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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 11-14-2011, 09:10 AM   #1
joeycannoli
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BMW E46 3-Series DIY: Air Filter Replacement

This DIY article will help you successfully change the Air filter in the E46 3-Series. This was done on a 325xi so there might be a few variations between the different models, but all should be closely related. Changing the air filter on this car is relatively straight forward.

TOOLS NEEDED:
Flathead Screwdriver
Needle Nose Pliers

PARTS REQUIRED:
OEM Air filter: 13721744869



First let's pop the hood and get a good look at the engine bay. The airbox is located on the driver side as shown below.



First step is to remove the intake duct located in the lower front of the engine bay. It secured to the car by 3 of the BMW push pins circled below



It is a two step process to remove these push pins. First, grab a pair of needle nose pliers and remove the pin as shown in the picture



With the pin out you can now pull out the base of the push pin and slide the intake free.



Next step is to release the tabs holding the airbox lid on. There are a total of 5 tab located on each side of the airbox. The locations are pointed out below



Here is a close-up of how the tabs work. To release the clip you simply pull up on the tab as pictured below. By pulling up on the tab the clip at the top will release from the airbox lid



Picture of the tab released



The one tab between the airbox snorkel and the power steering reservoir is a little bit cramped to get to. If you need to you can use a right angle pick to release the tab.





NOTE: It is now possible to crack the airbox lid open and gain access to change the air filter. However, i wanted to remove the entire lid to clean the inside of the airbox so i went an extra step and removed the MAF connector and tube. You can follow my steps below or simply change the air filter now and proceed with the re-install in reverse order

To completely remove the airbox lid we need to remove the MAF connector and the loosen the MAF tube hose clamp. Grab a flat head and loosen the clamp highlighted below



To release the connector, push down on the silver piece and then pull outward to remove the plug



We can wiggle the airbox lid free from the intake tube



Old filter



To remove the filter simply grab it and pull out. Here is a shot of some debris i found in the airbox. Clean as necessary



Old air filter vs new air filter. This one was definitely in need of being changed



You can either pop the new filter on the base of the airbox or on the lid for installation. I found it easier to seat the air filter on the air box lid before putting the cover back on. If the filter edge is not seated in the groove properly the airbox will not seal correctly



Installed directly into base



Installed on airbox lid



That is pretty much it! Follow this article in reverse to button everything back up.

Hope this article has helped and motivated you guys to continue doing your own maintenance. Any questions please feel free to ask.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:20 AM   #2
BimmersGarage
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Nice job.
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:08 AM   #3
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Thanks! I have done a ton of these articles in the past, but this is the first one for the E46. Typing up a spark plug and valve cover gasket one right now...
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:05 PM   #4
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Uh ...

I am pretty sure you can just pop the tabs, lift the top part of the box enough to where you just pull out the old filter and put in the new one. No need to do all the extra steps.
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:19 AM   #5
joeycannoli
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Originally Posted by mickey513 View Post
Uh ...

I am pretty sure you can just pop the tabs, lift the top part of the box enough to where you just pull out the old filter and put in the new one. No need to do all the extra steps.
I'm pretty sure i explained this in my article if you took the time to read. Thanks for playing though
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:20 PM   #6
LeMansteve
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On the old filter, you can see what remains of the cotton-like backing. I put in a Mann filter last week and it also had this kind of backing. Looks like the Mahle filters do not have it. I can't imagine the backing does anything significant.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:10 PM   #7
John in VA
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Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
On the old filter, you can see what remains of the cotton-like backing. I put in a Mann filter last week and it also had this kind of backing. Looks like the Mahle filters do not have it. I can't imagine the backing does anything significant.
What you see on the old filter is the black foam "pre-filter" layer (BMW's terminology). You can purchase a filter with or without it.
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:12 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by John in VA View Post
What you see on the old filter is the black foam "pre-filter" layer (BMW's terminology). You can purchase a filter with or without it.
Ha ha, only ze Germanz would put a filter on a filter!

I'm guessing the one shown here is black due to age. My new air filter had a white pre-filter.
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Old 12-25-2011, 12:33 PM   #9
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i went to change my oem filter and it didnt looked as bad as yours. the top looked the same and the bottom just had a grey sheet of foam across it. do you think it needs to be changed or should i wait?

i did replace it with a k&n and the startup sounded nicer but then i put back the oem incase it didnt need to be changed. I didnt know how to put the seal on with the K&N. is it necessary to apply the seal or is it ok to just swap the filters?
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:46 AM   #10
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The older filter I removed had the gray foam pre-filter; the newer one has the white fibrous layer. Age/condition will determine when to replace it.
Many pages of pros/cons on K&N filters. Many feel the stock paper filter does an adequate job, and does not run the risk of fouling the MAF with filter oil. Most owners use too much oil when prepping the K&N.
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by joeycannoli View Post
I'm pretty sure i explained this in my article if you took the time to read. Thanks for playing though
I think what he's saying is that you don't need to remove the intake like you have- you can just take the top off the airbox and replace the filter.
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:05 PM   #12
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Nicely done.
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:25 AM   #13
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Air Filter DIY

Thank you for this. Very clear.
I have a 1999 323i. The two tips that helped the most was taking off the air intake (easy and quick) and putting the new filter in the lid made the reinstall easier. On my model there are two tabs (not clips) on the left side of the box and you need to slide the housing into these and then clip the other attachment points. I used the Mann filter purchased from Amazon.

Last edited by edjerum; 06-28-2013 at 11:25 AM.
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