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From digest.v7.n47 Mon Aug 4 22:26:51 1997
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 20:33:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: <E36>Maintenance Tips Reply

Kil wrote:

>Hi folks,
>Can anyone give this newbie bemmer some guidance? I need to do the
>following maintenance procedures but would like detailed instructions and
>advice: fuel filter replacement (Ron didn't you just do this?), spark plug
>replacement (Do I need a lift?!), brake pads (I think I know how from
>all the postings but I'm still shaky about a few things.), belt
>replacement (this looks to be a bear), and any advice about jacks as I
>plan to replace my exhaust (in the current Roundel, I believe). Torque
>specs would also be appreciated. I'm very mechanically inclined (took
>apart & put my Ducati back together-not fun) so instructions don't have to
>be verbose. I've already checked the FAQ but couldn't find the detailed
>instructions that I needed, except the microfilter replacement (done).
>Any advice on maintenance intervals and what I should let the dealer
>perform would also be appreciated.
>I know a lot of these were in past issues of Roundel, but I just joined
>BMWCCA and don't know which issues are nuggets of info. Any of you bemmer
>gurus no longer needing their past Roundel issues can donate them to me
><grin>! I wished Bently would hurry up with that manual!!!
>Kil Lee (BMWCCA 144456)
>95 BMW 318is
>95 Ducati 916

It seems lately that folks aren't answering posts like they used to. I recall when a post like the above would get several responses posted to the digest. Maybe I missed a response to this one, but I for one feel that we all need to give as much as we take. I will continue to try to answer queries whenever I feel I can contribute something useful. Now that a couple of our skilled vets have decided to "retire" from the list, us less skilled owners should share experiences with the newbies whenever possible. Now, to briefly answers Kil's questions, and this would probably be suitable for the E36 FAQ Archives, if anyone who maintains that site is listening.

1)I dont know if BMWCCA offers back issues, but you can give them a ring and ask. You stated you just joined so I assume you have the number.

2)Fuel filter replacement. Number 1. Do you really need to replace it? I forget the manufacturers recommended interval, but I left mine in for 83,000 miles. Not suggested, but I can tell only a slight improvement in engine smoothness since changing it. Slightly less stumbling. I probably will reduce my interval to every 40k from this point on, unless I encounter some driveability problem in which case, it's so cheap to replace, it will be the first point of failure I attack. I personally think that 15-20k is too often, but change it however often comfortable to you, and if you are under warranty, heed the manufacturers suggestions to keep your warranty intact. With that in mind:

Fuel Filter Replacement:

Start your car, and remove the fuel pump fuse. (#18 on mine). Let the engine run until it shuts off. (Be prepared for 2-3 minutes of very rough idling/shaking until it shuts down. Doing this releases some of the pressure from the fuel lines. After the engine shuts down, jack up your car. Under the drivers side of the car, near the wheelwell, is your fuel filter. If you cant locate it, just trace your fuel line coming from the rear of the car. My filter was held in place with a sort of shield, which was held to the car with a 5mm hex bolt. Put on some goggles and place some sort of container under the filter to catch spilled fuel. Wrap the ends of the hoses in a wrag to prevent the fuel from spraying once you loosen the hose clamps. (Trust me, getting pure gasoline into your eyse (with contact lenses) is no fun.) Loosen the hose clamp coming from the engine. Some fuel will spill, but there should be no spray. Then loosen the 5mm hex bolt and remove the shield. The filter will slide out of the shield. You can now loosen the remaining hose clamp on the other end of the filter. Installation is the reverse of removal, and its best to use new hose clamps. And be sure to make sure you install the new filter pointing in the right direction. Replace the fuel pump fuse. Start the car and watch for any leaks. May I also suggest getting the fire extinguisher from the wall (you do have a fat one mounted in your garage, dont you?) and having it sit right beside you before you begin working.

Spark Plug Replacement:

First off, obtain some original factory replacements. Super Bosch twin electrodes are the standard. No Bosch platinums. No Splitfires. The original Boschs will serve you faithfully. Period. Others are questionable at best. Obtain a ratchet with extension and spark plug socket. (Insulated so it holds the spark plug inplace). Remove the two plastic "screws" on the spark plug wire cover using a big flathead screwdriver. (The "screws" turn 1/4 and then you can lift up the plastic cover.) Using the spark plug wire tool mounted under the cover, closest to the firewall, remove one spark plug wire and one spark plug at a time, replacing each spark plug and wire as you do each one. Examine each old plug, to ensure there is no carbon or oil fouling. It's recommended to use some anti-seize compound on the threads of your new plugs so they are easy to remove later. Install the plugs, replace the cover, and "screws". Thats it.

Brake Pads:
This topic has been covered extensively, so I wont go in to detail. Just remember to replace your pad wear sensor wire in the same position it was in before you removed the pads. Dont twist it around. And these Repco/PBR Deluxes are great. Zero dust, and fine stopping power. No squeal or noise whatsoever. My original fronts lasted over 82,000 miles, and they still had pad left. I got sick of the dust. Rears are still original and still have about 1/2 pad left. They dont dust as bad, because they are rears.

Belt replacement:
Not too difficult, actually. Tips: First, remove the big plastic fan shroud. You will need the room. You will need to jack up the front end, preferably on Jackstands, both sides of course, so you can get to the serpentine belt and the water pump belt. The alternator belt is easier accessed from the hood. If you want to make it easier, you also can remove the airbox so that you can easily get to the alternator position adjusting screws. I opted not to remove the airbox, and it was tight, but do-able. Its as simple as loosening the star-type adjusting screws located near/for the water pump and alternator, and also loosening the serpentine belt tensioner. (located next to /under the a/c compressor..pop off the black plastic cap to reveal the tensioner bolt). Remove the belts, install new belts, adjust tension properly...not too tight, not too loose. And yes, the alternator belt easily slips over the fan need to remove the fan assy. The new belts have quieted down the tick/chatter that has been emanating from my engine compartment lately. Definitely quieter at idle now. Again, I used the factory Continentals. The originals lasted 79,000 miles without breaking, slipping or squealing although a few were missing some teeth. (Hey, at least they werent drinking moonshine and making love to their sisters.)

Thats about it. Replace your coolant (or have it replaced) every two years, and that will prevent corrosion from forming in your cooling system, and ensure your anti-freeze is at full strength for boilover/freezing protection. Flush your brakefluid every two years (every year if you want to be extra cautious) to ensure you always have maximum braking power while keeping moisture out of your brake system. I've got my original O2 sensor in, but only because I have not had time to take it somewhere with a lift to get the old one off yet. But I have a feeling the old one is fine. Maybe I will check the FAQ's for the tips on how to test it, and save my brand new one for when it's needed. My gas mileage appears fine and performance is as well. Dont forget to keep a check on your water level in your battery. We tend to forget what we dont see. Every 30k or so, have your differential and gearbox fluids changed. Some folks use synthetics, and some of those folks have complained about some sort of noise chatter with the synthetic. I use the standard factory recommended fluids there and so far I have had zero problems with the transmission. (I do use synthetics in the crankcase). Oh yeah, the air filter should probably changed every 25-30k. More if you live in a dusty area. Its cheap, so change it more frequently if you wish. Or, get a drop-in K&N reusable replacement, but dont expect 10hp increases.

Thats about it. The car is really not that difficult to work on. People think "BMW, man, those things are hard to work on/expensive to maintain". Not really. True, the parts are a bit more, but look at the quality that goes into them.

Ron Browne
1992 318is
Bowie, MD

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