Hi all --
We have a 1998 Z3, 2.8 litre. The fuel warning light came on yesterday,
so my wife drove into a station and filled up the tank. When she
started the car up again, the needle on the fuel guage went to its
previous position (almost empty) and stayed there. The odometer reset
fine, and the rest of the electronics seem to be functioning, but that
needle won't move off empty, and of course the warning light is still
The fuel level sender is probably bad or dirty. The bad news on a Z3 is
that you need to remove the passenger seat and do some minor surgery on the
carpet to access the fuel pump. The good news is that once you've gotten it
out, its pretty easy to either replace the sender or clean off the contact
strip that gives the fuel level. I can email you the pages from the TIS on
how to do this if you'd like.
Thanks. Sounds like a plan. I spoke to the servicer today, and he said
this is a saddle tank with two sensors. Either one could be corroded,
and worse case is that they have shorted each other out and both need
Will e-mail you my real address.
I suspect the sensors have NOT shorted each other out.
Mine would show E after filling the tank, but would jump to the correct
level later on. The sensor on the right side is part of the fuel pump, the
sensor on the left side is only a fuel float. In my case, the sensor on the
left side was the culprit.
Once the float assembly is out of the car, you can easily find the contacts.
You can clean the contacts with contact cleaner and a business card. Use a
rough-surface business card as a sort of sand paper to clean the black build
up from the contacts. You can use a type writer eraser (the pencil-type with
the brush on the opposite end that is rougher than a simple eraser).
And . . . It started working again. A local club member recommended
using a high detergent gasoline for three or four tanks, and seeing if
that cleaned the contacts. We're going to try that and see if it clears
up for good.
It won't clear up for good.
The symptom will come and go, and eventually will come and stay. The sending
units on the sedans and coupes are easy to get out, I think the Z3 may prove
to be more difficult. The difficulty comes from where the tank is in
relation to what is directly above it. If the seats are over the tank - and
I have no clue if they are or not - then they will need to be moved first.
The tank is easy to access. Pull the carpet out of the way and there is a
round cover (one on each side of the car). Remove the cover, 4 screws, then
remove the fittings and finally take the ring off that holds the sending
unit in place. Lift the sending uint out and take it to your bench for a
cleaning service. Reassemble in the reverse order.
The servicer told us two tanks on the '98 2.8 litre, two guages. The
one on the left is $470 USD to replace because it is with the pump, and
the one on the right is $230 USD. We are letting it ride for a while.
Thanks everyone. Having this group here makes the whole BMW process a
On a '98 2.8 liter Z3? Nope. He's dead wrong.
No need for two sensors as the tank is not saddle shaped as on other 2
I verified that there is only one sensor from the ETK parts catalog and
also in the 1998 Z3 ETM manual. It shows only the one sensor "installed
in fuel tank", where-as on a 328i of the same year it shows a saddle
tank and two sensors.
I'm thinking that your servicer does not know Z3's all that well...
Heh... why am I not surprised?
You know, thinking back on this, I bet the fact that the Z3 has only one
sensor compared to the 3 series (not sure about the 5's and 7's) is a
big reason that we hear these complaints about flaky gas gauge more
often on them. I could be wrong, but I recall that on the cars with two
sensors the gauge reports the *higher* of the two (not the average as
you might expect) so if one sensor flakes out for a while you might not
even notice it.
Perry, I suggest you give a whirl at servicing the sending units yourself.
It is really quite easy if you are inclined to tinker with stuff. If
tinkering isn't your cup of tea, then reset the odometer with every fill up,
and always fill up, then you can reasonably go 300 miles until the next trip
to the pump.
My dealer quoted me prices about half of what you got, but that was just for
the parts. If your quote includes the labor, then it sounds a bit high, but
not hugely high.
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