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Power Steering Reservoir Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Power Steering Reservoir Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$50

Talent:

**

Tools:

13mm socket, diagonal pliers, hose crimp pliers

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:

Power steering fluid, power steering fluid reservoir, power steering hose clamps

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine

Performance Gain:

Quiet power steering pump, remedy power steering noise

Complementary Modification:

Power steering hoses

The steering system utilized in BMW E46 models is known as power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Rotating the steering wheel spins a small pinion gear, thus sliding a toothed rack left or right. The ends of the rack attach to tie-rods that steer the front wheels. A hydraulic pump, powered by the engine accessory belt, forces steering fluid into hoses leading to pistons in the steering rack. A hydraulic valve in the steering rack varies the hydraulic fluid pressure in the two cylinders, dependent on how fast or forcefully the pinion gear is rotated. This multiplies the driver's force in steering the wheels.

An optional active steering system varies the force multiplication of power steering depending on vehicle speed. At low speeds steering assist (force multiplication) is at a maximum to aid in low speed driving and parking. At high speed steering assist is reduced. In addition, at high speeds (above 75 mph or 120 kilometers per hour) the active steering microprocessor reduces driver input into the steering system in order to prevent the transmission of unintended rapid steering movement to the front wheels.

Inside the power steering fluid reservoir, there is a small filter that can sometimes become restricted and cause problems. The filter is not serviceable separately so if you believe it to be a problem, replace the power steering fluid reservoir. I have seen noisy pumps remedied by replacing the power steering reservoir. If yours is groaning like an alley cat, try replacing the reservoir first. You can also use this article to replace the hose clamps on the power steering reservoir hoses, as they have a tendency to leak over time.

In this article, I will go over the steps involved with replacing the power steering reservoir on your E46 and bleeding the power steering pump.

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.

To begin, place an oil drain pan under the left side of the engine.

Working at the power steering reservoir, remove the reservoir mounting fasteners (purple arrows).
Figure 1

Working at the power steering reservoir, remove the reservoir mounting fasteners (purple arrows).

Lift the power steering reservoir up so you can access the hoses at the bottom (green arrows).
Figure 2

Lift the power steering reservoir up so you can access the hoses at the bottom (green arrows).

Remove the hose clamps by cutting them with some diagonal pliers.
Figure 3

Remove the hose clamps by cutting them with some diagonal pliers. Remove the hoses from the reservoir and then remove the reservoir from the vehicle. Place the new hose clamps on the power steering hoses and then install the hose onto reservoir.

Crimp the hose clamps using the clamp pliers (green arrow) or a pair of diagonal pliers (yellow arrow).
Figure 4

Crimp the hose clamps using the clamp pliers (green arrow) or a pair of diagonal pliers (yellow arrow). If you are using diagonal pliers to crimp hoses, be careful not to cut or damage clamp. I have an old pair that is worn down and will not cut any longer. Using worn pliers is a good way to avoid ruining the new clamp. Install the reservoir fasteners and tighten.

Bleeding the power steering pump:
Before starting engine, fill the power steering reservoir with clean fluid to the MAX level on dipstick (green arrow).
Figure 5

Before starting engine, fill the power steering reservoir with clean fluid to the MAX level on dipstick (green arrow). Start the engine and turn the steering wheel fully left and right three times. Turn engine off, check the fluid level and add fluid until it reaches the MAX reading on the dipstick. When full, the fluid should be clear and foam free. Foam or bubbles is a sign of air in the system: in which case you will need to bleed the system, so take your time the first time around.

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Comments and Suggestions:
baseload Comments: Here's a picture of my power steering hose connection. Does anyone know how it's installed/removed? It's from my 2000 BMW 323i.
October 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will need a line release tool. The tool goes around the cooler side and slides into the line fitting to release the spring clamps.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can get you the tool - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
baseload Comments: I have a query, I own a 2000 bmw 323i and I need to replace the power steering hosetop one from reservoir to the cooler. How in the heck do you disconnect the side connected to the cooler? Thanks for the help.
October 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will need a line release tool. The tool goes around the cooler side and slides into the line fitting to release the spring clamps.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can get you the tool - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Ledwauk Comments: What is the total fluid capacity for the power steering system on my E46 2.5Ci.
Thanks
August 31, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have that info. I would grab a repair manual. It will have it.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Bill Comments: Can the replacement clamps on the hoses be the kind that you can tighten with a screwdriver?
April 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure. But avoid the slotted style and use the solid clamps. The clamps with the slots for the screw can cut the hose. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bill Comments: I appreciate your DIY's very much! When I cut the clamps and remove the hoses from my power steering reservoir, isn't the fluid under pressure? I know, dumb question, but I'd rather ask. Pls respond to my e-mail if you would. Thank you.
April 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No pressure in the system when the vehicle is off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rio Comments: I replaced my resevoir on my 2000 BMW and filled it with fluid and turned it side to side as I should. I drove 20 miles and still seems like I have no steering. I removed the cap and see no air bubbles??? My pump was working perfectly on my 2000 323i BMW before change, so I know my pump is good. Any clue whats going on with my car? Is it still this way because I did not properly install the resevoir or bleed it correctly even though I really do not see any air bubbles? Should I drain fluid and start all over?
April 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I wouldn't drain it. Confirm you used the correct fluid, check your owner's manual. Then run the engine until warm and recheck the level. it's possible it needs to be bled longer or there is a restriction in a hose. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
srl Comments: working on a 04 325xi. So maybe a dumb question here: so am I using auto trans fluid or power steering fluid. My cap says ATF oil only just like in pic 1. Am I missing something? thanks and always great info.
March 20, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, BMW automatic transmission fluid (ATF) if the lid says ATF. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 02:19:14 AM