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BMW z3 engine sound - normal?


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Gents and Ladies,

I must be the king of sounds. Its almost like going to a music store and ask the person behind the counter: \"Do you know this song?\"and then sing false or so.

So far I had trouble with the top rubber of back suspensions. Sound recorded solved by kind help of people here.

My second sound is still not solved. After 2 visits to the garage they still dont know. Hope to get some diagnose later this week.

My new sound is here on a youtube link.

Anyone have a guess?



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On your original post I think it's the vanos which is going nuts. But on RonLitlle's post I think it's a sticky valve which hits the piston.

I got some "rough running" sometimes but i know for sure it's the Vanos system, makes a sound like it's running on 5 instead of 6 cyl's. In the meantime it's a bear to drive it on low rev's, it just sounds like you'r having a big americain motor with the typical gorgle to it. Or a leaking exhaust for that matter. Be carefull, it sounds like that, it's none of those.

To cut it short, you got an engine problem. Eighter lifters, valve-springs or Vanos. Just my opinion of course.......

Draining the battery has got nothing to do with the sound or a faulty altenator. Can be one of the belts gone south on you concerning the alternator... but again, has got nothing to do with the sound I hear in your 1st post.

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Well I dont think its either disa valve or vanos (and that doesn't exist even on my model)

The sound on my original film is more looking after the whining sound. Not the clicking sound. The whining sound was new and the battery goes quickly dead.

Right now my car is dead in the water and no one near to give me a jump start. And ironically I had an appointment with the garage tomorrow to check one matter. I will need to cancel it. And now it seems like all is gathering up.

Here is a good site to check why the battery gets drained:

Again I need a fully charged battery before truly checking if the alternator is providing it with a sufficient charge. If not then we know I have an alternator issue. IF not then its per fuse...

Could the whining sound not be the alternator?

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The sound reminds me of a belt-tensioner with faulty bearings...........

What would I do ? :

To exclude some noises, (have them) take off the alternator belt. By doing so you can exclude noises form the alternator, waterpump, powerdrive (steering), and the tensioner (and also the pully's). Taking off the alternator belt is pretty easy. On the tensioner there is a plastic cap, take it of en then you will find a (16 mm ?) nut. Don't try to losen it (the nut), but use a wrench to "pull it down" (move it opposite to the spring-tension). By doing so, you release the tension of the alternatorbelt, and then you can take it of. Before doing so make a note of how the belt "runs" (direction) and my advice is to make detailled pictures of the belt and how it runs over the pully's.

Start the engine (red lights will pop-up because the alternator is not running). Listen to the sound(s). Don't have the engine running to long because it has no cooling (the alternatorbelt runs also the waterpump).

Keep us posted on your findings!!!!!

Good luck!!!

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The sound on my original film is more looking after the whining sound. Not the clicking sound. The whining sound was new and the battery goes quickly dead.

You're wright. I think you have an faulty alternator. Try my trick with the alternator belt. I'm pretty sure the noise is gone. If I'm not mistaken the regular 4-cyl E36's have the same alternator, so there should be no problem finding a replacement.

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Sounds like a reasonable approach to eliminate the sound..

i will perform a few checks:

1. if the battery is fully charged again start the engine, and check with a voltmeter if enough charging voltage is there. 13,5 around?

2. if the charge is there then the drainage of battery is something else and the check per fuse is needed.

3. if the charge ISNT there its probably the alternator malfunctioning.

4. to check what the whining sound take the belt off the alternator


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Sounds ok. Considder that an alternator with faulty bearings will still "do it's thing", however it will be very noisy. But given the fact that you battery is also discharged, there is more reason to believe that the alternator is "gone". I would recommend to get the battery charged. Do some charging tests (as you already discribed, and I don't know the exact voltage but you should see an increase of voltage as soon as the enigine runs, and I guess that it will be approx 13 V), take off the belt and ........listen to the sounds.

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No, ironically I was planning to visit roodkapje tomorrow for that. And its not really near by so I cant say, please wait until you can fix it...:-). So the metal sound is a problem I will fix and post it here.

I am 70% sure its the alternator. Which is now the highest priority.

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I just jump started the car. The battery gets a charge of around 13 V so its not a faulty alternator when it comes to charge. Now I have another matter. Why is the battery all of the sudden drained. I guess its back to check the fuses.

Now I have a voltmeter. Hence can check per fuse. But what are the exact instructions? You use AC 20v range. But where to put the plus and minus cables (sorry to make this sound so stupid) to check fuses I dont know.

About the cable I checked but didnt feel comfortable taking off.

Now I will drive for a while, pick up the battery charger and see where i can go from there.

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are you familiar with Pando? ( I could try to upload a English copy of Bentley's (no not the car, but the publisher) E36 Service Manual (759 pages) on to Pando. Also I have a copy (in german) of the BMW E36 ADAC's troubleshoot shortlist which they use for the ADAC Mechanics with lots of electrical tips and tools. Both cover electrical problems. Last but not least I also have "98's Z3 E36 electrical troubel shooting manual" (347 pages from BMW USA). Just send me a "private message" through the forum (or send an email to leon(underscore)lux(at)

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Oh by the way.......I'm more than happy to share these documents on the Forum, so if the forum has serverspace to store it on, let me know (specially the ADAC document is quite unique, since it includes all the knowlegde of the ADAC's E36 malfunctioning from trunks who won't unloc over to starting problems).


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Ok cool

Diagnose solved:

Its the alternator.

How this was determined:


1. New Battery empty

2. Strange sound, almost whining determined in the engine compartment (pls see above video)

3. A distinct smell of burned electricity

Diagnose Approach:

1. Either charge your battery or jump start the car by using another car with jump cables

2. Once the car is running check voltage with a Voltmeter on two places (range 20v) 1. on the battery to check if the alternator charges the battery. 2. Under the hood left top side, measure the voltage. In my case the charge of battery did take place but was low (around and under 13 V). The volt under the hood (what the engine gets, was just 12 hence showing that the electric power comes from the battery more then the alternator.

3. As advised by Leon (thx mate) take the belt off and see if the sound disappeared. The sound indeed came from the alternator.

Conclusion: New alternator to be replaced

I have to say that I needed to go to a garage for this. I didn't dare to take the cable off but the steps for diagnose was agreed and even p[partly suggested by the garage. Hence now the car is waiting for the alternator to be replaced.

Thanks for your support guys. It helps to learn more about your car but also ensure some practice to diagnose with a garage so the costs of unnecessary repairs are avoided.

My so called unnecessary damage this time is simply a new car battery. And of-course the cost for replacement which is around 200 - 300 euro;s


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You're welcome, That's where this Forum is all abouth!

200/300 Euro is a lot of money, why don't you check the 2nd hand partsdealers (or...I almost don't dare to say it, but why don't you try the junk-yard........I purshased a "new" E36 starter last year for........20 euro's and it runs great !)Good luck and keep us posted on the metal sound comming out of the rear of your Beemer

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