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Something I learned the hard way..If your starter has some decent miles on it and you are performing any repair that requires removal of the intake manifold...REPLACE THE STARTER!!! Mine went out about 4 months after I replaced all of the coolant tubes and manifold gasket. There is an alternate method to replacing the starter, but it is quite difficult and ultimately while I was attempting that method, I cracked one of the new coolant tubes and I had to take the top out again anyway. I have 171k miles on my ride now and I suspect I'll have begin replacing all of the sensors I replaced between 100k and 130k miles.
 

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Thanks for this and the other excellent M54 threads, jjrichar.

Last fall I pulled off my intake manifold and replaced coolant pipes, starter, vacuum hoses, O-rings, etc. This thread was priceless.
 

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Because of your instructions I tackled this and discovered no vacuum cap on my oil separator, missing vacuum cap on rear of manifold (in total there are 3), and NO manifold support bracket! I replaced gasket and other o rings/rubber parts and idle control valve grommet.

Car is running so smooth now. Manifold bracket ordered and on way.

Thank you so much. :)
 

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Excellent !1
but you miss the most important detail regarding this job..

remove is easier than reassemble, some wiring/tubing are in so tight spaces that turns the thing into a real PITA..
 

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It almost looks like if you get thru steps 2, 3 and 4 (moving the whole harness rearward and out) you can pretty clearly see and access the oil separator - yes?
 

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Discussion Starter #28
It's now a few years since I did this project, and I've discovered a few things since then. Replacing the oil separator can easily be done without removing the intake manifold. The oil filter housing definitely needs to come out though to give you access (like you see in the photos). If doing this, you would clearly need to replace the OFH gasket. Very simple, is a good thing to do (as they leak easily), and it's about the cheapest gasket to buy on the whole car.
 

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I recently found this DIY very helpful to replace my coolant pipe and heater pipe, so a big thank you for creating it. A few comments on my M54B30 engine (from a 2003 330i).

  • Did not need to remove alternator or PS pump
  • Did need to disconnect rear/lower end of VANOS oil line from OFH to get one of the coolant pipes out
  • I don't recall disconnecting the knock sensor wires from a clip or their clip from the manifold. Maybe a previous mechanic left it disconnected, or maybe it's just not attached in my engine.
  • Labeled harness connections with tape but forgot to reconnect 2 of them upon final assembly, the forward connector on the fuel injection wire box (probably intake VANOS solenoid) and a wire from the intake VANOS area to the electrical junction box (probably for intake camshaft sensor). Car ran very roughly upon startup. Luckily I was able to reconnect the 2nd one to the junction box by reaching up under the oil filter housing from under the car, and then it ran normally!
  • Did not see any round black and white vacuum check valve. My car does not appear to have any vacuum lines to the SAP valve, CCV, or muffler, as some E46 cars have, so maybe that's why I don't have so many vacuum lines under the intake manifold. (My E36 does have that black/white check valve leading to a vacuum switch leading to SAP valve and other things.)
  • I dropped and lost 3 injector retention clips and one injector electrical locking wire clip under the manifold after reassembly because I was dumb and had to fiddle with them after reinstallation. When the manifold is off, it's easy to remove and replace those clips--not so with the manifold back on. Removed reinforcement plate from under car and probed from above with a magnet but only recovered the wire clip, none of the injector-to-rail clips. One of my 6 injectors is still missing the clip (4 more on the way from AutohausAZ). Next time I'll stuff the holes with rags before trying to reinstall the clip.
  • Various sensor wires (I think mostly the 2 knock sensors) are zip tied to the coolant pipes. I marked those spots with blue tape to remind me to replace them but forgot to do so after installing new coolant pipes. Also forgot to zip tie the small wire or vacuum line back to the rear left corner (driver's side) of the intake manifold.
  • Disconnecting the fuel line from the fuel rail was easy once the manifold had been unbolted and lifted off the studs. Not sure if I could do it with manifold in-place. Hopefully yes as that would make it easy to remove the fuel rail with injectors before removing the manifold (or just to get the injectors cleaned and replace the missing clip)
  • As you said, difficult to remove lower vacuum hose from the Y-junction (sucking jet pump?). I took it out with the manifold, then it was easy to disconnect the manifold end but not the Y-junction end. I just removed the old clamps and put in standard screw hose clamps. Ordered a replacement vacuum hose and will cut off the old hose from the Y-junction next time I'm in there.
  • First time I unhooked electrical clip on each of the 6 injectors before removing injector wire box, then pushed the clip back into place on each one after reinstalling the wire box. I heard one can just pry off each electrical connector so I'll try that next time.
  • A 6mm flexible driver is very useful to removing and reinstalling the intake boots, especially the lower boot which connected to TB and IACV.
  • I removed the air equalizer from the top of the manifold just to see if I could do it, but this is totally unnecessary. It was difficult to pull it out and required extra work to remove the CCV hose that connects the front and back ends of the equalizer. I have new O-ring seals for that thing so might remove it one more time to replace the O-rings.
So I consider the project a success, but given the 3 lost injector clips, leaking VANOS oil hose, and 3 missing zip ties, I'm tempted to do it again to get it completely right. 2nd time around I might try to remove the fuel rail and injectors from the manifold too.

It almost looks like if you get thru steps 2, 3 and 4 (moving the whole harness rearward and out) you can pretty clearly see and access the oil separator - yes?
I had previously replaced the oil separator/CCV without removing the intake manifold and it was very difficult. IIRC, I unbolted and set aside the PS fluid reservoir and removed the alternator as well to replace the CCV. I don't remember if I unbolted the electrical harness box at that time--probably I did. The next time I have to replace the CCV, I'll first try it without removing the intake manifold, but will definitely move electrical box, remove the purge valve, and possibly remove the whole oil filter housing too.


Just removed my intake manifold on a 2000 323i. It took a total of 8 hours, but that was due to problems I encountered removing hoses. Especially the hoses at the firewall because of the small space. I pulled it off to replace the two coolant pipes that sit just under the intake manifold. Now that it's off, I am able to replace several small hoses that were falling apart and brittle. Here are some pics of the two pipes and how badly brittle they were. <snip>
The only problem I really encountered was when I thought all the bolts and hoses and wires were unplugged. The two fuel lined by the firewall are hell to remove (only by feel). Once off there is so much room to replace all the hoses and potential issues underneath.. It's not an impossible job (I'm not a mechanic, I'm a nurse) and I was able to do it. But I will say it is tedious and definitely requires patience. Good luck and let me know if anyone has questions as I wish I had help when I needed it.
I only found one fuel line by the firewall, connecting from a fuel line (from fuel filter) to the fuel injection rail. It has two quick disconnects, one on each end. Not sure where is this 2nd fuel line. There is a purge line from the purge valve to the charcoal canister and a small vacuum line from the F-connector (goes into top of air intake boot) towards the back of the car and not sure where that goes--maybe it goes to the fuel filter as well (which has 3 ports and an internal FPR)?
 

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M54's have one fuel line.

M52's have 2 fuel lines.

.
 

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Ah that explains it, thanks BMWCaptain. Here are some notes using pictures from jjrichar's original post. I could not find the knock sensor plug shown in this picture next to the lower manifold retention bracket and nut. But I definitely had a knock sensor wire coming from somewhere connecting to two knock sensors. The 16mm nut holding the lower manifold bracket--I dropped it once or twice but luckily it just landed on the engine block and stayed there instead of running off to hide in a nook or crevice.

In the upper right of the picture you can see the blue zip tie holding one of the knock sensor wires to the upper coolant pipe (heater inlet pipe, part #11531705210 on the M54). That's one of the 3 zip ties I forgot to replace. To the lower left you can see part of the water pipe (part #11537502525 on the M54)and one of its mounting bolts.




As for replacing the CCV without removing the intake manifold, look at this picture below again from jjrichar. As an aside, you can see the front ends of both the heater inlet pipe and water pipe, which were the whole reason I pulled the intake manifold in the first place! And right below and slightly to the left of the CCV is the other blue zip-tie that I forgot to replace... I believe it holds the other (front) knock sensor wire to the heater inlet pipe.

In this picture it looks like if you just move the charcoal cannister purge valve (easy to disconnect), you can easily remove the CCV towards the front. But in this picture the entire OFH has been removed along with its oil pressure and temp sensors that stick out and the VANOS oil line. Those are the parts that make it difficult (but not impossible) to get the old CCV out and the new CCV in with the intake manifold in place. So key to easy repalcement of CCV is to either remove the intake manifold or remove the OFH.

Running down the engine block on the left of the picture, right over the connection port for the OFH, is one of the sensors I forgot to reconnect. It goes from the intake camshaft position sensor a plug on the front-lower corner of the electrical junction box.

 

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Reading another thread here explained why I couldn't find the intake air temperature sensor on my car. It's because some of the newer M54 motors (like 2003 and later, possibly just the 3.0L ones) have the IAT sensor integrated with the MAF instead of as a separate temp sensor in the manifold. And now I know that when replacing the fuel injector wiring box, you can pre-install the little wire clips onto each harness connector and it should just pop on to the injectors' electrical connectors when you push it on. When I did this I had each little wire sitting out of position then slid it back into position after plugging into the injectors--that's how I lose one of the wires.

It also appears that on my car the injector retention clips that hold the fuel rail onto the injectors are all upside down and not holding anything together. They're just clipped onto the injector instead of beinggn attached to both injector and part of the fuel rail. So my next E46 project is to remove, flip over, and reinstall each fuel injector clip....
 
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