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E34 (1989 - 1995)

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  #1  
Old 12-18-2012, 02:28 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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White Smoke/Floating Needle

I have a 1995 BMW 325i and over the past few days I have noticed white smoke periodically while both running and Idle. When I got off work yesterday, there was a large cloud of it and when I sat in idle it continuously smoked. While driving, the car's engine temperature gauge fluctuated consistently between normal temperature and and the red, overheating area. I'm wondering what is causing this and how to fix it?
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  #2  
Old 12-18-2012, 02:59 AM
robertobaggio20 robertobaggio20 is offline
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When was the last time that you changed out your thermostat ? How many miles ago ?

When was the last time you changed out your water pump ? How many miles ago ?

Please do not drive this car until you've fixed this problem. Smoke out your tailpipe couple with overheating is not a good sign at all. Do not drive and make a potentially bad situation much worse.\

You should consider going to a mechanic as well.
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  #3  
Old 12-18-2012, 03:11 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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I actually just replaced the engine (with a used one, less than 100k on it) and I was guessing it was the thermostat. I do not know when or if either were replaced. After a moment the white smoke stops and also, The needle would sit at a normal reading for periods of time then tend to show overheating but when I stop the car and look/listen under the hood, nothing. No smell. No bubbling or gurgling from the reservoir or anything. I was also thinking that it could be the temperature sensor?
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  #4  
Old 12-18-2012, 03:29 AM
robertobaggio20 robertobaggio20 is offline
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You made a terrible mistake in not replacing the thermostat and water pump along with the engine. It would have cost you practically nothing in terms of labour with the engine hanging out there like that.

Temp sensor problems do not show up as smoke in the tailpipe.

Please download and read the bentley manual for e34s. Search these forums. Also check out the troubleshooting tables attached with this post.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf E34 Troubleshooting Tables Searchable.pdf (1.04 MB, 19 views)
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  #5  
Old 12-18-2012, 03:29 AM
robertobaggio20 robertobaggio20 is offline
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And please read read through the fest's archives. You need to educate yourself on this bigtime. Spend 60 minutes minimum. Ignore google and just focus on the archives here.

And you might still need the services of a mechanic.

Last edited by robertobaggio20; 12-18-2012 at 03:33 AM.
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  #6  
Old 12-18-2012, 03:53 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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Would you suggest that I pay/ try to fix this or just move on, part the car out, and get a new one? (I'd prefer the least expensive of the two)
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  #7  
Old 12-18-2012, 04:05 AM
robertobaggio20 robertobaggio20 is offline
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Way too early to tell. Don't jump the gun. Read first.
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  #8  
Old 12-18-2012, 04:15 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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Will do. I did some quick price check work and the pump, thermostat and gasket replacement is less than 200 and I have a buddy who helped me take out the old engine and I can go back there and take this one out and replace both parts and even possibly check for a blown head gasket, which I do not think is the case. I'm not a great mechanic by any means but I know a few things. Thanks for all your feedback thus far.
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  #9  
Old 12-18-2012, 04:36 AM
robertobaggio20 robertobaggio20 is offline
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None of this would have a bearing on the smoke. Smoke means coolant getting into your combustion chambers. That's only through a hg, cracked head, or condensation on the insides of your tailpipes.

Reading up is more important that doing price checks, at this point.

You need to check out something called K-seal. It might be your only hope.
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  #10  
Old 12-18-2012, 04:52 AM
snowsled7 snowsled7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joserob View Post
I actually just replaced the engine (with a used one, less than 100k on it) and I was guessing it was the thermostat. I do not know when or if either were replaced. After a moment the white smoke stops and also, The needle would sit at a normal reading for periods of time then tend to show overheating but when I stop the car and look/listen under the hood, nothing. No smell. No bubbling or gurgling from the reservoir or anything. I was also thinking that it could be the temperature sensor?

I would not jump to the conclusions you have been shown thus far. Temp sender sounds like a GREAT place to start, inexpensive, easy, and a common problem. If you can gain access to an infrared temp sensor you could verify the engine temp when the gauge goes wonky.

If you actually have an overheating issue then you need to consider the cooling system troubleshooting advice. I doubt there is anything that seriously wrong with your car. Good Luck
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  #11  
Old 12-18-2012, 04:52 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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From what I am reading on here (and also googled) I am seeing that most people are saying either the HG, Cracked cylinder, or cracked head. I'm guessing I need to get it pressure tested to see what it is then go from there? (making sure that if it is taken apart and looked at that they check the head and cylinder for cracks/fractures)
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  #12  
Old 12-18-2012, 04:55 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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I do have access to a IR temp sensor. I was guessing thermostat but if you (Snowsled7) don't think its a big issue, what is the white smoke from in the first place? That is what is really irking me.
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  #13  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:04 AM
snowsled7 snowsled7 is offline
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Bobby is correct about a few things. The thermostat and wp will not cause white smoke in the exhaust. Blown headgasket, cracked head and simply COLD weather can cause smoke from the tailpipe.

If you are just seeing condensation when the car is cold, when the weather is cool/cold and it goes away as the car warms up, this is normal. It is water condensation forming from combustion and is visible when it hits cold air.

If it is smoking when warmed up, consuming coolant, exhaust leaves a sweet taste in mouth when you smell it, then you may have cause for concern. A cooling system pressure test and or compression test should reveal a headgasket/head issue.

I don't think there is anything wrong. Wait for the gauge to go wonky, then check the temp underhood, the upper radiator hose is a good indicator. If it reads over about 220, you may have an actual overheating problem.

Don't sweat it yet though. Let's make sure there is an actual problem first.
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BMW's from my past...
'92 535i/5 '89 325ix/5
'98 750iL '86 325(e)/5
'95 740iL '84 318i/5
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  #14  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:13 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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It blew smoke when it first started AND when it had been running for a few minutes. But for some reason it stops after about 15 minutes but the thermostat still fluctuates. If it is a HG or cracked head, I'm guessing itd still be a good idea to replace the thermostat and wp? Also, the upper hose was hot but not too hot to touch (I have to go get the IR sensor). Just to give a small measure of heat.

Last edited by Joserob; 12-18-2012 at 05:16 AM.
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  #15  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:23 AM
snowsled7 snowsled7 is offline
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Yes, if you have to remove the head, ensuring that the cooling system is in top shape would be prudent. I would also be looking at the radiator, belts, hoses, electric fans, their relays, and fan clutch. Not all for replacement but overheating is the most common cause of a HG failure, so inspect and replace what is worn or old. You may have already done some of this during the swap.

FYI, you posted this in a 5 series forum Happy to help though, many of the cars here share the same engine as yours, and the same issues
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'92 535i/5 '89 325ix/5
'98 750iL '86 325(e)/5
'95 740iL '84 318i/5
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  #16  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:25 AM
snowsled7 snowsled7 is offline
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I do not think your car has a problem. If you open the hood on a car running in the red on the temp gauge, you are going to know it, you will hear it, feel the heat and smell it.

What is the outside temp where you are? I still think the "smoke" is perfectly normal.
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Current ride... '13 GTI Wolfsburg
BMW's from my past...
'92 535i/5 '89 325ix/5
'98 750iL '86 325(e)/5
'95 740iL '84 318i/5
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  #17  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:31 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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If I've followed correctly, I should get a pressure test then go from there. The test should reveal if I have a blown HG, a cracked head, a cracked cylinder, or a combination of those. Once I figure out that I should replace the WP and Thermostat along with whatever else is wrong (HG, H, CC, or Combo) and check the radiator, belts, hoses, electric fans, relays, and clutch? I know for a fact the belts and hoses are fine because I took them off and replaced them myself. Its just the fans, relays and clutch I may have a problem with. I bought the manual for the year and make of my car and it has helped so I guess I should read up on that as well. (I know I posted in the wrong forum, first day lol. Sorry. but I'm kinda glad I did because in the forum for my car its all doom and gloom saying its this and that like they have the car. No real help like you guys.)
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  #18  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:37 AM
Joserob Joserob is offline
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The temperature is Mid-High 50's down to the Mid-Low 20's. Fahrenheit. And its smoke that sits for a while when I hit the gas. When it is in idle it trickles out then dissipates. When I drive off I can see it sitting there in my rear view. Like a cloud of it not the normal trail that comes from cold weather and condensation. It was in the mid 60's Friday and it did the same thing but worse. It has slowly gotten better since then.
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  #19  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:38 AM
snowsled7 snowsled7 is offline
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I think you are right on track

Please let us know when you get the test results, I am curious to know if anything was actually wrong.
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Current ride... '13 GTI Wolfsburg
BMW's from my past...
'92 535i/5 '89 325ix/5
'98 750iL '86 325(e)/5
'95 740iL '84 318i/5
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  #20  
Old 12-18-2012, 06:13 AM
robertobaggio20 robertobaggio20 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joserob View Post
I have a 1995 BMW 325i and over the past few days I have noticed white smoke periodically while both running and Idle. When I got off work yesterday, there was a large cloud of it and when I sat in idle it continuously smoked. While driving, the car's engine temperature gauge fluctuated consistently between normal temperature and and the red, overheating area. I'm wondering what is causing this and how to fix it?

Perils of a bad cold, i read this wrongly. Snowy is right. Unless you are losing coolant, temp levels moving back and forth between normal and red during the same drive is most likely a busted temp gauge and less likely the coolant temp sensor. Hmm the second might be likely since your engine and probably its sensors came from a yard.

Do the stomp test and pull the codes on your car to see if there is anything useful. Monitor coolant levels and add sweet smelling cheap coolant to your tank. Carry water around in your trunk 1 gallon.

Might as well throw in the kitchen sink too, so bleed the radiator once again.
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