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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
Talk about the E83 BMW X3 in this forum!

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Old 05-23-2011, 07:57 PM
jwmarc jwmarc is offline
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Location: columbia
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Mein Auto: 740I sport
Starter motor replacement 04 X3- 3.0

The car would not start a couple of weeks ago- cranked but would not start- so I towed it to the dealer. The technician said the car was flooded and got it started by cranking the starter for a long time. Since then the car seemed to labor a bit turning over... The car yesterday would not crank.. I checked voltages and the battery was fine. I figured the starter was the problem so I tapped it with a hammer and it cranked / started. Performed some additional starts..you could tell the starts were getting labored and then another freeze up.. so now I have the new starter and am about to install it... So the question is ... do I go in from the top and remove a lot of parts or is there a way to go in from underneath the car with a little less hassle..

Who has tackled this and what is the best approach... The dealer cost for labor is $550...There was a time when starter motors were easy to get to.... yeah I know..it was a longtime ago.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:56 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is online now
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Location: British Columbia, Canada
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Mein Auto: 2004 X3 2.5i
Originally Posted by jwmarc View Post
... So the question is ... do I go in from the top and remove a lot of parts or is there a way to go in from underneath the car with a little less hassle..
Haven't done it, but from what I have read, it's more difficult than you'd expect.


For your M54 engine, it apparently can all be done from underneath, whereas for the 2007+ N52, you have to work from above and remove the intake manifold.

With the M54, it will probably involve removing some of the oil separator components - so if the hoses are brittle, you will end up replacing them at the same time.
Which in itself is one of the least liked jobs on a BMW.
But it's not necessary to remove the transmission as implied in the Pelican article.

Even when you finally have access to the starter motor, loosening the torx bolts requires some patience because of limited room by all accounts.

Good luck, and hopefully you can report back that it went better than expected.
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Old 05-24-2011, 06:37 AM
John320 John320 is offline
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Location: Ontario,Canada
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Mein Auto: 2008 X3.0si
Some more help here, plus Torque is 45 Nm.( 1AZ )

Last edited by John320; 05-24-2011 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:09 PM
jwmarc jwmarc is offline
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Location: columbia
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Mein Auto: 740I sport
X3 Starter replacement

Well it wasnt easy and it was a pain to replace.... I thought about going in from the top but when I saw all the stuff I would have to remove I decided to try going at it from below ( BTW a BMW mechanic said that was the way).

1.First disco battery. Jack the car up at least 1 to two feet and remove the right front tire...

2. Disconnect the vacum hoses to the black cannister in front of the starter.. This is a device which controls the muffler decel flap... there is also a bracket which it is affixed to which should be removed... 13m sockets takes this out.

3. Remove the first small black wire to the right terminal of the solenoid and then the main battery connection... note there are two spade connctors for the primary wire connection. Leave the other small connection on the unit ( BLK/Yellow wire).

4. The bolts that hold the starter in are E-14 torx sockets.. and they are a pain to get at so you have to use the following... and probably get some help.

A. Use 3/8 in wobble extension bars with the E-14 socket to get at the closest torx head bolt. I used a set I purchased from Harbor Freight- 3 piece 2", 3" and 6 or 8" inch. $8.00.

B. The other bolt is a real pain and YOU MUST GET A 36" 3/8 extension bar if you want to be able to get at it... oh yeah you also need to get another wobble set extension bar... a total of six wobble extension and the 36" extension bar allowed me to angle in over the transmission and get to the far side torx bolt.. BTW I removed the 4 bolts holding the cross brace of the transmission ... this allowed the trans to flex down about 1-2" to get the long extensions up to the torx head blot. SUPPORT THE TRANS WITH A SMALL JACK!! I used a bottle jack. I had to get myself situated up by the starter and had a friend feed the multi-extension bar up to me and I blind guided the E-14 socket onto the head bolt.. make sure you helper keeps forward pressure on the rod extension assembly. Have the helper loosen via a 1/2 ratchet wrench while you keep the E-14 solidly planted on the head of the bolt. Hold it through the lossening process and keep your fingers on it to prevent it from getting away from you...

C. Now that both bolts are out you need to remove the bolt ( 13mm) that holds the dip stick bracket. Next you will have to pry up the dip stick bracket and hard pipe where it penetrates the engine case.. YOU DO NOT WANT TO COMPLETELY SEPARATE the pipe from the engine case.. You just need to get it up 2-3" so you have clearance to drop the starter down through the chassis.

D. Tap the starter with a long pry bar or screw driver towards the front of the car. Dont bang it out completely just enough to lossen the starter from the housing... NOTE there is a 3/4" long metal dowel that is at the top of the triangle 12 oclock 3 and 9 being the torx bolts. This dowel will support the starter until you are ready to work it free and drop it down through the chassis frame... and remember you have the BLK/yellow wire still attached.

5. Replacement is the reverse... BUT KEEP an EYE on the metal DOWEL PIN. I mounted it in the starter and pushed it flush with the front of the starter flang/ housing so I could push into the bell housing once I got the starter situated and had started the first Torx bolt in.. which took me a while since I just could not seem to get the right angle to mate up the bolt and start threading without cross threading. Once the bolt was started and tighten down I back it off a little so I could then make sure of the dowel pin alignment and pushed it in to seat into its mating hole on the trans case. This alignment and the final tightening of the first bolt would allow the blind bolt installation to go smoother... belive me I walked away 5-6 times during the tear down and probably 3-4 times during the build back....

6. The wobble extension rods and the 36" 3/8 extension rods were absolutely essential!!

7. BMW labor to replace $550. Starter replacement with core return $228.00. 36" extension bar $18.00 ( cheap ) and two sets of wobble extenisons ( Harbor Freight $8.00 apiece). 6 piece E-socket ( TORX) set $8.00 again Harbor freight.

8. Total time to replace 4.5 hours over 3 nights... not horrific but a challenged replacement.

9. Fired right up... less than a sec it caught as opposed to the 2-3 seconds it was taking before.
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:38 AM
X3-terrestrial's Avatar
X3-terrestrial X3-terrestrial is offline
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Mein Auto: '05 X3, '02 M3, '91 E30
Good job! Thanks for the instructions, will add this to the DIY thread.
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:47 PM
motorcyc motorcyc is offline
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replacing starter 2004 X3

This is how I changed the starter on my 2004 BMW X3.
First I searched on line for a TORX wrench. Found one and ordered it. when I got it,,, I cut it in half and welded them together in a slight angle. This was done because you need a slight angle so when you install the starte, it will give you more leverage when you tighten the Torx bolts.

After disconnecting the battery you then remove that vacuum cylinder in front of the starter. Remove the wires. Now with your new TORX 12 box end
1. Reach and find the bolts. They are right below the fire wall and behind the starter.
2. With the TORX wrench loosen both of them.
3. Now get a 3/8 ratchet wrench and remove the TORX bolts that you loosened. NEVER use the 3/8 wrench to loosen or tighten the TORX bolts, you will strip them. It is used to ratchet the bolts off and on. Rather than sit there for hours with the TORX wrench.
4. Shake the starter off.
5. Install the new one in the reversed order. Remember the 3/8 is only used when the bolts are loose.
This is what I used. E12 x E14 Torx Box Wrench. but you can get a set @

Or contact Manny @... webmaster@eautotools.com
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Old 04-29-2014, 09:33 PM
iknowcisco iknowcisco is offline
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Mein Auto: 2013 328i + 2006 X3
+1 to Motorcyc...

I followed a similar path for starter-swap on my wife's X3 - refusing to remove the air plenum, intake, etc. I did the CCV/oil seperator a few months ago and should be horse-whipped for not replacing starter when I was in there. The X3 has 120k miles, so I knew I was on borrowed time with the OEM starter. FWIW - the CCV/oil seperator is about a 4 of 10. A starter swap is a total PITA, and rates a 6 of 10 on my scale.

Here's my two-cents worth and the generic steps that led to me getting my F30 328 back so she could get returned to the road (and outta my car!):

**Hardware needed: 1-starter motor of your choice and budget. I prefer the good stuff, but to each his own. 1-3/8" SPLINE socket. Not a regular 3/8" socket, but one that will fit 12 point, 6 point, round etc. Autozone, Advanced, Napa sells them. They are in a kit. You'll also need many assorted wobble-extenstions and 3/8" universals. I had to create about 36" of extension to give me the leverage to get the two starter bolts out.

1. Disco battery.
2. Jack up and remove driver's side tire. Use jack stands and scotch the right rear tire. Let's be safe now.
3. Remove vaccuum tank in front of starter motor (careful - these small hoses could be brittle). 13mm nut holds the tank to the frame.
4. Remove the single 13mm bolt holding the dipstick tube. Gently remove the oil seperator drain-back tube. Move/position dipstick so it will not interfere with starter removal.
5. Using blind-luck, locate the farthest torx bolt sitting at the top of the trans housing. You'll have to feel for it. It will be very close to a hard-line for fuel. It will be the only torx bolt the 3/8" spline socket will fit. Take your overly bulky and insane contraption of wobble extensions that you created to give you about 36" of extension. This should put you along the drive shaft near the transfer case to give you the leverage you need to ease that bolt out.
6. The second and last bolt is easy to see and follows the same concept as step 5.
7. Disconnet the ignition and battery wires off the old starter and wiggle the old starter out. You'll need an 8mm and 10mm socket.
8. Stop now and inspect your replacement starter to make sure they are a spot-on match. Also stop to peek in at the fly wheel and make sure it's all kosher and not chipped-up.
9. Take a small wire brush and clean the mating surface on the flywheel housing and the mouting peg. This will make your life easier when the new one is married-up.
10. Installation is the reverse. You saved yourself a ton of money with this DIY and you didnt have to remove the intake!
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:33 PM
adsmond adsmond is offline
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Location: Fremont MI
Join Date: Jul 2014
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Mein Auto: 530i, X3
You should be nominated for sainthood. Thanks to you this repair went smoothly and it was much easier than it should have been. The new one was installed after work before dinner. You da man!
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:42 AM
Local Motion Local Motion is offline
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Location: Canada
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 2004 BMW X3
Hi There,
I have the same 2004 BMW X3 issue. I would like to tap the starter but I am not sure how to get to it. I just want to get it going so I can drop it off at the garage. Would you be able to help at all possibly with a picture. Is it possible to access without taking things apart? It is -40 outside today so I hope I can avoid this Thanks!
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:42 AM
jwmarc jwmarc is offline
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Location: columbia
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 740I sport
There is no way to access the starter from the engine bay ( X3 3.0 )... You have to get to it from under the vehicle..Removing the underpan is required .... with your temps I would recommend just having it towed....BTW I attempted to tap on my starter/ solenoid... didnt work...
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Old 07-03-2016, 03:43 PM
Selektor Selektor is offline
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Location: Portland
Join Date: Jul 2016
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Mein Auto: 545i
X3 Starter Replacement

Thanks to all who have posted on this topic before. It was a tremendous help and not sure if I could have done it without you!!

To confirm: this job is a complete pain in the butt.

However, I was able to tackle this job in one afternoon.

At first I thought is was going to be impossible to remove (and then replace) the E14 bolt at the top of the transmission.
I had to take a few breaks and come back to it. I may have learned to contort my body and bend my bones, but I was able to do it without an assistant.

Take a look at the extension setup that I used to get to that bolt on top!

I removed the transmission support and lower the tranny a couple of inches. This is the spot where I fed the long extension up to reach the top bolt - yes, all that distance. Unbelievable.

Once that bolt was removed, I knew it was all downhill from there, even though each and every step along the way seemed to be incredibly difficult.

It didn't help that my replacement starter was about 2 inches longer that the original, but I eventually got it in there and bolted it back in. Started right up!

As tough as this job is, it is doable. And well worth saving a lot of money!
All in, I was about $200 in comparison to the $800-$1000 at the dealership. Well worth the time and aggravation.
In the end, I have a big sense of accomplishment.
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