Parts Catalog Accessories Catalog Tech Info Tech Forums
 
Follow Pelican Parts on Facebook Follow Pelican Parts on Twitter Follow Pelican Parts on Instagram Follow Pelican Parts on YouTube Follow Pelican Parts on Pinterest Follow Pelican Parts on Tumblr
  Search our site:    
View Recent Cars  |   Cart  | Project List | Order Status | Help    
Bookmark and Share

Pelican Technical Article:

Fuel Filter Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$35

Talent:

**

Tools:

Set of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, drain pan, eye protection, latex gloves

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)

Parts Required:

Fuel filter, fuel hose, vacuum hose

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine

Performance Gain:

Car will run well

Complementary Modification:

Replace fuel and vacuum hoses

The BMW E46 is equipped with an electrical fuel pump inside the fuel tank. The pump is combined with the right side fuel level sender. The fuel pump delivers high-pressure fuel to the fuel injection system in the engine compartment via the fuel filter mounted underneath the vehicle, approximately below the driver's seat (left side) (M52 and M54 engine). System pressure is maintained using a fuel pressure regulator. The supply of fuel from the fuel pump exceeds the requirements of the engine, so excess fuel is returned to the fuel tank via a fuel return line.

The vehicle fuel supply may be contaminated by rust or other impurities. This material is retained by the fuel filter and may eventually restrict the supply of fuel to the engine, resulting in fuel starvation or engine stuttering. As a preventative, the fuel filter on BMW E46 models should be replaced every 15,000 miles or once a year. Follow this article carefully and you too will have a better running (less stuttering) engine.

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.

With your vehicle raised and supported safely, look under your vehicle in area of the driver floor, you will see the fuel filter cover.
Figure 1

With your vehicle raised and supported safely, look under your vehicle in area of the driver floor, you will see the fuel filter cover. The fuel filter is mounted behind the cover (yellow arrow). The 2003 and later BMW E46 325i models sold in California, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont were designated SULEV vehicles. These models came equipped with an M56 engine. The fuel filter is located inside the fuel tank and is considered a lifetime filter by BMW. This style of filter does not require replacement.

The Running Losses valve is located in the front of the fuel filter on early E46 models equipped with the DME MS42 engine management system (yellow arrow).
Figure 2

The Running Losses valve is located in the front of the fuel filter on early E46 models equipped with the DME MS42 engine management system (yellow arrow). These valves are solid and do not fail that often. However, the vacuum line to the fuel pressure regulator does fail. There are usually no symptoms when this vacuum line fails and goes unnoticed until you replace your fuel filter. If you find this line has failed, replace the vacuum hose (red arrow) with new or just replace it while doing the fuel filter replacement to save yourself a headache if you discover the line is bad later Before replacing your fuel filter, have a suitable container available to catch any fuel that spills when fuel lines are loosened or removed. Have clean rags available to wipe up excess fuel and have a fire extinguisher handy. Eye and hand protection are a must and if fuel comes in contact with your skin, wash it off immediately. Also, make sure to work in a well ventilated area and do not allow fuel vapors to gather. This is a repair best suited outdoors, on solid, level ground.

ItÂ's a good idea to relieve the fuel system pressure before beginning.
Figure 3

ItÂ's a good idea to relieve the fuel system pressure before beginning. This will minimize the amount of fuel spilled. The best way to relieve fuel system pressure is to remove the fuel pump fuse and run the vehicle until the engine stalls. Open glove compartment. Rotate the 2 fuse panel retaining tabs 90° and lower fuse panel.

Remove fuse #54 (check that this fuse applies to you vehicle).
Figure 4

Remove fuse #54 (check that this fuse applies to you vehicle). Use the fuse application chart located below your fuses to identify fuse number.

Start and run your engine until it stalls. Once engine the stalls, attempt to start again, if it does not start, fuel system pressure has been relieved. Keep in mind; this does not remove all the fuel from the fuel lines, only the pressure. So you still need to be prepared to catch leaking fuel when the fuel lines are disconnected.
Remove the five fuel filter cover mounting fasteners, and then remove the fuel filter cover (green arrows).
Figure 5

Remove the five fuel filter cover mounting fasteners, and then remove the fuel filter cover (green arrows). Clean the fuel filter, fuel lines, and clamps thoroughly. This will help prevent dirt from entering the fuel system. I like to start with the inlet side of the fuel filter. This way you can monitor the condition of the fuel heading into the filter. Look for any contaminants, water or rust. Working at the inlet side of fuel filter, remove the fuel line clamp(s), then disconnect the fuel line from the filter, and allow fuel to drain into your suitable container. Next check that the fuel is clean and free from contaminants.

Early model fuel filters have a single inlet hose.
Figure 6

Early model fuel filters have a single inlet hose.

Late model fuel filters have two inlet hoses.
Figure 7

Late model fuel filters have two inlet hoses. If you find debris in your fuel, the fuel tank will need to be serviced or replaced. There are fuel tank shops that steam clean the interior of the tank if needed. Next, remove the outlet fuel line from the fuel filter and allow the fuel to drain into the suitable container.

Early model fuel filters have a single outlet hose.
Figure 8

Early model fuel filters have a single outlet hose.

Late model fuel filters have a single outlet hose and a vacuum hose.
Figure 9

Late model fuel filters have a single outlet hose and a vacuum hose.

Next, remove the 10mm nut for the fuel filter mounting bracket and remove the fuel filter from the vehicle.
Figure 10

Next, remove the 10mm nut for the fuel filter mounting bracket and remove the fuel filter from the vehicle. Quickly place the fuel filter into your container and allow the remaining fuel to drain. Give your work space at least 15 minutes to air out before installing a new filter.

When installing the new filter, be sure to get the orientation correct.
Figure 11

When installing the new filter, be sure to get the orientation correct. The inlet and outlet are usually marked.

Depending on fuel the filter manufacturer, there may also be an arrow facing in direction of fuel flow.
Figure 12

Depending on fuel the filter manufacturer, there may also be an arrow facing in direction of fuel flow. Before installing, inspect the condition of the rubber fuel lines. If lines show signs of cracking or wear, replace them with new ones. Install the new fuel filter in your fuel filter bracket and tighten the 10mm fastener. Using new hose clamps, install the fuel lines (starting with inlet). Tighten the hose clamps being careful not to over-torque them.

Once all fuel lines are connected and tight, reinstall the fuel pump fuse and start your engine. Let the engine run for about one minute. Double check your work and confirm there are no fuel leaks. Once you are sure you have no fuel leaks, reinstall the fuel filter cover. Clean up any spilled fuel remaining and properly dispose of the old fuel filter.
Bookmark and Share
Comments and Suggestions:
David17 Comments: Hello I have a 2004 bmw 325i where does the vacum hose goes connected to front he fuel filter I am trying to see where it Connets to please help me..
September 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: "That line goes to the f-connector at the upper intake boot. Look for a hard plastic line with soft vacuum line (about two inches) on either end of it. It should be dangling somewhere in the engine bay." - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ping Comments: Is the fuel pump fuse in 2003 E46 33i the same as you described here, #54?
September 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: yes - Nick at Pelican Parts  
carl Comments: will a bad pump in a sulev bmw also cause the fuel guage not to work?
August 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Usually the sending unit is not affected when the pump fails. Unless it is a wiring issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
billy-bob Comments: Hey Nick I knew that as well, BUT there is no vacuum signal! The vacuum line runs from the regulator to the inlet bellows between the throttle body and the air filter and if you put a vacuum gauge on the port you get no reading ?? Thus that regulator is not regulating anything.
August 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry about that, I thought we were talking about the siphon and regulator in the tank. The unit on the fuel filter is used when the engine is first started in conjunction with the running loss valve to either send more fuel to the rail or bypass. Think of it changing where and when the excess fuel from the regulator is sent. The vacuum line on the regulator should go to the crankcase breather, if I remember correctly. The regulated pressure is spring controlled. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Billy-Bob Comments: Hey Nick - Thanks, I knew how the siphon pump works. What I wanted to know is how the vacuum regulator on the end of the fuel filter works, which I believe would control the back flow to the siphon pump. Usually this regulator controls the pressure to the fuel rail ie: at idle with high vacuum reduces fuel rail pressure, then at load there is low vacuum so full pressure is needed so the injector don't cavitate. That vacuum line from that fuel regulator is attached at the top to the air inlet bellows which never would have any vacuum on it unless the air filter would be plugged and the engine would be at wide open throttle. I'm confused, you're thoughts
August 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The regulator controls pressure using a spring and diaphragm. Fuel is discharged out of the regulator which is used to create the siphon effect.

Most problems in the siphon unit are faulty pumps, hoses or air leaks.- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Billy-Bob Comments: I have a 2001 330ci and I have a problem where at low fuel tank levels the transfer pump doesn't seem to transfer fuel in the LH side of the tank over to the RH side where the high pressure supply pump is, and with a 1/4 tank indicated I'm walking with a jerry can. I opened the LH side of the tank and turned on the engine to see the return flow with 45PSI at fuel rail, and it's not very much, lower than I thought it should be. I traced the vacuum line back to the air inlet duct, not the manifold. Installed a vacuum gauge and there is no signal. Can you enlighten me as to the theory of how this system is supposed to work. When I had my car in for an air bag recall the dealer couldn't offer any explanation.
August 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The system uses a siphon jet pump, fuel in pumped then returned to the tank helps the siphon transfer to the opposite side of the tank, in theory keeping the level the same all the time. The siphon jet pumps do fail. If you have good fuel pressure and volume, the siphon may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chris Comments: I have a 2003 bmw 325xi wagon nd can't seem to the fuel filter.check under the driver seat any other area to check
July 1, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There can be two options. M54 engines use the filter shown in this article.

M56 engines have a filter integrated into the fuel tank, which the fuel tank needs to be replaced at the same time. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
robroy Comments: Hi
I have a 2002 318i Ci e46. After cutting out the vehicle won't start again. The plugs are sparking well but the engine gets flooded each time during cranking. Could this be due to a deteriorated fuel pressure regulator and if so is it located in the fuel filter on this model. The fuel filter needs replacing.

Many thanks
April 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Unlikely the regulator would cause this. What is spark Kv? If the plugs are wet, and you have confirmed the injectors are firing, you either have a spark or compression issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Alfie87 Comments: Your instructions were easy to follow with one exception, age! Apparently my filter had been on for quite some time making a half hour job a 3 plus hour job. I highly recommend your tech bulletins
April 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
mj Comments: BMW m3 e46 2006 Fuel Filter Replacement part #
January 9, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Parts for your vehicle are here:
http://www.pelicanparts.com/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi?action=frameset&return-url=/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi%3Faction%3Dframeback%26page%3D1032&catalog-url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pelicanparts.com%2Fcatalog%2FSuperCat%2F0181%2FBMW_0181_FULFUL_pg1.htm %3Futm_source%3DSuperTech%23item0 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Big Mike Comments: My 2003 bmw 325ci occasionally has trouble starting. When it sits over night or for a long period of time, it starts normally like any other car, but when it sits for around 3 or 4 hours you have to crank way longer than normal. The engine is turning over when it does this and the battery is fine, does anyone know what is causing this. I figured that since it starts fine sometimes that all the fuses and relays were good?
October 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume, quality and engine compression. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
lotusconvert Comments: Installing fuel filter for M54B30 swap into e30. Using filter with regulator and two lines from tank on one end of filter body. I believe one line is supply and one is return to tank. Is this correct? If so, does it matter which nipple on filter is used as supply and which is used as return?
October 10, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See this tech article for fuel line orientation. http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/BMW-3-Series-E46/18-FUEL-Fuel_Filter_Replacement/18-FUEL-Fuel_Filter_Replacement.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Denny Comments: Hi I'm driving a 1999 model 323i and it's just started making noise coming from the tank non stop as it's running and the fuel it's smelling. What do you think it's can be because the is not liking.
August 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Maybe a fuel leak? Stop driving the vehicle until you find the source of the odor. Inspect the filler neck, hoses and sending units for broken lines I have seen quite a few with rodent damage. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jacob Comments: Hi.., i'm driving a BMW e46 318i 2003 model. The car was running very well , but suddenly the engine dies while i was driving at a speed of 100 to 120km/h. I pulled off the road and try to start then it start fine..but still after a certain kilos it dies again without any signal. So the engine just cut off while the is running what could be the problem in this case..? Do you think that can be the Fuel filter..?
August 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like fuel or maybe a sensor. Could have been fuel starvation or heat that caused the engine to stall.
When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume, quality and engine compression. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Pauly12 Comments: Hey I have my 2003 325i model but I am not able to locate the fuel filter is this a problem or is this in a different location ?
June 28, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have an M56 engine, it is not externally mounted. it is in the tank and a lifetime filter. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
George Comments: I installed new fuel filter on 2005 325x1 84,000mi. After completing the job car would not start. I can hear fuel pump operate and it cranks fine. Car was running normally prior to performing this task. Whjat to Do next?
June 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the filter is installed correctly. I would perform a fuel delivery system test. Check fuel pressure, volume and quality.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Chuck Comments: 2005 325i will not start. Throwing 174 and 171 codes.
April 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I can't help without knowing what is missing from the system when you are trying to start it. When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume, quality and engine compression. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Tomonthebay Comments: great instructions
Is there a distinct fuel filter part no for 2006 330ci convertible with performance package?
I heard mention of it some with regulator some without
Thanks
Tom
April 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure, but I am not the best with part numbers.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Canadian_guy Comments: Nick, the Link you posted is for oil filters and associated parts. I'm looking for the specific part numbers for the fuel filter replacement if you know what they are.
January 31, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: All filters should be there, possibly on the next page. If they are not there, Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Canadian_guy Comments: Can you please identify the part numbers for the correct replacement vacuum hose, fuel hoses and clamps.
January 31, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Parts are here:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/SuperCat/BE46/BMW_BE46_BASFLT_pg3.htm #item11 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Eli Comments: Im having a problem with my e46 wagon. If i accelerate my vehicle hard or slightly fast it jerks or does not accelerate smoothly. I heard from others is that the problem might be the fuel filter being dirty and it makes it lag. But for me im thinking i would need to replace my pedal assembly. What do you think? Is this something familiar with you? Had my MAF sensor replaced recently due to vehicle going into limp mode often. But now i get this problem. Hope you know whats going on.
November 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the check engine light on? Sounds like an engine misfire. I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Marlo Comments: Thank you for these instructions ...just installed took about a hour..I some left over fuel leak out for 20 mins...then got to i stalling .great pix and saved alot of money ...thanx nick
September 7, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Marlo Comments: I am a out to do this project ...I was wondering do you have to run until stalling'? I have very little gas on tank as is and medo meter says 5 miles ...or is it a must that I run until empty?
August 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. Running until stalling removes the fuel pressure from the line. This protects you from the fuel and prevents major spills. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
TEZ O'tool Comments: Just finished installing my first repair job on my BMW 381i E46 Sedan 2001 Mod, e.g. Fuel Filter and a Cabin Micro Air Filter OE Products, with the simple instructions on the DIY WEB page no problems at all, great pictures and too easy to follow. Looking forward to my next project, possibly brake pads and rotors.
Thanks Guys at Pellican
December 10, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

  Search our site:    

View Cart & CheckOut | Project List | Order Status |  Help    

 

[Home] [Customer Service] [Shopping Cart] [Privacy Statement]
 [Contact Us] [About Us] [Shipping] [Map to our Location] [Careers]

Copyright © Pelican Parts Inc.

Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:20:33 AM