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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Spark Plug
Replacement

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     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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     One basic tune-up procedure for just about any car on the road is the replacement of your spark plugs and spark plug wires (where applicable).  On the BMW E36 six-cylinder engines, BMW has eliminated the use of spark plug wires by integrating six small spark plug coils that sit on top of each spark plug.  While this configuration may be a bit more expensive than the typical single coil, single capacitive discharge box configuration, it makes the car's ignition system more reliable by removing a component that constantly wears out and fails (spark plug wires).  It's a pretty cool setup, not commonly found on older cars.  As manufacturing components has become increasingly inexpensive, ignition setups like these have become more common.

     I recommend replacing your spark plugs every 10,000 miles, or about once a year.  In reality, you can probably go longer than that, however, you never really quite know how long the plugs are going to last, or you may forget to do it if you don't setup a yearly schedule.  Needless to say, replacing your spark plugs is one of the easiest tasks to do on your BMW - provided you have the proper information, which I will provide here.

     Begin by prepping the car.  The only thing that you really need to do is to make sure that the car is cold.  If you try to remove or install spark plugs in a hot car, then you may encounter problems with the spark plugs gumming up or damaging the relatively delicate threads in the aluminum cylinder head.  Just make sure that the car is cold, or at the bare minimum, only slightly warm to the touch.

     Let's talk about the six cylinder cars first.  The first step is to remove the top plastic covers from the engine.  These serve no mechanical purpose - they are there only for decoration and to prevent dust and debris from getting into the recesses of the engine.  On the six cylinder cars, there are two covers, a long thin one on the top of the car, and a wider one towards the left.  Speaking of left, for the purpose of this particular tech article, I will refer to the left side of the engine as being on the left as you are standing in front of the car looking at the engine.  The right side would, of course, be opposite to that.  For reference, the windshield washer bottle would then be on the left, and the air filter would be on the right.

     On the two plastic covers, there will be two small, snap-in plugs on the top.  Carefully remove these plugs (don't drop them into the engine) with a small screwdriver, prying them up as you grab them (Figure 1).  Underneath you will find a nut that holds the cover onto the top of the engine (Figure 2).  Remove the four nuts on these two covers, and they should both simply slide up out of the way.  Figure 3 shows the engine with the center cover removed.

     Underneath the left cover, you will see the six spark plug coils that sit on top of each of the plugs (Figure 4).  You need to remove each of these carefully, in order to gain access to the plugs.  Using a screwdriver, release each connector from each coil.  There is a metal retaining ring on the rear of each one that fastens it to the coil (Figure 5).  Once you lift up on the retaining clip, then the connector should simply slide out of the coil.  Carefully remove all of the connectors from each coil (Figure 6), taking care not to bend the wire harness too much.  These wires are stiff, and generally don't take well to being bent in multiple directions.  Just be gentle with them.

     To assist with your maneuvering of the wires, detach the center clip that holds the wires that come from the center channel.  This clip is shown in Figure 7.  Gently place the wires off to the side and out of the way, without bending them terribly.

     With the wires detached and placed slightly out of the way, you can now remove each of the six coils.  Each coil is fastened to the valve cover using two screws.  On two of the coils, there are two small ground straps that connect the coil to the stud on the cylinder head.  Take note of these ground straps - they must be installed properly when you are finished, otherwise your car may encounter problems.  These two ground straps are shown marked by the greens arrow in Figure 8 and Figure 9 (coil already removed in this photo).

     Remove each of the two nuts that hold each coil to the valve cover.  At this point, the coil should be able to be easily pulled right off of the engine (Figure 10).  The coil has a small coil pack on one end, and a spring-loaded spark plug connector on the opposite end.  Simply remove the coil/plug assembly and place it off to the side.  All of the coils are the same, so it doesn't matter which cylinder bank it came off of - unless you are specifically trying to troubleshoot a bad coil fault code that was displayed by the main computer.

     With the coil removed, you should be able to look down the hole and see the spark plug hiding in there.  Figure 11 shows what the top of a normal looking spark plug looks like.  However, as you remove the plugs, you may discover something peculiar.  The way that the ignition system is designed on these BMWs, there is the opportunity for the spark plug holes to completely fill up with oil, if you have a leaky seal on your valve cover.  When you pull out the spark plug connector / coil combo, you may find that it is completely submerged in engine oil, as shown in Figure 12 and Figure 13.  Looking down the hole, you may not even be able to see the spark plug because the entire hole is filled up with oil (Figure 14 and Figure 15).  While common sense says that this is not a good thing, the reality is that this is actually quite common, and doesn't seem to affect the performance of the car one bit.  If you do find this oil in your spark plug holes, I would suggest that you go one step further and replace the valve cover gasket.  This replacement procedure is very simple, once you have the coils removed, and should only take you about 20 minutes more, providing you have the actual gasket on hand.  If you find oil in your spark plug holes, then you should definitely replace the gasket.

     If you find that you have oil in your spark plug holes, I suggest that you take some paper towels and attempt to soak up as much of the oil as possible, before removing the spark plug.  If you don't get rid of the excess oil, then it will leak into the cylinder head through the spark plug hole when you remove the spark plug.  This will cause your car to run sooty when you first start it up, and it may even foul your brand new spark plugs that you just installed!

     Spark plug removal is easy - you just need the right spark plug wrench.  I have one that I love - it's a spark plug socket with a rubber insert that catches the plug.  In addition, it has a built-in swivel on the attachment end.  This is especially useful when trying to remove plugs in hard-to-reach places, as they are always located on Porsche engines (BMW engines aren't really that bad with respect to spark plug access).

     Using a breaker bar, grip the plug and turn it counter-clockwise until it is loose.  Then pull out your tool and grab the plug.  When the plug comes out, you may want to take a close look at it.  The spark plug is really the best way to visually ‘see’ what is going on inside your combustion chamber.  You need to pull out all of the spark plugs to replace them, so you might as well take a close look at them while they’re out.   While today’s modern fuels make plug-reading much more difficult, you can still glean a lot of information from looking at them. A good, well-balanced engine will produce a plug that is light brown in color, and dry. If the engine is running too rich, the plug will often be coated with a lot of extra carbon. Keep in mind that the rest of your combustion chamber probably looks the same. An engine running too lean will have a powdery white coating on it, and the outer porcelain ring may have a burned appearance.

     When reading spark plugs, pay close attention to the white porcelain ring around the plug. This white area will give you an excellent background to inspect the color of the plug, and to help determine how your combustion chamber looks inside.

     If the plug is wet with oil, then that indicates that there is significant leakage into the combustion chamber past either the valve guides or the piston rings. This is generally a bad sign, and an indicator that a future compression test may not yield good results.

     Figure 16 shows an unusual spark plug with all four of its electrode eaten away.  I would hazard a guess that this plug was improperly plated from the factory, and as it progressed through it's life, the repeated sparking slowly ate away at the electrodes until they were gone.  A plug in this condition would misfire often (if at all), and would generate poor performance for this particular cylinder.  Surprisingly enough, none of the rest of the spark plugs in this set exhibited this type of damage.  This is what leads me to believe it was defective from the manufacturer.

     Figure 17 shows a brand new Bosch Platinum spark plug.  While I don't have any specific preference for any specific manufacturer of plug, you should definitely make sure to get the proper ones for your car.  Spark plugs have varied over the years as engines have been changed slightly due to smog regulations.  The important thing to remember is to get the proper ones for your car (they are scaled by electrode type and also by heat range), otherwise you may encounter odd ignition problems.  Spark plugs are cheap - I would go with a brand name like Bosch or NGK, choosing to avoid the no-name brands.  Make sure that you measure the spark plug gap (if single electrode) with a spark plug gap tool before you install the plugs.

     Install your new plugs using a torque wrench to measure the amount of torque applied to the plug (Figure 18).  This is very important, as it is easy to over or under-tighten spark plugs.  Make sure that the plug is firmly seated in your spark plug socket as it is very easy to insert the plug into the head and have it cross-thread.  This means that the threads of the spark plug don't mesh properly with the ones in the head, instead choosing to "cut their own path."  This damages the threads on the head, and in extreme cases, may destroy the threads in the cylinder head entirely.  Trust me - you do not want this to happen.  Proceed carefully and cautiously here.

    Install each plug into the cylinder heads without using any anti-seize compound. Torque the spark plugs to 25 Nm (18.4 ft-lbs). While writing "How to Rebuild and Modify Porsche 911 Engines", I discovered that Porsche doesn’t recommend the use of anti-seize compound, as detailed in Porsche Technical Bulletin 9102, Group 2, identifier 2870. The bulletin applies retroactively to all Porsche models and the theory is that the anti-seize tends to act as an electrical insulator between the plug and the cylinder head. This could have detrimental effect on the firing of the spark due to the loss of a good, consistent ground connection. Keeping those findings in mind, I would make the same recommendations for the BMW cars.

     With the new plugs installed (Figure 19) and properly torqued, you can replace the coils (don't forget the small ground straps shown in Figure 8 and Figure 9) and reattach the coil connectors (Figure 20 and Figure 21).  Snap the wires back into their center holders (Figure 7) and replace the top two plastic covers.  When you're done, your engine should look back to normal (Figure 22)

     Changing plugs on the 318 4-cylinder cars is a bit different and a bit easier.  You remove the spark plug cover in a similar manner (Figure 23).  There should be a handy little blue spark plug wire pull tool under the cover.  Use it to remove the plug wires from the ends of the spark plugs (Figure 24).  With the wires disconnected, remove and reinstall the plugs in a similar manner to how I described the procedure for the six cylinder cars.  You will also want to replace the spark plug wires every 30,000 miles or if they look cracked and worn out.

     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.

   
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Comments and Suggestions:
Stacy Comments: How much should is gap firing for the sparks for bmw 323i
May 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If your vehicle has a single electrode plug, the gap should be listed under the hood on the emission tag. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Daniel Comments: Hi there,
Would you please help me with the spark plug part numbers for BMW E46, M52 Engine. Both NGK and Bosch.I am far away from were the vehicle is. Otherwise, I was going to pull out one plug and check the part number. You can use my email address if you don't mind. Thanks
April 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
bmoore Comments: I had oil/coolant, headgasket replacement in process now on the other side of the plug. You show the coils being submerged in oil, all mine were clean when pulled, however when I pulled the plug out then I had oil in the hole but only in cylinder 3. Could I have bad rings? If so I'm hoping you'll have a write up you can reference me to so I can tackle that job as well.
April 20, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Oil on the plug could be bad valve stem seals. If it was liquid or pooled oil, it is likely a gasket leak. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mojohn Comments: Thank you Nick
April 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mojohn Comments: Hi wayne,Great help on the site.I have a 1998 318i that keeps getting condensation in #1 and #2 spark plug wells.Please advise
April 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would pressure test the cooling system. If the system does not hold pressure and there are no external leaks, you may have a faulty head gasket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jordan Comments: When I was changing my ignition coils and plugs I found a small to moderate amount of oil in the spark plug wells. I carelessly misread the article and let oil drop into where the spark plugs connect. After putting new plugs, coils, and connectors on I started the car and it sounded rough and was not running right. I took out the plugs and coils and didn't find any marks on the plugs. Ive been driving the car for three days and it is slow and runs rough. Any advice?
March 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the insulating boots had oil on them, they may be ruined. You may have to replace the coils that had oil on them. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike Comments: While attempting to replace spark plugs in my '95 325i I found the compartment where the coils attached to the spark plugs filled with oil. I stopped the job as I did not want the oil to flood the cylinders. What is the problem, head gasket, some other gasket or am I in deep trouble? Funny thing is the car runs fine other than a little rough on a cold day upon starting.
March 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This is likely a leaking valve cover gasket. I would replace it, inspect the cover for crack when removed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Brad Comments: Hi,

I recently removed the inlet manifold from my e36 328i to replace heater and vacuum hoses. After the completing the job, the car ran smoothly, except that I had forgotten to tighten one of the clamps that resulted in a leak. In stead of removing the manifold again, I was able to reach the clamp, but now the car wont run smoothly, and although it idles at a constant 800rpm, it makes a putt-putt sound at the exhaust, as if it is missing. I have checked that I have not disturbed ant of the vacuum lines. Could it be possible that by co-incidence I have a faulty plug? How do I perform a spark test? Thanks
February 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would assume it is from something you disturbed, I would double check your work. To test spark, remove a coil and install and HEI spark tester, follow the directions that come with the tester. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
themommy08 Comments: Hi guys, I am working on a 1974 2002. I am replacing the spark plugs right now, but it says no where in the book at what gap they are supposed to be at. I know in an earlier question someone said that they come pre-gapped so not to worry about it. but I have compared two of my new spark plugs and they are coming up with two different numbers. I was wondering if you guys knew what the proper gap should be, so I can fix the ones that are not at that number. Thank you so much for your help
February 11, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 0.024" should work.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
lakey Comments: Hi there i have a bmw e36 2.8i cabriolet how can i repair my power steering i've checked the power steering fluid it's fine it's gone dead tight and stiff and will which will not return back to straight after going on around a roundabout or any corners can someone please help
January 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: First check that the steering rack moves smoothly through the range of travel. If so, the power steering pump may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
diva_3181377 Comments: I got error code E4. Put the old NGK plugs for testing and no codes after that.
January 17, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: OK, Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
diva_3181377 Comments: I replaced the NGK plugs with Bosch 4417 and like within 5K miles, they looked like attached picture.Got a code for the Bosch plug too. I guess Bosch plugs are not good for the M52 engine 2000 Z3 2.5. I never race and almost all the plugs looks similar. The old NGK's were looking much better
January 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Did you have a misfire code? I am not following, the plug wear looks OK. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Josh Comments: service engine soon light came on and stays on but the car runs perfect. its a 2007 335I. I added some octane boost and put 93 octane chevron fuel, any ideas?
December 15, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would start by checking the DME for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Imo Comments: Hi Team
On a M50 motor 325i 1999 model I recently overhauled the head and changed the crankshaft censor but I am still not getting any compression from the motor she swings and then backfires with a huge black cloud of smoke. Any suggestions?
Thank you
December 4, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Do you mean that you have no combustion? Or really no compression? Have you checked cylinder compression with a compression gauge? If you have compression, then you can begin by checking the rest of the basics: spark, fuel injector pulse, fuel pressure, volume and quality. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Josh Comments: Hi Pelican,
The caps of the old spark plugs are all stuck in the boot. The new plugs threaded smoothly into the block, but I cannot attach the boots because of the jammed/stripped caps from the old plugs. The threads on the old plugs and inside the caps are stripped, so they do not pull out if I try to thread the old ones in and pull. Pliers/wd40 to no avail. Is there a way to get around this or do I need to replace the boots/wires?

1986 BMW 325e
November 30, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the spark plug wires are that old replace them. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
valsys Comments: I am in Zimbabwe Africa and would like to thank you for such a wonderful and helpful site
November 27, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
West Comments: Hello,

Should the coils be replaced along with the spark plugs? Or can I just replace the spark plugs?
November 23, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: These cars have had coil problems but if your car is running okay you should be okay just changing the plugs. If your coils have serviciable boots (in between the coil and the spark plug) you may want to change those. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Amispro Comments: I have a racing car project in my school. It is BMW E36 323 and it has M52 engine and i am having a problem to know where to put my ignition coil groundings, i haven't demolished the engine I am just putting it back together. Do you have any picture how they go and how many wires there should be?
November 21, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Put the ignition coil grounds to ground. On the block is better. Make sure the block is grounded to the chassis and the battery negative terminal. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Ricky Comments: have e46 316i and have changed plugs,coil packs and still misfire at low revs under 2000. slow application of throttle there is no misfire but when accelerating hard there is hesitation.Any suggestions as no faults recorded on computer
November 21, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Remember we are in America and we did not have the 316 here. Check your fuel pressure and volume. Also test your MAF. Both of these things can cause a hesistation. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Josh Comments: Hi there, I have a bmw e36 323i 1997, No2 cylinder is not getting power, changed the coils around,and the coils are fine, is there any way to check why no power is coming to no2 coil, thanks
November 8, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: All the coils receive power on a red/white wire from the same source. If one coil is not getting power, there has to be a break in the wiring harness to that specific coil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BUFFALO BILL Comments: Is there much to changing the 02 sensor on a 1995 318ti,with the 1.8 motor,figure i would ask before i dive in.
i failed smog,and figured i would start there.

thanks
September 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Rust might be your only issue, they are not had to change, I would also check the ignition system, and make sure you don't have a vacuum leak or a torn air boot. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BUFFALO BILL Comments: All good, I should have read the article 1st!!!!
September 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback, glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
BUFFALO BILL Comments: hello all,

I have a 95 318 Ti,with the 1.8 motor,
I wanted to change the plugs,but at 1st glance,i dont see them,are they under a cover or something,or do i need to crawl under the car??

thank you in advance for any help
September 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check out our tech section, they will help you out.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
joeman Comments: hey there,i own 1998 m3.the problem is when i start the engen oil get into the plugs,what can i do to seal the engen oil to get into the plugs?
September 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the crankcase vent system if the plugs are getting oil fouled, if there is just oil leaking on the outside of the plugs check the valve cover gasket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
armoncampos14 Comments: I have a huge issue with my BMW spark plugs, i have a 2007 335i that i just purchased, i bought the 12 point thin wall spark plug socket but when i tried removing the spark plug it did not fit, the current spark plug is a six point spark plug but i cant find a six point thin wall spark plug tool socket. Im out of ideas! can any one give me any helpful advice in what to do, thank you.
July 29, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The plugs may have been replced with the wrong parts. There are thinwall 6 point sockets available. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right parts and socket. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Hubcap Herb Comments: I have a 1995 B.M.W. 325is and when I drive it, it works fine for about half an hour, then it seem to start missing and looses power, it don't miss fire or back fire or anything but it looses some power and sounds like it is missing on one of the cylinders but after it cools down it will work fine again for about another half hour then starts again. If anyone has any input on this please email me at glendon.langdale@gmail.com thank you
July 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be a number of things. I would start by checking to see if your vehicle is overheating when it occurs. This would be a good place to start. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
imtitch Comments: I have a 316i compact '99yr. Yesterday it ran like a dream, went to start it today and misfiring. Put a code reader on and it says misfire cylinder#3. So changed the plugs and gapped them at 1.6mm although there's no guidance in handbook-just what old ones were at still misfiring Any ideas??
May 29, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if the engineis still misfiring, check the injector on that cylinder. If it checks out OK, check engine compression. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bushbi Comments: Got some good info of here for the problem I'm having with my BMW I've got a 93 e36 325i convertible the problem started about 2 week ago it started struggling to start in the morning but once warm it fine for the rest of the day but between 3 and 4 thousand rpm there was a flat spot so I changed the air and fuel filter and it ran fine for a day the next morning wouldn't start so I got some spark plugs and changed them the first one I took out was black and very dirty but dry the second one was the same but the rest had bits of oil on them and the very last one was covered it still won't start what is the problem?
April 28, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume and quality. Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bob889 Comments: THANK YOU. Before I found this site and info on changing plugs I had read a different site talking about twisting and turning to get to the plugs. Your step by step how to was GREAT and easier than I thought it would be. Now just have to figure out why one plug has some oil on it. Thanks!
April 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad to help! - Nick at Pelican Parts  
carp46120 Comments: I pulled the rubber end that goes onto the spark plug off of an old spark plug wire and stuck it onto a 1/4 in shaft phillips screw driver and made the perfect tool for removing and starting spark plugs that are in a deep hole. You just break them loose with a socket and then stick the tool onto the plug and unscrew it the rest of the way and pull it out. Starting new plugs with this tool is very easy, just stick the new plug into the end of the tool and thread it in snug and then torque it.
March 16, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the tip. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BD Comments: Hey Wayne...Great writeup and thank you very much for the help...it came to great use and was extremely valuable for replacing my plugs. Question for you concerning the anti-seize on the plugs. What are your thoughts on galling of the plugs and the block? I did not use any anti-seize, as per your recommendation, but I just had concerns about when I go to replace the plugs in the future if you feel there will be any problems for me with not going with any anti-seize. Just looking for some positive reinforcement I guess...
February 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Anti-seize is not necessary but it is a thing of preference. I personally do not use it, however I have many friends int he field who do. If you choose to, I suggest using a very small amount, using too much can insulate the spark plug threrads, therefore changing the heat range.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dingy Comments: My 318i 1995 has the spark plugs in a completely different position. There is no plastic cover next to the oil cap at all, and no tool for removing the wires is provided. The spark plug wires are instead plugged into the side on what is the left side when you face it from the front of the vehicle, exposed and loosely resting on some sort of stiff fabric. It's an awkward position that has me scratching my head wondering how to angle a deep enough socket up there.

Why would my engine design be so different?
February 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What market is your car from? You have a 4-cylinder engine, there are difference between the 6 and 4. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tes Comments: 1997, 1.6 compact, 4 cylinder. very bad misfire. engine ran perfect yesterday. i have fitted new plugs today engine still misfiring, any clue as to solve proplem maqny thanks
December 18, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Remove plugs again and squirt some oil down each hole to improve compression. Also see if you can unplug each injector one at a time. The rpm should drop evenly for each injector unplugged. If a cylinder does not drop then that is the problem cylinder. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
The oxx Comments: Hi i drive 323i dolfin 6 cilynder so now the head cilynder was crack and the car was overheating i change the head cilynder but now when i start the car the engine is vabriting and eating to much fuel and the idling its high
October 23, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You have a misfire causing the vibration and probably a vacuum leak - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Marko911 Comments: Is this the same instructions for a E38 01 740i? i want to change the spark plugs and the coils. Thanks is advance.
September 10, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes this procedure applies to any "coil-over-plug" setup - Nick at Pelican Parts  
uta Comments: Hi my bmw e36 320 6 cilinder is missfiring. 1 coil pack was cracked so i changed this coil and all 6 spark plugs but its still no better. Ive tried different coils on cilinder 6 and when i remove the plug its wet so the petrol is not igniting? Would appreciate any help u could give me as need this sorted b4 it does more damage. Thanx chris
June 26, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You probably have a bad/leaking injector. You can try swapping the injector positions and see if the problems moves to the next cylinder - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jay Comments: Great directions. Easy as pie. The only thing I needed to add to my tools was the spark plug socket. I already had the extension for the ratchet. I didn't have to move any wires and there was no oil around the old plug.
April 15, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad we could help - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
jat Comments: Is there a similar spark plug replacement diy for the M40 engine? The layout is much different form the m42. Thanks
April 9, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We're working on more tech articles as this is being written so check back at the site. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
akawisco Comments: I replaced my 06 325i valve cover gasket and plugs, reassembled following the service manual and the car now does not start. The issue is electrical and as I try to start the car it flickers all the lights and acts a bit possessed for a moment. Power then ceases and all lights go out. I assume I reconnected a ground improperly, but I can't find an image for this in the service manual. Everything else is in place, it seems. Any advice before I have it towed it to the shop?
March 2, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Did you leave the ignition key on while you did the work and drained the battery? Try disconnecting the battery, make sure it is charged properly and reconnect it and see if the car starts. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Eli325i Comments: I Have a 2005 BMW 325iwith 94k miles and I replaced the valve cover gasket,spark plugs and prior to doing so I removed the battery because when I was moving the spark plug wire set out the way the car lowered all the windows down. When I finished with the replacements, I started the car without the cabin air filter on and ran it up the block and back and the service engine soon light came on. What do you think is the problem here?
December 11, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hard to say. You may have left something umplugged or lose that set a fault code. I would start by checking the DME for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
johnny1 Comments: Hi, I have a 1998 bmw 318i e36 model with m43b18 4 cylinder sohc engine. replaced head gasket and after completion car started fine but was running slightly out of tune, so i decided to do the timing but can't get it going now. i have tried resetting by locking the pin through the bell housing for tdc. The problem is i don't know where the cam lobes should be exactly positioned ,to be able to be locked.Also there is a position sensormagnetised on the top chain cover. With the top chain cover off, the sprocket holding the chain has a nodulesmall pin to obviousely coincide with the sensor attached to the chain cover just mentioned.
My problem is: I can't see any timing marks on the damper and i don't know the position of the camshaft lobes. i have removed the spak plug on cylinder 1 and have carefully inserted a screw driver in there to feel the piston get to the top for tdc. The ignition has plenty of spark but no go . can you please help.
November 13, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should time the engine using cmashaft locking tools and the crankshaft pin. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right tools. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shep Comments: I own a bmw 316i and when it developed a misfire I suspected the plugs and changed them and soon after that it was running so smooth. A week laterthat was only after about 1500km same thing came up, I change the plugs again and for sure they develop a black coat on them,soon after changing it runs smooth but wont take long. What could be the case of this? What do i have to do next because the kilometres they last sounds very abnormal? Please help I like the car. Thanks.
November 1, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check for the source of the fouled plug. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume and quality. If you have an engine misfire, the plug could be fouling. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
victor Comments: i used your DIY instructions to change my spark plugs in my 97 z3 2.8L. i also changed my valve cover gasket, there was a slight oil leak.
now my question is about the 2 ignition coil ground straps. i have one on the last#6 coil, but i cant seem to remember where the other one goes. some say the 1st, some say the 3rd. if so the 3rd, i see where i can connect it but there's already a ground strap connected to that screw the little red/orange one for the ignition coil connectors is it ok for another ground strap to be on that same screw, but seperated by a nut?

sorry, i cant seem to upload a picture of the red ground strap, screw and coil im talking about. hopefully i described it well enough. i just dont want any major engine problems to occur. thanks in advance!
October 14, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, the grounds bolt should be between 2-3 and 4-5. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Joeman Comments: I always use anti seize, but very sparingly, I think many DIY's paint the threads, A little goes a long way. Nice article, I'm an old aviation mechanic and it is amazing what is now available to people who have pride and care to take matters into their own hands. Best
August 17, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
DIYinSTL Comments: It is a very good idea to use anti-seize compound on aluminum heads; the plated steel on the spark plugs likes to bond with the aluminum and you will destroy, or at least gall, the threads when they are removed. If you are worried about the electrical contact, just keep the head area around the spark plug oriface clean, keep the anti-sieze away from the compression washer and you will have no problems. You are absolutely correct that the compounds are non-conductive I just tested a permatex tube and a loctite stick despite being aluminized. I have never had a problem with them but will be conservative in their future use.
July 14, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: Hello, I have a 1997 z3 4-cylinder engine. Are these the correct instructions for me to follow to change the spark plugs. Also, does this model have the spark plug wires? I have not done any tune up or other maintenance on it since i bought the car and have lost the user manual. Of course other than changing the oil regularly i.e. have not changed any fluids. Any help is greatly appreciated.
May 16, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Stay tuned. We will try to get a Z3 tech article together for you soon. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
twist Comments: too nice the change of plugs went well.but now im bettling with my 1991 520i, it seems to be heavy on fuel or its me i used to own a toyota corrola
April 28, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: A Corolla will use less fuel. If you suspect it is using too much, check the exhaust gas content. A poor running engine will show up there. You might have low co2, and high co. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dai Comments: i have just bought a e36 320 and it has had a bit of trouble getting it started i cleaned the air filter and checked the plugs 2 of them were filled with oil. when i took of the coil packs i noticed one had a differant part number number could this be the cause of lazy starting
April 6, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be one of many different things. I would suggest checking out the article in our tech articles section on reading electrical troubleshooting codes, and see if the car is trying to tell you what is wrong with it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
beemeboy Comments: Very good article, despite I couldn´t succeed. I own an E36 6cylinder , I did everything up to the moment of unscrewing the sparks. #1 and #2 no problem surprisingly, #1 was one electrode !. When I went through #3 it was impossible to unscrew it. I even got rounded the hexagonal spark wrench which comes with the car now, it is useless. Is there any liquid/lubricant to put for loosening the spark plug? I am afraid to unscrewing very hard and breaking the spark plug inside the housing, what would be a disaster. Besides buying a new spark plug wrench, I will appreciate your help.
March 14, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The plugs are steel - the heads are aluminum. You'd have to really have a defective plug in order to have it break off in the head. I wouldn't worry about it - sometimes these plugs need a 2-ft breaker bar and a 1/2 socket adapter in order to come out. Just get the right leverage from the right tools and you should be fine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Bsmith325is Comments: Just curious, what is the gap setting for single pronged spark plugs on 95 325is? i thought it was 0.32, is that correct
March 6, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure on the exact measurement of the gap, but these days, the plugs come pre-gapped, and they are typically very accurate, so you don't really need to set the gap on the plugs prior to installation. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Shaun Comments: I bought a 95 325is the car starts fine but when comes down to idle it dies and when rev it up it runs ruff to about 2000rpm. I know some cars have IAC's on the throttle body does this car? The battery was dead so i charged it and ran it for a while to see if it would relearn it but no luck and now the check engine light is on. What could this be? Is there a way to check the codes on the car without taking it in? What is the stock style spark plug? I was amaized that a dealer wanted $18 each?
March 1, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should be able to read the codes without a code reader on your 1995. Check out my article here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/Mult-Code_Reading/Mult-Code_Reading.htm The codes should give you a big clue as to what the exact problem is. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Corey Comments: Hi Wayne,

Great article as always! I just bought a 1995 325is and have been running through all the routine maintenance I can think of since I don't have any service records.

After putting in brand new Bosch plugs, the engine was hard to turn over. When it did eventually catch, it had a hard time even running. Gradually it did improve and was better after shutting it off and starting it up again.

Ever since, cold starts lead to a rough idle and it seems to be missing sometimes. What would be the first place to start? I did notice there was only one grounding strap on the engine M50TU. Is this normal?
February 28, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You might have the wrong spark plugs in the engine. Spark plugs are rated at gap size and heat range - if they are not correct for your car, then you may have problems like the ones that you are experiencing right now. If you have the old plugs, you might want to reinstall them just to check. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Abe Comments: I replaced the coils on my 520i then one coil packs melted and the car shut off while driving. I then replaced them with the originals and it still will not start. There appear to be no spark or fuel. What should I do?
January 1, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, coil packs just do not melt on their own - there had to be some odd reason why this happened. I would check all the wires that go to the coil packs and trace them back to the DME to make sure there are no shorts there. Unfortunately, the damage to the coil packs may just be a symptom of a larger problem with your DME. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
amsterdam Comments: when you said maybe the coils got swapped around and are in the wrong cylinders? where you talking about the harneses .As you said it is almost dificult to plug the wrong harnessone into the wrong cyliner on e46 . do you suggest changing the cranckshift sensor because all the wires seem to be in place .Thanks in advance



November 16, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the fault codes and see what the computer is saying is wrong: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/Mult-Code_Reading/Mult-Code_Reading.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
amsterdam Comments: I have an e 46 are the coils labeled 1 2 3 4 5 6 thanks
Thanks
November 15, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The coils themselves are interchangeable, but the harnesses are not. The way the harnesses are setup on the engine, it's very difficult to plug the wrong one into the wrong coil. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
amsterdam Comments: After we changed the valve gasket and the oil separator we do not have power to spark plugs .the car will not start we have fuel and battery is good. I have new sparg plugs platinum. new manifold gasket
November 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm thinking that an electrical harness in your engine compartment has been accidentally unplugged and/or loosened. Check the voltage levels to the coil too. Also, it's difficult / near impossible to do this on the E36, but maybe the coils got swapped around and are in the wrong cylinders? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
amsterdam Comments: I changed the cover gasket the day before. the car was running before
Thanks we changed the oil separator .
November 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
amsterdam Comments: My spark plugs i just put in my car have oil on them the pressure is good can you help.
Thanks
November 10, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like your valve cover gasket is leaky - check out the article in our tech articles section on replacing it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
theo smith Comments: very well said man ..You help me out alot the only question i have is after when your done installing the spark plugs do u have to wait for it to kick in cause when i completed my car... I noticed it started like a champ but when i decided to take it for a spin around the street i would feel a huge pull back from the engine as i accelerate ...but the awkward thing is as i continued to drive the car it began to pull like normal as i pushed on the gas is that normal ..by the way it began to drive even better with out that effect ..please let me know thanks ...on more thing.. one time when i was driving on the highway my car just gave up on me ..It was still running .But not wanna to accelerate to its normal speed so i pulled over and turn off the car on the side of the high way .Then i tried starting it again and it never wanted to ..luckly there was a CAA and i had to get it towed home ..The funny thing is as i got home it started again do you think it was the spark plug that gave out on me ...thnaks
October 24, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Spark plugs usually won't cause your symptom. Unless of course the gap is closed or they are misinstalled. I would check your work and besure everything is connected as it was before you began. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
yupitsme Comments: I have changed everything I could think off in this car 94 BMW 325is Alernator, spark plugs, belts, oxygen sensor, fuel filter, air filter even replaced some of the relays. Still my car is misfiring everytime I come to a stopping position and sometimes while i'm driving. Can you help me figure out why this would happen. I tried to diagnose it by using the coded but it doesn't seem to work for me, I tried the directions and still nothing. Other than the misfire the car runs great when it runs.
October 4, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: At this point, it could be a DME or wire harness issue. Also check for vacuum leaks. I have a good article on checking vacuum leaks here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/Boxster_Tech/21-FUEL-Vacuum_Leaks/21-FUEL-Vacuum_Leaks.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
jonny Comments: Great site it has really helped me out in the last 2 days
September 22, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
danielmicahel Comments: i replace my spark plug connectors a couple months ago, i noticed that the connectors were just a little bit smaller than the original ones. My service engine soon light turned on a couple of days later and has been on ever since. shall i replace my connectors again?
September 14, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You need to read the fault codes to see what the issue is. Take a look at this article here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/Mult-Code_Reading/Mult-Code_Reading.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Matt Comments: Hello. I just found the "oil in the sparkplug hole" when changing my plugs on my 2004 X5 3.0 Has 101500 miles on it. I looked online at the diagram for the head gasket at another website, but I can't see how it seals off the spark plug tubes. Are there individual o-rings included in a gasket kit for the valve cover that seal the tubes?
August 25, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes there are two sets of gaskets that cover the spark plug holes, see this article here for details: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/E36-valve-cover/E36-Valve-Cover.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
LarryS Comments: Hi, On a 1998 Z3 with a 1.9, is changing the plugs the same basic procedure? Thanks,Larry
August 24, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, it's very similar and very easy. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Bob Comments: Great directions for the spark plug change - a 2001 Z3 Roadster 2.5 for me. I think I was a bit too casual, however, about the instruction about moving aside the wires to each coil - this in addition to the warning sticker on the engine about high voltage. The last #6 plug is partially blocked by something ? passing nearly directly over it, and the original plugs are pretty tight. So I was putting a longer wrench onto the extension which was on the spark plug socket, and something shorted out. OUCH! Big pop, sparks all over, burned spot on the wrench handle and one finger - ouch! It happened so fast that I am not sure what I did. I'm thinking that maybe I got too close to the contact in the socket which I pulled off of the coil and it shorted to ground through the wrench to the plug . . . What happened, and what do I need to do to avoid repeating this?
August 15, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, I would think that you would be changing your plugs with the ignition turned completely off and your key out of the car. I'm assuming that it was. That said, the car has a battery jump point at the center of the manifold that is normally covered with a plastic cover. If you touch this and ground, you will be in a world of hurt - that is probably what happened. Be aware not to touch the jump point (make sure it's covered), and/or simply disconnect the battery when working in that area. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
David Comments: I bought my '97 Z3 1.9L used with 85000 miles on the odometer. I replaced the spark plugs and wires at 135000 miles because I was getting a code that the #1 cylinder was getting an itermittent misfire. The wires and spark plugs that I replaced appeared to be an original set as there was no reference in the car's maintenance manual that they had been previously replaced. Is this merely a testament to the quality of the OEM parts? I'm hoping to get another 135K out of the new set as those are the most expensive set of spark plug wires I've purchased in 50 years.
August 8, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The wires are probably original, but I would guess the plugs were changed at least once prior. Hopefully the new parts last as long as the old ones! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Jeremy S Comments: When should the coil packs be replaced? My 95 525i has 120K on it, but the car is still 15 years old. Are they good; can I get away with just swapping the spark plugs? What about the connectors? How often should they be replaced?
July 2, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not aware of a specific life for the coils. If the car is not giving you any coil pack trouble codes, then I would just leave them alone and replace only the plugs. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
john Comments: I am missing a mass ground strap. Could this be the problem that one of the coils is blown up? When I was changing the coils and start the engine one of the coils was smoking, after I removed it, it was melted .... Do you sell a mass ground strap I only have one at the sixth cilinder
July 1, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think there are two of them, one for each bank. Yes, we sell these, contact our sales dept and they can hook you you. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Justin Comments: Alone - For your 1995 325i Convertible the plugs go back in exactly as you'd expect them to. In order from 1 to 6. With 1 being closest to the front of the car, and 6 being closest to your firewall. It's very important that they are reinstalled in the correct order. The actual firing order that the cylinders on your vehicle fire at are 1-5-3-6-2-4. But they are installed in the engine bay in numerical order.

Kirk - For your question about the e90. The wire loom harness at the back of the engine bay above the engine can be easily lifted and removed, there are only a few clips holding it in. Then you'll have access to remove the plugs. The cylinder closest to the firewall is a tight fit but it's doable.
June 30, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
alone Comments: I need help on a spark plugs arrangement. coz today, my friend was rushing me to take out the spark plugs to be replaced and instead of doing 1 by 1, i just took all of them out, now i'm not sure which goes where.

On top of my engine cover, above the spark plugs ignition coils, i can see the numbers, from left to right:

564 123

on the igniton coil cable/wire, there are also numbers from 1 to 6.
but somehow the numbers on the ignition colil cable/wire doesn't have the same arrangement as the numbers on top of the cover such as i mentioned above.

the arrangement on mine are, from left to right:

654 321 on the ignition coil cable/wire.

Why is this ?
I bought my bimmer used, so wasn't sure if previous owner had rearranged them.

I tried arranging the ignition coils according to the numbers on top of the engine cover 654 123 but doesn't seem right coz the cables/wires too short for some and too long for some.

As of now, I just go by the lenght of the cables/wires.

Please can someone show me a diagram or tell me what's the correct arrangement.

-Thanks In Advance ! -
1995 BMW 325i Convertible
June 21, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think you're overthinking it - the length and shape of the cables should guide you as to what goes where. On my car, there was only one way to put them in properly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Kirk Comments: Hello! I was curious as to the method to replace the spark plugs on an E90, etc., since the motor is much farther back in the engine bay compared to the E46 and earlier. Thanks!
June 4, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, I haven't tackled the E90s just yet! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Alex Comments: very well written nice job man
May 2, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
James Comments: Where can I get just the shaft to rebuild my old power steering pump on a 2001 330i? On the old pump, the shaft broke into. I would like to get another one to rebuild the old pump. I called BMW and they do not sell parts for this pump.
May 1, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Right - they only sell the complete pump. If all you need is the shaft, then I would check with a used parts vendor for this. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Parker Comments: Absolutely perfect instructions!!! You guys saved me over 900.00!!!! Thank-you!!!!
April 14, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Txwalt Comments: Wayne,I used your article to change the coils and plugs on the wifes 2003 525i. It did the trick in giving me pointers. The major difference is that the 03 has a different coil set up which makes it easier. I had the coils and plugs out in about 15 minutes and thats with having to remove the cabin air return pipe. All in all it work great. Thanks for the help.
March 13, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Doogs Comments: You recommend changing the wires with every plug change also? If not how do I know when a change is needed? Thanks Wayne
January 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: E36 models do not use ignition wires. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bill Comments: I had to remove the cabin air filter tray to get the last plug out and in on a 2002 330xi. Eay to do, but worth mentioning.
November 4, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
sarnodude Comments: Hey Wayne, this is a great aricle, but you should include the plug gaps. REF
http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/E36-Spark-Plugs/E36-Spark-Plugs.htm
September 27, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think they are different for every car. If someone wants to punch them in here from the Bentley manual, I won't complain... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Dan Comments: Hi there, would be nice to see a guide or pics for the 4-cilinder engine M43B18 which isn't covered here.
August 29, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The 4-cylinder cars are *super* simple. Just pull the boots off, and then you can see the plugs. Removing them is the same as on the six cylinder cars. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Andy Comments: Rebuilt fuel injectors... I notice they're priced a lot less than new. Any reason to not get rebuilts? Pros and cons? Thanks.
July 13, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: In general, rebuilt injectors are not as reliable as brand new ones. That's about the only disadvantage I can think of. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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