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  • Writer's pictureJustin Schaub


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.

Location of engine code on S52

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.

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