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E36 /7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 roadster and coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 09-21-2010, 06:47 AM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Z3 hvac

(I originally posted this a reply to Ron Stygar's excellent thread describing the Z3/318ti HVAC, but no responses, so I am starting a new thread that may be more visible. Hopefully, I am not the only one with these questions.)

I have a 2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster with 72,000 miles, which I bought new . . . and it now has the dreaded broken HVAC control panel. No temperature control (probably broken control arms) and air distribution control does not seem to be working well. I thought that buying a BMW with a "mechanical" HVAC system, as opposed to electronic climate control, was the secret to long-term reliability, but I underestimated BMW's ability to use plastic in inappropriate places (e.g., thermostats, water pumps). I have read all/most/alot of the threads discussing the HVAC control maladies, but none seem to address my specific question(s), so I'll ask them here.

I plan to remove the console to accomplish the repair, and I want to repair, replace, and upgrade everything in there that is reasonable to do to try to ensure that I do not have to go back into the console for a long time (I plan to keep this car indefinately).

1. I plan to replace the HVAC control panel. Apparently this is now only available as a complete unit, which is OK since the colored areas on the face plate behind the control knobs is wearing through in a few places. My question is whether there are any upgrades to make the HVAC control panel stronger, or is BMW's plastic control panel the only option.

2. I will probably replace the Bowden cables, if access allows, as they are not very expensive. Does this seem reasonable?

3. Most important! Sticking air blending flap. From reading several other threads, it appears that the root cause of the broken temperature control arms on the HVAC control panel is a sticking air blending flap inside the IHKS housing, especially when the temperature control is at the coldest setting for some time (and the flap is fully closed). A friend of mine, who has an independent BMW/Porsche/M-B repair shop tells me that the sticking flap is the result of deterioration of a sealing gasket inside the IHKS housing, and that the flap sticks to this gasket (at least, I think that is what he was explaining). I would like to do a complete repair while I have the console area opened up. I have seen the suggestions to adjust the Bowden cable (I assume to keep the air flap from closing completely, or closing too far), but would appreciate any thoughts on whether adjusting the Bowden cable is a long-term fix for a sticking flap, or is a more involved repair needed (and hopefully does not involve replacing the IHKS housing).

4. The AC and heating systems seem to be working fine (i.e., the air gets cold when you push the AC button) other than the contols problems above. Are there any other reasonable preventative measures to take while I have this area opened up?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Mike
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  #2  
Old 09-21-2010, 05:10 PM
sateng sateng is offline
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Also interested in results

I recently joined the forums and have a 01 z3 also with various "maladies" I am working on. I too have had the sticking "blend" knob and lo and behold this morning I have the broken "blend" knob. While trying to gently play with the knob to force some warm air through the defrost, the knob motion "snapped free" and now rotates easily and freely from side to sid with no effect. I am very interested in what the console looks like on the back side and what the best approach to opening up the console and the likely broken culprit. Thanks for any help. BK
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  #3  
Old 09-21-2010, 06:20 PM
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WINDonSKIN WINDonSKIN is offline
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After breaking and replacing the temp knob, I decided to leave the temp control just off the coldest setting. Maybe 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Now as the temps cool down I am able to turn the control to any setting with very little resistence to the blend door. Turn the knob all the way to cold, alot of resistence. During the peak heat this summer I tested the settings with the ac on. No difference with the knob to full cold or turned just a tad. I know this isn't a fix to the sticking blend door but it sure works good for me.
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Old 09-22-2010, 09:44 AM
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WINDonSkin - Yes, leaving the temperature knob not completely closed is one possible option to address the sticking flap issue, but I am hoping to find a solution that keeps the flap from sticking in the first place. I understand that if the temp knob is not completely closed, the microswitch opens the water valve and sends hot water to the heater core. I suspect the heat of summer in Minnesota may be a little milder than it is in Houston!
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  #5  
Old 09-22-2010, 01:11 PM
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Then take the dash out and pull out the air box and replace the foam gasket.
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  #6  
Old 09-23-2010, 06:45 AM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpire View Post
Then take the dash out and pull out the air box and replace the foam gasket.
Wow, thanks for your thoughtful, helpful, courteous reply!

I can only guess that this is your answer to my question #3 regarding the sticking flap, and that your answer is that the root cause of the sticking flap IS a deteriorated foam sealing gasket inside the IHKS housing, and the only real long-term repair is to remove the housing (which requires removing the dash) to replace the gasket.

Since I do not believe that the gasket is available separately, then the repair seems to be either replacing the gasket with some suitable material sourced independently, or maybe just remove the gasket altogether to avoid the sticking flap (assuming the cause is the adhesive on the old gasket sticking to the flap). Although the flap may not seal as well without a gasket, it would at least function.

Thanks again for your help.

Hopefully, others have thoughts on this issue/problem.
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"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).

Last edited by BeemerMikeTX; 09-23-2010 at 08:41 AM.
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  #7  
Old 09-23-2010, 10:07 AM
Skyhawk Skyhawk is offline
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Hey BeamerMike,

My temp control knob was broke a long time ago, I took the panel out and see what is the problem. I find out that the knob is pushing on a little piece of plastic pin for guide. Once you push too hard or the plastic is worn form the heat or age..it will break..I just took the panel out and replace the guide pin with a metal rivet about the same size as the plastic pin. I just JB welded in place. let the JB weld cured..then replace the panel..it has been almost 5-6 yrs now..it is still functioning..Now I just wait til the car warms up and move the temp knob, when I feel the resistance is not there any more..it works great..Give it a try...it is not that hard for a DIYer..O.K. let me know if you need any more info..I order a panel long time ago thinking that I needed to replace it..but I haven't had a need just yet...
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:12 PM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyhawk View Post
Now I just wait til the car warms up and move the temp knob, when I feel the resistance is not there any more.
Thanks, Skyhawk. That sounds like a good tip. [I was hoping that someone knew exactly what the problem was inside the IHKS housing that was causing the sticking flap (adhesive from the gasket sticking to the flap? loose gasket catching the edge of the flap?), but apparently no one has opened up a sticking IHKS housing yet to actually see the sticking flap.] It seems that you need to be able to turn the temperature knob just a little in order to close the microswitch that opens the heater core water valve so that the heater core heats up and thereby warms up the gasket. However, adjusting the Bowden cable so that the flap does not close completely at the full cold position (and therefore does not stick), but the microswitch still opens and closes the water valve to prevent the heater core from getting hot may be the best band-aid solution short of being able to correct the root cause inside the IHKS housing.

Once I get the console area opened up, and see what there is to see, if I am able discover anything new I'll post pics.
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2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster (Topaz Blue Metallic, 5-speed manual, Sport Package, CD radio, heated seats and mirrors, non-power top via special order)
"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).

Last edited by BeemerMikeTX; 09-28-2010 at 07:14 PM.
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2010, 07:25 PM
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I definatly see your concern. I have a customer with a sticking blend door. The temp control had the typical broken stud that i repaired with a screw. The air flap is also sticking due to either a degraded strip of foam around its perimeter used for sealing air from bypassing the flap or maybe it is the case gasket. Not sure on what is causing it for sure. I gave tje customer 2 options either replace or repair the case, which would require dash removal. EXPENSIVE. The other option was to fabricate a small piece of metal to block the movement of the arm that controls the air flap. Due to the play in the bowden cable this mod will still allow the micro switch to engage in the control panel. This will only wprk if the flap is blocked from traveling the last 3 mm or so. Hope this gives everyone an afforadable option. http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/pic...ictureid=15733

Last edited by urotech; 09-29-2010 at 08:00 PM.
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  #10  
Old 09-29-2010, 08:02 PM
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  #11  
Old 09-29-2010, 08:19 PM
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I have a spare one somewhere.

Its the gasket gone all gooey on you.
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  #12  
Old 09-30-2010, 05:22 AM
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Urotech - Thanks. Great Idea. Fabricating a little "stop" should be a simple fix to prevent the flap from closing completely and then sticking to the gasket (if indeed that is the root cause problem). From my review of the drawing of the IHKS housing, there seems to be no real need for the flap to close completely and try to get a good seal (although I'm sure it seemed like a good idea to the original designer). As long as the microswitch for the heater core water valve stays closed, and therefore the heater core does not get hot, it should not matter if a little air (whether the AC is on or not) goes through the heater core side of the housing. You should be able to adjust the Bowden cable so that at the new fully closed position of the flap (slightly open with the stop), the temperature control knob is at the full cold position and the microswitch is open.

Mpire - Thanks for confirmation of the gooey gasket. Have you actually seen this, or are you making an educated speculation? What is the "spare one" that you have?
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:40 AM
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Junkyard salvages. I got way too many spare parts and I just bought more.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:18 PM
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Mpire - Sorry, maybe I haven't had enough Starbucks today. Are you saying you have a junkyard salvage IHKS housing, and that you have looked inside to confirm that the problem is a gooey gasket . . . or are you saying you have a usable spare IHKS housing (and maybe other usable parts)?
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Old 09-30-2010, 04:12 PM
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I have a spare dash, AC ducting, airbox, heater box, center console, AC controls, and just about everything else that would be relevant. And tons more parts that aren't relevant.

It appears to me that its a bad gasket in the air box blend door that goes all sticky after time.

The foam comes apart and blows out the vents after about 5 or 6 years leaving just the goo.

The labor is just too much to repair this part. Not worth it because you will tear up the dash getting to it.

So I suggest you replace it with the plastic gear with the servo ball joint and just live with it.

I was not able to adjust my cable at all. There was absolutely no play in my cable.

Let it get going, then slowly apply pressure until the goo lets go. Otherwise you will snap off the plastic knob.

I fixed Tiffs Z3 after she got impatient and broke it, my coupe still has the plastic part intact because I am gentle.

However, I do have spare AC controls just in case.
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:41 AM
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Mpire - Thanks for the clarification.

It would be very helpful if someone had taken apart a defective IHKS housing so that we could all see the deteriorated gasket (and the goo!) inside, but apparently no one has done so (or, at least no one on this forum).

It seems like the optimum "repair" is to somehow remove the adhesive goo that is left behind after the sealing gasket deteriorates away so that the flap cannot stick to it, but there is apparently no way to access the inside of the housing, other than to remove the housing (which of course is a prohibitive PITA). Too bad.

As for adjusting the Bowden cable, usually there is some adjustment possible (whether intended or not) inherent in the way they are mounted. I'll see what mine looks like once I get inside.
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Old 12-21-2010, 04:37 PM
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Well, here to prove my point once and for all, I have video of the blend door in action!



Apparently there is foam surrounding the heater core, and there is foam on the blend door. I am not sure how I could go about fixing the problem. This car has 40k miles on it, its one of those garage queens, but you get the general idea. The A/C wasn't super cold, so I recharged it, and then it popped something and it doesn't get cold anymore. So I am replacing everything in the A/C system other than the compressor at this point. Its good practice since I plan to have the Z3s till the day I die.

Check out this pic:



Not the best pic I know, but you try to lie upside down and get a picture of the heater core taken through the evaporator housing.... After you remove the evaporator. My back is going to hate you people tomorrow.

I moved the door back and forth a few times, it was slow to move the first time, then it got easier each time after that. I might try some masking tape or something, I really don't know what to try, I don't want to have to remove the A/C system again though, its not a fun job.
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Old 12-21-2010, 06:13 PM
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Randy Forbes Randy Forbes is offline
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I just did the pin fix (first time) on a cutomer's car this past weekend. Pretty simple, really.

As all the cables moved freely, I didn't go any deeper than fixing the broken pin.

More pictures: http://www.rfdm.com/gallery/album217?page=49















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Old 12-21-2010, 07:49 PM
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I don't really see an easy fix for the blend door. I tried cleaning it with rubbing alcohol on a rag but it didn't do much but get the rest of the powdered foam off. I vacuumed out the box and wiped the inside down with a very light bleach solution to kill any mold and then several more times with just water.

Gordon put me on to the little servo balls that he uses for model planes. That seemed like a perfect fit for the HVAC controls..
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:50 PM
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I don't really see an easy fix for the blend door. I tried cleaning it with rubbing alcohol on a rag but it didn't do much but get the rest of the powdered foam off. I vacuumed out the box and wiped the inside down with a very light bleach solution to kill any mold and then several more times with just water.

Gordon put me on to the little servo balls that he uses for model planes. That seemed like a perfect fit for the HVAC controls..
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Old 12-22-2010, 06:54 AM
dkindig dkindig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpire View Post
Gordon put me on to the little servo balls that he uses for model planes. That seemed like a perfect fit for the HVAC controls..
Does anyone have a correct size for the ball-end fittings to use for this repair? There seem to be a couple of different sizes out there...
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Old 12-22-2010, 07:13 AM
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Umm, my micrometer batteries are dead, so I can't tell you the exact size needed. However, you can just browse the store with the broken piece and find out.

Or you can send me the gear with a SASE and 10 bucks and I will drill, tap, glue, and install a new ball for you.

I went out and bought a drill press just for that project. Haven't used it since.

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Old 12-22-2010, 07:42 AM
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That's why I like mechanical calipers and micrometers; no excuses

I used a 6-32 stainless steel screw with a piece of Tygon tubing slipped over the threads. If I would've had the right size of heat-shrink tubing, I would've used that (you just don't want the raws threads filing their way through the plastic "Nordic" track.
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  #24  
Old 12-22-2010, 12:25 PM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Mpire - Thanks for the video and the blend door pic. NOW I clearly see the root cause of the problem . . . the freakin' foam gaskets (and adhesive). I'll have to think about the best way to remove as much foam and adhesive as possible given the access available (not sure yet how much I want to disassemble). But, at least now I know which rabbit to chase.

Seeing the pics of the MZ center console . . . depending on how much I have to disassemble for the HVAC fix . . . it's going to be tempting to replace some Z3 console parts with M parts to be able to install a REAL coolant temperature gauge and some other gauge (oil pressure?) and move my DSC, AC, and seat warmer buttons down. (Oh, THANKS Randy!) Hmmmmm . . . I'm sure there must be a thread or two about this somewhere on the forum.
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"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).

Last edited by BeemerMikeTX; 12-22-2010 at 12:35 PM.
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  #25  
Old 12-22-2010, 05:29 PM
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Yeah, I put an M Console into the Z3. Not a big deal really. I have oil pressure, oil temp, and a voltmeter in the Z.

I removed the A/C Evaporator to get the video I showed you. You would have to purge the A/C system first. However, after you pull the evaporator out its pretty easy to get inside the AC box and clean it up.
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