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E36 General discussion and technical help for (E36) 1992-1999 3 series cars. 318, 323, 325, 328.

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Old 04-16-2012, 10:54 PM   #1
foaxaca
 
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'96 328is starter removal FAIL!

I recently embarked on a DIY effort to remove the starter on my daughter's '96 328is. I began by following the DIY walkthrough on the Pelican Parts site which was obviously for an older model E36 because the layout of the '96 under the intake manifold is very different. It was a good thing I went for it because I found a torn crankcase vent valve hose and two crumbling vacuum hoses. What the DIY walkthrough did NOT tell me was that the last two bolts that hold the starter to the transmission are NOT accessible from the engine bay. They are so far back that no wrench/ratchet that I can think of using fits between the firewall and the bold heads. In addition, these bolts are Torx head which means you need an E12 size external Torx socket which I had to find and purchase. After consulting with a local starter/alternator shop, they suggested that I "loosen the transmission mount to drop it a bit and then use a long extension to loosen them from the back." Seriously!? Has anyone done this job before? I'm about ready to tow the car to the starter/alternator shop and just have them take the starter off, rebuild it and reinstall it. I have no problem reinstalling the intake manifold and everything else.
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Old 04-18-2012, 05:38 PM   #2
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I had replaced the starter on my 98 two years ago and found the same problem. i had found it easier to cut the tabs on the starter and just replace the starter and bolts. the designers of the engine apparently didnt realize how close the firewall is to the starter bolts, and when i purchaced a new starter they redesigned it to use locking nuts instead of the torx bolts. both starter and bolts/nuts cost about 300$
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:21 AM   #3
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Angry

I bought a standard flex head ratchet that was way too big and did not come close to fitting between the firewall and the Torx bolt. I then ordered a closed end ratcheting "Gearwrench" Torx wrench that fit fine but was way too short to generate the amount of leverage needed to budge the Torx bolt. I could order another longer wrench but I've had it with this project. I'm not going to get into dropping the transmission so I am towing the car to a local starter/alternator repair/rebuild shop and have them take the starter off, rebuild it and reinstall it. I'll have it towed back and I'll hook everything else back up. Some real moron designed this - Torx bolts and facing them the wrong way, requiring you to remove a multitude of parts including the intake manifold to get to it!!
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Old 04-22-2012, 05:48 PM   #4
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Ended up having the car towed to Fontana Alternator and Starter out here in San Bernardino County and had them pull the starter, rebuild it and reinstall it. Took them a couple of hours of labor plus parts and came out to $220 for everything. Towed it back home and started reinstalling everything. Biggest challenge was reconnecting the two vacuum hoses that come off the underside of the intake manifold. The originals were as short as possible to make their connection so to leave them the same length would have meant dropping the intake manifold all the way in and then trying to reach in and find them and connect them. No way. I replaced them with much longer hoses which allowed me to only partially drop the intake manifold in, connect the vacuum hoses and then drop the manifold all the way. Be sure to take advantage of having the manifold out to check/change the crankcase vent valve hoses as well. Another tip is to take off the "tray" that is over the blower fan and detach the wiring harness from it first. That plus taking off the fuel rail and detaching the fuel lines from it give you all the access you need to get at that last manifold nut. I also took off the front bracket that the underside of the manifold attaches to which allows you to tilt the manifold up, let the CVV clear and then bring the back underside of the manifold out from under the rear bracket. I labelled every connector I disconnected with masking tape and wrote on the tape what it attached to. I also marked every hose with colored marker and marked what they attach to with the same color. Be sure to spin any hose clamps around so you can reach them to tighten them when you reattach the hoses. Be sure to check the boot between the MAF sensor and the throttle body for any cracks. Be careful detaching the hose that connects to the opening on the bottom of the boot or you will tear the boot and have to replace it. Disconnecting the fuel lines from the fuel rail is a pain. Apparently, BMW has a special tool for this but a small thin screwdriver can be used to push the 4 locking tabs on the inside of the fitting to be able to remove the fuel lines. Have something ready to plug them because fuel will come out. I recommend opening up the gas cap and letting the car sit for 24 hours to relieve as much fuel pressure before this step. Those lines need to be plugged to make sure no fuel leaks out while you are working. My solution was a couple of #2 pencils that fit perfectly. Every nut, bolt, washer, etc. went into a labeled zip lock bag so I could track where they went. As I reinstalled everything, each bag went into the trash. No leftover bags = no leftover parts. Finished it up today and it started right up. Rough at first probably due to air in the fuel system. After a couple of minutes it started running smoothly but started getting steam rising from the rear of the engine. Radiator fluid leaked out onto different areas of the engine each time it was towed and that was what was steaming as it evaporated. Check your coolant level after letting the car warm up enough for the thermostat to open. Hope these tips help. Gotta highly recommend Fontana Starter and Alternator for their work.

Last edited by foaxaca; 04-22-2012 at 05:53 PM..
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:00 AM   #5
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Gladys hear you got it working!
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:10 AM   #6
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One glitch popped up last night. My daughter was driving the car home and the CEL went on and then went off. I have never heard of a CEL going off on its own (wouldn't that be great!) so I pulled the code with my Peake reader. I got code 0E which is the intake manilfold air temp sensor and code 14 - check engine lamp. I figured that the connector to the intake manifold air temp sensor must have come loose which was what had happened. Code 14 means that the CEL bulb went out! That's a first for me. Was tempted for just a second to leave it alone but it throws its own code so when she takes it to be smogged it may show up. Ordered that bulb and several others for the cluster. Figured since I am going to pull it, might as well change some of the others that get lots of use - speedo, gas gauge, turn signals, etc. Otherwise, car is running like new.
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