This article gives detailed instructions on replacing the fuel pump and fuel filter in a BMW E60/E61 vehicle. Even though we used a 2006 530xi touring wagon to perform this repair, this article can be applied to any 2004-2010 5 series vehicle with minor modifications to the repair steps.
A BMW E60 fuel pump replacement is an easy repair for the savvy home mechanic that can help cure hard engine starts.
A popular misconception among BMW enthusiasts is that the fuel delivery system in 2004-2010 5 series vehicles is a single component. Technically the fuel system in the BMW E60 sedan and E61 touring wagon consists of two units that work in tandem to transport gasoline from the fuel storage tank to the engine. The right fuel pump/level sensor contains an electric pump that draws gasoline out of the tank and sends it to the left fuel filter/level sensor. The left fuel filter/level sensor receives the gasoline and sends it through a self contained pressure regulator before channeling it to the engine’s fuel rail.
Although there is no definitive time span as to how long a BMW E60 fuel pump system will last, the BMW Repair Guide has noticed a high failure rate at around 120,000 miles. The most frequent symptom of a failing BMW E60 fuel pump is a “hard start”…especially if the vehicle has not been running for a few days. Other symptoms of a failing fuel delivery system are a complete no start, poor acceleration, stalling or rough idling engine.
The question still remains as to which part of the fuel delivery system should be replaced if it is diagnosed as the source of any of the above symptoms. The answer is…both units should always be replaced together. If one of the fuel delivery units is failing, it is almost certain that the other is not far behind it. Even thought the BMW E60 fuel pump and fuel filter are located in opposite sides of the gas tank they should be treated as one unit and always replaced together.
A broken fuel filter on a BMW E60 5 series…it cracked and fell into the gas tank when the locking ring was being removed with a hammer and punch.A BMW E60 fuel pump replacement is a relatively easy repair for the home mechanic with average skills, and it will save a very expensive trip to the dealership. We cannot stress enough using the proper tool to remove the screw caps (locking rings) from the top of the fuel pump and fuel filter units. Many mechanics use a hammer and a punch to “spin” the caps off – this is the wrong way to remove the locking rings and can cause damage to the fuel tank itself. The following image shows the top of a fuel filter that a mechanic attempted to remove with a hammer and punch. The fuel filter was old and brittle and ended up shattering from the impact of the hammer sending plastic debris into the fuel tank. Always use a fuel pump removal tool…they are inexpensive and easy to find (see our tool list below).
1. Fuel pump (required) – The BMW E60 fuel pump is located in the right side of the fuel tank. We cannot stress enough the importance of using an OEM quality pump when performing this repair. Cheap “aftermarket” pumps have a high failure rate and will not make it another 100,000 miles like and OEM version. We give you several choices based on your brand preference and budget.
2. Fuel filter (required) – The fuel filter is located on the left side of the tank. It should always be replaced with the fuel pump. Even though the fuel filter and the pump are separated on either side of the gas tank, they should be treated as one unit and always replaced together.
3. Sealing rings (optional) – Although not mandatory, it is suggested that the sealing rings are replaced when performing a BMW E60 fuel pump replacement. New sealing rings are cheap insurance against your fuel pump or fuel filter leaking fuel under the rear seat.
Removing the BMW E60 fuel pump and fuel filter is a relatively easy procedure. We cannot stress enough the importance of using a fuel pump tool to remove the screw caps (locking rings) that anchor the filter and pump to the fuel tank. Not using the tool can cause the pump or filter to rupture, scattering plastic bits throughout your gas tank. If you do not have a fuel pump tool stop now and order one from our tool list above.
- ALWAYS disconnect your vehicle’s battery before performing this repair. Since you will be working with electronics in an open fuel tank, not disconnecting the battery could have tragic consequences. It is also important to remember that the BMW E60 has a automatic priming fuel rail…if you do not disconnect the battery there is a potential for spraying fuel all over the back of you vehicle when the fuel filter is disconnected.
- Grasp the bottom of the rear seat and pull it loose from the body of the vehicle. Remove the seat from the vehicle.
- Unsnap any wiring harnesses so they can be moved out of the work area.
- Grasp the sound insulation and fold it back out of the work area.
- Starting on the left side of the vehicle, use a 10mm socket wrench to remove the metal fuel filter cover.
- Depress the locking tabs on the fuel feed line’s quick release fitting. Remove the fuel feed line from the top of the fuel filter.
- Remove the screw cap from the top of the fuel filter using a fuel pump removal tool. NEVER use a hammer and punch to turn the ring…you could cause the filter to rupture sending plastic debris into the fuel tank. We use the OEM Tools fuel pump spanner wrench on all of our BMW vehicles…to order one click here. If the screw cap is stuck causing it to turn the fuel filter STOP NOW and go to the next step. DO NOT try and force the screw cap off or continue turning the fuel filter – the fuel filter will break and fall into the fuel tank.
- If the screw cap will not come loose, you will need to have a helper wedge a flat blade screwdriver against the adapter ring while turning the screw cap. This will keep the fuel filter from spinning allowing the screw cap to easily come off. The following images show the procedure being being performed on the fuel pump…but it is exactly the same for the fuel filter.
- With the screw cap removed, grasp the fuel filter and remove it from the tank. Our fuel filter broke into pieces during removal as you can see below.
- Disconnect the fuel pump lines and the unplug the fuel filter electrical connection as shown below. Remove the fuel filter from the vehicle.
- Moving to the right side of the vehicle, use a 10mm socket wrench to remove the metal fuel pump cover. Disconnect the power to the fuel pump by sliding the plastic locking mechanism back and pulling the plug free from the pump.
- Remove the screw cap from the pump. If it is stuck see step 8 above.
- Slowly and carefully remove the fuel pump from the vehicle. USE PATIENCE. Do not try and force the pump out. It is normal for the fuel lines to get stuck inside the tank. If the fuel lines get caught in the tank, slowly rotate the pump while gently pulling until they free themselves.
- Remove the BMW E60 fuel pump from the tank.
Installing the new BMW E60 fuel pump requires patience…the space inside the tank is tight and it is often a challenge feeding the fuel lines over to the fuel filter. We always use a piece of heavy gauge wire to “snake” through the tank so the fuel lines can be pulled over to the filter.
- Trying to push the new fuel pump lines through the tank to the filter is often a lesson in futility…it is nearly impossible. We use heavy gauge wire (available at any home improvement store) to snake through the tank so the fuel lines can be pulled over. It is important to have a helper to assist with this process so the lines don’t get snagged and break.
- Start by snaking the heavy gauge wire from the fuel filter opening over to the fuel pump.
- Loop the wire around the fuel line as shown below and use a zip tie it to secure it in position. NEVER USE TAPE, rubber bands, or any other type of fastener that can fall off into the tank.
- Using a helper, slowly and gently pull the fuel lines over to the fuel filter opening. DO NOT FORCE THEM. If they get snagged or hung up, gently rotate them until they pull free.
- If your new fuel filter came with the level sensor detached, connect it now to the fuel filter as shown below.
- Install the new rubber seal that came with the fuel filter.
- Connect the two fuel lines and the electrical connection to the fuel filter.
- Install the fuel filter into the tank and tighten the screw cap until it is snug.
- Reconnect the fuel feed line to the top of the new fuel filter. Make sure it clicks snugly into place.
- Install the fuel pump back into the tank, plug its electrical connection back in and install its screw cap.
- Reconnect the battery.
- Before reinstalling the metal covers and the seat, start the vehicle and test for normal operation.
- If the vehicle is operating normally, replace the metal pump and filter covers and reinstall the rear seat.