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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 11-07-2004, 06:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Okay...I've still got this fluid leaking out beneath the engine bay for like a month and 1/2 now. Its not a heavy leak. Maybe 2 random spots, 3-4 inch in diameter on my driveway per week. I've shown my friend and we concluded it's not oil! So it could be transmission fluid or power steering fluid or something else I dont know. The bottom of the undercarriage seems to be saturated with this stuff.

I've checked my steering when I drive and it seems fine but he said transmission fluid is red. This fluid is carmel brown when you rub it between your fingers. Plus the fluid is watery and not viscous (or thick). Also the stains on the driveway seems to wash away when it rains. So its not greasy either.

I suspect its my transmission fluid but my friend says if it is then my car should make a different sound (like metal grating) when I accelerate. I've notice something feels different when I go uphill recently and the car shift gears. Before, back during the summer it would shift and then zoom up hills but now it sort of shifts weakly and doesn't zoom with as much zest as it did before.

Anyway any ideas? Plus how much is normally to fix these types of leaks on a 1995 3 series BMW?



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Old 11-07-2004, 06:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, if it's not viscous it can't be engine oil. You said it's caramel brown right? In that case i think it's the breaking fluid. But that would have no influence on the performance of our car. Hope for you it's that as usually you just have to replace a tightening bracket.

About the price, if it is what i said than, the worst case possible could be about 300$.
Otherwise, if it's the gearbox you are looking at anything between 20$ of labour for tightening a bolt to 2000$ for a new gearbox, but i really dout this is the case.

Just keep an eye on the break fluid level.
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Old 11-07-2004, 06:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally posted by zlac109@Nov 7 2004, 06:38 PM
Well, if it's not viscous it can't be engine oil. You said it's caramel brown right? In that case i think it's the breaking fluid. But that would have no influence on the performance of our car. Hope for you it's that as usually you just have to replace a tightening bracket.

About the price, if it is what i said than, the worst case possible could be about 300$.
Otherwise, if it's the gearbox you are looking at anything between 20$ of labour for tightening a bolt to 2000$ for a new gearbox, but i really dout this is the case.

Just keep an eye on the break fluid level.
[snapback]226435[/snapback]
Where is this located?
I mean where can I see the break fluid amount?
Also would this somehow spread across the bottom of the uder carriage and saturate what seems to be the axel rods and the 2 rubber springy pouch thing that looks like mini accordians?

I'll post a pic in a sec...hold on
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Old 11-07-2004, 06:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The best thing to do would be to have your car's under carriage washed thoroughly and then just watch for another leak. Then you will be able to tell
where it is coming from. If you don't want to have it done professionally just go to a car wash and do it yourself. I did this myself when my oil-pan gasket was leaky.

SOUNDS LIKE POWERSTEERING...
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Old 11-07-2004, 08:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally posted by kearnyme@Nov 7 2004, 06:56 PM
The best thing to do would be to have your car's under carriage washed thoroughly and then just watch for another leak. Then you will be able to tell
where it is coming from. If you don't want to have it done professionally just go to a car wash and do it yourself. I did this myself when my oil-pan gasket was leaky.

SOUNDS LIKE POWERSTEERING...
[snapback]226448[/snapback]
Is it safe to spray a garden hose up under there?
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Old 11-07-2004, 11:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That'd be ok. But at car washes they have the High-pressure soap and degreaser which would definetly remove the oily buildups. But I don't think you have anything to worry about spraying a garden hose up in there it should be ok
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Old 11-08-2004, 01:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Have you had to fill your power steering or brake fluid? If you're losing that much fluid, then I'd think you'd be filling up pretty regularly. I believe your gearbox, brakes and power steering all use the same ATF. Even though it's red when you pour it out of a bottle, it can turn greyish due to contaminants.

Do you have a manual or auto tranny? Low fluid level in an automatic will be evident in harsh gear changes. If you have a manual, you may hear a bit more gear chatter and shifting may not be as smooth - unfortunately, it's not very easy to check transmission fluid level. The place that is getting saturated doesn't look like it's coming from the tranny though - too far forward...

The steering rack seems like a constant source of leaks on this car - there are a couple points where lines from the power steering pump enter - the seals at these points can start leaking pretty badly.
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Old 11-08-2004, 11:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I bet it's your power steering.. i just had to replace 2 hoses on mine..

very costly from the dealer.. $500 to replace adn perform flush.. i guess it's very unaccessible to get to
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Old 11-08-2004, 11:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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You know its weird... Mine (powersteering rack) only leaks in the winter time, I guess the hoses contract in the winter?
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Old 11-08-2004, 06:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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That definitely seems to be power steering. There is no way the gearbox oil would get to there and the the break fluid neither.

just check the levels from time to time.

Break fluid is a transparent, container with a flat top and it's somewhere in the left upper corner when you open the hood.
Power-steering is a black round container with a red stripe around it on the right side of the engine, below the air flow pipes.
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Old 11-08-2004, 07:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally posted by zlac109@Nov 8 2004, 06:49 PM
That definitely seems to be power steering. There is no way the gearbox oil would get to there and the the break fluid neither.

just check the levels from time to time.

Break fluid is a transparent, container with a flat top and it's somewhere in the left upper corner when you open the hood.
Power-steering is a black round container with a red stripe around it on the right side of the engine, below the air flow pipes.
[snapback]227024[/snapback]
Yeah, I checked this out. The fluid is definately coming from my around my power steering container. But I'm not sure where its leaking from or how its leaking. It seems to be spilling over the top around the cap even though the cap is screwed on tight.

How much is it to fix this? can I do a DIY?
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Old 11-08-2004, 07:04 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Oh I see now after reading 93 325i post. $500 dollars to replace the hoses....(ouch!) Where did ya'll say that DIY for replacing power steering hoses was located? :-)
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Old 11-08-2004, 07:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Ok... first off.. those hoses.. are not that exspensive... most of the time you DO NOT need to replace them.. unless they have dried out and rotted... there are two main reasons why your power steering would leak.. (besides a broken hose..)... the main and very often problem is that the clamps at the top of the two hoses that feed into the bottom of your fluid canister.. become old and weak... For some odd reason BMW installed hydralic clamps for this application... which in my opinion.. is wrong.. Just get two small metal screw type clamps from your local hardware or auto parts store and pull them old ones off.. make sure you look at the rubber line ends too just to make sure they are not cracking and the problem them selves.

Next most common power steering leak fault... is the use of "power steering fluid"... yea.. its a power steering system... but it does not take power steering fluid... wait.. let me correct my self.. most e36s dont take power steering fluid... I've seen two. The correct fluid is ATF fluid. It will most likely have it on the side of the fluid cantainers cap.

If I am correct... from how I understand this system works.. it generates a lot of heat... power steering fluid boils at a lower temerature than ATF fluid... thus the reason for them using ATF fluid in the power steering system. Most manuals say use ATF Dextron 111. All in all thus the reason it will leak.. cause your boiling power steering fluid...

Just thought you might want to know before you got and add some power steering fluid.. and then it will boil

Good Luck,

Les
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Old 11-08-2004, 09:42 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally posted by 97alpineM3@Nov 8 2004, 07:49 PM

Next most common power steering leak fault... is the use of "power steering fluid"...* yea.. its a power steering system... but it does not take power steering fluid... wait.. let me correct my self..* most e36s dont take power steering fluid... I've seen two. The correct fluid is ATF fluid.* It will most likely have it on the side of the fluid cantainers cap.

If I am correct...* from how I understand this system works.. it generates a lot of heat...* power steering fluid boils at a lower temerature than ATF fluid...* thus the reason for them using ATF fluid in the power steering system. Most manuals say use ATF Dextron 111.* All in all thus the reason it will leak.. cause your boiling power steering fluid...

Just thought you might want to know before you got and add some power steering fluid.. and then it will boil

Good Luck,

Les
[snapback]227052[/snapback]

Holy S**t!!
This is it!!!!!
I took my car last July to a place by Autozone ghead ghead for a fluid check/and replacement and the guy flushed out the power steering fluid and replaced it with a store brand power steering fluid. Now I remember this clearly because another mechanic at this place mentioned to him that what they flushed out was not power steering fluid but something like it. They were confused by what this was and I over heard them before he asked me if I knew what fluids my car had before. But I didn't get service papers when I bought the car . So he went ahead a poured in this store brand fluid whiles the other guy cleared his throat maliciously . I was used for a bit but I didnt think nothing of it..... ghead until now! Damn I wish I'd known then.
But I think this is my problem...Because I checked again and the leak seems to be dribbling out from out under the power steering reseviour cap and not seem to be leaking from any hoses or rods. Hence that confirms the boiling-over theory, and why the fluid has spread evenly across the under carraige and why the leaking is inconsistent and not a constant leaking!!!!


Whew thank God!!! No $500 repairs....so All I need it flush out the store brand power steering fluid and replace it with ATF? Thanks Guys....
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Old 11-08-2004, 09:51 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Glad I could help ya bud.... Your cap has a pressure port on it... run your cap under some pretty hot water to get all the gunk off.. and let that sucker breath.. it will help it out too... not to mention the correct fluid... If I remember correctly ... take the hose towards the front off first.. and just let that sucker spill every where.. its the only way really... well I guess you could try and hold a funnel up there or something.. but drain that sucker... then turn the wheel to the stops in both ways to get all of the fluid out.. if you want to flush.. then flush.. but then just put that hoses back on.. and fill her up... be careful to not over fill... its rather easy in that cantainer...

Good Luck,

Les
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