This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
Every 10,000 miles or so, you should change the air filter in your BMW. The air filter protects the fuel injection system and the air intake system from dust and debris that can be sucked in under normal operation.
On the E30 BMWs, the air filter is contained in a bubble-like housing that is located in the front left side of the engine compartment. Removal of the filter is accomplished merely by lifting the scraps and prying up the cover.
On the E36 cars, the filter is located in a similar spot, however, it's now mounted vertically (Figure 1). Simply pull up on the top cover (Figure 2), and the filter should come right out of its housing (Figure 3). Take a look inside the filter housing - there are usually some leaves or dirt that found their way in there. Clean the housing out before installing the new filter (Figure 4).
For the BMW 3-Series there are basically two different types of air filters, "the stock paper or cloth air filters and aftermarket units. These aftermarket units utilize an oil-soaked fabric to achieve freer air flow (Figure 65). The bottleneck for air flow in the BMW engine is not necessarily the air filter. The primary advantage of the aftermarket units is that you usually only have to purchase one, and it will last the life of your car. The downside is that they often do not filter as well as the factory units. The bottom line is to carefully research any aftermarket filter before you install it to your car. I personally prefer to use the stock OEM cloth/paper filters to ensure maximum filtering. Whichever one you choose, make sure that it filters as well as or better than the original BMW specifications for your year car.
Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.