BMW E46 Blower Resistor Replacement Time – 3 Hours
If the air has stopped blowing in your 3 series, then you probably need to replace your BMW E46 blower resistor and blower motor assembly. When one part fails, the other is not far behind, so it is best to replace both.
***This article deals with replacing the BMW E46 blower resistor only. To learn how to replace the blower motor on your car, read our article BMW E46 Blower Motor Replacement.
Replacing a BMW E46 blower resistor sucks. There…I said it. Once again I take my hat off to BMW engineering; they managed to shove an easy to replace part with a limited life expectancy in an awkward spot under the passenger side console. It’s time to brush up on those yoga skills.
The good news is a new BMW E46 blower resistor is fairly cheap, and you need very few tools to accomplish this repair. And the best news is, this repair will save you a ton of money by not getting the repair shop or dealership involved.
The BMW E46 blower resistor is an electronic part that controls the fan speed of your vehicle’s air-conditioning/heating (HVAC) system. Since most drivers constantly change the fan speed of their HVAC system, the resistor is prone to extreme wear and is a common point of failure in most BMWs. Symptoms of a bad resistor are: system is stuck on one fan speed, some speeds are not available, or the system is not blowing any air out of the vents. Although not necessary, the BMW Repair Guide suggests changing your BMW E46’s blower motor as well when replacing a bad resistor; since both parts are linked to each other, failure of one usually means failure of the other is not far off.
BMW E46 blower resistor
Tools and Supplies
flat blade screwdriver
T20 torx bit
- In order to access the BMW E46 blower resistor, you will need to remove the passenger side glove compartment. The first step is to detach the door from the side catches by removing two plastic pins (rivets) with a flat blade screwdriver.
- Now it’s time to remove the glove box housing. Remove the five phillips head screws securing the housing to the dashboard.
- Disconnect all wiring harnesses from back of glove box housing.
- Remove the black plastic trim panel that contains the footwell courtesy light. The piece of trim does not have screws…it simply pulls out. We suggest pulling the right side out first.
- Move to the lower left corner of the footwell until you see the black actuator housing. This must be removed to get to the blower resistor which is inconveniently mounted behind it. There are two T20 screws anchoring it…one (the left one) is difficult to spot. Use a flashlight if necessary to get to it.
- Using a flat blade screwdriver, gently pry the metal control arm up and out of the white plastic connector on the plastic actuator bracket. It is very important not to break the white connector during the process. If you do break the white connector, you can order a new actuator bracket here. Remove the actuator bracket and place out of the way (you do not need to disconnect its electrical connector).
- The BMW E46 blower resistor is now visible. Unplug the electrical connector to the blower resistor. You now have easy access to the two blower resistor screws.
- Remove the two screws securing the blower resistor using a T20 torx bit.
- Use a flatblade screwdriver to release the clip holding the BMW E46 blower resistor in place. This clip can be a pain in the butt…I suggest putting a much pressure on it as possible while pulling on the resistor until it becomes free.
- Remove resistor from dashboard.
Reinstalling new blower resistor
Follow the steps in reverse to install the new resistor. There are only two tricky parts during installation:
- reinstalling the actuator bracket can be frustrating. Make sure it is lined up correctly (refer to one of the photos above) and start by inserting the lower right screw first. The upper left screw is tough to get to and is better installed second. (see step 5)
- Make sure the metal control arm is accessible (not buried under dash) when you reinstall the actuator bracket. Use care and patience when reattaching the control arm to the actuator bracket plastic fitting (see step 6)
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. And congratulations for Doing It Yourself!
The Repair Difficulty Level displays graphically how challenging the repair is, from easy to advanced. Easy repairs usually require very few tools, have short repair times and do not require jacking and supporting the vehicle. As the difficulty level rises, expect the repair to demand more time, specialized tools, and better understanding of mechanics to complete the job.