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swishsam 04-26-2010 01:17 PM

Please Help (New Owner): No Start Issue
Hi all,

I am the new owner of a 1985 318i. I will start by saying that I have gone through the New Owner stickies and have used the search function to get some information. That said, I was hoping you guys would please help me answer a couple of direct questions.

Here's the rundown: I bought the car yesterday. When I was viewing the car, I went to start it and it started perfectly fine right on the first go, no problems. So I left it and went to get a tow truck etc. 5 hours later I come to start it again and now while it turns over there is absolutely no way to get it firing up. I am totally baffled because I just dont see how it would start perfectly fine 5 hours before when the previous owner is trying to sell it, and now not start at all (unless the previous owner had done something to make sure it fires up)

So, can you guys please answer the following:

1. Is there some sort of trick to starting a 1985 BMW 318i that I am not aware of?
2. Is there any common problem related to this no start problem? (And specifically, is there any common diagnostic check that I should run?)
3. What do you guys think it may be?
4. How do I check for spark? How do I check for fuel? (I think this was answered somewhere though).

Thank you very much! (It is a very good looking car).

BigD 04-26-2010 03:34 PM

No-start should be fairly easy to track down. Find which one of fire|air|fuel is missing. How you go about that is pretty much up to you. If you know your way around an oscilloscope then this gets a lot easier.

Pull a sparkplug. Does it smell like fuel? If not, test the fuel pump and relay. Dig up a schematic or google which relay is your fuel pump and yank it. I wouldn't recommend using a wire if you have a choice. It's best to take a high amp fuse (grab one of the spares in the fuse box) and bend the legs 45 degrees (so they're at 90 to each other), and plug into the fuse holder. It will be very obvious if the fuel pump runs - you'll hear whirring from inside and fuel rushing through the lines in the engine bay.

If it does, to test spark, plug the plug into the lead, and hold the sparkplug thread against the valve cover or something [ground] as someone cranks the engine - is there a believable, steady spark?

If all of the above are OK then you have too much air in the form of a massive vacuum leak. Check for cracked or popped off hoses around the intake manifold.

The worst case is that the timing belt blew, or your timing has shifted for another reason (like a skipped chain - not sure which the m10 has), but I highly doubt this.

Brent 04-26-2010 10:04 PM

If you don't have too much gas, you could have clogged up your fuel filter with some bottom of the tank fuel-I've heard of this preventing starting a couple of times on the forum. It happened to me-my car started, then absolutely wouldn't a couple of hours later, and that was the reason.

swishsam 04-27-2010 03:08 AM


Alright, so today I installed the fuel filter on the car. Then I started it and for a second the car came to life and then died. I could not start it again after that.

Then, I went to pull the plugs and noticed that they had a gassy smell. But after I put the same old plugs back in, the car started again and then later died. (Tomorrow I will put brand new plugs on it).

Anyway, my questions:

1. What does it mean if you're plugs have fuel on them (if fuel is found in the sparkplug chamber?)
2. Also, I noticed that when the car started to run, some oil was leaking out of the end of my muffler and some out of a hold rusted through the exhaust. (So, what does it mean if there is oil coming out of the exhaust and muffler?)


Brent 04-27-2010 07:00 AM

I've never had this, but I thought I'd look into it as it seems like an interesting question. From what I can tell, best case scenario is that it is condensation mixed with carbon. This would look like oil and it would happen if the car was sitting for a while. Are you 100% sure it's oil. If it is, that's another matter...

BigD 04-27-2010 07:53 AM

If it's catching like that, that means the car is pretty much fine but there's a weak link somewhere. You have fuel but you may not have enough - it could be a dead or dying fuel pump. The other possibility is the vacuum leak - like I said, check every vacuum hose, make sure they are all in place and nothing is cracked.

How did the car run when it did fire for a short time? I did it just sputter, or did it seem to run fine? You can also check the crank position sensor, see if the lead has any breaks or exposed wires. It's on the front of the engine, right above the harmonic balancer. Some older engines have it on the flywheel... your repair manual will say.

I would start by trying a different fuel pump - maybe see if you can borrow a used one.

It's not oil in the exhaust.

InfiniteDice 04-27-2010 02:47 PM

It might not be oil... it could be condensed vapor mixing with all the carbon built up in there. If it's blowing oil that bad, you have a serious issue.

Pull off the ICV and check it, it is a cylinder with a few rubber hoses going from the intake boot to the throttle body. This could be jammed with oil, clean with carb or throttle body cleaner. Without the ICV the car will not idle. With the key in position 2 all on but not start, you should hear the ICV buzz.

Put fresh gas in, with some stabilizer. Who knows what the other person had in there (and for how long).

Take off the oil cap, check for milkshake. I'd change the oil and look for milkshake there too. Oil is cheap you can get 4.4l of 20/50 at CDN tire for 9.99.

Try some of this then let us know what happened.

swishsam 04-27-2010 05:54 PM


Today I replaced the spark plugs. Now the car fires up pretty quickly but then dies afterwards (at one point I felt like it was trying to idle but then lost the battle)...

I am going to do the following to fix it:

1. Clean out the ICV once I figure out where it is.
2. Go to a gas station and pump it full of good gas.
3. Drive it.
4. Hope that the oil in the exhaust is just condensation mixed with carbon and nothing else (although it is still leaking it when I start it up).

So, here are my new questions:

1. Looking at the pictures, can you guys please tell me what the things are that I have red arrowed?
2. Where is my ICV based on the diagrams?
3. What does it mean if your spark plugs are coated in gas?
4. What other tune up things can I do or clean that is fairly easy? (And where in engine compartment that thing is)

Thank you.

E30M42cab 04-27-2010 05:57 PM

In order of circles

1. ICV
2. Fuel rail
3. Power Steering reservoir (ATF fluid recommended)
4. MAF (mass air flow sensor)

Brent 04-27-2010 08:26 PM

If your spark plugs are coated in gas, it could mean it's not firing. Maybe try to replace the plugs (fairly cheap) and if that doesn't work, maybe the wires (more expensive, as I remember).

BigD 04-27-2010 08:48 PM

The ICV won't cure your problem, it's only to hold a steady idle. Just open the throttle a bit and if it still dies, it's not the ICV. I say vacuum leak or fuel pressure.

For other things you should do, change the rotor, cap and if your wallet is up to it, plug wires.

InfiniteDice 04-27-2010 09:26 PM

The ICV is the only way the car gets air at idle. The TB is closed. Therefore, if the ICV is blocked... no air... no runnola.

1) I would quickly check your air filter.

2) Check your coil, if you have a meter. (find the tolerances online for the test) - Disconnect your battery first....

I've only seen a few things that will kill an engine once it's running. Wiring issues with the AFM, the ICV, the main relay.

3) Without the engine running, listen to the TB as you open the throttle with your finger, it should click just as the throttle begins to open. If you don't hear a click the Throttle position switch could be miss-aligned or clogged with oil. This could cause the engine to run super rich.

4) Try starting the car, and keep your foot barely on the gas pedal, try to keep the rpm at 1000 - 1500. This will bypass the (idle control valve) ICV. Let us know what happens.

swishsam 04-27-2010 10:09 PM

Interim Problem

First off, let me just say that this is probably the most reliable and credible car forums I have ever asked for help on. You guys are awesome.

Alright, here is what I did now:

1. Took off ICV and cleaned it out (but it was pretty clean already).
2. Charged the Battery fully.

But, I ran into a snag. The spark plugs I bought at Canadian Tire looked like this:

But, the BMW spark plug wires that I have are meant to couple with a plug that has this type of end terminal:

The guy at Canadian Tire told me that I could screw these terminals off and switch them around but I have tried and it doesnt seem to be unscrewable.

What do you guys think? Do I have to buy another round of plugs?

Aloush 04-27-2010 10:55 PM


Originally Posted by swishsam (Post 1414780)
The guy at Canadian Tire told me that I could screw these terminals off and switch them around but I have tried and it doesnt seem to be unscrewable.

What do you guys think? Do I have to buy another round of plugs?

hold the end with pliers and twist.. It will come off..


swishsam 04-27-2010 11:13 PM

I tried doing that to both plugs, the new ones and the old ones. I honestly could not get the end terminals off on either.

So, can you guys recommend some plugs (model #'s) that are cheap and have the right end terminals?

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