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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 06-10-2010, 01:38 PM   #1
delmarco
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Smile BMW E46 M54 Idler, Tensioner and Water Pump Pulley Replacement PICTORIAL & VIDEO DIY!

PROLOGUE:
If your Pulleys are squealing under the hood every time you start your car then DIY them out of there now or they will fail on you and leave you stranded road side!

Here is an older video from last November of what my pulleys sound like months before they inevitably and eventually failed. At the time I shot this video I didn't understand what these sounds were but now I do and I will never ever ever forget them.




ABOUT THE DIY:

I did all my Pulleys in less than an hour. Parts all cost under $100 which was almost equal to what I paid just to tow my car off the highway when the pulleys finally gave way and excused themselves from my Belt Drive as I was cruising down the highway.

I also replaced my belts at the same time and now my engine bay is quiet, the car accelerates way better and my MPGs shot right back up to low 30s highway and mid 20s city.

Said and done the hardest part of the DIY was putting the fan back on the car.

The tools required are:

-Fan Clutch Tools if your car is an automatic/steptronic - costs about $30 and up on ebay
-Breaker bar/Ratchet Handle set about 8 inches and up (the bolts aren't super tight but the longer handle makes removal easier)
-5/8" or 13mm socket, 10mm socket and T50 Torx head-to de-tension the AC Belt Tension Pulley



Tools not required but you can use if you have them:


-Ratchet socket extension 3 or 5 inch to reach the Tension Pulley lower mount bolt in removal of the tensioner pulley

-Torque Wrench (I didn't use one, but you can if you want)


PART ONE: To remove the belts and fan clutch see my DIY here:

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...330&highlight=

PART TWO: For the Pulleys here are the Video DIY Guides:







PART THREE: Here is a Pictorial Reference describing key points in the process:






























http://img31.imageshack.us/g/waterpumppulleydiy3.jpg/


PART FOUR: Here is the original thread of the incident and the reason I should have changed my pulleys FYI

Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco View Post
So since I been back from vacation (my car was parked up in the sun for a week whiles I was away) my engine bay has been making the cold engine monkey screeching/bird chirping sounds with the cold engine acceleration whistle. It was getting louder and I've been just turning the radio up and ignoring it.

My car just hit 56,000 miles on the odometer and I've been scheduling myself for a full coolant over haul at the end of the summer and I figured the sounds meant I needed new pulleys eventually. I planned to replace them at that time.

Today I got out work early, got home early off the Metro North Train literally ran home to my car as I had my evening planned out for dinner, movies and drinks in the city.

It was 83 degrees when I set out from Westchester, hitting speeds of 80 and 90 mph down the Saw Mill Pkwy South and about 17 miles down the highway (I was now on the Thruway 87 South aka the Major Deegan) my red Check Battery light came on. I knew right away the battery and/or alternator needed replacing in a couple of hours so I didn't panic. I really should have just exited the Major Deegan Hwy then but I've dealt with the check battery light on my old BMW 318i a few summers back and figured I had a couple of hours to a day to get a new battery and the alternator checked out.

A few seconds later my Engine Temp Needle literally raced over to the RED!!!

Knowing what I know about the e46 cooling system failure I pulled over immediately and realized my power steering was gone and my AC went hot.

As I got out and walked towards the front of the car I could only face palm myself as I expected to see coolant fluid all over the road, smoke and fire eating thru my nose panel grills and bits of plastic poking thru the metal hood.

I popped the hood and to my surprise everything looked calm until I noticed the fan belt was M.I.A.

I got my fan removal tool which luckily I've been forgetting to remove out my trunk and took the fan off to see this nonsense...

Idler Pulley M.I.A (as in exploded off the bolt and long gone)





The Water Pump/Fan Pulley also cracked on me as I removed the fan...


My car insurance comes with unlimited free tow service. Sadly, the Major Deegan 87 has heavy Police Dept. tow restrictions so ONLY one Tow Company can tow your car off the highway where I broke down (even the exit ramp off the highway where I was is restricted)...

So I waited from 4:17pm to 6:23pm for just the Police to show up. Then I waited in the same spot from 6:30pm to around 8:00pm for their Tow service to show up...



And what sucks ass is these numnuts only Tow off the highway and they charge you for that! Guess what they charged to literally tow my car 20 feet or less off the exit ramp from where I broke down to the perpendicular street.



$70 plus tax! Worse the Police stay in the background observing you the entire time so you can't argue with their Tow Driver. You just gotta pay them and shut up.


Now I had to call back my Insurance Company for another Tow Truck and I literally waited until 10:00 pm for them to show up and they tow you to their shop.



What a Crazy A$$ Day!



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Old 06-10-2010, 01:52 PM   #2
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thanks for the post, your DIYs are always very detailed and helpful, this will definitely be of use to me and alot of other people that plan to DIY. I've actually been tracking your posts since this happened to you. Glad to see your back on the road again.
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:20 PM   #3
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Great write up!!!
Please clarify one thing...... Which direction do you torque to release the tension on your tension pulley? I am assuming Counter or Anti clockwise on the nut which is built-into the assembly. Correct?
Thanks,
Andrew
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:57 PM   #4
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just curious. Why did you stick with old style tensioner as oppose to the new hydraulic tensioner.
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Old 10-09-2010, 01:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mp333 View Post
just curious. Why did you stick with old style tensioner as oppose to the new hydraulic tensioner.
I don't know. This is what came up for the parts number matching my VIN.
I'm not even sure if they are interchangeable.
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Old 10-09-2010, 01:23 PM   #6
e46bonestock
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del marco,
sorry to hear about your bmw breakdown.
I aprreciate your hard work.
you da man.
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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I ordered just the long belt as my short belt looks good. Should i replace both?
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:36 PM   #8
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Great writeup!!! This is going to make things much easier!

I've been getting a squeaking noise pretty much every time i start my car cold. Then it goes away and once the car is warm it does not squeak anymore. The belts were changed maybe about 20k ago, they still look good. Could it be the pulleys?

I've been looking into changing out the pulleys (Idler/Tensioner/AC/new belts), since that's the only thing I can think of that could be making that noise. Should I look into changing out the water pump?
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:04 PM   #9
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I did this job Saturday, sort of. I ordered both tensioner pulleys and the idler pulley, and both new belts. Saturday morning I started on the job and after I got everything apart, I realized that they sent me the wrong idler pulley and the wrong tensioner pulley for the compressor belt. Luckily, the compressor pulley was still good, and luckily, I found a dealer who's parts department was open until 4:00 on a Saturday, so I picked up the idler pulley there. I got the pulleys with the bad bearings done, and both belts. Now, the car whines, which I never noticed before, maybe because of the bearing noise. I think I'm now hearing the sound of the mechanical tensioner that people have complained about. Hopefully it's that, and not the alternator. Overall, not a terrible job to do, once you get the fan out. I might buy the locking tool for the next time I do this with my wife's car. One interesting note: My 2004 325xi had the mechanical tensioner, and my wife's 2003 325i has the hydraulic tensioner. Both original from the factory like that. Doesn't make sense to me.
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:07 PM   #10
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Idler replacement DIY

Your instructions are nicely done!!

I did replace mine last week. Started squealing about 3 weeks ago, and I determined that the idler pulley was the culprit by squirting the bearing area with WD-40 and the noise stopped for a few days.

Before I found your post, I did get some good tips from a local mechanic about the change process and it went very well.

Your instructions are right on with the process used on my convertible.

ddbutton

Last edited by ddbutton; 10-25-2010 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 10-27-2010, 05:20 PM   #11
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how do you find out if it is a mechanical or hydraulic tensioner?
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:58 PM   #12
Itzed
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Look at pictures, then shine a light down there, squint, curse, pray, and make your best guess. The hydraulic one has a piston about 2 inches long attached to it. If you don't see that, its mechanical.

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Old 05-12-2011, 11:03 PM   #13
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my alpina has just started to make a horrible sound (62000K) right near where the pulleys r & i thought i was gonna have to visit the fookin stealers but after checkin out your thread i feel quite confident of replacing the pulleys & belts my self knowing i can reference back to this thread...........
thanks delmarco
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:09 PM   #14
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you're welcome Damien. Good luck with your repairs. I have to ask are you a Gooner? or a Spurs supporter?
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:13 PM   #15
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I will report back in a few days delmarco 2 let u know how it all goes
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Old 05-13-2011, 04:33 AM   #16
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i support neither spurs or gooners but am a life time liverpool fan YNWA
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Old 05-14-2011, 02:03 PM   #17
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Where did you get all your parts from for under 100? I know tischer sells a kit but it's 400. Yikes!

http://www.trademotion.com/partlocat...catalogid=4462
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Old 05-14-2011, 02:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damien Thorn View Post
i support neither spurs or gooners but am a life time liverpool fan YNWA
I like Liverpool. Getting rid of Torres for that much money and buying a couple of goal scoring players with the same money has to be the deal of the season.

but I must say my highlight of the season outside the San Siro was this moment:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian N View Post
Where did you get all your parts from for under 100? I know tischer sells a kit but it's 400. Yikes!

http://www.trademotion.com/partlocat...catalogid=4462
Solid Jake hooked me up with all OEM parts.

Belts were like $28 for both and the rest of stuff was $70.

I think the Tichser kit may also contain the water pump, fan blade and the AC pulley for it to be $400.

In fact $400 doesn't sound right because even the BMW Of Manhattan dealership quoted me under $230 for all the parts I needed.
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Old 05-14-2011, 02:29 PM   #19
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Okay I clicked the link and this has to be an error. There is no way this adds up to $472!!!!!


Quote:
Basic Kit:

Alternator Belt
Deflection Pulley
Adjusting Pulley
Hydraulic Tensioner
AC Belt
AC Belt Tensioner


Quote:
OEM BMW E46 Belts/Tensioners Replacement Kit. Kit includes both alternator and a/c belts, pulleys, and tensioners (includes a hydraulic alt. tensioner). For vehicles that have a mechanical alt. tensioner setup, the coversion kit includes all parts necessary to retrofit the hydraulic setup. Fits all E46 3 Series vehicles except M3's. NEW E46 M3 Kit in options specifically for all E46 M3's!

At the dealership the belt set is $80, the pulley wheels were like $45 and $60. Those bolts, pulley caps, and bits and ends should add up to around $40 - $50. The idler was I think $90. I don't know what the other thing is supposed to cost but I assume if Ticsher is not swindling you that hydralic thingy is expensive.
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Old 05-16-2011, 03:19 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco View Post
Okay I clicked the link and this has to be an error. There is no way this adds up to $472!!!!!









At the dealership the belt set is $80, the pulley wheels were like $45 and $60. Those bolts, pulley caps, and bits and ends should add up to around $40 - $50. The idler was I think $90. I don't know what the other thing is supposed to cost but I assume if Ticsher is not swindling you that hydralic thingy is expensive.
Yeah it seemed like a lot? I'll have to total it up later. My care is starting to squeak on start up again. I had replaced everything before at the dealership about 30k miles ago (cost a fortune). So I am thinking about doing it myself this time. I don't know why it is happening again so quickly it feels like I just fixed it a year or two ago.

Where did you get that aluminum water pump pump pulley?
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