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BMW E36 misfiring. Any guesses?

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kornholio788

Joined: May 02 2005
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Location: Tosa, WI


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Post Thu May 28, 2009 6:07 am

Ok I bought my bmw about a month ago now. It ran great for the whole time. I put new oil in it, gave it new pads, rotors, and a new caliper. Recently she started to misfire every once in a while randomly. And in the time period of a couple days it when from just every once in a while to all the time. And it got bad. Big loss in power and running rough. So yesterday we finally had time to put new plugs in. So spencer threw a brand new set of plugs in. Old set was in rough shape. One had both of its tabs completely gone. One the tab was pushed all the way to be touching the plug. So brand new plugs went in which he properly gapped. Put it all back together and it ran fine it seemed. Well I took it to work today(about an hour drive mostly freeway) and at first she ran fine. After about 10 min I noticed it misfiring every once in a while again. Then as time went on she is doing it most of the time again.

Any ideas? When he did take the plugs out one cylinder had alot of oil on the top of the plug. By the coil. Which tells me new valve cover gasket. Which I have on order and will replace along with just putting a new plug in there just incase. But what else could cause it to misfire like this?

Little info about it. The car is a 1993 BMW 325IS. Inline 6 with a 5 speed. Each plug has its own coil on it. So no wires to replace. Autozone wants 70 bucks a piece for a coil pack. I am sure my cost is more around 30 but is there a way to test them to see if they are working correctly so I can just replace one or two instead of all 6?

Any help is appreciated.
PwrRngr

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 6:20 am

Yes you can replace just the one(s) that's not working (at least you can on Mustangs and I don't see why it would be any different). Hopefully you're throwing some sort of misfire on cylinder ### code so you know what cylinder to look at. Swap two coil packs, reset the codes, and see if the misfire follows the coil pack.

If you're not throwing a code then turn it on and let it miss. Unplug the coil packs one at a time and listen to determine if it gets worse or stays the same. If it gets worse, it's not that coil pack so plug it back in and move to the next one. If it stays the same then it's that cylinder. Turn off car, swap packs w/ another cylinder, and see if it follows the pack.

If it does follow the coil pack then replace that pack. If it does not follow the coil pack then the next candidate would be injector.
kornholio788

Joined: May 02 2005
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Post Thu May 28, 2009 6:23 am

It is not throwing a code. That would make things too easy. And good advice. Thank you. I will def try that.

Anything else throw it at me biglaugh.gif
byte

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 6:26 am

Look for a cable and software to hook to the OBD or find some with a scan tool to check for codes might give a clue. The last spark plug I had with a bent tab was just after a piston broke near the top ring groove. The piece of metal rattled around in the cylinder for a minute and then exited out the exhaust. Pull the spark plug again and check the gap to see if changed. The oil may be shorting out the plug as well.
corvettecrazy

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 6:54 am

If you have a way to monitor the motor (like an OBD scanner) then instead of unplugging the coil packs, move them around. If it is caused by the coil, the misfire will follow it. Also if you have a scanner, it will be able to tell you what cylinder is misfiring and how may times per 100 revolutions.

I had a similar problem with a bad spark plug wire. Watched the misfires on my scanner and then swapped plug wires around to see if it followed, it did.
justinwebb

Joined: Sep 15 2004
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Post Thu May 28, 2009 6:57 am

wait so it bent the electrode back to the spark plug? wtf are you pistons hitting it or something? oil in your spark plugs may not mean valve cover could be a number of things....you need to do a compression test just to make sure all cylinders are up to spec.

edit: just re-read it if the oil is on top of the plug and not below the threads then yea its the valve cover gasket lol...its early
kornholio788

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 7:17 am

justinwebb wrote:
wait so it bent the electrode back to the spark plug? wtf are you pistons hitting it or something? oil in your spark plugs may not mean valve cover could be a number of things....you need to do a compression test just to make sure all cylinders are up to spec.

edit: just re-read it if the oil is on top of the plug and not below the threads then yea its the valve cover gasket lol...its early


That is what spencer said. Didn't make much sense to me either and he threw the plugs away before a got a chance to look at them. I am pulling all teh plugs when I do teh valve cover gasket this weekend and will take a look at the new plugs and see how they look.
PwrRngr

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 7:23 am

corvettecrazy wrote:
If you have a way to monitor the motor (like an OBD scanner) then instead of unplugging the coil packs, move them around. If it is caused by the coil, the misfire will follow it. Also if you have a scanner, it will be able to tell you what cylinder is misfiring and how may times per 100 revolutions.

I had a similar problem with a bad spark plug wire. Watched the misfires on my scanner and then swapped plug wires around to see if it followed, it did.

Hence why I recommened he do that if he's not throwing a code. If he's not throwing a code (throwing code != CEL) then scanning it won't do anything.

If he is throwing a code then refer to my first paragraph.
justinwebb

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 7:34 am

be sure to change the spark plug gaskets too lol not just the valve cover gasket,

i am concerned about the whole bent electrode thing, in the shop here we usually see that when something terribly wrong happened lol...you are luck it bent and didnt break off lol. I would still run a compression test just to check each cylinder to make sure each is running ok. Does it idle ok all the time? is it running rich at all? when was the timing belt changed last? i don't work on many BMW's they might have a chain lol, there could be a chance it jumped time and smacked the spark plug. Or perhaps some crazy detonation.....lots of things lol
corvettecrazy

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 7:44 am

PwrRngr wrote:
Hence why I recommened he do that if he's not throwing a code. If he's not throwing a code (throwing code != CEL) then scanning it won't do anything.

If he is throwing a code then refer to my first paragraph.


If you have a scanner you don't need to throw a code to scan for misfires. It is quite common for misfires to not throw codes. Also, throwing a code does not always = CEL.


I do agree with Justin on the concern of a mushed electrode.
TRogers

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 7:45 am

I have seen codes without CEL's as well. It's common, well it was at the shop I worked at for two years anyway ;)


I also agree with everything stated previously.
justinwebb

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 7:51 am

remove all the plugs and look at them and see if any oil is covering below the threads near the electrode. Also shine a flashlight into each cylinder and look for any oil or any liquid what so ever as they should be dry. If the spark plug is bent again that is bad lol that means that you piston is smacking the plug and you might have scored the piston head. Just hope it isnt haha
PwrRngr

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 8:06 am

corvettecrazy wrote:
Also, throwing a code does not always = CEL.

TRogers wrote:
I have seen codes without CEL's as well.

I guess I shouldn't except corvettecrazy to understand what I wrote but I believe TRogers programs so he should be able to read it.
PwrRngr wrote:
(throwing code != CEL)

That means, throwing a code does not equal a check engine light.
TRogers

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 8:07 am

I understood. I agreed icon_smile.gif
H-Town

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 8:12 am

so != means does not equal .. i learned something new today!
bad venge

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 8:13 am

Examine the boots closely ... I've seen those with oil in them cause misfires ... If you have oil up there spray them down with a good solvent and dry them out (I use brake cleaner as it evaporates quickly )
kornholio788

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 8:20 am

I will pick some up tonight and do that when I tear it apart sat. Thanks dude. I was hoping you would chime in. Knowing you have owned a couple of these.
bad venge

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 8:56 am

I think I've owned a couple of just about every brand at one time ... icon_lol.gif
My buddies were bored and drunk the one night and made a list of cars I'd owned (for more then a month) and they were at 150+
I've only had 5 BMW's , 6 if you count my Mini Cooper
Losing quickly

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 10:55 am

bad venge wrote:
Examine the boots closely ... I've seen those with oil in them cause misfires ... If you have oil up there spray them down with a good solvent and dry them out (I use brake cleaner as it evaporates quickly )


Boots of the the coil packs where it goes onto the plugs? 3 of them had oil on them. 1 had a bunch, the other was a little, and the last was barely any at all.
Tdawgthegreatest

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 11:38 am

EGR valve?
bad venge

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 12:09 pm

Losing quickly wrote:
Boots of the the coil packs where it goes onto the plugs? 3 of them had oil on them. 1 had a bunch, the other was a little, and the last was barely any at all.


That may be all it is ... it gets hot and oil runs down the plug and grounds out causing the missfire
kornholio788

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 12:14 pm

That would explain why it ran fine at first and then like **** after driving for a while. He cleaned teh oil out before putting the new plugs in. After driving oil got back in there and started shorting it out. Got worse as more oil built up in there. I will buy a couple new plugs and should have teh new valve cover gasket kit tomorrow. Will clean up very well and install everything sat.

Thanks so far for the help guys. *thumbs up*
TRogers

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 12:32 pm

While you have the valve covers off you should powdercoat them.


That's easy when you have a home kit...damn, I miss mine icon_sad.gif
kornholio788

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 1:08 pm

TRogers wrote:
While you have the valve covers off you should powdercoat them.


That's easy when you have a home kit...damn, I miss mine icon_sad.gif


Meh. I need this car back up and running. And while I could have it done for free. That would mean me not having the bimmer for a week. Can't have that. This is not only my second car but spencers drives this car alot. And I drive this car at least every other day for longer drives so I don't burn the neons tires down so quick. So we both need it.
bad venge

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 1:34 pm

Most of the BMW's have the Krinkle coat anyway ... You HAVE to strip it off before powdercoating or it looks bad ... On the good side it cleans up pretty well even on high mileage BMW's
TRogers

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 2:10 pm

Not if you go with wrinkle again ;) I coated over multiple pieces and it always looked great...unless of course you want the smooth look, then the wrinkle has to come off for sure.
thesull

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 2:16 pm

hey... check the packs... sounds were your problem lies... also the tips of the plugs off could be a bad sign ;(

That metal went somewhere...

I had a customer come in because his car was running ruff and he had bad compression... took the plug out same type of thing.

But the tip wore a groove in the piston ;(


Start with the packs clean clean clean... ;) venge = on the money ;)


I have owned 3242342 bmws ;) hehehehe I love BMW ;) Haven'r owned a differnt car really... through all my cars I have always had a bmw as my DD ;)
Losing quickly

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 2:31 pm

Yeah, I was skeptical about putting those coil packs back in, but Dan said to do it after I cleaned the oil off of them. We should get it running good this weekend.
kornholio788

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 2:39 pm

Losing quickly wrote:
Yeah, I was skeptical about putting those coil packs back in, but Dan said to do it after I cleaned the oil off of them. We should get it running good this weekend.


At 70 bucks a piece I can't afford to replace them all lol.

If we are still having trouble we will have the car running like they are suggesting and pull a pack one at a time and see which one it is. And I will replace that one.
Losing quickly

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 3:04 pm

If any of the packs are bad, it would be the second one. It had a lot of oil on it.
thesull

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 4:27 pm

Dude man there is a guy on the bimmer forums that can get those packs brand new for much less...

I think like 30 a piece?

Plus I just looked on Flea Bay
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BMW-E36-318-325-...arQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories
corvettecrazy

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 6:18 pm

Normally you can measure the resistance in coil packs and bad ones will have a much higher resistance than good ones.
JSewell

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 7:30 pm

when you do you plan on replacing the cylinder rings??
justinwebb

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Post Thu May 28, 2009 8:34 pm

the rings are fine i am guessing, but he should replace the o rings on the valve cover for each spark plug. He would have to do a compression test to verify if the cylinder rings are bad which i am guessing are fine, but there might be some piston damage
kornholio788

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 10:46 am

I kinda doubt it is one of the coil packs at this moment. As it ran fine at first when the new plugs first dropped in.

I don't know what my cost on packs is but I am guessing somewhere around 30. I get my parts at cost through bumper to bumper.

As justin said the rings probably aren't bad. There is no oil on the actual plug where the cylinder is. Just on the top. Aka bad Valve cover gasket.

The gasket kit I bought comes with the new valve cover gasket, and new o rings I believe for the plugs. I will know in about an hour when it shows up. I will probably replace the coil pack that had all teh oil in it soon just because.
justinwebb

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 10:52 am

not sure if bmw's are the same but most valve covers also need some gasket material placed on the corners or other places to help seal. Might want to double check to see if that is the case before you put on the new gasket. I always use Hondabond that stuff is the ****. Also, clean both surfaces well lol.
thesull

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 11:08 am

Justin, you are correct!

BMW has several "hot" points that you are suppose to add sealant too... I am at home now about to head to the shop to grab a couple things... Will check in detail for you korn...

I remember doing this MULTIPLE times on every e36 I have owned...

If I remember correctly you have to do it on the front on both sides just a small amount on the dipped area next to your vanos/chain area... and opps side... then on the back part where the cover meets...

Going to double check I have a binder for e36s and I have alldata ;)

Edit: BMW also recommends to always clean every part seriously hahahaha
TRogers

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 11:31 am

Vanos *shudder*
kornholio788

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 11:56 am

So can I pick this up at a local parts store? I plan on cleaning the **** out of it. Any special product that works great? Or just take a clean towel or something and clean it up best I can. Never done a valve cover.
bad venge

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 12:04 pm

Brake Cleaner and a good gasket scraper icon_wink.gif
kornholio788

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 12:10 pm

Alrighty then. I shall pick it up on the way home lol. I need some brake cleaner at the house anyway.
thesull

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 12:14 pm

It can be a fun easy job... just be careful... bmw stuff lieks to brake ... talking from experience hehe

Either they are AWESOME or the parts just need replacing from wear... post some pictures of your process ;)


Just got home from the shop yep I was right there are a total of 4 hot spots...

will try and find some pictures for you on the interwebs
bad venge

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 12:47 pm

We have a guy that sets up at the Flea market a case of 12 Large cans Brake cleaner for $10 , and if you get three cases he drops it to $8 a case ... Same with all his other chemicals , he even had the large cans of seafoam for that price I bought all he had... He even had the LARGE antiseize bottles for that price , around here one is $18
kornholio788

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 12:50 pm

thesull wrote:
It can be a fun easy job... just be careful... bmw stuff lieks to brake ... talking from experience hehe

Either they are AWESOME or the parts just need replacing from wear... post some pictures of your process ;)


Just got home from the shop yep I was right there are a total of 4 hot spots...

will try and find some pictures for you on the interwebs


I would greatly appriciate it. I am sure there is a diagram somewhere on bimmerforums or even possibly bimmerdiy but I have yet to look. That was tonights job lol.
TRogers

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 12:52 pm

bad venge wrote:
We have a guy that sets up at the Flea market a case of 12 Large cans Brake cleaner for $10 , and if you get three cases he drops it to $8 a case ... Same with all his other chemicals , he even had the large cans of seafoam for that price I bought all he had... He even had the LARGE antiseize bottles for that price , around here one is $18


And where is this?? icon_eek.gif
bad venge

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 1:10 pm

Rogers Ohio (appropriately enough) icon_lol.gif icon_lol.gif icon_lol.gif
Near East Liverpool
TRogers

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 1:41 pm

Lol nice. 3.5 hour drive for me, I think the deal cancels itself out. IMO anyway lol
bad venge

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 1:45 pm

We drive down from Akron ...
corvettecrazy

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 2:07 pm

bad venge wrote:
We drive down from Akron ...


You live in Akron? I've been in Hudson/Stow for the last week. icon_lol.gif
JohnCuePublik

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Post Fri May 29, 2009 9:06 pm

not as familiar with the E36 as the E30 but the M20 in my E30 was very picky about spark plugs. When replacing use OEM plugs and nothing else. Generally Autozone will never get you the right part on a European car, trust an ex employee on this. You need to deal with carquest or a shop that deals with WorldPac for obtaining proper BMW parts. You might be able to get the gaskets but the OEM spark plugs generally aren't the easiest to find. Bavarianautosport.com is a good place to check out if obtaining stuff locally and not from a dealer becomes bothersome
kornholio788

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Post Sat May 30, 2009 3:34 pm

Got the gasket in successfully but that didn't solve the problem. I am thinking a coil pack. ANy other ways to check it besides just taking it off one by one? Because the problem lies that when it is running it only does it randomly now. Not all the time consistently. So I can't tell if it is the one or not.
thesull

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Post Sat May 30, 2009 4:13 pm

did you place the sealant on the hot spots???
thesull

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Post Sat May 30, 2009 4:15 pm

bad venge

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Post Sat May 30, 2009 5:23 pm

corvettecrazy wrote:
You live in Akron? I've been in Hudson/Stow for the last week. icon_lol.gif
You still here ???
corvettecrazy

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Post Sat May 30, 2009 7:47 pm

bad venge wrote:
corvettecrazy wrote:
You live in Akron? I've been in Hudson/Stow for the last week. icon_lol.gif
You still here ???


Leaving at 6am tomorrow for PGH, Philly, NYC, Philly, ROC, and then Boston... biglaugh.gif
kornholio788

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Post Sat May 30, 2009 9:45 pm

thesull wrote:
http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/E36-Valve-Cover/E36-Valve-Cover.htm


found this in 30 seconds searching google ;)


That is the exact DIY I used. And yes I replaced teh sealant.
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