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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 01-29-2017, 06:24 AM   #1
Edenhack
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Replacing 325i belts, what else should I do while im in there?

Hey fellas long time lurker that finally made an account. I'm a 22 year old in Texas that picked up an e46 325i after my 350z was totaled by a drunk driver. I've realized after some time that it is a car I need to work on and maintain or it's gonna fall apart under my feet.

I got rather lucky, mine has 63k miles at this point even though its a 2002 325i but it definitely needs some love. I've had some rough engine noise and believe its the belts and they pulley assembly from what I've seen on here so I've planned to pop it open and replace them. What else should I go ahead and replace while I'm in there?

I've seen the electric fan swap and was thinking about doing that while I was in there, but I'm actually an IT guy that's just good with his hands and I don't know a lot about cars past basic specs stuff like hp/torque honestly.

Thanks for any advice or suggestions!
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Old 01-29-2017, 10:32 AM   #2
jmo69
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You might want to consider idler and tensioner pulleys. Once the belts are off, spin them by hand, they should be silent. Everyone is going to say full cooling system refresh, might be a good idea, old plastic and Texas heat could spell disaster.
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Old 01-29-2017, 10:34 AM   #3
markusmarkus
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Replacing 325i belts, what else should I do while im in there?

Welcome to the addiction!

Your car is 15 years old. Ignore the mileage as plastic and rubber age over time.
- there are 2 belts on the engine
* main serpentine belt
* AC belt
I'd change both belts and all three pulleys. Buy original equipment manufacture (OEM) pulleys from a reputable vendor such as FCP Euro or ECS Tuning. Also note that the serpentine belt tensioner is likely mechanical. BMW switched to a hydraulic tensioner later in the E46 production run.
The AC tensioner pulley can't be replaced by itself as you have to buy the whole unit. AC is important as you live in Texas.

Has the cooling system ever been replaced? Your car's cooling system is made of plastic and rubber, so it needs to be replaced soon. Again buy OEM parts and not parts from the local autozone, pep boys, etc. See Mango's sticky on the cooling system. These engines run hot-between 95*C and 100*C-so a properly functioning cooling system is a must. The best coolant is a 50/50 mix of BMW coolant and DISTILLED water.

Good luck. We're all in this together.

Edit: the engine has a crankcase ventilation system (CCV) that's a POS. It's a bear to replace as it's buried under the intake manifold. When it starts to go the engine will burn oil like crazy. There are several DIYs and YouTube vids on changing it. The CCV in your car is probably in need of changing as the plastic hoses have a very small wall thickness.

Your car has an auto tranny. It's do for a filter and fluid change. BMW's "lifetime fluids" was a marketing ploy, and not a maintenance philosophy! Be aware that BMW used 2 different auto boxes in the E46: one made by GM of France and the other made by a German company ZF. They are totally different animals. The easiest way to tell is to look at the fluid pan. The GM box has a smooth pan while the ZF box has a ribbed pan.

Last edited by markusmarkus; 01-29-2017 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 01-29-2017, 02:50 PM   #4
E46Shootist
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Totally agree with Markus.
Along with the standard cooling hoses I'd also replace the ones to the heater core and hard water pipes. If you want you can replace the hard water pipes themselves as well. (If you do the pipes they are the only hoses i bother getting actual bmw. They will also likely break upon removing. Have a tap and matching bolt ready if you're going to do this. You can tap the broken end and get it out with the bolt. I can get the size for you if you want it... I don't remember off the top of my head) reputable brand aftermarket from the above sources or autohausaz.com are fine for the rest. These all require removing the intake manifold.

If your willing to take the intake manifold off get the coolant sensor and one of the positioning sensors that's located down there while it's off. Both fail, not regularly but still for 30ish each at bmw not bad. Also a 5 dollar gasket for the ofh is almost certain to fail. Keep track of the bolts there they are all different. You can replace the high pressure Vanos line if it needs it... I would regardless. Either way you'll need the four crush washers after replacing the ofh gasket. You'd also need the dipstick o ring. Intake manifold gaskets don't usually need replacing but peace of mind. Throttle body gasket is the same. Clean the icv with some maf cleaner when it comes off. I also replace the disa valve. It doesn't often fail but if it does the damage is catastrophic as a pin will fall into one of the cylinders. (Disa valves are a bit over 200, the most expensive thing I recommend) Inspect the two intake boots prior to starting. If they are hard get new ones. They may crack. Also mine were installed on the intake manifold before it was put on... There was no access to the hose clamps from the top. I had to cut away the second boot to access the clamps. Also a note about re installing the intake... Do the ccv system while it's off except for the top hose that runs the length of cylinders 2 through 5. Leave that one until the fuel rail then fuel rail electronics are put back first.

Also get the vacuum line that comes off the intake boot for the fuel filter. Easy to replace and cheep. (Do the other side at the fuel filter with a new filter on an other day... On that note, mark which line goes where. If the return line is swapped weigh the feed line the car won't start. Also recommend doing this on a near empty tank or the return line will keep leaking fuel even with the fuse for the pump removed)

Do the pullies and tensioners for sure.

If the viscous clutch on the fan has resistance I wouldn't replace it with the electric one... Save that till the viscous clutch wears out.

I kept the original radiator and it's still going strong. But the expansion tanks fail with age and millage.

You'll want to do the valve cover as well. It's more than brittle I'm sure. Use paper towels to hold it as you pull to catch pieces before they drop down in the cams.

Spark plugs and coils are probably good. I change plugs ever now and then but wait for coils to fail as they are expensive.

If you need an outline for the bmw fan removal tool let me know. I'll see what I can come up with.

Also with the rest of the cooling system change as mentioned by Markus I recommend an aftermarket stainless wp from autohaus. It has served me well with my e39 and e46. Not sure about e46's but the e39's had composite impellers in older models which apparently wear away. My e46 had a stainless one from bmw... Apparently bmw got wind and updated. I swapped for aftermarket anyway.

Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.
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Old 01-29-2017, 02:54 PM   #5
E46Shootist
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Also... I forgot. You're power steering filter housing is probably leaking from one or both of your low pressure hoses. You can cut away the clamps and trim the hose in the area over where it attaches to the filter housing. Maybe a half inch. This allows you to slide the undamaged area of the house up on the filter housing and re clamp it without changing the fluid completely. This only works once..You might do it again but I wouldn't.
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Old 01-29-2017, 04:20 PM   #6
lab rat
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I would do the electric fan. Once you do that getting to the front of the engine is a piece of cake.
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Old 01-29-2017, 04:38 PM   #7
BMWamateur1
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Transcooler connector

It seems to me leaking and I can not seem to get it taken off. I have unhooked the hoses, removed the transcooler and expansion tank. Can someone please give insight on how to get the trans cooler connector out?
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Old 01-29-2017, 05:43 PM   #8
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Exactly which connectors are you trying to remove? The two ATF lines?

If you're just servicing the cooling system you don't need to disconnect those lines from the ATF heat exchanger. Just disconnect it at the coolant connections.
http://cdn4.pelicanparts.com/BMW/tec...mall/pic03.jpg
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Old 01-29-2017, 07:14 PM   #9
OnTheFence
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DIY. Tools. Opportunity. Challenge.

If you're new to working on cars, take a step back.
The forum people will go nuts and tell you to replace half the car.
Ignore this.

Start small.
Read and listen.
Make a list and prioritize it.

Start with small projects that require small tools.
Do one job at a time.
See if you like the process.
Anyone telling you to remove the intake manifold as your first project is given bad advice.

Start to build your tools. You will use them for the rest of your life.
Think of tools as an investment in your hobby and yourself.

The worst thing is to simply do nothing since everyone has tolds you to do 1000 different things.
Right now, you want to replace the belt?
Just focus on that. Read some threads of what else people typically replace with belts.
Set aside a half day to tackle a belts and pulleys job, Make sure you have the right tools.

Bigger picture, here is what you need to think about.
The E46 will need some small repairs from time to time.

How do you feel about this?

Are you a little excited about the idea of learning to fix yoru car (and a little nervous, of course)?
Is this an oppostunity to enhance your life by expanding your knowledge about something?
Why did you even think of an E46? Are you partly wanting to car as a chance to learn about cars and how to fix them, and start building up a man's tool set?
Cold garage sucks, but you layer up. Hat, gloves, base layers, heater, and some breaks. Do you have electricity in the garage?

Or.....do you think "Screw this, I just want to drive this cool car, I wish there were no issues. I don't have time or money to fix this car", then you may pause.

This is an opportunity to become a real car guy,
not just some virtual car guy who reads magazines and memorizes weird 0-60 specs.

When I got my E39, I WANTED to learn to fix a few of the things.
That's why I got the car. Naturally, and wisely perhaps, I was scared to do big things, and paid someone.
But the small things, I got on forums, got tools, and slowly learned. It has been a rewarding experience.

The point is, the car sounds like a sound starting point with probably routine issues that ALL e46's will have.
The question is whether you are interested in starting down the road of a hobby car and learning to do small repairs.
If you are, then this is a great car to start with.

Low mileage clean unmolested cars take some work to find.
All used cars need SOME work.

Last edited by OnTheFence; 01-29-2017 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 01-29-2017, 07:36 PM   #10
E46Shootist
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Also a heads up on pricing... If you find a good parts dealer, you might consider giving them as little love every once in a while. Your local bmw shop should beat prices seen on getbmwparts... Which I think is fair.
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Old 01-30-2017, 05:50 AM   #11
Edenhack
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OnTheFence View Post
DIY. Tools. Opportunity. Challenge.
I will start with saying. I did not know this was a car needing this sort of work, I AM interested in learning more through the experience and journey of owning this car; however, I originally got this car, because after the destruction of my 350 by a drunk driver, I had all of 2 weeks to get another car before I moved from College Station to Lubbock. The car has pissed me off, but not because of the cars problems but because I did not originally have the financial capability to fix anything because I was dirt poor when I moved, and also because I just don't have the ideal scheduling life to be able to just sit down and work on the car for a day (I am a DE student for BLINN/A&M, my GF does not drive so I take her everywhere she needs to go such as school and work... and then I work my 39 hours during the weekend at the hospital here).

OnTheFence I really appreciated your post the most, not saying everyone else had bad ideas for me... but I definitely was getting overwhelmed before I got to your post and you are right... I need to take this a step at a time. I sadly live in an apartment complex so a garage isn't happening. I have SOME tools (i.e. basic imperial/metric socket set/ extensions / good jack) but I definitely don't have a shops worth... or even a decent garage level of tools.

I do not financially have the ability STILL to do much to the car. I really just want to take care of the immediate issues such as I believe the cooling system has that all well known hairline crack in it, I bought a replacement window regulator because my passenger side one went out, and my engine is a bit rough and that seems to relate to the belts and pulleys.

To everyone so far, THANK YOU; I really appreciate all the suggestions and insights... e46shootist I feel like you gave me a lot of good suggestions but holy crap I don't know 90% of the words you are saying and the other 10% I only 50% understand.

I will... compile a bit of a list here and see what all from everyone I am comfortable doing alongside the belts and just sorta.... go from there I suppose. Thanks again everyone, you are some swell fellas.
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Old 01-30-2017, 06:27 AM   #12
OnTheFence
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Did you ever post a video of the noise?
Where can you work on the car?
Sounds like you need a Honda!
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Old 01-30-2017, 09:40 AM   #13
E46Shootist
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No worries. Here to help. Have a question ask. You have a great car. The things I listed are just what I did when I bought my second m54 engine. I've had 225k miles with my first and that's still my daily driver. But I did a lot of work with it over time so I had a better idea of what it will need, not just what out does need.

Your car really only needs what's broken or failing right now. The rest is simply preventative. Not necessary. Don't feel bad or obligated. If you are serious about learning this is a great car. It's super easy to work on and things go back together without breaking. A bigger plus of the bmw are the message boards. You'll get better and more thorough responses here than in other forums for Hondas at least in my experience.

If you want send me a pm to set up a call. I'd be happy to talk while you're looking art the car.
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Old 01-30-2017, 10:00 AM   #14
Bigc2016
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This >>>>>>>>>>>>>> http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=914109
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Old 01-30-2017, 06:25 PM   #15
DEADF15H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edenhack View Post
Hey fellas long time lurker that finally made an account. I'm a 22 year old in Texas that picked up an e46 325i after my 350z was totaled by a drunk driver. I've realized after some time that it is a car I need to work on and maintain or it's gonna fall apart under my feet.

I got rather lucky, mine has 63k miles at this point even though its a 2002 325i but it definitely needs some love. I've had some rough engine noise and believe its the belts and they pulley assembly from what I've seen on here so I've planned to pop it open and replace them. What else should I go ahead and replace while I'm in there?

I've seen the electric fan swap and was thinking about doing that while I was in there, but I'm actually an IT guy that's just good with his hands and I don't know a lot about cars past basic specs stuff like hp/torque honestly.

Thanks for any advice or suggestions!
Forget about the electric fan swap for now. It's optional, and you have plenty of other things you need to handle first. You will need the two fan wrenches, and once you have the fan out (the first time is the hardest), just put some anti-sieze on the nut, and tighten it by hand,using the fan blade to spin it on.
https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...cta-tools-a886 The nut is reverse threaded. Mine was locked on tight and I had to have my mechanic bust it loose the first time. Now it's a piece of cake.
This 50's Kid Video shows three different ways to take the nut off.

Last edited by DEADF15H; 01-31-2017 at 08:38 AM.
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