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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 09-13-2011, 01:23 AM   #61
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Thanks for posting this OP! I'm pretty sure my starter went out on me yesterday! Going to give this a go and let you guys know of the out come.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:44 AM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curt2199 View Post
Hey guys, I have an 05 325i (2.5L) that was giving me increasingly random no starts and the battery was good so I am in the process of changing out the starter.
when you say that you were having random no starts. Was your starter not reacting AT ALL? by this i mean, no sound that the starter was even trying? Right now i'm having random no starts but there is no sign of getting any power to the starter at all. My battery is fine and everything else functions fine, but their is no sign of the starter (no grinding, no noise or anything)

then at random, the car starts as if there was never any problem.

anybody else? I'm trying to decide if it's the starter itself or something else.
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:04 AM   #63
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I replaced the starter and it didn't solve the problem, it was random and sometimes it would even cut out in mid crank. It turns out it was the ignition switch. I bought a used one from a 99 e46 on ebay for $15 and it fixed it. Try this and see if this will start it. When you turn the key to start it and it doesn't start, work the key back and forth gently while it's under pressure from the spring in the ignition switch (don't let it go back to the run position or it locks and you have to turn the key to off and start the process over). If it starts then you know it's the switch because the metal parts in the switch are not making good enough contact to throw power to the solenoid every time you turn the key to start. Working the key back and forth in the start position gently will eventually make a strong enough connection and start the car. I used this process for about a week while waiting on the ignition switch and it got to where even this process didn't want to start the car. Once I put the new switch in, I pulled the broken one apart and found where one of the metal contacts had bent from use and was barely making contact and causing the problem. You can possibly fix your current switch temporarily by pulling it apart and trying to reseat the bent contact however there's a spring and a free plastic piece that fell out when I pulled it apart and I couldn't figure out exactly how it went back in so I just gave up on it since the new (old) switch is working fine.
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:13 PM   #64
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Check your keys first. If. You get one click, it could be your key battery. More than one click, then battery or starter.

Great to see you got it working and. Diagnosed it.

Last edited by BMWCaptain; 09-29-2011 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:21 AM   #65
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done this job at the weekend there (starter swap) thanks for the guide

one point though, on my 330 at least I was able to disconnect the positive cables from the starter before removing the starter bolts. meant i could pull the starter right down then undo the two small wires.

before pulling the starter I checked the trigger terminal on the solenoid with my multimeter while the wife tried to start it. just to make sure it was getting 12v ok.
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Old 10-17-2011, 09:49 PM   #66
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Great DIY

Just completed the DIY with the help of your guide - thanks. The center guide pin on mine was frozen to the starter. Alittle PB Blaster and some hard forcing got it out.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:27 PM   #67
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Thought I'd post another thank you, and a hint ...

On my wife's 330xi w/auto trans, it was much easier to run the chain of extensions over the trans to the bottom bolt by lowering the rear end of the front driveshaft.

I got the starter separated from the bellhousing by levering between the bellhousing face and the back of the solenoid with a screwdriver, while jiggling the starter with my other hand. I already had the battery connection and the wire with the 10mm nut disconnected. I couldn't get at the top/back wire with the 8mm nut until I pointed the starter out/up a bit after it was loose.

I pulled the MAF sensor, airbox, and rubber intake boot, which allowed pulling the starter out from the top, and seeing it a little better during the process. I'm not done yet, but I may see a faint light at the end of the tunnel. I'm getting ready to reattach the wires on the new starter. I'm trying to to think about getting that bottom bolt back in the right place when the starter is in place. :-)

Last edited by grubinski; 10-18-2011 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 10-22-2011, 12:29 AM   #68
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Thanks for the information. It helped me do mine. I removed the cabin air filter and the plastic housing around the brake reservoir and then took the car to my son's autobody car shop. He owns a CarStar shop and we did the rest there. We took the starter out from underneath using the series of extensions and swivel to get the bottom bolt. The young mechanic who helped wanted to take off the manifold; but I told him about your post and we avoided that headache. It took a good 4 hours to finish and I know I could not have done it alone. I'm in your debt because the young mechanic said a number of times, "That won't come out. There's no room" And I would tell him how you did it and eventually we got it done. By the way, the replacement starter from autozone was an exact match.
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Old 10-31-2011, 12:09 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by newtuner View Post
Step 14:

Step 16:
Now you will need to go back to the topside. I had a rag on the fender as to not scratch the paint. I also found I needed to stand on something as the car is now a foot off the ground. You need to remove the top bolt off the starter. Now here is one of the biggest tips I was never told, you can see the head of the top bolt is pretty close to the fire wall. There is no way to get the E12 socket on the bolt head. I found a 3/8 box wrench fits perfect on the Torx bolt.


Thanks for this DYI, yesterday I try to do it to my sons's car until I came to the top bolt , I coudn't removed, apply some lub, nothing .

Even I bought a new set of Craftman tools for this bolt :

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...3&blockType=G3

I think I will look for a pipe to have more torque, maybe next weekend

Ideas welcome
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Old 10-31-2011, 12:50 PM   #70
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I got that bolt by sawing the open end off a sacrificial 3/8" wrench, and then slipping a pipe over it.
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:11 AM   #71
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Hope this isn't a threadjack, just another way I accomplished it that seemed easier to me.

Undertook this project because of symptoms described in this thread (grinding/screech type noise at startup when mostly when cold not associated with anything belt-related).

So I got the starter swapped out with way less of a headache than I expected. Spent two nights after work ~3hrs each including the 30 mins it takes to get the thing up on jack stands and properly secured then back down after. Sorry there are a lot less pictures than planned since my better half took the camera out of town forcing me to use my phone for the important things like recording where wires went etc.

So to start this is on a 2004 330Ci 6MT:
-Jack car up and safely secure it before crawling underneath and wrenching on stuff
-Disconnect battery in trunk
-Remove front plastic splash guard (7 phillips screws)
-Remove the aluminum belly brace (8 bolts 16mm I think)

*This is all I had to remove* - Didn't have to do anything from the top like the DIY's said since I could get both bolts from below using the contraption I'll describe below. Discovered this after already removing the cabin filter and housing of course.

-It will look like this up where you're going to be poking around so clean it off. (view looking up at drivers side of tranny with rear of car to right)

-Should undo that hose guide (top middle of pic) to move the hose a little more out of the way.
-Same with the thin semi-rigid fuel line on the same support
-Remove the nut (lower middle of pic) to get the vacuum canister out of the way since the starter is directly behind it
-Now you have eyes on the starter and the real fun can begin


-Just feel around up there so you can get a sense of where things are and supposed to go since the bolt removal is almost entirely by feel.
-Build your extension & u-joint contraption:
-For the lower bolt it's much easier and you can get away with about a foot and a half of wobbly extensions (I used E12 socket-3 inch-Ujoint-6inch wobble-10in wobble)
-For the upper I used a bit more to get up the transmission tunnel, over towards the center, and up to the interface where the bolt is. E12 socket-3inch-U-joint-6inch straight-U-joint-6inch wobble-10inch wobble-ratchet-big box end wrench for torque) You'll have to guide it as it'll be long and floppy going into the tight space (yes I know how that sounds...)

-Once broken loose the bolts should come out relative easily
-Now go back up to the starter side and grab the starter and wiggle it loose (there's still a guide pin holding it on)
-You'll have to move the vacuum canister around if you didn't remove it but there's room to maneuver with it loose.



-Easier to get the wires off if you twist the starter vertical so the posts are facing down and can use a socket to loosen the connections.

Took a few more pics so I knew where the wires went but really isn't tricky at all. There are three different sized posts on the starter solenoid:
-The largest has two heavy gauge wires both with red coverings on the connectors
-The medium is the one on the bottom and is a small ~18ga black wire with a yellow maybe white stripe
-The smallest post is a plain black wire coming from the same loom as the one going to the medium post and is on the top side of the solenoid

-Once you've got the wires disconnected you can finangle the starter out of that cavity.

Check the starter/tranny for the guide pin as you'll need to reuse it with the new starter. Will probably also help to lightly sand/at least clean the pin so it goes onto the new starter easily as it'll be a pain later.

Pics via phone jammed up in the hole and rotated to fit.
Guide pin goes in the top right hole. Be sure not to drop it in the open hole into the transmission! I didn't do this but could see how it would be easy to do.


Check out your flywheel teeth


-Reassemble, reconnect battery and give it a try before you finish buttoning everything up and lowering car.
-Finish buttoning everything up and lower car
-Have a beer
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Old 11-04-2011, 01:37 PM   #72
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Hope this isn't a threadjack, just another way I accomplished it that seemed easier to me.
Not at all, thanks. I had the pipe for the upper bolt, and would do it this weekend, good option to consider
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:58 PM   #73
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Just replaced my starter 2 weeks ago, I didnt had to lift the car, I did it all from above.

Removed the throttle body, so you're gonna be able to reach the starter and get it out from this way.

And to reach the lower bolt I removed the two heater hoses.

Did the job in about 5 hours from start to finish, but I spent a lot of time to warm up because it was pretty cold outside (since I live in canada).

It would also be easier by removing the whole intake manifold, the only downside his you're gonna have to change the manifold gasket and it cost about 85$ at your bmw dealer.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:43 PM   #74
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i'll gladly add to this amazing thread.

A buddy and me performed a starter replacement on his wife's 1999 328i yesterday. I got there at 11:30 am and left a 6:30 pm with barely any breaks in between work. This was an automatic E46, and from what I've read, there's not too much information out there on doing this on a car with an auto trans. I think there may actually be less space on the auto trans than on a manual, but I've never done a manual, so I really cannot say. This was the hardest repair job I've ever done on the E46, and I've done a LOT of things (replaced entire suspension, oil filter housing gasket, valve cover gasket and vanos seals, etc). Only thing that even comes close to being as difficult as this was removing the 4 rusted out bolts/nuts attached to the exhaust flange.

Did this same as mentioned, took off top bolt from above with a 3/8 ratcheting flat wrench that had a bendy head. Took the bottom one off with a frankenstein extension set (the wobbly extensions that are not the typical U joint wobblies worked very well, the typical U joint ones wanted to bend too much when you try to get the bit onto the bolt). Had to remove the driver's side control arm bushing bracket, then used a semi-flat basketball to wedge between driver's side tire and fender, so the FCAB was out of the way. With that moved, we could get a hand way up in there and feel the starter and feel blindly around. Most of this hideous job involved one of us underneath the car, semi-blindly snaking the frankenstein ratchet next to the transmission and up to the starter bolt, while the other person was up top, staring at the dime sized hole that's just big enough to see the bottom bolt, with flashlight and long ratchet extension, trying to give directions to the person underneath to try to get the bit onto the bolt head. That process alone with removal and re-installation easily took 4 hours. Even if I did this again, knowing exactly what to do, it's that process that will just take forever and is very tedious and you better have a good partner to work with. I cannot imagine doing this alone, just not possible.

I still cannot believe that we did this job, ended up pulling starter out from bottom and putting new one back in. Everything was a pain here. Had to remove lower intake hose to get more access to see stuff. I imagine that removing the intake manifold would make this a lot easier, at least from the top, but you'd still have the issue with the blind bolts on the bottom that just doesn't get any better.

saved about $900 for him though!
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Old 12-05-2011, 03:40 PM   #75
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Adding some more comments here:

My pointers are this:

Read the Starter Replacement DIY in the DIY forum, make SURE you start off with as many tools as possible. My friend had tons of smaller wrenches to fit the reverse torx bolts, we went through 5 of them before finding the right one. I will see if I can get him to take a picture of the one that worked for us so I can post it here. He also had some "universal" socket that he got from sears that was supposed to work with hex heads, reverse torx, etc. That was useful in cracking the bottom bolt initially, since it was easier to slide onto the head than the actual E10 reverse torx socket. Once we got it cracked, we switched to the actual torx socket so we wouldn't risk stripping the head of that bolt. Best method is to have someone stand on something about 12 inches off the ground, so they can peer down through the top of the engine bay and instruct the person under the car which direction to move the extended ratchet so you can get the socket onto the bolt head. We swapped positions several times before determining that I was a better person to do the peering and he was better at snaking the ratchet along the tranny. Another thing that helped was to remove the two bolts holding the front driver's side control arm bushing, and then wedging that out of the way by using a semi-flat basketball in between the tire and fender. Once you get the bolts pretty much out, do NOT remove them, leave them in their position, but make sure that they are not threaded into the starter, having those bolts come completely out would make things more difficult in terms of putting them back in. We disconnected the larger electrical terminal from the top, as well as one of the smaller ones. The last small one was easier to do from underneath. Had to remove the lower intake hose to make more room up top for seeing things. That was coming out anyways as it was cracked and he had a new one. We had tried to take the lower windshield cowel off too but his wiper arms were on there really good and we didn't have a puller and couldn't get them off, that would have made some more room up top for seeing/ratcheting. We sanded the dowel pin hole on the new starter a tad and put some grease in there so it would slide on easy and come off easy if (god help me) we ever had to do this again to the same car. Got the starter out from the bottom and put the new one back in from the bottom. Dropped a few nuts deep in there and had to retrieve them with the grabber tool, so DO NOT DROP NUTS, this just adds time and frustration to the job. There was a fair amount of using the "force" where you have your hands in there, and because your hands are in there, you can't see Sh*t. So you just close your eyes and imagine the thing you're twisting or pulling or trying to fit and make it happen! No need this way to remove the intake manifold, or drop the tranny.
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:34 PM   #76
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I imagine that removing the intake manifold would make this a lot easier, at least from the top, but you'd still have the issue with the blind bolts on the bottom that just doesn't get any better.
In fact, by removing the intake manifold, removing both heater hoses and the cooling hose that is connected to the rear of the engine. You get straight access to the starter and both bolts. For the both bolts, use a 3/8" ratcheting flat wrench and after that you have enough room to finish the job with your fingers. You just have to get the starter out as you unscrew both bolts, because you will eventually run out of space to undo the bottom bolt. I should have taken pictures when I done mine, because it was easier boing it from above.

Last edited by jsboisvert; 12-07-2011 at 01:21 AM.
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:29 AM   #77
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In fact, by removing the intake manifold, removing both heater hoses and the cooling hose that is connected to the rear of the engine. You get straight access to the starter and both bolts. For the both bolts, use a 3/8" ratcheting flat wrench and after that you have enough room to finish the job with your fingers. You just have to get the starter out as you unscrew both bolts, because you will eventually run out of space to undo the bottom bolt. I should have taken pictures when I done mine, because it was easier boing it from above.
but by doing this do you not also have to remove the fuel rail and replace the $85 intake manifold gasket, as well as leak coolant all over the place?
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:44 PM   #78
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You can buy the same exact Intake Manifold gasket for $27.50 at Pelican Parts. Autohausaz.com also has it for about $28.

If you had or have taken you intake manifold off before, the gasket does not need replacing every time. It is rubber and does not stick to the head. It really only get brittle from age and heat. I had one 12 years old that was brittle and needed replacing and another that was 3 years old that did not.

If you are taking off your Throttle body, you do not need to replace that gasket at all. It is rubber and only touches plastic. It is actually in a grove in the Throttle Body and you can even turn it over because it is so thick. 12 year old gasket was still pliable because it is not exposed to heat.
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Old 12-07-2011, 10:51 PM   #79
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^^^seriously that is some great advice right there!! My buddy spent way more than that in tools alone just in case we needed them.
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Old 12-11-2011, 03:14 PM   #80
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Just did this today and I read up on the Bentley manual and this DIY. I have the ESS supercharger with the water intercooler so going from the top ended up not being an option. So I followed the Bentley manual, which states to unbolt the evap canister, fuel filter shield, and trans brace. In order to remove the trans brace, had to remove the exhaust. Trans dropped an inch or so, just enough to get both bolts pretty easily with the e12 socket, two U-joints, and about 3 feet of extensions. All in all, took 2 hours to get it out, probably less than that to put back together once I get the new starter in.

I started a day early because I thought this was going to take a long time and be very technical but it is definitely easier than installing headers. Wasn't too bad at all.
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