318i suddenly stops running

My son has a 1984 318i. The last couple of days it has just cut out while he's been driving. He can start it again no problem. He says that he is not overheating,
which it has done a couple of times in the past.
This has happened a few times over the last couple of days.
Any idea where to look first?
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in article snipped-for-privacy@w34g2000yqm.googlegroups.com, cowznofsky at snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote on 3/9/09 8:06 AM:

Seems the lights go out, the engine loses electricity through the ignition that temporarily fixes it self when you re - set they system with a re-start.
It might be overheating, with the guages and lights not working to tell you it is overheating ... long shot of course but it happens. Your vehicle it nearing on 25 years old ... so the insulation around the wiring loom et al is deteroriating past its service life.
Volkswagen has parts from Brazil and places where you can swap out the whole system and it is easy to do with them ... if you want to keep the beamer then swap out the system and keep it.
Otherwise ... trade up to a newer used vehicle with more service life in it.
The 20 year lifetime of wiring insulation is set in heat and oxidation as you have electricity running through it ... helping it deteroriate along.
Your starters do not last, your alternators do not last, your wiring loom do not last, your lights do not last.
C'est la vie car science ...
Have a BMW certified mechanic trace down the electricial if they can get any codes out of it ... or just swap out the ignition and get a new key done up ... see if that helps.
As long as it is not broken ... it is hard to fix.
Interment problems speak to intermittent electric connection going poop but not broken yet.
So ignition is best first guess. Major fault in wiring system otherwise. Don't sound like smog system. But me not a brainaic on this stuff.
sumbuddie hopes this helps
:?
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wrote on 3/9/09 8:06 AM:

I have a Jeep out in the barn that is closing in on 30 years old, and the wiring is fine. I've never heard of a service life for a wire.
Granted, the connections oxidize and corrode, and I get all of that, but to proclaim the end of service due to age is a bit over the top if you ask me. The OP has not begun to give enough information on his problem to allow anybody to give an educated guess.
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Under the hood.
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Yes, I know it's not enough info. The car is not local to me and I was hoping to get some ideas before he took it to a garage.
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Does it restart as soon as it's died or does it take some time?
Can he hear a funny noise from the fuel pump in back?
Does the problem happen only when the tank is low or also when the tank is full?
When he tries to restart the car and it doesn't start, what does the tailpipe smell like?
Is it an automatic? Does it have a voltmeter, and if so has the voltmeter been reading in the normal range? --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Fuel pump relay perhaps. It lives under a plastic cover and is mounted on the inner wing on the intake side of the engine.
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Email: snipped-for-privacy@unixnerd.demon.co.uk, John G.Burns B.Eng, Bonny Scotland
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Shortly after I bought my '91 318i (in '94), the thing wouldn't start. Dealer replaced a fuel pump. Never had the problem again.
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And that indeed was what the problem was. $85 for the diagnosis. From this description, sounds like it should take about 5 minutes to fix. Maybe they won't charge me any more for labor. Or maybe I'm dreaming.
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cowznofsky wrote:

I once had a Rabbit that did that. It was the ignition/key switch.
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Same with a Taurus my wife had a few years back. Turned out she had too much stuff on her key ring & the weight ultimately did the switch in.
Tom
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in article leCdnWyf0rYGACvUnZ2dnUVZ snipped-for-privacy@giganews.com, tom_k at snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote on 3/10/09 9:04 AM:

yeah ... plan two of course with bmws ... is the electric fuel pump, usually makes noises and such ... but not always. Reseting the ignition will sometimes reset the fuel pump so it gets the right pressure up for the intake system and off you go. Fuel pumps get intermittent towards the end sometimes ... as do starters sometimes. As old as this car is, might be both going on.
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wrote on 3/10/09 9:04 AM:

The starter will not play into an engine that is already running and has decided to turn itself off unexpectedly. The fuel pump can play into this scenario, but the starter will be a completely different set of symptoms.
If the Ignition Switch plays into the issue, you can test it by by starting the car and fussing with the key to see if the engine shuts off. The key should be held in the ON position by a detent, if the detent is gone and the keys are heavy, then the lockset can turn easily while driving, and this can lead to the engine turning off because the key told it to stop. One fix for this problem is to have the ignition key all by itself so there is no weight swinging around to turn the key OFF.
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