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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-29-2007, 01:36 PM
beachin beachin is offline
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misfire/rough idle:plugs, sensors. 328i questions? HELP??

Hello,
New to the bimmer world and enjoying it immensely so far. Except that my new baby (1997 328i convert) started missing over the weekend. It would idle rough and sound and feel almost like a dead cylinder, as I accelerated it would be sluggish, then seemed to clean up and run fine at higher rpms MOST of the time.
It did clean up intermittently, and when it started I got a Check Engine Light that stayed on. I shut it off and it sat for a couple hours, when I started it back up no CEL and ran fine. Then an hour later it missed again and threw the light. Last time I drove it it was running fine, but the CEL light is still on now.
I did my research on the forum and it sounds like possibly an O2 sensor or ICV? I have not had time to pull ALL of the plugs but have pulled the first 3 and they are clean as a whistle, and without oil in any of the wells either (which surprised me). It has 123,xxx on it.
What should be my next step?
I'm in the boonies and don't have an import shop nearby so pulling codes is not an easy thing. Prior to this issue it would always miss or idle rough a little bit when I first started it but would clean up within the first 3 or 4 minutes. No check engine light or lingering performance issues. But this past weekend it definitely was different. I don't get the intermittent part of it.
Should I attempt to clean the ICV? Go ahead and replace the O2 sensor?
Any help??
BTW the plugs said BMW on the ceramic. I thougth NGK's were OEM? Or were these just made for BMW?
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2007, 03:44 PM
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efanton efanton is offline
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Sound like a rich fuel mixture to me.

So yes clean the ICV and replace those plugs. If they are BMW plugs it would imply that these were the original plugs. No plug on this earth lasts 10 years.

Once you have both these done and if the problem persists then I would think about replacing O2 sensor as it it a lot more expensive than plugs.
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2007, 05:12 PM
beachin beachin is offline
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I pulled the rest of the plugs and they were all perfect. I know the service was performed at a BMW dealer so I'm assuming they put back in BMW spec plugs. These were definitely not 123,000 mile plugs. They were good colored and none even close to looking fouled, etc.
I double checked all of my coil connections and put it all back together and took it out and it ran like silk. I still have a CEL though, and I'm assuming that's just from whatever tripped it at first.
If I have the problem again, would cleaning the ICV be the first thing you'd do?
Then move to the O2 sensor?
Thanks!!!!
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  #4  
Old 10-29-2007, 09:15 PM
beachin beachin is offline
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Still do have a rough idle when the car is first started, however. If the engine is revved over 1000 or so it clears up. Still have a CEL on, however.
ICV?
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  #5  
Old 10-30-2007, 08:21 AM
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chaz58 chaz58 is offline
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Yeah, what is an ICV?
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  #6  
Old 10-30-2007, 08:32 AM
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efanton efanton is offline
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How recent was this BMW dealer service? Did they pull any codes at that time or issue any warning or advice.

ICV= Idle Control Valve. Lots of posts about it on this site. Just do a serach.
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  #7  
Old 10-30-2007, 08:45 AM
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Andycapps Andycapps is offline
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With your car being a '97 Model, it is OBDII. You dont need an import shop to check the fault codes. Even autozone can use their generic scan tool to pull the codes for free. Yes free. Go get the scan tool put on it, get the codes and we can go from there. Trying to chase down a driveability problem without first finding out what caused the CEL to come on is a waste of time really.
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  #8  
Old 10-30-2007, 10:13 AM
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wag-zhp wag-zhp is offline
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+1

Just replacing parts without knowing what the fault codes are is a waste of money. Your car has 4 O2 sensors, each one costing about $130 to replace. That can get a little expensive... especially if that isn't really the problem.
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  #9  
Old 10-31-2007, 12:57 PM
beachin beachin is offline
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Thanks for the advice. I'll head to Autozone. One question: will the code reader tell me which O2 sensor is malfunctioning, if that's the cause?
And should I clean the ICV for good measure or would that register a code as well to point me in that direction.

I'm not sure how long ago the car was serviced, just know it was done at a BMW dealership so I'm assuming that's the reason for the BMW plugs.
Thanks!
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  #10  
Old 10-31-2007, 01:28 PM
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Andycapps Andycapps is offline
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If you have a fault for an O2 sensor, it will tell you if its Bank 1, bank 2, pre or post cat sensors that has a fault. You have 4 o2 sensors. And yes.. they are around $90-130 each. An OBDII car might give a fault code for a ICV problem. Not really sure about that. I worked at autozone and they use a basic scan tool that just reads and erases codes. They have to look the codes up manually. A good scan tool allows you to look at live datastream and test sensors etc. But get the codes and go from there.
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  #11  
Old 10-31-2007, 08:29 PM
whosyadadie01 whosyadadie01 is offline
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any idea if there is a voltage difference between OEM bmw o2 sensors and universal, i replaced both bank 2 sensors with universal o2 sensors and shortly after that my engine started to missfire and do almost exactly what beachin's car is doing. when i hook the scan tool up to it, it says o2 sensor voltage for the sensors that i had replaced any ideas cuz this is really getting to me lol?
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  #12  
Old 11-03-2007, 04:17 PM
beachin beachin is offline
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I still haven't gotten to Autozone yet since we're in the sticks. Lately it's been running fine once it warms up but when started I get a rough idle and seems like a miss. Revving it to 1000 RPM or higher clears it so I'm just wondering.
I haven't had any other issues with poor performance or missing throughout the RPM range like I did in that one instance. Don't know if checking all the plugs corrected that part of a problem, i.e. loose connection on a coil pack or something.
I'd just like to cure the rough idle. Is that a common thing......seems like I've read that on a few posts like it's a common thing.
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  #13  
Old 11-03-2007, 04:57 PM
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Andycapps Andycapps is offline
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You might have a vacuum leak somewhere. Could also still be the ICV. Check the intake bellows for tears/cracks, and the hoses to go to it. Check all the vacuum lines and connections.
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  #14  
Old 11-05-2007, 08:27 AM
ronpapworth ronpapworth is offline
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I vote unregulated air leak as well...
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  #15  
Old 11-05-2007, 08:50 AM
beachin beachin is offline
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For some reason, the CEL light went out and hasn't come back on now. What would cause it to go out?
I just assumed it'd stay on until the codes were read and reset. With the CEl light out can I still take it to Autozone and can they still pull whatever code tripped that?

And is rough idle something that is common on these cars or should I be concerned about it?

I'll check all my vacuum lines.
BTW thanks for all the input guys. Makes it a lot less intimidating owning my first German car knowing I have a sweet resource like this forum.
Much appreciated!
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