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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E46 (1999 - 2006)

E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-16-2010, 06:36 AM
vintage_car vintage_car is offline
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Pictorial DIY E46 starter replacement

I have taken the time to document the hell of changing a starter out in our E46's. Hopefully this saves someone a cool grand in labor to have the dealership do this one. I have read that some people removed the manifold and replaced the starter, I chose the route of lowering the transmission a little to get to the bottom bolt. Enjoy...
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2010, 07:04 AM
Starless Starless is offline
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Wow! Amazing write up! Another valuable piece of info on this forum. Thank you and please link it to the WIKI.
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  #3  
Old 11-16-2010, 07:20 AM
C-Bear C-Bear is offline
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wow! Amazing write up! Another valuable piece of info on this forum. Thank you and please link it to the wiki.
+1
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  #4  
Old 11-16-2010, 10:39 AM
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AlboBMW AlboBMW is offline
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that must have been a heckuva job
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  #5  
Old 11-16-2010, 10:55 AM
vintage_car vintage_car is offline
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it was, I hope to never have to do it again. That is just poor engineering to have that located in such a place. Normally it takes 30-45 minutes to swap out a starter this project was 7 hours of time involved.
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  #6  
Old 11-16-2010, 01:41 PM
MyLife MyLife is offline
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Thanks. Excellent job...
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  #7  
Old 11-16-2010, 02:04 PM
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SJBimmer SJBimmer is offline
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Wow! That is a heck of a 2nd post! I just got extremely grateful that my starter failed, and was replaced by the dealer, just before the warranty expired. The dealer replaced it with a rebuilt starter. I wonder if I should have pushed for a new one? I knew that this was a difficult job, but I had no idea how difficult. You are to be congratulated for your determination!
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  #8  
Old 11-16-2010, 02:11 PM
EnduroGuy EnduroGuy is offline
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Looking at that has me shaking my head (right to left) thinking of the day when the starter goes out.

I wonder if you can get to the ac expansion valve from that big hole in the fire wall?

Great post vc!
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  #9  
Old 11-16-2010, 02:17 PM
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Awesome write up man. Thank you for posting!.
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  #10  
Old 11-16-2010, 02:21 PM
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...oh boy. That, sir, is a heck of a lot of effort! Congrats on the repair and thank you kindly for the DIY.

I will never use your DIY though. "Why?" you might ask, well....I own a manual and I'm fairly certain I'd rather resort to parking on hills for the rest of my vehicles life than replace the starter
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  #11  
Old 11-16-2010, 04:54 PM
tomjrau tomjrau is offline
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yep, that's pretty much the hell i went through when I replaced my starter a few months ago with a friend. Hope I never have to do it again.
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  #12  
Old 11-18-2010, 12:44 PM
vintage_car vintage_car is offline
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thanks for the compliments...it was time to give back to the BMW community. I hadn't found a decent diy on the starter and if you do have basic tools (minus the e-12 torx wrench) you can do this yourself. If it was a manual...I would have sought out hills to park on.
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  #13  
Old 08-31-2011, 10:52 AM
Kizmo Kizmo is offline
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I changed out my starter over the last couple weekends. The hardest part was getting it off the bell housing after removing the bolts!

The new starter (a remanufactured Boch) sounds way different. Anyone experienced this?

To describe the sound, it sounds slower and not as quick as the Ch CH CH from the OEM unit.

The good news is it works.

One thing about the install was that I didn't tighten the starter bolts until they stopped. I was afraid to tear the threads off the bolts. I got them tight to the pint where it felt like they were ready to break.

I did make sure the starter didn't move while starting the car.
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  #14  
Old 12-01-2012, 02:56 PM
justinz justinz is offline
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I'm having trouble getting the starter off of the bell housing. How loose was it following the removal of the torx bolts? The upper one was missing; I'm hoping it hasn't cracked off somehow.
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  #15  
Old 12-01-2012, 10:42 PM
Kizmo Kizmo is offline
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Mine was pretty much stuck there too. I had to bang it from the top using a ratchet extention and a hammer to knock it loose. It took a lot of force to get it loose.
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  #16  
Old 12-01-2012, 11:42 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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And there's a guide pin that can help it get stuck.
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  #17  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:01 AM
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That "index, guide, locator" pin at the top was the biggest problem for me as well. I used a length of oak flooring (about 4' long) as a drift and and hammered it off from the tail stock end of the transmission. Btw- that indexing pin and the bell housing are dissimilar metals in a warm moist environment and corrode readily so a good cleanup and coat of antisieze go a long way to averting the problem if you ever have to change it again. NO- NEVER- AGAIN!
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  #18  
Old 01-21-2013, 07:57 PM
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Hmmm.............. just finished this job yesterday so a couple of tips. I took a bit that was just slightly oversize of the guide hole on the starter and drilled it out. It made the fit snug but also able to push on with hand force. Next, as far as the starter itself. this was the second time replacing it for me. Last time I wanted to forget the operation. This time, I looked at it for a minute after dropping the skid plate. I went out and purchased a set of mini-flexhead ratcheting wrenches. The 10mm worked with the bolts. The wrench was the perfect length to be able to take out both bolts. The bottom was the fastest, the top a little harder as I had to reach over the top. But still, it was a dream compared to the last time. This way, you don't have to remove any part of your car except the bottom pan and plate and the vacuum canister. All good info posted here, though! Also, one of the best purchases any DIY'er can make is a set of long flat head screwdrivers with angled tips. They will pop out anything and have the length to make work easy. That is what I used to pop the old starter out.

Last edited by Mirawho; 01-21-2013 at 08:00 PM.
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  #19  
Old 01-21-2013, 09:32 PM
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When I was doing the CVV and hoses the other day, I got a good look at the starter and solenoid and couldn't help thinking how I could reach there if I needed to change it one day.
Now when I read this thread, I got confused a bit. Can this job not be done from the top by removing the manifold???
Yes, I hate removing the manifold but I would take the manifold with a heartbeat if it is going to save me going through all that hassle of lowering the tranny, tilting the engine etc.

Is it really impossible to do this from the top?
I am asking because if it is impossible, then I need to make sure I have a mechanic to do it if it happens to me one day. There is no way I can do all that work from under the car.
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  #20  
Old 01-21-2013, 10:44 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Can be done from the top without removing the intake manifold.
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  #21  
Old 01-22-2013, 01:42 AM
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The part about the DIY that amazes me is the need to fabricate this wrench handle!
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Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #22  
Old 01-22-2013, 06:26 AM
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I'm replacing my starter when I do my clutch. Great write-up!
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  #23  
Old 01-22-2013, 07:51 AM
Mirawho Mirawho is offline
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Well, like I said, when I changed mine, I didn't loosen the tranny or remove the intake manifold. I just got a wrench set that would work in the compact areas where the bolts are, jacked up the car and removed it from below. The set was only $26 and it made a huge job really small. Iskoos, it is easier to remove the starter from below the car. This way you don't have to take your car apart to take out the starter. If you have a physical reason you can't remove it from below, get a friend to help. It is easier from below. It is just a minor PITA.

Last edited by Mirawho; 01-22-2013 at 07:58 AM.
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  #24  
Old 01-22-2013, 02:36 PM
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mrmaico mrmaico is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirawho View Post
Hmmm.............. just finished this job yesterday so a couple of tips. I took a bit that was just slightly oversize of the guide hole on the starter and drilled it out. It made the fit snug but also able to push on with hand force. Next, as far as the starter itself. this was the second time replacing it for me. Last time I wanted to forget the operation. This time, I looked at it for a minute after dropping the skid plate. I went out and purchased a set of mini-flexhead ratcheting wrenches. The 10mm worked with the bolts. The wrench was the perfect length to be able to take out both bolts. The bottom was the fastest, the top a little harder as I had to reach over the top. But still, it was a dream compared to the last time. This way, you don't have to remove any part of your car except the bottom pan and plate and the vacuum canister. All good info posted here, though! Also, one of the best purchases any DIY'er can make is a set of long flat head screwdrivers with angled tips. They will pop out anything and have the length to make work easy. That is what I used to pop the old starter out.
You mean something like this?

http://www.amazon.com/GearWrench-Stu.../dp/B000HBDWMA

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  #25  
Old 01-22-2013, 05:04 PM
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Thanks guys. I hope I never need to do it but if I have to one day and if it is possible to do it from the top, I am not getting under the car. I don't care how much of the engine I will take it out. I have torn that area apart many times so it shouldn't be a problem.
Mirawho, I don't have any physical limitations but I just do not feel comfortable working under the car for long hours no matter how it is secured.

Last edited by iskoos; 06-01-2014 at 12:23 PM. Reason: typo fix
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