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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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#1 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 07:29 AM
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Found a slow leak, see pic, and at first I thought it was a leak from just having changed the valve cover gasket but the drops on the floor are not oil. Looks kinda greyish black, thin and not real greasy. Maybe powersteering fluid?
Pic sucks, taken with one of those camer phones, the leak is in the front middle.
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#2 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 07:35 AM
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hard to tell what im looking at, is that the alternator?

if so im guessing powersteering fluid. get under the car and check the hose. and if it turns out to be that , check my FAQ on how to fix it yourself

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#3 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 07:59 AM
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That's your freon compressor. Looks like a freon leak. Freon is looks kind of like coffee with cream. It's not really freon as that is a gas, but the oil that lubes the freon system.

Smell it. If it smells like oil then it's probably oil, if it smells sickly sweet like coolant, then its coolant, if it smells like heavy grease, then it's probably ps fluid (or ATF fluid). If it smells like nothing you have ever smelled (a mix between anestetic and death), then it's that freon oil. Seeing as how we are lookin at the freon compressor.

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#4 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by schilke@Dec 8 2004, 07:59 AM
That's your freon compressor. Looks like a freon leak. Freon is looks kind of like coffee with cream. It's not really freon as that is a gas, but the oil that lubes the freon system....................
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Thanks guys. schilke, I think it is what you described. In your opinion s this a DIY? to fix or do I need to take to a shop?

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#5 (permalink) Old 12-08-2004, 10:17 AM
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Depends on what's causing the leak. Your pic seems to elude to the compressor casting having a hole in it. If that is the case then you need a new compressor. If it is leaking out of the pulley shaft, then you need a new compressor too.

Cross your fingers that a hose is loose, maybe it just needs tightened down. In which case, it is a total DIY.

If it is a compressor, then that depends on your mechanical ability.

I think I would probably attempt a compressor change. Mine sounds like it is compressing marbles, but it has lasted 2 summers so far and still puts out cold air. I am looking at prices and methods to do it for the eventual day when she kicks though.

A shop is mandated by law (even with R134a) to evacuate the system and recover the freon. Because R134a is supposed to be safe, they do sell vacuum pumps and re-charge kits at bavauto and any other finer auto part store.

If you replace the compressor, you will need this vacuum pump to clear the system of air. If it is just a hose loose (assuming you don't need a new hose), then a recharge kit should do you. Get one with a pressure guage. It helps.

Hope this helps. A/C work is rough because you need special tools and pumps and need to understand operating pressures and stuff. Most of that info is available on the web as are the tools, so its up to you.

If you have more money than brains, take it to a shop. If not, give a DIY a whirl. The worst that could happen is you not have A/C for the winter.

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