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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 02-25-2010, 03:21 AM   #21
FlzRider
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newtuner, the 2nd to last picture you posted doesn't work and I am kind of curious about seeing it.

You said you planned on rebuilding your original starter. Is it just the carbon brushes that need replacing or is the commutator done as well? Does BMW even sell these parts? Just curous....

I had my starter replaced while I was under warranty. My symptom was a loud squeal for about a second right at startup. It would only do it when the motor was cold and it was more prone to occurring if the ambient temp. was colder.
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Old 02-27-2010, 04:44 PM   #22
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Hey man,

BMW wanted $1200 parts+labor to replace the starter, but thanks to your DIY i got it replaced and back on the road for just $150 parts!! yehaww!
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:22 PM   #23
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@newtuner: Thanks for the DIY. I am undertaking another project that involves removing the intake manifold and I decided to go ahead and replace the starter while I am in there--98k on original starter. I could only find a reman Bosch one. I think I'll hang onto my original one too for back up and maybe rebuild. I can send it back for $83 core + shipping though. My original one and replacement are from the same OE maker, Bosch.

When you removed yours, you said you removed it without removing the manifold all from underneath your car? How did you deal with the alignment pin? Even with all the access I had (I still had to remove the fuel filter cover and use an E12, a universal, and a 10" extension for the side torx bolt. From the top since I had access, I used a E12 box wrench. However, that alignment pin was a pita. I used a screwdriver to try and pry it and finally got it to off after a few tries. It was in tight and I noticed it was rusted. I think when I reinstall everything, I'll sand it a bit and put some anti-seize on it.

If I had all this trouble, I have been wondering how you dealt with the alignment pin and all from below.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:14 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by genuity View Post
@newtuner: Thanks for the DIY. I am undertaking another project that involves removing the intake manifold and I decided to go ahead and replace the starter while I am in there--98k on original starter. I could only find a reman Bosch one. I think I'll hang onto my original one too for back up and maybe rebuild. I can send it back for $83 core + shipping though. My original one and replacement are from the same OE maker, Bosch.

When you removed yours, you said you removed it without removing the manifold all from underneath your car? How did you deal with the alignment pin? Even with all the access I had (I still had to remove the fuel filter cover and use an E12, a universal, and a 10" extension for the side torx bolt. From the top since I had access, I used a E12 box wrench. However, that alignment pin was a pita. I used a screwdriver to try and pry it and finally got it to off after a few tries. It was in tight and I noticed it was rusted. I think when I reinstall everything, I'll sand it a bit and put some anti-seize on it.

If I had all this trouble, I have been wondering how you dealt with the alignment pin and all from below.
I find this interesting as your not the first one to have trouble with the pin. I don't know what I did different but mine seemed to "pop" on there. I didn't even clean mine. It did take a couple of tries to get it to seat, but once the starter was about 1/16-1/8 from fully seating I just pulled it in with the bolts. I wonder if some people are bending the pin when taking out the old one??? Taking the fuel filter cover and the vacuum part (small black barrel shaped part) I had a lot of room to work in. I don't know if this is very different from a manual tranny. I did have to use the 4 extensions to get around the tranny and remove the lower bolt.

As for the rebuilt parts I haven't had a chance to follow up on this, but I am going to check with a local business that rebuilds BMW electronics. I think the rotor part is still good as a quick clean with sand paper cleaned it up nice. I didn't feel any wear groves from the brushes. So I'm hoping to pick up the brushes that come already in the holder (large ring shaped part). I'm pretty sure none of the dealerships will stock this as they just send the ones they get out to get done. I will keep you guys posted on what I find out and maybe an online supplier can be found.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:16 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by jeremykrak View Post
Hey man,

BMW wanted $1200 parts+labor to replace the starter, but thanks to your DIY i got it replaced and back on the road for just $150 parts!! yehaww!
I know man, that is the reason I felt I had to make this bad boy. I can see how they charge that much time, but I just hated the thought of dishing out all that cash. I'm glad I could help out.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:28 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by FlzRider View Post
newtuner, the 2nd to last picture you posted doesn't work and I am kind of curious about seeing it.

You said you planned on rebuilding your original starter. Is it just the carbon brushes that need replacing or is the commutator done as well? Does BMW even sell these parts? Just curous....

I had my starter replaced while I was under warranty. My symptom was a loud squeal for about a second right at startup. It would only do it when the motor was cold and it was more prone to occurring if the ambient temp. was colder.
I think the one your asking about is a picture of the commutator in my old starter. Lets see if this one works for you, let me know.



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Old 02-28-2010, 10:38 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by newtuner View Post
I wonder if some people are bending the pin when taking out the old one??? Taking the fuel filter cover and the vacuum part (small black barrel shaped part) I had a lot of room to work in. I don't know if this is very different from a manual tranny. I did have to use the 4 extensions to get around the tranny and remove the lower bolt.
I don't know if mine got bent--I think it did not because after I was able to get part of the screw driver in there, I turned it slowly while pulling the starter out and I felt it side out. I just thought I would sand it and also anti-seize it a bit so I have no problems getting the reman one back in. I did have to move the vacuum reservoir (the black barrel thing below the starter) out of the way--also to replace the hose that runs from it to the intake manifold (an '01 with 98k, and the rubber hose has deteriorated...as I was trying to pull it from the manifold, it came apart in my hands).

The picture that you have with all the extensions--was it to get to the top bolt? I have an automatic transmission...I noticed the cooling pipe from the trans cooler was in the way and I still cannot figure out how you got to that tippy top bolt and how could you even see. I was hard enough getting to it from the top with the manifold removed.
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:21 AM   #28
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With the 4 heater hoses pulled out of the way and all the other parts removed I was able to see the top bolt. That is where the 3/8" box wrench comes in handy, it will fit over the E12 bolt head. Takes a bit to turn it out but you can do it. Other then that it's pretty straight forward.
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:13 PM   #29
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I like the DIY and the description of the extensions needed to get to the bolts. It would be something I would think might work, but now I know it is proven.

I am at 100K and the starter is showing its age. Any recommendations on where to get an exact OEM rebuild?
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:57 PM   #30
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I am at 100K and the starter is showing its age. Any recommendations on where to get an exact OEM rebuild?
I found it cheapest at autohausaz.com. What were your symptoms of it showing its age? Not starting the on the first crank?
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:34 AM   #31
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Very good right up. I dont need to change the starter but I will definitely use this write as a source in the future. Great job.

John
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Old 03-03-2010, 08:06 PM   #32
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Thanks guys. I hadn't heard of too many BMW having starter problems, but after this you see there are a few out there. The not starting on the first, second or third crank is what did it for me. lol
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Old 05-27-2010, 12:06 AM   #33
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newturner, thank you for taking the time to share your diy project. Good job!
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Old 05-27-2010, 12:24 AM   #34
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god changing parts in an e46 is a pain in the ass compared to my e30. I just changed the starter on my e30 and all I needed was an extension on my ratchet, leaning over the driver side fender. took 2 hours tops
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Old 06-06-2010, 12:57 PM   #35
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I got another two year's life out of my 330 diesel starter by filing the brush holders down so that the brush leads didn't bottom out anymore. Worked fine, saved $1000.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:33 PM   #36
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This is going to be a big help when I replace the starter on my 325XIT next week. Thanks man!

BTW, RockAuto has brand new Bosch starters for $184, not remanufactured .

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Old 07-19-2010, 12:27 AM   #37
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amazing write-up, do you think this is similar to that of an x3 (e83)?
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:05 PM   #38
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I just replaced my starter this weekend. It wasn't the hardest but certainly took a while to get done. The hardest part is removing the actual starter from the pin. Also, some things would have been a lot easier with two people, such as removing the lower bolt with your extension/extension/extension/universal joint/socket tool and also putting the transmission plate back on. A ratcheting combo wrench is probably the best thing you can possibly use for the top bolt.
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:10 AM   #39
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hey dudes, ive just had mine done at an independant specialist 190 all in and thats for oem spec.
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:58 AM   #40
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Thanks to NEWTUNER for a great write-up and the time it took to put all the pics together.

I used the described methods to replace the starter on my 2004 330ci ZHP with a 6-speed manual gearbox, with a few differences.

1. I did not have to remove the mysterious device in step 12. There was nothing in the way.
2. I don't have the superman arms it takes to pop the top starter bolt loose with a 3/8 spanner, or the patience to. It took quite a bit of torque to remove either starter bolt. I used a set of Craftsman wobbly extensions. The trick is to assemble the extensions as pictured below and place them on top of the gearbox. Either have a friend help or put your left hand up and over the starter to guide the proper torx socket onto the bolt head. Swing the rear of the extension down to engage the ratchet. You may optionally use a large-sized spanner as an extension lever to apply generous torque. Just remember to keep forward pressure in order to keep the socket seated. Once you pop it loose it takes no time to remove the bolt.
3. It was extremely easy to remove the starter once the bolts were off. It could attributed to my Southern vehicle which is amazingly clean underneath. Those fearing removal in the future may apply a very thin layer of anti-seize compound.
4. In step 6, to remove the plastic master cylinder protector, push the vacuum and electric lines towards the firewall. Rotate the plastic piece forward and it slides out without much fuss. Also push the lines toward firewall when installing.
5. Connect the small wires to the starter BEFORE you rotate it into place. This way you can see what you're doing.
7. You can jack the car without using ramps. Jack the rear end first and place it on proper stands to give your self access to the front central jacking point. Using a jack pad is highly advised.
8. Finally, and most importantly TEST YOUR FAILING STARTER BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING. Use a tester or a voltmeter to see if the starter solenoid is getting voltage when ignition is turned on. This can be done from under the hood while your friend turns the key. Test the small posts, not the big one. I forget now which post it was, but one of them should give you voltage. If you get voltage but no starter engagement, your starter needs replacement. If you get no voltage, look elsewhere. Also, if you can PUSH START your car with ignition on, you don't need a new key; many other posts suggest a new key for a no-start condition. Push-start obviously works on manual transmission cars only.


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