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.
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When I first bought my darling wife her own E36 BMW 3-series, one of the first comments she had about the car was "it's too loud." It seems that the car had been originally ordered with a factory sport muffler option that was a bit too macho for her sensibilities. Well, I promptly ordered the standard factory muffler from Pelican Parts, and proceeded to install it on her car.
The E36 series uses a very long muffler and tailpipe assembly that connects to the catalytic converter in the center of the car. Replacement is a very easy process, primarily because the exhaust components and bolts are very easily accessible. One thing to remember though, the muffler assembly is quite heavy and very unwieldy to manipulate under the car - this is a project best performed with a helper. (Figure 1) shows the new muffler, along with new rubber mounting brackets. These brackets and two muffler gaskets, or donuts (close-up in Figure 2) should be replaced when you replace your muffler - they have a tendency to get old and break. (Figure 3) shows the ends of the new muffler.
The first step is to raise the car off of the ground and elevate the rear on jack stands. See the Pelican Parts Technical Article on Jacking Up for more details. Then, using two wrenches, simply disconnect the bolts on either side of the muffler flanges. With a few taps of a hammer, the flanges should separate from the muffler (Figure 4). The donut gaskets that seal the muffler to the rest of the exhaust system should always be replaced when you disturb them. In (Figure 5), you can see how they have cracked. Press on a new gasket (Figure 6) before you mate your new muffler.
The main body of the muffler is held in place with those rubber muffler hangers and a few brackets that clamp the side of the muffler (Figure 7 and Figure 8). Carefully unbolt and release the clamps from the side of the muffler, taking care to be aware that the muffler will fall once you release the clamps. This would be a good time to have your helper hold the muffler while you release the clamps. Also make sure that you wear eye protection when working underneath the car - it's very easy to drop a muffler on your face if you're not paying attention.
The rubber hangers are bolted to the frame of the car (Figure 9). Simply remove them, transfer over the muffler hanger bracket, and remount them to the car. When mounting the new muffler to the car, I recommend that you loosely attach the pipes to the rest of the exhaust system, and then loosely hang the muffler in place. Again, this would be an excellent time to solicit the help of a friend to hold the muffler in place while you fasten the exhaust flanges and muffler clamps. With the muffler loosely attached to the clamps, and loosely connected at the flanges, tight them up, compressing the exhaust gasket (Figure 10). Then tighten up the clamps on the muffler.
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.