I have a 1992 BMW e36 320i, when i start in the morning, or in cold weather, the cars functions normally and has a lot of power. However, after a little, or when the weather is hot, the car significantly looses power, and as if it seems to be another car. The gearbox also begins to shift in a rough way.

The heat of the car remains normal, and it is even most of the times below the average temperature. I tried installing K&N air filters, but i kept getting the same result.

  • How much miles already run? Sounds like wear of your engine. – Watsche Jul 22 '14 at 11:26
  • Around 250,000 Miles – Hassan Mokdad Jul 22 '14 at 11:32
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    :D wow, respect. Anyway, your engine and I think the gearbox need a retread. New coils, valves, camshaft and a lot of other stuff. Maybe is easier to get the other one with less milage. – Watsche Jul 22 '14 at 11:45
  • @Watsche, Thanks for you comment :). Actually I changed the gearbox yesterday, I installed a 325 gearbox. I think I will change the engine too – Hassan Mokdad Jul 22 '14 at 11:48
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    sorry, my fault. 320d is 4 cylinder. yeah, then its not a big difference. But if you already have 325 gearbox, I would take 325 engine. Because 320 engine with 325 gearbox has not as good acceleration as you had before (higher translation). Torque is a physical force, with them the wheel will be rotated. More torque with the same weight gives you better acceleration. – Watsche Jul 22 '14 at 12:37

You need to have your vehicle scanned for any basic faults. If the problem is intermittant as described, then use a data logger such as Launch CRecorder or iOBD2, to track the vehicle operation and show up any intermmittant fault. A lot of scanners will also record the engine operation to enable you to scutinise the record for faults.


I will preface this by saying I do not have a lock on BMW's, especially older ones, so take this for what it's worth.

If this were an American car with mid 90's fuel injection, I'd say your Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor was bad. Since it's a BMW and it appears they didn't use a MAF, I'd point to the air flow meter. Here is my thinking. I'm going to make an assumption that BMW's go through two phases of running, that being open loop and closed loop. Open loop mode is where the engine is at start-up and is not warmed up yet. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) does not utilize some of the sensors at this point (ie: O2 sensors and air flow meter), but rather relies on the throttle position sensor and some others. When the engine is warmed up enough, it switches over to closed loop mode, in which it uses all of those sensors.

While this may not be exactly the scenario, it seems likely that one or more of the control sensors which helps the ECU decide how much fuel to dump may be bad (or not responding correctly), so the amount of fuel which is dumped into the engine is out of whack and therefor makes the engine run completely different once it switches modes. Since the air flow meter is a very expensive part and you can only get them as rebuilt (not new ... at least not from the parts stores), I will NOT suggest you run down and just replace this. Take it to a skilled mechanic who can diagnose this for sure, as Alan has stated. I could be completely off base not knowing exactly how BMW control systems work.

  • Thanks for your answer, mine is actually a German car. Is the Mass Air Flow different than the oxygen sensor? – Hassan Mokdad Jul 23 '14 at 6:16

If your lambda sensor(oksygen sensor) is broken, it normally got symptoms like. when idle the rpm jumps back and forth, could even choke the engine in some cases! High fuel usage, bad smell from the exhaust, and generally runs bad. you might experience that your car is running smooth when cold, but when getting some heat its back to how it was, this is because the lambda sensor/oksygen sensor wont start "doing its job" until it reaches a certain temperature.

Sorry for bad grammar :)

  • Thanks for the info, I am still searching for an oxygen sensor, but i guess that it is expensive right? – Hassan Mokdad Nov 12 '14 at 8:12

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