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BMW Digest FAQ Version 4.0

Section 7: General Repair Info (not model-specific)

Table of Contents:

7.1: Engine

         7.1.1:   Tackling overheating problems
         7.1.2:   Spark plg lube
         7.1.3:   My engine surges/stumbles when cold
         7.1.4:   How to cure fluctuating idle problems
         7.1.5:   All about Idling you wanted to know (TechFAQ)
         7.1.6:   Is it required to use fuel injector cleaners?
         7.1.7:   Oxygen Sensor info
         7.1.8:   Check Engine Codes
         7.1.9:   Fixing the coolant level sensor

7.2: Brakes

         7.2.1:   How to change fluid
         7.2.2:   Tips to remember while using Mighty Vac
         7.2.3:   Brake Squeal
         7.2.4:   Removing the rotor bolt

7.3: HVAC

         7.3.1:   Poor AC performance
         7.3.2:   Blower Fan Problems
         7.3.3:   Cleaning the radiator
         7.3.4:   Stinky AC

7.4: Body, etc

         7.4.1:   Fixing squeaking doors
         7.4.2:   Shifter feel improvement
         7.4.3:   Rocker panel coating
         7.4.4:   Plastic Panel Repair
         7.4.5:   Wheel paint
         7.4.6:   Front and rear windshield install
         7.4.7:   Sunroof problems
         7.4.8:   Gas Tank restoration

7.5: Electrical

         7.5.1:   Fixing Automatic Antennas
         7.5.2:   Taking care of your battery
         7.5.3:   Troubleshooting Central Locking System
         7.5.4:   Resetting service indicator lights
         7.5.5:   Changing service indicator light batteries
         7.5.6:   Replacing OBC bulbs
         7.5.7:   Power Windows
         7.5.8:   Problems with key panel
         7.5.9:   Installing garage door openers
         7.5.10:  Adjusting Headlights
         7.5.11:  Sunroof adjustment
         7.5.12:  Interior light delay

7.6: Misc

         7.6.1:   Redline MTL
         7.6.2:   Power steering noise
         7.6.3:   Seat Repair
         7.6.4:   Shipping wheels for repair
         7.6.5:   Transmission filling trick

7.1: Engine
7.1.1: Tackling overheating problems
(by Dave Foster:
  • -had the radiator removed and cleaned
  • -replaced every hose in the sucker except the little-tiny one behind the water-pump
  • -replace the radiator cap with a new one
  • -flushed and refreshed the system

No one thing did it: each item improved it a little bit although I would have to say the radiator cap was the biggest improvement.

(by Paul O'Donnell: edited)

>On both of our big sixes, 528i and 533i, they usually run a bit >hot in slow street traffic. Once they got on the expressway, the temp >returns to normal. You might want to check the fan clutch.

These are exactly the opposite symptoms to those described by Ian. At high speeds, the fan is irrelevant and so the fan is unlikely to be the problem. Similarly, water pump problems would show up at lower speeds. I have had two cars which exhibited the symptoms Ian described - overheating at HIGH speed. In both cases the problem was a radiator with insufficient capacity. This is caused either by a blockage, or just a radiator that is too small.

(by Rick Kjeldsen:

A common problem with later BMWs is that the auxilary (electrical) cooling fan doesn't work. It is supposed to come on at low speed when the air conditioner is turned on or when a tempature threshold is reached (~190 degrees F). It is supposed to come on at high speed at a higher temp threshold (~200). A common problem is that the low speed resistor burns out, so it never turns on low, then when it turns on high, the load of starting at high speed from a complete standstill takes out the fuse. However it isn't unknown for the fan itself to be bad.
Symptoms of this are poor AC performance at low speeds and a tendency to overheat at idle on a hot day.
The fan is behind the grill, in front of the AC condensor. The manuals say to pull the radiators to get at it, but if you are careful you can get at it by removing the grill and sliding it out torward the ground (E30).
You can tell if the problem is the resistor or the fan by bypassing the thermo switch which turns it on high and checking if the fan turns. (details available on request).
If the resistor is bad, it is relatively easy to replace. The resistor is .6 ohm (THE E30 ETM IS WRONG, saying it is a 6 ohm resistor!). It is a rectangle about .5"x.5"x2" attached to the fan housing. You can play with standard resistors, but I've only had lasting success using dealer parts (about $25). You may have to cut and splice the wires to install the new resistor (depending on the model, year and fan manufacturer).

7.1.2: Spark plg lube

Putting regular motor oil on spark plug threads prior to installation in probably not a very good idea. In the intense heat of the area, the motor oil will break down and gum up the threads, making removal of the plugs difficult, and possibly causing the threads to pull out of the head as well.

If you feel compelled to lubricate the threads prior to installation, use some kind of copper anti-seize compound. This stuff is designed to withstand intense heat, and will serve the purpose of making installation/removal easier.

Bosch does not recommend the use of any thread lubricant with their plugs in most cases. Apparently the threads are nickel plated, and do not need extra lubrication.

A good rule of thumb for tightening new plugs is to hand-install them until the crush washer seats onto the head, then tighten an extra 1/4 turn. This is for plugs with washers (obviously). Taper-seat plugs should be hand-seated, then turned an extra 1/16th turn. A torque wrench is ideal, but this method works as well. (all of this info is in the Bosch Spark Plug Catalog)

7.1.3: My engine surges/stumbles when cold
(by Rick Kjelsden: The most common cause is vacuum leaks. They allow extra (unmeasured) air into the intake manifold, and mess up the mixture. When the car warms up the O2 sensor comes on line, so the Motronic can compensate. Look for vacuum leaks in cracks in the air intake boot, or other air lines, around the injector o-ring seals, through the valve cover gasket and probably other places as well.
Find them by spraying carb cleaner at the suspected spot when the engine in running (warm or cold). A momentary change in the idle speed indicates a leak.
7.1.4: How to cure fluctuating idle problems
(by Jim Conforti:

First, make sure your ICV (The VALVE, on the intake manifold) is of the metal type .. some of them were plastic and there WAS a recall

Second, remove and clean the carbon out of the ICV valve ..

Third, any time you replace the ICU or ICV (preferably BOTH at once!) you must adjust the current via the screw on the side of the metal ICV (If you have plastic valve, the screw is inside!)

The current MUST be set to the proper current for your year/model See the Bentley or factory manuals ...

The Throttle body must be properly set via feeler gauges ... When the ICU/ICV goes south many people try to set idle with the throttle screws ... BAD, BAD, VERY BAD, NO GOOD!

Now, If the ICV is metal and clean, the current is adjusted to spec, and the throttle body is too .. disconnect your O2 sensor .. if the fluctuation stops, your O2 sensor is/was going bad, replace it!

Lastly if NONE of the above cures the problem .. a failing engine temp switch (if it signals cold [< 45C] engine mistakenly) will cause the ICU to hold idle at 950 RPM ... this sensor is on the engine, usually part of the collant temp sensor, a switch type deal, see the Bentley for more info Also a faulty air temp switch or A/C on input will bring idle to 850 rpm

From: (doug dykaar) Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 09:45:43 -0500

My rough idle truned out to be a bad fuel pressure regulator. The symptoms were:

progressively worse idle, stalling.
occasional recovery, at first, on warmup. ability to "balance" revs, at idle speed to prevent stalling.

The main fuel pump sounded off, i.e. the whine wsa not even, so I replaced it. I checked over the idle control feedback loop, as per the idle FAQ, and no luck. The speed and position sensors ohmed out ~1K ohms, and the air regulator hummed (by touch) when the engine was on, but not running. No tranistors bad in the control box, and no heat failures on the board. I also removed the transfer pump and bench tested it.

Thanks to Greg Robinson ( for suggesting the regulator. That was it, of course.

(Editor's note: A faulty transfer pump can also affect idle quality)

7.1.5: All about Idling you wanted to know (TechFAQ)
(by Sam Chien-shin Lin:

Sam has compiled an excellent FAQ on idle problems. Its too big to be incorporated here, so please contact him.

7.1.6: Is it required to use fuel injector cleaners?
(by Don Eilenberger:

MOST better grades of gasoline do have cleaners in them now.. Mobil, Amoco, Shell, Sunoco, in the premium grades probably do have enough to keep most of the crap off your injectors.. except in the case of some older (read maybe yours) injectors. There was a known problem with Bosch injectors called the hot-soak problem, where residual fuel on the tip of the injector would bake on becoming a carbon like deposit after a period of time. This caused BMW lots of money, since they ended up fixing it under warranty. There was also a problem with carbon buildup on the intake valves.. again, this cost BMW money.

So... BMW set it's own standards for fuel - especially the amount of cleaner in the fuel. This became known as the "BMW test" (and apparently BMW NA actually did take samples and test the fuel). About 2-3 years ago, most gas companies started trying to pass this test, and **most** did. Consumer's Reports published several articles on gasoline and listed which ones passed the test. The ones mentioned above did.

IF you experience no bad-running problems EVER.. you probably don't need to use injector cleaner (the only ones worth a damn are Techron and BG44). If you do have bad-running problems (hard starting, rough idle, etc) - it will not hurt to give the vehicle a dose of cleaner - provided you don't overdose it without changing the oil (read the back of the bottle). It **may** clear up minor injector problems - then again, the problem could be something else. Cheap to try.

I personally, usually give my 535 a single dose of full strength Techron the last tank before I do an oil change - and then only every other oil change (so I'm doing it about every 6k miles). I look at it as cheap insurance that I'm not clogging or crudding up the FI system. Probably doing NO good whatsoever - but also doing no harm.

7.1.7: Oxygen Sensor info
(by Don
  1. Yes - you could use a generic O2 sensor - if it was a 3 wire heated one (there are Lucas [the inventor of darkness] 3 wires being sold as a universal heated replacement... they will FIT the BMW.. how well they work?? Your guess].
  2. You would be better off going to your friendly Ford dealer and asking for DV505 - this is a 3 wire for a Mustang V8.. just happens to be made by Bosch (hmmmm... who makes the one for BMW).. just happens to look exactly the same as the BMW one.. except for the wires. Some splicing required (white to white.. black to black). Cost? Somewhere around $40.. vs the $130-180 for the genuine BMW one. Works just fine in my 535i..

<<<< (by John Dempsey: > How can I tell if the O2 sensor is bad in my '84 325e? I followed the > instructions in the Bentley manual by warming up the car and unpluging the O2 > sensor to take a reading. The reading started at .408 and continued to fall > toward 0. When I removed the oil cap the meter went to 0 as described in > the manual. Shouldn't the first reading fluctuate within a given range and > not continue to fall toward 0?

What are you using to get those readings? The output should fluctuate, but you'll never see it with a DVOM- too much averaging.

And what is the situation by which you tested the sensor? Both when you first checked it, and removed the oil cap. We're dealing with a single wire O2 sensor, right? Did you check it at all with the car at high RPM's? Like around 2000 RPM. Or did you only check it with the car at idle? And why are you checking the O2 sensor anyway? Got some problems with the car, and its drivability?

If you can answer the above (and maybe do some further testing, as mentioned above), I could better interpret the results.

First off, .408 is a bit on the low side- a bit lean. And as far as going to zero, I'd say that whatever the ground was that you used for the meter, had too much resistance. In other words, it was not a good ground. All the O2 sensors I've seen at least put out some type of voltage, even if they were defective. Ussually the voltage is low, but not zero.

From: (Don Eilenberger) Date: Mon, 10 Oct 94 10:49:52 EDT

>I am having real problems trying to get a DY606 O2 sensor. Ford >use another OEM number which they say is good, motorcraft say it >is obsolete... The number is FOSZ9F472A. But parts >places cannot cross ref that number. Can someone who has one of these, >please tell me exactly what the orig application was for this sensor. >I have been told it was a thunderbird, but they cannot tell me what year >it was or anything.

Blair - answer to both questions:

  1. Mustang, 1987 V8 was the original application. Other people have gotten it using the DY606 number.
  2. Wiring is identical. Two white wires (heater - polarity not important), black wire - output from the sensor. Ground is return.

Don Eilenberger

7.1.8: Check Engine Codes
From: Jim Conforti <>

On Mon, 24 Oct 1994, Joseph Nguyen wrote:

> Yesterday, the "Check Engine" warning light in my '92 325i lit up while I was > on the free way. I checked the manual. But it was of little help since it > only said something was wrong with the emission control and to bring it in to > the dealer. Is this a normal-wear defect for a 2 year old car with 26K miles? > The only different thing that I did was using Citgo Super Premium Unleaded > (93 Octane, Pure gas). I normally use Shell or Mobil Supre Premium gas. >
> Any comments before I bring this car in?

Yes, your car is equipped with Motronic DME, Version M3.1 ...

Turn the car off .. turn key to the ON position but dont start ..

Now QUICKLY hit the accellerator to the floor 5 times and wait ..

The Check engine lite will flash out a code like 1221 or 1444 ..

The car should flash 1444 if everything is OK ...

that'll tell you what the DME thinks is the problem ..

BTW this works on ALL BMW's (in the US) from late 1988 MY on up..

That is .. DME Versions 1.3, 1.2, 1.7, 3.1, 3.3, 3.3.1

On 3.3 and 3.3.1 you only a second or so to start whacking the gas pedal after you turn the key ..

1444 = 1 flash .. wait .. 4 flashes .. wait ... 4 flashes ..

.. wait ... 4 flashes ... longer wait .. repeat

DME Version                             M1.x    M1.x    M3.1    M3.3    M3.3.1
Malfunction                             MCU 1   MCU 2   

DME Control Unit                        1211    2211    1211    1211    1211
Air Mass/Volume Sensor                  1215    2215    1215    1215    1215
Throttle Potentiometer                  1216    --      1216    1216    1216
"Output Stage, Group #1"                --      --      --      1218    1218
"Output Stage, Group #2"                --      --      --      1219    1219
EGO Sensor #1                           1221    2221    1221    1221    1221
EGO Sensor #2                           --      --      --      1212    --
Lambda Control #1                       1222    2222    1222    1222    1222
Lambda Control #2                       --      --      --      1213    --
Coolant Temp. Sensor                    1223    --      1223    1223    1223
Intake Air Temp. Sensor                 1224    --      1224    1224    1224
Knock Sensor #1                         --      --      --      1225    1225
Knock Sensor #2                         --      --      --      1226    1226
Knock Sensor #3                         --      --      --      1227    --
Knock Sensor #4                         --      --      --      1228    --
Battery Voltage/DME Main Relay          1231    2231    1231    1231    1231
Throttle Idle Switch                    1232    2232    --      --      --
Throttle WOT Switch                     1233    2233    --      --      --
"Speedometer ""A"" Signal"              --      --      --      1234    1234
A/C Compressor cut off                  --      --      --      1237    1237
A/C Compressor                          --      --      --      1242    1242
Crankshaft Pulse Sensor                 --      --      --      1243    1243
Camshaft Sensor                         --      --      --      1244    1244
"Intervention, AEGS"                    --      --      --      1245    1245
Ign. Secondary Monitor                  --      --      --      1247    1247
Fuel Injectors (group #1)               1251    2251    --      --      --
Fuel Injectors (group #2)               1252    2252    --      --      --
Fuel Injector #1                        --      --      1251    1251    1251
Fuel Injector #2                        --      --      1252    1252    1252
Fuel Injector #3                        --      --      1253    1253    1253
Fuel Injector #4                        --      --      1254    1254    1254
Fuel Injector #5                        --      --      1255    1255    1255
Fuel Injector #6                        --      --      1256    1256    1256
Fuel Injector #7                        --      --      --      1257    --
Fuel Injector #8                        --      --      --      1258    --
Fuel Pump Relay Control                 1261    2261    1261    1261    1261
Idle Speed Actuator                     1262    --      1262    1262    1262
Purge Valve                             1263    2263    1263    1263    1263
EGO Heater                              1264    2264    1264    1264    1264
Fault Lamp (check engine)               --      --      --      1265    1265
VANOS                                   --      --      --      --      1266
Air Pump Relay Control                  --      --      --      1267    1267
"Ignition Coil, #1"                     --      --      --      1271    1271
"Ignition Coil, #2"                     --      --      --      1272    1272
"Ignition Coil, #3"                     --      --      --      1273    1273
"Ignition Coil, #4"                     --      --      --      1274    1274
"Ignition Coil, #5"                     --      --      --      1275    1275
"Ignition Coil, #6"                     --      --      --      1276    1276
"Ignition Coil, #7"                     --      --      --      1277    --
"Ignition Coil, #8"                     --      --      --      1278    --
Control Unit Memory Supply              --      --      --      1281    1281
Fault (code) Memory                     --      --      --      1282    1282
"Fuel Injector Output Stage, no cyl #"  --      --      1283    1283    1283
Knock Control Test Pulse                --      --      --      1286    1286
No Failure                              1444    2444    1444    1444    1444

Have fun,


7.1.9: Fixing the coolant level sensor

(NOTE: On many cars from the mid-80s -> early-90s the coolant level light on the check-control panel will sometimes go on even when the coolant is fine. The sensor is in the overflow bottle connected to the radiator. It can have a bad connection or be bad itself:)

From: Land Shark <> Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 19:42:45 -0700

Blair R. wrote:

>1) Coolant sensor. Mine I think is defunct, the coolant light stays on all >the time, even tho' the level is full. So I took it out and found when I put >in in a beaker of water, with the little plastic ring on the end sensing a >'full' bottle, the circuit was open, same occurred when I dangled in the >air. Norm informed me in the former situation the circuit should be closed.

With the ring buoyed up by fluid, the circuit should be closed

>So how does the little bugger work?

Ok, inside the foam ring is a black ferrite magnet ring. this ring closes a REED SWITCH inside the unit when the coolant is normal.. upon coolant level dropping, the magnet follows, and is no longer "in line" with the reed switch which then opens the circuit

If you JUMPER the coolant sensor harness connector, and the light stays OFF, then the problem IS with the sensor ... which you replace ...

You can also TRY to clean it ...

The sensor can usually be seperated into two main sections .. it seperates right under the hex shaped "cap" that seals it to the coolant reservoir .. sometimes it will almost FALL apart, other times you need to pry the glueline

The two parts are:

The outside plastic "test tube" with the ring/magnet

The guts (a reed switch on wires) connected to the plastic hex cap and connector plug

Clean out the "test tube" and let it dry .. using an alky wet Q tip, also clean all the scum off of the internal black ring magnet (you'll need MANY Q tips!!)

Now reassemble and test to see if the reed switch and circuit close as the magnet is raised ...

if so, reinstall ...

if not, REPLACE :)

>I notice a black ring inside the big
>plastic buoyancy ring...does it work by conductance or something?

Thats the ferrite ring magnet

It works by magnetism


7.2: Brakes
7.2.1: How to change fluid

Preasure bleeder
By far the most preferable. Bleeders available from various sources including EZBleed (small, cheep, works) and Snap-On (~$100, profesional tool, works well). Basically you drain your fluid resivoir, refill it, attach the bleeder to the cap, preasureize the system (tire or pump), then drain each wheel till you get new fluid.

Vacuum Bleeder
Works well, once you get used to all the little stuff you have to do to make it work well (hints below). Basically you drain the resivoir, refill it, go to each wheel, hook up the bleeder and pump till you see get fluid.

Pump the pedal method
Works well, but you risk hurting your master cylinder from pushing the seals beyond where they normally ride. Basically, drain the resivoir, refill it, put someone in the driver's seat, go to each wheel where you - have the "driver" pump the pedal several times then hold it down - open the valve to drain some fluid (try not to let the pedal drop to the floor, see above problem!) - close valve and repeat. Kind of a pain, and you run out of friends real fast ;-)

For more details see a manual like Bently.

7.2.2: Tips to remember while using Mighty Vac
(by Rick Kjeldsen:

>I have this same unit and find it absolutely useless, due to air leakage around >the bleeder nipple. Under all circumstances, I get a steady stream of bubbles, >making "air in the brake lines" impossible to discern.

A couple of tips to help avoid this:
First use the pointy tool that goes inside the nipple hole, rather than the one that is supposed to snap over it. That one never snapps tight enough, so you get bubbles.

Second, before you open (unscrew) the nipple, put a drop of oil on the threads. Works like a charm in stopping the air. Thicker oil lasts longer than thin. I've been doing it for years with no evidence of the oil contaminating the brake fluid, but just in case, I make sure to keep vacuum preasure applied whenever the valve is open, so that any contamination will be immediatly sucked out. And, of course, wipe off the oil when you are done so it doesn't attract dirt or get on the rotors/pads.

7.2.3: Brake Squeal
(by Roy Kao)

The problem of brake squealing seems common on all German cars, where the use of more metal in the brake pads seems prevalent. I have a '93 VW Corrado and an '88 635CSi and we've had the brake rotors ground a couple of times and the squeal comes back. The service managers from both VW and BMW say that the pads are the culprit and this cannot be helped with newer factory pads. Just in case you're wondering, my friend's '91 MB 560SEL also has a brake squeal problem and the answer has been the same.

( Houston)

> you a light braker? did you allow some time for the new pads and rotors to > seat to each other? did the squealing start immediately after installation of > the new hardware?
> if the answers are y/y/n then you may want to try the > run-it-up-to-80-and-stomp-on-the-brake method of removing any contaminants > from the pad-rotor interface. i have to do this on my e34 every so often to > keep the brakes quiet (oem pads&rotors). usually two or three 80-0 cycles > will do the trick. the objective is to generate a lot of braking force and > heat to "purge" the interface, so go fast and brake hard -- you won't hurt > anything, just try to do this away from other traffic and the local > constabulary!
> good luck,
> steve roth

(by Rick Kjeldsen,

There are several anti-squeel do-dads you can add to the back of a pad to help prevent it. (Some better pads come with an antisqueel coating applied from the factory) One is a blue fluid you spread on and let dry to a rubbery coating. The other I've seen is a thin metalic pad you stick on the back of the brake pad. Both are available at good parts stores. None of these take the heat of serious (track) braking very well, so you will often find that after a hard day at the track your pads will start to squeel on the way home.

7.2.4: Removing the rotor bolt
(by Rick Kjeldsen

>Spent Sunday trying to change the front brake pads and rotors on my >1990 325i Conv. A seemingly easy job was thwarted by the 5mm hex head >screw that attaches the rotor to the hub.

Ah YES - the old rotor screw problem!

The best solution to get out a stuck one is an impact driver - the kind you hit with a hammer - with a hex socket. Don't try to get it with one big blow, rather use several medium blows. If you havn't already stripped the hex hole in the head of the bolt, it will probably work. If not, you can drill the head off pretty easily because the bolt is soft. That will get the rotor off, then you can use vise-grips on the bolt stub, or use a smaller bit to drill out the body of the bolt. You just have to be careful not to kill the threads in the hub.

When you put a new one back in be sure to take some preventative action for next time. I've found that if I use anti-seize on the bolt (not a lot, so it doesn't fly out onto the brake surface!), especailly under the head, it helps. The other trick is not to tighten the bolt very much. I make it just snug enough to hold the rotor in place while I reinstall the caliper, and no more. Once the wheel is on, the bolt doesn't do anything. The lug nuts hold the rotor. It won't loosen and fall out, because the wheel fits over it. With that combination I've always had an easy time getting them out again.

good luck!
'87 325es
'90 325iX

7.3: HVAC
7.3.1: Poor AC performance
(by Rick Kjeldsen:

Poor ac performance at low car speeds is often a symptom of a non-functional auxilary cooling fan (it is supposed to come on slow when the AC is turned on, pushing air over the condensor).
(see section on overheating)

7.3.2: Blower Fan Problems
(by Rick Kjeldsen:

> ...I found out
> that neither the fan or the AC work at settings 1 to 3, but do work at > setting 4 (max fan speed). Nothing at all happens at 1 to 3.

Common problem. BMW uses series resistors to reduce voltage to the fan and produce the slower speeds. You just lost the resistor board. The AC doesn't work because it senses the airflow before it turns on.

(The following is for an E30, ed.)
The resistors are easy to fix, but somewhat hard to get to. Look on the top of the firewall from the engine compartement. There is a section about 18" long by 6" high right at the top which is removable with a couple of screws. You will probably have to take off a few wires and tubes from the firewall as well. After you remove that section you will see the top of the HVAC unit sticking out of the passenger compartement. Remove the plastic cover (held on by a couple of straps if I remember right) to see the fan. The fan motor is a horizontal cylinder with a squirl (sp?) cage fan at either end. The resistor board is slid into the HVAC case below the fan. It is a small board, about 1-2" square, with 3 bare wire resistors on it. You pull it out toward you, nothing to detach first, it has plugs on the far side. Either you lost one of the resistors, or the contacts are dirty. Check it with an ohm meter. Installation is the reverse of removal ;-)

(uunet!!sam (Sam Chien-shin Lin))

> 2) While I was driving yesterday, with the AC on, and the fan at the third > setting, the fan just stopped! When I tried other settings, I found out > that neither the fan or the AC work at settings 1 to 3, but do work at > setting 4 (max fan speed). Nothing at all happens at 1 to 3. This is too > weird. I checked the fuse box, thinking the fuse may have popped, but all > fuses were OK. I would think there is one fuse for all the fan speeds, but > I figured it was worth a shot. Anyone ever heard of this? I'm sure it's an > electrical fault somewhere, but where...?

my '85 325e was doing this lately. there is a resistor pack mounted near the blower. the contacts on mine were corroded, so all i had to do was pull it out, scrape the contacts, and plug it back in (too bad i broke a few fins off my fan before i realized that you don't have to take it out to get to the resistor.)

7.3.3: Cleaning the radiator
(by Jim

> So, finally decided to replace the radiator. Now the temp gauge stays > at 1/4 the scale on a 90 degree day at a highway speed. Previously it > used to easily cross 3/4 mark and I have to run the heater to prevent > it from going to RED mark.

So you still have the old one ??

Take it, dump out stale water/coolant ..

Go to grocery store and buy 2 or 3 bottles of CLR ..

(Calcium Lime Rust remover)

Pour it into the radiator .. let it sit for at least 24 hours

Pour out, rinse well .. done ..

This stuff dissolves CaCO3 like magic, also MgCO3, etc ..

it's the Carbonate minerals that do most of the clogging ...

Also, a big help is to carefully pressure wash the outside, and straighten the "fins" ..

PS: Professional pressure cleaning IS a waste of time/money

PPS: This works *most* of the time ...

7.3.4: Stinky AC
Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 13:15:28 -0500

The smell from the A/C system is from bacteria on the evaporator. For the same reason one puts distilled water in cigar humidors and room humidifiers to avoid this, there's bacteria in the condensation that forms on the evaporator.

There are 2 companies you can call for product information and availability questions:

Airsept 800.999.1051
Enviromotive 800.718.1131

Both of these companies make products that are sprayed into the MHVAC intake ducts. This routes the chemical to the evaporator (the other deodorizers require that you take the evaporator out, which is NO small job on most BMWs).

Hope this helps.

Malcolm Davidow

7.4: Body, etc
7.4.1: Fixing squeaking doors
(by John

Generally in all striker plates a impact driver is needed. An impact driver is like thick phillips screwdriver with a twist action in the shaft so as the hammer strikes the top of the driver, a twisting action also happens to loosen (or tighten) without stripping the head.

Adjusting the door is much more than moving the striker plate. While this may fix the squeaking the door may require more effort to close. The give in the door is actually in the pivot of the hinge. Door placement is a system of the door frame, hinge spacing, and striker alignent.

7.4.2: Shifter feel improvement
(by Dale Beuning)
                                        /  Shift Lever
\===================================== _at_ ================= Floor Pan ====
             |- - -Shifter Plate- - - -|--/
- ------------]=[]_at_----------------------_at_
Trans-      ]  ]](A)              (B)   (C) Rear Connection
mission     ]]]]]]]]]]]]Driveshaft]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
            ]  ]]
  • ------------] Guibo

Hi Dave,
The above is a profile view of the car I hope it makes sense to you.

  1. The short answer is that there are two things you MUST MUST MUST replace to tighten-up your shifter. The first is the (Forward Connection) brass fitting at the rear of the transmission($10), the driveshaft must be removed to replace this. (A) The second is the rear connection, the shift lever is a two piece affair, upper and lower. The upper part is the chrome piece that the shift knob gets pressed onto. The lower part is what MUST be replaced (C) it has a non-replaceable lower bushing that wears out. Cost $30. Also! As long as you have the shifter lever torn apart to replace the lower part, replace the little nylon half cups that the ball of the lower part rides in. Aprox $0.50 each. (D) The driveshaft does not need to be removed to replace the lower half of the shift lever nor do you have to disassemble the console. You will need lots of patience to reassemble the shifter lever. Maybe I can scan in the exploded view from Bentley and clarify the drawing to simplify the replacement of this part.
  2. The long answer is that the more pieces your replace the better it feels. I'll list all of the parts I replaced and try to rate them from 1 to 3 in terms of helping shifter feel. (1 is best!)

Description | Rating | Price

  • ------------------------------------|--------|------- Forward Brass Connection (A) | 1 | $10 Lower half of shifter lever (C) | 1 | $30 Nylon bushings for shifter lever(D) | 1 | $1 Shifter rod (B) | 2 | $30 Shifter plate bushings(3) | 3 | $35

Leather Shift Knob | ergonomic improvement ! | $60

7.4.3: Rocker panel coating
(by Don

>The "rubberized?" paint coating on the rocker panels of my '87 325 is >coming off in places and generally looks ratty. Otherwise >the exterior of this car looks brand new. >
>Is there a consumer paint product available that I can use to >fix this with moderate skill levels and equipment? Yes, but it's actually two products:

#1 is some semigloss paint - look for something made for automotive purposes

#2 is harder to find - it is a clear rockerpanel spray on coating - it purposely leaves the dimpled finish that you see on your rockers now.

To use, first check for compatibility between the two (try on some scrap metal first), and then test compatibility with the existing finish on your car (there isn't any need to removeit if the finished are compatible). Spray some of the black onto your rockers and make sure it doesn't have a bad reaction with what is there. (Masking carefully with masking tape and newspaper first of course!). When the black dries - overcoat it with the rockerpanel spray (which purposely stays somewhat flexible).

(by Sandeep Pathak:uunet!etnibsd!sandeep) I used Wurth's Underbody Seal Black. I just had to spray it on. Its about $13 for i can. Its seems ok so far.
7.4.4: Plastic Panel Repair
(by (Ian Dickerson))

While at the auto paint store this weekend, I learned a neat trick to repair cracks in non-load bearing plastic, like the bottom of air dams that have prematurely met the local parking bumpers (and who has NOT ever scraped over one of these suckers?). Anyway, an unmounted airdam came with my 2002, and I wanted to repair several cracks before putting it on the car. One of the cracks is at the top, close to the mounting holes, so I thought I'd epoxy a plastic brace behind it, but the guy at the counter suggested a much neater trick.

First, sand the area surounding the crack about 3-4" on each side, clean up the dust, and use superglue to tack the broken pieces together. Next, use flexible epoxy to make a bead and cover the crack (on the back, of course). Finally, use more flexible epoxy to cover a wide area (the area you sanded), and press nylon material onto the epoxy. This dries as a single skin which will flex, yet has surprising strength. The counter guy claimed any nylon fabric would work, but I used ripstop (used in tents and camping gear). I did this last night, and the results look impressive. This isn't a do-all fix, but it does look like a good repair for minor cracks and dings.

7.4.5: Wheel paint
(by John Dempsey:

> * polished would look very nice with the Bristol, but I am concerned > * about long term effects (if any) on the wheels with leaving them > * unprotected.
> this advice is from a racer's point of view, but may be of interest > in this context anyway:
> you should have the wheels bead blasted to clean/strip them, and then > have them dye checked for cracks while they're in this state. then

I know where Richard is going with this one. You can probably do a good job of removing the paint with a good automotive stripper and a high pressure, car wash, type sprayer. Be very, very careful with this stuffeven wear eye protection. It is *nasty*. But it will get everything off. Don't get the cheap hardware store type strippers- unless you like being frustrated and applying several coats. And don't do it in the cold- it does not work.

You can then buy a dye kit if you like, and easily check the wheels yourself. There are several sources.

> paint them with a suitable paint; if you are engaged in high performance > (track) driving, then use a cheap laquer like Krylon. if you are

The idea with the laquer is that it is brittle in comparison to enamels and polyurethanes. So, if a crack developes, it will be echoed in the paint. So (hopefully) you will catch it in time before it becomes a problem.

> more interested in having them look nice on the street, there are a > couple of decent wheel paints from companies like Wurth and VHT.

Wurth is indeed good. With good results. I'd say there is not really a problem with leaving them unprotected- I guess that corrosion could be a problem, but I don't think that much. Besides, when aluminum oxidizes, it radically changes composition. Luckily this also keeps it from oxidizing farther- kinda like what anodizing is all about.

I will say that looks suffer. And upkeep is higher. So even if my wheels were completely polished, I'd still clearcoat them. Heck, it even gives them a deeper shine.

For a gray car, I'd go with a silver/platinum center color, with polished lips. Although I don't know the style of wheel you're dealing with (either it was not mentioned, or I did not catch it).

7.4.6: Front and rear windshield install
(by Mike LaRosa:

Just finshed doing both front and rear windows on my wife's 88 528e. It took less than an hour. Lets see.... for tools I used a spray bottle with half dawn and half water mixture, a plastic orange peeler :-)(I'll explain later...), a scribe(looks like a screwdriver only the tip is a sharp point instead of a flat blade, and 2 bottles of Killian's Red :-)

There are probably other ways to do it, but this worked and didn't take too long... your mileage may vary....:-)

ok, first step. (front lock strip)

  • Spray the windshield molding with the dawn/water mixture.
  • Take the scribe and poke it into the lock strip near a corner, pull it back away from the corner and out of the rubber window seal.
  • Carefully and slowly pull the lock strip out of the rubber window molding (Don't want to rip the rubber molding)
  • Insert one end of the new lock strip into the corner piece, this is were I used the plastic orange peeler, it basically looks like a small flat blade screwdriver on one end. Slide it under the lock strip near the corner in perpendicular fashion and lever the molding over the lock strip.

Once the lock is started at the corner......

  • The technique I used to get the lock strip into the rest of the window molding was to bend the lock strip upwards at about a 90 degree angle, then rock it towards you while pushing it away from you. It should pop into the window molding lip closest to you. Now rock it away from you while pulling towards you, it should now pop into the other side, only pop in about a 1/4" at a time, this way it goes in pretty easy. After you get the hang of it it should zip in pretty quickly. The first corner.....
  • Use the same rocking technique thru the corner but make sure you hold the outer edge down in the molding. It has a tendency to pop out again if you don't. once you get 6" beyond the corner it should stay in.
  • When you get within 5-6" of the end you may need to trim the end, (mine was about 2"'s too long) I used a pair of heavy metal shears to trim it. Made a nice clean cut.
  • Insert the end into the corner molding.
  • Use that orange peeler again to lever the rubber molding over the lock strip for the remaining 5-6"'s.

The Rear lock strips.....

  • Basically the same as the front except you don't have to go around corners and there are more chrome corner brackets to mess with.
  • Wash the car

7.4.7: Sunroof problems
Date: Sat, 18 May 1996 17:50:08 -0400

Mike Taylor wrote:
<There are some stops in its travel when opening and closing where you have to release the button and push it again, but these stops are random place and frequency. It also
usually goes up into tilt without stopping when closing from the full open position. No big deal, it's just annoying. There is a clicking relay type noise everytime it stops. Is this relay something that can/needs to be replaced?>

It appears the motor and the sunroof cables only got out of sync, either by slippage or by removing the motor, allowing the motor to turn (or moving the panel) and not reinstalling them in sync. In normal ops, the motor is designed to stop after a certain number of revolutions of the drive gear from closed position, x for tip-up in one direction and y for slide in the other.

On the E30, I'm not sure if you'll need to loosen or remove the header panel to gain enough access to the motor; there are a couple of phillips screws visible thru the rectangular clutch adjustment hole that look like they may secure the motor.

Easiest way to re-sync is to a) put roof in closed position (you may have to "bump" the motor several times), b) unbolt motor from roof, c) ign on, play with s/r switch until motor stops in "closed" position, d) ign off, reinstall.

Sync-ingly yours,

7.4.8: Gas Tank restoration
From: Thomas Nast <>
Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 17:31:12 -0700 (PDT)

Having just refurbished my second gas tank, I thought I would set the procedure out for posterity.

The gas tank must be restorable. For many years, BMW installed tanks with nice, water-absorbant foam rubber between the tank and chassis. The water would wick into the tank seams, and 18 years later the tank is junk. Forget restoring these, just buy a new one (2002 owners know this drill well) and install it with silicone sealant. If you can buy a new tank for under $3-400, it's a better way to go. Remove the sending unit and any pumps, etc. in the tank.

Detach the battery ground, put your cigarette out, pull the hoses and wire and extract the tank. Remove the fuel.

Haul the thing to a radiator shop and have it boiled out. This will set you back around $100. Instruct them *not* to paint the tank after boiling. This process will remove a lot of the rust and scale, and all of the paint.

To treat the inside, you will need a gallon of MEK and a quart of Randolph's Sloshing Sealer (No. 912) (Is it coincidence this is named after the rustiest of Karmann-bodied Porsches?). These can be obtained from places that sell aircraft supplies. I get mine from Kenmore Air Harbor (Kenmore, WA). Figure about $60.

Plug up all the holes in the tank. A junk fuel sending unit and gas cap can make this a lot easier (beg the dealer for these). Toss a quart of MEK in the tank and thoroughly slosh all sides and seams. I attach the tank to the frame holding my kids' swings using bungee cords; works great. Drain the tank in accordance with the zillion regulations you never heard of. (Hint: MEK evaporates *very* quickly.) Now take a few handfuls of clean pea gravel, and toss them into the tank with another quart of MEK. Do the sloshing routine again. You are really sanding the inside and chemically prepping it for the sealer. Drain, and make sure all the rocks come out. Let dry, then shake it some more for stones.

Now pour the whole quart of sealer in, slosh as before, then drain as much of the sealer out as possible into the can, and cover immediately. You can clean up mistakes with MEK (which is why you bought the extra two quarts). Wait about five minutes (the stuff will already be skinning) and do it again. Seal the can this time, and clean up. If the tank has any vents, I blow themwith compressed air to make sure they are clear. Put the tank away a day or two for the sealer to cure.

What you have now is a tank with a fuel-resistant plastic skin on the inside.

You can paint the outside to taste. My procedure is to sand any rust, clean with paint reducer (Ditzler DTR 602), prime with a zinc-chromate primer (DuPont 2085S, which requires no catalyst) and use black Ditzler Delstar (DAR 9000) with flattener (DX 685) for the color coat. Delstar paints require a catalyst (DXR-80). If there are seams spray can't penetrate, I paint them with a brush just before spraying. This is much more durable than any factory or aftermarket painting, looks indistinguishable from new and really keeps the rust away.

The paints can add to a little money if you don't have them lying around (I do keep them around, as they come in handy in all manner of restoration projects, from cast-iron radiators to ham radio towers). You can always resort to a spray can, or better yet, a body shop will probably shoot it for you for under $100, which is about what the paint would cost (with enough left over for another 24 tanks).

Th.B. Nast
"If it isn't rusting, I can't afford it."

7.5: Electrical
7.5.1: Fixing Automatic Antennas
(by Harvey

If the automatic antenna you have doesn't (fully extend/retract when the radio powers on/off) this may help you. The unit described herein is factory original as installed on an '83 528e, and I expect typical/standard over many years and models.

This is intended to address the situation where you can hear the antenna's drive motor operate, but the mast fails to either fully extend or retract. I suspect that many "failures" can be simply fixed, w/o purchase of parts (new mast $35 -40) new antenna assembly ????. The following describes how I fixed mine at no cost.

The first concern is that the mast itself moves freely, and is not sticking because of dirt or gummed up old lubricant. Get the mast fully extended, or remove it from the drive assembly, thoroughly clean, lube lightly and be sure that the telescoping sections move freely, re-install and or fully retract. The Bentley manual describes how to remove and replace the mast. If it fails to fully retract, you can do this manually by CAREFULLY pushing it STRAIGHT down. Be careful that you don't bend it! Note that there is a retaining collar at the base of the antenna assembly on top of the fender that has two flats (13mm if I remember) that unscrews to facilitate removal and replacement of the mast. The mast itself is a set of telescoping sections. Attached to the end of the topmost section is a long nylon(?) flexible "cable", about .125" in dia. and maybe 3 ' long. This is the actual part that is driven by the motor/clutch assembly to raise or lower the mast. Locate, remove the cover, expose and examine the drive assembly. It is a box about 4x6x1.5 " with a black plastic cover that is held in place by 4 Phillips head self tapping machine screws into what appears to be a die cast aluminum or pot metal body.

Inside the box you should see the following basic arrangement. [I will use the "clock" scheme to describe where the various major pieces are, 12 o'clock = top of the box, 3 o'clock = middle right hand side, etc.] The drive motor is a metal cylinder, oriented long axis vertically located at between 2 and 3 o'clock. It has a worm gear on its shaft that drives a large plastic gear at the very bottom (or back) of a stack of various disks, some of which freewheel on the shaft of the gear driven by the motor, and some of which are "keyed" to that driven shaft.

On the opposite side from the motor, about 10 o'clock, you will see a relay. coil on top, contacts on the bottom that pivot up and down from one side. With the radio off and the mast retracted, if you use your finger or a wooden stick to push the relay contacts closed (up), it will actuate the motor. If you hold it that way, the motor will run until the driven shaft described in the prior paragraph rotates a fixed number of turns and the mast (if properly operating) will have been driven to full extension. When you release the relay, the motor again actuates in the opposite direction a fixed number of turns to retract the mast.

The largest and bottom disk on the driven shaft, looks like a pulley, is just above the gear driven by the motor, and FREEWHEELS on the shaft. The "flanges" of this pulley, along with a pinch roller located at about 7 o'clock grip the nylon cable and drive it up or down.

The next piece outward from the pulley is a clutch plate that drives the pulley but also freewheels on the shaft. Next outward is the "pressure plate" that is keyed to and driven by the shaft. What I think usually happens, if the motor operates and the mast is free to extend and retract, is that the clutch slips and thus the pulley doesn't turn enough rotations to fully extend or retract the mast.

Next two pieces are spring "washers, very roughly star shaped, and convex, assembled so that they provide some constant pressure against the pressure plate and clutch assembly.

(editor's note: Use caution, this diagram may have been distorted!)

              \\\\\\\\\\\       gear driven by motor worm gear
            _______________     "pulley"
           /               \
             _____________      clutch plate
             _____________      pressure plate
                \____/          washer #1
                /    \          washer # 2
                            \   washer with lock tab
           I                I   Sheet metal nut.

Next outward from the second washer is a large flat washer with a tab that is bent up to prevent "loosening or tightening" of the large sheet metal nut that tops off this whole assembly. This washer is also keyed to the shaft. The way this whole thing works is that the driven shaft transmits torque through the clutch assembly to drive the "pulley" which in turn drives the nylon cable up or down. If the clutch slips, the pulley doesn't turn the required number of turns to drive the mast, but the counting mechanism on the driven shaft does turn, and after the predetermined number of rotations, stops the mechanism.

If you carefully use a screw driver to bend the locking tab back you can free the large sheet metal nut (about 1.25 inches). Before you start to move that nut, mark it in such a way that if you remove it, you can get back to the original starting point. Then remove the nut, disassemble the layers down to but NOT including the pulley. Use some solvent to clean off the clutch face and pressure plate dry well, and re-assemble.

Starting with the mast fully retracted and the sheet metal nut in it's original position, actuate the relay with your finger until the mechanism "auto stops", release the relay and again let it run to "auto stop" so that the mechanism runs through a full extend/retract cycle. If there is still some slipping of the clutch and the mast does not fully extend and or retract, push it down so that it is fully retracted, try tightening the nut one flat more, and again actuate the relay to run through a full extend/retract cycle. Repeat until you get proper cycling of the mast, bend the lock tab up to lock the tension provided by the nut and button up the cover.

(by Rick Kjeldsen,

If you antenna is sticking, first just try lubricating the mast. That will work for a year or more till enough gunk works it way down into the mechanism to cause friction - then just lubing the mast will have increasingly less effect, till it doesn't help at all.

What follows comes from my experience with '87-'90 E30 (325/M3) antenna's. I know they used the same antenna for some time, over a number of cars, but still you may find differences...

To clean the internals, first pull out the whole antenna. You have to pull out the trunk side trim (inside) on that side to expose it. Then undo a couple of bolts and electrical connections to free it. They should be obvious. Then just pull down to pop the mast down through the gasket in the body. A little WD-40 may help, but it should come out pretty easily. You shouldn't have to loosen up anything from the top to do it. Now you will have in your hands a black box about 8"x4"x2" with a bracket on the bottom and the mast sticking out the top. Take it to a workbench.

Now examine the box. You will see that the front and back of the black plastic case snap together around the edges with many molded clips. You have to get them appart. This will be toughest part of the whole job, and you just have to play with it till you get it. Pry them with a small screw driver and hold them apart while you do the next clips, curse when they snap back together, etc.

When you finally get the shell apart, inside you will be able to see the bottom of the mast with the plastic "tail" sticking down out of it and going into the gears of the motor. It's been a long time since I did this job, so the details are a little sketchy in my mind, but at the bottom of the case under the mast there is a toothed gear that engages the teeth on the tail. Opposite that is an idler pulley that just serves to keep the teeth on the tail engaged with those on the gear. From there the tail curves over and loops up, but that area doesn't seem to collect dirt. What seems to collect it is that idler pulley, and to a lesser extent the toothed gear. Use a penetrating lube like WD-40 to wash out the pulley and gear as best you can. Be sure to get the dirt out of their axles and from behind them so they operate smoothly. I seem to remember you could pull the pulley right out to clean it. If there is dirt anywhere else in there, clean it out. When you reinstall it, there is no need to lube it with anything but a little WD-40, or maybe a VERY little white lube, because they are all nylon and any lube will only serve to collect dirt.

Then you are basically done. Make sure everything is back in place, snap the shell back together and reinstall. The whole job should take less than an hour, and your antenna should work like new again.

Oh yeah, one more thing I should mention. Another good idea is to really clean your mast, as it collects gunk inside as well. To do that, remove the mast. That involves (with the antenna installed) turning on the radio to raise the mast. Take a 10mm(?) wrench and completely undo the two sided nut on the base of the mast. Then turn off and on the radio quickly to restart the motor. The mast will come completely out.

Once you have the mast out you will feel how hard it is to move. Unless the sections slide all the way togeather and appart smoothly, it needs cleaning. You won't need to replace it unless it gets damaged. Again, clean it by squirting large amounts of WD-40 in there and moving the sections in and out over one another. It's easy to clean out the gunk so that the sections move in the middle of their range smoothly but stick when fully in/out. That isn't good enough! Keep going till they work smoothly everywhere in their range of motion.

Then reinstall the mast - First straighten the end (about 8") of the tail. If it curves even a little, it will keep it from getting down into the motor far enough to engage. You may have to play with this a few times. Then with the radio on, stick the tail in the hole in the same orientation that it came out (teeth front or teeth back). Turn the radio off, and the motor will suck the antenna back down in. Be sure to help it along so that the mast goes in smoothly. I find it useful to pull out that trim piece in the trunk to expose the motor and disconnect the motor ground so that you can control the motor operation easily (by connecting and disconnecting the ground) rather than running back an forth into the car. Remember that if you start to have trouble, just turn the radio back on again, and the motor will reverse and push the mast out.

Anyway, when you finish that, your antenna should work as good as new for several more years.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

Jeff Moser

PS: I was able to order replacement parts for my Hirschmann 6000EL antenna on this same car. I must say that dealing with these people was on of the most pleasent buying experiences that I have ever had. Hirschmann's prices are ridiculously cheap, and their payment policy will astonish you. If you need parts for your antenna give them a call at 1-800-225-0524, choose Antenna sales, and ask for Diana. You won't be disapointed!

7.5.2: Taking care of your battery
(by Robert

Always used baking powder and water paste (the yellow box from Arm & Hammer) followed by a thorough flushing with water. Let dry. Coat the terminals with vaseline. I've NEVER had corrossion of the terminals or connectors in 30 years.

I did once try a heavy grease. At underhood temperatures it turned into something reminiscent of the stuff that comes out of an electric glue gun. Forget it. Vaseline.

7.5.3: Troubleshooting Central Locking System
(by Jim

(Editors note: This pertains to mid-80s -> early 90s cars)

Start with doors unlocked and all windows open


Operation Response Action

1 DDL to lock All doors lock Goto OP #2 Some doors Lock R/R suspect Door Lock Motor ckt. No doors Lock Goto OP #4

2.      DDL to deadbolt All doors double lock   Goto OP #3
Drivers and SOME others dbl lock        R/R suspect Door Lock Motor
Drivers ONLY dbl locks  Perform TEST B
Drivers does NOT dbl lock       Mechanical Problem

3.      DDL to unlock   All doors unlock        Goto OP #4
Some doors unlock       R/R suspect Door Lock Motor ckt.

No doors unlock Goto OP #5

4. PDL to lock All doors lock If doors did not lock in OP #1 R/R DD lock switch
else Goto OP #5
Some doors lock R/R suspect Door Lock Motor ckt No doors lock If doors locked in OP #1 R/R PD microswitch if doors did not lock in OP #1 perform TEST A

5. PDL to lock All doors unlock If doors did not unlock in OP #3 R/R DD lock switch
else Goto OP #6
Some doors unlock R/R suspect Door Lock Motor No doors unlock If doors unlocked in OP #3 R/R PD Lock Switch if doors did not unlock in OP #3 perform TEST C

6.      Get in car, close/lock all      Doors remain locked     Goto OP #7
doors, IGN to RUN       Doors Unlock    R/R Central Locking control unit

7.      Get out, DDL to lock All doors can be unlocked  Goto OP #8
Unlock each door by     All doors remain secure Disconnect connector from
control unit and check
pulling up button       for short to ground at terminal #11

if short, find it!, if not R/R Control Unit

8.      Trunk lock to LOCK      Trunk Locks     Goto OP #9
Trunk does not lock     If doors lock, R/R Trunk lock motor and/or circuit

If doors do not lock R/R Trunck lock switch R/R Control Unit if switch and circuit are OK

9. Trunk lock to UNLOCK Trunk unlocks Goto OP #10 Trunk does not unlock If doors unlock, R/R Trunk lock motor and/or circuit If doors do not unlock, R/R Trunk lock switch R/R Control Unit if switch and circuit are OK

10.     Turn key back to LOCK Gas filler locks  Goto OP #11
Gas filler does not lock        R/R Gas Filler Motor ckt.

11.     Turn key to unlock      Gas filler unlocks      Done, No faults!
Gas filler does not unlock      R/R Gas Filler Motor ckt.


Measure Voltage at Control Unit Connector w/ Control Unit Connected

Term 3 and Ground should be battery, else check wire to Term 3 for open Term 3 & 4 should be battery, else check wire from Term 4 for open to ground

Jumper between Term 7 and ground, if doors lock R/R switches and related wiring else ...

Disc. battery, remove Control Unit and reconnect Batt. jumper 1 & 3 together, now jumper 2 & 4 together if doors lock, R/R Control unit, else check wires on Term. 1 & 3 for opens (see schematic)


With Conrol Unit connected, jumper between 10 & ground doors should double lock, if not, check wires to Term. 11 for opens and R/R Control Unit if no opens found. If doors DO double lock, check wires to Term 10 for open and R/R Unlock Inhibit Switch if wire OK.


With Control Unit connected, Jumper 6 & ground. If doors unlock, R/R switches and related wiring (see schematic) if doors do NOT unlock R/R Control Unit

7.5.4: Resetting service indicator lights

(Editors note: This pertains to mid-80s -> early 90s cars)

(by Jim

The BMW service indicator lights are generally believed to be totally useless for indicating when you should service the car (Ed. note: by SOME people) The cheapest,
ugliest solution for turning off the service light is to cover them up with black tape. If you want to be more adventurous, you can remove the instrument cluster and cut the wire going to the lights. True motorheads will read on though.

The service indicator lights are reset through a pin in the diagnostic connector located in the engine compartment. There are 2 types of diagnostic connectors used on BMWs. One is a 15 pin connector used on 1987 and earlier cars, the other is a 20 pin connector used on 1987-on cars. In what follows the 15 pin connector is referred to as the early type and the 20 pin as the late type. Resetting the service indicator lights is described below. The most common problem with resetting the service lights is bad NiCad batteries in the instrument cluster. The batteries seem to fail pretty consistently after 4 years.
The symptoms of this are:

  1. The inspection light comes on.
  2. Resetting the light according to the instructions below either

    doesn't work or works for a short period of time and then the inspection light comes back on.

The fix for this is to replace the batteries as described below.

Relevant Roundel references:

The Roundel is the monthly publication of the BMW Car Club of America

Jan 1992, Nov 1991, Dec 1989, May 1988 -- Resetting the service

indicator lights<p> Nov 1991 -- Replacing the Nicads.<p>

Resetting the service indicator lights.

Late type connector:

The service indicator lights are reset by connecting pin 7 to pin 19(ground). The proper way to do this is to have the ignition off and place a jumper wire between pins 7 and 19 (make sure you get the right pins!). Then turn the ignition switch to position 2 (run, NOT start), when the service light goes out, turn the ignition off. This should take a few seconds for an oil reset, 8-10 seconds for an inspection reset. All green lights should come on when the service light goes out. The difference between
resetting the oil service light and the inspection light is in the length of time you have the jumper in place with the ignition on. This means that if you are resetting the oil service light, you should turn off the ignition immediately after the light goes out. If you leave the jumper in too long with the ignition on, you will perform an inspection reset as well and the next service indicator will come up as an oil service rather than an inspection.
The service light reset tools that I have seen connect to 3 pins of the diagnostic connector: pin 7,14 and 19. The connection to 14 is to power the tool. The less sophisticated tool has only one switch that connects pin 7 to 19. While those pins are tied together a red LED blinks to measure time. You count blinks and manually turn off the tool after the appropriate number of counts for oil or inspection reset. The more sophisticated tool has two switches, one for oil reset, one for inspection. It must have a built in timer that jumps pin 7 to 19 for the correct time.

Notes on the latest model cars (93 on?): (can someone please verify this?)
It is claimed that the above procedure doesnt quite work on the most recent model year cars.
Instead of waiting for the lights to go out, you have to disconnect the jumper between 7 and 19 while the ignition is still on.

Early type connector:
The procedure is the same as above, but you jumper pin 7 (the service indicator pin) to pin 1 (the ground pin).

The early type connector:

  • (10) ***
    • (9) (11) ***
      • *
        • (2) *
          • (8) (3) *
            • *
            • (7) *
            • (1) *
            • (4) *
            • *
          • (6) *
        • (15) (5) *
      • *
    • (14) (12) ***
  • (13) ***

Diagnosis plug connections:

No.     Terminal        Designation
1       31              Ground
2       -               -
3       -               -
4       FT              Temperature gauge
5       L               Engin M10B18 Interfrator output for CO adjustment
                        Engin M30B34 Oxygen Sensor signal
6       A               Diagnosis lead for SRS
7       SI              Service indicator
8       P+              Position sender
9       S               Shielding
10      P-              Position sender
11      50              Starting pulse for starter
12      61              Alternator charge indicator
13      1               Ignition signal
14      30              battery +
15      15              Power supply for ignition

The late type connector:

  • (1) ***
    • (12) (2) ***
      • *
        • (11) (20) (13) (3) *
          • *
           *  (10)  (19)       (14)   (4)  *
           *                               *
           *                   (15)        *
           *  (9)    (18)             (5)  *
           *                  (16)         *
            *            (17)             *
             **   (8)             (6)   **
               **                     ***
                 ***     (7)       ***  
                    ****       ****     

>From the BMW NA 1989 Electrical Troubleshooting Manual for the 325i/iS:

Pin Wire Size Wire Color Circuit and Component Connected

1 1 BK Ignition Coil, Motronic Control Unit

6 0.5 WT/BK SRS Connector (Not Used)

      7        0.5       WT/GN       Service Interval Indicator, Service
                                     Interval Processor(Reset).

     11        2.5       BK/YL       Starter, Start Signal(50)

     12        0.75        BU        Charge, Alternator(D+)

     14        2.5         RD        Battery

     15        0.5       WT/YL       Motronic Control Unit(RXD)

     16        1.5       GN/WT       Oxygen Sensor

     18        0.5       GN/BU       Motronic Control Unit(Programming Voltage)

     19        1.5BR       BR        Ground Distribution(G103)

     20        0.5       WT/VI       Motronic Control Unit(TXD)

The Dummy plug.

Late models:

The cap on the diagnostic connector is actually an electrical connector that shorts together the following pins:

--pins 18 and 20 to pin 19.

--pin 14 to 15.

Other things you can do with the diagnostic connector.

(I've never tried any of these!!!:)

Remote Starter: Connecting a remote starter switch to pins 11 and 14

                will allow you to start the engine or "bump" it into
                position for valve adjusting.

Read O2 sensor: ???

Motronic faults: ???


From: (Paul R. Reitz)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 08:59:20 -0400
Subject: Resetting the E30 SI indicator

>Soo does anyone know what the electronics around all those pins looks like, >or has anyone ever done any measurements? I'm guessing (again) that in a >harsh automotive environment the input resistance to any electronics could >range anywhere from 1k to 50k ohms in order to protect the inputs from >zaps etc.
>For those of us who like to live dangerously (but but refuse to jump >in first), any Takers?!! who can resist the Resistor?!!

Frank et al,

I don't know what the electronics look like, but agree that it's safer to use a series resistor when "shorting" the SI reset pins. The electronics probably vary from one model to another (ours is a '91 E30), but based on the test I ran, I'd suggest 1 k ohm series resistance.

After reading the faq and consulting the ETM for this car, I used a handy-dandy (unusual and expensive) 4 decade ganged pushbutton variable resistor in series with the wire from the reset pin to ground. Obviously, any good variable resistor would have worked, but I wanted to get a better idea of exactly what kind of resistance to ground was required. The resistor was set to > 100k ohms at first, and was incrementally reduced after turning on the ignition. It was down to about 1 k ohm when the lights turned green. However, one important caveat is that I didn't count to 3 or 8 or 20 or whatever, so maybe it would have still reset at a higher resistance if I waited longer.

It makes sense that electronic I/O would be at relatively low impedance to avoid stray pickup from other pulsed electronics in the engine compartment. Anyone with specific knowledge of these electronics willing to step up to the plate?

  • --Paul Reitz BMW CCA #1167

Some generic marketing-speak about the Service Interval Indicator is available at

7.5.5: Changing service indicator light batteries

(Editors note: This pertains to mid-80s -> early 90s cars)

(by Rick

This a quick summary of how to change the batteries for the service interval processor on E30 325's. I don't know how much is different with the 5/7 series, but I have a feeling is basically the same. You can also find an article on this is the November '91 Roundel, but what follows is from my experience.

The processor is on a board mounted in the instrument cluster. The batteries are soldered to the board, and a dealer wants ~$200 because he replaces the whole thing.

To replace the batteries, first remove the instrument cluster from the dash. On the E30, that means first removing the plastic trim below the cluster (at the bottom of the dash just above the steering column) That exposes the bottom screws for a trim piece that wraps around the cluster (couple of screws on the bottom, couple up under the "eyelid") That, in turn, exposes the screws for the cluster itself. There are two (I think) on the bottom, and two on black tabs that stick forward from the top of the cluster. Remove them and pull the cluster forward and out. Take a good look before you unplug the wiring, there are 4 or 5 plugs you have to take out. Once you've seen it, you won't have trouble getting it back correctly, they are color and shape coded pretty well.

Now set the cluster face down on a table (careful not to scratch the plastic face!) On the back, there are several (about 8-10) screws, most around the edge, with one or two in the middle. Take them out, and the whole back will come off, and you will be able to see the board (It's the only board in there, along the bottom and goes most of the way from one end to the other). Remove the board.. to do that, you have to remove two things. One is the engine code plug which plugs in to the board from the opposite side (the outside of the instrument cluster). It is a plastic rectangle about 1"x1"x.5". You have to press a tab to unclip it and pull it out. The other thing holding the board is a plastic piece that is held in by one screw. Take the board out, and you will see the batteries in the middle.

Mine were two NiCad AA cells with something like "Varta 500 RST" on them. These are top of the line NiCads. You can replace them with standard replacements (e.g. Radio Shack AA NiCads), or if you have a good electronics store nearby, order them from Varta. Either one will have the same voltage, so work the same, but the Varta's will have more capacity, so last longer when you pull out the car battery, and perhaps not die as soon either. (The Varta's have 600 mAmp hours capacity vs 450 for the Radio Shack AAs. Both are 1.2V).

The old batteries are held on by tabs that are welded to the battery on one side, and soldered to the board on the other. Remove the solder with a solder-sucker or solder wick (again, see Radio Shack), straighten the pins and remove the batteries. Be sure to remember the polarity of the batteries for when you reinstall them. The original batteries are marked +/-, but the board isn't.

You have to rig up a way to solder the new batteries to the board. You can take the old mounting tabs off the old batteries, and remount them to the new ones, but that is tough. You can buy batteries with mounting tabs, the Varta's may come with them, I'm not sure. The Radio Shack tabs won't mount directly to the board, I cut them to fit. You could also rig up a wire to go from the tab to the board. Anyway, take a look at it. It's pretty easy to figure something out.

One warning, on my board the tabs were soldered to the board at one point on one end of each battery, and at two on the other end. It turns out that on the end with two connections, one of them is just for strength and has no electrical properties. I just soldered to the one, but if you aren't sure which is which by looking at the board, You can solder a small wire between the two holes and just mount the battery to one. My batteries originally had a small amount of glue holding them to the board. When I replaced them, I replaced it with some silicone gasket material to help keep the batteries from vibrating loose.

All that sounds complicated, but it's really not if you have a little soldering experience. The only things you have to be careful of are to not crack the board while you are playing with it (not a big deal, it is pretty rugged) and when you solder, don't create any bridges (shorts) between leads on the board. That's easy if you just don't use too much solder. It's probably a good idea to charge up the batteries before you install them if you can.

Then just reverse the steps to reassemble the cluster and reinstall it in the dash. Don't forget to put back in the engine code plug! You will have to reset the service interval indicator after you are done, of course.

Good luck, if you have any questions about it, send me a note.

You might want to just run 3 wires from the instrument cluster to a convenient location to mount the batteries so in 4 years when it happens again you can easily replace the batteries.

Use CHARGED NiCads ... some boards will NOT charge up a completely dead NiCd battery, and you'll think you need a new board ..

PS: I found this out when the local dealer was starting to change

the batteries v. the board .. they told me my instructions didn't work .. so I came down and found out that *some* SIS bards will NOT work unless the NiCd batts. are charged *before* install

And *yes* they will now change the batteries, saving their customers mucho $$$ .. over changing an SIS board

7.5.6: Replacing OBC bulbs

(Editors note: This pertains to mid-80s -> early 90s cars)

(by Mike Whitley:

Alot of people have complained about the backlight on the E30 onboard computer. When I had a 325is, the lights burned out. Replacing the little panel or even just the bulbs is an easy job. Saves you $70 or $80 as well compared to letting a dealer do it. A quick summary follows.

Access the computer... this involves first taking out the glove box, and right side dash board cover. Everything is held in place by push pins, they just twist and pull out.

Now, you need a socket wrench, with a short handle and a very small socket. I can't remember how big... anyway, use the wrench to undo the nuts that hold the computer in place on the dash baord. You won't be able to see them just feel around and you will find them. Once the nuts have been removed, the computer will slide out of the dash towards the seats.

On the side of the computer is a small white panel. This is the back light bar. Pry it out with a small screwdriver or fingernail and pop in the new one. If spending $25 or $30 for this seems like a waste of money to you, desolder the dead bulbs and solder in new ones for about $2.00. They may not have the exact same wattage though. If the computer push buttons have also stopped lighting up, the bulb for that is located in the back. Twist it out and pop in a new one. (You remembered to pick one up at your dealer right?)

Reverse the installation instructions and voila! You are done. The whole thing shouldn't take more than two hours. Less if you are quick.

(by Steve Fox:

Alternate method:

Remove radio (easy).

Pop top switches above radio (easy).

Remove two phillips screws at top of center console. They will be visible through the recently vacated switch holes (easy).

Remove two phillips screws at bottom of center console, just under bottom edge (easy).

Pull center console forward on the right edge exposing the business side of OBC (easy, but gently, not much distance needed).

Remove top right nut that secures OBC (easy).

Trim pointless plastic interfering with removal of light bar (easy, makes next replacement even easier).

Pull out light bar with needle nose and replace with new unit (easy).

Assemble in reverse order of disassembly (easy).

I did this in 20 minutes the first time. The other method on this list (through the glove box) sounds great too but I could not contort my fingers enough to remove the four OBC nuts. Local dealer wants about $80 for this procedure.

7.5.7: Power Windows
(by Rick Kjeldsen:

The most common cause of a flaky power window is just the switch. The contacts in the switch get pitted and carbon buildup, and will become erratic. You can clean them pretty easily. Pop out the switch (it may be easier to pop up the shifter boot (manual xmission) and push the switch out from below), remove it from it's plug. Disassembly is easy, the bottom slides out of the case formed by the top and sides. Watch where the parts come from as you take it appart. Clean the contacts, clean and lub the rubbing surfaces LIGHTLY with a grease or white-lub, and reassemble. Takes about 5 minutes. After many miles the contacts may become so pitted that you need to replace the whole switch.

(by Chuck Huston

>the driver side power windows is stuck. all the other three windows >work. is it a motor problem ? it is something i can fix or check to >figure out the problem.

I have an '89 325i that had the "same"'s the procedure:

(Assuming that the other window works, which eliminates one electrical possibility)...

  1. Swap the window control switches on the console around the gear shift lever. They can be easily pryed up and unplug. If it works after that, replace the switch.
  2. If it's not the switch, check the motor itself by taking off the inside part of the door to gain access. You remove the 3 screws that hold on the door handle (one is behind the black plastic cover at the top of the hand-hold, and you pry this cover off to get at it....the other two are under the arm-rest part). Remove the little black part surrounding the door opening lever (it slides BACK, then off), unscrew the lock pin cover, then carefully pop off the inner door (plastic connectors on the inner bottom and sides) before lifting it off. Last, carefully peel back the inner plastic to get at the bottom area where the motor is. [all of this is discussed in Bentley].
  3. Check the connector to the motor (it's obvious) for power with a tester while you actuate the controller. If no power, my condolences (check manual, etc. for electrical troubleshooting).
  4. If the motor is getting power, remove it for test/replacement. Remove the nuts (a few) to get the motor/window bracket assembly out. You will need Torx keys to get the motor off the bracket. Before replacing it (I got one from a salvage yard in Rancho Cordova for about $140 - check the Roundel for ads) reconnect it to the system and try it again. The first time I went throught this, the motor was simply "jammed" and I reinstalled it. (it must have jammed because of weakness, however, because it eventually died for good about 3 months later!)
  5. To reinstall - the "trick" is getting the all stupid bracket wheels in the appropriate tracks (there are 3). FIRST put the two wheels into the appropriate tracks that are ON THE WINDOW. Then, if you remove the door track (you can't see it, but the bolts stick through at the middle of the door) you can put the BRACKET on the wheel and maneuver things back to where they were before installing it, then the motor.
  6. As they say, assembly is the reverse of disassembly.

(by Rob Shively:

I had the same problem with passenger side window on my 325e last spring. The window would go down but would not go back up with out assisting the motor by pushing the window up. It got to the point it would not go up anymore.

The first thing I did was pull the track and motor out of the door. I then removed the motor from the track and tested it. It seemed to work OK. The track seemed a little sticky so I gave it a good dose of DW40 and shot a little in the motor as well. Reassembled and adjusted the whole works and gave myself a pat on the back for saving $200. The window worked for nearly 2 weeks.

So I took the track and motor out of the door again. This time I use white lithium grease, from a spray can, to lubricate the track. Reassembled the unit and tested it. I looked like the motor was shot which lacked the power to push the window up.

Since I thought the motor was junk I took to my shop and took it apart. I had to pull the center shaft out of the housing. On the bottom of the shaft there is a ball that sits in a cup at the bottom of the housing. The ball is held in place by metal fingers. The cup and ball were full of crud so I used DW40 and steel wool it clean them up. Next I packed the cup full of lithium grease and attempted to push the ball/shaft back in place. The finger kept bending in under the ball. I ended up bending the fingers out enough so the ball would fit into the cup. This cause the ball/shaft to be loose and no longer firmly held in place. I reassembled the motor and put the track and motor back into the car.

The motor is louder since the shaft can now move up and down but it is still working with no problems after almost a year.

I am sure that someone else on the net might know the correct method of reassembling the motor so the shaft is held in place.

I did seal the motor around the top with silicon caulk and I had to cut the wires to the motor to get it all apart. I think it took less than 2 hours including a trip the hardware store.

7.5.8: Problems with key panel
(Ben: uunet!!bthongsa)

> On my '83 745i, the computer key panel will not light up. The battery on > the car ran down and the car was started with a battery charger set to > start mode using 50 amps. What in the heck did I kill, and how do I fix > this? I have electronic soldering skills, but no schematic or clue where > to start.

Sounds like you blew the OBC fuse. The early versions actually consisted of two units, the keypad unit, and a main unit that is hidden behind the driver's kick panel on the 745i (at least it is on an '84). There's a small 2amp or so fuse inside of the main unit. Pull off the speaker cover on the driver's kick panel, fish out the control box (there's probably more than one, it's been a while since I did this) and open it up. There should be a small glass tube fuse somewhere on the board. Usually, this fuse blows when a voltage surge occurs.

Of course, there's also a fuse for the OBC in the main fuse box. You might want to also check that first, before digging in the interior.

7.5.9: Installing garage door openers
From: "Harvey Chao" <> Date: 19 Jul 1995 10:26:44 -0700
  1. Perhaps one of you will put this in a FAQ for the future reference of others.?
  2. Although I have done this modification on two different brands of transmitters, to a total of about 8 units, I have NOT verified the proceedure (which I wrote from memory) by taking a unit and modifying it as described in the enclosed/below proceedure. As is often stated: "Any modifications or changes may void your warranty and are the sole risk of the owner" YMMV. I am available to answer any questions.

Garage Door Opener Modification
This describes how to modify the transmitter from a garage door opener so that it can physically be located in the glove box, under the dash, or elsewhere at your convenience and have a remote push button to trigger it. I have done this to two different brand openers, the differences in implementation are purely a matter of the mechanics/packaging of the particular transmitter you need to work with.
This will require modest skills to solder some wires, mechanical abilities to open the transmitter housing and reassemble it, and to install a switch on the dash board of your vehicle. Alternately, if you have an existing switch with a pair of unused contacts, normally open, momentary contact, you can use them. (I have heard words to the effect that some cars have such spare contacts on one of othe steering column control "stalks", this I cannot verify or deny - YMMV).
In addition the the transmitter(s) to be modified, for each unit to be modified you will need:\

  1. One momentary contact "push-On" switch. You can finde something suitable at Radio Shack, and electronic surplus store, or best option - get a switch (prefereably from a wrecking yard) that will fit a spare/unused cut out in the dash. For example on E28s there is a fader on one side of the dash, and on the other side is a cut out not used. If you can only get a switch that is "push on - push off" ( like the a/c or emergency flasher switches) it is possible to disassemble the switch and remove the small part that makes it latch.
  2. A miniature earphone plug and jack set. Get the smallest available. Radio Shack is a good source. I think there are two basic sizes, the larger size has a plug with a shaft diameter of around 1/8" and is a common size for headphones. You want the one that is smaller than that. The reason is that space in the transmitter housing is usually at a premium. You don't need a "stereo" or 3 connector plug, all you will need is the two wire version.
  3. Some small gauge, stranded wire for hook up. Around 22 to 24 gauge will do. Procedure: Caution: Make sure no one and nothing is in the way of your garage door. It will cycle during this proceedure when you test things and perhaps other times when you are working on the modifications/installation.
  4. Take the battery out and find a way to open the transmitter's housing without destroying it.
  5. Locate the switch on the printed circuit board inside the transmitter housing that is activated when you push the button on the housing to open or close the door. Examine it carefully to locate the contacts that are closed when you push the button.
  6. Find a location in the housing where you can drill/file a hole to mount the jack. and make the appropriate hole. Don't mount the jack in the hole yet.
  7. Prepare 2 lengths of wire to connect the switch contacts to the jack contacts. Make them long enought to reach taking into account how you may have to route them to get from the switch to the mounting location of the jack. Length isn't critical but don't leave too much slack that will be hard to control when you are re-assembling the housing.
  8. The jack will have 3 places to attach wires. Insert the plug into the jack and see which 2 of the 3 terminals on the jack make contact with the tip and shaft of the plug. Solder the two wires to those contacts. Connect the other ends of the wires to the two switch terminals on the printed circuit board located in 2) above. The idea is that the two wires on the jack are in parallel with the two terminals on the switch. Which wire goes to which switch terminal doesn't matter.
  9. Prepare the switch that you will mount on your dash. Do this by soldering the terminals on this switch to the wires that will connect to the terminals of the plug. The length of the wires depends on where you locate the switch and transmitter. It helps to twist the two lengths of wire together so that the become a "twisted pair". Be aware that as you twist the two wires together, the overall length of the wires will "shorten" - cut yourself a little slack, literally! Likewise, solder the free ends of the wire to the terminals on the plug.
  10. Now is a good time to check for any solder bridges and or shorts. Reconnect the battery to the transmitter and test to see if it will actuate your door opener. When satisfied, remove the transmitter battery, install the jack in the housing, re assemble the housing but do not yet reinstall the battery.
  11. Install the swtich in the dash and route the wire to the location where you want to locate the transmitter. Insert the plug into the transmitter jack, reinstall the transmitter battery, and stash the transmitter.
  12. The new location you have choosen for your transmitter may adversely affect the distance from the garage that it will trigger the opener, but at the very least, it should still work from your driveway. Do a "road test!"

From: Brian Robinson <> Date: Tue, 18 Jul 1995 20:07:46 -0700 (PDT)

For all who are interested in having the convenience of garage door opening on their left-hand sterring column stalk (high beam activated)... read on:

The following is a copy of the post that I sent out to all who requested it a couple of weeks ago. I noticed several people asking about it. I never posted the entire procedure to the list so if anyone has any questions send them to me directly at

Good Luck


The wiring should begin as I outlined before on the BMW list with the purchase of an extra garage door opener. Remove the case because you will locate the electronic pc board without the casing (usually it will be easier to find space for the board itself without the bulky casing). Take this opener apart and locate the contacts that the button on the remote closes when you push it. These are the contacts that you will need to solder your two remote wires to. Once you have figured this out set it aside.

The next step is to begin your wiring for the relay itself. On a standard Bosch 5 pin relay there are the following terminals.

30 This will be one of the wires from the remote 87a This will be one of the wires from the remote 87 This will be unused
85 This will be grounded to the body of the car 86 This will be a lead that transmits power only when the high beams are active (this triggers the relay to connect 87a and 30)

There is a mini diagram on the relay usually.

The next step is a decision: Do you want to keep all of the wiring inside the car, or are you comfortable running the relay wiring into the engine bay?

Engine Bay: you will need to run the two remote wires through the fire wall and up to the fuse panel area. In this area you can ground the relay (Terminal 85) to the strut tower, or battery ground strap, etc.... Once grounded you can attach the relay to the car (either screw it down or strap it with a tie strap)

At this point I would run a short lead (fused for about 2 or 3 amps) from the high beam headlight wire, or from the wiring under the fuse panel (you can remove the cover with a couple of nuts, then locate the high beam wire that is only hot when the High beams are on). Attach this wire to terminal 86.

Inside the car: you will need to do everything as above however attach the relay under the dash with a tie strap. Ground terminal 85 to the body of the car with a self tapping screw and short lead. Connect terminal 86 to the wire under the dash that supplies power to the high beam relay in the fuse box, be sure and fuse it at about 2 to 3 amps. I dont know what color it is in any particular car, consult a manual or probe with a circuit tester the bundle that goes to the steering column controls.

Final step: Connect the two wires from your garage door opener to the terminals marked 87a and 30. It dosen't matter which ones go to which terminal.

Test it: If it works locate the remote opener close to where you would like to hide it and test it again. I recommend the headliner area by the sunroof access panel. If you have a manual sunroof, or can't fit your particular opener up there find some place else. You can also put in a water tight plastic box under the hood. Silicone all of the holes where wires go into the box, leave a way to access the battery to change it. When you are sure it will work where you want to hide it run the wires and button up the car.

PS Some have inquired what the consequences would be to driving with the high beams on. I don't use my high beams for driving, I use my driving lights, and fog lamps. Obviously it would cause your relay to operate your opener continuously, and eventually run down the battery. This would be a hassle to change the battery all the time, so... if you do use your high beams frequently you would simply have to add a 12volt to 9volt converter to the contacts on the remote opener to supply it with constant power from the car instead of it's own battery

Find it at Radio Shack, usually it will have a cigarette plug on one end and leads with a barrel plug on the other. Solder the two leads, make sure you pay attention to + and -, to the cigarette plug *or* cut the plug off, and run it to the contacts on your remote opener, solder to the opener contacts that the 9volt battery connects to. Radio Shack also will sell you contacts that will let you plug your new 9volt supply into the contacts on the opener without having to solder or cut them off.

Good Luck,


7.5.10: Adjusting Headlights
Here's what I found in a German manual for the E30s and it probably applies to the E36 as well.
  1. Park the car 5 meters back from a wall.
  2. Draw a horizontal line on the wall 5 cm below the height of the center of

    the headlight unit.

  3. Mark X's on the line which are as far apart as the centers of the

    headlights are apart on your car.

  4. Adjust the height of the beam so that the flat part of the pattern lines

    with the horizontal line (i.e. 5 cm drop for 5 meters forward distance).

  5. Adjust the lateral aim so that the "kink" occurs at the X's.

The fog light beam should drop 10 cm in 5 meters.

7.5.11: Sunroof adjustment
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 14:03:32 -0400

The mechanism inside the motor assembly has reduction gearing and limit switches which "count" the rotations necessary to tip the panel up and stop, and to slide it back and stop, of course with a stop in the closed position. Apparently the motor and roof panel are out-of-sync. The easiest way to remedy this is to "bump" the motor until the roof is in the closed position, unbolt the assembly until it's free of the cables, then cycle it with the buttons to the middle, or closed, position. Reinstall the assembly.

Of course, this is the way it's supposed to work. Doug, I don't know why yours would work ok for a week before screwing up, unless the switches inside the motor assembly were somehow getting wrong signals. Quite possibly the gears are slipping on the cables. (Never had the door thing happen, but now that I've said that...)

BTW, for anyone whose sunroof motor's clutch is slipping, ie, the motor runs but the panel doesn't, it's adjustable. Under (above?) the sunroof motor access panel is a large hex nut with a small allen screw in the middle. Hold the allen screw still, while turning the nut to tighten the clutch. Don't overtighten it, or you may burn out the motor if the roof panel jams or reaches its limit of travel before the motor does. This procedure does *not* require removing the motor.

Good Luck, and Happy Bimmerin'!

7.5.12: Interior light delay

(NOTE: On most models starting in the mid-late '80s, the interior lights were designed to stay on after you closed the door so you could find your keys, etc. Here are some comments on how it should work)

Drivers door handle should turn on lite .. does it? Lock the car and lift the handle .. do the lights light inside ??

Second test .. lites come on when door opens, but go right off when door is closed ?? with car OFF ??

If this is so, and lites also come on with passenger door ... then the delay unit may be dead ..

NOTE: somewhere between 87 and 89 they switched things such that the

delay ONLY occurs from the drivers door handle (outside) ..

      If this is the case, and your lite delay is nicht gut ..
      the switch in the door handle may be dead ..

Remove the left kick panel, and behind the left speaker, should be a relay-like device ... with a relay type connector ..

Rd/Bk -- Power, hot at all times
Gn/Wt -- ON with key on .. off when key in START Br/Gn -- Ground when drivers door lifted ...

If doors are closed, with unit disconnected ..

LItes should come on if Br/Vi and Br are connected .. If there IS a Br/Yl wire .. it should be ground with drivers door open

<<<< (by Matt Graham: If you lift up the door handle only part way, the light will go out as soon as you close the door. Lifting the handle all the way enables the delay.

7.6: Misc
7.6.1: Redline MTL

(NOTE: While most digesters really swear by MTL (Manual Trans Lube) to improve shifter smoothness, especially in cold weather, there may be a problem. This has since been reported by several other digesters:)

From: (Paul R. Reitz)
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 08:39:43 -0400

Dear netters;

Dewspite all the wonderful things about MTL, I've one question...

I've been experiencing repeated failure of the backup light switch in an '82 528E. The backup light bulbs are standard P25-1 (equiv. 1156). A new switch lasts for maybe one month.

At first I attributed the failure to a bad batch of inferior aftermarket switches. But repeated failure with switches from different sources, including BMW OE parts, suggest re-evaluation.

(Destructive) disassembly of failed switches reveals normal slight discoloration of the contact, but no pitting, etc. Minimal cleaning restores low contact resistance, but the switch cannot be reassembled. :(

Is it possible that the Redline MTL in the gearbox is creating a sufficiently non-conductive film that it permeates the rubber membrane, coats the contact, and creates the failure? Has anyone else, using MTL or not, experienced this?

Please reply directly, as I get only about 1 of 3 digests on average. I'll summarize responses for the list. Thanks!

  • -Paul Reitz, BMW CCA #1167 ( [2002, 733, 528e, 325iX]

7.6.2: Power steering noise
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 1995 21:59:03 -0500 (CDT)

One thing that is often overlooked when the power steering pump starts making groaning noises on BMWs equipped with the hydraulic brake booster is the power steering fluid filter. Often, this filter plugs up after 120-150K miles. It's a strange plastic-like material, and is located at the bottom of the fluid reservoir. Drain the fluid out of the reservoir (remove the hose at the bottom), remove the clips holding the screen in, and you'll see the filter hiding at the bottom under a large plate that is also clipped on. Removal and installation is a straightforward procedure.

Hope this helps,

7.6.3: Seat Repair
From: "Harvey Chao" <> Date: 3 Jul 1995 18:17:21 -0700

I replaced my driver's side seat pan this week end because of multiple broken springs.

SPECIFIC CAR: '83 528e (applies to others)

PROBLEM: Broken springs in the driver's seat pan.

First found a broken spring in the right rear corner, tied it back down, then a year or so later had a broken spring in the left rear corner, tied it back down, then last week I found a broken spring at the left front edge and decided to stop kludging around.

DEALER SOLUTION: Replacement seat assembly or sub components. Not attempted. Didn't even ask.

PARTS DEPARTMENT SOLUTION: It is possible to buy a replacement seat pan. Left and right front seat pans are interchangeable. Price: $300. !!!! That's for the spring frame only. Pad and or cover or complete seat are extra. Not even talking labor.

MY SOLUTION: Chased down a seat from a wrecking yard. Gambled that any seat pan from any E28 regardless of year would do (specifically, at least what I wound up with did). Then had to locate a wrecking yard that would sell me a single seat, most wanted to sell a pair. What I wanted was the right front passenger seat, on the assumption that regardless of year, it would be less worn (fewer sit on it, get up from it cycles) than the driver's side. I found a right front seat from an '87 for $115. This did not include the seat's base (the part that bolts directly to the floor pan that has the adjustments for fore/aft, up/down, etc. that I didn't need any way and would have been motorized and my '83's is manual.

Since the old seat was a black vinyl (and not in good shape plus being filthy) and my interior is gray?or beige vinyl, I decided to strip down the replacement seat and only use the donor seat pan spring frame assembly.


  1. If attached, remove the base from the seat. (4 10mm bolts).
  2. Remove the plastic skirt. This is fastened by two "push in plastic pins.
  3. Removed plastic trim pieces over the hinge mechanisms at the junction of the back and seat pan, left and right sides. A single Phillips head screw secures each piece.
  4. Separate seat pan from seat back. The seat pan is attached to the hinge on each side by a 13 mm bolt at the back (this has a patch of "Locktite" on it so it comes out somewhat stiffly), and via a circlip on a tube that goes through the bottom(seat pan) part of each hinge. Before you can remove the circlip, there is (at least on manual seats) a lever shaped piece that attaches to the tube and links it to a pin that is part of the lever mechanism that you use to adjust seat back angle. This piece is a "snap" fit into the tube, and can be pried or knocked out with a hammer and screwdriver and minimal to modest effort. When you get it out, notice that the shaft of this piece that goes into the tube has two "flats" on it so that it's orientation in the tube is "indexed" (i.e. it rotates with the tube and transmits torque). Once you have this piece out, you can remove the circlip. It is possible by removing these 3 pieces on each side (13mm bolt, lever that fits into tube, and circlip) to separate the seat bottom from the seat back. Notice that when you remove the left and right levers that fit into the protruding tubes, there is a handlebar shaped tube that goes across the bottom of the seat pan. Note it's orientation for future reference and the fact the inside of the ends of the tube are keyed to match the flats on the lever pieces that go into the ends of it. If you have trouble removing the seat pan from the seat back at this time, you can completely remove the hinges from the seat back by remove the two very large Phillips head screws that fasten each hinge piece to the seat back. Once this has been done, you should be able to then remove the hinge pieces from the seat pan.
  5. Removal of fabric and padding from seat pan. The fabric is stretched across the padding and frame and anchored in place by a series of pointed "fingers" around the perimeter of the seat pan frame. You can either just stretch the fabric enough to free if from these fingers, one at a time, or you can use pliers to bend each finger about 180 degrees to release the fabric. Once the fabric is release all around the perimeter, roll it back up (and "inside out") until the fold is even with the edge of the top of the seat's surface.

Before you proceed further: There are two wire stiffeners that run front to back under the fabric. In addition, there are 3 tape tabs that anchor the seat fabric about 2/3 of the way back from the front edge. All of these are anchored to the horse hair seat pad with wire upholstery rings. These rings are simply pieces of about 16 gauge steel wire that are formed/crimped into a circular ring, about 1/4" in diameter. Probably the best tools to use on these rings is a pair of pliers to hold the ring while you pull with needle nose pliers.
IF at this point YOU ATTEMPT TO JUST PULL THE FABRIC OFF the seat frame, YOU WILL RIP OUT THESE ANCHOR POINTS. If you don't want to reuse the fabric, no problem, but when you do this to your old seat and intend to re-use the fabric, I recommend you practice with the "donor" seat on removing the attaching rings.
Remove the anchor rings, there are about 5 on each of the two wire stiffeners, and one on each of the plastic tabs. This should now free the fabric from the padding and it can be peeled off.

Inspect the original padding. At this point, it was clear that the donor padding was in much better condition than my original padding, so I left the padding on the donor seat frame. ( The original pad was breaking down, evidence of this is copious amounts of green colored dust (matching the color of the pad and the general loss of firmness and shape of the pad) If you want to remove it, the padding is attached to the springs on the underside of the seat pan with 3 or 4 attachment rings. Once you remove these, the padding can be removed from the seat pan frame.

PREPARE YOU ORIGINAL SEAT: Strip your original seat the same way as the donor seat, being careful not to damage the fabric, especially when you separate it from the padding by cutting or bending the upholstery rings open.

REASSEMBLY: Ever heard this one before, "Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly" Reassemble the donor seat pan, padding and fabric from you old seat. A good replacement for upholstery clips are pieces of heavy (16 gauge) steel wire about 5 to 6 inches long bent into the shape of a hair pin. Slide the replacement wires through the fabric that covers the wire stiffeners and over the stiffener wire and then down through the horsehair pad. Twist the two ends together on the other side. Use the same technique to anchor the 3 tabs in the center rear of the seat pad. Since these wires will be longer than necessary, find some that poke through the pad near a spring and twist it to the spring to anchor the fabric and pad to the seat pan. Stretch the fabric down over the sides of the seat pan and try to use the original holes in the fabric on the anchoring fingers.

REATTACHMENT OF THE SEAT PAN TO THE HINGE/SEAT BACK. If you did not separate the hinges from the seat back on disassembly, and you have trouble getting the end of the tube through the matching hole so that you can re-attach the circlip, removal of the hinge from the seat back will allow alignment. Position the tube that goes under the seat pan in it's original orientation across the bottom of the seat pan, and re-install the levers in the ends of the tube ( remember that they are "keyed" so that the slot in the lever engages the pin the seat back adjustment mechanism. If you position them properly, a light tap with a hammer will seat them nicely. Re install the plastic skirt on the outside bottom edge of the seat, re install the plastic covers over the hinges on each side, bolt the seat base back on to the seat pan, re-install the seat.

7.6.4: Shipping wheels for repair
From: Date: Fri, 18 Nov 94 19:20:04 PST

Here is the combined wisdom:

  1. Ship VIA UPS "Surface" [Brown] depending upon time desired to ship: Brown usually results in 7-10 days cross country, 2-3 days if within a state or two away.
  2. Packaging:
    1. Cut open large cardboard boxes and lay them flat.
    2. Take each tire/wheel & lay it on top of the flattened cardboard

      and trace around the tire receiving a circle the same size as the tire.

    3. Cut out eight of these cardboard circles and put one the front

      and back of each tire/wheel leaving only the tread visible.

    4. Run shipping tape from one side across the tread and onto the

      cardboard on the other side like stagecoach wheels (or a star) with the next strip about 4" from the last strip.

    5. Note that there is now a nice big area for address information

      (make sure the address is on on the cardboard before you tape it up :) )

Both Tire Rack and Wheel Warehouse were very helpful with information. Either ships two wheels packaged together at a time to save handling costs.

7.6.5: Transmission filling trick
From: "Shane Callaghan" <> Date: Fri, 28 Jul 1995 20:28:52 +0000

Mike wrote:
>filter yet. Also, anyone have a suggestion for a little pump that can fill >the gear box and differential with oil. I could let the dealer do this, but >they charge $60/hr in labor, whcih is more than I make! I figure I might as >well do as much as I can, and then let them check over the car for 1/2 an hour >or so. Much better than spaening $350 +. Any ideas would be appreciated. >
You can get small hand siphon pumps that work reasonably well, but try this for the transmission oil (credit to Trey Cobb from the RX-7 list): get about 4' of 1/2" heater hose, pass it through the engine compartment, and put the end into the fill hole from underneath (you may have to taper the end to get a good fit). They you can stand comfortably and pour the oil in the hose. I haven't tried this on the BMW yet, but it worked great on the RX-7. The RX-7 has a separate check hole, though, so you don't end up with a hose full of oil. You could try cutting a small hole in the top of the end inserted in the fill hole, so oil would drip when the transmission was full - just watch for drips when you get close to capacity, or use a clear hose so you can watch the level.

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