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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 03-30-2013, 02:14 PM   #21
SeattleLSB
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I give up. I tried again for two hours, the threads simply won't bite or even get started. Looks like I'm going to have to tow it to BMW
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Old 03-30-2013, 02:39 PM   #22
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So you pulled it out fine but can't get it started? The plug threads look okay? Can you get in there with your hand yet?? If you can't hand start it something is up. PM me and I'll give you a phone contact this isn't that bad!!
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:01 PM   #23
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I bought 4 brand new drain plugs I get the bolt on there and get it turning and it just won't bite. I tried your method but my arm gets stuck about 2 inches from the opening. I'm going to try to remove the car from the ramps tomm and use the jack remove the wheel and try it the other way. I've had the bolt out for like 45 days.

Joe
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Old 03-30-2013, 05:45 PM   #24
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Well she's thoroughly drained sitting for 45 days. Maybe the block threads are slightly messed up from all these attempts. That's okay, it's only the first couple threads. Is your arm getting stuck back where you're inserting it in the boot area? You can only do this with your left arm and I can't imagine a jam point. I can't exactly remember but it seemed like I got my elbow through and could easily touch and feel the open drain hole with my finger tips. Mine was up on Rino ramps. Got a friend with a smaller arm?
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Old 03-30-2013, 05:51 PM   #25
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well I tried it a couple ways with the arm and it gets stuck around the elbow. I think my arms are really small and get stuck around mid forearm.

So let try this again lay face down with your head pointing towards the drivers seat and use my left arm between the tie-rod boot and the grounding wire. Did you remove the large grounding wire or leave it in place? I had my wife try who is really small but I will give it a go tomorow a few more times before I take it off the ramps.

Joe
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Old 03-31-2013, 12:13 AM   #26
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Something sounds different here.

I'm medium build so like yourself, average arm size. So up on the ramps, scrunch in there in front of the passenger side wheel, kind of kneeling in a hunched position. Laying belly down, propped up on your right arm may work for large guys. No ground wire issue and NOT a tie-rod boot location! You're looking at a large, inner CV half-shaft boot as your target. The boot is tapered and about 4" in diameter on the engine side. There's some obstruction above it (frame or horizontal rod) and a small moving arm sensor for headlight leveling to the left. The rear wheel drive guys have no issue, they just reach in there. We're dealing with that drive axle to get through.

I simply stuffed my arm between what appears as an impossible 3" gap. The trick is, the boot compresses downward (below your arm) allowing an extra inch or so to press on through. Once moving, there is no real resistance and your forearm won't bind. I can't remember if the elbow needs to go through but the drain hole was easily reached. You'll have plenty or room and vision for your fingers to touch the drain area and insert the plug.

I looked at several pictures thinking it may have been the steering rack boot or maybe the boot was above my arm? I can't find a decent photo of an XI setup. I'm going by memory but it was a fat boot, close to the engine that will yield your passage. I remember angling my arm in front of the obstructions measuring the distance needed. I then realized, I could reach this if I could just get through that gap. I experimented poking through the gap squishing the boot down and was surprised (relieved) how easy it is. Man, this is hard to explain. When you make the "break through", please elaborate on the gap in question. The block threads are probably fine and the plug will thread right in. Dinking around with extensions is crazy hard!

You have now been motivated - go Ninja on that thing. If you hit the wall take a couple photos and we'll get this. Don't tow it yet!
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Old 03-31-2013, 12:22 AM   #27
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Don't quit. Remove the axle if you have to. It's only going to take 2 hours not 46 days .
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Old 03-31-2013, 10:48 AM   #28
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Ok the White Knuckles method finally worked and gave me access to the drain hole by going under the axle over the control arm and snaked my way under the header under. After that access, I was able to find the old bolt I dropped and I continued to try to insert the bolt for around 90 minutes without success.

I'm thinking maybe the first thread of the hole is stripped from using the socket method earlier.

Did anyone Else's bolt just go right in without Resistance?
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Old 03-31-2013, 01:25 PM   #29
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Thanks, now we know your arm goes under the axle where the boot compresses above your arm.

Normally the bolt starts right in. Your block starting threads may be messed up. First try rolling around (with your finger) a piece of 200 grit, wet/dry sandpaper to remove any high metal edges or cross-thread spots in the opening. Make sure the bolt you recovered and are reusing is clean and lubricated. Take a wire brush to its threads to make it shiny-clean. Don't forget the crush washer has to be on it. Try hand inserting it again. No go in 5 minutes see below.

Pro method:

You can buy a single, exact sized metric tap and maybe a tap "T" - handle just in case. You must start the tap precisely aligned to the hole. I wouldn't even use the T-handle at first, just try to insert the tap (which has a tapered tip) gently by hand. Wrap a small rag cutting around the sharp tap shaft to handle it. Work it a couple turns inward and then back it out. Repeat this a couple times. The block material is soft aluminum and the tap should seek good threads below the first couple that are damaged. Put a little grease on the tap to collect any shavings. Wipe the hole out with a rag before testing with the plug. The T-handle is handy if you can't rotate the tap by hand. Not sure if the handle will clear things? If you know there's no clearance, forget the T-handle you can drive it with a small crescent wrench. Again, the tap must be aligned perfectly and feel normal threading in or you may cut good threads if it were angled. It should clean up the bad threads without much resistance, shavings or drama.

The second option is a thread chaser designed for cleaning threads. It's similar to a tap but without aggressive cutting louvers. It also has a tapered starting tip. These are often hard to find locally and again, must be the exact bolt size and thread pitch.

Home method:

The last trick is to slightly grind or file down the tip (first 5 threads) of a spare drain plug. Now file between these squared threads with a small, triangular, "jewelers" file to knock the burrs off and re-sharpen the threads a little. You're hand making a chaser but if you do it right it'll work. Lube the plug tip with oil and try hand starting it. When it bites into lower block threads, the normal bolt threads (past the taper) will correct the bad first threads as you start tightening. This one is a feel thing and risks cross-threading but your inner threads are fine, its just getting past the damaged first couple. Once resistance stops in the first few turns, back it out and stuff in a normal plug. The chaser will not cut threads, it kind of forms them back into shape therefore, there will be more resistance than a tap. Take your time, use lube for either method and you'll be fine.

Disclaimer: if you've never done this and feel uncomfortable, by all means tow her away to a pro. I think you'll be fine but that's from experience and having success with these situations before. If you come back mad with a damaged block, the world won't end. There are oversized bolts etc. to cure it but that isn't a movie I'd want you to see.
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Old 03-31-2013, 04:02 PM   #30
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I'm going to give a couple methods try next week once the rain stops since it just started. The bolt size is below do you know what size tap I would need if I decide to do that? I'm not going to be heart broken on the engine, I bought the car for a steal and it has 192k on it I might just pull the motor and replace it!



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Old 03-31-2013, 05:03 PM   #31
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Just tow it to a shop and they can put it up in the air and get it back in. So it cost you a couple of bucks. You said you got it for a steal. Sometimes you just have to let someone with equipment and experience help you.
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Old 03-31-2013, 05:52 PM   #32
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Bob your right. I think I will move forward and put everything back together beside the plug, IE the radiator finish up the OHFG, CCV system and try the bolt a couple more times if I can't get it I will get it towed. Luckly BMW dealership is only 10 miles away!Thanks for everyones encouragement.

Joe
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:12 PM   #33
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I wouldn't go to the stealer for this. You need a real mechanic, not a tech.
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:25 AM   #34
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^^ Kubica, a man with little words but great wisdom. (I could learn the less words part?)

Sometimes it's safer for ones sanity to hand it over when frustrated. Stripping that baby out now would be most unfortunate. SeattleLSB gave it a good go! If you do feel like diving in, take the bolt to the tool supplier to match up the tap. The pitch is tricky so ask for assistance if needed.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:38 PM   #35
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Woohoo! I finally got the bolt in today. I bought a threadchaser and chased the first couple threads noting major and the bolt went right in, not smoothly but went in and snuged up nice and tight with a socket wrench and wrench. I want to thank everyone for their support!

The bolt appears pretty tight but it somewhat hard to tell how tight it actually is. Any thoughts on this.

Next thing to do is CCV and OFHG then Rad, Hoses etc.

I don't think I will take out the bolt again though!

-Joe
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:33 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeattleLSB View Post
I don't think I will take out the bolt again though!

-Joe
Come on, you have the technique down now.

You just pull it by hand choked up on the socket handle (3/8) or with an open-end wrench until it seats and just a touch further. It's aluminum don't go crazy, you feel it. It's probably fine, messing around with a torque wrench is too much.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:27 PM   #37
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I'm glad to see you got it done, Seattle. And nice job on walking him through, everyone else, esp. White_Knuckles.
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