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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 03-13-2005, 10:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi there,

Anyone have the problem with their 3 series (1998 318i in my case..), where suddenly the A/C just turns itself on? And then maybe you have it running...and it just turns itself off?

I asked the mechanic and he said it's a common problem with the 3 series, and that it's the face plate that needs to be replaced and reprogrammed...to the cost of around $450.

Any other similar experiences out there?

Thanks!

Stacey
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Old 03-13-2005, 11:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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never heard of that!! is it manual??? ( knobs??)
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes, the car is manual...
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Old 03-14-2005, 12:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by madderlake@Mar 14 2005, 08:42 AM
Yes, the car is manual...
[snapback]311045[/snapback]
I think he means is it a manually operated A/C system or do you have automatic climate control..........
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you mean the climate control unit (with the buttons and green lights - the thing that controls the cabin fan) randomly turns off and on (the screen goes REALLY REALLY DIM) without you doing anything, then there is a simple fix that dosn't cost a dime. That unit is called the "Final stage unit"

It's a common problem with these where the constant heating and cooling of a specific capacitor, causing expansion and contraction of the metal leads to stress the solder around the leads, causing the capacitor to loose contact with the board, rendering the unit unuseable.

The accepted notion is to think that the capacitor itself has failed and to buy a new one at radioshack for some 1 dollar or wahtever redicuious price they charge and replace it. Replacing it is a total pain since you have to scrape the enamal off of the PCB and around the capacitor to get it loose, AFTER you have de-soldered it.

The real problem, is not the capacitor itself, but the connection TO the capacitor. The capacitor leads simply need resoldering. I know this because I've done this myself and I've read a report where someone just re-soldered the leads and it worked perfectly for him to this day. I can attest to this as well since I did this about 6 months ago, I still have the "replacement" capacitor still in it's (huge) radioshack packaging since I never used it.

Here's a link to the main article that describes the DIY to replace the resistor
Here's a macro picture of my final stage capacitor.

You may want to add a bit more solder when doing this to ensure it dosn't happen anytime in the future since it looks like there's barly any solder on there to begin with.

Cheep soldering iron and a small spool of solder and "maybe it will work, either way it's worth a shot since the thing's dead anyawys": $5-10
New final stage unit: $450
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Seems like bitcore got it right on the dot. Similar display problems happen with the radio and trip computer. Just open it up and resolder whatever seems to need it. Don't worry, this is not as delicate a procedure as it may seem.
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Old 03-15-2005, 09:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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i hope not, i have an older unit i may take a look at now that i know the problem.
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Old 03-18-2005, 11:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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In my case it was just the solder joint also...didn't even need to pay for a capacitor!
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