E36 328i Restoration Project – Update

3-Series | May 12th, 2015 by 1
E36 750x500

So I recently announced the beginning of my voyage into restoring my E36 328i. I explained the laundry list of problems with the car and …

So I recently announced the beginning of my voyage into restoring my E36 328i. I explained the laundry list of problems with the car and my intentions for it. I’m very excited to have this project, as it gives me a chance to connect with a wonderful car and brand. And I get to talk about it with you fine people, so that’s a plus too. So today, I’m going to give a small update and a lesson I learned.

Recently, the fuel pump went. First it was just the fuel level sensor, so I would have to fill my tank, reset the trip computer and make sure that I refilled again before the 400 mile mark (about how much I can get out of a tank). Not too bad, considering I didn’t feel like shelling out the $300 for a new OEM pump. So I just dealt with it for awhile. Until the fuel pump died altogether. Just wouldn’t start one day. So I had to buy a new one, but the $300 pill was tough to swallow when I’m allocating so much other money towards the rest of the car. So I went to eBay.

1995 1999 BMW M3 E36 coupe 01 750x318

First let me start off by saying that I’m not a fan of cheap Chinese knock-off parts. Not my style. But I had never done it before and thought the $60 knock-off fuel pump was a lot easier of a pill to swallow, so I figured I’d try it out and pulled the trigger. I was optimistic, I thought “Hey, I’m gonna get the car running again and the sensor will work”. Obviously the story doesn’t end that happily.

So the pump comes in the mail two days later than it was scheduled, which already had me annoyed. But not only that, it came in such a poorly constructed package, it seemed as if the shipper just took scrap cardboard and tape and fashioned a box around the pump. So I take the pump out of the box and give it a good inspection to make sure it looks okay. It looks fine, cheap, but fine. Until the fuel level sensor and float, almost literally, disintegrate in my hands. I stood in amazement as the solder on the sensor and float looked like it was done by melting paper clips. I was furious, and tried for over an hour to fix it to no avail.

Well, it was getting dark by this point and I needed my car for the next day, so I installed it anyway aggravated that I’d still have to deal with the lack of fuel gauge.

The installation went fairly smoothly, until the point where I went to the gas station and filled up, only to have fuel pumping into my backseat because I forgot one hose clamp while installing the pump in the dark. After that ordeal was over, everything worked fine, except for the fuel gauge of course. However, the cheap fuel pump is audible from about ten feet away, so it isn’t the most refined piece of equipment ever.

Anyway, the old girl is running, albeit loudly. But I’m still needing a new fuel pump. So the moral of the story is this; buy OEM parts. They may be more expensive, but you’ll end up spending that much anyway when the knock-offs break and you’ll have wasted more time. So get the proper parts, they’re worth it. Especially when working on a project that means a lot to you.

One response to “E36 328i Restoration Project – Update”

  1. Schm says:

    Great article.

    Best to get plugged in with a local enthuiast group or BMW shop that stocks refurbished or used parts to find cheaper deals on stuff like fuel pumps. Ebay is so hit and miss.

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