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E53 won't start, lost power.


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Hi all,

First post to the forum.

I've had my E53 3.0 diesel just over a year now, no troubles at all. Over the weekend she started then lost power after driving 300 meters or so down the road.

The car year is 2006 with 170,000 miles on the clock.

From calling the breakdown out to check they couldn't find the issue, however on removing or loosening one of the injectors it's clear diesel wasn't being received up to the injectors.

The following has been checked so far:
- Battery good
- Key/Immobiliser working
- Fuel pump right hand side passenger is pumping on taking the rubber pipe off and turning the key (this is priming).
- Noticed a puddle of diesel leaking from an exhaust on the left hand side underneath the car, slow drip.

It's noted the car is cranking turning over but not starting due to lack of diesel.

Ruled out fuel pump under right hand passenger side seat, where to go from here?

Thanks in advance for your help/replies.

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Afternoon c

Welcome to the Forum 

My first reaction is you need someone who can run a Diagnostic Scan 

Has the fuel rail pressure been checked, pressure sensor tested? High pressure pump checked? MAF checked?

If you are getting fuel delivery from the electric pump fuel could be being pushed through but not with enough pressure to atomise so the fault could well be with the high-pressure pump or the delivery/metering system after that. 


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Hey thanks for the welcome.

The breakdown/recovery performed some diagnostic scans but unfortunately couldn't pick anything up.

The fuel rail pressure was checked but not for a pressure reading, just to check if anything was coming through. Assume but only assume the MAF can be picked up on the diagnostic checks.

I'm also thinking the high pressure fuel pump but any ideas of diesel leaking from the pre-heat exhaust?


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The pre-heater is completely separate to the rest of the system. So, by the look of things, you have 2 issues the Webasto pre-heater needs a service or repair plus the engine fuel supply needs investigating.

As far as the recovery guy running diagnostics the system, he probably used would be a general OBD reader that would see the main control elements but wouldn't see sub-systems. As an example, using BMW 1.4.0 my E53 4.6is shows 40 control and subsystems and my car does not have all the options. All these are able to supply live data to confirm their status.

So back to the beginning, in the fuel tank you have a pump and a level sensor, then a fuel filter located in front of the rear wheel behind a trim cover (which is often missed even by Dealers) a clogged filter can strangle fuel delivery. You have 3 fuel lines one feeding the pre-heater through its own distribution valve. 2 lines go to the Engine one is the feed to the high-pressure pump the other is the return make sure none are squashed or bent (unlikely but not impossible) The electric fuel tank pump will supply fuel to the high-pressure pump which pushes it into the fuel rail where the fuel pressure sensor sends a signal to the DDE no pressure = no start as there isn't enough pressure to atomise the fuel at the injectors. If the pressure sensor sees no or to little fuel the injectors are not activated.

If you aren't aware take a look at www.realoem.com an online BMW parts list, put the last 7 digits of your Vin into the search box it will call up your model then search the sections you need. The small, exploded drawings will help with where stuff fits and how. Double click part numbers and it display any other models it was used in and any alternates.

Hope this helps not hinders





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Hi Dave,

Thanks for the response. I did question the diagnostic equipment they were using but suggested the E53 didn't have a sensor to show up lack of fuel to the engine.

I think it might be fuel filter as it's located underneath that area, I'm going to take the panel off tonight hopefully and get a better look, will report back.

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OK always worth checking I can't remember off hand if the fuel filter has a pressure sensor (some do) yours should have a distribution valve to send fuel to the Webasto take care with the fittings some can be brittle (been there).

I changed a fuel filter on one of my Brother Inlaws 5 series touring (he is on his 4th) and it was pretty much clogged solid, all his cars have a complete BMW Dealer history. The Dealers reaction was "Can't happen Sir" you must have picked up some contaminated fuel?? His symptoms were drop off in economy and performance and poor cold starting. A scan at home showed poor fuel pressure at the injector rail.

Put a catch tray under it when you take it off as there will be some spillage. Your fuel rail has a Fuel pressure regulator at the back end and the fuel pressure sensor at the front end. A Google search might show up some test information that will help with the high-pressure pump, regulator and pressure sensor.


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Hi all, 

Reporting back, it's definitely leaking from the webasto exhaust the on pictured.

I don't really know enough about them but if say the high pressure fuel pump failed would the leftover diesel get routed through there and out the exhaust for example? As we know the pump under the rear seat is working and tested.

Any thoughts?


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The pump under the rear seat is the main diesel pump it supplies diesel to the engine driven high pressure pump and Webasto heater. The attachments may help they are from realoem.

This first one is the delivery from the tank you can see the Webasto has a distribution valve that should only allow fuel when the control timer tells it to run. yours seems to be getting fuel all the time? That will knock a big hole in your economy.

The attached is from Realoem and shows the fuel delivery system and parts list print them off they will help with seeing where things go.

Take a look at www.realoem.com put the last 7 digits of your vin into the search box it will bring up your model.

Then check the Fuel supply section and the Fuel preparation system the exploded drawings will help identify what you're seeing. Were you aware of a leak before your issue? if not it may be that the fuel return is linked to the Webasto, did the Webasto run before?

You need to check fuel pressure at the fuel rail the electric pump does not generate enough pressure to atomise fuel at the Injectors you need the engine driven pump to generate that pressure when the engine is cranked.

The high pressure pump is under the inlet manifold and not difficult to change just make sure you don't reuse any gaskets when reassembling But get the sensors checked first before changing the pump if the sensors test OK it must be the pump





BMW 3.0d Fuel delivery.pdf RealOEM.com - Online BMW Parts Catalog.html

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Hi Greydog,

Thanks for your knowledge on this system and the attached files really helpful.

From your info, I can take away that the diesel pump has been checked and is working. I can also start to steer this to the webasto if there is a distribution valve linked to this unit, then this seems to be broken or forcing diesel only that way as no diesel is getting up to the injectors. Is the webasto fed diesel before or after the high pressure pump or not at all? Can I just unplug the webasto I've never used it?

Do you know where the distribution valve is located, can view on the attached, but in the bay?

Thanks for your help.


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The distribution valve should be near the diesel pump and filter looking at the drawing, again looking at the drawing it seems the pump pushes diesel direct to the HPFP through its own line the distribution valve should only open if the Webasto is called on I don't think they were designed to run with the engine. Normally the Webasto starts to warm the cabin and make it toasty on cold mornings shutting down when the main motor starts. In the cars settings there should be stop/start settings for the Webasto unit I know some have a seperate remote for starting them maybe there is more info in the handbook. I have to say apart from scraping a little frost of the windows in the last 20 years it hasn't been cold enough in the South of England to need a toy like that. I would check the fuel line routing just in case the return line from the HPFP/Injector rail is linked and leaking through the Webasto. My personal feeling is you probably have heated seats so it's more a nice toy then a need to have so me I would probably remove it and sell it on Ebay, but that's me. On the fuel rail there should be a Schrader valve with the engine cranking you should see 3.5 to 5 bar (50+psi to 70+psi) 

Have you checked the injector wiring? and relay ?

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Thanks Greydog.

Checked as you suggested, the return looks to run through the webasto unit, finally making a lot of sense.

I can't perform many checks without the right tools to check pressure but I can hear the HPFP priming somewhat - I'm thinking it could be the sensor, injector wiring looks fine, I'll confirm in regards to the relay.

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