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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 08-26-2009, 02:37 PM
jetsetter jetsetter is offline
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Mein Auto: 97 e36 (328i)
Notes on DIY Replacing Blower Motor on E36

Howdy,

I wanted to tell the short tale of replacing my blower motor. Recently, I had a mechanic diagnose the reason I had no heat / AC as being because the blower motor was out. This is a quoted $700 repair, as the part is $300 + 4 hours of work.

I decided to DIY with my brother who is a little handy but by no means a car expert. I know computers that's about it.

We used two guides:

http://www.dvatp.com/bmw/diy/hvac_blower/
and
http://www.sqbimmer.com/dump/e36_blower_motor/

We mostly used the first but the second was also helpful. I can vouch for what these guides say which is that if you have the time and the tools, just about anyone can do this. It is scary to remove the windshield wiper assembly. It is also not easy to get the motor in and out. We were however, able to remove and replace the fan without removing the squirrell cages.

Some specific additional hints for the procedure:

1. Have a big table and lay out each part with a piece of tape numbering the step. Use tape to keep the screws and bolts together.

2. The clips on the air flow cover really do pop off, be careful or you'll lose something very hard to replace. You really do need a magnet wand in order to get all the parts off without dropping them into the engine area.

3. The squirrell cages on a new blower motor can be moved closer to the center by simply tapping the center plastic area with your ratchet. Make sure the overall width of the device is the same as the one you pull out before you try getting into its seated position. If the squirrell cages are too far apart they will rub on the plastic fan housing on each side which will confuse you and stress you out.

4. You don't need a Bentley manual to do this. You do want to have someone to help out and hold and hand you stuff. Get your kid or a pal to help you out and keep things going, because if you're not used to DIY car repair and you are generally not an under the hood person the moral support will help a lot.

5. Lastly, but most importantly, MAKE SURE THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE RESISTOR (FINAL STAGE UNIT). After all of our work, we got the new part in and the darn thing didn't spin. As far as I know, the problem is actually the resistor, even though my symptoms seemed to match up with a motor failure. :P

I want to thank my brother who went through this with me today, and was a good sport when it turned out this wasn't the problem. We learned a lot about the front end of my car--though I hope I never have to get in there again. The moral of the story is that this is doable by normal people, but you had better hope tha this is the problem, and you should not rely on a mechanic to do the diagnosis. Try the resistor first.

Regards,

Rob

Last edited by jetsetter; 08-26-2009 at 02:41 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-26-2009, 03:54 PM
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cmybimmer cmybimmer is offline
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  #3  
Old 08-26-2009, 05:13 PM
jetsetter jetsetter is offline
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Either this forum must have a problem with fake users or this is a joke. Good one!

Regardless, we did take a bunch of photos of the process because it felt kind of epic. I do consider it a success, because we took it apart and put it back together and had some beers while listening to Chuck Berry. Could have been a worse day.

I'm hopeful the resistor replacement tomorrow fixes the AC. I took a few photos with my iphone, we have our whole workspace photographed on my bro's digital camera.

The OEM replacement I bought didn't have different colors for the two sides.

My bro working it in. We did not need to remove or break the squirrel cages on either motor. There was room on my 97 e36 after tieing back that set of electrical harnesses. The guides suggested it was not possible without breaking them on the way out or removing and replacing the cages putting them in.

Here's a shot from inside the blower motor area looking to the side area and out it shows how tight that area is.
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  #4  
Old 08-26-2009, 05:58 PM
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oakley oakley is offline
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Awesome write up
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2009, 05:51 AM
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cmybimmer cmybimmer is offline
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Hahahahahaha .

Thx for the photos and the write up .
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  #6  
Old 08-27-2009, 07:28 AM
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Thanks for the write up Brohamad.
I'm dreading having to do this but occasionally hear that dreaded squeal which means i'm going to be balls deep into this DIY soon. Thanks again!
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2009, 08:53 AM
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  #8  
Old 08-27-2009, 10:13 AM
jetsetter jetsetter is offline
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Smile Update: AC FIXED!

I can't believe it, I have AIR AGAIN!

We replaced the resistor (final stage) unit this morning in about 25 minutes. The part was $91.01 with tax at the Herb Chambers dealership in Allston, MA.

I couldn't believe how easy this was compared to the blower motor changeout. I wish I had ignored the mechanic's diagnosis and done more research and tried this first before going through that process yesterday.

Here's a photo of the stock resistor side by side with the replacement part the new one has more spikes and looks shinier.

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  #9  
Old 08-27-2009, 02:52 PM
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MMMMMMMMMMMM that looks yuuuummmyy

Well done mate
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  #10  
Old 08-28-2009, 09:54 PM
rlabair rlabair is offline
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Thanks for the info it really helps the rest of us.

Last edited by rlabair; 08-29-2009 at 06:42 AM. Reason: question answered
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  #11  
Old 09-03-2009, 08:09 AM
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I've done this and one thing I can add is that it is 10 times easier to remove the fan blades and put the motor in. I tried for a day to get the fan in without doing this and had no luck. To remove the blades try some power lube. Maybe ever a stronger penetrating oil. press them together once in place.

93 325i
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  #12  
Old 12-21-2010, 12:47 PM
T-808 T-808 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1995 318i (E36)
Notes on replacing blower motor - 1995 318i (E36)

Iím not one for writing stuff up for other people to read and review, but this time I told myself I would do it. I canít see everybody going out and buying a $300 blower motor just because the blower motor has a removable squirrel cage fan. Iíll admit that in some cases it may be needed if you canít create enough clearance to get the new blower motor back in. In my case I too thought that I would not be able to get the clearance, but after some careful research and study from a variety of Internet blogs and articles I found that in can be done; again at least in my case (1995 318i).

!!!!IMPORTANT!!!!

REMEMBER TO REMOVE THE BATTERY GROUND TERMINAL AND PROTECT IT FROM TOUCHING ANYTHING THAT MIGHT RE-APPLY POWER TO THE CAR! YOU WILL BE DISCONNECTING A WIRING HARNESS IN THE ENGINE AREA!!!


THE BEGINNINGÖ
My blower motor started to slow down a bit every time I turned a corner. This could have been the bearings, or the brushes wearing down or the commutator wearing out I didnít know at the time what it was. After living with it for nearly four years, it finally got to the point were it just stopped randomly and during the winter not having a blower to defrost your front window can be a pain.

So I searched the Internet for some sort of guidelines that would allow me to replace the blower motor without removing the fans (more about that later). The search led me to this site where a member (jetsetter) pointed out that he did get the blower motor with the fans attached back in. The picture he provided gave me the clues to which side is best to work from. So I grabbed my tools and a blower motor that I got from a local wrecker, some instructions from the Internet (jetsetterís post) and went to it.

TWO HOURS LATER...
Again, remember to disconnect the negative lead from the battery and make sure that it can't touch the battery. No one likes surprises!

I got the old blower motor out, but not in one piece. I couldnít see how to get it out without cutting the driver side fan off. I think if my fingers had been a bit warming I would have had the patience to wiggle it out. I was starting to see why people opted for the motor with the removable squirrel cage fan. I went back into the house to warm up and do more research. There must be a way to get the new one back in, in one piece. How do those BMW mechanics get this thing out and back in?

HALF HOUR LATERÖ
After studying the pictures posted by jetsetter I managed to work out a path from the driver side of the engine compartment that would allow for the blower to be slid back in with both fans attached. It does involve removing the wiper blades and moving the wiper assembly out of the way to create some additional room so that the fans don't need to be flexed to get past the passenger side wiper arm on the assembly. A vacuum hose also has to be moved down or removed as well, and you need to move the vacuum hose down for the power brakes. I disconnected the wiring harness as well to give me a little extra space to play with. In the pictures I made I had removed the top cover of the Panduit that houses the wiring harness of the left, right, and under the manifold cables. I found out that this is not required and is a real beast to get back together.

ONE HOUR MORE...
Itís a good idea to warm up the new blower motor for two reasons, first is nice to hold something warm when itís -10c in the garage and it stops you from cracking the fans if you do happen to flex them. Just keep in mind that it doesnít stay warm forever. The whole thing fans and all just slipped back into place and drop in. The rest of the time was used to reassembly the car. I wiped down all the parts first to make them easier to handle. Itís amazing the amount of dirt that can collect on 15 years old parts.

Everything back into place and only one missing plastic quarter turn screw. I hadnít realized that the plastic screw in the blower motor compartment cover was not captive. It popped out at some time and probably got washed down the drain during cleaning.

CONCLUSION
So why did I go through all of this trouble to get this one piece blower motor into place. It was cheap... $45. I picked it up at the auto wrecker. It's an original Bosh blower motor with non-removable fans and was pulled out of a wrecked 1996 318i with only 67,000 miles on it. The bearings, commutator, and brushes didnít look like they had much wear on them compared to the old one I took out.

NOTES:
For the clips that need removing I suggest a nice long pair of needle nose pliers, about 12Ē long (handles included). I needed these cause my hands are too big to get into the small space where the clips are located (especially the two small ones located on the driver side blower housing).

PHOTO DESCRIPTIONS:
01 - In the beginning
This is a shot of the engine before I started. Certain items need to removed or at least partially disconnected to make room for the blower motor. I found that removing the hose marked 'A' and the oil dipstick 'B' (see photo) I could gain a little more room for the blower and the wiring harness.

02 - Where it comes in and out
Once you remove the cowling for the blower motor and loosen the wiring harness, 'C' is the area that needs to be cleared to get the motor out or in, in one piece. 'D' shows the two connectors that should be moved as well to give again, more room.

03 - Make room
'E' is just pointing to the open wire harness. You don't need to do this... I didn't realize at the time that I could have left the top on. 'F' indicates that the two connectors have been removed. These get pulled over to the left. 'G' shows that the wiper assembly has also been moved out of the way. The blower motor (heater box) driver side flap needs to be removed as well. There is a cable that connects both the passenger and the driver side flaps together. You donít have to remove the cable, but it was easy to pop off with a small flat screwdriver. The driver side flap assembly is held in place with two small clips. This is also where you will have to remove the oil dipstick.

04 - Wiper arm
The wiper assembly needs to be moved or again you may not get the fans past it. 'H' is the arm that causes the trouble. If I had removed this in the beginning I would have gotten the original blower motor out in one piece. Both wipers and the wiper motor need to be unfastened to get it to move to the right.

06 - Brake vacuum hose
You should now be able to start moving the new blower motor into place at this point. ĎJí shows the blower with fans attached. The vacuum hose ĎKí will have to be pushed down to get the fans past it. Be gentle!

07 - Brake vacuum hose
Pushing to hard down on the hose ĎLí can possibly crack the fitting connected to the vacuum assist on the master brake cylinder. ĎMí just points to the removed oil dipstick.

08 - Past the hoses
Once the blower motor ĎNí is past the hoses and wiring harness itís a straight path to the heater box.

09 - Ready to drop in
Rotate the blower motor ĎPí so that the front is facing front. Otherwise the power connections will be at the backÖ ĎRí is the cable that I disconnected from the driver side flap assembly. Ignore the fact that I took off the wiring harness cover.

10 - Blower in place
Blower motor ĎSí ready to be clipped back in and tested. Once clipped in and the power leads attached, reconnect the wiring harness and the negative lead to the battery and make sure that the fan works and that it doesnít touch or rub against anything. If itís OK, then disconnect the negative lead from the battery again. Finish up putting the car together.

EXTRA PHOTO:
Popping the motor clip
I found that the blower motor clip came out easy when I used a thin solid wire to hook through the hole in the clip ĎTí. It also made it easy to put the clip back in. As I said before I have big handsÖ
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Last edited by T-808; 12-22-2010 at 02:37 PM. Reason: Added photo descriptions and notes.
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  #13  
Old 12-21-2010, 01:12 PM
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Corey Milne Corey Milne is offline
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Thanks for the great write up T-808
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  #14  
Old 11-02-2012, 09:02 PM
anthonymck anthonymck is offline
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Blower Motor cover and other odd things

I also was not able to keep the quarter turn screw in tact when I lifted the cover for the blower motor. Not sure if I will be able to find it, so am wondering whether my local gas station mechanic will have a similar threaded nylon screw. Also, when I finally got to the blower motor, I noticed the recirc door was open. I went back to reconnect and disconnect the battery once again, and when I went to check on the status of the door, I noticed the blower was running! (also, I cycled it successfully through all speeds) So now I am hesitant to remove the motor, and am inclined to close things up, but after I check the connections for some sort of fault.
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  #15  
Old 11-03-2012, 06:39 AM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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The brushes and bearings wear out on these motors. When the brushes get worn out the motor operation gets intermittent. Sometimes tapping the motor or hitting a bump is enough to get contact and have it start running again, but it doesn't last.
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  #16  
Old 02-10-2013, 03:58 PM
IWafflesI IWafflesI is offline
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Thanks for sharing this! I just finished my install with fixed cages and it wasn't as bad as everyone claimed it would be.
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  #17  
Old 04-20-2013, 01:26 PM
asb2106 asb2106 is offline
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agreed

Waffles I agree, did this repair on a buddies 95 M3 today and it went alot smoother than I expected.

Those pesky clips are the only fear's I had during.. but like others say, keep a magnet handy and you wont have issues.

i found the wiper assembly to be harder than others made it seem, i actually took apart the blower box first to facilitate getting it out easier. putting it back in went... ok.

Everything is done, tools put away, and hands washed <5 hours. Job well done. Doing it again i bet i could have it done in less than half that.

Thanks for ALL the help guys, knowing what your in for really takes the time down alot!

Last edited by asb2106; 04-20-2013 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 04-20-2013, 01:27 PM
asb2106 asb2106 is offline
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oh and jetsetter your instructions were perfect, thanks so much for taking the time :cheers:
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  #19  
Old 05-21-2013, 12:33 PM
bmrlvr4lf bmrlvr4lf is offline
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Are there any advantages to going with the 300.00 OEM blower vrs. the 80-100 aftermarket brand? I see that the fans are removable but is that necessary to install? I am getting ready to do this for my 328ic and will pay the premium if there is a reason for it...

Thanks
Ben
97 328ic Hard top
93 318is 140K
97 528i
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Old 05-21-2013, 01:59 PM
asb2106 asb2106 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmrlvr4lf View Post
Are there any advantages to going with the 300.00 OEM blower vrs. the 80-100 aftermarket brand? I see that the fans are removable but is that necessary to install? I am getting ready to do this for my 328ic and will pay the premium if there is a reason for it...

Thanks
Ben
97 328ic Hard top
93 318is 140K
97 528i
personally i say no advantage. The cages were a minor setback, i feel the wiper assembly was more of a pain.
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  #21  
Old 05-23-2013, 03:21 AM
bmrlvr4lf bmrlvr4lf is offline
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thanks!
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