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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 01-30-2010, 04:24 PM
mrmcarter mrmcarter is offline
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Unhappy Oil Drain Plug Shearing During Oil Change!

Was doing my first oil change since I got my new (used) 2004 325i. Everything was going smoothly until I went to screw the oil drain plug back in to the pan.

The bolt started giving a bit of resistance, and when a bit of torque was applied, the head of the bolt sheared right off. It's not as though I was putting my back into cranking this thing down; I was actually just barely turning with one arm and started to feel the lack of consistency in the resistance the bolt was giving me.

I manged to get the remianing chunk of bolt out of the pan, and bought an OEM plug replacement from the local auto parts store. Everything is completed now, but I'm curious if anyone has experienced or heard of this happening.

Could this have just been a bum plug that sheared or is this something I need to continue to be careful of?

Thanks for any input.

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  #2  
Old 01-30-2010, 04:33 PM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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The plugs shear pretty easily. The bit that stays behind is hollow and soft, so the easiest way to get out the remainder is to bang a flat screwdriver into the hole and turn it out. It sounds like you did fine getting it out.

If it sheared with very little torque from you, then it had probably been overtorqued the last time it was put in. There was a little damage done to it then, then a bit more when you removed it (unbeknownst to you of course) and then the re-insertion put it over the top.

I killed one years ago on the wife's Touring. Since I started keeping a spare around, I have not had that problem
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  #3  
Old 01-30-2010, 07:06 PM
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MMME30W MMME30W is online now
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Heh.

I don't undo the drain plug when I change the oil with my Mityvac.

But seriously, I agree with MicahO that the bolt was probably gorrilla-ed on there the last time the oil was changed.
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  #4  
Old 01-30-2010, 07:46 PM
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smolck smolck is online now
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One reason why I put in a new bolt every 3 or 4 oil changes.
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  #5  
Old 01-30-2010, 08:09 PM
bh1066 bh1066 is offline
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Consider using an oil extractor and forget about the pan nut. Far easier and cleaner too. And don't listen to anyone who tells you they aren't any good because they don't get the bottom crud out of your pan. If you have crud like they tell you -- you have some other serious problem.

I use it on my Porsche and BMW. Never a problem. They cost around $60.00.

Here's an interesting link on their use.

http://www.webs4racers.com/bmw/oil/
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  #6  
Old 01-30-2010, 08:43 PM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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Yeah, the oil plug is hollow as a protective measure for the pan. That way, if you get too brutish with the wrench (like when you don't use a torque wrench), you won't strip the thread on the pan and need to do a major rethreading repair there. If it went with minimal force you were either crossthreading it or, as mentioned, had been overtorqued previously.
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  #7  
Old 01-30-2010, 11:35 PM
mrmcarter mrmcarter is offline
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Thank you all for the responses.

Luckily, I was able to use my Easy Out (which was extra easy since the bolt was already hollow I didn't need to drill it).

After checking out the photolog of the extractor process that bh1066 posted, I am definitely getting an extractor. Couple the bolt fiasco with a small "the damned jack is stuck to the jack point" problem, and I am convinced to pursue simpler oil changes.
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  #8  
Old 01-31-2010, 03:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmcarter View Post
Thank you all for the responses.

Luckily, I was able to use my Easy Out (which was extra easy since the bolt was already hollow I didn't need to drill it).

After checking out the photolog of the extractor process that bh1066 posted, I am definitely getting an extractor. Couple the bolt fiasco with a small "the damned jack is stuck to the jack point" problem, and I am convinced to pursue simpler oil changes.
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...672&highlight=

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  #9  
Old 01-31-2010, 07:28 AM
mujjuman mujjuman is offline
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wow, lucky you were able to get it out. i knew someone would mention the vac-oil changes.
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  #10  
Old 01-31-2010, 07:45 AM
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smolck smolck is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
(like when you don't use a torque wrench)
I have never sheared off my pan bolt and I have never sheared off the bolt. Common sense is required, not a torque wrench.
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  #11  
Old 01-31-2010, 10:08 AM
KeithS KeithS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmcarter View Post
bought an OEM plug replacement from the local auto parts store.
I use a torque wrench (same setting for the drain bolt and oil filter cover) and at 120K miles and about a dozen oil changes I've done myself, never sheared the oil drain plug bolt. One item to note. Most parts store plugs are NOT hollow. If you over torque these you WILL damage the threads on the oil pan as the aftermarket bolt will not shear. Unless your sure it is hollow, go now and pick up 2 drain plugs from the dealer. Next oil change, throw the after market plug away.
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  #12  
Old 01-31-2010, 10:22 AM
mrmcarter mrmcarter is offline
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OEM plug is hollow as well. Also I assure you that a torque wrench set to tighten the plug appropriately would have sheared the bolt just as I did. Glad to have the "only an ogre could rip the plug head off" responses since it assures me I won't have to worry too much about this moving forward.. Especially with vac based changes
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  #13  
Old 01-31-2010, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I have never sheared off my pan bolt and I have never sheared off the bolt. Common sense is required, not a torque wrench.
Hm, ja, but we all know secretly you want one of these:



http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/tools...e=snapon-store
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“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”

- J.C. Watts Jr.
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  #14  
Old 01-31-2010, 12:15 PM
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smolck smolck is online now
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Hm, ja, but we all know secretly you want one of these:



http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/tools...e=snapon-store
Well sure, EVERYONE wants one of those!
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #15  
Old 10-07-2010, 10:20 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmcarter View Post
I was able to use my Easy Out (which was extra easy since the bolt was already hollow I didn't need to drill it).
For cross reference, from the VERY best of E39 Links:
- How to fix broken or stripped oil drain pan plug bolt threads (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17)


Last edited by bluebee; 10-07-2010 at 10:24 PM.
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