Help - E36 keeps stalling - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
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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#1 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 06:25 AM
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Help - E36 keeps stalling

HI All,

My first post here. I recently got my first beemr, a 1996 E32 320i. It is a great car, trouble is it has just started to stall, every time I take my foot off the accelerator it dies on me. This happens even when it's up to temperature. The idle speed seems very low as well. Any ideas as to what the problem is? Can I increase the idle speed (if thats the problem) without upsetting anything else? if so how do I do that?

Many thanks.
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#2 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 07:35 AM
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u mean e36 lol could be that the icv (idle control valve) is very dirty, there is a diy on that somewhre on this site, just have a look around! but i think its actually something more serious, although cleaning it wouldnt hurt!

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#3 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 07:38 AM
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Thanks Warnox.... I'll check the IDV, anything else it could be while I have the bonnet up?
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#4 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 08:19 AM
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before it cuts off, does it act strange, does the Check Engine light go on... be a little more descriptive, so we can try to picture whats going on... im sure there is a fix for your problem..

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#5 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 04:49 PM
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HI Cruzin, no I don't get any lights on before it stalls - it just dies on me. No warning or anything. Sometimes it seems OK for a while but then will just go again. Other times the idle speed is really low just stopping short if stalling. I did notice tonight when I was sitting at traffic lights that it seemed fine while it was out of gear but as soon as I put it in gear ready to move it stalled.

Any help would be great as this is most frustrating. Oh and I tried to look at the idle control valve but was unsure where it was, the haynes manuel wasn't very discriptive and the picture didn;t help much. I think it's one of the units right up under the inlets but even if it was there was no way I could get my hand in and round to pull it out. Is there a way of getting this out to clean it without taking all the injectors and inlet manifolds off?
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#6 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 05:08 PM
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yeah id look at the ICV, if its creating an idle bounce (where the needle bounces and sometime will stall the car).. can you describe a bit more for me? like does it happen frequently? on a hot or cold car? how easy is it to get the car started again?

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#7 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 05:50 PM
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Hi furious, yeah, good description, the needle does sort of 'bounce' and then stall. Seems to happen if it's hot or cold but not every time, maybe 50% of the time when I at a juntion or lights it'll stall other times it's fine. I took my foot of the accelerator this morning in traffic and just dipped the clutch and it stalled then (only time it's done that while I was moving). It is very easy to restart the engine, first time every time with that. Do I need to take the air filter and mass air flow meter off to get at the ICV?
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#8 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 06:32 PM
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when was the last time you changed your air filter?


next time that needle starts to bounce tap the gas or hold the gas pedal down ever so slightly to level out the idle. than let it off and see if it will idle properly. it helped me for the short time before i got the icv fixed. i cant say 100% its your ICV but that same description turned out to be mine.

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#9 (permalink) Old 04-07-2006, 02:59 AM
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HI all, thanks for the help, really good site this! My air filter was new at Christmas (not that I had the car then - but the paper work says it was replaced then at it's service) but I did check it last night anyway and it was very clean. - Furious, yes I have been holding down the accelerator pedal and does seem to help a little. I did find the ICV last night but ran out of time to take it out, so I just gently tapped it with a screw driver and hammer to see if it would loosen and dirt in it. Seemed to be better this morning when I drove to work. It only stalled once, and that was as I pulled into my parking place at work. So tonight I'll try and get the ICV out and clean it, I think it sounds like this will be my problem. I'll let you guys know the out come.....again many thanks
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#10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2006, 01:52 PM
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All, I have now taken the ICV out, cleaned it (it was dirty) WD40d it and put it back it (took ages to get it back in correctly). I took it for a test drive and if I am gentle with the gas pedal it seems fine, if I rev it to say 20 or 30k then it drops back to about to about 3k and struggles, sometimes recovers and sometimes stalls. Other times (having revved it) it bounces madly between 3 and 7 revs for ages before it settles..... this is beginning to drive me potty - any more help would really be appreciated.

Could it still the ICV? (I have checked as many hoses as I could see and all looked fine eg no cracks)….. or is there something else it could be?

Thanks for your patience and help!
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#11 (permalink) Old 04-07-2006, 03:09 PM
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to properly test for vaccuum leaks, use brake cleaner and spray all the hoses with it. You'll know when you've found the hole because it'll probably stall out or start to struggle when you spray on the leak.


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#12 (permalink) Old 05-01-2006, 07:43 AM
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Hi All,

After much messing about and checking all the hoses, cleaning the ICV changing the plugs etc I gave up and took it to my local mechanic. He had a look at it, plugged it in the computer to find no faults found. After checking with me I had cleaned the ICV he stuck his hand under the manifold and while the engine was running (badly) and all of a sudden it fixed itself - or should I say he put his hand over a diaphragm that had split and all returned to normal.

Having been so surprised and relived that there wasn’t a major problem I forget to ask what diaphragm was broken, where it was, and how to replace it - anybody got any ideas please?

Many thanks.
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#13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2006, 09:36 AM
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Could be some valve or a vaccuum cable that goes to your manifold.

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#14 (permalink) Old 05-01-2006, 09:46 AM
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The boot between the MAF and throttle body could have had a tear. They are notorius for cracking and splitting with age.

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#15 (permalink) Old 05-01-2006, 03:30 PM
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Thanks guys, I checked the boot between the MAF and throttle body - looks OK, thanks for the advise anyway tomctx. I need to check out VWK's idea that there might be a split valve or a vaccuum cable going to my manifold.

Does anyone have a good picture of the underneath of the manifold so I can see what I'm looking at - my Haynes manuel is not very clear and I can't see very well under there even with a light.

failing all I'll take it back to the machanic - after all he's not a BMW dealer so shouldn't be to expensive, and seems to know what he's talking about. Just wanted to try and fix (and learn) to do it myself.

Many thanks again all.....
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