BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > DIY Guides > Xi, X-Drive engine oil pan gasket replacement on a 2006 325XI

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      01-03-2016, 08:27 PM   #1

Drives: 325XI
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Xi, X-Drive engine oil pan gasket replacement on a 2006 325XI

This is a write up of my experience of replacing my leaking engine oil pan gasket on my 2006 325XI manual transmission E90 sedan. I am writing to convey my experience of doing this job, and I make no claims whatsoever that whatever I write here is to be the correct or safe way of doing any of this job. I also make no claims that any torque specs I wrote below are accurate, they need to be all verified from reputable sources. Replacing engine oil pan gaskets on these cars are difficult and dangerous. The engine is held up hanging from a support bar or lift while one works under it for a long time. Lifting and getting under the car alone has dangers associated with. Wrong disassembly or assembly can cause damage to the car, or ones self, and what I write here is not necessarily the safe and correct way of doing these.
If you decided to tackle this job yourself, you should use your own judgement, safety, and get information from correct sources like Bentley manual or BMW's workshop manuals. I take NO RESPONSIBILITY for any harm that may come to you or your car if you attempt this job yourself, since I am just sharing my experience and claim none of what I did and shared here to be safe and correct way of doing this job.

Also this write up is my experience on my US 2006 E90 X-drive 325XI (N52 engine with metal valve cover) with manual transmission. Auto transmission, different year, model like E92, different engine will have differences from mine.

I would like to also thank to KrashFinatik's for his DIY write-up found at the following post for RWD versions. It gave me some ideas and tips before I started working on mine:

This is overall a difficult and time consuming job mostly due to X-drive components being on the way and needing disassembly. I had in the past replaced CV-axles (on different car though), done several suspension jobs, brake jobs etc. on my cars. I had acquired some experience dealing with rusty frozen nuts and bolts during the years working on my cars, and I own some moderate air tools. Even with all that, this was a long and challenging job for me. I would say a full weekend, plus be ready for spilling over to Monday. The suspension parts from rust give a lot of trouble especially me being in New England with all the road salt during winter. Doing all this the first time on this car is also a learning experience which adds to overall time.

With all that said, first a short summary of work I did to accomplish this job with only major steps:
- Lift front of car on jack stands
- Disconnect steering column shaft from steering rack universal joint
- Disconnect front drive shaft from front differential input
- Support engine from top with engine support bar
- Drain engine oil, drain front differential oil
- Remove front wheels, remove brake calipers from steering knuckle, hang them on strut coils
- Remove rotors, brake dust covers
- Disconnect control arms, tie rod, pop CV axle free on both front sides
- Remove strut pinch bolt, remove steering knuckle together with CV axle attached to it on both front sides
- Remove engine mount bolts
- Lower subframe all the way down
- Remove front differential from engine oil pan
- Remove engine oil pan, replace gasket
- Reverse steps for reassembly.

Next and following couple of posts gives in detail all the steps I have done to get this work done:

List of the material and parts I used:
(I took the P/Ns, part numbers, from realoem.com, corresponding to my 06 325xi e90 sedan)
- Engine oil pan gasket. For my manual trans X-drive 2006 N52 E90 P/N 11137548031, other models may have different P/N, even with auto vs manual difference
- Engine oil pan aluminum bolt set, for my car P/N 11132210959, again maybe different for other models, even with auto vs manual difference.
- One additional aluminum bolt (M8x36) for oil pan that is not included in the screw set above, P/N 11137559537. This is used at one hole near the “pedestal” which is the bracket with axle seal on passenger side. This is 10 mm longer than all the other short oil pan screws found in the set, which are M8x26.
- Oil level sensor gasket, P/N 12611744292, optional but very good idea to replace while oil pan is out.
- 3 x nuts for the oil level sensor, needs to be replaced going by the book due to having a special coating. Could reuse with good anti-seize, applied but I bought new ones.
[Update 4/25/2016, the o-ring for oil return pipe is not necessary but may be nice to have as a backup method in case disconnecting doesn't work. Because I found out later that the oil return line can be disconnected by a quick line disconnect tool See details here http://www.e90post.com/forums/showpo...&postcount=84]
- O-ring for oil return pipe, P/N 11427548322. The oil return pipe that goes into oil pan is only used with metal valve cover N52 engines, which are 2006 325 and 330 models in US. This o-ring seals that return pipe at oil pan. Below in write up I explained why I needed this.
- 7 qts engine oil
- Engine oil filter
- 1 lt SAF-XO 75W90 differential oil BMW P/N 33117695240 for front differential, capacity 0.6lts
- 2 x CV axle seal P/N 33107505601, comes with replacement c-spring rings for axles
- 2 x o-ring for differential to engine oil pan and “pedestal” to engine oil pan sealing, BMW P/N 31511213527
- 2 x plugs with o-ring, differential fill and drain plugs P/N 33117525064 (why doesn’t bmw sell these o-ring separately???)
- Pinch bolt securing steering column shaft into universal joint above the steering rack. BW P/N 32306778609. Again going by book it asks you to use new, which I did. But old one could be reused after cleaning its threads and the joints threads and applying blue locktite on it. It shouldn’t work itself free obviously which would risk losing steering completely during driving.

UPDATE 5/26/2016 I found out BMW had later updated the steering column lower shaft which only allows disconnecting the lower universal joint from the steering rack. It uses same bolt there. One should mark the joint to the steering rack before disassembly, it doesn't look like can go only in one way there, it is splined from what I saw on pictures.

- Bolts and nuts used in the suspension arms and tie-rod and the pinch bolt and nut for the strut to steering knuckle. The nuts are self locking, which have progressively tightening threads cut to them, so are not to be reused if going by the book. Bushing bolts are torque to yield, again by the book need to replaced for this reason since they are likely to be stretched at the yield angle.
- Ideally going by the book the 6 bolts on the reinforcement plate of the subframe are to be replaced with new as well, but...
- Silicon grease safe for plastics. I used Silarmac brake grease that I already had. This is for ABS sensor reassembly. BMW recommends some special grease I don’t know what or if available.
- Good quality penetrating oil
- Anti-seize paste for reassembly of rust prone parts
- Shop towels, lint free rags
- Brake clean
- Thick sturdy copper wires to tie down calipers hanging from the strut coils, or other means of hanging them like bungee cords

List of tools I used, some are must, some are nice, and some are interesting to have:
- Engine support bar, I used Harbor Freight one http://www.harborfreight.com/1000-lb...bar-96524.html
- A good metric 3/8 socket and ratchet set
- 3/8 inch universal joint, 3 inch and 6 inch extensions
- ¼ inch universal joint, 3 inch and 6 inch extensions
- ¼ inch to 3/8 inch and vice versa socket adapters
- 3/8 inch to ½ inch and vice versa socket adapters
- 72 tooth (5 degrees per click) 3/8 ratchet with flex head, must have for one horizontal bolt on the oil pan. In general very useful.
- Automotive pry bar(s), 6 to 8 inch or so in length
- Silver or gold marker pen, preferably oil paint based.
- Stubby screw driver that accepts bits.
[Update 4/25/2016, An appropriate size line quick disconnect tool is needed to disconnect oil return line from the return tube. I found out later See details here http://www.e90post.com/forums/showpo...2&postcount=84 So 18 mm crescent wrench is not a must have, but it is still nice to have for suspension work (box side of it) ]
- 18 mm box and crescent wrench, must have for 2006 N52s for oil return pipe removal from oil pan. Also very nice to have for suspension bolts and nuts.
- 24 mm box wrench, almost must have for ball joint nuts on suspension.
- Good quality micro torque wrench (inch lbs resolution), must have for oil pan bolts
- 3/8 torque wrench, nice to have, could be done without if having good feel with tightening and experience.
- ½ inch torque wrench for bigger bolts and wheel bolts, as above nice to have and could be done if experienced enough with good feel.
- Big heavy hammer to beat down on the ball joints and stuck bolts and rotors. The one I used is 3 pounds.
- 24 inch 3/8 extension, almost must have for engine mount nuts from top of engine
- Appropriate size driver to install the CV axle seals. I used the same conduit and pipe parts I had used for bushing replacement procured from HomeDepot, described in this post http://www.e90post.com/forums/showth...5#post17739455
- Pedal depressor tool, must have not having someone around to help depressing the brake pedal for loosening and tightening the front drive shaft bolts. I used this one http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o02_s00
- Fluid pump that screws on to the differential oil container, something like this http://www.amazon.com/Plews-55001-Lu...rds=fluid+pump
- One quality floor jack capable of lifting the front of the car from front center lift point, must have
- Another jack, small could be even scissors type, must have but if having a pair of helping hands strong enough could be done without
- Quality pair of jack stands, must have
- Tire chokes, must have
- 5/32 punch about 8 inch or more in length. Good to have to break free the tie rod ball joint.
- ¼ inch 10 mm socket, needed for plastic coolant line on the front of the subframe. 3/8 socket got blocked by the sway bar. Or a 10 mm female hex bit that goes into a screw driver.
- 18 mm deep socket 3/8 inch. This was needed for the strut/shock assembly pinch bolt on the steering knuckle.
- A set of allen ( male hex) sockets, don’t remember the exact sizes at least used 5mm and 6 mm, needed for the ABS sensor, rotor hold down, and tie-rod ball joint
- A set of torx sockets and torx bits, used for different places.
- A set of E-torx sockets. I used only E12 though throughout. And E14 because of a replacement subframe bolt I had later ordered for a badly rusted. Originals from factory were hex bolts.
- 14 mm allen socket for the differential drain and fill plugs, not commonly found in sets, unless the set is for big allens.
- ½ inch air impact wrench, close to must have, definitely nice to have, for suspension bolts and nuts.
- If I hadn't had the air impact wrench I would had to use my breaker bars of different size and lengths along with heavy dead blow hammer.
- Auto inspection mirror, nice to have
- Pick set, nice to have. If not, having a good set of small thin flat screw drivers becomes a must have.
- Seal puller like this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...rch_detailpage. Very nice to have, they are cheap and very useful. A channel lock pliers could also be used, or even a big screw driver, but not as easier.
- A needle nose locking pliers whose teeth are covered with rubber gas lines. Used to lock one of the hood pistons in place to prevent accidental closing of the hood for safety. Nice and interesting to have. Learned about this from one of the EricTheCarGuy.com videos. This can be used to close down rubber hoses too. His videos on CV-axle replacements are good to watch if not done any CV-axle replacement in the past.
- Drain pan, at least capable of 7 qts, preferably larger for handling without spilling, must have.
- Another drain pan but smaller for differential oil draining
- Strap wrench for untightening oil filter cap.
- Dremel to grind down the tow hook to screw in at least 4 turns into engine block. A bench grinder wheel would be easier for this purpose but had to use what I had at hand.

Preparation work:
- While car parked on flat surface, measured the distance from the front wheel hub center to the center of the wheel well arch on the fender. This gave riding height, which would be needed to tighten correctly the bushing bolts on the thrust arm if I had needed to remove them. In the end I didn’t have to because I was able to remove the ball joint side of these arms.
- Parked the car with wheels straight. This was important to make sure I would place the steering column shaft correctly back in its place during reassembly.
- Pulled the emergency brake all the way and put the car in 1st gear.
- Loosened the wheel bolts but left them on, since the wheels would be removed after car is lifted.

Getting under the hood from top of engine ready for engine support bar and other related work :
The tow hook found in the car's trunk tool set fits on a threaded hole on the engine block near the oil filter housing. This hook gets threaded there and then used to hang or lift the engine up. But to be able to reach this hole, I had to remove the engine vanity cover, which meant removing all that is in the way:
- Lifted the engine hood up first. Bentley manual mentions to put the hood into “service position” and describes how to do this, ideally should be done as safety for hood coming down by accident. My hood pistons were still in good order, and I used a trick I had learned watching some of the EricTheCarGuy.com’s youtube videoes. He has a tool made by sliding in rubber gas line pieces on a needle nose locking pliers jaws. One use of this is to place it just under the hood piston and lock which blocks it from coming down by accident. So I went by this.
- Next needed to detach those plastic wire harnesses that go over the engine. There are two of these harnesses one on the front and one attached under the cabin air filter lower cover. Over the years I found a small L shaped allen tool for this purpose works best. A pick or even a small flat screw driver can also be used. Removing these without breaking takes some patience, the trick is finding the catches and applying pressure on them to free and pull out the parts. Picture shows these two harnesses freed and the pressure points on them to depress to free them:
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- Next removed the connection on the hood alarm switch on the driver side and disconnected it from the lower filter cover piece and let it hang to the side. Wire connection comes off by pressing a tab on its side, and the barbed wire “tie-down”s are easier to be removed by slipping them off horizontally rather than trying to pull them up vertically.
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- Removed the brake fluid reservoir cover there by prying free two plastic tab catches and one pull tab from the rubber sheet over there under. Mine was already broken and missing, thanks to dealer techs working on the car during warranty period. I can’t blame them too much though. Being a 2006 E90 car, mine was one of the ones they were getting their experiences on.
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- Then on the passenger side, detached the connection on outside air quality sensor (humidity sensor?), and freed its barbed “tie-downs” and let it hang out to the side.
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- Removed the car computer cover on passenger side, which is very similar to the brake fluid reservoir cover. The only difference it has windshield wiper fluid line attached to it also. I left this one as is, it could be removed easily though. I let this cover hang to the side also.
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- Next unbolted the hex bolts on the cabin air filter upper cover, 6 of them if memory correct, and removed it.
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- Next unbolted the two 10 mm I believe hex head screws on both sides of the lower cabin air filter cover. These bolts are revealed when the brake fluid reservoirs and computer covers are removed
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- Next is removing that lower cabin air filter cover. There are two tie downs like the tie downs on the sides of the brake fluid reservoir and computer covers that attach the cover to that black sheet rubber like seal on the sides. These needed to be freed and then carefully lifting and pulling out movement the lower cabin air filter cover comes off. This requires some finesse, there are three pronges (mid, left and right) of this cover piece at its bottom side that goes towards the firewall and they can break off if not paid attention during pulling out this piece. Again my middle one was broken off by the dealer techs at one point, again I guess a learning experience for them. I don’t know what BMW designers were thinking when designing this piece. It is like a puzzle to remove and especially to put it in place without breaking those plastic pronges
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- At this point all of the engine vanity cover was exposed, mine being a 2006 E90 N52 has a silver vanity cover which hides a magnesium metal valve cover. It is attached with 90 degree torx screws. Removed these and removed the engine vanity cover. I believe the black vanity covers that come with plastic valve cover N52’s use allen screws, but not sure
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These two pictures show the threaded hole on engine block to screw in the tow hook:
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- Before placing the engine support bar, I needed to remove a few more pieces from the engine top mainly to access the steering shaft universal joint, which I would disconnect to allow dropping the front axle frame as much as possible. First step removed the air duct that from above radiator to the engine air filter box. This comes off by removing two torx screws on the front at radiator upper support bar and then removing off from the air filter box with a tab there to be pried off.
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- Next disconnect the MAF sensor connector on the air filter box. Placed a thin flat screw driver to pry up its catch and removed it.
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Removed two bolts on the side of the air filter box that bolts it down to fender area. Then loosened the hose clamp with hex (8 mm?) bit and took out the air filter box. At this point checked if the black rubber dome shaped bump that air filter box sits on was still in its place. In the past I had once caused it to drop down and found out about it by having knocking noises coming from left of the steering shaft area. With this fallen off the air filter box was hitting that engine side support bracket directly causing noise. I found it lying on the engine belly cover. That cover keeps almost everything, even small nuts, and even leaking oil
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- Next I removed the air hose going from the air filter box to the engine, easily by loosening the clamp on it towards the engine. This left the steering shaft and universal joint it goes into on top of the steering rack fully accessible to remove the pinch bolt there.
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- Marked the position of the steering column shaft vs the universal joint with a marker, to make sure to put it in correct position when assembling it back. It can go in 180 degree increments, so a mistake there would cause 180 degree steering wheel being off, easy to notice and correct but marking it there makes it much easier to put it back correctly. Note that at start I made sure the car has its wheels straight, which makes easy to put it at the correct revolution also.
- Then removed the pinch bolt, which is an E-torx E-12 on that universal joint, and pried up the steering column shaft to free it. The steering column shaft is a telescobing one that goes in and out. The prying was needed because it had some corrosion bound from years, it could come out by just pulling it up on it if corrosion is low.
- At this point the engine ground strap is also visible along with the driver side engine mount. I have new shiny ground strap there because I had found a few months ago that my original had all corroded, green and broken, and so had replaced it already. It is a good opportunity to inspect it and replace while doing this work. On my car the part number was 12427549396. This picture shows the engine mount nut on driver side and the ground strap engine mount side:
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- It is also a good time to spray some penetrating oil on the engine mount nut there, but I didn’t have to because I had replaced my engine mounts not so recently either with new nuts. Same goes for the other engine mount nut on the passenger side. It is visible and sprayable from the top of the engine.
- Next tried to screw down the tow hook, but after just one or two turns the valve cover blocked it from turning anymore. The tow hook has some ribs that get in the way. I had to grind down these until I could get about four full turns screwing down the tow hook. Not sure how much this grinding off would weaken these tow hooks, but for holding the engine in that position from the support bar worked fine. New tow hooks can be bought from dealer or online.
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- Just to test it, temporarily placed the engine support bar with its feet on the fender channels and tied the lifter part to the hook. Placed a bubble level tool on top of engine and tightened the support bar hook bolt to see if it was able to lift the engine to relieve the weight from the engine mounts and to see if the fenders were able to hold the weight. Lifted what I felt like ¼ inch and everything looked fine, bubble on the level had moved showing engine moved up a little.
- Lowered support bar screw so that engine's full weight was again on the mounts and support bar was free. Did this because I hadn’t yet lifted the car on its front to work on it, and with the car lifted up like that angles could change a bit. It was a better idea to do the final hanging of the engine on the support bar after car was lifted, so I could adjust the support bar feet angles on the fenders correctly at final position.

Next post will continue with lifting up the car and starting disassembly of the steering knuckles with CV axles.

Last edited by PhaseP; 02-11-2017 at 08:20 PM.
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      01-03-2016, 08:31 PM   #2

Drives: 325XI
Join Date: May 2010
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Continuing with suspension work

Lifting up the car and disconnecting the suspension parts and etc
- Made sure the hand brake was fully on.
- Placed wheel chokes on the rear tires
- Lifted up the car from the front center lift position with a floor jack. Placed jack stands on the jack points on two sides. Then lowered the floor jack slowly so that the car's full weight is on the jack stands. Made sure car was stable and secure by pushing it on it from sides. Lifted up the floor jack just barely tucking the center lift position as a back up stand in case jack stands give way.
- Removed the wheel bolts on front wheels that was loosened early and removed the front wheels.
- Removed the six bolts on the aluminum reinforcement plate under the engine that is bolted to the subframe, and removed that plate
- Removed the plastic engine belly cover by removing all those 8 mm hex head screws. Had to lower the floor jack that I had in place as safety back up to get the belly cover out, but placed it back again after that barely tucking the center jack point on the subframe, as a safety measure again. Still the weight of the car was on the jack stands.
- Removed the other cover under the car that goes under the transmission. Removed also the two small triangular looking covers on two sides that fold up to the wheel wells. These have one 10 mm plastic nut and two or three 8 mm hex screws. Removing these gave access to control arm connections on the subframe.
- Placed an oil drain pan and removed the engine oil drain bolt and let the engine drain while doing all the other work. Engine holds 7 quarts of oil. It is better to drain the engine as long as possible so that not much oil would be dripping when oil pan is removed from the rest of the engine. I untightened the oil filter cap but didn’t fully remove, so that it allows air and let the oil there drain too. I used a strap wrench for this. This one in my experience is best in lack of the BMW oil filter cap wrench. Untightened the oil fill cap also to let air easily into engine for draining
- The other thing to drain is the front differential oil, since it will also come out as part of the job. The fill and drain plugs on the front differential are 14 mm allens. A 14 mm allen socket is needed. In the past I had read about using some jammed nuts on bolts that are 14 mm on outside size, but my try of that had ended up broken such bolts against the years of corrosion on them. Really a 14 mm allen socket is what is needed. These plugs have green o-rings on them as seals. I had replaced these plugs again not so recently due to a replacement of diff oil along with driver side seal replacement that was leaking. So I reused those that were already shiny. I verified after removing these that the o-rings were still pliable and not flattened. This is not something to cheap out in my opinion, that is why I had bought new ones when doing the oil replacement. Reason being if they leak, it is difficult to detect. And if the drain plug leaks it will render the differential without oil in short time which will damage it. These diff units are expensive, plus replacement of them requires dropping of the subframe and half axles, which is costly if paying someone to do the work. If doing yourself it is very time consuming. The cost of new plugs are not worth to risk those costs. Pictures shows the fill and drain plugs on the differential:
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- I first tried to loosen the fill plug of the differential, just in case, because as the rule says, if you can’t fill it don’t drain it. Loosened the fill plug using a 6 inch extension from the wheel well. After that removed the drain plug and drained. It holds 0.6 liters of oil.
- Next thing I tackled loosening the front drive shaft (the one goes from the front differential to the transfer case at the end of the transmission) bolts on the front differential input connection. This needs to be done while the brake rotors and the brake calipers are still in place and working on the spindles.
- First I marked the position of the front drive shaft on the front diff input, so that I would put it the same place as it was, not to risk any unbalance and vibration after assembly
- I also checked if there was any play on this drive shaft. It should practically have no play otherwise it should be replaced, as the Bentley says. The differential itself will have some play in its gears, called backlash I believe, which is normal. This can be observed while rotating the drive shaft. The play that shouldn’t be there at all is on the driveshaft itself, between its pieces on the universal joints it has. Mine was looking fine.
- To be able to loosen the bolts on the driveshaft, the front wheels need to be blocked from turning, having them up in the air I needed to use the brakes to lock them up from turning. For this I used a tool which I bought for this purpose to depress the brake pedal to lock up the front wheels while turning the bolts on the shaft on front diff connection. A helper person if available could be used to get in the car and depress brake the pedal, but I didn’t have that luxury. I placed the tool between the front of the driver seat and the brake pedal. Then moved the driver seat forward by pushing on the seat position button until the brake pedal was depressed.
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- Then got under the car, loosened one bolt there but didn’t remove from its place, then get out of under the car, release the brake pedal by moving the seat back, get under the car, turn the drive shaft to bring the next bolt into view, and get out of under car, move the seat forward to depress the brake pedal to be able to loosen the next bolt, and repeat this for the remaining two more bolts. My battery was in good condition, otherwise all these moving the seats with its motor could drain the battery good. I would have attached a battery charger under the engine hood in that case. During assembly for tightening these steps would be repeated in reverse for each bolt again.
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- Now time to disconnect the brake calipers and tie them up on the strut springs. On driver side, there is the brake pad wear sensor, first removed it by carefully pulling it out with a needle nose plier from its place.
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Then I removed the two bolts that hold the brake caliper bracket (not the slide pins), on the back side of the rotors.
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Then slid off the brake caliper with its bracket off of the rotors, then tied and hanged them up with a thick copper wire on the strut coil, in a way such that there is no stress on the brake hose. Those calipers would be hanging there for a long time during this job, probably more than a day or several days, so made sure they are tied up good and secure and brake hose was really free from any stress on it, no weight pulling on it.
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- Even though I hadn't removed the rotors at this point myself, I ended up having to remove them later on when I was trying to put the axles back in during reassembly. With the weight of the rotors there, it makes more difficult to handle the steering knuckle which has the axle attached to it. So I will write here as if I did remove them at this point, which is what I would have done if I were to do this job again. So this is not exactly necessary but makes the job much easier later on. I was afraid I would have to bang the rotor hat area with my big hammer to get it loose from rust over the hub surface but to my surprise, the anti-seize I had used in the past when I had replaced the rotors had really worked its magic. I first removed the hold down screw on the rotor hat, which is allen. This screw can be a challenge too. I suggest using an allen socket with a manual impact driver tool if this one is rusted badly and frozen, like this one http://www.sears.com/craftsman-impac...FZaPHwody5wNjw. I didn’t have any problem removing this bolt because I had used one of those stainless steel ones from ECS tuning at my previous brake job on these. Just as I removed these screws, to my surprise the rotors just dropped down by themselves, not needing any persuasion by hitting on the rotor hats with hammer. Thumbs up for anti-seize and the geomet coating on the rotors!
- After rotors off, next was to remove the dust cover plates on the spindles. After some small hex head bolts removed they came off rather easily.
- Next removed the nut on the tie rod ball joint on the steering knuckle. I loosened the nut there with an air impact wrench, but it started rotating freely towards end. All the nuts on the ball joints on suspension are 24 mm hex. The tie rod ball joint stud has a hex hole in it to be used to prevent it from turning while tightening or loosening the nut. I used 24mm box wrench along with the allen (don’t remember the exact size) socket wrench to completely remove the nut.
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- To free the tie rod ball joint stud from knuckle, I hit the knuckle where the ball joint stud goes through with my big hammer, using penetrating oil in the mean time, repeatedly. It took a lot of hits and still not coming free. Then I used a long enough punch I had that fit inside the hex hole on the ball joint stud end. Punch’s end was small enough not to damage the hex pattern there, I believe was 5/32 inches. I put the nut back on the ball joint stud enough to tug it not to crack from hits, and using this punch I hit with hammer pushing the ball joint down and out. Alternating between this and hammering the sides of the knuckle where the ball joint is, it finally popped free.
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continuing with next post....

Last edited by PhaseP; 02-11-2017 at 08:07 PM.
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      01-03-2016, 09:00 PM   #3

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Continuation of suspension work

... continuing from previous :

- Next on the list was to free steering knuckle from the thrust arm, or a.k.a tension strut. Or a.k.a front upper control arm due to having its ball joints oriented from top to down on the steering knuckle. workshop-manuals.com, which seems to be using some copy of BMW workshop manual, calls these "compression strut"s for the X-drive (AWD) versions. I guess it is about it is orientation. On the RWD models, this arm is connected to the frame of the car in front of the wheel. On X-drive (AWD) versions it is connected to the frame behind the wheel. In first case it is in tension when car moves forward, in the later it is in compression when the car moves forward. I had removed these not so long ago to replace the bushings on the other end of these “compression struts”, and had used anti-seize on the ball joint studs. So this time I opted to disconnect these arms from the ball joints. My reasoning was, it would be easier to handle the steering knuckle with the axle to remove and put back without the additional weight of this arm hanging from it. Also I wouldn’t have to bother compressing the strut coil to bring it to ride height before tightening the bushing bolt on the frame side of this arm if I had to remove it from the frame. Also the bolt on the bushing side is one time use ideally, it is torqued to yield during tightening. If I had too much trouble freeing from its ball joint due to rust I would chose disconnecting it from the frame at the other side where the bushing is. With the anti-seize used last time, these just dropped off without any need to use hammer on them. The first time I had removed them for bushing replacement, I had used a lot of penetrating oil, plus a lot of hammering on the arm where the ball joint stud goes through, and also applied downward force with a pry bar leveraging from the knuckle while hammering, which eventually had worked to pop off. Patience, persistence, penetrating oil, repeated impacts and heat works to free rusted parts. Patience and repeated impacts being the most crucial in my experience.
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- Also this ball joint pictured above has a torx hole to prevent it from turning during loosening and tightening, works well with the 24 mm box wrench. Initial loosening I used the ½ inch air impact wrench again, which is the best tool for that job.
- Next I removed the allen bolt that holds down the abs sensor to the steering knuckle. The bolt came out easily, but not the sensor. Even though the sensor is plastic, it was frozen in place due to rust build up around its hole and swelling up and tightening it. Used penetrating oil on it, and careful prying with a thin screw driver it came out fine. It could have been broken if I wasn’t careful, it is old plastic, becomes fragile. Bentley manual says to put some special grease on it before assembly, and seeing all that rust how froze it this made sense. Not having that whatever special grease BMW says to use, I used silicon grease that I had used on the brake pads when I put them back during assembly.
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- Next I removed the bolt that connects the “wishbone”, a.k.a front lower control arm due to its ball joint oriented from down to up on the steering knuckle, or just “control arm” as workshop-manuals.com BMW manual calls it. It is the straight control arm, not the curved one. I didn’t attempt to disconnect this from the ball joint end on the steering knuckle because the nut of that ball joint is blocked by the CV axle. Maybe a thin walled box wrench could fit there, but with the years of rust I doubt it would be enough to free it. So saved the trouble and disconnected the bolt and nut on the frame side of this arm. This bolt is also torqued to yield, but I had already bought new bolt and nut. An 18 mm box wrench comes handy here along with a socket on the other side.
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- The nut on this bolt came out fine, and the bolt on the driver side also came off after small tapping on it with a hammer. But the one on passenger side was not coming off. I put the nut back on the bolt so that it was flush with the bolts end, so that it would prevent the bolt from mushrooming from hammer hits, and started hitting heavily with big hammer, it wasn’t moving. Again after patience, persistence, multiple applications of penetrating oil, and hammer hits it finally started to move and then hitting it back and forth from either end with more penetrating oil applied the bolt finally came out. It was not only rusted to the inside of the bushing, but also the part of the bolt that was right after the bushing ends had swollen big rust developed on it. This diameter increase of the bolt due to rust was very effectively blocking it to move out of the bushing. I was glad to have bought new bolts to replace these, next time it would be easier to remove. Pictures of the bolt and the bushing inside with rust turned into paste finally with penetrating oil and hammering:
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- At this point the steering knuckle is supported by the strut/shock assembly, and still connected by the axle. My next step was to pop off the half axles, a.k.a CV axles from the differential. On driver’s side, the axles goes directly into the front differential. On the passenger side, it goes into a “pedestal” that is bolted on the side of the engine oil pan first. From there it goes through a tube inside the engine oil pan and then to the differential. Differential itself is bolted to the engine oil pan. Differential oil exist inside this tube going across the engine oil pan.
- First placed a drain pan where the axle goes into differential (or pedestal) to catch any differential oil that will likely to come off the axle seals during disassembly.
- The CV axles are held in place on the differential by c-springs. The ends of the axles are splined that spline into the side gears of the differential. The side gears have a grove cut into them. The axle spline ends also have a grove cut into them, but a c-spring is placed into this grove. When assembled this c-spring goes into the grove on the gear on the differential preventing it to come off. Because it is a spring, if compressed it gives way and lets the axle come out. This is done by sharply prying off the axle CV joint at the differential side by placing a pry bar between the CV joint and the differential body (or the pedestal on the passenger side). For the BMW I hadn’t luck with prying it off with sharp prying hits like that. So I placed the pry bar against the body of the CV joint housing, and hit the handle of the pry bar with a hammer and driving the axle out. After a few taps with hammer, it popped off. Sometimes rotating the axle 90 degrees and trying again works. The idea here is to just pop it off, not drive it all the way out. If it came out more than 1/2 inch, it means it did pop off. I can tell from the change in resistance when it does pop off.
- Before doing this I examined the position of the CV axle differential end to the differential, how flush it sits and how much end play it has. The c-spring allows maybe 1/8 inch or so play back and forth. I made a mental note of these so that during reassembly I would be able to tell better if axle had popped in good or not. On both sides when pushed towards differential the axle was very much sitting flush.
Below picture shows how I positioned the pry bar to tap at its end with a hammer to pop off free the axle from differential:
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- Then next thing left was disconnecting the strut/shock assembly from the steering knuckle. First I marked the position of the shock to the steering knuckle with a marker, gold or silver one preferable, and preferably paint based marker. This is because there are two spot welded tiny “dots” for the lack of a better word on the shocks that go into the “channel” on the steering knuckle which provide alignment of the shock with respect to the knuckle. These spot welded tiny dots break off very easily, even when new. Even if one of these are left, it still provides alignment, but if both of them brakes there is nothing left to provide alignment of the shock to the knuckle. Placing marking on the knuckle and shock before disassembly would work for this purpose in case these break off during disassembly or assembly. Also the shock decreases in diameter towards its end, and the place where shock goes in the knuckle also has a corresponding taper for it. This prevents the shock to go through the knuckle all the way in case the pinch bolt gets loosened during usage of the car. It is not very easy to at least for me to align the taper of the shock tube to the taper of the knuckle clasp there. By marking the position before disassembly (assuming previous assembly had got it right) it removes guess work there for reassembly.
- Next I supported the steering knuckle under by a block of wood I had whose height happened to be just right. Otherwise I would have used a small floor jack, or the scissors jack I had with a block of wood to support the knuckle from under. I placed it right under the wishbone ball joint for support. Then unbolted the pinch bolt and its nut on the shock/strut assembly that was securing it to the steering knuckle. This bolt and its nut, just as the other bolt and nuts (except the ball joint nuts which are 24 mm) were 18 mm. An 18 mm deep socket worked better here due the length of the not allowing my regular 18 mm socket to seat on all the way.
- My experience from changing the shocks on the car before had taught me not to leave the pinch bolt there once it is loosened. Because the bolt goes in between though two spot welded “dots” on the shock tube. If the steering knuckle is bumped up or down while the bolt is in there but loose, bolt hits these “dots” and breaks them off.
- At this point, I started to lower steering knuckle to free it from the shock/strut assembly. I didn’t have to but it could be needed to spread the knuckle clasp with a big screw driver or chisel, and use penetrating oil there to free it. I had replaced the shocks last year also, disassembly there wasn’t difficult.
- As lowering the knuckle and freeing from the shock, I was at the same time I carefully pulling the CV axle out of its place too. The spline part of the axles, especially the c-spring on it, can damage the axle seal lips if not being careful during removal. They can even cause the tiny round spring that goes inside the lip of the axle seal get removed and drop there behind the seal. I had bought new axle seals anyway, and were going to replace these seals. Again, the differential being that expensive, and the work being so costly or time consuming and the seals being already old, being disturbed during this job, it didn’t make any sense to try to save money on new seals. In any case when I removed the old seals later on, I made sure their round springs where on them, not had fallen down to the differential anywhere.
- So I removed the steering knuckles with the CV axles attached to them, being careful to keep the parts of the axles that go into the differential clean. I tried to be careful not to introduce any dirt or small rocks that into the differential during the whole job. Any small rock that would end up in the differential could easily destroy the bearings in there by time.

After doing the disassembly on both sides and removing the steering knuckles along with the CV axles, suspension part of the disassembly was done. Next was starting to drop the subframe, which continues on the next post...

Last edited by PhaseP; 02-11-2017 at 08:01 PM.
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      01-03-2016, 09:43 PM   #4

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Starting to drop the subframe, but not so fast

Continuing from above, it was time to start to drop the subframe, but there still were steps to be done to get there.

- I removed the four bolts on the front drive shaft that connects it to the front differential input flange, which was already loosened earlier on. I let the drive shaft rest on the subframe. Thinking about it now, it would be better to leave this step after the subframe was dropped.
- Next I used a 24 inch extension bar and loosened but didn’t remove the engine mount nuts from the top of the engine. I had decided to remove the engine mounts for easier work later on. This wasn’t necessary but did help with the work later on.
This picture shows the 24 inch extension on the engine mount nut on passenger side:
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I had replaced the engine mounts already, so they were fine. It is a perfect time to replace these if they are worn.
- I also loosened the engine mount bolts from under the car, but didn’t remove these also yet. Picture shows one bolt, there are two per mount.
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- Next I placed the engine support bar from Harbor Freight which I had already tested before for its working, using that tow hook on screwed on that engine hole and support bar holding the engine from it. I lifted the engine about ¼ inch or so (used again that bubble lever to be able to tell) using the support bar, to relieve the weight on the engine mounts.
- Next disconnected the oil sensor wire, pressing on its sides relieves it from what I remember. My car didn’t have any additional ground wire there, other cars may have, not sure
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- Next I removed the bracket like cover that covers and protects the fuel lines on the driver side beside the engine/transmission. This is where the engine ground strap I mentioned earlier gets bolted to the frame. The nuts are 10 mm but made from sheet metal and easily cam out, and not very easy to reach. I used ¼” six point (12 points slide out easily) with universal joint and extensions to remove this. I found out that I should better have left this job after I had dropped the subframe down. It is much easier that way. Thanks to krashfinatik for his DIY for the RWD version of oil pan gasket replacement for mentioning removal of this bracket. I also have a 2006 E90, which has an oil return line to the oil pan from the oil separator somewhere under the intake manifold. I wouldn’t have thought about this if I hadn’t read at krashfinatik’s DIY. Later model N52’s with plastic valve cover doesn’t have this return line, oil separation is done inside the valve cover.
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- Next I removed the bolts securing the “pedestal” to the engine oil pan and removed the “pedestal”. There is an o-ring at the connection of pedestal to the engine oil pan tube that seals the differential oil. This o-ring had already flattened out and lost any springiness, would definitely leak if reused. Picture shows the left two bolts of the "pedestal", there are two more on the right:
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- Next step was to free what looks like power steering fluid loop behind the radiator from the subframe. It is attached to the subframe with one bolt looks like, but not sure. The bolt looked very rusty and hard to reach. Not to risk breaking it trying to loosen, I decided to remove the nuts on those three rubber mount looking things, which were also very rusty. I didn’t pay attention at this point being tired, and thought that the nuts that were on threaded rods that were going all the way through those rubber mounts to the other side. So while trying to free the nuts from down I broke two of these, then before damaging the third one I realized that the rubber cylinder thingies had some hex metal things that the studs are coming from on top and bottom, and I had to hold these hex metal thingies with crescent wrench or some sort of pliers and then remove the nuts. This worked with the help of penetrating oil and small impact wrench on that third one. During assembly screwed some sheet metal type screws directly into those rubber mount thingies that I had broken the hex metal tabs on them, which worked. Checking at realoem.com, these things are not sold separately, the whole hose assembly is sold and couple hundred bucks. The screws into the rubber worked anyways.
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- Next on the way is the black plastic coolant pipe that is screwed to the subframe in three places that runs behind the radiator, below and along the sway bar. The two hex screws 10 mm I believe are on the front above the sway bar running across, and third one is on the driver side close to the area where the steering rack hose connections are made. Penetrating oil an the two front bolts came out easy, but had to use ¼ inch sockets. 3/8 inch wasn’t fitting with sway bar on the way. I wasn’t going to remove the sway bar, because in the end the subframe will hang off of the sway bar and sway bar links to the strut shocks. Otherwise subframe would have been hanging off of the power steering lines and they wouldn’t be able to handle its weight.
- The third screw for that black plastic coolant line required some joint flexing on the arms and using a stubby screw driver and a 10 mm hex bit finally worked, and the coolant line was free off of the subframe
Pictures below show these:
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- I also removed a power steering line from its plastic bracket that would be otherwise stretched when subframe is dropped. The plastic bracket was on the side where that black rubber mount thingy for the air filter box sits on.
- Next I completely removed the bolts on the engine mounts from bottom, two bolts per mount. Old bolts were e-torx, newer updated replacement bolts were hex, from my time I had replaced the mounts. The bolts can came out with some aluminum pieces stuck on them on their threads. If reusing the bolts and the mounts, bolts need to be cleaned of these, and ideally the mount holes retapped or cleaned.
- Now everything, at least for my car with stick shift transmission was done to be able to start dropping the subframe. Auto transmission cars are reported to have additional transmission fluid lines that need to be disconnected or detached, don’t know, not sure, not my problem. If they do need to be disconnected, tranny fluid will need to be topped off.

Next post the subframe is really being dropped....

Last edited by PhaseP; 02-11-2017 at 07:58 PM.
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      01-03-2016, 09:51 PM   #5

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Now really dropping the subframe and the rest

Continuing from above, really dropping the subframe:

- I already had the floor jack positioned at the center jacking point on the subframe. I started loosening the six bolts that secure the subframe to the body of the car. There are four long bolts and two shorter bolts. The long ones are on the front and middle and short ones are on the back, going in at an angle to the body. I was watching if the engine support bracket was holding good the engine up there. I worked slowly loosening these bolts and dropping the subframe together with lowering the jack slow by slow. Watched out if any coolant or power steering lines were getting pinched or stretched on the way. When all done the back off the subframe completely got down and front of it was rested on the floor jack. If I were to remove the floor jack, the subframe would have been resting on the sway bar through the sway bar links connected to the strut/shock assemblies. The power steering lines going to the steering rack were long enough to allow this much drop.
- While dropping off the subframe, I lowered the front drive shaft on a propped up wooden block, so that it wasn’t strained on the transfer case side of it. If I had removed the drive shaft bolts after dropping off the subframe this wouldn’t had to be done simultaneously.
- Next thing was removal of the differential. I put back the drain and fill plugs on the differential to prevent dirt entering from those places, but didn’t torque these down yet. Removed the four bolts that secure it to the oil pan and removed. I was able to do it without help of a jack to support it, but it was cumbersome and diff was somewhat heavy, it could have slipped from my hands and fallen down. The auto transmission models are mentioned to have a breather tube that needs to be disconnected from the differential.
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- As next step, I decided to work on the axle seals of the differential and pedestial as a break from lying under the car. Removed the axle seals with seal removal tool. In the past I had used channel pliers same way, but the tool makes it much easier. To drive the new seals I used conduit plus plumbing combination I had used in the pass to press in thrust arm bushing, since this turned out to be perfect size for the seals too. Details of this driving "tool" is in this post: http://www.e90post.com/forums/showth...5#post17739455
I first placed the differential on two block that are higher than the o-ring carrying protrusion part of it that goes into the oil pan tube, so that it was protected. That o-ring carrying section is thin walled and could be broken while driving the seal in. Put some diff oil around the outer side of the new seal and slowly hammered it in until it was flush with differential case. Paid attention to drive the seal straight, if it was starting go crooked, I started to hammer the opposite side, and in the end it was there flush and straight. Did the same to replace the pedestal axle seal too.
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- Replaced the o-rings on both the differential and pedestal. Put again some oil on the o-rings for them to go in easy and seat well.
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- The axle seals come with new c-rings for the axle spline ends. Replaced these two.
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To remove the old c-rings from the axle spline ends, placed a thin small screw driver (a pick would work too) on one end of the c-ring, locking that end between the splines. Then with another but bigger screw driver pulled the c-ring from its other end until it came off. I wore eye protection while doing this in case that ring or something else popped off unwantedly. The new rings went in rather easily by placing them over their grove on the axle ends and pushing them down until they clip in place. Cleaned the ends of the axles with some compressed air and then put some oil on them. The oil would help with reassembly later on.
- Now back under the car, first I removed the nuts holding the engine mounts from above the engine using that 24 inch extension. This wasn’t really necessary but it was easy to get them out of the way this way.

Next post removal of engine oil pan...

Last edited by PhaseP; 02-11-2017 at 07:52 PM.
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      01-03-2016, 10:05 PM   #6

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Continuing with removal of engine oil pan

Continuing with removal of engine oil pan from above:

- Time had finally came to remove the oil pan. First I had to disconnect the oil return line that goes into the engine oil pan. This is specific to metal valve cover (2006 model in US) N52 engines. A plastic tube goes into the engine oil pan which is threaded into the pan, and an o-ring seals it on the oil pan. This tube is connected to an upper oil return line, with some kind of quick disconnect. Which as much as I tried to figure out looking at it, pressing on it, looking at any picture I could find on the internet, I couldn’t figure out exactly how to press where to disconnect it. Added on 4/25/2016 This line is meant to be disconnected by an appropriate size fuel/ac quick disconnect tool. Please see this post for details http://www.e90post.com/forums/showpo...2&postcount=84 The following sentences that describe how to remove the oil tube by unthreading it from the oil pan is not necessary. I figured this out later. My past experience had thought me that, if I don’t press or pry exactly as it was meant to be, I wouldn’t be able to disconnect this tube from that line without breaking it. But I was expecting this thanks to Krashfinatik’s DIY on the RWD version of oil pan gasket replacement, who had successfully disconnected it. So I was prepared to try another way. I had already bought the o-ring seal for this tube. And the tube has an 18 mm hex section on it that is used for screwing it into the oil pan. I had my 18mm crescent wrench ready. So I started unscrewing it from the oil pan with this wrench. The quick (but difficult) disconnect on the top of this tube was allowing the tube to rotate on its axis. After some time unscrewing this tube, which had a long thread section that goes into the oil pan, I had freed this tube from the oil pan.
- Next step, removed the three bolts that bolt from the transmission bell housing side into the oil pan horizontally. These are steel bolts, not marked blue. Two of them also secure the bracket that hold the electrical wire to the oil level sensor. The other one holds down a bracket that the clutch hydraulic line is attached. This one was difficult to remove due to not having much room to fit a wrench there and turn it. I used a 72 tooth (5 degrees per click) 3/8 ratchet wrench with flex head along with a universal joint to be able to remove and reassemble this. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to.
- Next I started removing the oil pan bolts. Started from outside bolts going in a spiral pattern as much as possible. There were three bolts that corresponded to where the “pedestal” was attached which was something easy to miss. I left two bolts on each side hanging on their last threads to prevent the oil pan falling off down to ground. The oil pan as expected was glued to the engine block from staying there for all those years with the gasket. But it was nice of the BMW engineers this time to put some prying places on the engine oil pan, one on each side. Using these I carefully pried off the oil pan, and hitting at the pan with some rubber mallet a few times to break the bond also helped.
- Before prying the oil pan off, I counted 29 holes on the new gasket that I had bought which was BMW branded, but I had removed only 28 bolts!!!! Counted many times it was still 1 bolt missing, but I was not seeing where it was. Finally before losing my mind, I realized the gasket had one extra bolt than the holes on the oil pan. The extra hole was where the pedestal section was.
- The oil pan didn’t drop down once I had freed it from the engine block. One coolant line running across the front of the engine had caught it there. This line had a plastic bracket securing it on the front and another bracket on the front side of the engine. I opened up the bracket on the front but as I tried to force the line out of it, I realized it would very likely break this aged plastic bracket. Then checking the side one, it also felt like it would break the plastic bracket. So I undid the torx screw that has holding down the bracket on the front side of the engine. Along with this having the front brackets lock tab being open was enough to pull the coolant line to let the oil pan free from it.
Pictures below show these brackets, 2nd one has its hold down screw already removed:
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- Because the subframe was completely dropped down, it was easy to pull the oil pan out from under car. To my luck, the oil pan gasket had come down as one piece, no piece of it was left on the engine crank case surface. Even though it was still stuck to the oil pan, it came off as one piece from it too after some carefully prying off. I was lucky there, not needing to clean up gasket residue from either surface.
The oil pan down on the ground, along with the subframe dropped down:
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A shot of the underside of the engine exposed:
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And a picture showing that oil return pipe hanging off of its connection to the upper line with the oil pan removed:
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- Next I cleaned oil pan with lint free rags, didn’t use any break cleaner or similar kind yet. I was afraid these could damage the oil level sensor. So removed the three nuts that hold the oil level sensor in place and pushed the oil level sensor oil of the oil pan. I had bought the oil level sensor gasket to replace it. It wasn’t leaking and it can be replaced without removal of oil pan, but it was a very good opportunity to do it at that point. Being able to push it down vs trying to pry it from under was another benefit doing it while pan is out.
- Before placing the oil level sensor with its new seal, I cleaned the oil pan more with some brake parts cleaner spray, but I tried to stay away from the plate where the pedestal gets bolted down. Because this plate on the oil pan is sealed with what looked like some kind of sheet of RTV silicone and was afraid brake cleaner could damage and cause leak on that seal.
- Then placed the oil level sensor with new seal, and new nuts. It was recommended to use new nuts in Bentley manual for this. So decided to get new nuts for this, probably using some anti-seize would suffice too with old nuts. The torque spec for these nuts are: 2 Nm ( 18 INCH lb) initially, then 8.5 Nm (75 INCH lb) at second stage. I didn’t bother using torque wrench on these, I had a good feel for how much it would be. But I did do the initial low torque to seat the seal and the full snug to tighten.
- Next I cleaned the mating surface on engine block from any oil or debris. By this time (several days later) no oil was dripping off of the engine, which was good, I didn’t had to race cleaning the oil drips while trying to put the oil pan back on with its gasket.

Next post putting the oil pan back on:

Last edited by PhaseP; 02-11-2017 at 07:48 PM.
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      01-03-2016, 10:24 PM   #7

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Putting the oil pan back on

Continuing from previous post:

- I placed the new gasket on the oil pan, and lightly tied from right and left with zip ties one two wholes so that it stayed aligned to the wholes during assembly. This had been another very useful tip from Krashfinatik.
- Next I removed the o-ring from the oil return pipe (remember that metal valve cover N52 version antiquity), and put some oil on the new o-ring and slid it up on the oil return pipe.
- While making sure the oil return pipe is going into its hole, lifted up the oil pan with the gasket, pushed away that coolant line to get the front of the oil pan positioned. This coolant line actually was very useful, it was holding the oil pan there preventing it from falling down.
- I started threading in the oil return pipe into the engine oil pan. This was stressful somewhat, because I was afraid I would cross thread it, it being plastic and the pan being metal and lining it up correctly not straightforward. I used my very old learned trick of turning it counter clock wise until it clicks when the threads line up and thread on bolt falls from the end of the thread on the other surface. But it being plastic, it was not easy to feel this click. I took my time and being patient I was able to start the thread correctly and tightened it down snug. It was using an o-ring and was plastic, so it didn’t require much torque to tighten. The torque spec for this tube is 6 Nm (4.4 ftlbs or 53.1 inch lb), so it is very low. There is no way to put a torque wrench there in that position any way, only may be with a crow foot, but I didn’t bother.
- After lining up the wholes I started slowly threading in the engine oil pan bolts. After one bolt from each side and one from font and back was threaded in, I cut the zip ties and removed them. Then started threading in all the bolts, and also the steel bolts that I reused that go from bell housing to the oil pan horizontally.
- As I mentioned in parts list in the first post above, one oil pan bolt that is to the right of the pedestal I believe, is 10mm longer than the other bolts that come with the oil pan bolt set, and is sold separately. It is same aluminum bolt with white locktite granules stripe on it as the other short bolts on the set, but just 10 mm longer.
- After threading in all the bolts on the oil pan, I first made a drawing off the oil pan holes on a paper, so that I would be able to mark the bolts as I tighten on the paper, not to miss any or double tighten and break any. I had painted the bolts with blue metal paint I happened to had from old house work. So I didn’t want to put marks on the bolts, rather keep track on paper.
- I started to tighten them down starting from middle and going on on a mixed criss cross and spiral path. I first tightened them to the 8 Nm (5.9 ft lb or 70 INCH lbs), then again going on the spiral path starting from middle did the final yield angle torquing. The torque spec on these bolts are given as:
- M8x26 (short bolts) 8 Nm (5.9 ft lb, 70 INCH lbs) initial, then 90 degrees additional
- M8x92 (long bolts) 8 Nm (5.9 ft lb, 70 INCH lbs) initial, then 180 degrees additional
- M8x112 (even longer bolts) 8 Nm (5.9 ft lb, 70 INCH lbs) initial, then 180 degrees additional
- I used the same 8Nm plus 90 degrees for that single bolt that was a 36 mm in length.
- I took my time for torquing, and I was using a not so bad quality Craftsman micro torque wrench with 25-250 inch lbs range ( 3 Nm – 28 Nm). The white locktite thingy granular stripe on the bolts increased friction as they made into the threads on the crankcase, and these were causing false clicking of the torque wrench, before the bolt had tightened the pan. I was realizing this by both seeing it visually, but also noticing that even the wrench was clicking it was still continuing turning the bolt. When bolt’s head was really right up pushing on the oil pan lip, the click on the wrench was not being followed by still turning of the bolt. Although if I were to push the wrench forcefully it would still be turning after click when bolt was really tight at that torque setting. So some finesse was required. I was worried torqueing those long bolts 180 degrees that they would break off, but they didn’t. I could feel the bolts were indeed being stretched at the final tightening of those yield angles.
- For the steel bolts that go from bell housing into the oil pan, I didn’t look up their torque specs. I tightened them by feel.
- And for the rest, assembly is the reverse of disassembly…. For the most part it was true, if not for popping in the CV axles back in.

Next post continues with rest of the reassembly.
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      01-03-2016, 10:34 PM   #8

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Popping in the CV axles back in and the rest of the assembly

Continuing from previous post.

I will write my assembly steps here, though I may have forgetten or miss some of them.

- After oil pan was fully tightened, I locked the tab that coolant line going infront of the engine oil pan. Then put back the torx screw that holds down the other plastic bracket that secures that same coolant line on the front side of the engine on drivers side. This was hard to reach, I either used a stubby screw driver with correct torx bit, or universal joint with my 72 tooth, flex head ratched, don’t remember exactly. I had noticed a similar plastic bracket towards the back of the engine on the continuation of that coolant line somewhere under power steering fluid reservoir had also opened up, closed that one too.
- Put the engine mounts in their places and started the nuts on top of them from engine brackets. The orientation of the engine mounts was made to match the locating pin on the engine mount to match a corresponding whole on the subframe. Right and left engine mounts are same and replaceable.
- Bolted down the “pedestal” on passenger side of the oil pan with its new o-ring. Made sure tube along the oil pan was free of any debris. Torque specs for these four bolts are: 26.5 Nm (19.6 ft lbs)
- Lifted up the differential with its new o-ring, placed into the oil pan on bolted it on. Torque spec: 65 Nm (48 ft lbs)
- Torqued down the drain plug of the differential: 60 Nm (44 ft lbs), left the fill plug in there but not tightened down yet.
- Attached the front drive shaft to the front differential input flange, by aligning the marks put before disassembly. Placed the bolts but didn’t tighten yet, because this requires the CV axles and rotors and calipers to be in place so that the front axles can be locked for torqueing down.
- Placed that black protection plate on the driver side frame under the car and bolted it in its place. This is the fuel line protection plate that was removed to be able to access the oil return pipe.
- Using a block of wood and another small jack lifted up the rear section of the subframe into position. The other jack was already on the center lift position on front of the subframe.
- Slowly started lifting up the subframe with these two jacks, watching any coolant or steering lines are getting pinched or stretched or not. Watch out for the steering wheel shaft that was disconnected, it has tendency to slide to the side of the engine mount and if left there it binds the subframe going up. Needs to be placed somewhere on top of the engine mount while the subframe is being lifted into position.
- As lifting subframe up placed that black plastic coolant pipe in its place in front of the subframe but didn’t screw it down yet.
- As subframe got close to the engine mounts, aligned the engine mounts with their locating pin to the corresponding whole on the subframe and placed the engine mount bolts and started threading them but not tighten.
- Also as the subframe was being lifted up slowly, I started threading in the subframe bolts.
- Finally as subframe and everything else was in place, especially the engine mounts not pinched or bound, started tightening the subframe bolts. The tightening order is to first tighten the two front bolts then rear bolts, going criss cross in between. The torque spec for the subframe bolts are:
E90 M12 bolts 108 Nm (80 ft lbs)
E92 M10 bolts 56 Nm then 90 degrees additional turn (41 ft lbs then 90 degree turn)
E92 using yield to torque means replacing with new bolts
- Placed the power steering line into its own plastic bracket that I had removed from that is somewhere near that black rubber mount thingy for the engine air filter box.
- Removed the engine oil pan drain plug bolt. Replaced its copper seal washer with the new seal that came with the oil filter kit. Placed and tightened the oil pan drain bolt, torque spec: 25 Nm (18.4 ft lb)
- Tightened the engine mount bolts from below into the subframe. Torque specs: 28 Nm (20.6 ft lbs), source rmeuropean.com DIY.
- At this point engine was supported back on the subframe through engine mounts. Removed the engine support bracket on top of engine, removed the tow hook from the engine block.
- Tightened the engine mount nuts from top of engine using 24 inch extension with sockets. Torque spec if M10 10.9 grade 56 Nm (41 ft lbs). If E92 and M10 38 Nm (28 ft lbs) says my notes, I think I took this E92 info from workshop-manuals.com, but not very sure of it.
- Positioned and screwed down on three places that black coolant tube to the front of the subframe.
- Positioned and bolted (screwed for broken ones) the power steering loop to the rubber mounts on its bracket behind the radiator.
- Now came the difficult part, placing the CV axles with the steering knuckles. It actually wasn’t difficult once I figured out exactly how to do it, but this took some! trial and error to arrive at. What finally I found out was the best and probably correct way of doing this goes like this: First removed completely but temporarily that red plastic seal protection thingy from the axle seals that came with the new seals. Oiled the inner lips of the axles seals with diff oil, and put back the red plastic protection thingies on to them. But opened the inner ring part of these red thingies. The axle will go through outer red ring, which has two notches along it. The inner ring of this protective thing will be used to pull it out. The pull of the inner ring sometimes is enough for the notches of the outer ring to break and whole thing come off. If not one the notches can be cut off by a knife and taken out this way. The purpose of this red protective rings is to protected the inner lip of the new seal to be scored and damaged by the end splines or the c-ring of the axle while it is being pushed through it during assembly. So after the spline section of the axle is pushed over it, they are taken out as described, otherwise of course they will prevent the axle to go in completely.
- Started with the passenger side axle, since it has a very long section and so makes it more difficult, and it was better to attack the more difficult one first when more fresh energy.
- I made sure the axle spline end is clean, and oiled with diff oil to aid in placing it in the corresponding splines on the differential.
- Placed the knuckle on a block of wood supported by a small jack under the ball joint of the wishbone. Then aligned the axle on the axle seal hole and by moving the whole axle plus knuckle assembly forward and upward started feeding the axle into the differential from the axle seal hole. After the spline part made through the seal hole, I pulled out the outer ring by pulling on the inner ring standing free of that red plastic seal protective piece. Then cut the notch all the way to get it off. Then continued with pushing and lifting up the knuckle and axle assembly, knuckle being still supported by jack on a block of wood.
- The axle as being pushed in came across some hurdles along their ways.But until axles were more or less 1/2 inch away from being flush with the pedestal (or the differential on drivers side) they were able to be forced in by hand to move forward. Once they were ½ inch away from their final position, they were at the point such that their splines were being aligning with the splines of the gear on the differential. But not going any further because of the c-ring on it. Whether or not the splines had reached the start of the splines on the differential side gears could be verified by turning the axles and observing the other axle (or the gear through the hole, if the other axle was not in place yet) turning or not, usually other direction being an open differential.
- Once the axle is in that position ready to be pushed for its c-ring pop into its place in the differential, I positioned the strut/shock tube to its place on the knuckle, and placed the wishbone on its corresponding position on the subframe and placed its bolt, but not its nut, because the wishbone was placed temporarily there at this time.
- Next aligned the strut/shock tube on its two spot welded nuts to the channel on the knuckle and started lifting up the knuckle with the jack underneath it, watching out not to bind the strut in its hole and keeping the alignment and making sure no wires like brake pad sensor or abs sensor is being pinched. Especially the bracket that holds the brake line tends was getting bound if not positioned correctly.
- Lifted the knuckle up until the taper on the strut tube at the bottom section lined up with the taper on the knuckle at that place and the two “dots” are in the correct place. The alignment marks placed during disassembly helped here. I verified its alignment by using an inspection mirror at the behind. Once it was all aligned correctly placed the pinch bolt on the knuckle with brake line bracket in line and started tightening its nut. All the front suspension bolts go from front of the car towards rear, Bentley manual says to use the same direction as the bolts were originally placed for the suspension.
- So I tightened up the pinch bolt for the strut/shock assembly. Torque spec:
M12 81 Nm (60 ft lbs)
M10 45 Nm (34 ft lbs)
If I remember correctly my bolt was M12 so I used 60 ft lbs, but not positive. If going by the book these are supposed to be replaced too.
- This was final tightening for that bolt for reassembly, not temporary.
- At this point, I removed the jack with the block of wood from under the knuckle and also removed the bolt attaching the wishbone to the subframe and let the wish bone hang down freely. Now I had the steering knuckle hanging from the strut tower. I verified the end of the axle was sitting correctly on the spline of the differential gear one more time. Then I swung the knuckle along with the axle towards differential (or pedestial) in a sudden force, which on passenger side immediately popped the axle in place, and on driver side pushed it inititally half way and two more swing pushes popped that in place two. I verified that axles had popped in places or not by pushing them in all the way and seeing that they were flush as they were before disassembly. They still had that 1/8 inch or less play when pushed out, which again was same as I had checked before disassembly.
- Next I put the wishbone back in its place with its bolt on the subframe. Then attached the “compression strut” (thrust arm) into the ball joint on the knuckle. Also attached the tie-rod to its ball joint. And then tightened them all, with the following specs, taken from workshop-manuals.com, some of the specs are not in agreement with my version of Bentley manual. But I used these ones because workshop-manuals.com was differentiating AWD (x-drive) vs RWD, where as Bentley wasn’t while giving these specs, and differences between them were on these. So the specs I used personally for my X-drive were:

Wish bone (control arm) to subframe: M12 8.8 68 Nm (50 ft lbs) then 90 degrees
M12 10.9 100 Nm (74 ft lbs) then 90 degrees.
Mine were 10.9 grade bolts, bought new, so went with the later spec.
Tie rod to steering knuckle (AWD) 80 Nm (59 ft lbs) (RWD is given as 165 Nm 122 ft lbs), use new nut
Compression strut (AWD) (thrust arm) to steering knuckle ball joint 80 Nm (59 ft lbs) (RWD says tension strut and 122 ft lbs), use new nut
Compression strut (AWD) (thrust arm) to subframe bolt 68 Nm (50 ft lbs) first, then 90 degrees additional, use new bolt and nut.

- I didn’t have to remove the bolt on the subframe compression strut (thrust arm), but listing the spec here as reference for that bolt and nut too:
 68 Nm (50 ft ls) first, then 90 degrees additional. New bolt and nut. This could be for 8.8 grade bolt, since it uses for same bolt and nut as the wishbone uses there. And wishbone is speced for 8.8 and 10.9 grade differently. If 10.9 grade is used, then wishbone 10.9 grade spec more appropriate. Again new bolt and nut is needed.
- Any torque to yield, i.e. 2nd stage angle turn torque specs are for new bolts. Reusing bolt should be careful not to overtighten to break the bolts, nor under tighten to let them come free.
- Also if I had to remove and then assembly the thrust arm (compression strut) bolt on subframe, not to twist the bushing rubber I would had to lift the steering knuckle with jack until its hub center to wheel fender arch came to the measured one when car was on its wheels on flat surface and then tighten.
- I did use new nuts for all the ball joints, and the compression strut to subframe bolt and nut. All these nuts, including the subframe bolt nut are self locking, with threads cut progressively tighter.
- Next I routed and attached the ABS sensors on the steering knuckles. I covered this sensor with a thin coating of silicone grease I had for brake work before placing it in and tightening down its hold down bolt.
- Then I placed the dust shields on the steering knuckles and screwed them down with the 4 screws.
- Next I cleaned the hub surface, placed some antiseize around the hub center and placed the break rotor back on, and tightened the brake rotor hold down screw. Used some antiseize on that screw too. Cleaned the surfaces of the rotors with brake cleaner.
- Then lowered brake calipers down one at a time, pushed pads apart just a bit more for easier placement with a woodworkers quick clamp which I found a good tool to use for this. Placed the calipers and tightened from behind with the two bolts. Torque spec 110 Nm (81 ft lbs)
- Routed and placed the brake sensor on driver side back on the brake caliper.
- Next step since the differential was sealed once again was to fill it. Ideally it should be filled when car is level, because it is filled up to the rim of the fill hole, which is indicated by oil coming out of the fill hole, and incline would change the amount of oil that fills up the hole. I filled it at this point though. The oil capacity of the front differential is 600ml, so I pumped in at least this much oil and closed the fill plug quickly so that it wasn’t getting less than 600ml in it. Not ideal but that was what I could do. I used the fluid pump that screws into oil bottle mentioned in the tools list in first post. Finally closed and tightened the fill plug on the differential, torque spec 60 Nm (44 ft lbs).
- At this point since the brakes were back functional, I continued with tightening the front drive shaft bolts. Book says to use new bolts, which is what I did. I first get inside the car and pumped the brake pad two times all the way down. This was needed because to seat the brake pads in position which were pushed apart by me with clamp during assembly. Then I positioned that tool again between the front of the driver seat and brake pedal and pushed the seat forward until brake pedal was depressed. Then tightened one bolt, then released the brake pedal, turned the shaft to get the next bolt, press the brake pedal tightened bolt and so on until all four were tightened. The torque specs: 15 ft lbs initial, then 45 degrees additional. Moving driver seat back and forth could drain the battery, using a battery charger could be a good idea while doing this, or before and after doing this.
- Next step was to reattach the steering column shaft. For this by eye, I positioned the wheels straight by pushing and pulling on the tie rods. Then made sure the steering wheel was also still at straight position. Then from top of the engine aligned the marks I had put on the streering column shaft and the universal joint on the steering rack and pushed the steering column shaft back into the joint. I used a new pinch bolt for this, which is again recommended by the book. If reusing the bolt, blue Loctite would be applied, so it doesn’t work its way out and left without steering, which would be scary. New bolt comes with the Loctite kind of paste on its threads. They call it something like micro capsules , which my understanding upon pressure during tightening the threads, these capsules break up and release the locking compound that are inside. Torque spec: 21 Nm (15.5 ft lbs) The new bolt wasn’t initially threading in correctly due to left over loctite, so I had to clean the threads by using the old bolt then use the new bolt.
- Replaced the oil filter with new, replaced the two o-rings that come with the filter kit on the oil filter housing cap. Put some oil on the o-rings before placing them, especially the bigger black one. Paid attention to where exactly this black one ended up. In the past I had done a mistake one time which had caused it to ride up just under the edge of the cap and had caused oil leak. Cleaned as much as possible the oil filter housing inside from oil. Placed the oil filter cap with the new filter pushed and snugly fit inside it over its housing and screwed it down by hand. Made sure the black o-ring didn’t ride up during this and stayed completely inside the housing. I don’t remember the exact torque for this, but I just tighten by hand. I think it is written on top the cap, but this would require the correct wrench to be used to be able to attach a torque wrench. There used to be a green mark to align that was placed from the factory but along the years this mark washed away.
- I had already replaced copper crush washer seal and torqued the engine oil drain plug in one of the previous steps.
- Filled the engine with 7 qts of proper engine oil and closed the fill cap.
- Placed the engine vanity cover and screwed it down.
- Made sure the MAF sensor wire was not tangled positioned where it needed to be.
- Placed the short air intake pipe, which has alignment point on it on the engine intake manifold side, tightened the clamp.
- Placed the air filter box, fit it into the air pipe by pushing and rotating. This I believe also has an alignment point. Placed and tightened two bolts of the air filter box to the fender side. Tightened the clamp on the air pipe it goes into. Plugged in the MAF sensor wire. Then connected the front air duct to the air filter box by pushing it in. Then positioned and placed this air duct on its place above the radiator support, and tightened it down via those two torx screws.
- Placed the lower cabin air filter cover its place, making sure the two wires on each side were not going to be below it and making sure the hanging computer cover on the passenger side is not getting in its way. This requires always some patience and finesse with its pronges underneath it and the two hold down thingies coming from those rubber sheets on the sides and the need to come with a perfect angle from top and pushing down and forward at the same time. Once this was in, bolted it in place on its two front sides with the 10 mm bolts. Then placed the upper cabin air filter cover and screwed it down with six screws. Paid attention not to tighten these too much to cause stripping off the threads which is easy to do being screwed into plastic and removed and tightened a lot. I used the technique of starting with counter clock turning until hearing and feeling a click that indicates the two threads are at their starting point aligned especially on these.
- Then placed the brake fluid reservoir cover it in place, and the computer cover as well. Routed the hood alarm switch wire and pushed down the barbed tie down in place and plugged it in. Routed outside air quality sensor wire same way and plugged it in as well.
- At this point engine could be started to test if there was any leak.
- Put the stick shift in neutral, started the engine. Had to make sure car was in neutral and wheels wouldn't turn, since the front tires were still off of the car and car was on jack stands. Checked under verified no oil leaks from engine or differential seals and plugs. Turned off the engine.
- Pushed the wire harness bridge over the engine that goes below the cabin air filter lower cover into its tracks until they clicked secure. Then pushed the other wire harness bridge to its tracks there until they also clicked secure.
- Removed the locking pliers whose teeth were covered with gas line pieces from the engine hood piston, closed the hood.
- Placed the reinforcement plate under the car, with its 6 bolts. These are also torque to yield bolts and going by the book need to be replaced, but I didn’t. In the past I had sometimes and sometimes not. The torque spec for using new bolts is as following, reusing bolts I just go by feel: 56 Nm (41 ft lbs) initial then 90 degrees
- Placed and screwed the side triangular looking plastic cover pieces under the car, then the other two plastic cover pieces. The triangular small pieces use a plastic nut each along with the screws.
- Put the tires on the wheels, tightened bolts by hand, lifted the car more, removed jack stands, then lowered the car down. Tightened the wheel bolts in criss cross manner when tires were on ground, torque spec 120 Nm (88.8 ft lbs)
- Removed the wheel chokes from rear tires.

And it was done!!! THE END!

Last edited by PhaseP; 05-12-2016 at 05:23 PM.
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      01-08-2016, 02:44 AM   #9
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Drives: 2006 e91
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Oh My God ! This is exactly What I 've looking for since I bought my E91 325xi two months ago.
Not only the info about dealing with the Front Differential, lots of pictures and detail.

Hats off to you !!

Last edited by RL325xi; 01-11-2016 at 08:31 PM.
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      01-13-2016, 01:54 PM   #10
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Drives: 2006 330i
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Awesome write up! I don't own an x drive but I'm going to tackle this job this weekend on my 330i and appreciate all the details of the job!!
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      04-11-2016, 10:58 AM   #11

Drives: 2007 328xi Sonora Metallic
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Fort Washington, MD

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Supurb post by PhaseP!

I have a 2007 328Xi (96K miles) and I couldn't find the oil pan gasket removal and installation in the Bentley manual. I will be performing this procedure soon. This post will definitely help! PhaseP excellent job! I know this took a lot of time from your part to get together. I'm also installing all new front suspension components, engine mounts and valve cover gasket which has a small leak. I'm new to this forum and live in Fort Washington Maryland. If anyone wants to stop by and help they are more than welcome, !
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      05-12-2016, 02:06 PM   #12
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Drives: 07 328 wagon
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: New York

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I think Im due for this....changed the OFHG and cured that problem, but oil is still oozing from the pan gasket....I hope thats all...

thanks very much for this very detailed write up...bookmarked!

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      05-12-2016, 03:52 PM   #13
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Drives: '07 E92 328xi 6MT
Join Date: Sep 2010
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Just got quoted $1,100 for this job today. I'll probably just let them do it, but this DIY is much appreciated!
2007 328xi E92 6MT Jet Black/Coral Red | NJ BMW CCA | Tracks: NJMP
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      06-03-2016, 11:35 PM   #14
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Amazing DIY. Just replaced the water pump and thermostat on wife's N52 X5 and what should've been a 2 hour job turned into 6 because of all the 4WD crap and massive front subframe which blocks everything.

Almost cried when I saw the oil pan gasket was leaking because of the nightmare I knew it'd be with everything in the way. Definitely going to use this post as guide! Thank you.
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      06-04-2016, 05:07 PM   #15

Drives: 325XI
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I hear you on the waterpump/thermostat, I did the same a month or so ago on my car.
One would have thought X5 would have more room, but looks like it doesn't. Oil pan gasket is a lot of work, good luck and I do suggest be prepared it may take longer than you allocated time for it!
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      07-15-2016, 11:14 AM   #16
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Re-using Fasteners


Did you reuse the main subframe bolts? Can you reuse the aluminum nuts?
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      07-15-2016, 11:29 AM   #17

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Originally Posted by eddie90 View Post

Did you reuse the main subframe bolts? Can you reuse the aluminum nuts?
Other than one which was rusted badly I did reuse subframe bolts. That rusted one was rusted and eaten out in the middle section making it weak. I replaced this later on when I bought new bolt.
Which aluminum nuts are you referring to? I didn't see any aluminum nuts working on the car.
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      07-15-2016, 05:44 PM   #18
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I thought the nuts were aluminum too. I'm about to do mine but the new bolts are kind of expensive. I might only replace the lock-nuts. And there's no need to replace the spindle nuts either right?

Last edited by eddie90; 07-15-2016 at 05:54 PM.
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      07-15-2016, 06:56 PM   #19

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I didn't see any aluminum nuts on the whole car.

For the oil pan gasket, the only aluminum bolts are the ones that bolt the oil pan to the crankcase. They are to be replaced, and there is a set of them that are sold, which I should have given in the list above for my car. You can look in realoem.com if your cars need different.

For xi you need to buy one more aluminum bolt that doesn't come in the set for the oil pan, it is different in length than what is found in the set. It is also mentioned in my write up above in the list I believe. This single bolt is also listed in the realoem.com diagrams as single piece.

By spindle nuts, again which are you referring to?

If you are referring to the nuts used on the suspension, like ball joint nuts, control arm nuts. If you go by the book they are to be replaced. I do suggest you replace at least the ball joint nuts, they are self locking and so one time use ideally.

If you are referring to the nut that holds the axle to the spindle, you don't need to undo it, you take out the axles with the spindle. Or you can remove the axles and leave the spindle, but that would be more work I believe.
Well if you do remove the spindle nut on the axle, it will have to replaced because it is staked to the axle on two opposite sides so that it doesn't come out at all by vibration. Removal will damage the staked parts, so you will need new ones. But again I didn't remove the axles from the spindle. This is how manuals were telling to do also.
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      07-22-2016, 07:33 AM   #20
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Drives: 2006 325i, Sport Model
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Awesome DIY PhaseP. I should take some pointers from you. Very thorough.
Thanks for the "big up" in the beginning.
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      01-22-2017, 06:30 PM   #21
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Well, the time has finally come to replace wifey's N52 X5 oil pan gasket and this thread will be my bible. I'm actually not replacing the gasket because it's leaking oil (because it is) but because the motor mounts are completely shot and need replacing ASAP. There is vibration at idle and major clunking going over bumps. I've already replaced the control arms AND thrust arms in hopes it would solve the sloppy/clunky front end issue and while the suspension feels significantly better...the clunk is still there, still maddening and it makes the car drive like pewp.
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      01-28-2017, 01:07 PM   #22
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Tag for future reference....
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