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N52 & N54 Engine Spark Plug Coil Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

N52 & N54 Engine Spark Plug Coil Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets, 12 point spark plug socket, 5/8-inch thin-wall spark plug socket, flathead screwdriver, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i Sedan (2006-07)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i Sedan (2006-07)
BMW 530xi Sedan/Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)

Parts Required:

Spark plugs, Ignitions coils

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine

Performance Gain:

Engine runs well

Complementary Modification:

Change air filter at same time

The Siemens digital motor electronics (DME) engine management systems in BMW 6-cylinder engines control fuel supply, fuel injection, ignition and emissions. In these systems, also known as Motronic, an electronic microprocessor, the engine control module or ECM, processes a variety of sensor inputs to monitor engine and vehicle conditions. The ECM operates the engine in accordance with driver input. It has self-diagnostic capabilities in accordance with US-mandated on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) standards and stores fault codes known as diagnostic trouble codes or DTCs, which can be accessed for troubleshooting purposes.

In the Motronic system idle speed, idle mixture and ignition timing are not adjustable. OBD-II standards require the engine to operate within extremely tight tolerances maintained by feedback loops in the electronics. These standards as well as upgraded manufacturing materials and techniques allow many automotive components to function well past times and mileages that were considered normal in previous decades. As examples, engine oil and spark plugs are capable of extended life compared to the past.

Replacing the spark plugs on your E60 is part of routine maintenance. BMW recommends replacing the spark plugs on E60 models every 100,000 miles and on turbocharged models every 45,000 miles. As mentioned above, with all the major engine and engine management design changes over the years, spark plugs now last up to three times as long as they did in years past. This is good and bad. It means you save money and time not having to service them so frequently, but run the risk of a spark plug seizing in the cylinder head. I suggest replacing your spark plugs every three years regardless of mileage. If the last time they were serviced is unknown, replace them right away. Note that a special 12-point thin-walled socket is necessary for servicing spark plugs in the 6-cylinder turbo-charged (N54) 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're 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. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. 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.

BMW E60 models utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug (red arrows).
Figure 1

BMW E60 models utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug (red arrows). The coil is a new design used in late 3-Series models, referred to as pencil ignition coils. This style coil no longer uses fasteners to hold it down in the cylinder head. Instead, the coils are held down with a friction fit. When servicing your spark plugs, be sure the engine is cool and leave yourself about an hour to do the job. Be careful not to drop a spark plug, if you do, replace it. The spark plug insulator can crack and can lead to an engine misfire. Remove the engine cover and cabin microfilter housing. See our tech article on engine covers removing.

Unlock the ignition coil (blue arrow) electrical connector by pulling the tab up 90°.
Figure 2

Unlock the ignition coil (blue arrow) electrical connector by pulling the tab up 90 degrees. Then slide the electrical connector out of the ignition coil in the direction of the red arrow. Remove the ignition coil from the cylinder head by pulling it straight up. If the coil resists, twist it when pulling it up to break it free from the spark plug. The ignition coil rubber boot can become stuck to the spark plug over time. You can also use a flathead screwdriver to lever the coil up and out of the cylinder head. Place the shaft of the screwdriver through the hole in the coil latch and lever it up. Be very careful using this method as the coil is made of plastic and easily damages. If you find that engine oil has contaminated the ignition coil boot you will have to repair the oil leak and replace the ignition coil. The source of the oil leak will likely be the valve cover gasket. This photo shows a turbocharged engine. The other NG6 engines are similar.

Using a 5/8-inch thin-wall spark plug (red arrow) socket on a 12-inch extension, remove the spark plug from the cylinder head.
Figure 3

Using a 5/8-inch thin-wall spark plug (red arrow) socket on a 12-inch extension, remove the spark plug from the cylinder head. If your spark plug socket does not fit into the spark plug hole, you can remove the ignition coil insulator from the valve cover. Use 90° tip snap ring pliers to grab the insulator holes and squeeze, then pull the insulator up and out of the cylinder head. This is for vehicles with plastic valve covers only. Turbocharged models require a special spark plug socket. The spark plug requires a 12-point socket (green arrows) available through Pelican Parts, part# 0-890-000-004-M47 (BMW part# 83 30 0 495 560). When replacing the turbocharged engine spark plugs, I find the socket gets stuck on the spark plug when installing. You can either use long needle nose pliers to remove the socket if it gets stuck, or use a locking extension (blue arrow). The locking extension keeps a good bite on the socket and does not allow it to stay in the cylinder head. Lightly lubricate the new spark plugs with copper based anti-seize. Thread the spark plugs into the cylinder head by hand. This will prevent accidental cross threading. Torque the spark plugs to 23 Nm (18 ft-lb).

Reinstall the ignition coils and reconnect the electrical connectors (green arrow).
Figure 4

Reinstall the ignition coils and reconnect the electrical connectors (green arrow). Be sure to route the wiring harness as it was before and connect the ignition coil grounds. Install the engine covers and check your work.



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Comments and Suggestions:
jacksonplace Comments: It is my first time changing the coils and spark plugs. I have a 2008 528i. I have a couple of questions:
1 What is the unit just above the coils 3 and 4? It is seen in figure 4, but not discussed in any of the steps.
2 How is it removed? I see the two bolts, but Action still needed to remove the unit.
3 Replacing the injector coil, Is it simply friction fit or screwed in place? The coil just spins in place. I cannot get it to fit as tight as the unit I removed.
October 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You do not have to remove it, it is the Valvetronic motor. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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