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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding E21 BMWs


Here is where you may find answers to many of the questions that repeatedly pop-up. The FAQ represented here is courtesy the E21 Digest. Please note: if you don't find your answers here, take a look at the E21 Digest searchable archives. This section will most assuredly be modified and added to as time progresses. If there is something that you think may help out other owners or prospective buyers, please email me an "article" at webmaster at and it will be added to this list. If there are any mistakes or omissions, drop me a note and we will get it confirmed and corrected ASAP! I feel that this is the most important section of this WWW site, and I will try to be as prompt and correct as possible.

-------------- BMW Digest E21 FAQ Version 4.1 --------------

Section 9: Older BMWs (Mid '80s and before, 1500s, Bavarias, 3.0s, etc)

------------------ Table of Contents: ------------------

9.1: Overview
9.1.1: 3.0 History 9.2: Body
9.2.1: Water Leaks
9.3: Engine
9.3.1: Misfiring
9.3.2: Idle Problems
9.4: Suspension & Steering
9.4.1: Wheels
9.5: Brakes
9.5.1: Upgrades
9.5.2: Parking Brakes
9.6: Tranmission
9.6.1: Meshing Gears
9.7: Electrical
9.7.1: Dash
9.7.2: Wipers, Signals, etc. 9.8: Misc
9.8.1: 120mph Speedometers
9.9: Performance
9.9.1: Bolt on engine upgrades
9.10 HVAC

9.1: Overview
9.1.1: 3.0 History

From: bthongsa at Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 20:54:07 -0600 (CST) Subject: Re: 3.0S

> Is it likely to be a "CS" or was there really an "S" made? If so does the > "S" stand for "sedan" ? Also, I have seen several references to "vanos"

In markets other than the US, the 3.0S is the standard 3.0 liter 4 door E3 sedan. There were also 'Si' versions, which were fuel injected, and 'L' and 'Li' versions, which were the long wheelbase models.

In the US, the nomenclature used on the E3 sedans was a bit complicated. When they were first introduced in '69, there were two models available, the 2500 and the 2800. The 2500 used a 2.5L engine, and was relatively "stripped" as far as equipment was concerned. The 2800 had the 2.8 motor, and came more or less fully loaded with equipment that was optional on the 2500.

The 2500 and 2800 didn't sell too well, due to their high prices, so the then-US-importer of BMWs, Max Hoffman, came up with the idea of the Bavaria for '71. This was basically a 2500 sedan with the 2800 motor, i.e., a stripped 2800. This was a US-only model. I believe the Bavaria nameplate was used "connect" the car with its German origins. The trick was, other than the nameplate, that the price of the Bavaria was much lower than the 2800's, and considerably lower than the 2500's. It apparenly worked -- BMW sold quite a few Bavarias.

Then in '72, the 3.0L engine was introduced, partially to compensate for the reduction in power from the increasing emissions controls. The Bavaria continued on, but now with the larger motor. Some of the trim on the car, such as the taillights and air extraction vents were changed for '72. Also in '72, BMW resurrected the idea of having 2 sedan models, and thus, the 3.0 S came to the US. The 3.0S was meant to be the loaded model. All of the 3.0S's I've seen have been fully loaded -- leather, power windows and sunroof, rear headrests, A/C, etc. So from '72 through '74, there were 2 sedan models, the Bavaria and the 3.0S.

Then finally, there was one final change for '75. The Bavaria was dropped at the end of '74, and fuel injection finally appeared on a big-6 in the US. The 3.0Si was introduced in the US as the only E3 sedan for '75. The 3.0Si that ended up here was much different from the earlier euro-only 3.0Si. The euro 3.0Si was often a stripped car with a D-Jetronic, high compression 3.0liter, good for 200HP (there was a change to L-Jetronic around '75 in europe too). The US 3.0Si had the same motor as the 530i, with the thermal reactors, EGR, air pump, retarded ignition, etc., and was good for only ~176HP. The US models also came loaded (again, all of the US 3.0Si's I've seen have been loaded) like the US 3.0S. This model continued through '76, when it was dropped in the US, to be replaced by the E23 733i in '78.

Hope this was useful or at least interesting..... Ben

9.2: Body
9.2.1: Water Leaks

Subject: Re: Water in glovebox
Sent: 5/6/96 10:18 PM
Received: 5/6/96 9:33 PM
From: Shawn Casey, casey at

I had the same problem. I found the water was comming in at the corners of the windshield between the glass and the gasket. You can hardly notice it from looking inside at the corners of the dash at the glass/gasket.

The water runs down the glass and sits in the corner (outside), runs under the glass between the glass and the gasket, up the gasket on the inside of the car, then down the gasket, under the dash, down the kick panel behind the speaker, under the carpet and pad, and ruins your whole day. If the leak is on the passanger side check the glovebox for water.

And/or gets in between the gasket and body, runs to the "pockets" (under the gasket) in the corers, sits and rusts holes through, then runs under the dash, down the... (same as above). Note: Check under the carpet/pad for RUST!!! >From the outside, remove the lower section of the windshield gasket locking strip to about 3 inches above the corner of the windshield. Use a plastic "knife" of some sort and lift the gasket up away from the car body in the corner. You will most likely see some RUSTed through holes that the water is getting in through.

I had both problems. I removed the locking- strip/gasket/windshield, *completly* removed ALL the rust down to bare metal, primed and re- painted. Cleaned the rubber gasket with lacquer thinner (to get fresh rubber for sealent to stick to). Assembled the gasket, windshield and a new shiny locking strip. I put silicone windshield sealent between the the glass/gasket and gasket/body. I put a coat Zymol wax on the new & old paint before assembly, the sealent will stick to it but will pull off with out taking the paint off. I also left the holes in the corners under the gasket. This way I will see any new leaks before they have time the do any damage, and fix the leak not the body. I check every other rain storm, no leaks yet, been two years now.

9.3: Engine
9.3.1: Misfiring

Subject: Two Possible Causes of Misfires at light
Sent: 7/7/96 12:11 AM
Received: 7/6/96 8:57 PM
From: Cary McReynolds, cary at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU

Just thought I would let you all in on a couple of things that can cause the late 320i to miss under light throttle from about 1200-2500 rpms. The first is a combination of to much timing advance and a lean mixture. Backing off the timing a couple of degrees and a slight clockwise turn of the mixture screw will cure it. Another way to deal with the timing is to pull off the plug near the bottom of the distributor, turn the motor over by hand until you see the posts (there are two on opposite sides of the distributor) that hold the advance springs and bend those posts out towards the exterior of the distributor. This will cause the mechanical advance to not come in as quickly, help get rid of the trace ping at 2700-3000 and keep the motor from feeling slugish on the bottom end (like happens if you just back the timing off). The second is valve adjustment. For some reason late 320is are very sensative to valve adjustment. Make sure all the valves are set equally at a tight .007/ loose .006. Remember when setting the valves to make sure the piston is at TDC on the valves you are adjusting. This occurs when the cam lobes are both pointing down equally (If you were to draw an imaginary line through the motor the intake and exhaust lobes would be split evenly through the line). Make sure to rotate the motor the proper direction when doing this and start at cyl 1 then 3, then 4, then 2. Hope this might help anyone that is suffering from a light throttle miss. I know that I have had this happen a few times and these have always been the problem.

9.3.2: Idle Problems

Subject: Surging idle-1980 320i
Sent: 02/07 11:41 AM
Received: 02/07 4:41 PM
From: reb at

> >Friends, > >After repeatedly adjusting the rocker arm locknuts, I broke the vacuum >hose coming out of the valve cover. It has been an eventful day trying to >replace it, with success it was done.

Yes this is a common occurance on 320i's with the M10B18 (your 320 does have an O2 sensor ..right?)

>Now I am experiencing a very bad >surging problem, the idle dips very low to 5000 rpm up to 1500 rpm upon

^^^^^^^^^ You do mean 500 RPM's don't you!

>start up. After a little gas it will level out. I can't seem to be able >to adjust the idle to 1000rpm. I have to set the idle to 1200rpm to keep >this five speed from stalling.All the hoses leading from the valve cover >and the connecting "Tee" appears to be intact. Did I upset a delicate >balance? > Sounds like your mixture needs adjusting, if you engine has an O2 sensor and it is functioning, there should be a little valve under the intake manifold with an electrical connection on it, it should be buzzing of an on like crazy (O2 sensor trying to regulate) This may or may not be working depending on the state of the O2 sensor and the valve etc. It was not a good system.

Anyway, what you need is a long 3mm hex that will fit into the air flow sensor, but before you start adjusting take the airflow sensor hood off and take a look at the sensor plate (K-Jetronic fuel injection) make sure it is not bent or stuck....also check the underside of the bellows (if the hood and bellows have never been replaced it could be cracked or have a hole in it, could have been made worse when you put the crankcase breather hose on it) if it has a hole, you will have to replace it.

If all is ok then with the 3mm hex insert into small hole in AFS and locate the hex inside (make sure it fits and you can turn the hex in the sensor, you may want to do this with the hood off before you start the engine. Make sure you remember your starting point when you put the hex (Allen wrench) in.) Start car and turn hex half a turn from the point it was with the surging (left or right your choice, i cannot tell whether it is lean or rich) watch the results one way will make the condition better, the other way will probably make it stall and not start again (if this happens, turn hex opposite way one full turn and start car) adjust in 1/4 turn increments until your idle is stable, you will also need to adjust the air volume on the side of the throttle flap as well (fairly big recessed flathead screw type thing) again 1/4 to 1/2 turn increments in or out. If you want to get the mixture spot on you will have to take it to a shop with a CO meter and get it adjusted properly.

Hope this helps and is not to confusing

>Would the cold start valve be the culprit or perhaps the air flow meter?. > Cold start valve...possible (air slide or injector?) air slide ...just clamp off the pipe leading to the engine, if it is the problem this will tell you, injector ..remove plug.

Was it working ok before you adjusted the valves etc.?

>Any help? > Hope above helps!

9.4: Suspension & Steering
9.4.1: Wheels

Subject: 15" Rims
Sent: 6/17/96 10:51 AM
Received: 6/17/96 8:59 PM
From: Larry Hoffman, 104541.344 at
To: Doug Steinschneider, dougs at

(This is an updated edition of a previous post.)

If you're looking for E21 15" rims the following info may help.

Typically, any 4 lug wheel with a 100 mm lug diameter, 7" wide or narrower, with an offset of 12 or 13mm will work. I have seen up to 20mm offset work, but it will depend on the rim profile design and width. Basically, with too much offset, the front rim hits the tie rod end/steering arm. Almost any offset will work in the back. With the right offset, 8" rims could probably be squeezed into the rear wheel wells.

Most rims have the offset dimension cast somwhere near the center of the rim, around the lug holes. The offset is usually stated as "Exx" or "ETxx", as in "ET13" or "E13" or "7x15J2ET13" or some other variation. (The 13 signifies 13mm offset. 25 & 28mm are common offsets, but won't work on the front of an E21.) The only 20mm that I've seen that will fit is a BBS rim (part no. KBA 41615). There may be others.

If you can find a 20mm rim that will fit, you'll probably have less problem with front tire to fender rubbing. I have seen some 7" wide x 13mm offset rims with 205/50 & 195/50 tires that rubbed under extreme loads/cornering.

One last, but important consideration is the center hole on the rim. I forget the required diameter, but it is important that the center hole be a snug/close tolerance fit on the hub. This provides the actual wheel centering.

The following is a list of rims that I've either owned or actually seen on an E21.

ET12 or 13:

Mahle BBS 6" & 7" x 15 ET13, cast cross spoke/mesh Melber 7Jx15H2 L141 ET12 KBA40927, cast cross spoke/mesh MiM 7Jx15H2-E13 12 spoke MiM 7x15 (E 12 or 13?), cast cross spoke/mesh MSW type 1962A 7Jx15H2 E12, cast cross spoke/mesh Viking (King?) 7x15H2E12, 20 spoke Alpina look-a-like Alpina KBA40266 7Jx15H2 ET12 20 Spoke Alpina KBA40265 6Jx15H2 ET12 20 Spoke BHS Type 02A 6Jx15H2 E12 20 Spoke BHS Type 03A 7Jx15H2 E12 20 Spoke Aluline 7x15 Rial 7Jx15H2 E12 KBA40552 cast cross spoke/mesh

ET20 BBS KBA41615 7x15 ET20 cast cross spoke/mesh

Happy hunting. Larry Hoffman '82 323i

Subject: More E21 Wheel Poop
Sent: 6/28/96 3:14 PM
Received: 6/28/96 1:20 PM
From: lhoffman at
CC: Jay
P., jp at,zundfolge at

Negative offset wheels are typically what you want with an


I haven't seen 14" rims on an E21 but I'm sure there are plenty out there. There are probably a few members of this list that have that size on their cars.

Right now I have BBS Mahle 13x6 ET13 (13mm offset) cast cross spoke rims on my E21 323i.

Alpina makes/made(?) both 13 x 6 & 6 1/2" rims. There are a ton of 6" wide rims that will fit, in 13, 14 & 15" diameter. With a width of 6", a broader range of offsets will work. Anything offset from 0 to negative 25mm ought to fit, no problem. Off course the bolt pattern & center hole must still be right. I have run into rims that have too small a center hole to fit the E21.

I'll try to work up a detailed list of 13" fitments. I need to check my tech data for stock offsets. I'm sure it varied with wheel width.

A number of the US mailorder outfits have spacers. With spacers, big numbered negative offsets will fit. Just make sure the spacers are made to work right. They should pilot on the hub center & provide a pilot for the rim center hole.

On the question about strength of wheel being adequate for racing: It's my understanding that racing wheels typically sacrifice strength for weight. Any street wheel should be plenty stout for road racing & auto-X.

(And to just spout off for a minute: I had the opportunity to passenger in a new 911 Turbo, on the autobahn today. It was the hardest positive acceleration that I've every experienced in a car. With traffic & speed limits we only managed to hit 150mph. AWESOME! Of course it should be for $100G. What a machine. Wish it was mine.)

Time to hit the strasse. Ciao,

Larry Hoffman, 82 323i (E21)

9.5: Brakes
9.5.1: Upgrades

Subject: 320i Brakes Upgrade experiences
Sent: 6/9/96 1:45 AM
Received: 6/9/96 9:37 AM
From: Greg Padberg, zundfolge at
CC: william.boyd at UAlberta.CA

For those of you thinking about a front brakes upgrade for '78-83 320i, here are my experiences based on (almost) completing this upgrade, I still have the grease beneath my fingernails as I type this:

The stock E21 320i models from '78 onwards had solid-rotor front brakes, the '77 320i (and all E21 323?) had the same vented- rotor front brakes setup. The vented rotor front brakes setup is more desirable especially in extreme usage (e.g. racing and driver's schools) because it allows better brakes cooling. You need both the rotors and the calipers in this upgrade because the vented rotors are thicker than the solid rotors (the calipers for vented rotors are also wider spaced to accomodate the thicker rotors).

Here's the required parts ('77 320i) and how much they cost me in Canadian Dollars (~.73 USD): $ 5.00 brake caliper (self-serve wrecking yard) $ 5.00 brake caliper (same) $ 15.00 brake rotor (self-serve wrecking yard) $ 15.00 brake rotor (same) $ 0.00 re-surface rotors (a friend did them) $ 33.60 brake pads (Repco Deluxe, they DO have an asbestos warning on package) $ 30.00 caliper rebuild kits (seals only, for 2 calipers) BMW P/N (?)

34 11 1 116 618

Optional parts: Tube of grease, suitable for wheel bearings (if you're re- packing the wheel bearings / hub) Front hub grease seals Front wheel bearings 34 11 1 118 711 Anti-squeal shims 34 11 1 150 542 Pin & Spring Kit (brake pad retaining hardware) 34 35 1 180 780 Brake Sensor

Here are the major tools you will need: 17mm socket (wheel studs) 19mm socket (caliper bolts) 11mm 6-sided flare wrench (brake lines) 7mm wrench (caliper bleeder valve) 5mm hex key (rotor retaining screw) 22mm? socket (castellated nut on front hub) hammer (y'never know) brake fluid as required, DOT4

I drove my BMW quite enthusiastically for 3 summers and 1 driver's school and still had plenty of brake pad material and rotor left (although the rotors were slightly warped).

I recommend you re-use your old hubs if they worked fine up to this point (also re-pack them with new grease as a minimum). Note that models through '79 have different (beefier) front hub / spindle / bearings than '80 onwards but for purposes of this brakes swap the upgraded rotors and calipers should fit either type of hubs just fine. I re-used my '82 hubs and re-packed the bearings (might as well if you're this far in at this point). Also remember to apply anti-seize on the rotor retaining screw. I drive my Bimmer only in summer so it's not bad but you all-season folks in the snow belt oughtta pay heed to this one.

The vented rotors and calipers bolt straight in, you can keep the old backing plates in place (like I did) or remove them completely for even more cooling as required (I probably won't remove the backing plates unless there's some really serious driver's school action within the next few years). Anybody else out there with vented rotors that aren't running with backing plates, how about you E21bob, what's your setup?

I tried (unsuccessfully, whoops it broke) to remove the brake sensor from the old pads but no big loss. The way I see it, if you do your own wrenching then you shouldn't need a light to tell you when to change brake pads. So I re-attached the connector to the wiring harness and cut off the sensor-end.

To better understand the next few points, think of the rotor as a top hat with a brim. Upon examination of the vented vs. solid rotors, they appeared to have very similar or same dimension from inside friction surface (bottom of brim) to where the wheel fits up (top of hat). Therefore given this same dimension for both types of rotors and the thicker 'brim' of the vented rotor, the vented rotor has a shorter 'top'.

All this leads to why the wheels are now significantly more difficult to fit on to the hub. My first thoughts on fitting the first wheel: @#*&$, this wheel should be on by now! The wheel just refused to go on as easily as before. The grease cap got knocked off, and it was difficult to line up the stud / hub / wheel. I lined up the remaining un-installed vented rotor with the inner wheel surface, clearance should be OK. Before the brakes upgrade, the wheel used to be able to rest on the 'top of the hat' while you could line up the studs through wheel into hub and bolt it all together. I found it much easier to remove the wheel center cap and eyeball the hub through the wheel while fitting the wheel and then install the wheel center cap later. The larger calipers also contribute to more difficult wheel fitment. After completing one side and installing the wheel, I compared caliper / wheel distance with 'upgraded' vs. 'stock' (quick check using a finger as reference). I could manage to insert a finger between wheel and caliper on the 'stock' side but the 'upgraded' side had less room. I have the stock cross-spoke alloy wheels that came with the sport package and assume that the 'fan-jet' style alloys would have a similar fit (I can verify if you really really have to know, my mom's car has these wheels).

So by now you are probably expecting driving experiences with the new setup, I haven't got any! I forgot to stock up on DOT4 brake fluid so I have yet to fill the reservoir and bleed the brake lines and calipers. Any better braking would probably be due to different friction pad material because the rotors and pad area are very similar (same?). I'm interested to see how little (or how much) the Repco Deluxes dust the wheels. Greg '82 BMW 320iS '86 VW Jetta "Jokeswagen"

Subject: More on 320i brake upgrade
Sent: 6/11/96 6:05 PM
Received: 6/11/96 5:22 PM
From: Ed Miszkiewicz, edm at

I've done a bit of research on brake upgrades for the E21. The easiest and most obvious upgrade is to convert to 4 wheel disc brakes. All the parts can be pulled off the E21 323i. The front ventilated discs/calipers are also identical on the 1979 320i. Another plus is that the E21 323i uses the same identical master cylinder as the US 320i.

The front consists of ventilated rotors/w the wider calipers. The rears consist of unique trailing arms with the mounting brackets, etc for the disc brake calipers.

Another option for the front is to buy caliper spacers/w hardware for the front rotors (essentially the difference between the solid and ventilated rotor calipers). Metric Mechanics will sell the parts for ~$60.00. New rotors can be purchased for about $35.00 each. Repco Metal Master or equivalent pads for about $50.00. A caliper rebuilt kit is about $15.00 per side.

So the conversion to front ventilated brakes costs a little over $150 (figure tax, brake fluid, new hoses if needed) and the brakes are like brand new. Not a bad deal at all. The only thing that gets thrown away are the old solid rotors.

There are also some folks out there that also do rotor cross drilling. Not a bad idea if the ultimate in cooling is essential. Probably a good idea for carbon pads.

If massive braking power is needed (such as with a big engine), Metric Mechanic sells a four piston caliper/stock ventilated rotor upgrade kit. Rather expensive ($650.00). No information on where the calipers come from.


9.5.2: Parking Brakes

Subject: Parking Brake Cable
Sent: 6/1/96 2:38 PM
Received: 6/1/96 8:26 PM<
From: Bob Stommel, E21Bob at<
To: E21Digest, E21Digest at

>I followed Shawn Casey's reply to determine the flashing brake dash >light, I discovered that when I removed the boot on the floor of the car, >I saw the copper switch and repair the problem, I also discovered that >the right side parking brake cable has snapped. Anyone had the pleasure >of replacing a parking brake cable?

It's been a while since I've done this, but here's what I remember. Remove the cable from the floor hand lever. Remove the rear wheel and take the rear brake drum off. You will see the cable coming from under the rear subframe into the back of the rear brake backing plate and then going to the bottom of the brake assembly. It attaches to a lever that is part of one of the brake shoes. Pry the end off the lever and push the cable back out of the backing plate. Then pull it out toward the back of the car. I think it runs through some metal tubes under the car, so threading the new one into the tube to the front of the car should not be difficult.

Subject: E21 Digest Vol. 1 Issue # 17
Sent: 6/3/96 6:13 AM
Received: 6/3/96 1:09 PM
From: Paul
Gerth, 75030.1504 at

>>>Parking Brakes Anyone had the pleasure of replacing a parking brake cable?<<

No big deal , pop the drum , you'll need a hex metric socket , don't remember the size, that fits the recessed bolt on the drum. You may have to back off the brake cable adjusters and the shoe stops to enable the drum to slip over the shoes . This is also a good time to replace the rear linings and lube the adjusters for them. If they are rusted solid or rounded so that they can't be turned, a distinct possibility, you have to replace the backing plates. For this you need a LARGE 3 jaw puller and a 36 mm socket. You will also need a very good quality 1/2" ratchet or breaker bar and a lenght of heavy pipe to slip over it. I found the shaft of an old American car jack works well. The nuts on the axles are done up to 200 or so ft/lbs of tourque. Anyhow once the drum is off it's obvious how it all fits. Next comes adjustment, I raised both rear wheels on jack stands and adjusted the cable nuts so that the shoes are just dragging with the e brake lever raised 2 inches . With both sides up you can make sure that they are adjusted equally. ---PaulG

9.6: Transmissions
9.6.1: Meshing Gears

Subject: Re: grinding 2nd gear
Sent: 7/8/96 9:06 PM
Received: 7/8/96 8:45 PM
From: Shawn Casey, casey at

Make sure your clutch is fully disengaging.

If you are not using "Red Line MTL" in your transmission already, try it. It works wonders for helping warn synchros.

If you ARE using it and still have the 2nd gear grind, start double- clutching untill you get the problen solved.

As for your questions:

>1. The gear shifter is very loose (it can easily be batted from side to >side while in gear). Would replacing the shifter bushings and/or >installing a short shift kit remedy the problem thus making to much >easier and quieter to engage 2nd gear? > It will not help the 2nd gear gring, but it will make driving more fun/pleasurable.

>2. If my problem lies in the synchros, is it more cost effective to > have the synchros replaced or just purchase a good used tranny? > ALL Getrag 242, 245, & 240 transmissions have this "weak" synchro problem, it is just a matter of time (driving style) before it shows up. A "good" used transmission may not go very long before you have the same problem you started with. NOTE: Metric Mechanic Inc. is the only ones (I know of) that fix the problem(s) when they rebuild (redesign) those transmissions.

>3. If it is more cost effective to purchase a good used tranny, what is >the best one that will bolt up to my engine? I've heard that a 1984 318 >transmission will work perfectly and is stronger that a 320is 5-speed. >I'm not sure if this is true. > The 1983 E21 320i(s) uses the same Getrag 240 (5-speed) as the 1984 E30 318i(s). The 1980-82 320i(s) uses the Getrag 245 (5-speed). The 1977-79 E21 320i uses the Getrag 242 (4-speed). NOTE: The Getrag 245 is a 242 with a third section that houses the 5th gear. It is said to be a little stronger than the smaller/lighter two section Getrag 240, (but I have not seen any proof yet).

9.6.2: Stiff Shifting 5speed

Subject: Re: Stiff Shifting 5speed-'80 320i
Sent: 12/12 3:43 PM
Received: 12/12 7:04 PM
From: Shawn Casey, casey at

The first thing to check is the fluid level (if you have any doubt at all).

Then I would do the easyest/least-expensive things first.

1) Replace the fluid with Red Line MTL. It is a synthetic (flows in the coldest weather) and is formulated to help older transmission shift better.

If that does not fix your problem then:

2) With 133k miles, your shifter (pivot ball) and linkage rod bushings are past due. The pivot ball (plastic cups) bushings are cheep and easy to replace, but the linkage rod bushings are in the end of the shift lever and in the coupling that is connected to a shaft comming out the transmission. Both the (lower) shift lever and coupling have to be replaced because the bushings are part of them. I would consider a short shift kit that has bronze bushings and an oversized pivot ball (like the one Metric Mechanic sells) to fix this problem and get a crisp precise shift feel to boot.

If all this fails it is most likely your synchros and/or transmission bearings are warn out. In this case it is time to look in to a re- build.

If you have any specific questions, give me a shout.

Good luck,

Shawn... casey at

9.7: Electrical

9.7.1: Dash

Subject: Dash Bulbs
Sent: 6/11/96 5:05
Received: 6/11/96 5:04
From: Larry Hoffman, 104541.344 at
CC: Philip Clark, Tazz at

Hi Phil,

Ref. your post for info on changing dash lites. Working from a year old memory- I don't think that I pulled the steering wheel. I believe there is one or two fasteners that hold the instrument cluster to the dash. The fasteners may be threaded knobs or wingnuts- may be regular nuts. You get to the fasteners from under and behind the dash.

To get enough slack to pull or rotate the cluster towards the steering wheel or drivers seat, you must disconnect the speedo cable at one end or the other. [I think I pulled it at the xmsn end, because it was the cable that prompted me to pull the cluster in the first place. My cable had backed out of the cluster just enough that the speedo wasn't working. So I pulled the cluster & tightened the cable real good.] Anyway, you will probably have to disconnect some electrical connectors as well.

Rather than just pulling the instrument cluster towards you, you may have to rotate the top towards you, because of the steering wheel. I don't remember if the bulbs were in the top or back of the cluster, or in the dash. But, at this point in the process, they were easy to get at & replace.

Good Luck,

Larry Hoffman, 82 323i

9.7.2: Wipers, Signals, etc.

Philip E. Clark,1/23/97 6:19 AM -0400,FAQ: Problem with wipers, signals, etc. 1
Subject: FAQ: Problem with wipers, signals, etc...
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 97 06:19:32 -0400
x-sender: E21Autos at
From: "Philip E. Clark" <E21Autos at>
To: "Peter Storm" <webmaster at>
Mime-Version: 1.0

Subject: Problem with wipers, signals, etc...
Sent: 1/7/97 01:42
Received: 1/7/97 05:46
From: John Kuhlman, kuhlman at
To: Philip E. Clark, E21Autos at

> About 2 months ago the winshield wipers, turn signals, and horn >
working. I had fidled around with the bic pen lid, that had > been
crammed into the defunct hazard switch for over a year, and never > could
get it to work. I bit the bullet and purchased a new hazard > switch.
The hazards work like a charm, but the horn, signals, and > wipers don't.


I had a similar problem with my '80 320i: my hazard switch had a penny
jammed in it to keep it from coming on; my turn signals worked as long
as my headlights weren't on; when my headlights were on, the turn signal
light in the instrument panel would go solid, not blink, and my right
signal wouldn't work at all.

After replacing the hazard switch from a salvage yard BMW for about $1
(I know you probably didn't want to hear that), nothing worked at all.
I then replaced the turn signal indicator dipswitch itself from the same
donor BMW since my original dipswitch would not move into the hi-beam
position. Of course, nothing changed with the turn signals. The
hazards would work, but not the turn signals. Then I checked the fuse
box again and discovered that the idiot who owned the car before me had
put in a bunch of 25-amp fuses where there should've been 8-amp fuses.
That corrected, I then found out that the same idiot put the wrong type
of bulb in the right turn signal. When that was remedied, everything
worked like a charm.

I realize you have checked your fuses, but did you check for the right
TYPE of fuse?

Good luck!

John Kuhlman
1980 320i approx. 200K+?

9.8: Misc
9.8.1: 120mph Speedometers
Subject: NEW Speedometer
Sent: 7/3/96 4:19
Received: 7/3/96 4:30 PM
From: Greg Tchilinguirian, GT320i at To: E21Digest, E21Digest at

After a recent high speed trip to L.I. New York I got fed up with the 85mph speedometer in my 80' 320i. It gets real frustrating not knowing how fast your going after you "bury the needle" so I set out to find a suitable replacement that I could put in the stock cluster. At first I looked for a low milage 77-79 320i to pull one from (they go up to 120mph) but found a much more suitable replacement from a 197? 530i. It goes up to 140mph, uses the same gearbox gear and fits in the stock 320i cluster (I tested all of this on a junk yard 320i before I installed the speedometer into my car). The whole process including junk yard time and testing took only three hours. In order to test the "new" speedometer's accuracy I took rpm readings at diffrent speeds in diffrent gears and matched them againsted the stock speedometer, they were identical. The only part I had to fabricate was the metal mounting plate on the junkyard 320i but when it came to installing the speedometer into my car I used the stock plate (diffrent years, diffrent mounting plates). If you do this conversion make sure to set the "new" speedometer to your mileage by using an electric drill or by taking apart the unit and setting it yourself (what I did). The only drawback that I found was that the 530i speedometer goes in increments of 10mph making it hard to get an exact speed (plus or minus 2mph) but it's worth it. By the way I thought I had a cooling problem until I took the cluster out (No I didn't remove one steering wheel) and cleaned the connector going to the temperature gauge. My needle hasn't passed the halfway mark since, with or without A/C on.

9.9: Performance
9.9.1: Bolt on engine upgrades

Subject: Re: 320i Performance Parts
Sent: 6/3/96 9:58 PM
Received: 6/3/96 9:11 PM
From: Bob Stommel, E21Bob at aol.
To: E21Digest, E21Digest at

Hi, Phil:

Here are some bolt-on performance things you can do to an E21 without changing pistons:

  1. The stock camshaft is about a 264. Put in a higher degree cam (but not more than a 292 if you want to still drive it on the street. It will not idle well with anything over 292).
  1. Port the head to provide higher air flow, but don't polish the intake tubes.
  1. Replace the stock air filter with a K&N filter.
  1. Cut or remove the intake tube that is attached to the air box.
  1. Install either a Stahl header (1.5" tubes for the street) or a tii exhaust manifold. Connect this to a free flow exhaust (Ansa, Supersprint, etc.)
  1. Replace your distributor with a Bosch 050 (tii) mechanical advance distributor.
  1. Gap spark plugs to .030" - .032"
  1. Retime the engine so that the timing is set on the "Z" on the flywheel instead of on the metal ball.
  1. Replace your stock fuel filter with a "low restriction" filter.
  1. A Jacobs electronic ignition will help also, but the increase in performance is not very dramatic. If you get one, get one of their racing setups, not the "Omnipak" thing. Korman sells all their racing systems.

Their racing ignitions will let you run the sparkplugs with a gap up to .045"

Lastly, stiffen the suspension as much as you can stand so that you don't have to brake as hard going into the corners. A stiffer suspension and sticky tires will let you carry more speed into the corners. Even before I added Weber carbs to my 320, I could keep up with stock E30 M3's in the corners before they left me in the dust on the straights.

9.10: HVAC

This page is the brain-child of bnason at and sconrad at
Where sticking an "M" on your trunklid doesn't make a better car.

Copyright © 1995 BMW CCA, Sonora Chapter, Inc., and/or Brian Nason