1987, 325ic ,hot Running Engine - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com

3-Series (E21, E30) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.

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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 06-08-2005, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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ramkitty is an unknown quantity at this point
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Hello. This is my first post. Before I start I would like to thank and appreciate everone who posts so much useful information. I knew nothing about car internals or their functioning before I got this 1987 325i convertible, 3 months back. It And through this forum and few other sources, I could learn a lot. had 168K when I bought it and is now at 171K.Sorry for sounding emotional/diplomatic but I thought I owe a thanks to all, atleast through my first post.

Here are few prbs with my car..

1. The Engine runs hot. Under normal operational conditions, the temperature guage needle always stays between the 1/2 and the 3/4 mark. it never got past the 3/4 mark. If I feel its getting too hot, I turn the the blower(fan) on, turn the temparature knob to full heat and try to vent out the heat. That helps it. Also, when I drive on higways for like 50miles or above and then turn into the local city/town roads, the temperature seems to increase and it gets more closer to the 3/4 mark. I think that, while on highway at around 70m/hr speed, the incoming airflow helps to radiate the heat and as it gets to slower speeds on local roads it does not have so much airflow and it shoots up the engine temp.

Now, with the symptoms I explained, does it point to any specific part. Is it a bad thermostat not starting the fan? Or bad radiator? Or bad fan? Is it the same fan? How can i check those? Also, when I bought the car, I was told theres a pinhole leek in radiator and its causing my coolant to leak. Coolant leaks at a very slow rate. I keep watching the level and fill in some whenever necessary. In 3 months, I had to fill in about a litre (quart) or litre and half. I am very ignorant about everything and also have not done any testing, troublshooting. But I doubt if such minor leak is any cause of my high engine temperature. Any ideas, suggestions? I am willing to spend money on repairs if its something I need to address urgently. Or i would like to wait couple of months or as long as I get.

2. It has a prb of failing to start. Specially on cold days. I read through the forum and few other sites where someone suggested to have the ignition key turned on for few secs before cranking up the engine. I do that on every start and it starts fine. never failed to start since I have been doing it. The reason people suggested is a bad fuel pump. Is that what it could be? Is there anything else I need to examine or replace? Where is the fuel pum in the car? Under the car around the fuel tank or under the hood? Is it the one beneath the air filter?

Also, when it fails to start the car on 1 or 2 attempts,it fails to even make the cranking noise on next attempt. I am not sure if the start attemtps are pulling the power out of the battery or if the fuel pump or something else is really dying out. I got my battery checked at 2 places and they say it is fine.

3. The engine oil light on SRS panel on the top came on twice. First time, I did not check the oil level to see if it was low. The car was anyway due for an oil change and I got the oil changed. The light went out and it was fine for more than 2000 miles. Then again the light came on. This time I checked the oil level with the dip stick. The level was down to 1/4 mark between the min and max marks. I added about a quart of oil. The light did not go out immediately but went out the next day, that is on my second start of the car.

I am using Valvoline 10W30 in my car. IS that ok or anything else recommended specifically?

4. About taking the top down on my car.. The top release latch that is to the left of rear passenger seat behind the driver.. it was broken when I bought the car. The previous owner bought the latch but did not get it installed. By the way this is a soft top that is handled manually. I asked the mechanic and he said it would cost $120 to get it fixed. I thought I would make an attempt myself as everything looked manageable. I tried and in the process lost the screws and plastic caps that hold the release cable to the latch. these are two screws(male and female) that have a thin grove and snap onto the cables and inturn screw to the release latch. there would be 2 black plastic caps that secure the cable to the screws. I lost those screws and caps into the body of the car. I have been desperately looking for those. Have made 3 trips to the local BMW dealer, order 3 diff parts but he is not able to identify the right part. I checked with salvage yards and they said they dont sell or pull those parts. I dont have any salvage yards in Indianapolis, Indiana to check out personally. If you do not understnad what parts I am talking about, let me know and I can try to post some pics.

If any of you understand the part I am talking about and have any that you can sell me, that will ge great. And can i find any instructions on how to install that latch?

And about the procedure of taking the top(soft) down, are there any instructions on how to do it? I manage to get the top down almost all the way but it does not completely fold into the space behind the back seat. The rear seat comes in its way and I am not able to push it into the space..

5. The brake light warning on the SRS panel comes on. It comes on with when I turn on the right turn signal. It usually comes on after few miles of drive. I have seen some discussions about this. I understood that this is a know issue. Other than false idication, it might not be of any serious concern. I am ok to live with it for some time. IS that fine or do I have to fix it right now to avoid any major prbs?

6. When I bought the car, I was told it had a minor leak in transmission. I have been checking the fluid level and it hardly gets low. I filled in some recently but it was nowhere close to the min mark. I just did it as a precaution. I added Valvoline Dexron-III ATF. Is that fine? or anything else recommended? Can I keep monitoring the level and live with the leak unless I start losing lots of ATF?

These are few issues or prbs I am facing with my car. I plan to take real good care of it. i like it very much. I want to know more about the car and how to handle the maintenance if I can do that by myself.

Thank you all in advance for taking an look at this and for all your valuable posts.

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 06-08-2005, 08:01 PM
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offabroadway is an unknown quantity at this point
to the forums. You'll feel like family in no time.

Let's start with the engine oil. This is relatively fine. How hard are you driving the car? The harder you drive it (and the more you rev it up) the more oil you're going to burn, even in a perfectly healthy car. With my car driving techniques, I go through a quart about every 3000kms, even though the engine compression and everything is fine. 10w30 is good stuff for the summer, so no problem there. Don't run 5w30 unless it gets real cold in your winters. About the check light. In order for it to go out, you need to push the "Check" button on the SRS panel. That will kill the CHECK blinker in your instrument panel, and next time you start her up, the light will be gone. If you're gonna use dino juice, put in an engine oil stabilizer. That will help. Or you could try synthetics, but they're more expensive.

The hard starting issue could be a number of things. Might be the fuel pump, but if the car runs fine otherwise, that might not be it. Check your coolant temperature sensor. If its fried, it won't register to the Motronic computer that your engine is either cold, or hot, so you won't get the proper starting mixture, and your mileage will suck. Could be the Cold Start Valve itself (if the 325i has one, I know the 325e does). Not real sure on that one though.

The transmission leak should either be the gasket seal on the pan, or the front or rear seals. If the fluid hasn't been changed in a while, take it to a shop and get it flushed, with a new filter, and new pan gasket. If that doesn't work, its the front or rear seal. You'd have to ask someone about fixing that. I'm not sure how it's done.

I'm not familliar with the top mechanism, but the Brake light sounds like an electrical gremlin if your brakes are working fine. Got ABS? Take a good standing start down your street and slam on the brakes. If you've got ABS, you shouldn't skid much, if at all. If you don't, you'll leave four nice black rubber footprints. The ABS system might be causing the light.

Hope someone else can shine some light on this. Once again, welcome.

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Changed the car's name, now it's - Roxanne -1985 325e
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 06-08-2005, 09:44 PM
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for your engine temp, you most likely need to replace the thermostat. I have had my 325i for 4 years and already have had to change it three times.

when i first got it, the temp stayed at the middle mark, pointing straight up. after the thermostat was changed it has always stayed below the half mark. nowadays, its running just about on top the first quarter tick, which makes me wonder why it is running that cool. . .

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 06-09-2005, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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ramkitty is an unknown quantity at this point
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Thank You for your responses. I will follow up on your suggestions.

Engine Oil

Regarding the discussions about my 'Engine Oil' light. When it did not go off, Yes, I did pres the check button on the SRS panel. That did not make the go off. But as I mentioned in my previous post, adding about a quart of oil put the light off. And to the question of how hard I drive, I drive it quite normally. I dont go on high speeds, do not take it to high RPs or brake hard.. nothing like that. Since it seems to be ok (light gone), I ll keep a watch on it and will start to get more concerned next time I see this problem. I did not understand what a 'dino juice' is? I dont mind trying synthetic oil if it helps better? But through many forums I have learnt that synthetic oils dont help any better on most cars.

Since I bought my car, 3 months ago, I took it to Wal-mart for oil change. I guess most of you are faimilar with Wal-Mart. I do not know its presense outside of US but is everywhere in US. According to me, their service sucks. I would never take to them again. They did not check many points that they said they would. But they marked it as 'checked' in the report. Any suggestions on which would be a good and reliable place to get the oil change done? I am in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Are regular chains like Jiffy-Lube or Firestone ok? For BMWs any branded 10W30 oil is fine? or anything specific recommended. I want to do the oil change myself at somepoint. I would eventually like to do all possible maintenance and troubleshooting on my car. More to learn the work out of interest rathar than to save money. I do not have any parts, tools or garage facilities as of now. I know few friends who can help with those. But thats my future target not an immediate one.

Starting issues

A point I might have missed saying in my previous post is, everytime i start my car, specially on cold days or any day mornings, as soon as I turn on the ignition key to start position(without cranking up all the way), I hear a rattling sound from under the hood for few secs. Its like 'tak tak tak tak...'The duration of the noise is proportional to the chill outside. This year winter was bad here. it stayed for a longtime with temperatures below 0 centrigrade for many days. So all through the winter it used to make that noise. infact on very cold days, it keep making that noise even after starting and while I am on road. A point to mention is, As i keep driving, the noise fades and stops eventually. But if I stop at a traffic light and start moving after that, it start to make noise. Discussed with couple of friends of mine, who are no mechanics but much more knowledgeable than me. they say it could be fuel pump. Again, I am very ignorant about the mechanics of a car. But it maked sense to me as, when I stop and start by pressing the gas pedal, the fuel pump might be struggling to pull gas out of the tank and making that noise. Thats my vague guess. Now its summer and I dont hear that noise for more than 3-5 secs during the morning starts.

The noise seems to be from front-let under the hood when i am looking from behind the steering wheel. Somewhere near the air-filter or around the left of radiator.. I cannot guarantee the spot but that was what I could narrow down to.

So, if its a bad fuel pump, are the problems expected even while driving? Reading through the forums and some other articles, I figured this 325ic has 2 fuel pumps, 1, in tank mechanical pump and other, external and electric fuel pump. I thought, if keeping the ignition key on for 5-10 secs is making it start better. It might be that its warming up the electric fuel pump and making it function better. And once in motion, it could be that the mechanical fuel pump in the tank is doing most of the job and could be a healthy one. Again, this is just my logic which might be totally baseless.

I get a mileage of about 22-23m/gl. I dont know if thats a sucking mileage. But is that any indication of bad motronic computer?

I can take the car to a mechanic to figure it out or get it fixed. When a mechanic fixes it, apart from losing good amount of money, I would not understand what caused it or how he narrowed down to that. If I discuss with you all, I might know lot more than I expect. Since my car is running ok now, i am taking my liberty to discuss with you all and see what could be going bad.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


I am not sure when was the last time transmission was flushed. I ll plan on getting it done soon. Again, is any off the shelf, branded Dexron-III fine as ATF or any other recommended brands? I ll check on the parts you mentioned, the gasket seal and the front and rear seals. I checked on 'bavauto.com'. Is that 'front seal retainer gasket', 'Rear Seal for Automatic transmission'?

Hot Engine

I ll get my thermostat checked, changed and go from there. As of now, if I see the needle going closer towards the 3/4 mark, I turn on the blower and heat so that it sucks some heat out of the engine. Is it ok to do that? I knwo that, getting closer to 'Red Zone' can be disastrous to engine. But If I am within the 3/4 mark but close to it, is it acceptable to keep driving or still can be dangerous?

Brake Light

I ll try to test it the way you have suggested. Slammin on the brakes. The car is supposed to be equipped with ABS. But recently when I had to slam on the brakes while on road, it make a screeching noise. But did not leave any skid marks or did not feel like it skid. I ll check again. The light is not of a serious concern to me as long as it does not harm anything.


The mileage I am getting on my car on city road conditions is about 22m/gl. i mostly use, 85 grade fuel from Shell. I dont know whats the mileage its supposed to give. I thought I read 22.5m/gl in BMW manual for this car. If thats low, anyway to improve it? I drive it quite soft, atleast in my view!

Once, I used the fuel injector cleaners that you put into the gas tanks before filling it up. I am not sure if it helped anything internally but I dont see any difference in mileage, power etc. But thats what many people have said. it might not help much but wont do any harm atleast. Any recommendations in this area?

Service/parts recommendation

Till I get more familiar with the car and get into a position of working on it myself, I would like to get the required work done properly.

The regular stuff like oils, fluids, parts.. is it recommended to use BMW brands or anyother specila brands or the off the shelf brands available in shops like 'Autozone' should be good enough? Ofcourse I would follow the specifications as suggested by BMW.

Any receommended servicing places or places like Firestone, Meineke or any other local reputed car service stations should be good enough? The previous owner always used to take the car to a BMW specialised mechanic here. I can also take the car to the same place, but just looking at other options.

Once again thank you all for your inputs.
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