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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

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 08-16-2014, 07:45 PM
Jimmy Knuckles Jimmy Knuckles is offline
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Location: Alabama
 
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Mein Auto: 1994 BMW 325i
1994 325i Major project

Wife found the car in Craigslist and sent the guy a check. I was directed to go pick it up, drive it home and keep my opinions to myself so I did. This car is USED UP, and I'm supposed to resurrect it. Problems are as follows: entire instrument cluster is DOA, no speedo, no tach, no fuel, oil pressure, water temp or ammeter. It is an automatic and first and reverse required an extreme amount of throttle to get it to move - once it shifted it ran ok. Interior needs to bee replaced, car shakes around 50 MPH. Previous owner removed the radio so there is a big hole in the dash. Convertible top works ok but the right rear window doesn't close all of the way. A/C blows hot only and then the fan only operates in the "high" position.

So, I took the car to the local transmission specialist; he dropped the pan and said he found metal in it. I declined to spend $3500 for a rebuild so he cleaned it up and refilled the oil. Transmission pulls just fine in all gears now...go figure.

So, here is my next problem and where I need help. Since we never know how far the car has been driven due to the dead instrument panel, the wife lives in fear of running out of gas. She is constantly filling it up. I'm more worried that it will overheat or the alternator will croak but we'll not know until she is on the side of the road.

Seems unusual that all of the gages would go dead at the same time - is there a fuse or some splice or plug that could be faulty and cause this total black out? I downloaded the wiring diagram and will begin tracing circuits next weekend, but it sure would speed the process if someone has a clue.

Thanks in advance,
Jimmy K.
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  #2  
Old 08-16-2014, 07:54 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Wow, you sent a check to a Craigslist seller for a car you had never seen in person... That takes nerves of steel. And I'm trying to be polite as possible when I say that I would not recommend doing any of those things again in the future. Despite paying someone for a car that ended up needing more work than you expected, you are extremely lucky that the "seller" was in fact a seller, and not a scammer.

Have you removed the instrument cluster to check the plugs on the back? It only takes a few minutes. It's probably just an electrical connection issue.

The fan blowing on high is due to a failed blower motor resistor - very easy fix. The hot A/C is due to your system having leaked out all of its refrigerant. If you want it to work, you'll have to take it to an A/C specialist to pinpoint the leak and replace whatever is broken.

The convertible issue is beyond me, but there is a thread called "origami problems" which is all about convertible issues. Someone will help you there with that issue.
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1998 BMW 328is
1966 Pontiac GTO
2007 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-door
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For sale: E30/E36 front sway links
For sale: OEM E36 328 catback

Last edited by ZeGerman; 08-16-2014 at 07:57 PM.
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  #3  
Old 08-17-2014, 12:22 AM
olivers_bmw olivers_bmw is offline
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Location: Dulles VA
 
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Mein Auto: E36 vert
I'm starting a 1994 325i vert restore myself and recommendation is that unless you can do a majority of the work yourself, trade what you have in now and buy a better one. The cost to have someone do repairs vs having a better/done one, you are better off buying. Having said that, the e36s are relatively easy to work on and parts, used/new are readily available. I've had the cluster loose power while driving, it is interesting. Have her keep a trip log using google, it doesn't have to be exact, when you go 200 miles fill up if you want to be safe. Bigger issue is speed in 25 mph or school zones with out a speedo.

I would plan on doing belts and hoses, etc, amazon has them pretty cheap and its cheap insurance. AC, could be low on Freon or have a major leak, see if someone can check it out or put a can of leak detector and see if you get lucky.

Bold move sending a check to anyone on Craigslist and buying sight unseen or some level of pre-purchase inspection, you are lucky you didn't get scammed.
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  #4  
Old 08-17-2014, 09:00 AM
Jimmy Knuckles Jimmy Knuckles is offline
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Mein Auto: 1994 BMW 325i
Ha! The key statement was the WIFE sent a check for the car; I'd never do that myself.
Had the A/C checked out and now it blows snow balls, still at max speed though. I'll hunt up a service manual to find out how to pull the instrument cluster. I figure it will have to come out to check the connections; if I have no signal at the connectors I can begin tracing back to the sources.
I can handle most of the work myself - so far I have resurrected an '87 Jag VDP and a '95 Jag XJ6 which is now my daily driver. Everyone says the BMWs are less problematic than Jags so I'm hoping it will be a little bit easier.
The shaking at 50 MPH doesn't fell like anything simple like out of balance tires since it stops when turning left and shakes more turning right. Wheel bearing or some suspension issue I suspect.
Any and all advice will be welcome!
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  #5  
Old 08-17-2014, 09:23 AM
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crisscross crisscross is offline
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It's probably a broken solder joint inside the cluster, it's fairly common. You will need to replace the cluster more than likely. The fan speed is controlled by the resistor. It's very easy to replace and fairly cheap. It's located in the driver side footwell in the box where the cabin air filter is.

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  #6  
Old 08-17-2014, 09:25 AM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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http://api.viglink.com/api/click?for...orums&txt=This

^ Right-click on that and "save as". It's the PDF version of the Bentley service manual.

If you've successfully DIYed two Jags back to life, you'll have no problem with your BMW. I'm impressed. Just dealing with the "Price of Darkness wiring" (Lucas) is enough to scare me away.

The shaking as you've described is probably the tie rods, particularly the inner ones. You can get the whole front suspension/steering kit for about $400 (for a quality set). While you're under there, might as well do it all. Stay away from any cheap parts sets (less than about $250). You'll end up spending the money twice, minimum. They just don't last. Some of us here learned that the hard way. "Oh, look! A complete front suspension rebuild parts set for $160!"

Where in Alabama? I'm 20 miles north of Gulf Shores, between Mobile, and Pensacola.
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  #7  
Old 08-17-2014, 10:40 AM
Jimmy Knuckles Jimmy Knuckles is offline
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Mein Auto: 1994 BMW 325i
Hi hornhospital; we are up here in Huntsville. Worked for NASA until the government decided to shut down the contract I was on so I retired. Yeah, I've fought Lucas Electrics since college when I was the proud owner of a Norton Atlas motorcycle. Ran and handled great but if anyone said "rain" it wouldn't start no matter how hard you kicked.
The '87 was pre-Ford and took a year to get it running right. The '95 benefited from FoMoCo ownership with very weather tight connectors. Someone changed the fuel tank (leaky fuel tanks seem to be a constant problem) and damaged a major connection in the trunk. Once I corrected that I was half way home. A little more work with the voltmeter and I had her running. Everything works and it cruises at 75 MPH and 22 mpg all day.

Thanks for the input; instrument cluster comes out next weekend and once that is working I'll jack up the front end and start on it. Then all I have to do is convince the wife that SHE should be driving the Jag because it is more dignified. The somewhat ratty looking (for now) BMW is a better fit with my persona, a Harley riding thug from Newark, NJ (2005 SuperGlide with 65K miles on it).
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  #8  
Old 08-17-2014, 11:05 AM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
It's probably a broken solder joint inside the cluster, it's fairly common.
I don't think that I'd jump to this conclusion quite so quickly. Cracked solder joints seem to be far less common than the plugs needing to be removed/reinstalled. Anyhow, to remove the IC, all you have to do is remove two torx/star bolts from the underside of the instrument cluster "hood". But be sure to disconnect the battery before you unplug the IC, because if you don't, you'll trip a warning light. Also, there is no need to remove the steering wheel. If you angle everything correctly, you can slide the IC out from behind the steering wheel toward the passenger side of the car.

Here is a tutorial on the procedure: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/tech...-90-Gauges.htm

And of course, check any related fuses just to rule out the easiest stuff first.
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1998 BMW 328is
1966 Pontiac GTO
2007 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-door
View my photos: Caught in the Wild
For sale: E30/E36 front sway links
For sale: OEM E36 328 catback

Last edited by ZeGerman; 08-17-2014 at 11:09 AM.
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  #9  
Old 08-17-2014, 12:01 PM
Homer23 Homer23 is offline
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Mein Auto: E36 328i
Tell your wife that you give her your opinion because you love her, not to win an argument or other selfish reasons. Then, tell her that she was lucky to not have to buy a used trans. I would suspect that the instrument cluster isn't getting power from the connector or the ground is bad because everything in there usually doesn't die all at once. Also see if there is a relay for the instrument cluster. For mileage, the tank is 15 gallons and the range should be around 350 miles, so have her estimate her driving habits and how long she takes to get to 270 miles, and fill up then, under a normal week.
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  #10  
Old 08-17-2014, 12:03 PM
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92lagunagreen 92lagunagreen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy Knuckles View Post
Ha! The key statement was the WIFE sent a check for the car; I'd never do that myself.
Had the A/C checked out and now it blows snow balls, still at max speed though. I'll hunt up a service manual to find out how to pull the instrument cluster. I figure it will have to come out to check the connections; if I have no signal at the connectors I can begin tracing back to the sources.
I can handle most of the work myself - so far I have resurrected an '87 Jag VDP and a '95 Jag XJ6 which is now my daily driver. Everyone says the BMWs are less problematic than Jags so I'm hoping it will be a little bit easier.
The shaking at 50 MPH doesn't fell like anything simple like out of balance tires since it stops when turning left and shakes more turning right. Wheel bearing or some suspension issue I suspect.
Any and all advice will be welcome!
Does your wife want to buy a 1979 Jaguar XJ12L so that you can work on it? It needs a gas tank(unless you only want to use one) and a battery and windshield.
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  #11  
Old 08-17-2014, 01:13 PM
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Engel12626 Engel12626 is offline
Aim small, miss small
Location: Michigan
 
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Mein Auto: '95 525iT, '97 328is
Quote:
Originally Posted by Homer23 View Post
... For mileage, the tank is 15 gallons and the range should be around 350 miles, so have her estimate her driving habits and how long she takes to get to 270 miles, and fill up then, under a normal week.
17 gallons actually
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  #12  
Old 08-18-2014, 06:43 AM
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crisscross crisscross is offline
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Location: Best country on Earth
 
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Mein Auto: 1995 M3 Boston Green
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeGerman View Post
I don't think that I'd jump to this conclusion quite so quickly. Cracked solder joints seem to be far less common than the plugs needing to be removed/reinstalled. Anyhow, to remove the IC, all you have to do is remove two torx/star bolts from the underside of the instrument cluster "hood". But be sure to disconnect the battery before you unplug the IC, because if you don't, you'll trip a warning light. Also, there is no need to remove the steering wheel. If you angle everything correctly, you can slide the IC out from behind the steering wheel toward the passenger side of the car.

Here is a tutorial on the procedure: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/tech...-90-Gauges.htm

And of course, check any related fuses just to rule out the easiest stuff first.
I don't know both my e36 s had this problem and the 94 went through two clusters. The connections were never the problem.


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Member #2 of the Boston Green Mafia BMW-CCA #457574

1995 BG M3(sold) 2000 TiAg 4.4l X5(sold)

-2000 F250 V10
-2004 GMC Yukon Denali

-I do the things today that others won't do, so I will have the things tomorrow that other won't have....
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  #13  
Old 08-18-2014, 04:52 PM
Jimmy Knuckles Jimmy Knuckles is offline
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Location: Alabama
 
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Mein Auto: 1994 BMW 325i
To 92Lagunagreen: Actually adding another Jag to the stable is tempting, but my plate is full working on the BMW. Of course, pre-FoMoCo Jags are kind of scary with Lucas Electrics working against you in the background. After the wife is satisfied (is that possible?) I may be up for another challenge. I
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