There have been many times I have been searching the internet for BMWs and an ad states that the car has a particular engine. Maybe you are looking at E36 M3s, and you want to verify that it truly does have a S52 engine in it. Some sneaky salesman, can disguise a M52 to look like a S52 visually, so how can we tell what engine you have?
At the bottom of this blog, there is a PDF you can download from BMW called "Engine and Powerplant Identification Code." Its a great document to save and keep on your phone or computer somewhere in case you need to reference it.
Every engine BMW has ever produced is identified in a specific area on the engine. This identification code is a constituent part of the vehicle approval and can also be used for identity purposes. The engine number will consist of an 8 digit combination in which the production location and production date are coded.
The engine identification code will then be listed providing an indication of:
the engines displacement
the number of cylinders
the engine concept
the differentiation index of the respective engine.
Here is a breakdown of what I am talking about:
So lets run through an example real quick. The S52 engine code is "326S2 01 A". Using the breakdown above, this is what it means:
32 = 3.2 Liter Engine
6 = 6 Cylinders
S = 4 Valve Engine
02 = Variant Number
A = Remanufactured (N=New)
If you are unsure where the code is physically on your engine block, the document goes through each engine from E12 chassis through E46.
As stated above it's a great document to keep on hand, and can save you from buying something you don't want. Click the link below to download the pdf.