BMW E46 Fuel Filter Replacement – 1998-2006 3 Series – M52/M54 6 Cylinder Engine

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bmw fuel filter replacement

BMW E46 Fuel Filter Replacement – 2 Hours

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The BMW Repair Guide used this 2003 325ci for the following article. To see other repairs on our site using this actual car, please click on the image below!

Repair Summary
The following article gives detailed instructions on performing a fuel filter replacement on a BMW E46 3 series car. Even though we have used a 2003 BMW E46 325ci to perform this installation, this article can be applied to any BMW E46 3 series vehicle with the M52 or M54 six cylinder engine, including the 323i, 325i, 328i and 330i coupes, sedans and convertibles.

If you are experiencing sluggish acceleration, rough idle, or are having trouble starting your vehicle, it may be time for a BMW fuel filter replacement. It is recommended that you regularly change the fuel filter on your BMW as part of a “healthy” fuel system maintenance program.

One of the best maintenance programs you can run on your BMW is making sure you are feeding your engine plenty of good clean fuel. Filling up regularly with a good quality gasoline (we personally use Shell 93 octane only…but let’s not start that debate) is a major part of that maintenance program. Including a good fuel additive (like Techron) on a regular basis is also key. Doing both of these will help ensure you BMW engine runs smooth and delivers the power, performance and fuel efficiency you expect out of you bimmer. Well…for the most part.

Even though you are consciously maintaining your bimmer by using the best gasoline, it’s an unfortunate fact that dirt, water and microparticles are still finding their way into your fuel system. As these little beasties collect in your fuel filter they restrict the flow of gasoline, causing a drop in engine fuel pressure and a loss in performance and efficiency. A badly clogged fuel filter will most certainly cause a fuel pump failure, or even worse clogged fuel injectors. A regular BMW fuel filter replacement is cheap insurance against costly repairs down the line.

There is a lot of online chatter concerning when to change the fuel filter on your E46 3 series. Our opinion is this: you should do a BMW fuel filter replacement every 30,000 miles or 2 years, whichever occurs first. It’s that important. The fuel filter was installed in your BMW as a replaceable maintenance item to protect your engine and your fuel pump. It should be changed on a regular basis, just like your oil filter. 

The good news is a BMW fuel filter replacement on the 3 series E46 is relatively inexpensive. A decent fuel filter will cost you under $100 and can be installed in about an hour or so. We show you how in the following step by step procedures.

If you are not just completing a regular scheduled fuel filter maintenance, but rather are trying to diagnose a fuel delivery issue in your car (possible damaged fuel pump, clogged fuel injectors, etc), we highly suggest you run a BMW fuel pressure test prior to doing any repairs. It is simple to do, and may save time and money while trying to pinpoint the cause of your fuel issue! We show you how by clicking here.

***The BMW M52 engine (323i and 328i) has a slightly different fuel filter with only one inlet port. The BMW M54 engine (325i and 330i) has two inlet ports. Make sure to double check your year and model vehicle before ordering this part for your BMW fuel filter replacement.

Parts, Tools and Supplies

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Parts

1. Fuel filter (required) The fuel filters for the M52 and M54 six cylinder engines are different…make sure you purchase the correct one. Not sure which engine you have in your E46 3 series? Use our engine finder above.

Part Quantity Part # Description
Fuel filter – 12019 1 13327512019 OEM Mann – all E46 models with the M54 engine (325i and 330i)
Fuel filter – 40985 1 13321740985 OEM Mann – all E46 models with the M52 engine (323i and 328i)

 

2. Hose clamps (required) Always use new hose clamps when replacing your fuel filter. Filters for M52 engines need two clamps…M54 filters need three clamps.

Part Quantity Part # Description
Hose clamp L12-13 – 52104 Varies 7129952104 Genuine BMW – 12mm-15mm

 

3. Air filter (optional)Doing a little maintenance on your BMW E46 3 series? Now is a great time to install a new air filter. Add some clean air to your engine to compliment the fresh fuel filter!

Part Quantity Part # Description
Air filter – 44869 1 13721744869 OEM Mann – All E46 models with M54 engine (325i and 330i)
Air filter – 30946 1 13721730946 OEM Mahle – All E46 models with M52 engine (323i and 328i)

 

Tools and Supplies
Floor jack – low profile
Wheel Ramps
8mm nut driver (or 8mm socket wrench)
10mm socket wrench
Screwdriver – flat blade
Hose pinch off pliers
Drain pan – 5 gallon

Procedure
    1. Jack and support your vehicle using the “four corner” wheel stand method. Please click here to learn how to properly jack and support your vehicle for this repair.
    2. The BMW E46 fuel filter is located on the left side of the vehicle approximately mid way back. It is covered with a metal plate.bmw E46 fuel filter - locate the fuel filter under vehiclebmw E46 fuel filter - filter location
    3. Using an 8mm nut driver or socket wrench, remove the bolts securing the fuel filter cover to the chassis of the vehicle. Note the last two bolts are a bit difficult to get to…we have found that using a deep 8mm socket on a spinner handle is the easiest way to remove them.bmw E46 fuel filter - remove the fuel filter coverbmw E46 fuel filter - remove the filter cover8mm deep socket helps with cover bolt removal
    4. Remove the fuel filter cover exposing the fuel filter and fuel lines.bmw E46 fuel filter - remove the filter cover
    5. Use a 10mm socket wrench to remove the fuel filter mounting bolt. With the bolt removed, unhook the fuel filter mounting bracket from the chassis so the fuel filter hangs freely from the vehicle.bmw E46 fuel filter - remove the filter mounting bracketUnhook the bracket
    6. Use a flat blade screwdriver to loosen front fuel line hose clamp.bmw E46 fuel filter - remove front fuel line(s)
    7. Remove front metal fuel line from flexible filter outlet fuel hose, then quickly attach a small pair of pinch off pliers to stop the flow of fuel out of the filter. Make sure you have a 5 gallon drain pan under the filter to catch any spilled fuel.Clamp off the front furl line(s) so fuel doesn't spill out of the filter
    8. Remove the vacuum line from front of fuel filter with the aid of a flat blade screwdriver. Be extra careful not to break line when removing.bmw E46 fuel filter - remove the vacuum line
    9. Attach a large pair of pinch off pliers to the two flexible filter inlet fuel hoses on the back of the fuel filter (only 1 hose on M52 engine vehicles). Use a flat blade screwdriver to loosen the hose clamps.bmw E46 fuel filter - pinch off the rear fuel hose(s)
    10. Pry the fuel hoses off of the back of the fuel filter using a flat blade screwdriver. Be aware the fuel hoses may be well stuck on the fuel filter inlets – take your time and slowly work them off with the screwdriver being careful not to rip or puncture them. It may take a little persistence, but they will pull loose.bmw E46 fuel filter - remove the rear fuel hose(s)
    11. Remove fuel filter from vehicle and drain excess fuel into 5 gallon drain pan.bmw E46 fuel filter - remove the fuel filter from the vehicle
    12. On a bench, prep the new fuel filter for installation. Remove the filter outlet fuel hose from old filter and install on new filter with two new 12mm-13mm hose clamps. Remove the metal mounting bracket from old filter and install over rubber protection sleeve on new filter. Always make sure arrow on fuel filter points towards direction of fuel flow…especially on M52 engine filters that have only one fuel inlet!Prep the new fuel filter for installation
    13. Install the fuel filter into vehicle, starting with the rear fuel inlets (or inlet). Make sure to always use new 12mm-13mm hose clamps that are securely fastened.bmw E46 fuel filter - always use new hose clamps when installing a new filter
    14. Install vacuum line and front metal fuel line and secure with new 12mm-13mm hose clamps.bmw E46 fuel filter - install the vacuum line
    15. Align fuel filter rubber protection sleeve and mounting bracket in center of fuel filter. Hook the mounting bracket back into the two slots on the chassis.bmw E46 fuel filter - install the mounting bracket
    16. Finish installation by replacing mounting bracket bolt and fuel filter cover.

 

BMW E46 Fuel Filter Replacement Finished
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.
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