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Pelican Technical Article:

Jacking Up Your BMW

Nick Czerula

Time:

15 minutes15 mins

Tab:

$50

Talent:

*

Tools:

Floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Jack pad

Hot Tip:

Work on a solid level surface

Performance Gain:

Ability to service components beneath vehicle.

Complementary Modification:

Replace jack pads

Jacking up and supporting your BMW off the ground is required for many maintenance and repair tasks. It's a common but not so difficult job that still creates a bit of anxiety in the mind of the experienced mechanic as well as the amateur. A repeatable process with safety in mind can ease the nerves.

Some important tips to remember though:

  • Always work on level solid ground: You don't want to be working under a car parked at an angle.
  • Use tools you trust: Don't use that old, rusted jack stand that you bought at a garage sale years ago.
  • Never rush the job: Patience is the key to safely and enjoyably work under a metal behemoth such as an automobile.
  • Block those wheels!: It helps prevent any unwanted vehicle movement.
  • Use a good quality jack and jack stands - Don't be afraid to add an additional jack stand or support under the vehicle

When jacking the front of your vehicle, place the transmission in park and apply parking brake, along with blocking the wheels with a chock. Use wheel chocks on the right and left front wheels (in front and behind tire).

BMW E46 models have 4 solid rubber jacking pads, slightly behind front wheels and slightly in front of rear wheels (green arrows).
Figure 1

BMW E46 models have 4 solid rubber jacking pads, slightly behind front wheels and slightly in front of rear wheels (green arrows).

The jack pads are designed to support the vehicle from below when using a hoist, hydraulic jack, or when changing a tire in an emergency situation.
Figure 2

The jack pads are designed to support the vehicle from below when using a hoist, hydraulic jack, or when changing a tire in an emergency situation. This is where you will place a jack stand to support vehicle when working with vehicle raised (green arrows).

If a jack pad is missing, replace it before jacking vehicle, otherwise body damage can occur.
Figure 3

If a jack pad is missing, replace it before jacking vehicle, otherwise body damage can occur. This photo shows jack pad area with missing jack pad. Jack pad snaps into hole in body (green arrows).

To replace a jack pad.
Figure 4

To replace a jack pad. Pull out the center expanding rivet (green arrow), then pry the jacking pad out of the body. If you have a hard time getting the center rivet out, you can pry the jack pad out while it is still engaged, damage may occur to the jack pad.

Snap the new jacking pad in place.
Figure 5

Snap the new jacking pad in place.

Then push the center rivet in using the handle of a screwdriver, it will push in easily.
Figure 6

Then push the center rivet in using the handle of a screwdriver, it will push in easily.

Push the rivet in until it is flush with jack pad.
Figure 7

Push the rivet in until it is flush with jack pad. To jack the vehicle, park the vehicle on level solid ground. If removing a wheel, loosen the wheel studs before jacking the vehicle. Install wheel chocks to block wheels that are not being jacked. This will help to keep vehicle from unexpectedly rolling. Do not assume the parking brake or transmission will hold vehicle, wheel chocks are a must.

There is not enough room to jack and support vehicle in jack pad area at the same time.
Figure 8

There is not enough room to jack and support vehicle in jack pad area at the same time. When using a hydraulic floor jack to lift the front of vehicle, place the hydraulic floor jack under the steel box section of the body (area highlighted in green). Raise the vehicle slowly while monitoring the jack and vehicle position.

Once you reach desired height, install the jack stand at the jack pad location to support the vehicle.
Figure 9

Once you reach desired height, install the jack stand at the jack pad location to support the vehicle. Slowly lower the vehicle onto jack stand until the full vehicle weight is supported. Check that the jack stands are not tilting or moving when the vehicle is lowered. You can add a second jack stand under the steel box section of the body for added support.

Jacking rear of vehicle:
There is not enough room to jack and support the vehicle in the jack pad area at the same time.
Figure 10

There is not enough room to jack and support the vehicle in the jack pad area at the same time. When using a hydraulic floor jack to lift rear of the vehicle, place the hydraulic floor jack under the center of the rear differential (green arrow). Raise the vehicle slowly while monitoring the jack and vehicle position. Since you are lifting the vehicle front center, most point in the rear, I suggest placing jack stands under both rear jack pads. This will make it easier to keep vehicle level while lowering it onto the jack stands.

Once you reach a desired height, install a jack stand at the jack pad location to support the vehicle.
Figure 11

Once you reach a desired height, install a jack stand at the jack pad location to support the vehicle. Slowly lower the vehicle onto jack stand until the full vehicle weight is supported. Check that the jack stands are not tilting or moving when the vehicle is lowered. You can leave the hydraulic jack under the rear differential for added support. When lowering your vehicle, raise it off the jack stands, remove the jack stands from beneath the vehicle and slowly lower the vehicle to ground. Make sure all tools and parts are clear before lowering your vehicle.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Neal Comments: So it's ok to let the rubber pad on the car just sit down in the u-shaped top of the jack stand for working under the car? It seems like the rubber pad sides might collapse.
November 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The jack pad is hard plastic and will not break, it is made to support lifting by a hoist. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jim Comments: I don't have a floor jack, just using the spare tire jack from the trunk. Do I jack the vehicle at the jack pad and position the jack stands next to the jack pad? Or do I jack the vehicle next to the jack pad and let the jack pad rest on the jack stands?
October 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The jack that comes with the vehicle is for lifting to change a tire only. See the instructions in your owner's manual on the exact jacking point. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
OvalPiston Comments: I used this method to get the car high off the ground. I first drove it up two ramps, then I placed a hydraulic jack under the steel box section of the body as shown above and raised the car even further. Then I placed a jack stand underneath the jack pad and lowered the hydraulic jack and car onto the jack stand. I did the same for the other side. This allowed me to get the car high off the ground without twisting the chassis trying to get it that high.
August 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Shelterwings Comments: What is the recommended maximum height for jacking a E46 325?
July 15, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: That would depend on your jack stands and jack. I would check the max height on those items. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Garrett Comments: Can you guys put a green arrow pointing at the specific location to jack from the rear center ? Would be helpful as the green circle is a bit large & therefore it is still a bit unclear...
March 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Jack on the metal subframe, right below the diff. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Peter TOCAN Comments: Any suggestions on where to place jack stands when one or more of the BMW jack stand locations has rusted? Getting body work done soon to repair but want to change broken rear springs before then. Would running a piece of 2x8 wood beam just in front or behind existing jack stand locations, jacking car at differential cross member and using jack stands under the 2x8 wood beam as close to the rusted out jack pad location be OK?
June 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Maybe somewhere on a flat section of subframe. If the body is rusted, do not support the vehicle by it, it could crumble and fall down. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rich Comments: You guys sure about jacking at the rear differential? The DIS specifically says not to put the jack there.
May 27, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: DIS?

Place the jack under the cross member below the differential. If you have any doubt when servicing your vehicle, use the steps provided by BMW in their repair information when servicing. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:19:18 AM