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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, everybody.

I have been reluctant to post a new thread, as I don't want to repost something that's been posted myriad times before. Plus, I don't yet have fault codes, if there are any (see below). I've spent hours searching and reading, however, and I'm not satisfied that I've seen my exact scenario. So, here goes. I'm going to post as much info as I can think of. There's a good chance it's more than one issue. (BTW, if you know of another thread that fits, please feel free to throw up the link and I'll gladly read it!) Thanks in advance...

The basic symptoms: I've got a 1999 328i with about 140k miles on it. It has sporadically been running very rough at higher speeds (not necessarily high RPMs; say, around 2k). It will "hiccup," skip, jolt, whatever you want to call it. It especially appears to get worse after revving into overdrive (e.g., to pass someone or merge onto the freeway); once it settles back to the 2k range, it starts doing this skipping thing quite regularly. It also starts out sluggish when starting out from a complete stop, even when the engine is warm, or after changing from reverse to drive. It has stalled at a stoplight before, but this is rare. I have also noticed that it became loud at high speeds, seemingly all of a sudden, a few months back. This seems to be mostly coming from the rear of the car and, on the inside of the car, it sounds a bit like someone with one of those mufflers designed to make your car louder rather than quieter. It's kind of rumbly, and sort of resembles the sound of driving on brand new truck tires with really knobby wheels.

Those are the basics. That being said, here's my first question: the SES light is not on; does this mean no fault codes will be available to read? I do not yet have a Peake code reader. I am going to buy one in the not too distant future, but given the choice between using the money for parts and buying the code reader, I'd rather buy the parts, right now. At the moment, I have to watch my pennies. If it's worthwhile to read the codes, in spite of the fact that the SES light hasn't come on, I'll take it to someone with a reader and pay them the $25 or whatever to read it.

Here is everything I can think of that might be relevant (feel free to ask about other things):

  • I don't believe the VANOS seals have ever been replaced. (Did not try removing the intake solenoid connector, yet, to test.) I'm assuming that these need to be done, anyway, given the miles on the car, but I don't want to just throw money at something that might not really fix my current problem.
  • I cleaned the MAF as per DIY instructions (with MAF cleaner only and was quite careful), after which point is *seems* to have gotten worse, but it might have been on it's way out, anyway.
  • Disconnected the battery to do some other work on the car, after which things seem to be better. Coincidence? I don't really know.
  • Before remembering that the battery had been disconnected and reconnected, tried the notorious "Poor Man's MAF Test" (unplugging and driving, plugging back in and driving) - no real difference. This may be meaningless, however, based on various forum posts and, again, I'd disconnected the battery, possibly confounding my testing situation.
  • Radiator died a couple of months back. Car did overheat once or twice before all was successfully repaired (took a couple of trips back to the lame mechanic). I'm guessing this really did in the poor old VANOS seals, if they weren't already ruined.
  • Have NOT yet cleaned the ICV.
  • Have NOT replaced valve cover gaskets.
  • Got new rear tires a few months ago. When I drove away from the tire center, this was the first I'd noticed the loud engine. I thought it might have been related to the new tires, but maybe this was just a coincidence. Could something have happened when they changed the tires that was on the verge of occurring?
  • In order to get the car to pass smog, the secondary air vacuum line had to be replaced. I'd hoped this would make the loud sound go away, but it didn't have any noticeable influence on engine sound or performance.
  • Had front control arm bushings replaced, recently, but not rear. Recent stealership inspection report indicates: "rear trailing arm bushings worn and cracking"; "diff bushing worn and cracking"; and "steering rack boots torn." I'm sure these things need to be attended to sometime, but coming from them, I'm guessing it's something of a "make work" project. Then again, it could be immediately necessary. Can I do any of this myself?
Also, when I was recently at the parts center for a local dealer (buying a factory bulb, and YES, they're a must-have), the man at the counter suggested that my post-MAF cleaning rough driving may have been due to small cracks/holes in a couple of parts. As a preventive measure, I picked up two rubber boots related to the MAF assembly: part 13541705209 and part 13541437191. See parts #3 and #5 on the following diagram:

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=AM53&mospid=47723&btnr=13_0643&hg=13&fg=15

I haven't checked for holes in my originals, but he said that it's highly likely they've got leaks resulting in sucking air. Experiences with this?

That's a lot, I know! But I thought it would be better to see all of the symptoms and issues to rule things out and in.

What's really frustrating is that it's basically running fine today (albeit still noisy). I'm guessing it will start up again, though. As I said, it's not consistent.

Thanks again, everybody!
 

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So, we're sort of twins, you know...so I hope I can help.

Also, I hope that you're beautiful, intelligent, and really female and single in a few years! If so...photo...of car!

You've done a lot of work! I got mine with 140K miles so I know what's coming...and if you read some of my posts, that might help you with some of it...but I really haven't done diys...just mostly tell folks 'wiper blades' and fuses, and that makes them think I know everything!

Intake boot definitely...6mm socket on screw that's on clamp...almost always directly below the TB where you can't see it. Loosen it by hand, swing clamp up and then remove.

You sort of have to clean tb and icv...so search for my thread on what I did...(search tb icv grommet 0-ring ) and I think one will pop up...replacing rubber stuff behind is a good idea and really not expensive...maybe $20. Disa 0-ring, TB gasket...and you don't have to do the icv grommet like me...I think that was my ocd more than 'car repair.'

Plugs should have been done at this point, but might not have been.

It sounds like you might have a pinhole in your muffler or that maybe just it or the heat shield is loose and you're picking up a resonant sound...a sound guys pay money to reproduce!

You need to look underneath...if no ramps, drive up carefully along curb and make a 'ramp,' cardboard, led flashlight, and your eyes...and cooled car...and look...take photos of suspicious things and post here...in your thread trying to fix your car.

So, intake boots number one...buy some extra cleaner...and I guess, though, I should ask what experience you have working with cars. I see you've done a lot and probably could do everything on your car...just be smart, trust your instincts, and read diys until you want to sell your body on the street to have someone do the work for you...then...and only then will you be ready.

Oh, and if I've offended you in any way, please accept my apologies...I get like this at times...and I know it's really annoying...just consider it collateral damage...and if you can't...see Kalim in CA Bay Area...he understands me and can read my typewriting pretty well.

Also, the regional forum in CA is very active...it's an odd language they speak...but they are capable of speech...and even high level thinking...and some, I'm pretty sure have done things with or near furry people. Nice guys...you should meet them!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My hero! This is great. And fast! (In a good way...) :) And you have not offended me in any way. And why "single in a few years"? I'm single NOW! Why else would I be working on my car. Haha! Too bad you're on the East Coast, hehe.

I'm going to start with the intake boot, for sure. Are they both "intake" boots? Is one for the intake and one something else? (Isn't it becoming increasingly obvious that I'm an actual female? Perhaps I should use the word "thingie" and "whatchamacallit" more often. LOL!) I think I'll just replace both. The guy at the store said that he sells about one pair a day of these things. It's an inexpensive, relatively easy fix, and I've already got the parts.

I don't have a lot of experience working on cars, but I'm not afraid to read a lot and then give it a shot. I've done some work with tools and things on my sailboat. It's actually been kind of fun, so far. Except for when it's been frustrating... There are some amazingly great DIYs with photos and/or videos. What can go wrong, right? (Don't answer that...)

So, after the boots, the next step will be to clean the ICV and TB. Probably makes sense to do it all at once, since a lot of the same parts come out, at least initially. I'll look for your posts on how to do it. Hopefully, that will make things run better.

Do you have any recommendation for the VANOS rings? Is that a "must do" job? It sounds like it, if it's never been done. I was planning on getting the kit from Beisan Systems.

Thanks so much, dmax! :)
 

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SDGirl,

You know, people can pretend to be things they aren't on the Internet!

There's lots you can do on trip to TB (Ah, another thread about this would be found by searching me and Tampa Bay (a guy that didn't know the acronym).

It's not that difficult to change parts if you know what to do...and have the basics down. For you, that will be lifting car safely...either on ramps or jack stands...but really, the key is studying...something more of the folks here should do!

SolidJake has a great vid on cleaning the icv...or tb...I just used over a can and a half on icv cleaning by itself...

But...you certainly have time, so study up, plan parts, anticipate losing/breaking cheap things, so if you can and need car as a daily driver, then get extra bolts, screws, etc.

Keep bolts in their holes...though it isn't always important...it is sometimes...so just get in the habit of doing that.

Get a magnet on a stick, my favorite flashlight (Maglite XL50--$30 at HD), an inspection mirror.

Anyway, I love my car and I'm at 213K miles...and started where you are now...plus or minus...and plan on getting to 400K miles...if you are planning similarly, plan on spending a lot of time here...your car will love you for it!
 

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I'm going to guess it's your MAF sensor. change that and your pre-cat oxygen sensors and I am sure your car will run worlds better. Have you tried driving the car with the maf unplugged to see if the problem stops? I've heard of people diagnosing that way before. I wouldn't do it long term though especially on an automatic.
 

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If you cleaned the maf and you made it worse, then maybe you didn't clean it well enough.

You got a can of maf cleaner...use the whole can when you remove the maf again to do the boots...or use the rest of it. And make sure it's dry before starting the car!

Oh, and although rear diff bushings fail, doesn't sound like an emergency.

My tie rod boot ripped also...getting it fixed soon...but in the meantime, I figured out how to wrap it with large screw clamp and gorilla tape!

It keeps the seal in the steering rack clean...it's something you don't want to ignore for too long, but not an emergency right now.

You haven't done vcg, but is it leaking? If not, put it on list, you will be doing it...when, hard to say. I think mine went at 185K miles or so...but I posted about it when it did...but, as they say...ymmv!
 

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Where in SD are you? If you have any issues, take it to Neil at Oceanside Motorsports.

Tell him Brandon sent you. He's a great guy. EXTREMELY knowledgeable and down to earth.
 

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Hi SanDiegoE46Girl,

I would think it's highly unlikely that your vanos seals have survived. I had the same performance issues. Erratic tickover on cold starts. Very poor acceleration. Engine rough. High fuel consumption.

If you intend to change the seals, get them from Beisan Systems. If you do a search on the forum, you'll find plenty information on this. Don't get a replacement vanos unit from BMW, it'll just fail again after about 20,000 miles.
 

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Oh, on sound from the rear, you could have an exhaust flap rusted closed...look up there with flashlight.

And, on Vanos...I know they are a weak link, but I really didn't notice a difference when I did mine...don't know when that was...but probably in the vanos thread...but for me, especially with the stalling...think it was more cleaning stuff that solved that issue (disa, maf, icv, tb). I'm glad I did my vanos with my vcg, and that's when you should do it...and certainly should if your vcg is leaking...otherwise...you have a known intake leak and the part for it. That's a big part of what your issue is...I just have a feeling about it!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow - thanks, you guys!

Doug, you've written a whole manual, here. Awesome! :) I'm going to start with:

- New intake boots
- Clean ICV (I actually came across SolidJake's video yesterday. It's REALLY good. Great recommendation!)
- Clean TB
- Re-clean MAF sensor until all of the stuff is gone from the can

Do you think I should also replace the CCV while all of the parts are out of the car? Or save it for another day?

I'm going to see if someone I know has ramps I can use so that I can get up under the rear and look for rusted flaps or something loose. How to check for a pinhole in the muffler? And why anyone would want to pay money for their car to sound like that, I'll never know. I always prized how quiet the ride was, from the day I bought the thing.

Brandon, thanks for the tip! I am pretty far south, so O'side is quite a distance, but I truly appreciate it. A good, honest mechanic is worth his/her weight in gold.

Brian, I think you're probably right. I'm going to take a look at that in the not too distant future.

E46Mango, I sure hope it's not the O2 sensors, but the more I've been reading about that since I read your post, the more I'm wondering. Thank you for mentioning it. It's possible they were replaced a couple of years ago. I need to review my records. But it's definitely something I will keep on the list of what to look at. I'm going to have the codes read and see if anything comes up that points to that. In the meantime, I'm gonna start with things that need to be done anyway. I'm quite certain there are a lot of dirty things in my engine...

Thanks, guys!

Holly
 

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I'd look into the spark plugs too if they have not been done. Also the disa can cause the problems of stalling you have. Follow Doug's advice on clean everything and work from there. The vanos seals did worlds for me but I had horrible cold start stalls if you don't have that I wouldn't worry about them right away.
Start at the front of the car at the heads and follow the exhaust all the way back to the muffler. Your looking for rusty spots that have broke. Through or any holes in the pipes.
All I can say is start off small and work up. This all can sound like your car is going to hell but a simple thing could turn it into a new car again. Start cheap and work your way up.
I hope this helps
-Chad

Sent from my iPhone 4 using BimmerApp
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Chad, that sounds like very sound advice - thank you! I will do as you suggest, starting from the front and working my way back, looking for rust or broken things. And I think I will hold off on VANOS seals, for now. I'm fairly sure they need replacing, but I'm not having too much trouble with cold starts (it's tolerable, for now). My bigger issues occur when actually driving along. Spark plugs fall in a similar category - need to be done, but I think it can wait until the next project.

I checked my DISA valve (unplugged while running and plugged it back in) - no rattling or clicking! I'm very glad. :) Is that something that can/should be cleaned? Or do I just leave it alone?

SolidJake, you're very welcome. Your videos are terrific! Helpful, informative, and easy to understand. I will be watching your spark plugs one soon.

BTW, I had the codes read, yesterday. I paid a guy $10 to do it. I only got two fault codes: P0101 and P1770. My current hope is that P0101 is due to a small leak in the intake boots near the MAF (which I'm replacing this weekend). I saw a post on the forum about someone getting a P1770 code after having MAF issues. Can anyone confirm or debunk this? There was no resolution on that post. Here it is:

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=627192

I'll keep you all posted about how the boot replacement, ICV cleaning, and TB cleaning go. Thanks!

Holly
 

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SanDiegoE46girl, if you want a pair of O2 sensors for your car I've got some to sell. I'm from Minneapolis but I leave for Encinitas tomorrow for a 10 day vacation. I spent a long time trying to find a problem in my ignition system only to find out that I have a blown head gasket. This was of course after I ordered O2 sensors on ebay. They're certified used from prussian motors, I got them for 80 plus shipping, you can have them for 80.

I've got a 1999 328i sedan myself with almost 170k on it. I've done tons of DIYs on it all of which I found on this forum. I didn't know much at all in the beginning but now I'm about rip my whole head apart confidently. Just read everything you can and pay attention to DMax. He's a really sincere and caring internet creepster.
 

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Where is that on the scale relative to a sincere and creepy Internet carester?

It's okay...I'm that IRL too! :lmao:

Holly, do the intake boot first, right? And pay attention...and be sure to study up according to my standards (I've increased them to about 3 days of puking before you're ready for a diy).

Just fyi, since everyone's behaving so nicely around you...many here guess things, and I'm notorious according to some for doing that. But, truth is, you have your car, and we don't. When you're not sure about something mechanically...trust your instincts...and get good led flashlight!

There's nothing like a diy successfully completed...and nothing worse than finding out you need to go back and do something over. If you don't have an Enoc like me, you'll find fanatics a really useful place.

Also, the guys wanted me to ask you to make sure you videotape your first TB cleaning/intake boot install (don't forget TB gasket and lots of parts cleaner).

They were pretty particular about how they wanted the tripod set up...not sure it'd be so good for a diy vid...but kids these days...you know...:lmao:
 

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I'd look into the spark plugs too if they have not been done. Also the disa can cause the problems of stalling you have. Follow Doug's advice on clean everything and work from there. The vanos seals did worlds for me but I had horrible cold start stalls if you don't have that I wouldn't worry about them right away.
Start at the front of the car at the heads and follow the exhaust all the way back to the muffler. Your looking for rusty spots that have broke. Through or any holes in the pipes.
All I can say is start off small and work up. This all can sound like your car is going to hell but a simple thing could turn it into a new car again. Start cheap and work your way up.
I hope this helps
-Chad

Sent from my iPhone 4 using BimmerApp
When my 2000 e46 was riding rough, it ended up being a combination of my icv sticking and a worn spark plug threading. Although, when it started riding rough, I did get an SES light most of the time.

Let us know what happens once the ICV is clean. This one's a long shot but check your spark plugs for any "puffing" sounds.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi, all!

Sorry to have been MIA, this week. I'm the "Cookie Mom" for my daughter's troop, and we're doing all of the final record keeping stuff. I'm looking forward to getting my life back. Ahem.

Wardpower, thanks so much for letting me know about your O2 sensors! I'm not quite ready to take a chance on those, yet. More importantly, did you have a nice visit in Encinitas? I like that town. :)

My saga continues. First of all, I have not had a large enough block of time to work on my car. I was planning to do it last weekend only to discover that we had back to back activities the entire time! I'm still planning on doing the basics mentioned above, but there have been some new developments I wanted to run past the group.

In a nutshell, my transmission is now going into limp mode as soon as the car tries to shift into 2nd gear. I've experienced limp mode before, and I've even had my GM tranny rebuilt. Since being rebuilt, I have occasionally had to stop, turn it off to reset, and then go again. But as of yesterday, it does it almost immediately any time I drive it. I brought it to the shop that rebuilt my tranny, and they said that there appears to be a small leak which has resulted in some loss of fluid. It doesn't seem like a substantial leak, but I had apparently lost two quarts (out of seven) over some period of time. (It's also possible that the lame jerks that replaced my radiator a couple of months ago didn't bother refilling the lost transmission fluid that they would have inevitably dumped out when disconnecting my old radiator and putting on the new one.) The tech at the transmission repair shop said that they are getting back codes that suggest that there are problems with the clutches for first and second gear. They're not sure about fifth.

So, now I'm facing possible transmission problems which could explain my sluggish starts all along. I'm really not sure what to do, at this point. They said it's going to be $1800 to fix this, which is a tough pill to swallow. I've been reading up on auto transmissions, and I'm not sure it would be wise for me to attempt to replace the clutch packs myself, even with some help. On the other hand, they are assuming that the clutch packs are burnt out, due to the loss of fluid, and they naturally didn't open the transmission up to confirm. They're just going on the fact that there's been a leak and they're getting codes pertaining to specific gears.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I can't imagine anyone would want to buy a car knowing the transmission probably has problems. Does it sound like it's quite likely the transmission? Could the MAF sensor be causing these symptoms? I know that it affects the transmission. The tranny guys are transmission experts, not BMW experts. Does that matter? Is there more I can test before having anyone crack open the tranny? I'm kind of at a loss, here. I'd gotten all enthusiastic about my budding DIY career - not to mention the possibility of breathing new life into my car - and this has really taken the wind out of my sails.

I'm planning on taking the car to an independent European car repair shop nearby tomorrow. They get rave reviews on Yelp, and they're not as far away as my usual guy, so the drive won't be too taxing. I'm hoping they might have some insight about this problem. If nothing else, I think a second opinion is useful.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Update to this: It occurred to me that I hadn't tried unplugging the MAF and taking it for a spin to see if it changed gears. As you all know, the car *appears* to go into limp mode when you unplug the MAF sensor and then put it in gear (you get the ! symbol), but it could still be switching gears, rather than truly sitting in one gear as it would if it was truly in safe mode. I figured that, if the MAF sensor is the problem, bypassing it would stop sending the messages to send the tranny into limp mode. If the transmission really is the problem, however, my assumption is that it would still go into 3rd and stay there. Is this reasonable logic? I sure hope so, because the car actually changed gears! It was a bit clunky, but I was so thrilled that it moved up and down the gears as I picked up speed, slowed down, came to a stop, started out, etc.

So, I *appears* that I'm out of the woods as far as the super expensive tranny repair goes. I'm going to pick up a MAF sensor, hopefully today, and see what happens. I'd love to hear what you guys think. Let me know if I'm just being delusional. ;-)

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wanted to keep you all apprised of the progress. I think this could turn out to be helpful to someone. Maybe. :)

I went to a local salvage yard to get a MAF sensor. I didn't want to pay full price for the thing, since I wasn't positive it was my problem, plus I need to save money. ;)

Let me just say, I've never been to a salvage yard before, and I've now discovered my new version of heaven! OMG, I loved it! Picked up a MAF sensor for $100. Check!

Went out to my car and put it in directly. Started it up, put it in gear, and... no limp mode! Woot! I was stoked. Sadly, that was short-lived, as the :censor: exclamation point came back, as did the SES light. Darn! :facepalm:

But here's the good news (I think): even though the {!} light was on, the car was still shifting through the gears. So, I think it's still some other problem besides the tranny. I've already seen how unplugging the MAF sensor and putting it in gear makes the {!} appear, but what else can do this? I mean, it's not truly "limp mode" or "safe mode" if the car is shifting gears, right? So, this is where I go from here.

That being said, to be clear on this, the MAF sensor is definitely helping. The car is running MUCH better. Better on starts (though occasionally still sluggish), shifts better, just much better. :thumbsup: Not perfect. It kicked off the {!} again this morning after a sluggish start from a stoplight. That seems to be consistent. It doesn't always do it, but sometimes, if it's struggling to get going, the light comes on, but the car still shifts gears.

This weekend, I will finally have a block of time for cleaning the ICV and TB. I'm really looking forward to seeing how that goes and what results I get, if any. And I'm going to place an order, today, for the Peake scanner.

Thanks for reading!
 
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