery you reckon is OK? The PSP takes a lot of juice. So when you turn on the ignition it is not powered up - so the car can give the full wallop to the starter motor. As soon as it has started it sends a signal to the PSP triggering it to turn on. That signal is sent through wiring that goes through this multiplug in the engine bay.

Don't know if this helps but it sounds something power/alternator related is causing issues.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2017, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by steveharman View Post
Hi,

I've done some searching on the forum but couldn't find anyone with exactly the same symptoms, so would really appreciate opinions on this please. Car is a Cooper S, 2004 (R53).

Drove to work, all great, came back to the car, started fine but there was no power steering & the battery warning light was on. I didn't have any option but to try & drive home so off I went building up my muscles with every bend.

As the journey went on, warning light after warning light gradually came on. First it was the ABS, then airbag, then another, then eventually the radio went off. Luckily I made it home but by that point I'm pretty sure all the warning lights in the speedo were flickering occasionally.

What do people think this sounds like? Could it be the alternator at the heart of the problem - not giving enough voltage via the battery? I've only had the car for a year so not sure if it's had a replacement alternator from new.

Thanks in advance,

Steve
need to do the basics before anything else,, you will need a volt meter first off measure battery voltage ie looking for 12.8volts when engine is switch off... after that start car measure the voltage again now with car running you are looking for 14.2volts to 14.7 volts is perfect. if voltage jumps around from no volts to some volts then need to check all wiring from battery is tight and damaged cables etc if all is good then alternator issues.. also check the earth return cable drivers side on engine mount, if all these are working correctly then fuse box check for water ingress and corrosion in the multi plugs and also engine harness,

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2017, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Mike + Nigel.

Current situation is this; I've just gone back to the car, turned the key in the ignition - radio comes on and the speedo lights up but there's simply no juice in the battery - when I turn the key the radio & any other lights that are on instantly go off.

So on the face of the battery currently has no life in it, but I guess the catch-22 question is; do I have a dead battery that isn't holding the charge that the alternator gives it, or do I have a dead alternator so the battery isn't being charged? Wonder how I crack that question without forking out for a new battery as a test.

Meantime I'll check your cables / fuse box etc suggestion Mike.

Thanks again both.

Steve
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2017, 02:49 PM
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These cars are sensitive to a drop in voltage so I'd have the battery tested in the first instance.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2017, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by steveharman View Post
Thanks Mike + Nigel.

Current situation is this; I've just gone back to the car, turned the key in the ignition - radio comes on and the speedo lights up but there's simply no juice in the battery - when I turn the key the radio & any other lights that are on instantly go off.

So on the face of the battery currently has no life in it, but I guess the catch-22 question is; do I have a dead battery that isn't holding the charge that the alternator gives it, or do I have a dead alternator so the battery isn't being charged? Wonder how I crack that question without forking out for a new battery as a test.

Meantime I'll check your cables / fuse box etc suggestion Mike.

Thanks again both.

Steve
first off recharge battery over night before buying something you dont no you need for sure, so battery on charge 16amp or 20amp depending on charger or if a 1amp one then it will take a day and half, after battery charged put volt meter across it 12.8volts will indicate a battery holding the correct voltage, then put battery back on car, put voltage meter across battery while some one cranks over the car ie trys to start it, voltage should stay 12.4 to 12.8 volts and after cranking should come back to 12.8 volts if does not battery is either weak or totally bin time.. so done all this and battery is strong then run car with multimeter on voltage across battery with engine reving at 2 k you should have 14.7 volts for a perfect charge if under 13.8 rectifier in alternator prob faulty replace that or alternator.. if voltage jumps all over the place zero to 14.7 brushes are more likely at fault, if voltage is over 15 volts regulator is at fault new one or alternator,,,
if car is discharging the battery over night, remove the positive terminal off battery and wire the voltmeter positive to battery terminal and negative to positive cable with multimeter set to amperage this will show any discharge from car it should show around 250 milliamps ie car immobiliser, you will before make a reading need to wait for the car to shut down its ecu's ie lock car up bonnet down etc to get a true reading.. if find 1amp to 20amp discharge reading first place to disconnect is alternator as the diode fails on them and allows voltage to drain back,, ie diode only should allow current one direction,,, then remove one fuse at a time to find the circuit the discharge lives on,, or simple diagnostic tester autocom cdp+ or inpa
MY DISCLAIMER TO ALL IF ANYONE READING THIS CANT UNDERSTAND OR THINKS ITS TO COMPLICATED AND CANT UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M SAYING,,, THEN PLEASE TAKE IT TO A MECHANIC WHO DOES,, i only say this as have had a couple of people have a pop about my indepth points on how to repair something because they could not understand it to check if i'm telling the truth,, dear of them
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2017, 08:12 PM
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MY DISCLAIMER TO ALL IF ANYONE READING THIS CANT UNDERSTAND OR THINKS ITS TO COMPLICATED AND CANT UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M SAYING,,, THEN PLEASE TAKE IT TO A MECHANIC WHO DOES,

I only say this as have had a couple of people have a pop about my indepth points on how to repair something because they could not understand it to check if I'm telling the truth, dear of them
Mike, good comment. You are hugely knowledgeable and practised compared with most on this forum. Your technically detailed and in depth description, analysis, diagnosis and likely solutions to what are often complex problems on complex modern cars are valued greatly. I'm hope I speak for most members.

No-one will doubt that you are "telling the truth". If there is any issue at all it is the "could not understand".

Keep posting mate. Your posts must take you a while to compose, so thanks. Keep posting. It's understanding, not trust or truth.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 13th, 2017, 10:54 AM
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Mike, good comment. You are hugely knowledgeable and practised compared with most on this forum. Your technically detailed and in depth description, analysis, diagnosis and likely solutions to what are often complex problems on complex modern cars are valued greatly. I'm hope I speak for most members.

No-one will doubt that you are "telling the truth". If there is any issue at all it is the "could not understand".

Keep posting mate. Your posts must take you a while to compose, so thanks. Keep posting. It's understanding, not trust or truth.
thank you for that comment must admit did get a tad offended when in past two users decided to point their views on my comments to others problems, and how i go in to as much detail as i can same as have done for years with apprentices but i still dont know it all never will cars are changing every year something new comes along and needs to be learnt,

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 14th, 2017, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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Cheers Mike - I'll be following all your suggestions today. Starting with the battery charger which should arrive later on.

I'm ever so grateful for your help, everything you've posted makes perfect sense and in my humble opinion anyone who doesn't understand your incredibly helpful & detailed replies is welcome to call their local 50+ per hour garage, and not understand their explanation either. :-)

I'll keep you posted on progress and hopefully the outcome....

Thanks again,

Steve
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 14th, 2017, 03:28 PM
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As said by our resident super mechanic @mike1967 the mini is very sensitive to weak batteries.

They usually go nuts I:E warning lights flicker pas stops and everything stops working one by one!!

Read the voltage when idling it should be around 13.9-14.2 if the alternator is working.

Also read it when the engine is off 12.7 is a good charged battery 12.4 is a half charged battery and 11.9-12.0 is a discharged battery.

very small margin tbf!!


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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 15th, 2017, 07:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks again to all who've dipped into this thread. This is where I'm at now:

Took the battery out of the car last night and left it charging on our newly acquired 6A charger. This morning the charger LED (doesn't have meter) shows "Fully Charged". However the small round indicator on the battery itself doesn't show anything - or it's dark/black. I'm not sure how reliable those on-battery indicators are but the key alongside it states "Green" for sufficiently charged, "black" for insufficiently charged and "yellow" for replace battery.

Also it's not clear what make the current battery is. It's labelled "BMW" but doesn't have any BMW or Mini logo so I guess "BMW" in this sense just means "suitable for". There's no other brand on the battery. Photo attached

Putting a volt-meter across the battery does seem to show around 14vdc at the moment so I guess the next step is to put it back in the car and follow the diagnostic steps from @mike1967 - unless people think that the on-battery indicator showing nothing / insufficiently charged is a good reason to invest in a new battery ahead of winter anyway?

Cheers,

Steve
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:19 AM
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BMW batteries are made by exide and they don't have the best reputation.

Put the battery in the car and run the headlights for 3mins to remove the "surface charge" when 3 mins is up check the voltage again.

It should be 12.6-12.7 for a good battery.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by steveharman View Post
Thanks again to all who've dipped into this thread. This is where I'm at now:

Took the battery out of the car last night and left it charging on our newly acquired 6A charger. This morning the charger LED (doesn't have meter) shows "Fully Charged". However the small round indicator on the battery itself doesn't show anything - or it's dark/black. I'm not sure how reliable those on-battery indicators are but the key alongside it states "Green" for sufficiently charged, "black" for insufficiently charged and "yellow" for replace battery.

Also it's not clear what make the current battery is. It's labelled "BMW" but doesn't have any BMW or Mini logo so I guess "BMW" in this sense just means "suitable for". There's no other brand on the battery. Photo attached

Putting a volt-meter across the battery does seem to show around 14vdc at the moment so I guess the next step is to put it back in the car and follow the diagnostic steps from @mike1967 - unless people think that the on-battery indicator showing nothing / insufficiently charged is a good reason to invest in a new battery ahead of winter anyway?

Cheers,

Steve
when fully charged green, when black not charged enough. yellow if needs replacing off the top of my head,, saying that i never go by those indicator i always run tests on it all as said before, 6amp charge rate on a 600amp battery will take a lot long to charge than a 8 hour overnight say. i use charger with meter on it gives a accurate idea of what state the battery is in,, rule of thumb those batterys last around 5-6 years it would seem, might be worth changing if old before it gets cold and kills it off anyway when you really dont want to be stranded somewhere

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 17th, 2017, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Mike / all,

As the battery was disconnected I managed to unlock the boot by using the quick-release cable underneath the rear seat (lift cushion and pul cord). These are the results of the battery experiments.

\\ With the battery in a "fully charged" state according to an overnight charge with the charger and registering around 12.5v on the AVO I hooked it back up to the car.
\\ Car fired first time on turning the key
\\ Observing the AVO reading I Rev'd and held the engine at 2k RPM. The AVO reading didn't increase to 14v or anything else, it just stayed where it was
\\ If anything after starting the car and holding the rev's at 2-3k the voltage appears to have _dropped_ slightly, but certainly it's not "jumping all over the place" nor did it increase with the engine at 2-3kRPM

Does this point to the alternator being dead rather than the battery?

Cheers,

Steve
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old Sep 17th, 2017, 04:18 PM
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Your volt meter is only showing 11.5 volts so it is not being charged up by the alternator.

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