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Multiple Issues need help.

1042 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  hnaz
Just recently purchased 1996 BMW 328i sedan 175K Odemeter reads, Tail lights won't illuminate, interior dash lights won't turn on at night, so can't see speedometer, or gear changer in the dark, Also car was scanned for inspection both o2 sensors need replacing, very rough idling, then sometimes car stalls out. When reaching about 50 mph vibration starts from back of the car as if I had a system in the trunk. I'm stumped any suggestions?
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Rear End Diagnostics:

1.) Get the car on the lift and check the subframe bushings, control arms (look for bends or cracks), anti-sway bar end links being broken.
2.) Check and make sure the axles are bolted down properly and no missing bolts. Some low-end Miguel, Juan, and Jose shops usually do quick work but not good work and things like this happen ALL the time.
3.) Check for bends, warps, and cracks in wheels. Also make sure the weights are still on the wheels.
4.) Lift the trunk carpet and do a thorough inspect. Look for crinkles in the metal or poorly banged out metal work. This is highly suggestive for a severe accident.

Tail Lights Won't Illuminate:

1.) Open the trunk and look on the left lower corner of the trunk and you will see a cover and wire coming out.
2.) Grab a razor and cut the cover and inspect the wires. You will notice some cracks and breaks in the wire. Replace all as necessary. If that doesn't work...
3.) Check the connector going to the tail lights. Make sure there is no oxidation between the connector and the wire. If there is any, grab a soft wire wheels and clean it up. Apply soem dielectric grease and reconnect.
4.) Check your brake light switch. If it hasn't been replaced and your "Check" light is on and your OBC reports "Brake Light Failure", replace this unit. However, with the car I am finishing up, I noticed that the brake light switch was bad, but wasn't showing the "Check" light or "Brake light failure" warning. It was doing the same things you are describing.
5.) Check and make sure the Lightbulbs are the right type, and the bulb connectors are making clean connections to the metal plate frame.
6.) Check and make sure the alignment is as even or within factory specs, and make sure the rear shock mounts and bolts are not kyboshed.

Speedo is dark:

1.) Remove the speedo and just do yourself a favor and replace all the bulbs you see on there. They're dirt cheap.
2.) Depending on the year of your E36 (yours being a 96), look on the right side of your steering wheel, under the speedo. You will see a rotating dial and a symbol above it. Rotate the dial upwards for brighter illumination, down for something more dull or darker illumination. If that doesn't work, that dial is also another culprit (provided your electricals are all in working order and you have no other shorts). They're cheap from the salvage yard.
3.) If the salvage yard piece doesn't work, get a new unit. They are about $60 - $80.
4.) If that doesn't work, then you most definitely have a fuse out. Replace the fuse.
5.) If replacing the fuse doesn't work, then you have a short or bad speedo.

O2 Sensors:

1.) *Facepalm* Just replace them...
Just recently purchased 1996 BMW 328i sedan 175K Odemeter reads, Tail lights won't illuminate, interior dash lights won't turn on at night, so can't see speedometer, or gear changer in the dark, Also car was scanned for inspection both o2 sensors need replacing, very rough idling, then sometimes car stalls out. When reaching about 50 mph vibration starts from back of the car as if I had a system in the trunk. I'm stumped any suggestions?
Please do not do that. The trunk to trunk lid cable does carry any of the tail light wiring. You also do not need to slit the black sheath ***8211; you can just slide it down and inspect the wiring inside (where it bends most sharply, approaching the trunk lid).

If you have no dash lights, you may have blown fuse 37 (10A) from a short, possibly inside that cable. You can try another 10A fuse, once. Do not try anything bigger: that brings greater unhappiness.

Are your license plate lights o.k.? How is the trunk light? Does it go off? What about the trunk lock? Does it lock and unlock from the front door locks, and vice-versa?
Tail Lights Won't Illuminate:

1.) Open the trunk and look on the left lower corner of the trunk and you will see a cover and wire coming out.
2.) Grab a razor and cut the cover and inspect the wires.....
The light in dash and the rear lights not working are the same problem. It's a fuse blown. Check your fuses and replace them as needed. The one fuse controls both the dash and tail lights.
Shaking at speed can be caused by many things. Start simple and check the tire pressure is the same on all wheels. Next check that all wheels still have the weights still. If both of those look good there may be an alignment issue or wheel bearing going out. If not either of those it could be bushing or A suspension issue.
There are two fuses that supply the position lights: F37 for the right ones and F33 supplies for the left ones. The two separate fuse and split circuits allow the one-side parking lights found on European models.

I tend to the notion that a previous owner let problems accumulate over time, rather than fixing them.
The light in dash and the rear lights not working are the same problem. It's a fuse blown. Check your fuses and replace them as needed. The one fuse controls both the dash and tail lights....
John, I'd usually agree, however I have noticed a couple E36s I have had had the sheath taped up with electrical tape and instead of unraveling, I just took a razor blade and cut the sheath. It was far easier and quicker.

As far as the trunk lock, that is an interesting question, since I had the same problem and it turned out to be the actuator not any wiring.
Please do not do that. The trunk to trunk lid cable does carry any of the tail light wiring. You also do not need to slit the black sheath - you can just slide it down and inspect the wiring inside (where it bends most sharply, approaching the trunk lid).

If you have no dash lights, you may have blown fuse 37 (10A) from a short, possibly inside that cable. You can try another 10A fuse, once. Do not try anything bigger: that brings greater unhappiness.

Are your license plate lights o.k.? How is the trunk light? Does it go off? What about the trunk lock? Does it lock and unlock from the front door locks, and vice-versa?
I could see slitting the sheath if the trunk wiring were not under such stress from the wire bending radius being seriously too small. For a long lasting repair, however, you want to replace all the wiring within the trunk-to-trunk lid cable (what BMW does), and do whatever you can to increase the bending radius (wrapping the wires with electrical tape will not help, especially if you will be opening the trunk when it is very cold).

If you are going to the trouble of replacing all the wiring, why slit the sheath and degrade the repair, to save a few minutes?
Yeah, I could believe in a problem with the trunk actuator, or the wiring, or the actuator and the wiring. I hope we hear from the OP.
... As far as the trunk lock, ... I had the same problem and it turned out to be the actuator not any wiring.
Because there has been times of impatience where I just grafted wires to do the repairs... :angel:

Hehehe
I could see slitting the sheath if the trunk wiring were not under such stress from the wire bending radius being seriously too small. For a long lasting repair, however, you want to replace all the wiring within the trunk-to-trunk lid cable (what BMW does), and do whatever you can to increase the bending radius (wrapping the wires with electrical tape will not help, especially if you will be opening the trunk when it is very cold).

If you are going to the trouble of replacing all the wiring, why slit the sheath and degrade the repair, to save a few minutes?
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