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///M3 Forum
The BMW E46 ///M3 is the M version E46 and puts out an amazing 333 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque at stock specs! There are an amazing amount of modifications for both the coupe and convertible models so read up and get started modifying your cars today!

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Old 02-04-2010, 08:38 PM   #1
$ilent ///M
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: So.Cal
Posts: 258
My Ride: 03.5 M3 smg lsb
smg e46 m3 starter replaced

just finished the my starter only took me about 4hrs to complete the job. my starter was not engaging the flywheel all the time, just heard it spin until after a few tries. The diy was way easier then i thought just alot of parts to remove first. everything is accessed from the top no need to get under the car and drop the transmission. once intake manifold is removed everything is there. smg pump reservoir also has a spring loaded shutoff so once the supply hose is disconnected the spring closes a valve and the fluid is contained inside. used a 3/8 wrench for the starter mounting bolts (should be a e12 e-torx) u can also use a ratchet and socket. hardest part was removing the clamps from the intake manifold at cylinders 4,5 and 6 due to limited space from the hard lines over it... total cost including the starter about $200... called around local shops average cost for labor only $500 do not know what the dealer charges but i'm pretty sure its almost twice that. Hope this helps out alot of you how are worried about having to drop the transmission to do the diy. I had 110k miles on my daily driven M3 when it started failing. I did take pics but dont know how to post them. i could then write a quick step-by-step diy..w/pics
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:06 PM   #2
E36graduate
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Congrats....take the money you saved and buy something for your M3 ! It gives you a sense of pride when you DIY ! LOL...you cant figure out how to post a picture but you can change the starter on a $50k car !!!
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:14 PM   #3
$ilent ///M
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LOL.. will be working on the DIY with pics soon
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:50 PM   #4
SMG Elvis
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Pics and advise on E46 SMG starter motor?

I was really stoked to see this post. Any chance you've got pics or more important to me would be some more detail on the tear-down advice. I would really like to learn from someone elses experience at this. My car won't turn over, I've replace the relay even though it had the recall. It's not the battery, I hear all kinds of the right things clicking and whirling. It disengages from 1st to neutral without issue. I'm convinced its starter after reading about the issue for a couple days now. Today I jacked my car up to take a peak. I wanted to bang on the started to see if I could get it to turn, so I removed all the panels under the car just to see what it might take to get at the starter. Ha, right, can't even see any part of it from below, just way too much in the way including a bump-out in the SMG tranny, vacuum and pump stuff. I decided to try removing things from up top, like intake box and a few other small things just to try at least getting a glimpse of the stupid thing, no chance. I've read so many blogs that make it sound fairly straight forward to get at the starter from below. I'd like to say to anyone attempting a starter change on an E46 M3 - if you think this can be done from below then I know you don't have an SMG car. $ilent ///M is right, it's going to be done from the top. So $ilent ///M, I'm mostly wondering how much has to be torn out in order to get at the intake plennum. Do you remove the clamps on the plennum rubber or take it off another way? I'm guessing clamps, but I've never dealt with clamps like those, are they reusable? How do you disengage them? Special tool? Anything else to remove the plennum? Thank you again for posting the best advice I've found and hope you can help!
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:18 PM   #5
$ilent ///M
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Just posted diy sorry this was my first diy post wasnt sure how to post up the pics below each step.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:32 PM   #6
$ilent ///M
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SMG Elvis: Once the intake manifold is removed everything is easy access from there. To remove the 6 clamps around the throttle bodies, i used channel locks and squeezed the outer two notches together only needs to squeeze a little before they spring open last 3 are hardest to get to. i do recommend u get extra or new ones cus they are very flimsy. but i reused mine cus i ordered the wrong ones. There should be 4 hose connected to the plennum one by dipstick and 2 at the bottom one towards the front and small one towards the back and then the smg hyd supply line at bottom of smg reservoir. 2 mount bolts holding the plenum down. Hope this helps let me know if you need more help or pics. Thx
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:28 PM   #7
SMG Elvis
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$ilent M, thanks again for the advice! I replaced my starter yesterday. It appears the starter was the cause of the starting problems even though it looked new and worked great when I got it out of the car, stupid thing. So for anyone else checking this site with starting problems here's some info that may save you some time:

- My E46 with SMG quit starting. Only 40,100 miles. Google shows a lot of blogs about a cheap ass starter. Not very BMW like, don't know why but there are dead spots on the commutator.

- if you have a E46 with SMG don't waste time under the car, $ilent M was right, ONLY from the top. You can't see or touch it from the bottom, even if you lowered the tranny. I advise that even if you don't have SMG that you go from the top. Just don't drop any tools or fasteners, they won't fall through to the ground and will land on the under-panels.

- the Bentley manual does a mediocre job explaining how to remove the intake stuff, but good for a getting started. Use $ilent M's advice for most of it.

- I didn't disconnect the battery in the trunk, I'm a big boy and could keep the wrench from grounding, so I just removed the cable from the jump location under the hood. You'll have to remove it anyway when you take out the starter.

- the SMG oil tank connects to the pump with a quick release, very easy to release by just pushing down on the red ring with a long screwdriver or the right tool, while pulling up on the line. I saw many blogs that mention a how a safety ball is supposed to prevent the oil from draining, but doesn't. So I sucked much of the oil out and I'm glad I did because it drained. I had rags ready to soak it up. Had to buy a quart of the Pentosin oil, not cheap, oh well.

- I have had great experiences with BMW dealerships (only BMW dealerships) and they let me borrow the special tool for intake clamps. I removed them with pliers and a dental tool, but I put them back on with the dealer tool. Apparently it's an expensive tool even though it's only pliers with a tooth on each tip. I was going to make the tool by grinding the tooth into a cheap Walmart pair of pliers, but I got lucky with the dealer. Have your wife bake some cookies for the parts guys and see if they convince a technician to loan to the tool, worked for me.

- They gave me the parts at cost too.

- I took some pictures of what I'd torn apart, just in case I didn't remember
what I took apart. I held stuff out of the way temporarily with cable ties.

- There's a tube on the far bottom of the intake thats difficult to see until everything else is lose. Pop it off with a long screwdriver or put your hand into the intake to do it.

- Putting it all back together is straight forward.

- Top off the SMG fluid

- Top off the powersteering fluid while you're in there.

- When you fire the car up for the first time the manual describes how to prime the SMG, it's just a matter of moving the shifter into 1 and 0 a few times, then check the fluid level again. I had to do it a few times before it would go into gear.


The whole operation took me about 7 hours, but that's also because I tried going from the bottom at first. Probably only 5 hours if I just spent it up top.

I'm not going to proof read the mess I just typed. Hope it makes sense and
is helpful. I feel I owe it to the website for the great advice. It saved a grand and I'm happy.

Big thanks again to $ilent M for proving going from the top is best.
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