4 Common Problems with E36 BMWs


The E36 is the third generation of BMW's 3 Series cars, which came as coupes, sedans and convertibles. They were produced for the model years 1991 through 1999 and include the 316, 318, 323, 325, 328 and M3. These cars continue to be popular and well respected in the BMW community but like nearly any other vehicle on the highway, it does have its a few flaws. Here are 4 of the most common E36 problems. If you experience any of these issues seek an expert BMW repair mechanic to have your car serviced.

BMW Radiator Leaks

One of the most common issues amongst these cars is a leaky cooling system. The stock radiators in many E36 models were produced with plastic parts that have become known to wear out and crack over time due to the high engine heat. The common problem areas are the top radiator pipe and plastic thermostat housing. A cracked radiator will cause a coolant leak which may lead to overheating issues.

BMW Water Pump Failure

The water pumps on these vehicles have a plastic impeller that is pumps the coolant throughout the engine. This plastic part tends to fail prematurely, causing complete water pump failure. This means the part will not be able to push coolant through the hot engine, resulting in overheating and potentially larger engine problems.

Rough Idle

There are two common causes of rough idle in E36s. The first and most common is a relatively easy fix. The idle control valve is often found to be dirty and the part will just need to be cleaned and not necessarily replaced. The second issue pertains to pre 1994 vehicles that are subject to heavy rain. In these weather conditions flooding can occur in the DME compartment.

Burning Oil Smell

The cam cover gasket is known to break causing an oil leak down the cylinder head in many of the engines used in E36 vehicles. The Double Over Head Cam engines are also known to spring oil leaks that drip into the spark plug wells, allowing it to be ignited with the gasoline. Oil leaks can lead to improper engine lubrication which may lead to major engine damage.

If you drive an E36 it is important to be aware of these issues as you rack up the miles on the odometer. Pay close attention to these problem areas and you may even want to consider having these parts replaced prior to an actual issue arising in an effort to prevent getting stuck on the shoulder. If you need superior BMW repair in Euless bring your car, no matter how old or new, to DFW Bimmer. Our factory trained technicians have access to the latest computer aided technology allowing us to service all models of BMWs. Give us a call today at (817) 440-3697 to schedule an appointment for quality BMW maintenance or repair in Euless today!

DFW Bimmer Blog

Written By Brian Corey

Published By MORBiZ