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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 08-06-2011, 06:03 PM
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Recommendation to clean your power steering fluid reservoir circular wire mesh filter

This is merely posted to intelligently discuss the current recommendation to 'flush' your M54 I6 engine power steering fluid reservoir at every oil change (or so); and, more importantly, the specific purported need to clean your power steering fluid reservoir circular wire mesh filter periodically.

Details on what 'can' happen if that fine mesh filter were to clog are posted today over here for the I6 engine:
- M54 engine power steering whine solved in detail



The tribal recommendations for cleaning currently are as follows:
Quote:
- Power steering: Dexron III ATF Bentley page 020-20. (realistically, that means Dexron VI ATF because all GM Dexron III licenses expired at the end of 2006 & were not renewed by GM). Replacement Interval: Bentley says it's "permanently filled"; but most of us would replace the hygroscopic power steering fluid at 30,000 miles; some recommend removing the 8 ounces (250 ml) in the reservoir at every oil change - and removing the T20 Torx bolt on the permanent reservoir screen every 5 years to clean the circular filter more thoroughly to prevent cavitation - and to replace the power steering cap o-ring every five years to prevent misting. [Volume: about 2 quarts to replace; otherwise about 1 quart to flush the reservoir twice & clean the filter screen; the fluid level should be between the MIN/MAX marks on the dipstick].

Last edited by bluebee; 08-06-2011 at 06:06 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-06-2011, 06:18 PM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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Interesting. So a T20 holds down the mesh "filter" which is cylindrical in shape. Does it fit easily without damage thru the lid orifice? Cause once loose, you'd need to carefully tease it out without too much disturbace, so any deposits in it come out instead of dropping right down to the pump.

Oh, and ++100! on the orifices! Confusing which orifice to use can land you in big problems indeed!!
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  #3  
Old 08-07-2011, 10:37 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
So a T20 holds down the mesh "filter" which is cylindrical in shape.
Yes.

Here is a picture of the filter inside an E46 from this web site:
- BMW Tech Tips - Power Steering Problems/Failure


Here is a closeup in-situ picture of the circular 'cleanable' mesh filter from this thread:
- Looks like PS systems are the hot topic today



Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
Does it fit easily without damage thru the lid orifice?
No.

Unfortunately. It won't fit. At least on my 2002 M54. I tried.

Here is a picture from the thread where I tried to figure it all out for myself:
- What volume of power steering fluid is needed for the reservoir & a flush (1)



Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
Cause once loose, you'd need to carefully tease it out without too much disturbance
That's a very good point that you don't want to disturb the crud just to have it subsequently fall into the power steering pump!

To prevent this (and to remove the screw), we first gently REMOVE all the power steering fluid (most people suggest a turkey baster).

I measured my removed ATF fluid at about 250 ml (8 ounces) which left only a little on the bottom that I couldn't suction out.



Then, I magnetized the T20 Torx driver to remove the center screw:


At this point, the screen is loosened such that it can easily be seen whether the grid is clogged or not.

In my case, it wasn't clogged - so - there was little reason to remove the power steering reservoir for more intensive cleaning.

However, to your excellent point, if the screen does have crud on it (as was the case with the original reference), it would probably be safer to REMOVE the power steering reservoir at this point to clean off the vehicle.

In fact, that's exactly what JimLev did as shown by his quote below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
Edjack had mentioned in a post about draining the pump and cleaning the reservoir with gasoline. You'd be surprised at the crap that the screen collects. No need to replace the reservoir, a cleaning is all that's needed.

You can ... remove the reservoir, unscrew the filter and flush with gas.

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Last edited by bluebee; 08-07-2011 at 03:42 PM.
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  #4  
Old 08-07-2011, 08:30 PM
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THanks for sharing all this! Great stuff.

I did a complete change over (2 litres) at 30K miles and now replace the fluid in the resevoir with every oil change (7K miles). It's pretty simple to use my vacuum extractor to suck out the ATF when it's already there for the engine oil.
Just did an oil change and PS fluid change and the ATF from the power steering was still a nice reddish pink coming out.
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  #5  
Old 08-10-2011, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djstrachan View Post
I did a complete change over (2 litres) at 30K miles and now replace the fluid in the resevoir with every oil change (7K miles).
Good work!

I think if we all added more frequent power steering fluid, hose, and filter maintenance to our regular schedule, we'd have fewer failures like this one today:
- E46 (1999 - 2006) > Now the power steering pump goes up.
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  #6  
Old 08-10-2011, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Good work!

I think if we all added more frequent power steering fluid, hose, and filter maintenance to our regular schedule, we'd have fewer failures like this one today:
- E46 (1999 - 2006) > Now the power steering pump goes up.
THanks and agreed. NO guarantee things won't fail but it certainly reduces the chances.

Unfortunately, there are lots who believe the "lifetime" fluid myth put forward by BMW. I had to work pretty hard to convince my SA that I was serious about frequent fluid changes. He spoke the company line at first but eventually agreed with me (confidentially) that there is no such thing as lifetime fluids. He changes all his fluids regularly on his BMW.
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2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim
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  #7  
Old 08-10-2011, 12:22 PM
PaceBMW of Mamaroneck PaceBMW of Mamaroneck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djstrachan View Post
He spoke the company line at first but eventually agreed with me (confidentially) that there is no such thing as lifetime fluids. He changes all his fluids regularly on his BMW.
haha if you dig at em enough youll eventually get the truth. if only someone could check there fluids after some mileage on the supposedly lifetime fluid vehicle, then we could test it
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  #8  
Old 08-10-2011, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaceBMW of Mamaroneck View Post
haha if you dig at em enough youll eventually get the truth. if only someone could check there fluids after some mileage on the supposedly lifetime fluid vehicle, then we could test it
I know how dark and "polluted" mine was after 30k miles. Can't imagine how bad it would be after 80 or 100k!! It has to have an impact on component life.

Ps hope you're not breaking any dealer code by posting this?!
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2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim
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  #9  
Old 08-10-2011, 05:22 PM
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For the record, this is a good thread for replacing the power steering hoses:
E39 (1997 - 2003) > DIY: Power Steering Hoses on your 540i

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  #10  
Old 08-11-2011, 04:14 AM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
For the record, this is a good thread for replacing the power steering hoses:
E39 (1997 - 2003) > DIY: Power Steering Hoses on your 540i
The person who started that thread didn't replace his hoses; he just trimmed the leaking ends by about 1/2 inch. Though it apparently worked well for him, it may not be a good idea to reuse older hoses that are hardened by age or damaged by exposure to other engine bay fluids. Shortening the hoses could put extra stress on them and cause them to fail sooner. Besides, new hoses (except for the pressure hose) aren't that expensive.

Starless' excellent DIY thread, with large pictures and illustrations, makes a far better starting point for E46 owners wanting to replace their power steering hoses and reservoir.

Last edited by G. P. Burdell; 08-11-2011 at 04:27 AM.
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  #11  
Old 08-12-2011, 08:17 AM
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this sure makes me want to clean my PS filter.

seeing that i am already going to be replacing the VCG and oil filter housing gasket, i might as well do the PS filter while im there.
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  #12  
Old 08-14-2011, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenj View Post
this sure makes me want to clean my PS filter
Good!

For the record, this user also plans on replacing his PS reservoir soon!
- E46 (1999 - 2006) > Replaced the power steering pump

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemeeup View Post
Ok, I replaced the power steering pump on my 2001 330ci. It really wasnt too painful, my son and I were done in less than 2 hours, taking our time, and cleaning the parts as we took them off. Here are a few things I learned while doing this job. Hope it will help you all that are planning to do this in the near future.

1. Dont assume that just because you hear your steering making a groaning noise under the hood, that it is the power steering pump, my case was the resevoir was gunked up and wasnt circulating the fluid, (I already bought the pump, so I just replaced it for peace of mind)
2. When taking the pump off, loosen the 3 bolts that hold the pully on before loosening the tensioner.
3. Have a drain pan underneath with you, and rags, because no matter what, the lines are going to drip.
4. Clean the resevoir, the filter gets gummed up and doesnt circulate the fluid. Also clean both the hoses that are connected underneath. I just used carb and choke cleaner, it seemed to work fine.
5. The pump has 3 torx screws holding it to the bracket, there is one separate bracket that goes from the pump to the side of the engine block, I found that taking the 13mm bolt from the bracket to the block was easier than trying to unscrew the torx screw on the back of the pump.
6. After undoing the high pressure line, remember to put a new "o" ring back on the fitting before reassembling back into new pump.
7. When you are done bolting everything back up, wipe everything clean, so you can check for possible leaks when you start the car.
8. I used Lucas semi-synthetic transmission fluid, as a replacement fluid, it seems to work fine.
9. When you put the fluid in the resevoir, leave the cap off, so when you first start the car, you can see if the fluid is circulating, and there are bubbles working their way out of the system.
10. Slowly, turn the steering wheel back and forth to help the bubbles in the system out of the system.
11. Take your Bimmer out for a short ride, working the steering wheel back and forth to circulate the fluid. Bring it back home, and recheck the fluid (you probably will need to add some fluid by now).
12. Button everything back up, recheck for leaks, and you should be "good to go"

Hope this helped. Good luck.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemeeup View Post
Point well taken, I will change the resevoir with a new one. Thanks for the suggestions.
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  #13  
Old 08-15-2011, 08:43 AM
Variocam Variocam is offline
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Bluebee-

Great information! I thought I was way ahead of the game through my habit of replacing the power steering fluid in my cars at about 60K, but I see there are people far more anal than me!
I'll be sure to check the filter next time I flush the PS fluid, which will probably be at the next oil change.

In reading your posts, and the incredible amount of detail you put into your DIY descriptions, I had assumed you were a professional mechanic. I've noticed you often use the word "we" when describing your work on your projects. Do you usually do your DIY's as part of a group of people? Just curious...
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Variocam View Post
I had assumed you were a professional mechanic. I've noticed you often use the word "we" when describing your work on your projects. Do you usually do your DIY's as part of a group of people? Just curious...
Heh heh.

I'm an unemployed program manager who has never worked on a car before in my life.

But, I have one strength.
  • I know how to use the search button & I ask questions if that fails
And, I have one useful habit:
  • I write up the answers so that others, like me, don't have to do the search and ask the questions!
And, I have one personality trait:
  • I'm not afraid to make mistakes (and I make every one in the book!).
Quote:
- How not to do an E39 gravity feed oil change (1)
- How not to do an E39 vacuum extraction oil change (1)
- How not to repair the E39 leather seat stitching (1)
- How not to remove the mass air flow sensor (MAF) spring clip (1)
- How not to remove the large radiator hose connector spring clips (1)
- How not to repair your E39 trunk wiring loom (1) [ how to do it right (1) ]
- How not to remove the nipple from the E39 radiator (broken radiator nipple)
- How not to put your E39 fan clutch back on (crooked fan clutch nut)
- How not to bleed your E39 cooling system (1) (broken bleeder screw)
- How not to replace your E39 thermostat (thermostat loom misplaced)
- How not to remove your E39 expansion tank (broken expansion tank nipple & cn90 repair)
- How not to replace your battery (1) (2) (3)
- How not to install rain sensors on the windshield glass (1)
- How not to remove the E39 MID (1) (2)
- How NOT to change the E39 battery (1) (2) (3)
- How not to install rain sensors on windshield glass (1)
- How not to replace your FSU/FSR (1)
- How not to replace your windshield wipers (1)
- How not to siphon gasoline out of your fuel tank (1)
In fact, my very first post on Bimmerfest shows my strength/habit/trait:
- One user's example of a four wheel complete brake job (1)
And so did other classic quests, for example:
- One user's example of repairing the ABS/BRAKE/DSC trifecta (1)
- One user's example of total electrical failure, alternator repair (1) (2)
- One user's example of a broken headlight adjuster repair (1)
- One user's example of a missing jack pad repair (1)
- One user's example of the quest for the best windshield wiper refills (1)
- One user's example of a driver seat control switch failure repair (1)
etc.

Plus. I know how to spell, type, and post pictures!
- How to post, shrink, modify, edit, annotate, merge, & upload pictures for posting here (1)

BTW, 'we' is all of us!

I'm a firm believer that the tribe knows everything, collectively.

So, when I say 'we', I mean the 'tribal we'. You and me included!


Last edited by bluebee; 08-15-2011 at 09:22 AM.
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  #15  
Old 08-15-2011, 11:43 AM
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Scott ZHP Scott ZHP is offline
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Is Dexron VI really the fluid of choice? My local shop recommends some frightfully expensive stuff by Pentosin (CHF11). It's like 30 bucks a liter.
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Last edited by Scott ZHP; 08-15-2011 at 11:55 AM.
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  #16  
Old 08-15-2011, 12:15 PM
vintagez vintagez is offline
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Dex III not Dex VI for power steering applications, I use the Mobile 1 ATF version.
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  #17  
Old 08-15-2011, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagez View Post
Dex III not Dex VI for power steering applications
GM introduced Dexron VI in 2005 & stopped licensing Dexron III in 2006 (and stopped renewing licenses); so, if you see DEXRON III on the label today, it's my understanding it's either:
  • Very old ATF, or,
  • An illegal label, or,
  • A meaningless label
If someone has better data about the legal status of Dexron III, please advise over here:
- What is the current legal status of Dexron III ATF?

Quote:
All DEXRON-III licenses expired at the end of 2006, and will not be renewed. Beyond that date, General Motors will only support the use of DEXRON-VI fluids for use in Hydra-Matic transmissions.[1] Fluids claiming DEXRON-III type performance continue to be sold under abbreviated names such as Dex/Merc and D/M, however, since the DEXRON-III licensing system no longer exists, these fluids are not regulated by GM in any way.
See also the dozen bmw fluids one-page glovebox printout (1)

Last edited by bluebee; 08-15-2011 at 01:41 PM.
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  #18  
Old 10-05-2011, 09:35 AM
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For the record, I updated the 'what parts to buy' thread today with concurrent power steering & oil change parts lists:
- Recommended parts kits for overhauling cooling, drive belts, CCV/ICV, VANOS, OFH, PSP

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  #19  
Old 10-23-2011, 06:48 PM
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For the record, this BMW was caught today leaking a rust-colored fluid, and the power steering fluid reservoir was empty ...
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > What is this leak?

It may become the poster child for why you want to consider emptying & refilling your power steering fluid at every oil change ...

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  #20  
Old 11-04-2011, 06:01 PM
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  #21  
Old 12-25-2011, 10:03 AM
yamenusbmw yamenusbmw is offline
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Where should the fluid level be on the gauge cap?
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  #22  
Old 12-26-2011, 02:42 AM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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Between the first and second notch or step. If you drive sedately, you can take it up to level with the second notch. If you drive like a maniac and fill it to that level, you will probably need to do the Sock Mod to keep the fluid from splashing all over your shiny engine.
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Last edited by jcourcoul; 12-26-2011 at 02:44 AM.
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  #23  
Old 12-26-2011, 03:52 AM
todd92 todd92 is offline
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Replacing power steering fluid every oil change.

Textbook over-maintaining. Even 30,000 miles is overkill. For the OP, your 'tribal' advice is clueless. ATF is not hygroscopic.
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  #24  
Old 12-26-2011, 06:11 AM
mujjuman mujjuman is offline
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Hmm thanks for posting up a pic of the filter.
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  #25  
Old 12-26-2011, 06:13 PM
marlin1881 marlin1881 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todd92 View Post
Replacing power steering fluid every oil change.

Textbook over-maintaining. Even 30,000 miles is overkill. For the OP, your 'tribal' advice is clueless. ATF is not hygroscopic.
todd92, I have to disagree with you. "clueless" is not in the spirit of the discussions we have around here. "overkill" is a relative term which may, or may not, line up with how you do things.

My motto has always been to change fluids while they are still clean. Some people wait until the fluid "is a bit dirty", then change it. Common sense says that if the fluid is dirty, it is abrasive. That causes wear.

And, by spending a few extra $$ for preventative maintenance, that's worth a lot in peace of mind. Power steering fluid is cheap. bluebee offers some great advice and provides some great documentation. Thanks, bluebee.
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