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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 04-12-2010, 05:18 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Langhorne PA
Posts: 138
My Ride: 2001 325i
Remove Alternator..Auto-Trans..no need to remove fan. Red Battery light

Hello Everyone.

Last week the Red Battery light blinked a few times then stayed on. I use to work in the service department at a BMW dealership (just a runner) so I knew to start with the Alternator. I was not going to spend $1k to have this fixed by the dealership. Since it was parked in my driveway, I decided it was time to get dirty.

This approach worked great and was not highly time consuming. I also did not have to purchase the clutch fan tool so my car was on the road a lot quicker.

****Not recommended for people with huge hands.****

All photos are labeled with the step number and some info on what to do.

I could not get the fan out without the clutch tool. I tried the "smack a 34mm wrench with a hammer" technique and well, it was just to rusted.

So I removed the alternator without taking the fan out.

****YOU MUST be careful and patient.

Disconnect Negative Wire from Battery Before Starting. Try not to drop any bolts or clips.

Step #1 - Start removing air intake system. pop clips and pull out.

Step #2 & 3 - Finish removing air intake system. disconnect wire harness, release tube clamp and unscrew 2 x 10mm bolts. Pull out box

Step#4 - Remove coolant hose. Simply pop the 3 clips using a flat head tool, and pull the hose..YES YOU WILL spill coolant!! If you do not than it is time to add coolant while your doing this.

Step #5 - Unscrew ATF reservoir. DO NOT disconnect (no need)

Step #6 - Move ATF reservoir out of the way towards the driver side. Remove the plastic bolt cover on the tension pulley using a small flat head screw driver, just pry it off and catch it. The cover is just pushed on there.

Step #7 - Remove the top Alternator Bolt (5/8) . There are only 2 total alternator bolts. When you remove this bolt you are also removing the pulley. Take your time and pull both the pulley and bolt out together. It is tight so be easy with it as your fan is right there.

Step #8 - Release the tension of the belt. Different models do this a little different. From what I know, they are all located in the same spot. Find yours and release the belt tension to remove the belt from the alternator. Mine was a 5/8 bolt head with a clockwise turn.

Step #9 - Disconnect positive jumper terminal and also disconnect the power and ground connection on the back of the alternator.

Step #10 - Find the 2nd alternator bolt (5/8), located directly below the top bolt. You shouldn't have trouble finding this bolt. Unscrew the bottom bolt.

Step #11 - If you did not disconnect the power and ground on back of alternator do this NOW. After that..Pull out the alternator. I found after reading, a forward/up/out motion works best. I used a mini-pry bar.

Clean your engine bay..

If you take the alternator to a local alternator shop, have them replace the regulator or if needed purchase a new one.

If you want to replace the regulator on your own, below is a link


Put it back together in the exact reverse of removing it. Your belt will pose the only Pain in the ass part so if you can get a friend to help you.

If car won't start, you may have drained your battery. Charge your batter for 1 hour maybe more depending on how long you drove with the red light on. Mine took 2 hours of charging and 2 hours of cool down from charge. I was on my way to Autozone for a new battery but gave it 1 last college try and it came to life.

If it still doesn't start..Call a Pro.

Stay patient and PM me with any questions.
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Old 04-12-2010, 05:33 PM   #2
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Dallas, TX (USA)
Posts: 2,213
My Ride: E46 330i
Nice write up.

BimmersGarage is offline   Reply With Quote

red battery light, remove alternator

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