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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun 2006
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328 cold start problem

I have a '96 328i that is having trouble starting. Sometimes the car will start fine, other times when I turn the key, you can hear the starter spinning, but it does not engage the flywheel. If I keep trying, sooner or later, the starter will catch the flywheel and the car starts up perfectly; however, this can take up to 20 times. Once its started, it runs and shifts fine, and will normally start on the first try if I kill the engine and try again. I had this problem last winter, then it started fine all summer, and now that it is getting cold again, the problem is coming back. It is always much worse on cold starts and after sitting overnight on a cold night.

I took it to my mechanic and he said that whoever replaced the clutch last (before I got the car) put the starter back in with the wrong bolts so it isn't sitting correctly. He is recommending I pull the transmission and replace the starter and flywheel, as he thinks the starter could have damaged the flywheel.

I know that my starter isn't engaging the flywheel correctly. My question is, is this likely just a starter problem, or could my flywheel be damaged too? Is there any way to tell if the flywheel is damaged without pulling the starter first? Does the fact it happens in cold weather indicate one way or another?
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Calgary, AB
Car: 1998 E36 328i
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Your mechanic is probably right. Sounds like a start issue. Personally i would start with replacing the started before removing the transmission. The starter is a pain to get to, and its kinda labour intensive. Why pull the transmission if you dont nessicarily have to? In my opinion i would replace the starter first, and see how that fixes it. Then pull the transmission if needed.

However please note I do all the work on my car myself so i dont have to worry about paying labour rates. Please take this into account when you consider your decision.

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