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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
The E9X is the 4th evolution of the BMW 3 series including a highly tuned twin turbo 335i variant pushing out 300hp and 300 ft. lbs. of torque. BMW continues to show that it sets the bar for true driving performance! -- View the E9X Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-24-2012, 07:05 PM
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DIY: Replacing the engine air filter on a 328.

I've been working over the car recently and thought I'd quickly replace the engine air filter after work today. For a newbie like me, it turned out to be a bit more involved than I expected, so I thought I'd put together another DIY. (No reason for all the DIYs to be over at e90post, eh?)

Sorry, 335 owners... your system is different.

And I shouldn't have to say this, but you follow these directions at your own risk. I'm not a mechanic, I may have something wrong here, and if you don't get everything back together correctly, unflitered air could get to your engine and that could be disastrous.

Scared yet?

So... our engine filter sits inside this large, strangely shaped, plastic box.



That whole box has to come out of the engine bay and opened up to get at the filter. So the first step is to separate the plastic pipe coming from the kidney grill area. This can be done easily by hand... it's just a couple of tabs to pull back and then the thing slides apart.





Next, behind the box, there's the pipe that carries the filtered air to the engine and an electronic sensor.



The box has to be separated here, so you have to unplug the sensor.





Then you loosen the hose clamp and work the pipe away from the box. There's not much space to get your hands in there, so it's a bit tricky.

There are then two bolts (probably more correctly called a hex head cap screws) to remove with a 10 mm wrench or socket.



Then the whole thing lifts out of the bay.



The box halves are held together with six T25 torx screws.



I backed mine out all the way, but after doing so, I realized that was overkill. They're designed to stay captive in one of the filter box halves. (No biggie.) Once backed out, the two halves of the box come apart, and there's the filter.



I replaced the filter with a Mann OEM filter. (I'm no fan of after market specialty filters and the claims that go with them.) Prices don't vary much from place to place. I got mine from AutoHaus.





I thought my old filter looked pretty good. I bet I could have gotten by quite a bit longer without replacing it. But, you put the two filters side-by-side and you can definitely see some dirt there.



When putting things back together, you have to be careful to properly seat the soft orange rubber flange into the groove in the filter box. The rubber's so soft, you have to work it in bit by bit.





Then, when you put the housing back together, don't tighten down one screw all the way and then go on to the next. I suggest you go around from screw to screw gradually tightening them bit by bit to clamp the box halves together gradually and evenly.

Once the box is back together, you reverse the steps. I still have a couple of notes. The sensor plugs in easily but I had a bit of trouble getting the hose from the filter to the engine back together. Of course, if this isn't properly fitted and clamped together, you could inadvertently bypass the filter and that could be very, very bad. The space is tight and you can't see all the way around, so I ran my finger along the edges and felt all the way around to make sure things were fully seated. I loosened the hose clamp a lot too... probably too much. When putting the hose clamp back in place, note that there are some plastic nibs to hold the screw part of the hose clamp in the right place.



You need to position the hose clamp so that screw mechanism is in between the nibs.



Finally, the intake hose has to be put together. I struggled with this before I realized I wasn't doing things properly. The box end is mostly male, but there is a lower flange that goes outside the tube coming from the kidney grills.



So when you put the parts back together, the lower part of the male end goes between the flange and the box male fitting.





Put back the two bolts that secure the box to the frame, and you're done. (I couldn't find any torque values to use. There are also rubber grommets involved, so I guess you'll have to do what I did and just go by a snug tight sort of feel.)

'Hope somebody finds this helpful.
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  #2  
Old 04-24-2012, 08:50 PM
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Good Lord! I remember when you unscrewed a wing nut and lifted off the cover. I know you do, too.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:01 PM
dtc100 dtc100 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
Good Lord! I remember when you unscrewed a wing nut and lifted off the cover. I know you do, too.
The airboxes in our E90s are by far the most difficult the have the filters replaced. It is almost as if whoever designed it decided to play a practical joke on us.

I don't know if this is mentioned, there is a rubber mount that sits on the frame, the airbox then sits on the mount. Be careful not to knock the mount off in the process.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:27 PM
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Darn it, Professor. I remember back a while ago you told me oil changes were so easy, even I could do one. That requires getting the car up on ramps! Here I was, all excited about something that didn't require hoists, lifts, jacks or ramps and you had to burst my bubble by saying that it turned out to be a lot more difficult than you anticipated. Did I learn anything from this thread? You betcha.... mostly that the indy mechanics who have to mess with this stuff on a daily basis really do earn their keep (if they do it right).

Good job though with the pics and explanation.

Mostly, it looks like a job that requires a lot of patience and a lot of attention to detail.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:16 PM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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It not that bad.

It looks worse than it is . The only thing I was worried about was getting the maf sensor connector off and getting the hose all the way back on the intake side and getting it clamped OK.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:31 PM
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SD Z4MR SD Z4MR is offline
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Wow! How can the 328 be so difficult when the 335 is so easy? Just pop a few clips and the top of the air box comes off. I could probably change the air filter in my 335 in 2 minutes or less!
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:42 PM
VirtuousWolf VirtuousWolf is offline
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Great Write up
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:09 AM
aleks001 aleks001 is offline
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The 325 I have in australia is different, I think we got the boxes that your 335's have. Its just a couple of screws at the top and that's it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
Good Lord! I remember when you unscrewed a wing nut and lifted off the cover. I know you do, too.
Absolutely! I thought this would be a five minute job with no tools required. Then I opened the hood and the Bentley manual...

Oh well... we don't have to mess with butterfly valves on carbureters any more.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordic_Kat View Post
Did I learn anything from this thread? You betcha.... mostly that the indy mechanics who have to mess with this stuff on a daily basis really do earn their keep (if they do it right).

Good job though with the pics and explanation.

Mostly, it looks like a job that requires a lot of patience and a lot of attention to detail.
Like cTuna says, it's really not that bad. It's worse than I expected, but I bet you have smaller hands than I do and that would help. Having done it once and not taking pictures as I go, I bet you it would take me less than 10 minutes now.

Yeah... good mechanics, like good welders, are worth every penny. (Like good doctors... like good lawyers... like kids that get your order right and can make change at McDonald's...)
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:12 AM
Michael Schott Michael Schott is offline
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Good job and thanks for taking the time to document your work. This makes me feel better about my 3 year lease and the factory warranty .

My do it yourself days are past and sadly the only time I've been under the hood of my 18 month old 328i is to watch the dealer add washer fluid.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:20 AM
dtc100 dtc100 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleks001 View Post
The 325 I have in australia is different, I think we got the boxes that your 335's have. Its just a couple of screws at the top and that's it.
You have what they call the "Euro style" e90 328 airbox, but not the same as the 335i. The joke is on the airbox made for the E90 328 for the US market.

One other thing to consider, as long as one has gone through the trouble to take the box apart, might as well remove the MAF, and use a can of MAF cleaner to spray clean the probe, although one can do this without removing the box.

Last edited by dtc100; 04-25-2012 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtc100 View Post
One other thing to consider, as long as one has gone through the trouble to take the box apart, might as well remove the MAF, and use a can of MAF cleaner to spray clean the probe, although one can do this without removing the box.
I know a lot about designing in steel and concrete and timber and I know a fair bit about residential construction... that sort of thing. I know very little about cars... but I'm learning. And this right here is an example of that. I didn't know it was a standard thing to clean the mass air flow sensor. Thanks. I'll have to do that. Like I said, being through it once, it's not that big a deal to remove the air box again.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:36 AM
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Good job Prof!
As ctuna said in post 5, the sensor is the MAF (mass air flow) sensor, it also measures the temperature of the incoming air, hence the 5 wire connector. The computer uses this data along with other info to determine precisely how long to keep the fuel injectors open for best performance. Of all the information being used by the computer the MAF info is the most important.

If you forget and don't reconnect the MAF sensor after doing the filter change your Check Engine Light will come on as soon as you turn the key to the run position. The engine will probably start and run decently because the computer will guess at airflow based on throttle position. After you say %#$*@ and reconnect the MAF sensor the CEL is going to stay on. %#$*@ You are going to have to clear a code by going in through the ALDL with a scanner device. Your engine will not have been harmed in any way, and eventually the CEL will go off on its own if you don't have the tool.

When ctuna suggested cleaning the sensor I would only add that you should be sure to ONLY USE THE STUFF MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS PURPOSE, AND DON'T RUB ON OR OTHERWISE TOUCH THE SENSOR. The solvent will do all the cleaning.

Last edited by DSXMachina; 04-25-2012 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:42 AM
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So it looks like CRC sells a can of magic spray that you puff across the MAF sensor to clean it. You then let it air dry and put it back. From what I've just been reading, it looks like a good thing to do. Do you concur?
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:56 AM
dtc100 dtc100 is offline
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Originally Posted by ProfessorCook View Post
So it looks like CRC sells a can of magic spray that you puff across the MAF sensor to clean it. You then let it air dry and put it back. From what I've just been reading, it looks like a good thing to do. Do you concur?
Like DSX said, make sure the can is labeled MAF Cleaner. No need to remove the airbox, just remove the two screws holding the MAF module, make sure the seal is intact when you plug it back in.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfessorCook View Post
So it looks like CRC sells a can of magic spray that you puff across the MAF sensor to clean it. You then let it air dry and put it back. From what I've just been reading, it looks like a good thing to do. Do you concur?

This stuff is so magic it is "PROVEN to gain 4-10 Horsepower at the Wheels!" I quoted right from the label.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:50 AM
anE934fun anE934fun is offline
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This stuff is so magic it is "PROVEN to gain 4-10 Horsepower at the Wheels!" I quoted right from the label.
I wonder how it is 'proven'? Butt dyno? Or?
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:54 AM
anE934fun anE934fun is offline
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snip...
I replaced the filter with a Mann OEM filter. (I'm no fan of after market specialty filters and the claims that go with them.) Prices don't vary much from place to place. I got mine from AutoHaus.

...snip
Plus, if you don't put in the precise amount of oil when the aftermarket filter is being fitted/cleaned, you will (been there, done that in another lifetime) foul the MAF. Which will give you all manner of headaches.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:56 AM
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The air filter change is really not that hard to do, contrary to some of the comments. The first time around it took me a while since I had to look where all the bolts are and find the right size wrenches but nowadays this is a 10 minute job max. My dealer charges almost $60 to have the air filter replaced and another $150 for the interior air filter. I can get both changed in 15 minutes tops for a price tag of maybe $70. And that's buying the part from the dealer's counter, not even looking for a good deal online.

Professor, did you run the car up and down the lift "just because" for this DIY?!?
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You will rue this day, RUE THIS DAY
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:02 PM
dtc100 dtc100 is offline
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Plus, if you don't put in the precise amount of oil when the aftermarket filter is being fitted/cleaned, you will (been there, done that in another lifetime) foul the MAF. Which will give you all manner of headaches.
That is why the MAF cleaner should come handy I suppose.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:08 PM
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Where is that article Mike wrote on these aftermarket filters?!?

The K&N, et al, filters do nothing but foul up the MAF and introduce more particles into the engine intake. And for what minimal (if any) gains? No thanks. I ran one in my Ford Focus and it led to nothing but me going back to paper filters and removing the MAF to get it cleaned and happy again. There was no performance or MPG increase whatsoever.
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You will rue this day, RUE THIS DAY

Last edited by cwinter; 04-25-2012 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:10 PM
anE934fun anE934fun is offline
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That is why the MAF cleaner should come handy I suppose.
Or, you can do like Prof does and avoid the whole problem. If the foam has been over-oiled, you would experience a bunch of MAF fouling episodes as the excess oil is shed. Personally, 4 or 5 hp from a CAI is just not worth the hassle. And the 4 or 5 hp seem to be found at the upper end of the RPM range, which is a place that most of us rarely venture.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by anE934fun View Post
Or, you can do like Prof does and avoid the whole problem. If the foam has been over-oiled, you would experience a bunch of MAF fouling episodes as the excess oil is shed. Personally, 4 or 5 hp from a CAI is just not worth the hassle. And the 4 or 5 hp seem to be found at the upper end of the RPM range, which is a place that most of us rarely venture.
LOL, by definition the only place you can add horsepower is in the upper rpm range. You can add torque wherever you like.
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:03 PM
anE934fun anE934fun is offline
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LOL, by definition the only place you can add horsepower is in the upper rpm range. You can add torque wherever you like.
Really? What about when you add a super- or turbo- charger and move the entire hp graph northward?
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