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Oil Pan Gasket Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Oil Pan Gasket Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

7 hours7 hrs

Tab:

$20

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers

Applicable Models:

BMW 323Ci Coupe/Conv (1999-00)
BMW 323i Sedan/Wagon (1999-00)
BMW 325Ci Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW 325i/xi Sedan/Wagon (2001-06)
BMW 328Ci Coupe (1999-00)
BMW 328i Sedan (1999-00)
BMW 330Ci Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW 330i/xi Sedan (2001-06)

Parts Required:

Oil filter, engine oil, oil pan gasket, RTV sealant, dipstick tube O-ring

Hot Tip:

Have vehicle aligned when complete

Performance Gain:

Repair leak at oil pan

Complementary Modification:

Change engine oil.

The oil pan gasket on E46 models tends to dry out and leak over time. If you find an oil leak down at the side or rear of your engine, inspect the oil pan to see if it is the source. Clean the area around the oil pan and crankcase, then run your engine and recheck the area for a leak. Now be careful when diagnosing, as the oil filter housing can sometimes look like an oil pan leak. Confirm the leak is not coming from above the oil pan seam. If you determine the oil pan gasket is in fact leaking, you will want to replace it and reseal the bottom of your crankcase. 

The oil pan on rear-wheel drive E46 models is very different from the all-wheel drive model. On the all-wheel drive E46, the front differential is bolted to the side of the oil pan, and the right side front drive axle goes through the oil pan. In order to remove the oil pan, it is necessary to dismantle the front subframe and suspension of the vehicle, remove the front drive axles and detach the front differential and right axle inner bearing pedestal from the oil pan.

In this tech article, I will show you how to replace the oil pan gasket on a rear-wheel drive E46. There are a few different ways to go about it and I'll show you my method. This one is close to the BMW instructions and also saves some time.

You can use this article to help you replace the oil pan gasket on an all-wheel drive model but just keep in mind that there will be additional steps not listed here.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.


The oil pan is tucked away tightly into the engine compartment.
Figure 1

The oil pan is tucked away tightly into the engine compartment. The subframe (green arrow) has to be lowered to access it. I suggest reading through all the steps in this procedure before beginning. Just to be sure you are up for the task. Jack the front of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. Remove engine splash shield and reinforcement plate. See our tech article on engine splash shield and reinforcement plate removal. Drain engine oil.

Working at top of radiator, remove expansion rivets from intake air duct (yellow arrows).
Figure 2

Working at top of radiator, remove expansion rivets from intake air duct (yellow arrows).

To remove the rivets, you can use a small flat-head screwdriver to pry them up, then using needle nose pliers, pull the rivet out.
Figure 3

To remove the rivets, you can use a small flat-head screwdriver to pry them up, then using needle nose pliers, pull the rivet out. The expanding portion of the rivet will now come out with duct. Depending on model year, vehicle may have three or four expansion rivets.

Next, remove intake air duct from radiator support by lifting up and out of intake air housing duct.
Figure 4

Next, remove intake air duct from radiator support by lifting up and out of intake air housing duct. Remove cooling fan shroud. See our tech article on replacing the radiator cooling fan.

Remove drive belt from alternator and power steering pulleys and lay aside.
Figure 5

Remove drive belt from alternator and power steering pulleys and lay aside. See our tech article on replacing engine drive belts.

Remove the air filter housing assembly fasteners (yellow arrows) and disconnect air flow meter electrical connector (green arrow).
Figure 6

Remove the air filter housing assembly fasteners (yellow arrows) and disconnect air flow meter electrical connector (green arrow).

Loosen air flow meter clamp (green arrow), then disconnect duct from air flow meter and remove air filter housing from engine compartment.
Figure 7

Loosen air flow meter clamp (green arrow), then disconnect duct from air flow meter and remove air filter housing from engine compartment.

Working at intake air duct, pull vacuum hose connector out of duct.
Figure 8

Working at intake air duct, pull vacuum hose connector out of duct.

Working at intake resonance valve, disconnect electrical connector (yellow arrow).
Figure 9

Working at intake resonance valve, disconnect electrical connector (yellow arrow).

Then remove two T40 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 10

Then remove two T40 Torx fasteners (green arrows).

Remove resonance valve from intake manifold.
Figure 11

Remove resonance valve from intake manifold.

Next remove the intake air ducts from throttle housing.
Figure 12

Next remove the intake air ducts from throttle housing. There are two hose clamps to loosen, one at idle valve (yellow arrow), the other at throttle housing (green arrow). Reach below duct with a 6mm nut driver, (near engine mount) and loosen clamps from below. Once loose, remove duct from engine.

Follow the engine oil dipstick tube down toward engine mount.
Figure 13

Follow the engine oil dipstick tube down toward engine mount. Remove dipstick tube 13mm fastener (green arrow), then pull dipstick up and out of oil pan. Be sure O-ring at bottom of dipstick is accounted for. You will be replacing this during reassembly.

Support engine using hoist.
Figure 14

Support engine using hoist. I like to use an engine support that rests on the fenders, this way I have the ability to raise and lower the engine if needed. Use the engine hook (green arrow) to support the engine.

Remove power steering pump (yellow arrow) from crankcase.
Figure 15

Remove power steering pump (yellow arrow) from crankcase. To do this, remove one lower 13mm fastener (green arrow).

Then remove two upper 13mm fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 16

Then remove two upper 13mm fasteners (green arrows). Once all three fasteners have been removed from the power steering pump, pull it away from the engine and lay aside.

Working at the top of the power steering rack, remove E10 steering coupler fastener (green arrow).
Figure 17

Working at the top of the power steering rack, remove E10 steering coupler fastener (green arrow).

Then pull steering shaft (green arrow) straight up and out of coupler.
Figure 18

Then pull steering shaft (green arrow) straight up and out of coupler.(yellow arrow).

Working at oil pan, squeeze oil level sensor electrical connector and pull off to remove from sensor (green arrow).
Figure 19

Working at oil pan, squeeze oil level sensor electrical connector and pull off to remove from sensor (green arrow).

Working through hole in front control arm, remove lower engine mount nut (green arrow).
Figure 20

Working through hole in front control arm, remove lower engine mount nut (green arrow). The photo shows the left side of the vehicle, the right side is similar. Place a hydraulic jack under the subframe, in the center to support it.

Remove front sway bar bushing fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 21

Remove front sway bar bushing fasteners (green arrows). The photo shows the left side of the vehicle, the right side is similar. Once both sides are removed, pull the sway bar down away from body and let hang.

Remove front control arm bushing fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 22

Remove front control arm bushing fasteners (green arrows). The photo shows the left side of the vehicle, the right side is similar. Once both sides are removed, pull the control arms down away from body and let hang.

Remove front subframe fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 23

Remove front subframe fasteners (green arrows). The photo shows the right side of the vehicle, the left side is similar.

With all the subframe components and subframe fasteners removed, you can lower the subframe.
Figure 24

With all the subframe components and subframe fasteners removed, you can lower the subframe. Release your hydraulic jack slowly and lower the subframe until it is about level with the control arm ball joints. While lowering it, check that no components are still attached or snagged. You will have to unclip the power steering hose (yellow arrow) from the body as you lower subframe.

Next you have to remove the transmission cooler line mount from the engine.
Figure 25

Next you have to remove the transmission cooler line mount from the engine. Remove the 10mm bolt at the bottom (green arrow), then remove the 13mm bolt that holds the mounting bracket to the crankcase (yellow arrow).

Working at the left side of the oil pan.
Figure 26

Working at the left side of the oil pan. Remove one E10 fastener (green arrow). Then unclip the oil level sensor wiring harness from the oil pan (yellow arrow).

Then remove two E10 fasteners from the transmission bell housing (green arrows).
Figure 27

Then remove two E10 fasteners from the transmission bell housing (green arrows).

Now it is time to remove the oil pan fasteners.
Figure 28

Now it is time to remove the oil pan fasteners. This photo shows the right side of the oil pan. You have enough clearance to get all the fasteners out. The fasteners are 10mm. Now would be a good time to clean the engine block before you remove the oil pan.

Don't forget the two hidden 10mm fasteners up through the holes in the rear of the oil pan (green arrows).
Figure 29

Don't forget the two hidden 10mm fasteners up through the holes in the rear of the oil pan (green arrows).

This photo shows all the mounting holes for the oil pan fasteners.
Figure 30

This photo shows all the mounting holes for the oil pan fasteners. Be sure to get them all out. There are twenty five 10mm fasteners that have to be removed.

With all 25 fasteners removed, lower and remove the oil pan from the engine.
Figure 31

With all 25 fasteners removed, lower and remove the oil pan from the engine. Once the oil pan is removed, clean it thoroughly--especially inside and the sealing surface, taking care to avoid creating nicks or scratches that might cause leaks. Also clean the engine side of the oil pan gasket sealing surface.

Before installing new gasket, apply a small amount of RTV sealant to the engine crankcase halves (green arrows).
Figure 32

Before installing new gasket, apply a small amount of RTV sealant to the engine crankcase halves (green arrows). When sealing the crankcase halves, be sure they are free from engine oil.

This photo shows the front crankcase half area that has to be sealed.
Figure 33

This photo shows the front crankcase half area that has to be sealed. Green arrow points to the right side front; left side front is similar. Again, when sealing the crankcase halves, be sure they are free from engine oil. Install new gasket on oil pan, lift oil pan into place and install fasteners to secure it in place. Do not tighten them yet. Install the lower oil pan fasteners finger tight, then install the fasteners to the bell housing. Slowly tighten the bell housing and oil pan fasteners until the oil pan sits flush with the engine and transmission. Once flush, tighten all fasteners, working from the center of the pan outward. The M6 bolts should be torqued to 10 Nm (89 in-lbs) for grade 8.8 bolts and 12 Nm (106 in-lbs) for grade 10.9 bolts. Keep in mind that factory torque values may be updated over time, so itÂÂÂÂ's a good idea to check the latest BMW specs through a dealer, etc. Install remaining items in reverse order of removal. Once reassembled, it is a good idea to have your vehicle aligned, due to dropping the subframe.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Chris Comments: Hey Nick, hopefully you can give me some input on my issue.
Within the past couple of months I've noticed when I start my car for the first time in the morning the oil pressure light will stay on for about 1-2 seconds and every other day it seems I will hear a clang and shudder from the engine.
The shudder lasts just about a second and then everything is very smooth.
It's not a valve tick or chatter.
Oil analysis shows minimal wear particles in the oil.
The oil pressure is normal throughout the RPM range once it starts.
When shutting it off and then starting again within a short time, the oil light goes out immediately.
My thinking is the oil is leaking back through the oil pump into the pan and the engine is essentially starting dry.
I changed my oil filter housing thinking the check valve in the housing may have failed and oil was escaping that way.
The old unit and check valve seemed fine.
There has been no change with the new one and the cold start problems.
My next thought is it to replace the oil pump or at least take off the pan and see if it's come loose and somehow is letting oil back flow.
I feel like if I can't find the issue relatively soon, I'll do too much damage from the cold starts that I'll need to overhaul the engine because of all the wear damage.

Any help, thoughts, suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry to post this here, it was the closest topic I could find.

The car has never overheated and the oil analysis shows no coolant in it.
A recent coolant flush showed no oil as well.
October 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Have you put an oil pressure gauge on to confirm pressure when the problem is present? I have sen oil pumps fail. If pressure is low, start in that area. Before ordering a pump, pull the pan off and check if the strainer is plugged or if there is debris in the pan that can plug it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BMWVWASH Comments: approx. how long should this process take?
October 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would set aside a day for it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
NCUke Comments: Once the oil pan is off, is there anything else that should be replaced while you're in there, such as the oil pump? I'm at 140k mi. Thanks!
September 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not unless you are having trouble with it. They don't have issues very often. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ibrahim Comments: Can I support engine from down with jack ? if there is possibility, from which place exactly i can support the engine? because i dont have engine support hoist.
e46 328i automatic tranmission. thanks in advance.
July 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, you will need that space to work on the oil pan gasket. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Vegito..!! Comments: I removed the pan but didn't note where the 10.9 or 8.8 bolts go. It would be really helpful if you can post a pic indicating showing the locations of 8.8 bolts.
October 2, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: On what kind of vehicle? Best bet, Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. Give them the year and model of your vehicle and ask them to email / fax you the relevant pages from the parts book.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
alexburn2003 Comments: is there a torn figure for the bolts around the oil pan or just hand tight? they would not be more that 8 foot pounds would they?

Alex
April 10, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are two bolt grades. My info says:
M6 8.8 grade - 10Nm
M6 10.9 grade - 12 Nm - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
tristero Comments: Notes for 1995 e34 525i, M50TUB25 motor with Automatic trans:

Remove upper motor mounts, both sides. Also, remove rear transmission/torque converter bellhousing mounts they hold the transmission; and thus the motor, DOWN to the frame tube, when you lift the motor!. On this rear mount, there are 4, 8mm allen bolts, plus, you'll want to remove the two nuts from the rubber mounts, and also the driver's side mount cup two bolts - on the sides. This gives better access to SEE the "hidden" oil pan bolts. I don't think it's possible to re-install the hidden bolts without removing the transmission mounts.

As to the four rubber mounts front and rear; do take the time to clean them off good. The oil that has leaked on to them will degrade them over time; you're under there to stop the oil leak.

I used a floor-jack to raise my engine 4 inches as measured at the passenger-side mount.

I also removed the driver's side mount support from the block. This makes it possible to re-install the dipstick tube without nicking the o ring on the edge of the mount support; because the dipstick tube goes through an opening in that support.

With the motor support bracket removed, it is also MUCH easier to properly torque that 3rd from the front oil pan bolt on the driver's side of the pan.

There are also 4 bolts which attach the pan to the bell housing. They are "external torx" - so you need 2 torx sockets: and e10 and e14. 3 of them are e10's and the last one is e14. These are accessible without removing the rear mount, but they're a lot easier to get at with the mount removed.

Re-installing the two M6 x 65mm "hidden" bolts, through the two ports in the bell housing, is VERY challenging, because you basically have to balance the end of the bolt in your socket +extension and you can't use a deep socket either! at about a 20-degree angle, stick it all the way into that port, and then BLIND line-up the bolt into the hole. of course, that bolt is flopping around in the socket, so you'll never have any control over the end; which you can't see - just keep poking until you get it in there. I tried using long needle-nose pliers, but that's how I dropped the bolt the first time. If the bolt falls out of the socket, then it's laying there loose, inside the bell-housing, and it's very difficult to extract without removing the oil pan again, so you MUST install these two bolts FIRST.

Finally; when working; plug that dipstick hole with a rag sonothingfallsin.
December 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your experience and taking the time to comment on the article. This info will be extremely helpful to other users in the future. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mpirs Comments: Can the oil pan gasket be the cause of major oil leaking? The oil can gasket was leaking lightly for some time all around. Then a few days ago, as i left work, the engine started to leak rapidly. Stopped. Towed home. lifted up. Leak seems to be coming from the back of the engine through a 1.5"*2.5" opening through which you can see the flywheel. It is engine oil thats leaking and it pours out not drips out. Will work on this weekend. Please help. Read that it could also be a "rear main seal". Not sure which way to go.. oil pan gasket or rear main seal. thanks. 2001 325i
October 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be the oil pan gasket, sounds more likely to be the rear main seal. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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