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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Fri, Jan-11-2019, 03:15:46 AM   #1
dannyzabolotny
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Question Oil pressure light at idle when engine warm

Hey all, I've been trying to troubleshoot a particular issue, wanted to see if anybody had any thoughts on it. My oil pressure light keeps coming on whenever I come to a stop in my 1997 M3 with 212k miles. It only happens once the engine is warmed up after some driving. The light isn't super steady or bright, it's kinda faint and pulses back and forth a bit. I usually keep the AC on so the idle speed is around 650-700 if I had to guess.

Here's what I've done to troubleshoot the issue:

- I replaced the oil with Mobil 1 15W50. The oil that was previously in there was 0W20 which is way too thin for the warmer climate here in Phoenix. Not really any change overall, just takes a little longer for the oil pressure light to start coming on.
- I put in an extra quart of oil today just in case it was low. No change.
- I replaced the oil pressure switch today. No change.

The engine runs fine and has plenty of power with no unusual ticking or knocking. I drove it 2000 miles within the past week with no issuesó as long as I'm not at idle, the oil pressure light never comes on.

Could it be a worn-out oil pump, or is the whole engine just worn out from the mileage? As far as I know, this 212k mile engine is the original engine to this car (which is a super early 1997 build). I'll have to get a conventional oil pressure gauge at some point so I can see what the actual pressures are like. From what I can tell, these engines are supposed to have around 10psi per 1000rpm, at least based upon what I've read.

Thanks!
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Old Fri, Jan-11-2019, 04:02:49 AM   #2
MaynardZed
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Default Re: Oil pressure light at idle when engine warm

Every S52 Iíve had has done this just after a race. In fact, if the oil pressure light isnít at least flickering at idle I know I havenít pushed it hard enough that session.

My BMW race shop guy says as long as it goes away as soon as you blip the throttle itís totally fine.

My current engine even has that expensive oil pump from Achilles and it still does it.
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Old Fri, Jan-11-2019, 04:11:50 AM   #3
dannyzabolotny
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Default Re: Oil pressure light at idle when engine warm

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Originally Posted by MaynardZed View Post
Every S52 Iíve had has done this just after a race. In fact, if the oil pressure light isnít at least flickering at idle I know I havenít pushed it hard enough that session.

My BMW race shop guy says as long as it goes away as soon as you blip the throttle itís totally fine.

My current engine even has that expensive oil pump from Achilles and it still does it.
Interesting! In my case the oil light comes on after any kind of driving, doesn't have to be hard driving. And yeah, the light goes away as soon as I touch the throttle even the slightest bit.

I guess I thought it was abnormal because my friend's heavily modded S52 never has an oil light, even after extreme abuse at the rev limiter. His light does come on whenever the oil level is low. Granted, his engine is at like 120k miles so it's a lot younger than mine. Though it's attached to a manual whereas mine is an automatic, so his has probably lived a harder life.
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Old Fri, Jan-11-2019, 06:09:32 AM   #4
Braymond141
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Default Re: Oil pressure light at idle when engine warm

It isn't uncommon, but that shouldn't stop you from taking steps to correct the issue. I would put a Z3 2.8 reinforced oil pick up tube in asap (stock are known to crack) and while in there inspect the oil pump rotor for wear. Crank main and rod bearing wear can also attribute to low oil pressure.
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Old Fri, Jan-11-2019, 06:33:44 AM   #5
dannyzabolotny
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Default Re: Oil pressure light at idle when engine warm

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Originally Posted by Braymond141 View Post
It isn't uncommon, but that shouldn't stop you from taking steps to correct the issue. I would put a Z3 2.8 reinforced oil pick up tube in asap (stock are known to crack) and while in there inspect the oil pump rotor for wear. Crank main and rod bearing wear can also attribute to low oil pressure.
I'm not one to just ignore problems, so yeah, I want to get to the bottom of it. More accurately, to the bottom end (of the engine), lol!

I've done some reading on this and the oil pump pickup tubes are a known issue, so I'll put that on my list.

It's probably also worth throwing in a new oil pump at 212k miles, especially since I don't know how the car was driven or taken care of prior to me purchasing it (I never buy cars with service records because I'm a cheapskateó I paid $3800 for this car and bought it sight-unseen halfway across the country because Techno Violet sedan).
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Old Fri, Jan-11-2019, 06:44:57 AM   #6
Braymond141
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Default Re: Oil pressure light at idle when engine warm

I didn't realize they were so cheap. Probably not a bad idea. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...em-11411740154 (ooops, read the reviews. The stock oil pump nut doesn't fit this pump even though it is OEM)

Personally I would just spend a few hundred more and do a known good used S54 pan with dual pick up pump.
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Discussing Oil pressure light at idle when engine warm in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)