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cn90 01-05-2009 12:53 PM

DIY - Starter Motor 6-Cylinder Engine (M52 Motor)
4 Attachment(s)
This is a FAQ but so far no good write-up.

So The following is from BMW T.I.S. Procedure Book for Removal of Starter Motor 6-Cylinder Engine (M52 Motor).

1. Copy your Radio FM Channels.
Then disconnect the Battery.

2. Follow the pictures to remove Starter Motor.

Manual Transmission: E39-M52-MT-Starter01.JPG -----> E39-M52-MT-Starter03.JPG
Automatic Transmission: E39-M52-AT-Starter01.JPG + E39-M52-MT-Starter03.JPG
(last step is the same for Auto and Manual).

Good Luck!

bmerbill 09-07-2010 07:05 PM

OK I just did this on mine , I have a 98 528i, Auto,

lets say, I was Not Going to remove the intake, NO WAY, NO HOW, Ive been doing this way to long,,

If you have the starter bolts that screw into the starter without nuts on them, then you have no reason to remove the INTAKE.
So lets start. I knew it was my starter Bendix as it just kept trying to catch and then let go and re-engage and grind at the flywheel.
So I ordered a starter for 39.99 with free shipping from ebay, it was used and from a Z3, with a 90 warranty,

to start with I jacked the car up on ramps first then used jack stands so I had room underneath it. removed the ramps and set to go, I will wait till the last thing to remove the battery grd wire, so I dont have to reprogram the radio. so lets go this is a 2-3 hour job unless you have the problems I had. Mine was 3 days. but I can another in 2 hours flat now.

first take out the air box, the whole airbox, it has 1/ 10MM head bolt on it, thats it, the rest are 2 hose clamps, I removed mine from the wheelwell and the intake itself in one unit, look at the rubber slide ons so you lube them all first with Wd before trying to slide the box back onto the stays it fits on, Now take off the top cover for the intake again, this has 2 10mm headed bolts holding it on. this is so we can get the top starter bolt and see what we are doing. the socket you will need for the starter bolts is a #12 Star Socket or an E-Tork.

Ok ,now we go and look at the starter from the fender well area, see the clips down the side of the engine for the fuel lines? unclip them from up top or from underneath. your choice. slide them out of the way.

now go down under the car with your 3/8 drive ratchet and a 4 inch extension with the 12 MM E-Tork on it, take and get the socket and extension on the star head. then lift your ratchet and slide it on the end, undo this bolt all the way and remove and clean up real good so it goes into to the new starter with your fingers all the way.
this bolt is where my problems started and ended. it was fused into the Aluminum tail of the starter and I couldnt get it out with a ratchet with a 27 inch handle on it, so I grab the air ratchet , and get it on there and the air ratchet blows up, ROFLOL> ok im stranded and have no way to get to the store for a new air ratchet, 2 days later I get a ride and come home to tackle this again. I put the air ratchet up on the bolt and tried to tighten it ,it moved a 32nd inch . lol
ok remove now another 32nd inch. ok back in and this time when we go to remove we will not stop the ratchet. Bingo out came the bolt and so did 6 full threads from the starter tail/

glad we are replacing the starter LOL
ok we have to use an Ice pick to clean the threads on the starter bolts from the aluminum thats embedded into it
after this we oil them real well and make sure they go into the new starter with fingers,
ok now for the top starter bolt, u need a 1/4 ratchet with the star on it from the top you can get right on the bolt and slide a jack handle over the 1/4 drive ratchet so you can have a little leverage to break loose the top bolt
break it loose and take it out , dont worry the start has a pin in it to hold it in place,
after you get this bolt out your are ready to open the trunk and disconnect the grd on the battery and lay it off to the side so it doesnt accidentally touch the post again till you want it to, Remeber to clean this bolt up like you did the other so it goes back in with fingers. ok from up top, look sideways and you will see the 13MM nut for the hot lead on the starter remove this first and then the other large lead behind it comes off
now you can slide the starter around and remove the 10MM nut from the one wire and the 8 MM from the other wire, and slide the starter right out the top with no problems at all. replace like this
Slide the starter down in and connect the 2 small wires, now slide the starter into the bell housing hole and it slides on that pin that holds it steady while you insert the top bolt and start it a little
now go under and put the bottom bolt in and tighten it up, slide the fuel lines back into the clips and get out ,your are done under the car. go up and tighten the top bolt and now put the hot leads back on and tighten them.
go and connect the battery and make sure nothing is touching in any wrong places, it pretty much sits back just as you took it out. Now take and slide the airbox back in with WD lubing all the rubber ends and boots for it to slide on easier. put the one 10MM bolt back in the air box and reinstall the intake cover, Now lets try the starter, PURRRRRRRRRR , Jack her up, and remove the stands,and have A HAPPY BMER experience .

I hope you enjoy and find this How2 by Bmerbill helpful in your maintenance of your wonderful BMW Im very lucky to have found this rare Bmer, it has all the 740 features on it
sliding window covers, First aide kit, rear access thru seat,individual ac controls and all
and it came from the factory with the 17inch wheels on it, we grabbed it for 4200.00 4 years ago with 129,000 on it, and now have 225,000 miles on it, yes we have a Love affair with our Bmers 4 sure. many Thx for this forum and the help it is to many

bluebee 07-25-2011 07:02 AM

For the record, a newbie complained he couldn't 'find' any starter motor DIYs, so, today, Takechan and I provided a few dozen links (including this one) over here:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Starter replacement

I looked at each of those links, and updated the bestlinks with the following references:

- Where is the starter motor located (1) & an M52 starter motor DIY (1) (2) & the BMW TIS (1) and an E38 740iL starter motor DIY (1) (2) & how to remove the M52 starter motor without removing the intake manifold (1) (2) & what special tools are needed (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & where is the starter motor relay (1) (2)

Photo by cn90!

bluebee 08-26-2011 06:44 AM

For the cross-linked record, especially since starter motors seem relatively reliable in the E39 ... here's a post today asking about EBAY sources:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > E39 523i Starter


Originally Posted by roboman (Post 6280188)
My starter has malfunctioned in my 5 series. Apparently the plastic gear inside the starter is damaged. I am looking for a new starter and came across this one on ebay. Can you guys tell me if this would definitely fit in my e39?

acoste 11-26-2011 09:27 PM

my starter is different
6 Attachment(s)
Hi All,

I was able to do this job from the top only without removing the intake manifold. Since I had issues buying the starter I show some pictures about BMW's re-manufactured starter.
It is also interesting that I own a 1997/10 E39 528i manual and my car doesn't look like the car on the images from ce90 who is the first commenter here.

When I bought the starter in a BMW dealership I was complaining about the model since my starter has threads and the re-manufactured one has a hole without threads. But I was told that BMW redesigned the starter and this will fit and also works with the old bolts. So I bought 2 x 10mm nuts with washers to be able to fix it. You can see on the pictures that the two starter look very different, and when I removed the starter I took a photo of the flywheel to see if the difference will cause any issues.
Generally I often take a picture of something I can not see because my view is blocked. It is easier to diagnose it on the photo.

Getting the idea from bmerbill I removed the airbox and it turned out that I can complete the job from the top.
I had some extra unnecessary work so getting the experience I recommend to do it by the following order:
Remove airbox; disconnect battery; disconnect 12V cable from starter; disconnect starter and move it out for easier access; disconnect other cables from starter; and do it again with the new starter in the opposite order.

jcbmw 12-17-2011 12:13 PM

starter stuck
Hi, everyone
I have a 97 528i. I was going to replace the starter today and I was able to remove the two bolts following the instruction in this forum. But the starter does not come off after the two bolts removed. I did remove the right bolts so it is not I removed the wrong bolts. Any ideas what is going on? I appreciate any help. Thanks

emesser 12-25-2011 06:44 PM

dowel pin also holds on starter
Hey buddy,

on my 2000 528, along with the two bolts holding the starter on there is also a dowel pin about 3/8 of an inch long that comes off the tranny housing between the two bolts. the bolts are easy to take out but the dowel pin can be a real bitch. i was able to reach in from the top and wedge a flat head screwdriver in there to slowly work the two pieces apart. good luck.

jellobmw 05-28-2012 04:53 PM

I Survived!
Yup, took a bit longer than planned, but it all went together, thanks mainly to this thread, and Bimrbill.

bluebee 06-25-2012 04:29 PM

For the record, JimLev kindly wrote a recent V8 starter motor R&R DIY over here ...
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Bosch starter rebuild kits? DIY write-ups?


Originally Posted by JimLev (Post 6914860)
Not technically a rebuild, I just removed, cleaned, and lubed it to see if the noise it was making every 10-20 starts would go away. So far it has been fine.
The V8 starter takes about 30 minutes to remove from the bottom of the car.

bluebee 11-19-2012 12:26 PM

For the record, these starter motor queries were opened up recently where I pointed them here:

Originally Posted by Raider (Post 7203067)
Do you remove the starter from the top of the engine or the bottom of a 2001 525i?


Originally Posted by NinerFan (Post 7203173)
I am getting ready to order a starter for my mechanic to put in. I was wondering how you all felt about getting a referbished or remanufactured part.
Oreilly will warranty it for lifetime, but I don't want to keep replacing it if it makes more sense to buy a new one if they are out there even.

bluebee 04-24-2013 01:14 AM

For the record, the question of whacking the starter solenoid came up today over here:

Originally Posted by cdawg246 (Post 7539037)
Im curious to find out any success stories with breaking loose a sticking starter solonoid on a 1999 540i or on any other bimmers out there? I ask this cause my car wont start, no clicking but I get all the dash and radio lights when I turn the key. The battery is fully charged and I cant jump start the car at the jump points under the hood. Which leads me to believe the starter solonoid is stuck and not transferring power to the starter motor to turn over the car. Before I put the car away for the winter she started and ran great. Couple of things, the battery is a brand new red top duralast which has been trickle charged in the car with a die hard maintainer, I checked the connections at the battery and they are good and tight 12.6v at the terminals. I used both sets of keys, so im going to rule out the ignition switch and dme security system. So all im left with is the starter solonoid is sticking since I had no issues prior to the cars storage or the starter is shot. I appreciate any and all advice.

bluebee 08-05-2013 12:24 PM

For the record, the question of removing the M54 starter from underneath came up today, over here:

Originally Posted by crazy4trains (Post 7753453)
2002 530i with M Sport suspension, automatic and 74,000 miles.

Pretty much like the title states. It appears I will be needing a new starter sooner rather than later. I have done some comprehensive searching on here and other sites but cannot locate a definitive set of DIY instructions for replacing the starter from underneath the car on the M54. I have found numerous links on the M52, but not the M54. Also, I have found numerous links on replacing the starter from the top by removing the intake manifold. If I can avoid it, I do not want to remove the intake manifold. Has anybody successfully removed/replaced the starter on the M54 from underneath the car?


Originally Posted by crazy4trains (Post 7753711)
Looks like this will have to be good enough as I need to tackle this soon.

The goal is for every user to add to the tribal knowledge with every repair, so, please consider writing up a DIY or at least snapping some photos of the job so that person following in your footsteps benefits.


Originally Posted by pleiades (Post 7753747)
why do you think you need a new starter? What symptoms are you seeing?

This is a great question as you've seen, the starter has been reliable on most of the E39s out there, so, maybe (just maybe), it's not the starter?


Originally Posted by crazy4trains (Post 7753942)
I am fairly positive of the diagnosis

I can't help on the starter diagnosis, but, again, I ask that whatever you learn, that you put in the record, so the next person starts where you left off.

PS: See also:
How to bridge the EWS to test the starting system:

How to diagnose an E39 starter motor:
BMW Starter Motor Problems and Faults

Excerpts ...

1. You try to start the engine and you get a clicking noise but the engine doesnt turn.
A. Battery dead or possibly a bad connection at the starter. Starter motors take about 300-400 amps when turning over the engine and a very little bit of resistance at the cable connection to the starter can prevent this amount of current. Get the battery checked at a spares shop - that will eliminate it as a cause, have a quick look at the cable connections at the motor and check if they are slck or can move.

2. Most modern starters have a "piggy-back" relay attached to the starter motor and, as in 1 above, if the cable connections are slack or the contacts within the relay are pitted, this can prevent it turning the engine.

3. Starters work by the solenoid "throwing a gear along a slide", such that the gear then meshes with the starter ring on the flywheel and when the starter motor turns, the engine starts.

Sometimes the "sliding surfaces" on the motor shaft can become crudded up with dirt etc such that the solenoid cannot throw the gear along the shaft to mesh with the starter ring. To correct this it is necessary to strip the starter, clean it internally and re-assemble.

Since you are asking about "how do I remove the starter", I would suggest you do not tackle cleaning the motor internally.

To remove the starter, disconnect the battery + terminal, locate the starter, I think on the E39 that needs to be done from under the car, remove the positive cable from the starter/relay, remove three bolts and slide out the starter motor.........sounds easy, doesnt it, but please do not tackle this if you have little experience of working on cars.........seriously!!!!!

A replacement starter motor can be bought from Euro car parts(see www.euro************* )

bluebee 11-09-2014 03:04 AM

If you come here for help on the starter, and if the bolts won't budge, take a look at this thread posted today ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Damn Starter won't budge

bluebee 06-21-2015 11:30 PM

In case it's needed, here's a video of a BMW starter motor autopsy...

bluebee 07-01-2015 12:58 PM

This thread today has very useful related information:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Car wont start with key just clicks, but starts by jumping starter

Originally Posted by rdl (Post 6730376)
If the suggestions above don't solve the problem, you might consider high resistance in the heavy gauge cable power circuit from battery to starter.

I'm assuming some points from your description:
1 when you jump start the engine, you are using another battery (perhaps on another car) connected to the jumper post on the engine.
2 without the jumper battery, the click you hear on turning the key to start, is the heavy, loud snap that the starter solenoid makes
3 there are no other symptoms, e.g. battery light in instrument cluster, dim lights, normal cranking speed when jumper starting etc.
4 your mechanic meant that your battery passed a full load test when he said it is OK. Not that it is indicating ~12.65V with car in sleep mode.
5 the mechanic tested starter current to rule out a partially failed winding (to rule out marginal starter with marginal battery resulting in no crank symptom)

And conclude from these that the starter control circuits (including EWS), battery and the starter itself are OK & the problem is that the starter is not getting enough voltage to generate the power needed to turn over the engine.

The attached images show that there are connectors between the battery and starter. If these become corroded, or if the heavy cable running from the battery to starter has been damaged one could see high resistance and a significant voltage drop between the battery and starter when the starter tries to draw the ~200 amps (can't find spec, but typical for 1.8 kW starters) required to turn over the engine. The starter would then have insufficient voltage to start the engine. This is the same effect, although different cause, that others refer to when suggesting you check that the battery terminals are clean & tight on the battery posts.

You could test this hypothesis by measuring voltage at the engine jumper post while someone turns the key to start without a jumper battery. You should see full battery voltage of ~12.6 V with key off and at least ~9V while starter is engaged, better would be ~10V. If voltage is too low & the battery & starter motor are in fact OK, there must be high resistance in the power circuit from battery to starter.

I had thought it possible that the safety disconnect on the +ve battery terminal had triggered. However it seems that feature was implemented in 9/97 & would therefore not be present on your 1997 model year. See attached image showing "Battery safety terminal (as of ..."

Circuit diagrams & operation descriptions of various systems available here.


Originally Posted by psgill (Post 6732456)
Thanks for all your information, mechanic thought same problem was going on checked out battery starter voltage ignition switch etc.... he is puzzled and telling me to take it to the dealer (stealer) Is there any other suggestions before i get taken to the cleaners.


Originally Posted by rdl (Post 6733487)
Based on understanding that:
1 never starts on car battery alone
2 always starts when jumpered with 2nd battery at engine jumper post & ground terminal on strut tower
3 battery terminal are tight and clean to battery posts

Here is a quick and easy DIY check to test battery & cable from battery to starter, before opening your wallet. I should have though of this earlier.

1 jumper with 2nd battery (fully charged) from trunk at car's battery terminals.
2 If no start then must be power cable to starter, or the -ve lead from battery to grounding lug.
EDIT 3 if start then must be weak car battery.

1 stop engine, key off
2 remove +ve terminal from car's battery.
3 Jumper from 2nd battery to battery terminals only, so nothing connected to car battery +ve post. (car battery is now "removed/isolated" from all circuits)
4 Once jumpers connected, be very careful to ensure the +ve terminal does not touch any metal. Best with assistant to hold +ve clear while you try to start. Extra safety - wrap terminal and jumper clip in towels or rags to help prevent any inadvertent contact with metal.
5 If car starts then car battery is weak.
6 EDIT if no start, jumper -ve side of 2nd battery to -ve post on strut tower while keeping +ve to terminal in trunk
7 if now start, -ve battery lead or grounding lug is faulty (starting when jumpered from engine bay worked through ground on strut tower)
8 if no start on step 7, must be +ve cable from battery to starter

I trust the logic is clear. If not, post back with question.

Good luck.


Originally Posted by pshovest (Post 6736968)
Is this an AT E39? I think your first mechanic was on the right track. Start circuit is fairly simple. EWS does prevent starter operation. I don't think M52 uses a starter relay, only M62. Clicking sound may be relay in EWS module. I'd open EWS module and look for burned contacts. Looks like you can jump pins 1 & 3 of EWS connector and starter should engage. These diagrams are for an M52 up to 3/97.

Paul S
BMW CCA 69606

See also:
- Where is the starter motor located (1) & an M52 starter motor DIY (1) (2) & removing the 540i starter motor in one hour (1) & the BMW TIS (1) and an E38 740iL starter motor DIY (1) (2) & how to remove the M52 starter motor without removing the intake manifold (1) (2) & what special tools are needed (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & where is the starter motor relay (1) (2) & how many amp hours does the starter motor need to start our bimmer (1)

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