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Weird Starter Behavior Mystery

  #1  
Old 04-10-2019, 03:19 PM
R53Andrew
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Weird Starter Behavior Mystery

Good afternoon all,

I have had this semi-ongoing issue with my 2004 R53 starter that I just can't figure out; hoping someone here has heard of it or can lend some advice.

During the summer months, intermittently I will have an issue where my mini will not start. (video here). There is no attempt to turn over, its as if the signal is not getting sent to the starter to try starting. I started experiencing this a about 2 years ago, but the times it happened were so far and few between, I didn't do anything about it. I assumed it was some faulty wiring somewhere. usually I could sit for a few minutes and try it on and off, and eventually the signal would send and it would fire right up. Eventually I got fed up with it, and decided to replace the starter motor last year. I actually replaced the starter and the alternator, and it ran like a champ after that; problem solved (or so i thought).

About 2 weeks ago, I was out driving around on a particularly hot day, and I stopped off to get a bite to eat. When I got back to the car, I tried to fire it up, and there it was again. No signal to start, and all I could do was sit there for a couple mins. After 4 or 5 tries over a few minutes time, I was able to start her up again. Since then, its been fine every morning and afternoon, until this afternoon; another particularly hot day.

So if you are still will me here, I appreciate it. I pointed out the weather in these scenarios because the chances of this happening seem to only go up on hotter days. Its been starting fine for the last 5-6 months since the starter/alternator was replaced, and these have been some cooler winter months. I don't know how this plays into any of this, but it is the only pattern i can put together.

Since my long time theory of a bad starter is out the window, my fallback theory is the chip in my key may have died. It is a 15 year old car at this point, so Its not too far-fetched that it is the culprit here. Is it true that you might see this behavior if the key chip is bad? Is there some verification with the key chip when it starts that gives it the go-ahead to start the engine? Would I even be able to get into accessory power if the key chip was bad? Unfortunately I don't have a spare key to test this theory with. The battery in the key does seem fine however, as it locks and unlocks fine, even from a decent distance.

If anyone has any thoughts or ideas here, I am kind of running out of them at this point. The nearest MINI dealer is an hour+ away, so I don't have anywhere local to take it. I've considered contacting the MINI dealer to replace my key ($$$), but would like to be more certain that it is really the problem before doing so.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.

Andrew

edit: video of cold start for reference; no straining or whining, starts up first try.
 

Last edited by R53Andrew; 04-11-2019 at 06:09 AM.
  #2  
Old 04-10-2019, 04:57 PM
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cooper48
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I would first check the grounds in the rear battery compartment (neg to the battery grounds to the body right there) and under the hood near the passenger-side engine mount. It's possible that rust may have compromised the ground(s). Detach, clean and reinstall and see if that helps.
 
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  #3  
Old 04-10-2019, 05:48 PM
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Tgriffithjr
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Why is a bad starter out of the question? They do go bad even if they aren’t very old. Jack it up and put a test light of voltage meter on the hot lead and to a ground. Have someone turn the key to start and see if you are getting voltage to the starter. If you are then that rules out the switch. It would be great if you can do this when the problem occurs.
 
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Old 04-11-2019, 06:16 AM
R53Andrew
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Originally Posted by cooper48 View Post
I would first check the grounds in the rear battery compartment (neg to the battery grounds to the body right there) and under the hood near the passenger-side engine mount. It's possible that rust may have compromised the ground(s). Detach, clean and reinstall and see if that helps.
Thanks for the advice, I can see that making sense. Something in the heat/humidity could be enough to break a weak circuit. I will try that this evening/weekend.

Originally Posted by Tgriffithjr View Post
Why is a bad starter out of the question? They do go bad even if they aren’t very old. Jack it up and put a test light of voltage meter on the hot lead and to a ground. Have someone turn the key to start and see if you are getting voltage to the starter. If you are then that rules out the switch. It would be great if you can do this when the problem occurs.
I mean you are right, I haven't tested it with a volt meter yet, so its not 100% out of the question; however, its such an odd and circumstantial behavior that's happened on a 15 year old started, and a 6 month old brand new starter, I have a hard time pointing my finger in that direction first. If it continues to happen, I will jack it up and give that a shot. There are definitely plenty of hot and humid days to come in the next few months.
 
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Old 04-11-2019, 07:45 AM
I like mini clubman's
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If the starter has been replaced I would concentrate on the ground and positive leads at all connection points. I recently had a no crank issue with my R55 as a result of a loose and corroded engine ground strap. The raw aluminum corroded with the dissimilar metal of the ground strap.
 
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  #6  
Old 04-12-2019, 05:24 AM
knt
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If starter motor has been changed.

Similar problem to alternator and battery not charging.

Have you checked the battery and alternator?
 
  #7  
Old 04-12-2019, 07:04 AM
MINI33342
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The key cylinder may also be the culprit. Things can get loose in there.
 
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