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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 06:52:29 -0400
From: Jerry Skene
Subject: Microfilter installation instructions for E36
I have prepared a very popular set of instructions on how to change the microfilter on E36's, and have included it below. I would like to recommend that you add it to the FAQ at this site.
Jerry Skene

Replacement of Microfilter - E36

I finally figured out how to change the microfilter on my '93 325i (E-36), after having spent too much frustrating time trying to locate it. It cannot be seen from any position you can reach in the car, and you have to know where to look to find it. The task takes about 45 minutes. I would like to thank the author of a previous article on this topic, and would like to expand on it, as even with his instructions I had problems finding it. The filter is mounted vertically, at the front end of the center console, right below the center of the bottom of the windshield. To access it, follow these instructions:

Remove Passenger Kick Panel

To remove the passenger kick panel, remove the two phillips head screws at the left and right corners of the rear edge of the panel (the edge closest to the rear of the car), just below the bottom of the glovebox door. Now slide the panel towards the rear of the car (towards you), out of its retaining clip on the firewall. This is easier to do if you first push the air vent protruding through this panel up so it clears the panel, and bend the curved left side of the panel away from the right front edge of the center console cover, so it wont9t catch as you pull the panel out.

Remove the Glovebox
To remove the glovebox, flip the left and right air vents above the glovebox down, then pry them out with your fingers. Remove each black phillips head screw now visible in the air vent holes. Open the glovebox door and, using a small slot screwdriver, pry out the two D shaped screw covers at the top left and right of the glovebox opening. Then remove the two black phillips screws behind these covers. Then, using an offset screwdriver or short phillips bit in a 1/4 socket, remove the two screws at the lower left and right of the glovebox opening. Pull out the glovebox and put it on the floor. You do not need to remove any wires from the rear of the glovebox.

Detach the Electrical Distribution Block

To get clearance for the filter, you must move the electrical distribution block behind the glovebox out of the way. This block is in the upper left area behind the glovebox. It has a large bundle of wires coming in the top, and an orange relay mounted on the left side. This block can be slid up, out of its retaining slides if you first release the catch which holds it in place. The catch is on the right side of the block, about half the way back. Slide a slot screwdriver between the right side of the distribution block and the left side of the plastic electronic module holder, and push the top of the catch in (towards the left side of the car). While holding the catch in, slide the distribution block up and out of its retaining slides. Move it down, away from its normal position.

Move the Passenger Air Vent Pipes

Now you must move the passenger air vent out of the way. To do this, use a flat screwdriver and pry the vent retaining pin out of its hole. This pin is located just to the rear of the front lower, cadmium-plated Torx screw on the HVAC box, at the front of the console. When this pin has been removed, bend the vent pipe down.

Remove the Filter Cover and Filter

The filter cover is hard to find. Just in front of the above mentioned Torx screw on the HVAC box is a cylindical 1 1/2" diameter handle, with 2 rectangular protrusions molded into it. Turn this 1/4 turn counter-clockwise, and pull out the filter cover attached to this handle. Feel inside the opening created for the tab handle on the filter itself. This is slightly above where the round handle was. Push this tab towards the front of the car and then pull it out to the right. You will have to push the vent pipe down, out of the way with your left hand to get enough clearance to remove the filter. If the filter is the original one, the frame will be in one piece and will have to be snapped in two places to allow the filter to bend towards you, so that it will clear a bracket mounted to the car after the filter was installed at the factory. Examine your new filter to see how this works. The plastic frame has two slots and clearance wedges molded into it on the top and bottom edges. With a little force you can snap the frame at these slots, so that the filter now bends in two places. Do this to the old filter, and you can then remove it easily.

Install New Filter

Snap the new filter's frame as described above, and slide it into the filter slot. The filter should be oriented so that the handle is close to the top right corner of the frame. Once the filter is fully inserted, pull the tab towards the rear of the car, seating the filter in place. Replace the filter cover, ensuring that the wide edge of the cover plate is facing the rear of the car. Move the passenger air vent back into position and replace the plastic pin. Slide the electrical distribution block back into place, so that the locking catch snaps back into place. Replace the glovebox, vent grills, and kick panel.

E34 microfilter replacement.

- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 1996 15:18:37 -0500 (EST)
From: Kurt Gibble 
Subject: E34 microfilter

Fellow 5'ers,

Finally looked up my notes on microfilter replacement.  This is from them 
and memory from 1 yr. ago.  If you find any errors or differences from my 
car (9/91 E34 M50 which "has a grey tint"), please e-mail.  I'll try to 
put this on my WWW site (

Working somewhat from Chilton (just short of useless for this job) and 
mostly from BMW fiche:

Remove glove box and carpeted panel on left side of pass. footwell.

Remove the black cover on left side of glove box.  (On this the fiche has 
the wrong picture in Sec. 64-31/2 *but* I believe Fig. 2 of Sec. 64-31/1 
is correct.)

Remove the small duct going to the RHS of pass. footwell.

Remove the wires from the HVAC control unit (I believe that's what it is) 
at very front bottom of console.  Wires have a v nice (v german) 
connector - lift up the lever and the plugs automatically come out.

Pull out the control unit.

Over the AC coil (and heater core), there is a black cover with 7 T15 
screws.  The microfilter's *not* under there!  Don't remove it - 

Down further & recessed is a small weird shaped (but long and thin) 
white cover (on mine) with 2 screws (T15 I believe).  It's under there.  
I think you get it loose and then have to rotate a lever to get it out.

Pull it out.

Assembly is reverse (no ice involved here).

Took me ~2 hours first time because Chilton was useless (sorry Ben but 
watch someone try to do it who doesn't know) and error in BMW fiche.  
Should be a 30-45 min job 2nd time.

Good Luck, YMMV,
Kurt Gibble
E34 M50 5sp US A/C - I believe CA AC cars may be different.


There have been two glove box styles on the E36 cars.  On my car it was 
not necessary to remove the kick panel.  

It is also not possible (or necessary) to remove the two air vents and 
screws behind them as it states the instructions.

I could not get my electrical distribution block out according the 
instructions.  Instead I removed three 8mm bolts which lets you move the 
whole assembly out of the way.  It was easy to do & put back.

Here is a BIG tip that I discovered previously.  If you have ever removed 
your glovebox and had trouble getting those little plastic screw caps to 
go back on and look good, here is why.  When you remove the glove box, 
you will have six screws that appear identical.  If you look real close 
though you will see that two of them have a small lip on the head which 
is to retain the little plastic cap.  Make sure to use these screws in 
the proper location and the caps work like a charm.  This drove me NUTS 
before I finally noticed the difference. 

Jimmy Shrake
Austin, TX  USA