DIY: Starter Replacement...Finally!!!
So ever since I have been having issues starting my car on the first try I have been in search of a DIY to replace the Starter in my 04 330CI. After only finding threads talking about dropping the Transmission or removing the Intake Manifold I was almost ready to take it into the shop. I finally came across some very vague instruction on the process to get to the Starter, I decided to tackle this one. Knowing how helpless I felt without a good DIY I decided to make one for us. Now keep in mind I'm not a Mechanic or E46 expert, but I do love working on my car. If your car has a Manual Transmission or is an XI things might look a little different under the car. This is how I changed my Starter on my 330CI with an Automatic Transmission so use this as a guide but not repair manual.
I just want to take a second to give a shout out to you guys on E46Fanatics and Bimmerfest that got my pointing in the right direction. I hope Paraklas doesn't mind I stole a couple of his pictures as I forgot to take them. Thanks they helped a ton too.
Now lets get started:
Park the car on solid level ground with the E brake full applied. Having some blocks of wood behind the rear wheels to stop the car from rolling when you jack it up. Go ahead and disconnect the battery, don't worry E46 radio do not need any code to reactivate them. I disconnected the negative cable and just tucked it under the carpet.
Remove the Cabin Air Filter Cover buy turning the three plastic clips 90o CCW. They just pop out with a spring, don't worry they wont fall off the cover. Its a good idea to lay things out as you pull them off so you can keep track of what you took off.
Pull out the Cabin Air Filter, it just sits inside there so pull it forward and up.
Remove the Cabin Air Filter Housing. Using a T30 Torx bit remove the 4 gold screws. These screws will stay in the holes so only undo them enough for the Housing to pull out.
Pull the weather stripping from the drivers side corner of the engine bay. This goes around the Brake Reservoir. You can also slide off the two hoses that pass through with the rubber grommets. Just watch the little plastic tabs between here that hold the weather stripping as the break off easy.
Turn this plastic clip 90o CCW, this will free the plastic guard that goes around the Brake Reservoir. The guard has three tabs on the bottom that hold it in places so just pull up. you have to fight with it to get it right out, but it will come. I flexed the bigger hose a lot to get this out to the point where it leaked out air. So don't worry if you hear air, just don't break the hose.
Remove the cover to the Blower Motor (the one that blows AC and heat into the car) This will give you more room to work behind the engine. Two T30 Torx screws.
Standing on the driver side of the car and looking down in the area where you just removed all these parts you will see the Four Heater Core Hoses. I took a long tywrap and tied them out of the way. This should give you enough room to see the two mounting bolts for the starter. You wont be able to see the starter very well from here. The yellow line shows where the Return Fuel line was tywraped to the black holder. This holder is mounted using one of the E12 Torx bolts for the Starter. The green lines show the two E12 Torx bolts for the Starter. The blue line points to the front of the car.
Now you have to get under the car. I used two floor jacks instead of the factory jack. I put the floor jacks under the factory jack points and slid the jack stands under the frame rails.
Next you have to remove the large black plastic Skid Plate under the engine. There are 7 medium Philips screws and 3 plastic clips. My car was missing the 3 clips connecting it to the front bumper.
Now you have to remove the Aluminum skid plate protecting the Transmission. There are (8) 16 mm bolts, a short socket and a small extension should do the job. The two green arrows on the left show there are 2 more bolts out of the picture.
Once you get the car up in the air and the Skid Plates out of the way you will see this. I wasn't sure what it was so I looked up the part number and found it's part of the Vacuum system. Just remove the (1) 13 mm nut. Once you have it loose you can tuck it up and out of the way. You will now finally see the Starter.
To give yourself a little more room to get to the mounting bolts on the Starter, remove the Skid Plate for the fuel filter. There are (5) 8 mm, 2 nuts and 3 bolts. Once the Plate is off you will see the foam piece that hold the fuel lines in place. You can pull this out if you want.
Well done! Hope I don't need it anytime soon!!
Thanks man, it takes a while to write this out. I hope somebody gets some use out of this.
Now using the E12 Torx socket, a universal joint, 3" ext., 8" wobble ext., 6" ext and a 10" ext. all fitted on a 3/8 drive socket wrench. I know it looks crazy, but you need the length and flex to get around the transmission to get onto the bolt head. The second picture shows how I routed the extensions along the transmission, use your other hand to guide the socket onto the bolt head.
Step 14 will help you get the lower mounting bolt off the starter, remember there will be a bracket that is fitted on that bolt as well. Take this time to note or take a picture of the wire connections on the starter.
Now you will need to go back to the topside. I had a rag on the fender as to not scratch the paint. I also found I needed to stand on something as the car is now a foot off the ground. You need to remove the top bolt off the starter. Now here is one of the biggest tips I was never told, you can see the head of the top bolt is pretty close to the fire wall. There is no way to get the E12 socket on the bolt head. I found a 3/8 box wrench fits perfect on the Torx bolt.
Once you get the second bolt off you have to get back under the car. Using a long punch to a pipe you might have, tap the starter to break it free from the bell housing. You can get your hand up inside and wiggle it up and down.
It will take some fighting to get the Starter out as there isn't much slack on the wires. Try pulling on the large red wires a bit and they will give a little. Once you get it out point the wire end down towards the ground. Here you will see all the connections on the Starter.
Once you get all the wires off you can now remove the Starter from the car. Here is the picture of the old Starter (Left) and new part (Right). I was worried that the new part wouldn't work as it was bigger then the one I took out. I talked to the dealership and they said they are all the same. I think the difference was due to being different brands.
Now you can take your new Starter and hook it back up to the wires. It's a tight fit but I found if you have the gear end pointing up it will fit back in. Try not to force the starter in with the bolts. Seat the starter in place then slide the bolts on. I didn't have a Torque spec for these bolts, but I made sure they were tight. Make sure the electrical connections are tight you don't want them working loose. Here is a picture of what mine looked like, the problem was most likely due to all the Carbon build up. Plans are to rebuild my old one and have it as a back up.
Here are the tools I used, as you can see this repair can be done with mostly common tools and some time. It took me a day and a half to do this, but that was with not knowing what to take off or how to get to the part. I would say with this guide this DIY should only take 4 to 6 hours.
Once your done putting everything back together you can reconnect the battery cable. If you happened to open the doors while the battery was disconnected you will see the window will no longer pop down when you open the door or roll up when closed. You will have to reset this feature once the battery is reconnected. For each window roll the window all the way down, then all the way up. Hold the window button up for 20 seconds after the window has finished rolling up. This should reset the cracked window feature, just repeat for each window. The only thing left is to reset the clock, but that is in your owners manual. Have fun!!!
Let me know if I have missed anything or left anything out.
Awesome... Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
Thanks man, I think I saved about a grand doing it myself instead of taking it to the dealership. Hope this helps others save some cash.
did the dealer sell you a rebuilt starter or something? P.S. After installing the starter, did you noticed any grinding noise with the fly wheel?
THANKS for the very helpfull DIY newtuner! I pulled my starter out from the top as I was already replacing leaking lower intake hose. This DIY is great info and helped very much. Working from topside I found that a longer, 7 inches or more, 3/8 box wrench was a big help breaking loose the top starter bolt and a 3/8 box ratchet was a big help getting both off from above. Thanks again!
I found the used Starter online at a local salvage yard. I'm still trying to find a place to buy the rebuilt parts to fix my oem unit. I like the one that came out of my car better so I will have it on hand if this one starters to go.
I have learned a ton from E46 so I just wanted to give back. :thumbsup:
Great DIY. This looks like a PIA.
So I guess you have a 6sp, correct?
I wonder how different the manual is from the automatic.
hey newturner....can you give me some feedback on my starter installation problem.
Thanks a heap man!!!! I'm about to start this myself... dunno where i woulda started if I hadn't seen this. Big up bro!!!!!
Looks like I will give this a try today... don't really want to but have to thanks for the instruction! Sounds a little better than dropping the tranny. Mine is a stick so I will let ya'll know if this works :eek: I sure as hell hope it does!!
Good luck man. I'm not sure if this would work, but I wonder if you had a long enough 3/8" box wrench if you could take both bolts out from the top. You would still have to go under and move the Vacuum unit out of the way to disconnect the wires. If the manual transmission doesn't let you get at the bolt, it could be something to try. Please let me know how you make out, if you have any questions fire me a pm.
Anyone know how this procedure differs on an m3?
Just took starter out, too bad it wasn't the problem (had to have EWS & Key replaced)... You can get to both bolts from the top with a 3/8in box wrench. Took me 5 hours to get it out and 2 to put it back in. Would have been a lot easer & faster if it wasn't 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside and I didn't have to go in ever 45 minutes to warm up!
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