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Car: BMW E46 3-series 318i (1998-2005 model)

I recently returned from working abroad for four weeks. Unfortunately I had to leave my car parked on the street for the duration (I usually do this two or three times per year).

  • Battery was completely drained past the point of no return (measured 5.2V). Replaced battery with new one
  • I can't control the left/right turn lights with the stalk. No left/right indicator lights on dash, no clicking sound, no exterior lights.
  • Hazard lights work fine (relay clicks, left/right indicators flashing on dash, all exterior lights working)

Hopefully the fact that the hazards work, but the left/right stalk doesn't should give an informed person a fairly good clue as to what's gone wrong. I wonder if whatever electrical fault has caused this also drained the battery.

I've left the battery disconnected in the meanwhile.

Any ideas appreciated.

Thanks,

Tim

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Fixed it. Took the Light Control Module out (a five minute job, as it's part of the headlight knob assembly) and noticed some damage to the PCB. Swapped it out for another one I got at the local scrappers for £5 and all problems have gone away. I assume that there was a short on the PCB that drained the battery.

The only minor annoyance is that the LCM also stores the car's mileage for some reason, so replacing it with the LCM from a different car causes a tamper dot to appear next to the odometer. Getting rid of it requires reprogramming the LCM. I'm not too bothered though.

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The problem is most likely the turn signal stalk switch itself. The e46 uses the same relay for the hazards and the turn signals, and since the hazards work, the relay, wiring, hazard switch, and signals are all probably fine, leaving only the stalk switch.

The e46 also has parking lights which are turned on by leaving the turn signal stalk on the side you want lit up, so it's possible it could have failed with lights on to drain the battery. However, four weeks is a pretty long time to sit and even a small drain could have killed the battery in that time, so it could be unrelated.

  • I got the impression, from reading a couple of threads on BMW forums, that there is no relay in a traditional sense, and the click sound comes from a speaker hidden in the dash somewhere. Is my particular model different? I noticed yesterday that the rear fog lights are also coming on with the tail-lights, and they're controlled from the other side of the dash - so I think there might be something more going on here. – Shedworth Apr 24 '18 at 7:26
  • There is a relay, but BMW just doesn't call it a relay, they call it a flasher. It's inside the steering column plastics. – cscracker Apr 30 '18 at 15:06

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