Engine BMW S38B36 / S38B38 under the hood

Engine BMW S38B36 / S38B38

The BMW S38 engine is a six-cylinder in-line engine from BMW, which replaced the M88 engine, produced for 10 years (from 1986 to 1996). The S38 engine was based on the M88/3 unit. In pursuit of environmental standards, the first modification of the S38 – S38B35 used a catalytic converter (popularly just a catalyst).


Manufacturer Munich Plant
Also called S38
Production years 1988-1996
Cylinder block alloy cast iron
Fuel system injector
Configuration inline
Number of cylinders 6
Valves per cylinder 4
Piston stroke, mm 86 (S38B36)
90 (S38B38)
Cylinder bore, mm 93.4 (S38B36)
94.6 (S38B38)
Compression ratio 10.0
Displacement, cc 3535 (S38B36)
3795 (S38B38)
Power output, hp 316/6900
Torque output, Nm / rpm 360/4750
Fuel type 95
Euro standards
Weight, kg ~151
Fuel consumption, L/100 km
— city
— highway
— combined
Oil consumption, gr/1000 km up to 1000
Recommended engine oil 5W-30 / 5W-40 / 10W-40 / 15W-40
Engine oil capacity, liter 5.75
Oil change interval, km 7000-10000
Normal engine operating temperature, °C ~90
Engine lifespan, km
— official information
— real


Frequent problems

Engine BMW S38B36 / S38B38
The main problems of the BMW S38 engine are cracks in the cylinder block, overheating. Cracks form around the threads for the cylinder head bolts. The reasons for the breakdown are oil that has not been removed from the thread, disassembly of the motor. The problem can be diagnosed by the high consumption of antifreeze, the appearance of an emulsion in the oil. The optimal solution is to replace it with a non-cracked block.

If overheating occurs, the problem must be solved quickly so that the cylinder head does not move. Overheating occurs when a thermostat, radiator or pump needs cleaning, or when there is a blockage in the cooling system.

Frequent malfunctions include wear of the elements of the gas distribution system, the complexity and inability to adjust the valve. To solve the problem, eccentrics, guide bushings and valves are changed. Poor performance may be related to the MAF. During the warming up of the car, a whistle is heard, there are frequent leaks of the rear crankshaft oil seal.

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