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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 11-14-2011, 02:20 PM   #1
joeycannoli
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BMW E46 3-Series DIY: Spark Plug 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 Spark Plug DIY







This DIY article will help you successfully change the Spark Plugs 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 Valve Cover Gasket if it is time to have that done. If you are looking for the Valve Cover Gasket DIY please follow the link below:

E46 Valve Cover Gasket DIY

TOOLS NEEDED:
Flat Head Screwdriver
3/4 Ratchet
3/4 Breaker Bar
3/4 Extensions (6"+)
5/8" Spark Plug Socket
Torque Wrench
10mm Socket
19mm Socket
TORX 30 Socket

Optional: Permatex Anti-Seize

PARTS REQUIRED:
OEM Spark Plugs (6): 64 31 9 071 935



First thing we want to do is remove the cabin filter housing so give us a bit more room to change the spark plugs



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



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



Shot of the plug in the cylinder



Grab your 5/8" spark plug socket and a long extension for your breaker bar.



Insert the socket into the cylinder head and remove the spark plug



Here is a shot of the plug removed



Comparison of the new plug with the old plug. These plugs had 51K miles on them





Time to throw the new plugs in. I know people have mixed feelings on the anti-seize paste, but i recommend it as i use it on all of my cars and i never had a problem. I use the Permatex Anti-Seize Lubricant. You can get this stuff pretty much anywhere



Lightly apply the Anti-Seize to the threads of the spark plug



Drop the new plugs into the cylinders



Grab your spark plug socket, extension and torque wrench to tighten the spark plugs back up. Tighten to the torque specifications below
Torque Specs: 23 ft/lbs



With your plugs all tightened back up you can begin the re-assembly in reverse order. I highly recommend doing the valve cover gasket at this time since you are half-way through the steps required to change it at this point.

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

Last edited by joeycannoli; 10-08-2014 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:25 PM   #2
Brevik
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Thanks for the diy
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:11 AM   #3
LeMansteve
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Why do you remove the vent tube from the valve cover?
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Why do you remove the vent tube from the valve cover?
Thanks for the catch. I did this with the valve cover gasket DIY so this step was just copied over. Good eye man thanks!
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:28 PM   #5
LeMansteve
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Originally Posted by joeycannoli View Post
I did this with the valve cover gasket DIY so this step was just copied over.
That's what I thought. I've never done this job, but from what I've read the vent tubes attached to the CCV system break very easily on high-mileage cars. Wouldn't want to remove it unless I had a replacement available.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:49 PM   #6
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Can you do this without removing the cabin air filter housing? Is it just a little more convenient with it out of the way or what?
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:21 PM   #7
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I would be a bit concerned about removing the positive battery cable and letting it flap around like that. I'd have to check the wiring to be sure but that's connected directly to the positive battery terminal (via that main fuse). If it touches the grounded/earthed both you will short the battery.

If you're going to disconnect the positive, disconnect the negative first.
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Old 05-10-2012, 03:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jizzzoe View Post
Can you do this without removing the cabin air filter housing? Is it just a little more convenient with it out of the way or what?
Yes, done this multiple times and never removed the cabin air filter housing...

I would skip those steps and have the correct ratchet attachments available to fit in the tighter space. Much less work.
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadBMW View Post
Yes, done this multiple times and never removed the cabin air filter housing...

I would skip those steps and have the correct ratchet attachments available to fit in the tighter space. Much less work.
If I am doing valve cover gasket at same time, should I still skip it? Thanks!
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jizzzoe View Post
If I am doing valve cover gasket at same time, should I still skip it? Thanks!
its only 4 screws to undo the cabin filter. i've done VCG's multiple times and if you dont remove the filter it kinda gets in the way. plus much more space to take the bolts off behind the vcg and properly apply the new gasket when placing the valve cover back on. which imo makes the job more simple when properly torquing the bolts all around and having more room.
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Old 06-02-2012, 12:30 AM   #11
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Cool, thank you!!
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Old 06-02-2012, 03:58 AM   #12
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I can't imagine doing the spark plugs without removing the cabin air filter housing... there's almost no room above cylinders 5/6 with that thing in the way. I'd rather just remove the 4 screws and have all the room I want

I wouldn't bother removing the positive terminal though.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:05 AM   #13
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I ve changed the old NGK plugs from my 330xi for Boch Platinium and now I ve error code in all 6 cilinders lol didnt ve time to see in deep the issue but i will do some checking this weekend
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:22 AM   #14
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Just did this tonight on my 2002 325i with some NGK replacements. Less than 60,000 miles, but I could definitely tell a difference afterwards. I have only owned this for a couple months and I believe the previous owner only drove it on short trips (hence the low miles). The old plugs were nice and brown/black.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:35 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by fernandop2 View Post
I ve changed the old NGK plugs from my 330xi for Boch Platinium and now I ve error code in all 6 cilinders lol didnt ve time to see in deep the issue but i will do some checking this weekend
NGK Laser Double Plat FTW
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:27 AM   #16
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older e46 coil packs

the older coil packs are bolted on. ease-peasie to remove, the locking mechanisms are slightly different too. the pic shows the first coil pack removed, and the second locking mechanism unlocked.

thanks for the DIY write-up...

oh, one other thing, I was going to attempt to use regular NGK Platnium... but they're >3mm (>0.125in) longer than the OEM... didn't want to chance it, so went with OEM.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:13 PM   #17
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Nice write-up! Forgive me if I just missed this but is there some procedure for gapping the new plugs? ...or do you just install them as they come out of the box?
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:44 PM   #18
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+1 on the anti-sieze.

A tip for others scared to use it: Don't gob it on & leave the 1st few threads near the tip free of the stuff. You only need a tiny itty bitty bit for it to work as intended. I put a very light strip of the stuff perpendicular to the threads while keeping it off the 1st few threads & away from the crush ring. Torque to 16 ft-lb with a torque wrench (emphasize on using a torque wrench). NGK has their own recommendation for torquing down without a torque wrench but doing their procedure caused loose plugs in my E36 M3 on 5 cylinders when I did it; caused a nasty tapping/popping sound after a few thousand miles which is horrible on the head threads when this happens.

When I removed the original factory NGK plugs on my 325i with 100K miles, cylinders 4 & 5 were down right scary to remove. I had to use a breaker bar to get them to budge & even after breaking loose I had to use a ton of force & it made a screeching noise with every turn of the ratchet; engine was cold as well. The threads on these two plugs had a bit of aluminum 'dusting' on the rusty threads when removed; not good... Anti-seize when used properly will help prevent further thread damage as I won't have this problem again when removing the plugs.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:02 AM   #19
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hi your car looks good any suggestion to keep my car pretty i haven't done any buffing or retouching to my car 330ci but i know its about time...btw...the very first successful work i did for my car is replacing the front splash panel and installing the ambient temperature sensor

Last edited by bm@hotmail.com; 06-28-2012 at 04:08 AM. Reason: additional info to all
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Old 07-28-2012, 03:07 PM   #20
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Thumbs Up

Big thanks to OP. I just did this and the VCG and it was quite easy thanks to your post.
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