BMW Fuel Pressure Test – Fuel Rail/Schrader Valve Method

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bmw fuel pressure test

BMW Fuel Pressure Test Time – 30 Minutes

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If your BMW experiences a lack of power, hesitation during acceleration or poor fuel economy, you may be having an issue with your vehicle’s fuel pressure. A BMW fuel pressure test is a standard diagnostic procedure that is both easy and inexpensive to perform.

As complex as our BMW fuel systems may sometimes seem, they actually operate using very straight forward principles. Fuel is pumped from the gas tank through a network of lines and hoses to the engine fuel rail, where it is fed into the cylinders via the fuel injectors. Much like a simple garden hose, the fuel injectors spray the pressurized fuel in a fine mist into the cylinders, ensuring a complete and efficient ignition process.

BMW has very strict specifications on the fuel pressure that is supplied to the fuel injectors. Any variations in fuel pressure can cause a variety of symptoms including lack of power, hesitation during acceleration and poor fuel economy. If your vehicle is experiencing any of these issues, do yourself a favor and perform a quick BMW fuel pressure test before running any other diagnostics.

A BMW fuel pressure test requires attaching a simple fuel pressure gauge to the schrader valve located on the engine’s fuel rail. Starting the car (or turning the engine over several times if the vehicle is not running) will immediately pressurize the fuel rail and give you a reading on your gauge. Most BMW engines require a fuel pressure of 3.5 bars (51 psi), with a deviation of plus or minus .2 bars (3 psi) allowed. High performance M engines require higher fuel pressures, usually 5 bars (73 psi) with a deviation of plus or minus .2 bars (3 psi) allowed.

Parts, Tools and Supplies

Parts
No parts are required

Tools and Supplies
Fuel pressure test kit
Torx bit
10mm socket wrench or nut driver
Slip joint pliers

Procedure
  1. Remove the cabin air filter housing at the back of the engine by detaching its cover and removing the 4 torx screws that mount it to the firewall.bmw fuel pressure testbmw fuel pressure test
  2. Using a metal pick, remove the 2 small plastic tabs covering the mounting bolts on the right engine cover.bmw fuel pressure test
  3. Remove the two 10mm bolts securing the right engine cover exposing the engine’s fuel rail and schrader valve.bmw fuel pressure testbmw fuel pressure test
  4. Remove the cap off the schrader valve.bmw fuel pressure test
  5. The fuel pressure must be released from the fuel rail prior to attaching the fuel pressure gauge. The simplest way to do this is to use a small flat blade screwdriver to press down on the valve stem inside the schrader valve (the same way you would release air from the schrader valve on a bicycle tire). Use your other hand and wrap a large rag tightly around the valve when pressing down the stem to capture the fuel that will be sprayed out under pressure. No need to panic on this step…the fuel will only spray out for a couple seconds…just be sure to wipe up any that escapes your rag.bmw fuel pressure testbmw fuel pressure test
  6. Attach the fuel pressure gauge to the schrader valve. Use a pair of slip joint pliers to make sure the connection is tight.bmw fuel pressure testbmw fuel pressure test
  7. Make sure the guage is clear of any moving engine parts and start vehicle. Let idle for about 15 seconds, then turn vehicle off and check the reading on pressure gauge . As you can see, our reading for this 2003 325ci is a little low at 2.9 bars. We should be at 3.5 bars (plus or minus .2 bars). The most likely culprit is a dirty fuel filter/fuel pressure regulator.

    It’s a good idea to always have your phone or a camera handy when reading test results on diagnostic equipment like pressure and vacuum gauges. Take a photo of the results instead of writing them down or trying to commit them to memory. You will never question yourself when you have a photo of the data!
    bmw fuel pressure test
  8. Release the pressure from the fuel rail by wrapping a towel around the slip joint pliers and slightly loosening connection. bmw fuel pressure test
  9. Remove fuel pressure gauge, replace schrader valve cap, and reassemble vehicle by following steps 1-3 in reverse.

 

Test finished
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment on this article or 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.