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Go Back   E46Fanatics > Tuning & Tech > DIY: Do It Yourself

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 04-13-2009, 02:13 AM   #21
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thank you brother!!!
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Old 04-16-2009, 07:29 PM   #22
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Great write up! But quick question if anybody knows; what is the total oil capacity (not 134a just oil) for the e46 ac system?
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:17 PM   #23
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On other cars, I just fill the compressor until spillover (similar how you would refill the transmission). Not sure if that is the case for the oil in a BMW compressor.
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:32 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by gen247 View Post
On other cars, I just fill the compressor until spillover (similar how you would refill the transmission). Not sure if that is the case for the oil in a BMW compressor.
Thanks for the tip. I cant find any information on this and I have searched all over. All I have found is general info saying anywhere between 3-8oz. There is nothing special about the compressor; it's the same one/spec used in the 1994 Ford Mustang LOL
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:15 AM   #25
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OP it looks like you filled your low side to 35psi. What are the low and high side psi per BMW's specs?

Also, Autozone sells cans of 134a with a gauge on the line coming out of the can. Wondering if these are accurate?
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:37 PM   #26
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The high and low side readings vary a little depending on ambient temperature as well as humidity (I kid you not). I tend to get my car at 35 low and about 225 on the high.

I don't know what BMW would call for I go by the temperature coming out of my vents plus the gauges (you lose efficiency if you over fill.)

The best way to fill an a/c is to vacuum the lines of all air and then fill according to weight. (I am assuming you have already either recovered the old freon in a proper machine or their is no gas in the system ie: replaced compressor or other parts and system has no freon in it.)

I have used the cans with gauges not a fan of it, it does the trick though when you are out of town and want A/C for the drive home.
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relax kiddies ur 10 year old car is still god on this forum
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:49 PM   #27
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I got my condensor replaced and since then my AC loses gas every 2-3 months. I dont know if the guy replaced the o-rings when he changed the condensor or not, but it was a local mechanic, and I am sure he did not vacum the system before he filled it with freon.

Anyway, now I want to do it myself. I got the stuff from auto zone, some of these bottles have a gauge on them.. but still not like the professioonal gauge you have in this write up. Is it possible to do it without that big gauge? I heard the small cans can only fill it to the limit it should be filled (i.e. they automatically do not over fill).. is that true?

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Old 04-29-2009, 05:30 PM   #28
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I need to fill-up the a/c since I changed the a/c radiator... What product should I buy?
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:24 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Bjorn8781 View Post
I need to fill-up the a/c since I changed the a/c radiator... What product should I buy?

The oil you need to use is PAG46. How much you add depends on how much you took out.
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Old 06-07-2009, 04:49 AM   #30
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nicely done! will do this nextweek. Thanks!
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Old 07-17-2011, 03:32 PM   #31
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Very high pressure reading

Originally Posted by Rene325ci View Post
This is a DIY for recharging your A/C System. The vehicle being used is mine it is a 2002 325ci. I have a leak somewhere in the A/C system (have not diagnosed it yet) and have run low on Freon. I am going to show how to recharge and how to read the gauges. This is a very basic DIY, but should be able to help you diagnose low Freon on your system. I am skipping some of the steps in order to explain and illustrate what it takes.

Steps I am skipping (since I still had Freon in system). I did not recover any of the Freon in the system. I did not vacuum the system after a recovery since I did not do a recovery. I did nothing more then a top-off of the Freon in the A/C system.

I know these pictures are kind of large, but i wanted people to be able to read them.

Freon: R-134a (what our cars use)
Gauges: Blue is low side, Red is high side, Yellow fill hose
Temp Gauge: Infra Red Temperature gauge

First picture is of the car off and gauges hooked up notice equal pressure on gauges. This is normal they should be equal.

This here is a picture of the hoses connected to the High and Low Side on the M-54 motor. They are different sizes so only one-way to put them on. Make sure no hoses are near the belts or fans.

This third photo is the temperature outside according to car.

Third picture is the Engine Running gauges reading pressure amounts. Compressor is functioning. Notice the pressure numbers @30 low side @140 high side.

This is an interesting pair of pictures of temperature at left and right center vent (A/C set at 59)
I have seen people talk about right hot, left cold. Oddly enough, it seems that when the BMW A/C is low on Freon it does this. The reason for this I do not know, could be heater core and evaporator position, but cannot say for sure.

This is a picture after I recharged the system of the gauge pressures. I used less then one (13 oz) can of R-134a to fill my system back up. You can tell that the pressure is now higher while the system is running. At the bottom of this DIY I have placed a how to fill A/C. Step by Step.

Here is another pair of pictures of the temperature after the refill. Notice the difference.

The right is still a little warmer, do not understand it, but I have A/C now.


1) Connect Gauges and read them.
2) Verify interior temperature as being warm and that low and high numbers are low (outside temperature can make a pressure difference; it was 80 degrees when I did mine.)
3) Connect new Freon can to the fill hose (puncture the can according to gauge instructions)
4) With engine running open fill valve
5) Fill only thru the low side (trust me only way it can be done, unless you like blowing things up)
6) Do small amounts at a time (overfill bad) watch the pressure numbers and check temperature coming out of vents in car. When you reach desired temperature, you can stop filling. More Freon then is needed will degrade the working efficiency of the A/C system or damage it.
1) BMW uses r-134a Freon (all E-46, older cars used r-12)
2) System (325ci) holds 1.63 lbs of Freon total.
3) I cannot be held responsible for your use of this information or any damage that you may cause to your system from doing this improperly. This work needs to be done by a trained technician (I am MACS certified)
4) This is also more of a guideline on how to do it.
5) All of these tools can be purchased through our fine sponsors as well as local shops.

I hope this helps and if their something you feel I should include or say about this please PM me and I will add it. I know a few people here are Techs and can give me more info and I am always willing to add it in and give proper credit to those that give me more information. Good luck and it is nice to have A/C again.

I will write up a diagnosis DIY eventually (when I have time to do it) and explain how to find the leak and what tools you can use to do that.

I am new to the forum. Rene, thank you for posting this write-up. Very informative!

I just tried topping up my A/C as it is not blowing any cool air at all this summer. I connected the meter and started the car & A/C the (low) pressure still reads 60 psi. Is there something wrong? the ambient temperature must be about 110F. Should I do this at night when it is cooler to get a better/meaninful measure before charging the unit?
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:57 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Rene325ci View Post
no comments?
Should i even make anymore of these?
thanks - i imagine my system is leaking after the 3rd repair under warranty - now out

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a/c, air, low freon, recharge

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