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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 10-20-2010, 07:26 PM   #1
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E46 M3 Fuel Filter Change DIY

The E46 M3 is more prone to issues from a dirty/clogged fuel filter than the non-Ms. I picked up my 2003 M3 with 72,xxx on the clock and have had this on my list to do as I don't know when it was done last, if at all by the previous owner.

Tool/supply list -
** Fuel filter - PN
** Copper crush washer - PN
** 19mm open end wrench or small/thin adjustable wrench
** adjustable wrench or channel locks
** 8mm deep socket
** 10mm socket
** RaceRamps from www.RaceRamps.com or a jack/jack stands

E46 M3 Fuel Filter Change DIY Instructions

1) If you have a set of Race Ramps simply drive your car up them. If you don't don't get a set (www.RaceRamps.com) but in the mean time jack your car up and secure it on jack stands. You can look here for details on jacking

2) We need to remove the plastic under tray that covers the transmission and part of the fuel filter. I'll add these steps/pictures once I find the pictures

3) With the bigger plastic covers removed we need to remove the smaller metal cover that protects the fuel filter itself. You can see the fuel filter peaking out from behind the cover so you know you're in the right area.

4) Start by removing the 1 8mm screw on the inside edge of the cover near the transmission.

5) Next remove the two 8mm flat nut things on the front of the cover. The nuts are strange, they look like they're stamped out of sheet metal but they come off like normal nuts so don't let that stop you.

6) With those three fasteners removed (1 screw, two nuts) the cover comes off and exposes the beast!

7) We need to release the pressure and drain out as much fuel as possible before disconnecting the filter. Start by removing the cap from the schrader valve.

8) I put a cut open soda bottle below the valve and then pressed the center of the schrader valve with an allen wrench. Be careful as the fuel is under pressure and you don't want to get it on you, in your eyes, etc.

9) With the pressure released we can remove the filter itself. Start by removing the 10mm nut on the filter clamp.

10. Next we're going to remove the rear fuel line. The M3 has these annoying plastic clips built into the fuel line. You DO NOT want to break this or you will be buying a new fuel line for around $48 and you won't have a car to drive. These clips are a huge pain to get off, go slow and don't force it.
1) Push the fuel line into the filter
2) Push the white clip into the fuel line. Do this while keeping the fuel line pushed forward.
3) Pull the fuel line back and off the filter.

If the line doesn't come off easily repeat these steps. I had to work the white clip a bit to get it to come off. I read that using a open end wrench to push the white clip helps but I had no problem using only my hands. Be ready for fuel to pour out of the line.

12) Lower the fuel filter end into something to catch all the fuel. I had cardboard down to catch the inevitable spills.

13) Now we take on the other end. Use a 19mm wrench or adjustable wrench and put it on the filter at the indicated location A, put your other adjustable wrench or channel locks on the pressure regulator at the indicated location B. Be careful that you don't crush or mangle the pressure regulator with the second wrench.

You can see just see my two wrenches here. A 19mm would have been much easier.

If you need to you can remove the fuel line leaving the pressure regulator and the small vacuum line to give yourself more room to work. You could also remove the entire filter and pressure regulator. This was my original plan but the rubber hose with the hose clamp picture above refused to come off so I determined that working under the car was just as annoying as trying to remove that rubber line and moved on.

14) Success! Out with the old, in with the new. Thanks Tischer / getBMWParts.com for the new filter!

15) Put the copper crush washer on the fuel filter and start threading the filter on. You'll notice that the crush washer will fall off the machined seat and lay on the threads. If you tighten the filter with the washer in the wrong place it will get bent up and not seal. I turned the filter vertical so the washer would fall back into place before hand tightening.

16) Tighten the filter using your two wrenches the opposite of how you took off the filter. I setup my wrenches so they were propping up the filter and then pressed down on both wrenches to tighten the filter. You have to be creative when working in 16" of vertical space.

17) Reconnect the rear fuel line first. While the connectors are a pain to get off they snap right on so reassembly is easy at least.

18) Bolt the filter back in place using the bracket and the 10mm nut.

19) Put the cap back on the schrader valve. If you disconnected the front fuel line and the small vacuum line reconnect those now as well.

20) At this point you're fuel filter is back in. I test started my car to check for leaks. Turn the key on to position II to have the fuel pump move fuel into the new filter. This should help avoid a rough start, but it didn't for me. If your car runs rough at first don't worry it will go away once a bit more fuel gets up to the fuel rail.

21) Assuming there are no leaks put the metal cover back on with the 1 8mm screw and two 8mm nuts. Then put the plastic main covers back on.

22) If you have a set of kick ass Race Ramps you can simply drive your car down. If you're using jacks/stands take your car off the stands.

23) You're done! Look how dirty the fuel that flowed out of the 'dirty' side of the filter was (this picture does not truly to how dirty the fuel was)

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Old 10-20-2010, 07:36 PM   #2
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I Have 50k on mine. Ive been meaning to do this. thanks.

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Old 10-21-2010, 03:31 PM   #3
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very thorough DIY, nice

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Old 10-21-2010, 04:20 PM   #4
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gotta order one of those suckers... lol

I probably still have the original one in there from 10 years ago... haha
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:12 AM   #5
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Pull the fuse

Before you start: Pull the fuse in the glove box for the fuel pump(can't remember which one off top of my head), then start car and let it run until it quits. That way you don't have nearly as much fuel all over yourself when you remove the old fuel filter. Also, after you install the new one, make sure you fire the car up and leak check before buttoning everything up and dropping the car back down. I forgot the washer and it was spraying all over. Glad I checked, could've been bad.
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Old 11-17-2010, 01:51 AM   #6
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Did this on my non-M a few weeks ago and it was slightly different. If I recall correctly it was one line on the tank side and two coming out of the filter on the engine side. could be the other way around. They were all held on by normal hose clamps, which i replaced just because. careful when talking the first line off (either side) cause it is under pressure... My buddy got it in the face! haha
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:56 AM   #7
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The non-M is quite a bit different - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=265683

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Old 04-04-2011, 11:04 PM   #8
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I followed all the instructions above to change my m3 fuel filter and it all went very smoothly, not problems at all. I removed the fuse and ran it untill it stopped, relieved the pressure at the valve (almost none) New Copper washer and all done no leaks.
It was the orriginal filter (almost 10 years old) and the car has more power now. As a matter of interest I cut the old one open and found the paper to be black and clogged, no wonder it runs better now.
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:27 AM   #9
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Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Curious...is the new filter really that much smaller than the old one? The photo seems to show a big difference.
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:37 PM   #10
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No The filters are the same size, it just must look smaller in the photos.
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Old 10-25-2011, 03:23 AM   #11
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m3 fuel filter

Great job done in posting such useful information tim330i. I've been meaning to do this but the lack of knowledge has held me back.lol, Now im gonna go ahead and order my fuel filter and get to work. THANX
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:52 AM   #12
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thunmbs up for a good DIY just did mine and was easy as the DIY,
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Old 03-08-2013, 07:14 PM   #13
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Excellent DIY! And for those very new to the idea of changing the fuel filter, there is no need to pinch any lines to prevent the entire tank from draining... Another note, my fuel that came out of the filter was crazy dark and nasty! For how easy and cheap this is to do, you shouldn't even hesitate for a second to make this a 30k change. Never know when you are going to get bad fuel.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:46 AM   #14
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Doing this today... Hope this is the right thread to bump as I don't have an M3...

But I've read other DIYs and it seems that most people replace the fuel hose. Anyone have any problems with using Autozone/Advance fuel injection hose? I know it needs to be 5/16, which is the closest to 8mm.

I'm thinking of this


or this


Usually I'm sort of anal about using OEM stuff, just because I want to make sure the fit is okay. But in this case I want to do this today and the parts stores are all I have. Anyone see anything wrong or had any problems using one of these products?
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:43 AM   #15
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Where did you guys get your copper washer from?

Are you re-using the old one to the new one, I just bought a brand new fuel filter (Mahle) and I don't think it came with one? Unless it was loosely packaged and I dropped it.
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:46 AM   #16
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Mine came with the washer.

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Old 08-12-2013, 04:39 AM   #17
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In a pinch, the oil drain plug washer works well if you've got any extra. It's OD is slightly larger, but close enough to not pose an issue. I had several extra because I typically change my oil via mityvac, and I tend to be a hoarder of leftover pieces like that

Last edited by TerraPhantm; 08-12-2013 at 04:40 AM.
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:48 AM   #18
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I think I got shafted, I bought 5 new copper washers just to have on hand.

Guess how much it was from BMWofSanDiego?

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Old 04-06-2014, 06:04 PM   #19
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yeah I know its over 2yrs old.

My 1st DIY Fuel Filter job and it went with out a hitch. Thanks OP
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Old 01-27-2016, 08:36 PM   #20
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Just did this today. I have read other DIYs where you'll find people break the white clips. BMW makes a special tool to help un-couple, they also sell aftermarket version of it on Amazon for about $17. I just used my fingers. You can use a 12mm open end wrench to push the clips back into the hose too if you can't use your hands. Just be careful to not mangle and take your time here. This step is a finesse job, not a muscle job. Key here is to push white clip into the hose while pushing hose towards filter. then you can wiggle it back off slowly after it unclips.

Another note is that 19mm nut mentioned earlier is part of the filter. So (with wrenches opening facing up and handles towards ground) you turn the 19mm wrench towards the center of car to remove.

Also I remove fuse 54 and started car (prior to jacking up) so the pressure in fuel line was diminished. Very little came out of schrader valve.

I found removing the white clip hose on back of filter first then move to the front one helps.

Also make a little note of where all the nuts and panels fit. It's a mini puzzle fitting them back as some nuts get covered by some panels and then some others are used to go through two overlapping panels. Nothing drastic here, at most you'll just find yourself taking off a panel because you hidden a screw and laugh at yourself.
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