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-   -   BMW E46 3-Series DIY: Valve Cover Gasket Replacement (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=886063)

joeycannoli 11-14-2011 03:47 PM

BMW E46 3-Series DIY: Valve Cover Gasket Replacement
***All, the original site hosting the images was removed. The pictures along with the full DIY can now be found below***

BMW E46 3-Series Valve Cover Gasket DIY

This DIY article will help you successfully change the Valve Cover Gasket in the E46 3-Series. This was done on a 325xi so there might be a few variations between the different models, but all should be closely related.

This is also a very good time to do your Spark Plugs if it is time to have that done. If you are looking for the Spark Plug DIY please follow the link below:

E46 Spark Plug Replacement DIY

Flat Head Screwdriver
3/8 Ratchet
3/8 Extensions (6"+)
Torque Wrench
8mm Socket
10mm Socket
19mm Socket
TORX 30 Socket

Optional: RTV Red High Temp Silicone

OEM Valve Cover Gasket: 11129070990
Valve Cover Grommets (15): 11-12-1-437-395

First thing we want to do is remove the cabin filter housing


There are 3 securing tabs holding the cabin filter cover on. They are outlined in the picture below


To release the tabs, simply twist them counter-clockwise


Here is a shot of the tabs in the released position


Pull the cover off the reveal the cabin filter


The cabin filter just sits in the housing. Simply pull it out to remove. Note the orientation so you put the new one back in correctly


Removing the cabin filter will reveal four (4) TORX30 bolts holding the carbin filter housing in place. Grab your 3/4 Ratchet and loosen these up. They will not come out from the housing, but will become loose as to where you can remove the panel


Below are all four bolts outlined for your convenience



Before we remove the cabin filter housing let's take the battery line and the coil pack harness line out of the front holder. These wires are secured in this plastic housing. Simply pop the four (4) clips as shown below to open the compartment


Remove the two wires (coil harness on top / battery line on bottom)


We can now remove the cabin filter housing by pulling forward and placing it out of the way.


Let's get the battery line out of the way. Pop the cover shown below next to the passenger shock tower to reveal the 19mm bolt holding it down


Grab your ratchet and 19mm socket and remove it


Place the 19mm bolt back on the screw to ensure you don't misplace it. You can now move the line out of the way


Now we can work on removing the engine dressing covers. Grab a flathead and locate the two caps pointed out below. By popping these off you will reveal the two 10mm bolts holding the cover to the valve cover.


Remove the oil fill cap by rotating counter-clockwise


Grab your 10mm socket and remove the two bolts holding the engine dressing on


We can now pull the cover off and place it out of the way.


Same thing for the top cover. Remove the two covers shown below and remove the two (2) 10mm bolts. Then pull the engine cover from the engine bay


Let's remove the line at the top right of the valve cover. To do so pinch the areas shown below to release the connector and pull


By now you should be looking at something like this


Next step is to remove the coil packs.


Note: I believe some of the early model E46 coil packs might be secured to the valve cover via bolt design. If so you can easily enough just unbolt them and pull them free from the valve cover

First step to the coil pack removal is to release the coil pack harness from the coil pack itself. This can be done by sliding the locking mechanism upward as shown below


The with lock mechanism released you can grab the connector and pull away from the coil pack. Repeat this step for all 6 coil packs.


Here is a shot of the connector free from the coil pack


The coil packs are suctioned into the cylinder head so i found the best way to remove them was with a small extension. Grab your extension and slide it through the release connector as shown below. Apply and equal amount of pressure on each side to prevent snapping it. Pull upward gently to remove the coil pack


With the coil pack loose you can slide it out of the cylinder head


Here is a shot of valve cover with all of the coil packs removed


Next we want to remove the O2 sensor plugs and all of the wires that are connected to the bottom of the valve cover. All of this stuff is secured via clips and can just be popped free



Grab a 8mm socket and remove the bolt holding the ground wire to the valve cover


Here is a shot of the wire removed


joeycannoli 11-14-2011 03:47 PM

Now we must get the coil pack harness out of the way. The whole harness is secured to the valve cover via small black clips. I have outlined the location of the clips below and took a close up to show you what they look like



With your finger, pry the clips away from the harness to release. With the harness loose you can move it out of the way and fold it up onto the intake manifold.

We are almost ready to remove the value cover. You want to make sure all of the wires are free and clear on the bottom and far side of the valve cover. See below how they are all tucked away from it


Next step is to remove all of the 10mm bolts holding the valve cover down. There are 15 bolts total securing the cover to the head. I have outlined them all below for reference


Grab your 10mm socket and go to work. Remove all 15 bolts securing the valve cover. The bolts will consist of a metal washer and rubber grommet. Make sure both come out with the bolt.


With all of the bolts removed we can now take the cover off. The cover might be sealed pretty good on there so you might have to give it a persuasive tug. Use the oil fill hole for leverage if needed


Shot of the head with the vale cover removed



Here is a shot of the old gasket. It is hard to tell in the picture but the old gasket was all dried out and cracking. Remove the old gasket and the spark plug seals.


New parts ready to be installed



Seat your new valve cover gasket and spark plug seats in the valve cover. You may way to run a bit of oil along the edge that is seated into the cover to lubricate it a bit.



Before we put the cover back on i recommend putting some Red RTV High Temperature silicone on where the half moon seals sit. It would not hurt to put a little bit of silicone where you suspect loans are prone to form.

Apply the RTV as shown below. Let the RTV sit for about an hour to seal properly before starting the car up


Now you can seat the valve cover back in place on the cylinder head.

Grab your new grommets and seat them in place for all of your valve cover bolts


Starting putting the valve cover bolts back on. I suggest tightening the bolts down in a star pattern to ensure equal pressure on all sides. Recommended Torque specs can be found below

Torque Specifications: 10nm

Center bolt secured



Shot of all the bolts tightened in place


At this point you can begin following this DIY in the reverse order to button everything back up. Here is a shot of everything with most of the stuff re-installed.


Hope this article has helped and motivated you guys to continue doing your own maintenance. Any questions please feel free to ask.

Sansho 11-14-2011 05:46 PM

I've used this image (courtesy of Beisan systems) for where to apply RTV, which includes both seams where the vanos meets the head:


In a similar manner, this is how BMW says to apply it at the half moons and seams:


There's a typo .... original says "Now you can seat the valve cover back in place on the cylinder hear." Probably meant cylinder head.

joeycannoli 11-15-2011 01:29 AM

Thanks for the pictures on the RTV application. I used a little bit more just to make sure. Don't want this bad boy to leak anytime soon.

Also thanks for the heads up on the typo

TerryH 11-15-2011 11:36 PM

Flat Head Screwdriver
3/4 Ratchet
3/4 Extensions (6"+)"

I'm sure you meant 3/8" drive and not 3/4". Nice write up!

Mr_325 12-01-2011 02:15 PM

bumping this as i'm doing it tomorrow
would love to do the vanos seals while im in there but still to intimidated

Sansho 12-01-2011 06:47 PM

The seals are not difficult to do, but it is somewhat involved. The step-by-step instructions on the Beisan Systems site are very good.

cmw072 12-13-2011 12:22 AM

excellent post really came in handy . Big ups . :clap::clap::clap:

Ballistic325 12-13-2011 01:42 AM

Nice write up!

MSportBMW 12-13-2011 04:51 AM

Thanks for the writeup :D

kowalzekc 12-15-2011 06:33 PM

Nice write up. I'm doing this right NOW!

Mr_325 12-15-2011 10:58 PM

perfect write up as it was my first time doing the gaskets and spark plugs.
took me 2 days to do them and the spark plugs :bang head:
my valve cover ground bolt was stripped and took me 2 hrs to get off
had to wait til the next day to go get a new one than grabbed the wrong silicone sealant
also dropped my 10mm socket down into the car so i had to take the guard off
pretty much small frustrating set backs here and there
if i didn't have any of the set back would have been a breeze
spark plus were simple as well
a little shot of my engine.. sorry iPhone 4 pic
clean and healthy

greenvert 12-16-2011 12:03 AM

P0171 and P0174 after VCG change
Great writeup! I just did this replacement today as mine was leaking oil like crazy (also had to replace oil level sender and do an oil change, but that's unrelated!).

Car drives fine - but after a 45 minute drive on the freeway the SES light came on with codes P0171 and P0174.... something about it running lean. I cleaned off the head and valve cover well before placing them on, used a small amount of RTV as indicated, and tightened the nuts well. Any thoughts as to why this is coming up? Car seems to be running fine!

Gheybe 12-16-2011 12:09 AM

Awesome. I'll be using this.


Mr_325 12-16-2011 04:54 PM

thought i would chime back with a question.. your write up and the other DIY's do not show 2 ground wires on the valve cover, just the 1???
i have 2 ground wires, does anyone else?

kowalzekc 12-16-2011 05:48 PM


Originally Posted by Mr_325 (Post 13898169)
thought i would chime back with a question.. your write up and the other DIY's do not show 2 ground wires on the valve cover, just the 1???
i have 2 ground wires, does anyone else?

i have 2, cylinders 1 and 6

and the red wire of the harness

Devious1 12-16-2011 05:58 PM


Mr_325 12-16-2011 06:38 PM


Originally Posted by kowalzekc (Post 13898303)
i have 2, cylinders 1 and 6

and the red wire of the harness

after reading Vanos DIY i noticed it's cuz i have a 2005, newer model or something

deliroast 12-17-2011 08:34 AM

Be careful with the vacuum hose you have to move out of the way. Thought it was a hardline and cracked out because it was old as sh!t now I have to make a run to the dealer today. Other than that, very easy diy.

Sent from my SPH-D700 using Bimmer

E46er75 12-26-2011 10:07 PM

Did my VCG today thanks for the thread man :thumbsup: Couldn't believe how crappy and brittle the old gasket was for only having 74k on it :wtf:

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