BMW E36 Blog

Faulty temperature sensor in BMW E36

4th July 2007

Faulty temperature sensor in BMW E36

posted in Technical Info |

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Hi Guys,


If your car is showing wrong outside temperature ( -37C or -35F ) like mine, this means that you have a faulty outside temperature sensor (temp sensor) which seems to be a very common problem in the BMW E36 by the way. At first, I thought it’s a hard problem to solve and decided to ignore it, but I found that replacing this sensor is straight forward if you know where it is located. I found some photos of it that you may find useful in locating and then replacing it.


I hope I will be able to fix this problem in my car this weekend. I think you too should do it if it’s broken.



Disclaimer: Use this info at your own risk!! I’m not responsible if this didn’t work for you.


This is where you can find the temp sensor, pretty clever, huh?



This is a photo of a brand new temp sensor



Wait for more from BMW E36 Blog.


Best regards,

Tony Sticks.

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There are currently 8 responses to “Faulty temperature sensor in BMW E36”

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  1. 1 On September 6th, 2007, riCo said:

    Hi Tony,
    I have the same problem and it seems to be very common for the e36 series.
    However, I read online that is has to do with the position of the sensor, not with a malfunction of the sensor itself.
    When you drive slowly in city traffic, heat from the enginge goes everywhere under the hood and eventually the sensor starts reading wrong temps, influenced by the engine heat.

    Please tell me if changing the sensor helped for you.

    Thanks, Ric

  2. 2 On September 7th, 2007, Tony Sticks said:

    Hi Rico,

    The procedure above suggests that you have to change the temp sensor only if the reading on your OBC is (-37C or -35F) and that value is not changing in either hot or cold weather. If it’s different than that (changing), it may be reading the temperature value correctly, hence, doesn’t need to be changed at all.

    It doesn’t make sense that the engine heat will have a major effect on the sensor reading because the temp sensor is almost isolated from the engine compartment (see image above). It may have some effect, but I doubt it would be that great.

  3. 3 On September 7th, 2007, Rico said:

    You are right I confused the topic here. Still, it is how I said it. My car always reads a too high value for external temp. and that is very common. I searched it in Google and found several threads with the same problem.
    I wish I could fix that. But moving the sensor somewhere else is not easy at all.

  4. 4 On September 8th, 2007, Tony Sticks said:


    There should be a plastic tube in the openning where the temperature sensor is located that should isolate the air in this area from the engine compartment. Did you check if this tube is still there because this tube usually falls out of the car. If your sensor is not isolated from the engine, then it’s most likely it will read a higher temp value.

  5. 5 On May 14th, 2008, BMW E36 OBC Showing -35F or -37C Temperature | BMW E36 Blog said:

    […] published the post Faulty temperature sensor in BMW E36 long time ago. The post talked about the reason why your OBC shows a wrong external temperature […]

  6. 6 On July 13th, 2008, Steve Kaminski said:

    My ’94 325i is reading “-35 F.” So I bought a replacement sensor. Here’s the problem: this car doesn’t have brake ducts and, I suspect, is missing this sensor entirely. There are two small wires near the driver’s side fog light that look like they may be for the sensor. The carry a low voltage even when the ignition is off.

    Do you think these are the correct wires for the temp sensor? If not, how else could I go about finding it?

  7. 7 On July 13th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    @Steve Kaminski: I did exactly the same thing. I found 2 wires that were cut and seemed like they should be connected to something near the air duct. I connected them to the temp sensor and drove around a little bit and I noticed that the temp reading started to change.

  8. 8 On October 16th, 2011, Lawrence said:

    For those who want to know what to order – check RealOEM for the part number for your particular car.
    On my 328i 96 Euro, the part number is 65-81-8-350-779 – SENSOR OUTDOOR TEMPERATUR