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Date: Sun, 23 Nov 1997
Subject: Lets VDO gauge my '97 318tis: Part 3

For info on the 328is install, click here.
PART #1, click here
PART #2, click here

In part 3 (the conclusion) we will get the two sender wires into the engine compartment, install and wire the senders etc... Here we go.

To get the two sending units wires into the engine compartment you have to remove the engine compartment mounted car battery and its case. On the passenger side remove the glove box and under dash panel, which you really had to do in part 2, to get to the alarm connector purple wire (gagepow.gif).

There is a rubber access point (to the engine compartment) just above the carpet (on the right side) where it ends under the dash. In this rubber access point there are several unused dimples. Tape the sending unit wire one at a time to a long # 2 phillips screwdriver and push it through one of the dimples, or push the screwdriver through from the engine compartment, tape the wire to the screwdriver and pull it through. Once you get both wires into the engine compartment run them up an along the existing cable run that heads toward the front of the car. Ty wrap as you go keeping the wires in line with each other. When you reach the front of the shock tower (shkwir.gif), head left toward the engine ty wrapping to the existing wire that runs behind the windshield washer fluid reservoir.

The oil temperature sending wire will run down the fender well toward the oil drain plug and the oil pressure wire will run over towards the oil filter housing. Lets do the oil temperature wire first. From the fluid reservoir, ty wrapping as you go, run the wire down to the large lower brown ground cable which goes between the body and passenger side front engine mount. Continue up the top of the engine mount and pass the wire through the rear most gap between the engine mount and the engine. Shape, cut to length and install a 1/4 inch female tab connector. Loosen the oil filter housing top cap (oilcap.gif) using a 14 segment oil filter wrench.

This lets the oil drain to the sump. Remove the oil drain plug using a 17mm socket and drain the oil. Replace the oil drain plug with the oil temperature sending unit. The correct torque for the sending unit is 11 Ft-lb. If you over torque, as you approach 18 Ft-lb you will take the head right off the sending unit. Myself and many others have been there. Connect the 1/4 inch tab connector to the sending unit. Now lets do the oil pressure wire. Run the wire towards the oil filter housing ty wrapping as you go to the existing fabric covered small hose. When you reach the oil filter housing area leave about three feet of wire and tuck it out of the way for now.

Installing the oil pressure sender, without a guide, was a bitch. If you attempt this project (although easier) you will see what I mean. I have easily spent sixty hours or more and four attempts to resolve the problems doing this. Now that I know how, I could easily do it in an hour or so. I was told by VDO that the pressure sender adaptor would work with the sending unit and angle adapter. Not totally true.

On the first install everything looked good. After a few days I noticed a small amount of oil on the garage floor. It looked like the leak was where the angle adapter met the oil filter housing. It is very difficult to see whats going on down there. When John Firestone came over to visit we redid this connection point. No cigar.

I redid a third time. No cigar. There is no room for a torque wrench. I ended up over tightening the angle adaptor bolt stripping the thread in the oil filter housing. Now what. There is about an inch of thread in the oil filter housing. I designed a thinner non-angled adapter which would end up with the same amount of thread that I started with. You can use the VDO angle adapter. My machinist noticed that the female M10x1 hole in the VDO angle adapter and the M10x1 male thread on the VDO pressure adapter hose were both straight threads. That was the source of the leak, not where the adapter met the oil filter housing.

VDO has yet to answer my queries on this issue. I will not give up with VDO. Will let you know what I find out. I redid the M10 connections using Whitlam pipe thread compound, stock code IGB $7.50 retail. This stuff really works. No leaks. I found this product doing plumbing work on my home. Much better than teflon tape.

You have to remove the BMW oil pressure switch and install the VDO oil pressure / switch sending unit in its place. To do this you basically have to remove all of the parts necessary to access the lower back side of the oil filter housing with the tools you happen to have. Undo the electrical connectors from everything in the area. Undo the small rubber hoses that are in the way. Loosen the hose clamps at the intake manifold and the air filter housing, remove the bellows assembly and set it back out of the way. Unclip and remove the top of the air filter housing. Remove the air filter housing by loosening the two 10mm nuts holding the air filter housing, which also hold the cruise control unit and undo the pinch clip on the left of the housing which you discover once the housing is removed. Via the T30 Torx socket (male) remove the module at the front of the intake manifold. Via the 5mm allen remove the module at the lower front of the manifold.

Remove the oil filter housing cap and the oil filter. Plug or tape over the created opening. If you don't, you will definitely drop something down there. Unplug the connector from the stock BMW oil pressure switch (the wire on this connector will be connected to the VDO sending unit warning contact) using two long screwdrivers. Remove the stock BMW oil pressure switch using a 24mm combination wrench. Attach the pressure adapter hose to the angle adapter using the Whitlam pipe thread compound. You want the M10 hole of the angle adapter facing toward the front of the car. Place the angle adapter bolt through the angle adapter with a crush washer at each side of the adapter. Tape the bolt and the front crush washer loosely to the adapter. You are about to find out why I recommended having one of those pick up things. Mount this assembly to the oil filter housing using whatever method works for you. Small hands would be a plus. Once you engage the adapter bolt to the housing, position the adapter so that the hose angles ~20 degrees toward the drivers side. The crush washer fits in the recess of the oil filter housing. Take care to position properly and tighten using a 19mm or 3/4 inch combination wrench. Make sure the crush washer is not on the edge of the recess.

The sender mounts to the intake manifold bolt (11mm nut) located under the throttle cable and ~1 1/2 inch towards the rear of the car. (sender.gif) Attach the sending unit to the pressure adapter hose with the supplied fitting using the Whitlam pipe thread compound. Position the sending unit so that the warning contact of the sender faces down. The sender mounting clamp flat side will be facing up. Tap in or cut the wire from the stock BMW oil pressure switch. Prepare and attach to the VDO sending unit warning contact. Route and ty wrap the oil pressure sending wire to the sending unit and attach. Mount the sender. Install and connect all of the removed items. The oil filter cap torque is 25NM x .7374 = 18.44 Ft-lb

Do not get caught up in the moment. Replace the engine oil (5 liters = 5.28 quarts). Start the engine. The oil pressure will be ~ 50 PSI at idle. The oil temperature will be ~190 degrees after a 15 minute drive. Check for leaks. The voltmeter reading will be ~14 volts driving down the road. If all the above happens.

Good Job! FLI BMW

VDO Guages installed in 1997 318ti with custom mounting panel:

VDO Gauges

For info on the 328is install, click here.
PART #1, click here
PART #2, click here

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