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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 07-12-2016, 01:28 PM   #1
jim9418
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Cincinnati OH
Posts: 269
My Ride: 2003 330xi Automatic
Messy Power Steering Cap Fix

You open your hood and the first thing that catches your eye is the messy oily looking power steering resevoir and cap. It's the one that says ATF only on it. Why is this a mess?

A couple of possible factors that either or both "could" be a contributor. (critics please remember I said "could" ok?) First thing is the o-ring under the cap itself. BMW calls it a gasket. Like all rubber parts under the hood of an E46, it gets hard and doesn't seal so well with age. Over tightening could also easily cause an o-ring failure. The second source of stray ATF is the weep hole built into the cap. As a disclaimer, there may be improved versions of this cap, so take it as such please. There is a weep hole built into the cap. ATF can make its way from the resevoir up through the weep hole and start a film coating on the outside of the resevoir collecting dirt and looking bad. It only takes a few drops of ATF to make a huge mess. Some say that a spirited drive could be a factor in causing the weep hole to let go of some ATF. I inspected mine very closely and see no signs of any kind of check valve or restrictions.

Did a good bit of reading on the topic before deciding to do anything. I saw mention of a similar DIY to this, but I couldn't find it. If someone knows about it, please let me know and I'll add a link to it. The more ideas and overall info and comments the better right?

One fix I saw was called the sock mod. Where you just literally take a sock and pull it down over the resevoir. There was even a satirical cheezy but well done Youtube video on it. Funny video, but kind of a ghetto fix to me, but hey, whatever you like. In my opinion it's still gonna weep ATF into the sock and end up being a dirt magnet. So, not really a fix.

So here's what I did. I took the cap off and cleaned it very very well. Pulled off the old o-ring and replaced it with a new one. I found a small vacuum line 90 degree fitting and fitted it into the weep hole. I used a dab of silicone to help keep it in place. Then ran a piece of vacuum line from the new fitting down near the back of the engine bay trying to route it to keep it sloping downward. I used a small zip tie to keep the line from wandering around. The cap will still weep its ATF when it needs to, but the drip will go out through the new drain line.

Parts List:
* New O-ring BMW #32411128333 about $3.00 to $5.00, or metric o-ring M2-42x46. (Grainger $3.00 for pack of 10). I saw viton material o-rings for a lot more money. BMW's price suggests to me that it's simply a buna-n o-ring. Nothing special.

* 90 degree vacuum fitting. I actually just had this in a box of misc parts. I've seen some similar stuff at Autozone for just a few dollars. Doesn't have to be a 90 degree, and doesn't have to be black.

* Some vacuum line. About 4 feet of line sized to whatever fitting you got. Mine is 7/32" line.

* A small zip tie or two. Don't pull them down too tight or you could block the hose.

One draw back that someone could help with a suggestion on is checking the power steering fluid level. Now I will need to carefully disconnect the vacuum line from the 90 degree elbow to be able to open the cap. But the cap should be nice and clean when I do check it.
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Last edited by jim9418; 07-12-2016 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 07-18-2016, 12:44 PM   #2
jaga
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Thanks for sharing. How does it look installed?
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:41 PM   #3
jim9418
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaga View Post
Thanks for sharing. How does it look installed?
If you didn't already know it was there, you probably wouldn't even notice it. It's hiding right out in plain sight.
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Old 07-19-2016, 09:13 AM   #4
OnTheFence
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Does it route past the alternator ?
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Old 07-19-2016, 10:11 AM   #5
jim9418
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Originally Posted by OnTheFence View Post
Does it route past the alternator ?
Great question. In the picture the vacuum line I used looks like it goes down toward the front of the engine bay. I only positioned it like this so I would have some free play to remove the line when the power steering cap needs removed. It immediately turns back and heads to the rear. I made sure to keep it clear of the belts and pulleys. Didn't want that nightmare for sure. I have it zip tied to the DISA wiring, then it goes on back down near the starter. I have had a few oil leaks like lots of folks. OFHG for one, so my engine bay isn't "Mango" for sure. It's clean enough but not perfect. I kind of figure at this point I'm really moving the mess out of my eyesight and away from the belts.
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Old 07-21-2016, 10:56 PM   #6
2kE46
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Great idea. Will try this!
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