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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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Old 04-21-2012, 04:06 PM
paulelmore paulelmore is offline
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Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 28
Mein Auto: 1992 BMW 318i
Heater Control Valve Rebuild '92 318i

I've had intermittent problems with my heater system, culminating in a repetitive ticking sound coming from the heater control valve which is mounted on the firewall, drivers side. New ones cost around $250, which is not cool, so I decided to rebuild mine.

Here's what it was doing before: (not my car or video, but the same problem)

1. Locating the HCV
It's mounted in a rubber mounting clip on the drivers side fire wall, behind the oil dip stick. It's tight getting in there, but doable without removing anything else.

2. Removal
Unplug the electrical clip from the HCV. You'll have to pinch and pull the plug out.

You'll have to remove THREE hose clamps total-two from the heater core mounted in the fire wall (leave the top two hoses clamped to the HCV) and the lower hose clamp ON the HCV. The last one's a little hard to do, but if you have a long enough screwdriver, it's not to tough.

Gently pull the two hoses from the heater core pipes (everything is plastic so go carefully). I give the hoses a twist first to break the seal. Mine came off fairly easy. The bottom hose is easiest to take off after you unmount the HCV from it's rubber clamp.

The HCV is mounted to the firewall with a rubber clamp on the bottom and a round rubber "boot" on the top. To remove, pivot the bottom of the HCV away from the firewall to unclamp the bottom and then slide the whole unit upward to remove the plastic pin on HCV from the rubber boot. (look at the pics of the HCV on the bench and it will make sense.)

(In this picture, you can see the shaft of a long screw driver just inserted into the lower hose to keep it upright to prevent excess spillage of coolant-FYI... you don't have to drain the coolant from the system to do this job.

HINT-I found it easier to remove the HCV through the bottom of the car.

3. Disassembly
Here's what it looks like sitting on the work bench.

You'll need a T10 Torx Screw driver to remove the 6 screws from the housing.

Remove the six screws. There is a little rubber sealant around the bottom of the electrical clip which might keep the two parts held together. GENTLY GENTLY GENTLY lift off the two metal cylinder units TOGETHER. In the picture below, you'll see the little copper wires you're trying to NOT break. Move the two metal cylinder units around as ONE unit.

4. Cleaning
Inside there are two metal plungers, springs and plastic sleeves that will come out. The pins on the plungers are hollow. There is a small plastic pin that seats inside the shaft of the plunger. Clean everything real good with degreaser, including the inside of the metal cylinders. You want to make sure everything travels smoothly with no binding. DON'T LOOSE THE SPRINGS OR PLASTIC SLEEVES.

5. Assembly
The following picture shows the proper assembly order.

Use a little WD40 to make sure everything is moving smoothly. Again, make sure the small plastic posts seat inside the shaft of the plungers when reassembling.

It's easiest to put the plungers, springs, and plastic sleeves inside the bottom half of the HCV and then put the metal cylinders OVER the bottom unit. Make sure everything aligns and seats well. Reinstall the 6 torx screws. Do not over tighten. Just snug.

Reattach the hoses to the top pipes on the HCV. Make sure you get the right hose on the right pipe.

6. Reinstall
Slide the HCV back through the bottom of the car and let it rest somewhere until you can go around to the top and pull it up to where it belongs. I found it easier to...

First, install the bottom hose onto the HCV,
Second, install the two hoses onto the heater core pipes,
Third, clip the HCV into it's rubber mounting clip,
Fourth, tighten down all the hose clamps,
Fifth, plug in the electrical.

Start the car, turn on the heater, let it run for a minute, and then double check the coolant levels to make for the small spillage that happened when you removed the HCV.

Total time-less than an hour.

Hope this makes it easier for others to rebuild their HCV.
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Last edited by paulelmore; 04-21-2012 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 04-21-2012, 04:15 PM
armando325i armando325i is offline
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Location: ireland
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 77
Mein Auto: 325i
i dont see no pict, but did it work? easier wud be to get second handed on ebay for about 40 or 50 bucks!
f..k the fuel economy
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:09 PM
paulelmore paulelmore is offline
Registered User
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 28
Mein Auto: 1992 BMW 318i
Pictures are up now. Everything seems to work now. No more ticking.

You're right, you could pick one up on ebay, but I'm never sure about the history or condition. I'd rather see something with my own eyes and know for sure. Personally, it's more fun to work on something and save the money.
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Old 08-17-2012, 10:01 PM
Marco 237 Marco 237 is offline
Von Trips
Location: Perth, Western Australia (Lots of nice open roads)
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: E30 S50B30....Rocket
Angry Nasty little French Heater valve....

Great post.
The pics really helped alot. I've been tackling this problem with my E36 320i for months.
I've gone through two heater valve units (both secondhand) without success, so it goes to show that there are some secondhand parts that should either be thrown out or completely rebuilt. The heater valve (with aircon) has has two rubber seals that cover the plunger ends inside the unit. You didn't take the metal plate off to reveal these two little evil seals. When these perish or disintegrate, they block everything up. Also, as the seals lose their ability to hold their shape, they start to leak the hot water into the core when you don't want it to.
This isn't a good idea on a hot day with the air conditioning on!!!!

The dealer will only replace the entire unit for about $480 Aud ($500 US) which is RIDICULOUS. I know it's another story but I am completely speechless how BMW rips the heart out of the Australian market to subsidize Europe and the States. We pay $168k for the M3....you do the sums on that one!
Getting back to the topic.....
Until I can find someone on the planet who will sell me a new internal rubber seal, I am going to re-use the cleaned unit without the internal seals. It still works but is not as efficient.
I hope this helps anyone else out there with the same problem.
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:56 PM
hornhospital's Avatar
hornhospital hornhospital is offline
D'oh, You Kids!
Location: In the Grumpy Chair
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 18,066
Mein Auto: E24x2,E36x2,E30x1, F150
How did I miss this when it was first posted???? That's a GREAT write-up, and some outstanding pictures. Well done, sir!
Quotes to live by:
guessing gets expensive...drivinfaster
nothing is more expensive than a cheap BMW...c4harpe13
buying a ratty example (of a BMW) is a parasitic relationship.(and you ain't the mosquito) 7pilot
Ken Kanne, Silverhill, AL, E36 & New Member Intro Forum Mod/Bimmerfest Tow Truck
BMW-CCA #441426
1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira"; 1985 635CSi "Katja"; 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"; 1987 325is "Odette"

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Old 03-26-2013, 09:46 PM
07lilredwagon 07lilredwagon is offline
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Location: NY
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Mein Auto: 07 e91
very nicely done!

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