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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 06-18-2011, 01:23 PM
niceguymr niceguymr is offline
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How dirty does this engine air filter look to you?

I finally decided to replace the air filter in my wife's 2008 CPO X3 with 36k miles after realizing that I can't find anywhere in the car's service history that it's ever been replaced. I figured this is easy enough so why not. The car has had 2 dealer oil changes PLUS an INSPECTION 1 and I'm surprised that changing the air filter at least once / year or 15k miles is not SOP.

So for those of you wondering what an air filter looks like after 36k miles (I'm assuming it's never been changed), here's what I had. Yep, those are bug wings and other insect debris. This is exacly how it looked as I took it out. Honestly, I would have expected it to look a lot dirtier but having never done this before, I don't have anything in mind to compare by.


Last edited by niceguymr; 06-18-2011 at 01:24 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-18-2011, 02:04 PM
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Yeah, I had the same basic reaction when, purely by chance, I looked at the one in my X3 -- after only roughly 25k. I mean, I'd just had the vehicle in for routine maintenance (oil change), and I don't even think they pulled the thing out of the airbox to inspect it -- let alone change it -- 'cause like you, I found all kinds of debris (bugs, leaves, etc.) clogging it -- and laying in the bottom of the airbox.

Then I did some research and found that their recommended maintenance interval on the engine air filter is something silly, like 60,000 miles... If BMW isn't going to bother changing the air filter during the course of their free maintenance program, you'd think they could at least pull it, run some shop air through it to blow out the heavy stuff, then suck the debris out of the airbox for you...
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  #3  
Old 06-18-2011, 08:10 PM
shendrick shendrick is offline
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You might want to read the owner's manual carefully. Although a different vehicle, I found that my 2008 M3 manual says to change the air filter whenever you change the oil. My dealer wasn't going to do this at the 15K oil change interval - but I showed them the book and they did. You might want to check and see what the X3 manual says.
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  #4  
Old 06-19-2011, 04:20 AM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Great..just pulled a 18 hour shift and now I am going to have to go home and open the air filter. Got me wondering if they changed mine at 30k.
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  #5  
Old 06-19-2011, 05:06 AM
niceguymr niceguymr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shendrick View Post
You might want to read the owner's manual carefully. Although a different vehicle, I found that my 2008 M3 manual says to change the air filter whenever you change the oil. My dealer wasn't going to do this at the 15K oil change interval - but I showed them the book and they did. You might want to check and see what the X3 manual says.
I'm pretty sure that the maintenance schedule ony showed it only taking place at INSPECTION 2. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it probably was meant to be done at INSPECTION 1 as well and someone simply forgot to put it in there.

I'm pretty sure the M3 would have a more aggressive service/maintenance schedule than the X3 anyway.
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  #6  
Old 06-19-2011, 08:45 AM
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If anyone reads the Service and Warranty booklet, you'll find that the engine air filter element is replaced at Inspection II (not I) which means around 60k miles. I hold mine for 50k miles and don't notice any real drawbacks or deterioration. Perhaps a smidge (like, 0,1 l/10kkm) more fuel consumption but then again, it depends on environmental conditions. If there's a lot of construction or "dusty operating conditions" then replacing it more often would be prudent.
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  #7  
Old 06-19-2011, 03:39 PM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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+1 on the dusty conditions! If you do a lot of driving on dirt roads then it would be wise to change out the filter more frequently. Fortunately they are cheap and easy to access! BMW will not do it until the "book" calls for it.
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  #8  
Old 06-19-2011, 06:12 PM
codog2 codog2 is offline
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Did you take the foam pad off the back? That might not be the original. The originals come with a foam pad over the bottom. A lot of the aftermarket ones do not.
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  #9  
Old 06-19-2011, 06:25 PM
niceguymr niceguymr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codog2 View Post
Did you take the foam pad off the back? That might not be the original. The originals come with a foam pad over the bottom. A lot of the aftermarket ones do not.
As a newbie to DIY maintenance, I'm not sure what foam pad you're talking about. I can only assume it's the original as I have seen all the dealer service records since the car was manufactured and none of them indicated an air filter change. And since (as noted above) the manual doesn't recommend a new air filter until 'Inspection 2', I can't imagine that it's been done unbeknownced to me - but then again, anything is possible.

What I can tell you is this. I ordered the 'Genuine BMW / OEM' Air filter from ECS tuning and the part that I took out of the car looked pretty much identical to the part I received from ECS. The picture that you see above IS the bottom side of the filter facing up and that's exactly how it looked when I removed it. There was a little more debris that fell off the filter into the box which I removed with a vacuum. Aside from that, I didn't see anything else inside the air filter box when I removed the filter.
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  #10  
Old 06-19-2011, 06:30 PM
ThoreauHD ThoreauHD is offline
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It takes $10 and 60 seconds to change the air filter. Jeebus h christ what demographic are they selling to now...
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  #11  
Old 06-19-2011, 06:38 PM
codog2 codog2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niceguymr View Post
As a newbie to DIY maintenance, I'm not sure what foam pad you're talking about. I can only assume it's the original as I have seen all the dealer service records since the car was manufactured and none of them indicated an air filter change. And since (as noted above) the manual doesn't recommend a new air filter until 'Inspection 2', I can't imagine that it's been done unbeknownced to me - but then again, anything is possible.

What I can tell you is this. I ordered the 'Genuine BMW / OEM' Air filter from ECS tuning and the part that I took out of the car looked pretty much identical to the part I received from ECS. The picture that you see above IS the bottom side of the filter facing up and that's exactly how it looked when I removed it. There was a little more debris that fell off the filter into the box which I removed with a vacuum. Aside from that, I didn't see anything else inside the air filter box when I removed the filter.
my 05 has this foam pad attached to the bottom. Perhaps the 07+ are different.
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  #12  
Old 06-19-2011, 06:53 PM
niceguymr niceguymr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codog2 View Post
my 05 has this foam pad attached to the bottom. Perhaps the 07+ are different.
Yep. Going back to the ECS website it looks like there is a different filter for 2 different engines (N52 & M54). Looks like the M54 engine uses the filter with the foam pad.
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  #13  
Old 06-19-2011, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThoreauHD View Post
It takes $10 and 60 seconds to change the air filter. Jeebus h christ what demographic are they selling to now...
The "keep the car a few years then trade it in before maintenance is necessary" demographic.
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  #14  
Old 06-19-2011, 08:04 PM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
The "keep the car a few years then trade it in before maintenance is necessary" demographic.
Already told the wife that before daughter can turn the key (or press the start button) to a car she must:
  • Know how to change a tire
  • Know how to change oil and air filter
  • jump start a car properly
  • Have a well maintained emergency kit and how to use.
  • And finally push the car 5-10 feet on a level surface while in neutral. She needs to understand how heavy and potentially dangerous this much weight can do.
  • one more thing, change and gap plugs

She may not need to do any of these things, but having an understanding what is involved will also keep her from taken advantage from a repair shop when she is on her own.

Wife agreed of course since her Dad made her do the same things and more.
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Last edited by Evlengr; 06-19-2011 at 08:05 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-19-2011, 10:48 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codog2 View Post
.... my 05 has this foam pad attached to the bottom.
The M54 engine uses all 3 varieties (black foam pad, white cotton felt pad, no pad) depending on the O.E. supplier.

Well, actually it's not that simple, as Mann can supply both a black pad model and a white pad model.

Mahle I think are generally all paper, no pad.

Beck Arnley have a black foam pad one.

I have used all 3 - I'm from the Thoreau school of just change the darn thing every couple of years.
(Doesn't matter if it really needed changing, or what BMW thinks is the change interval.)

The ones with no pad have more paper element, of course, so they are all the same depth.
It wouldn't be a good idea for anyone to tear off a pad as the element might not fit as snugly in the air box.

BITOG forum members debate the virtues of paper vs. cotton vs. foam for air filters.

It's a case of the right balance between acceptable filtering without impeding the air flow too much.

Paper is thought to be the best from a filtering point of view, cotton from a flow perspective.

Not sure if BMW engineers were hedging their bets, or thought that the M54 applications could need a foam or cotton pad to slightly reduce intake noise.

They could have changed their minds over the production cycle - dunno.

Can't see why the same variations wouldn't exist for the different shaped filter for the N52 engines.

Maybe by 2007 they had decided that paper was the best medium on its own.
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  #16  
Old 06-20-2011, 12:58 AM
spokelizard spokelizard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evlengr View Post
Already told the wife that before daughter can turn the key (or press the start button) to a car she must:
  • Know how to change a tire
  • Know how to change oil and air filter
  • jump start a car properly
  • Have a well maintained emergency kit and how to use.
  • And finally push the car 5-10 feet on a level surface while in neutral. She needs to understand how heavy and potentially dangerous this much weight can do.
  • one more thing, change and gap plugs

She may not need to do any of these things, but having an understanding what is involved will also keep her from taken advantage from a repair shop when she is on her own.

Wife agreed of course since her Dad made her do the same things and more.
How about adding:
  • Know how to drive a manual transmission
I had an interesting discussion with the sales guy (CA?) at the dealer recently. Told me he insisted daughter learn to drive a stick shift. She hated him for it, now (8 years later) she is so grateful. Also, it was nice when her date couldn't drive her car.

Also, change plugs is fine, I thought gapping was long gone.
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  #17  
Old 06-20-2011, 08:22 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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+1 on the manual transmission!! Taught both my daughters to drive a manual transmission--at the cost of a clutch . Both were not happy with that, but knew that was the price of the driver's license. Both have since thanked me many times and vowed their kids would learn on a stick as well. I agree with Evl's list, but not the changing spark plugs. On a lawn mower yes, but a car -- I don't think so. I cannot forsee a situation where changing plugs would be necessary outside of a shop setting. Just my thoughts.
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  #18  
Old 06-20-2011, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThoreauHD View Post
It takes $10 and 60 seconds to change the air filter. Jeebus h christ what demographic are they selling to now...
I think we all know how to change an engine oil filter; I change them on my other vehicles at a regular interval of ~12k miles (which, as far as I know, is the conventional wisdom on the replacement interval for engine air filters).

The complaint is the BMW isn't exactly forthcoming about the recommended change interval for this item, which you will sadly discover upon challenging the service department about why it wasn't changed at ~12k (or 24k ... or 36k .... etc., etc., etc., up to 60k). So like all their other maintenance intervals, this one is not designed to truly maintain the vehicle, but to save BMW money on their free maintenance program. In fact, this one is set to lie conveniently outside of the bounds of their free maintenance plan... And it's nothing, as you observed, but a crummy engine air filter...

Incidentally, the lowest price I've been able to find an OEM engine air filter for an X3 is ~$21, so they ain't exactly as cheap (or as readily available, like at Wal*Mart) as those for my old GMC Jimmy... Yeah, yeah, I know: it's a BMW, not a GMC. Still...
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  #19  
Old 06-20-2011, 12:58 PM
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Just blow the debris off with compress air
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  #20  
Old 06-20-2011, 01:04 PM
noego noego is online now
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Just blow the debris off with compress air
that won't void the warranty will it?
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  #21  
Old 06-21-2011, 08:57 AM
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that won't void the warranty will it?
No. Cleaning the air filter with compress air will not void warranty
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  #22  
Old 06-21-2011, 09:21 AM
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But probably wise to just do it in the reverse direction of normal airflow?

That is, only from the top (sealing edge) down.

If you blow from the bottom edge up you could drive debris into the paper or right through it.

As K&N clearly advises against using compressed air on their filters (cotton could become dislodged or matted), the same could apply to any X3 filter that has the white cotton pad attached.
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  #23  
Old 06-21-2011, 03:56 PM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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+1 on vaccuming from the opposite direction of air flow. I use the round brush attachment on my ShopVac to clean off the surface dirt (and leaves) on my K&N and factory filters. I don't feel it is a problem because I am taking out the dirt the same way it came in and not sucking it on through the filter medium.

Last edited by UncleJ; 06-21-2011 at 03:58 PM.
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  #24  
Old 06-26-2011, 07:31 PM
bluskye bluskye is offline
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Interval is 30k or so. yes, it gets pretty dirty. Good time to vacuum the airbox. I found tons of crap in the box. Do it once/year.
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niceguymr View Post
I finally decided to replace the air filter in my wife's 2008 CPO X3 with 36k miles after realizing that I can't find anywhere in the car's service history that it's ever been replaced. I figured this is easy enough so why not. The car has had 2 dealer oil changes PLUS an INSPECTION 1 and I'm surprised that changing the air filter at least once / year or 15k miles is not SOP.

So for those of you wondering what an air filter looks like after 36k miles (I'm assuming it's never been changed), here's what I had. Yep, those are bug wings and other insect debris. This is exacly how it looked as I took it out. Honestly, I would have expected it to look a lot dirtier but having never done this before, I don't have anything in mind to compare by.

I just cleaned mine out. It looked much like yours from the picture, BUT, when I tapped it firmly on the ground several times it was unbelievable the amount of fine crap that came out of it. If you still have the old one bang it on the ground and see how much stuff you knock out of it. I think this will prompt most anyone to quickly come to the conclusion that the air filters need cleaned or replaced much more frequently than 95 % are currently are.
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