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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 09-23-2006, 08:00 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: NY
Posts: 444
My Ride: OB E46 328i
My n00b Power Steering Reservoir DIY

*Power steering reservoir is leaking from the seams and the top of the screw in cover, causing the powersteering fluid to travel down the power steering hoses and to the alternator, making the alternator make a small annoying noise.

*Ordered new power steering reservoir from pelicanparts.com (good pricing $25.25 shipped) P/N: 32-41-1-097-164-M103, two screw type clamps, and one quart of Mobil 1 ATF synthetic fluid (dexron III).

Shop parts:
*Rags or old t-shirts, container, syringe with long plastic needle and isopopyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), optional but handy.

Before you begin you might want to use gloves and or goggles, things will get slippery quick and fluid might get in your eyes.

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-Begin by unscrewing the top of the reservoir cover and draining the reservoir. I drained mine using a big cooking syringe, it keeps the fluid from going anywhere else. The reservoir contains about 400ml of fluid, so have a container ready for this.

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-Once drained, begin to revome the bolts attatching the bracket that holds the power steering reservoir and remove the bolt that closes the clamp-like bracket.

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-By this time the reservoir is free, BUT before you begin disconnecting any lines, Place a couple of rags or old t-shirts under the reservoir to prevent fluid from spilling into the alternator.

-Now the fun begins, these crimp-type clamps are a pain to undo. But if you find the end of the clamp you can lift it with a small screw driver and pull the end with a pair of pliers. IF not then cut at the crimp but avoid twisting the clamp, since this may cause the clamp to cut into the line, making you a very unhappy fanatic. Remove the old reservoir.

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-In my case I used a syringe to drain my reservoir and I used it once again to suck up the remainder fluid from the lines, reducing my chances of spilling the fluid on my alternator.

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Old brownish-redish fluid

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-Clean and inspect the ends of the lines. Look for cuts, bulges or swelling. Cut the line if necessary, otherwise you're gonna find yourself fighting a short line when connecting the new reservoir. You can clean the line ends with Isopopyl alcohol a.k.a rubbing alcohol, this will not damage the line and will make installation alot easier, Just make sure NOT to get any alcohol IN the line.

-Connect the lines to the new reservoir, tighten the clamps, A good snug is fine, overtighten them and you will kick yourself when you crack the reservoir input or output lines. Reinstall the bracket on the reservoir and bolt the reservoir clamp on the side of the oil filter housing.

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-Add about 400ml of Mobil 1 ATF syntethic fluid plus add about 10 ml for any lost fluid. NOTE: this is an estimated fill.

-Finally, start up the car and let it run for a while, work the steering wheel L to R over and over again. I did not feel any bumps or air so it did not require me to work it too much. VERY IMPORTANT: leak check the lines, if you're leaking fluid this is the time and not 200 miles down the road!.

The work took me about 45 mins considering I was taking pictures while trying not to get fluid in my crappy camera. It was not hard at all, just challenging, basic handtools were needed.
From a scare from 1 to 10, 10 being the hardest i give this one a 2, just because you have to avoid spilling fluid into the alternator.

The test drive:
-I felt a small difference effort-wise but it may have been psychological, but by the looks of the old oil, I believe it made a significant improvement and at the same time I belived a gave my PS pump a couple of thousand more miles.
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Old 09-24-2006, 01:20 PM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Ethiopia
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Great job! Use this opportunity to flush your power steering fluid
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Old 09-24-2006, 03:19 PM   #3
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Nice detailed write up.

Coincidently, I too replaced my reservoir just a couple days ago on our '99 328i. I removed the air cleaner box for access (just 2 bolts) and drained the resevoir by removing the hose that feeds the power steering pump.

That hose going to the power steering pump was so brittle that it almost crumbled. So for about $42 total the reservoir and supply hose were replaced. No more damn PS fluid spots on the driveway.

Also bought from www.pelicanparts.com
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:52 PM   #4
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How does one read the dip stick in the power steering reservoir ??
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:50 PM   #5
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How difficult is to remove the supply hose?
I think this is the problem here. the connection is leaking.
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:40 AM   #6
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Isn't one of the hoses pressurized? I am surprised you did not take the air filter out to get more space.

I worked on this problem yesterday. I just got the old clamp out on the rubber hose that goes out of the reservoir and the put on a screw on clamp. Hopefully that will fix the constant leak.

33beto. It is not that difficult to get the clamp out but you just have to be patient and creative. A small hacksaw might work just fine to cut into it.

Where did you get a syringe? No auto stores have one. Had to use turkey baster.

Good tip on the t-shirt thing. Should have done it.

How do you do a P/S flush?

Last edited by Alekm; 01-07-2008 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:04 AM   #7
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Massachusetts
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My Ride: 2001 330i
Power steering leak

Spoke to my mechanic. He says I have to replace the high and low pressure hoses. I went to order the part and there are the following parts for my car (2001 330i production date 2/01):

1) reservoir to ps pump
2) cooling coil to rack
3) rack to pump

So with this said, which is the high and low pressure hoses he is talking about? Which one do I buy? The rack to pump is the most expensive, so I hope I don't have to replace that piece. All I know is that there is a leak somewhere and i'm looking to get it fixed.

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Old 05-04-2010, 09:24 AM   #8
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it is usually the high pressure hose that leaks which is like 200 bucks. it's long and and skinny with 2 end links that hook up to the pump itself.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:26 AM   #9
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I recently replaced my ps reservoir and would add a few cautions for those attempting this:

1. Try not to drop the reservoir mounting bracket bolts -- especially the innermost one -- down into the engine. That one is awkward to get a hand on because of the tight space and requires more than usual attention. I fished mine out with a magnet, but just finding it took a while ( I had neglected to remove the splash guards or put the car on ramps before I took out the airbox, but the bolt lodged in an engine space and did not drop all the way down). A simple learning experience.

2. I intended to replace both the low pressure supply hose (intake manifold) that runs from ps reservoir to the pump; and the radiator return line, a high pressure hose that runs back up to the reservoir from the radiator cooler. I learned two things. First, with the E46 XI model, there is no good lower access to the ps pump because of all the subframe hardware, which meant I could not install the supply hose onto the pump end from below and ended up leaving this job for my mechanic. Second, the high pressure fitting requires a special tool to remove it easily from the radiator connection, which I ended up buying for about $30 online. There are lots of other posts about this process and how it can be done, but with difficulty, without the tool. It's available from bimmertools, I believe that's where I got it.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:40 AM   #10
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hmm 30 bucks dang maybe its the lower pressure im thinking off lol. well dunno but the one that is on the bottom of the engine and hooks up to the pump is the one that common leaks on the m3. i dunno pricing on the part for a 330
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