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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 01-17-2013, 10:55 AM   #1
NickBMW
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Starter replacement helppp

hey guys i need a starter, where can i find the cheapest one thats good, and i can DIY, is it hard? i heard you have to drop the transmission and crap, i have a 2001 325i 5 speed. thanks!!
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:58 AM   #2
trizzuth
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I honestly wouldn't wish this job on anyone. There are DIY's out there, just search. You can do it without removing the intake manifold, or the tranny, but it is difficult and very hard to do, you're doing most of the entire thing blind cause you can't see most of the bolts.

First make absolutely sure that you need a replacement starter in the first place. Then search.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:03 AM   #3
flashmeow
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Replaxing the starter is actually a very easy process. However, the hardest part is the limit space and and as a result u might have to remove a bunch of stuff to gain access to the starter.

For max access...u have to remove the intake manifold. This is great if u r planning to do a manifold swap or change out your hard coolant pipes.

For min access, u need to remove the intake rubber boot and throttle body.

Of course u can remove more or less but this all depends on your skill level and the size of your hands.

The starter is only secure by a single e-torx bolt. There are 3-4 cables connected to the starter (2 large -/+ and the last are smaller wires)

I hope this helps. Good luck

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Old 01-17-2013, 11:07 AM   #4
NickBMW
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thanks guys, i got quoted at the dealer $550 for the starter and replacement so i thought that wasnt to bad but so il see what il do this spring, thanks!!!!!!! also the automaster diagnosed it as the starter but it starts alot then every once in a while it will whine and then catch, then it starts the next time i try it, could it be something else??
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:20 AM   #5
flashmeow
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I am sure u can get it fix at a indy place. For starter, u really don't need the dealer to replace

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Old 01-17-2013, 11:26 AM   #6
pleiades
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On my car (m52tu engine, almost same configuration as m54), the starter is bolted to the transmission bell housing with two medium-size external torx bolts. You really have to get under the car to get to these with about two feet worth of extensions, but they're not the hard part... only takes a minute to get them out if you can reach them. The bitch is, there's a dowel pin in there that's right in the center, between those two bolts, that you cannot see. It rusts and freezes the starter to the bell housing, so if you plan to do this, you'll want to get some PB Blaster in/along the facing between the starter and bell housing a couple days in advance. Endless stories on BMW e39/e46 forums about removing the bolts and still being unable to get the damned starter to release .... If that's the situation, you can pry & wiggle the starter away (carefully) from the housing with a flat-tip screwdriver until the frozen rust lets go. Do this in small incremental steps and you won't damage anything. (Put some anti-seize on that dowel pin before bolting the new starter on....)

If your car gives you enough hand-room with the air intake etc. out of the way, you might be able to disconnect the electrical cabling on the front side of the starter housing from above. Get these things done and you should be able to pull the starter out but it will probably be easier finagling down/out from under the car.

The real PITA is learning the first time how tough BMW made this task for you.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:40 AM   #7
flashmeow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
On my car (m52tu engine, almost same configuration as m54), the starter is bolted to the transmission bell housing with two medium-size external torx bolts. You really have to get under the car to get to these with about two feet worth of extensions, but they're not the hard part... only takes a minute to get them out if you can reach them. The bitch is, there's a dowel pin in there that's right in the center, between those two bolts, that you cannot see. It rusts and freezes the starter to the bell housing, so if you plan to do this, you'll want to get some PB Blaster in/along the facing between the starter and bell housing a couple days in advance. Endless stories on BMW e39/e46 forums about removing the bolts and still being unable to get the damned starter to release .... If that's the situation, you can pry & wiggle the starter away (carefully) from the housing with a flat-tip screwdriver until the frozen rust lets go. Do this in small incremental steps and you won't damage anything. (Put some anti-seize on that dowel pin before bolting the new starter on....)

If your car gives you enough hand-room with the air intake etc. out of the way, you might be able to disconnect the electrical cabling on the front side of the starter housing from above. Get these things done and you should be able to pull the starter out but it will probably be easier finagling down/out from under the car.

The real PITA is learning the first time how tough BMW made this task for you.
Oh snapped. I was wrong about the single bolt. U r right. The starter is secure by a alignment pin (center) and two torx bolt.

I think I am getting old

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Old 01-17-2013, 12:04 PM   #8
pleiades
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Originally Posted by flashmeow View Post
Oh snapped. I was wrong about the single bolt. U r right. The starter is secure by a alignment pin (center) and two torx bolt.

I think I am getting old

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I'm not sure of anything really ... I relied on an e46-series DIY write-up here when replacing my clutch in my e39, had the same trouble removing my starter from the bell-housing, and everything turned out to be identical, but you know BMW made changes along the way and I'm not even sure the OP has a manual-trans car or whether it matters here.

Last edited by pleiades; 01-17-2013 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:53 PM   #9
NickBMW
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ahhhh i dont know if i wanna do it myself, guess il bring her to the shop
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:38 PM   #10
Andy2108
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go to an indy, not the dealer.

the cheapest place to get a starter would be a junk yard.... but if you want a new part try bmwmercedesparts.com or getbmwparts.com
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:52 PM   #11
chickenalfredo
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Originally Posted by NickBMW View Post
thanks guys, i got quoted at the dealer $550 for the starter and replacement so i thought that wasnt to bad but so il see what il do this spring, thanks!!!!!!! also the automaster diagnosed it as the starter but it starts alot then every once in a while it will whine and then catch, then it starts the next time i try it, could it be something else??
$550? Wow, my dealer (BMW of Anchorage) wanted to charge ~$600 for labor and then another $350 for the remanufactured starting motor by bosch. I got the remanufactured bosch starter from bmaparts for $117 + $60 (core charge) then got an local indy to do the labor for $270. So all in all it costed me $387 (I got my core charge refunded to me).

Now, even though I only paid $270 for labor (which was 2.7 hours in the book), they told me that it took them the entire morning from 7am to 12 o'clock with two guys. They did it all without taking anything out, however the main mechanic that worked on it got his hand scraped all over because it was such a tight space to work in.

Last edited by chickenalfredo; 01-17-2013 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:00 PM   #12
blk04zhpcpe
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Hey NickBMW, armed with hope from reading the DIYs here, I just finished mine yesterday and it was not a big deal. I have an 04 ZHP coupe with the 6mt and with the airbox & following intake hose, the cabin filter assembly, and heater hoses removed from the firewall, the starter is clearly visible. A 3/8" swivel-head rachet will remove the bolts, a long screwdriver and a ball-peen hammer will separate the starter from the mount. I had to remove the 2 larger electrical cables before I had enough slack to rotate the starter to get the smaller ones. It then snaked under the throttle body and out over the alternator. Having removed the heater hoses, I bled the cooling system (don't forget to do this!) to find that there was very little coolant loss (maybe a pint?). The starter itself was 239.00 (new, Bosch) at the local parts house. Not too bad a job at all. Maybe your car is similar. Good luck!
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:07 PM   #13
jfoj
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ChickenAlfredo,

You have an xi, I think the xi is far more challenging than any of the other models!

I think the last person that had to change the starter on his xi that I knew gave up and just pulled the intake.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:09 PM   #14
Passnu2
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^ agreed, I just did the oil separator and intake tubes so being right there today I almost just replaced it so I wouldn't have a reason to go back in there. Its not that bad to access. I think the easiest way it to take off the intake boots, TB, and DISA and your golden.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:13 AM   #15
wilcax
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I had to replace mine a couple years ago. It's not too difficult of a job, but if you don't have the required tools and a nice place to spend an afternoon doing the job I would take it to a shop!
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:39 AM   #16
Stinger9
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To prove what others have described, here's a pic of the two torx from the top.

Last edited by Stinger9; 05-08-2014 at 05:40 PM.
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