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Blower motor? problem

Discussion in 'E36 (1992-1999)' started by michdud, Jan 4, 2016.

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    Hi, I have a 1997 328i with 260,000 miles on it. This past summer I wasn't getting any air blowing through the vents for about 3 days. When I took it up to the shop, they couldn't find a problem as it had started working again. It went out again and now the shop is saying that the blower motor is gone. However, I can get enough A/C to come through to de-fog the front window. Otherwise there is no forced air coming through the vents. I talked to my uncle who's in the parts business and he said it's one of 3 things- the blower motor, the blower motor resistor, or a short in the connection somewhere. he thought that it was most likely the resistor. When I asked my mechanic if it could be the resistor, he said that my car doesn't have a resistor, however, when I go to parts websites, they are showing one exists. The estimate I was given to replace the motor would be about $1,100. The mechanic said the motors wear out at about 150k.

    I have these questions: 1) Is the motor the most likely problem, and if not what is? 2) Should replacing the motor be the 1st route to try or is there a cheaper option? 3) Is there a parts store that you recommend? And/ or would a part from the junkyard be ok to use?

    I don't want to throw a ton of money in this car as it seems like every couple of months I'm back in the shop for something. I almost think a better use of my money would be to go to mechanic's school and learn to fix this thing myself! Thanks for your time and expertise!
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    If there is some flow out of the vents then the blower it trying to work in some form. So I would say your uncle is correct and most likely the resistor is only allowing the motor to work at a slow speed. If it was my opinion I would replace the blower motor and resistor and micro filter to keep the system working especially during the winter months. Both the motor and resistor are problematic in your vehicle.
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    Hmmm... with the age and mileage, you may be getting into the nibbled-to-death-by-ducks stage with the maintenance. There's only so much you can do about parts prices, additionally ameliorating maintenance costs would mean d-i-y'ing what you can. The upside there is since the E36 has been around so long, you can probably find lots of how-to's on forums and youtube; add-in a E36 Bentley manual to 'net resources, and you stand a reasonable chance of finding others have often shared how they tackled various issues. Point being, if you're reasonably mechanically inclined and have some patience & problem-solving ability, you don't necessarily need mechanic's school to tackle many areas of car maintenance, and there's a number of helpful resources to draw upon. Educational efforts can certainly & definitively up the skill & knowledge level in a hurry, however, were you so inclined.

    O.E. BMW parts prices for blower, resistor, and microfilter are about 1/2 your cost estimate

    (look up your car and parts numbers on realoem.com, then you can google parts numbers for places selling them)

    Bavauto.com is a pretty good resource because they're comprehensive - if something is special order on Bavauto's website, typically that means it's only available through BMW, in which case it may pay off to comparison shop dealers or your local dealer - if your dealer offers a price discount on parts for members, you might save a bit taking advantage of that (might have changed, but my dealer offers 10% discount on parts to 'CCA members, for instance). Parts that have aftermarket equivalents can often be had for a good bit less than BMW o.e.

    Your blower motor for instance (use realoem.com to confirm the part number, since I don't know your production month/yr, & exact model such as coupe, sedan or convertible) here on autohausaz.com shows Behr (o.e. supplier) and a cheaper generic - about $300 for the Behr (vs.$470 o.e. BMW) and generic "Uro" brand at $85.


    Checking Bavauto, in this instance, they have the o.e. supplier Behr unit cheaper than autohaus.az, at $234. The decision there is whether there's a long-term reliability advantage to the more expensive part. Bavauto also specifically mentions the fan blades are not movable on the cheapest motor. Having had to 'tweak' fan blade position before replacing the fan on my E30, that might be why non-permanently-mounted fan blades might be useful, but that's speculation. Down time is a factor - if, say, you have something else to drive while working on your car, then perhaps you'd have the luxury of waiting while returning the cheaper part and getting the other in case for some reason the cheap part didn't fit correctly. If not, then maybe the Behr is a better option; not that having to move the blades is a good thing, it isn't - risk of breaking or destroying the new part, in which case there's no warranty coverage and you're out for TWO parts, blowing the savings you were trying for in the first place.

    Of course, there's also having needed tools, having a place to work on your car, and, having the time to do it (figure 2-3 times, or more, of what you expect)

    I'm not so sure on the microfilter replacement in terms of where it is and how that's done, but, the blower & final stage are in the same area, so given the age and nature of the parts - effort-wise, it wouldn't make that much sense to replace one without the other.

    blower motor realoem.com diagram for U.S. 6/97 328i sedan, also resistor (part #2):

    You'd have to decide for yourself about tackling your own maintenance - there are both upsides and downsides. There's some satisfaction & $$ savings to successfully completing a task; however, many jobs are no cakewalk, and at worst, present a risk of serious injury or getting yourself killed. Being stupid or careless about floor jack usage, gas/oil & risk of fire, electrical shocks/shorts, etc. I tend to think in terms of all projects being a pain-in-the-neck (compared to everything working fine and needing nothing), it's just how much of a hassle, depending on the project.
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    Thank you for the info!
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    charlson89 likes this.

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