How to Check E36 Engine Codes With a Paper Clip

Written by breann kanobi
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How to Check E36 Engine Codes With a Paper Clip
Depress the accelerator as quickly as possible when attempting to determine codes. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The E36 engine constitutes an important part of BMW 3-series automobiles. The engine contains a built-in system for informing the user of specific engine problems. By using a paper clip, you can force the E36 to flash the engine codes. You must compare these codes to a list of BMW diagnostic flash codes before determining the problem. These flash codes are four digits in length. The code of "1444" means your engine has no problems.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Turn your BMW off and remove the key from the ignition.

  2. 2

    Slide your hand below the steering wheel column to locate the diagnostic port. The surface of the column is slightly raised over the port.

  3. 3

    Pry the cover off the diagnostic port.

  4. 4

    Bend the paper-clip into the shape of a "U," and push the its edges into the diagnostic port.

  5. 5

    Watch the dash of the BMW. The "check engine" light should blink. Make a note of how many times it blinks before a pause. For example, if the light shows a pattern of "Blink-Blink-Pause," "Blink-Pause," "Blink-Blink-Blink-Pause" and a final "Blink", the code is 2131.

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