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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 05-08-2015, 09:59 AM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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BMW 1993 325is Failed California Smog Test

Hi, I'm trying to get this car registered and it failed the California Smog Test @ a TEST ONLY STATION. I attempted to Smog it 5 years ago and it failed for High HC. This time around it failed across the board at 15 mph, but it only failed the HC test @ 25 mph.

The car has been sitting for 2 years due to a starting issue and not being registered. Very little fuel in the tank while it was sitting. I recently had these repairs performed by an Indy to get the car going. Car has 139k.

-New Bosch Iridium Plugs(#9607)
-Fuel Filter
-Fuel Pump
-Air Filter
-Oil Change

Car fires right up and runs great. I also added Lucas Fuel Treatment to a new tank of gas and I ran it hard for over an hour right before the Smog Test. Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2015, 05:42 PM
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drivinfaster drivinfaster is offline
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your co2 is too low @ the low rpm test, and the o2 is too high for you to fail with co and nox. your cat is dead.

with the nox as high as it is there should be no co left if the cat were working properly. since there is no egr system to reduce nox, the cat needs to do it, and in order to do so requires co.

not a fan of the iridium plugs, but since you are a coil over plug (cop) ignition set up, it's not going to be *too* horrible compared to say bosch +4's or some other crap design plug.

figure a new o2 sensor with the new cat as a matter of good procedure.




df
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:10 PM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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what plugs do you recommend for this car? should I also replace the coils?

will seafoam help my car?

is there anyway to pass smog without replacing the cat? I've read about using denatured alcohol in the gas tank to help with passing smog?

Thank you for your time.
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  #4  
Old 05-09-2015, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyebaby22 View Post
what plugs do you recommend for this car? should I also replace the coils?original equipment is sufficient, and no, coils need not be replaced unless they are failing

will seafoam help my car?
in most cases, yes, and in even more cases, it doesn't hurt. it is not, however, magic in a can.
is there anyway to pass smog without replacing the cat? I've read about using denatured alcohol in the gas tank to help with passing smog?
if this worked, i would have not only heard about it but done it. there are some cases where cats have been "brought back to life" by steam-cleaning them but i have not had such experience. when a cat fails to retain free o2 with high hc & co, it tells me that it is either dead, or so coated with gunk and residue that it would be impossible to clean thoroughly enough to get it to work properly. it may cause it to work a little bit better, but not "fixed"
Thank you for your time


you are quite welcome..



i do not know this for a fact, as i have not done it to find out, but it has been mentioned in several of my emissions classes i have attended that guys have done this in an attempt to pass emissions and wound up doing more damage.

it would be a patch at best, in low dosage use, and may cause more damage down the road regardless of how much or little is used depending upon the condition of the parts of the fuel system exposed to it.


so in a nutshell, not worth the risk, imho, since you are not even in the parking lot of the ballpark wrt your emissions readings. get a cat.





df
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Old 05-09-2015, 08:05 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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With these emission results, I would say that the cat is working since CO and NO is well below the limit for the 25mph test. If the cat was close to dead, the measurements would be worse for 25mph than 15mph.

Have you replaced the VANOS seals? Does the engine feel like it gets a second life when accelerating past 3500rpm? If so, the seals are bad. They not only improve performance, but also help reduce emissions at part load.
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:41 AM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Originally Posted by granlund View Post
With these emission results, I would say that the cat is working since CO and NO is well below the limit for the 25mph test. If the cat was close to dead, the measurements would be worse for 25mph than 15mph.

Have you replaced the VANOS seals? Does the engine feel like it gets a second life when accelerating past 3500rpm? If so, the seals are bad. They not only improve performance, but also help reduce emissions at part load.
Yes, the car runs great past 3500 rpm. I've never had VANOS seals replaced nor have I ever heard of them. How much labor is involved? I've put $400 in parts and labor thus far plus $350 to bring the registration current, so I'd like to just get this thing passed.

Thanks again for your feedback.
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:50 AM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Originally Posted by drivinfaster View Post
i do not know this for a fact, as i have not done it to find out, but it has been mentioned in several of my emissions classes i have attended that guys have done this in an attempt to pass emissions and wound up doing more damage.

it would be a patch at best, in low dosage use, and may cause more damage down the road regardless of how much or little is used depending upon the condition of the parts of the fuel system exposed to it.


so in a nutshell, not worth the risk, imho, since you are not even in the parking lot of the ballpark wrt your emissions readings. get a cat.


df
Great info df...thanks! What do you think about the other forum members post regarding my smog test levels?

Also, what will a new CAT cost me parts and labor ballpark??

Thanks again for your time and feedback!
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  #8  
Old 05-10-2015, 11:05 AM
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drivinfaster drivinfaster is offline
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since you are in cali, you are very limited as to what is available to use. that being said, there are a few carb legal units available. i would suggest going with a direct fit replacement and not a unit that is going to require welding.


no clue as to the cost estimates.




df
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Old 05-10-2015, 12:10 PM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Thanks df!
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  #10  
Old 05-10-2015, 06:27 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyebaby22 View Post
Yes, the car runs great past 3500 rpm. I've never had VANOS seals replaced nor have I ever heard of them. How much labor is involved? I've put $400 in parts and labor thus far plus $350 to bring the registration current, so I'd like to just get this thing passed.

Thanks again for your feedback.
If the car is sluggish below ~3500 and fine above, most likely you need the VANOS overhaul. It is a 1/2 day of work and not a basic procedure. Parts are cheap at $30. http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm

Don't change the catalytic converter yet as it might still be fine.
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:40 AM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Originally Posted by granlund View Post
If the car is sluggish below ~3500 and fine above, most likely you need the VANOS overhaul. It is a 1/2 day of work and not a basic procedure. Parts are cheap at $30. http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm

Don't change the catalytic converter yet as it might still be fine.
Do you know anything about using denatured alcohol to pass emissions?
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:45 AM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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drivinfaster answered that in his reply above. Like he said, if it worked, he'd have not only heard about it, but would have done it. It doesn't work.
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:35 AM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
drivinfaster answered that in his reply above. Like he said, if it worked, he'd have not only heard about it, but would have done it. It doesn't work.
df's answer was noted and appreciated. Thanks for your feedback.
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Old 05-14-2015, 05:14 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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Originally Posted by skyebaby22 View Post
Do you know anything about using denatured alcohol to pass emissions?
Alcohol contains oxygen in the hydroxyl group (-OH) and for the same air/fuel ratio will produce a leaner combustion. The fuel also more resistant to pinging. It's a band-aid at best and may not work.
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Old 05-14-2015, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by skyebaby22 View Post
df's answer was noted and appreciated. Thanks for your feedback.
I wasn't trying to be a smart ass. Sorry if it came across like that. df has more hands-on real world experience with solving emissions problems than just about anyone here. If it's an emissions test related "fix" and he says it won't work, it's pretty much gospel. He's also helped many, many people on this forum successfully diagnose and fix cars that failed inspection the first (or second, or third) time through.
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Old 05-15-2015, 08:46 PM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Thanks for your feedback buddy!
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Old 05-15-2015, 08:49 PM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Not at all buddy. I appreciate your response as well. I'm just trying to get this car passed without shelling out more money. As I stated, it runs great since I replaced the plugs, fuel filter, fuel pump, oil and air filter, but it still didn't pass. I'm trying to get this car tagged for my brother to use for school and work. I paid $300 in back fees for tags and close to $400 in parts and labor thus far. Thanks again for your insight!
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:45 AM
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I've put $4,000+ into my car over the past 4 months, and I'm still happy I have this awesome of a car without having a gigantic car payment. At least my cash is going towards performance upgrades and not big money's already engorged pockets.

Really though... This is a car for an auto enthusiast, and you (or your brother) will end up pouring way more money into it than the car is valued at by companies like the blue book. If this is not okay with you then perhaps you should sell it and buy a Honda. Otherwise do the old girl a favor and buy her a damn cat and O2 sensor.

Also don't come in here and snap at people who are only trying to help. Sorry if you don't like their response but they have been at this way longer you'll most likely ever dream of and giving you years of experience and knowledge for free! So show some respect.
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:26 AM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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I've put $4,000+ into my car over the past 4 months, and I'm still happy I have this awesome of a car without having a gigantic car payment. At least my cash is going towards performance upgrades and not big money's already engorged pockets.

Really though... This is a car for an auto enthusiast, and you (or your brother) will end up pouring way more money into it than the car is valued at by companies like the blue book. If this is not okay with you then perhaps you should sell it and buy a Honda. Otherwise do the old girl a favor and buy her a damn cat and O2 sensor.

Also don't come in here and snap at people who are only trying to help. Sorry if you don't like their response but they have been at this way longer you'll most likely ever dream of and giving you years of experience and knowledge for free! So show some respect.
Where exactly did I "snap" at people? I've been nothing but extremely appreciative of members advice and feedback. Feel free to read through the thread! Anyhow, thanks for your insight.
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:38 AM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drivinfaster View Post
since you are in cali, you are very limited as to what is available to use. That being said, there are a few carb legal units available. I would suggest going with a direct fit replacement and not a unit that is going to require welding.


No clue as to the cost estimates.

Hi df, here is the 2 smogs i've failed thus far. The 1st is from 11/14 before the repairs were made. I just wanted to show you the numbers and what they measured prior to my last test.


Df
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Old 05-16-2015, 02:10 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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You're passing CO and NO at 25mph in both tests, therefore the cat is unlikely to be bad.
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Old 05-16-2015, 02:39 PM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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Originally Posted by granlund View Post
You're passing CO and NO at 25mph in both tests, therefore the cat is unlikely to be bad.
That would be awesome. I'm going to have a Bosch o2 put in today. Is the pre-cat o2 on the top near the engine or on the bottom near the exhaust?
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Old 05-16-2015, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by granlund View Post
Alcohol contains oxygen in the hydroxyl group (-OH) and for the same air/fuel ratio will produce a leaner combustion. The fuel also more resistant to pinging. It's a band-aid at best and may not work.
No argument on what you stated generally about alcohol, but the OP asked about denatured alcohol. The typical additives added to ethanol alcohol for "denaturing" are acetone, MEK, and/or methanol all of which are strong solvents and have the potential to be damaging to any of the soft parts (plastics and rubbers) in the fuel system.
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by granlund View Post
You're passing CO and NO at 25mph in both tests, therefore the cat is unlikely to be bad.
perhaps, but i am colored doubtful. since i can only go by statements and what i see, and am not able to perform actual tests to verify the cat is functioning, as well as the rest of the sensors (maf, tps, injector pulse width, o2 sensor signal, engine vacuum, and such)
i have to go by what i see.

and a cat that is failing to reduce hc is a failing cat. if it were able to reduce hc to co, there would be no free o2 left. the readings do not indicate this, as it appears that 0.5% free o2 is present at the low speed where the hc is also failing.

nox is also failing at low speed, and since there is no egr system in the m50 the cat is the control factor for this gas.

i'm not saying *don't* try other things, such as replacing the o2 sensor and perhaps a top engine clean (seafoam through the intake), and even the denatured alcohol if you so wish (this is not an endorsement of said process or product, and is in no means intended to be construed as one). just be aware that this product could cause damage to the fuel lines and other fuel system related parts due to the nature of the material itself, allowing future issues to pop up and create havoc at another time.

i'm just saying that in my experience, this car is most likely going to require a cat to get the emissions down.




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Old 05-16-2015, 04:20 PM
skyebaby22 skyebaby22 is offline
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perhaps, but i am colored doubtful. since i can only go by statements and what i see, and am not able to perform actual tests to verify the cat is functioning, as well as the rest of the sensors (maf, tps, injector pulse width, o2 sensor signal, engine vacuum, and such)
i have to go by what i see.

and a cat that is failing to reduce hc is a failing cat. if it were able to reduce hc to co, there would be no free o2 left. the readings do not indicate this, as it appears that 0.5% free o2 is present at the low speed where the hc is also failing.

nox is also failing at low speed, and since there is no egr system in the m50 the cat is the control factor for this gas.

i'm not saying *don't* try other things, such as replacing the o2 sensor and perhaps a top engine clean (seafoam through the intake), and even the denatured alcohol if you so wish (this is not an endorsement of said process or product, and is in no means intended to be construed as one). just be aware that this product could cause damage to the fuel lines and other fuel system related parts due to the nature of the material itself, allowing future issues to pop up and create havoc at another time.

i'm just saying that in my experience, this car is most likely going to require a cat to get the emissions down.




df
Great info df. Thanks again. I forgot to mention that my brother in law runs sprint cars here in California and he uses Muriatic Acid(pool acid) to clean the "gunk" out of his race car exhaust, so he tried it on his Nissan Mini Van and his Chevy truck when they failed smog, and they both passed. He then did the same thing to his brother Lincoln LS and it also passed. Do you have any experience with using Muriatic Acid? What he does is remove the CAT and then he dumps the acid into it, lets settle for a few minutes and then rinses it out with water using a power nozzle. Lots of black "gunk" comes out.
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