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M54 6-Cylinder Engine Starter Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

M54 6-Cylinder Engine Starter Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$250

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, E12 socket (external Torx)

Applicable Models:

BMW X3 Sport Utility (2004-06)

Parts Required:

Starter motor

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine.

Performance Gain:

Reliable and working starter

Complementary Modification:

Replace battery

The starter motor is an electric motor powered by the battery, commanded on when the driver rotates the key or presses the START button. The modern BMW X3 starter motor is a permanent magnet direct current electric motor with a solenoid mounted on it. When current from the vehicle battery is applied to the solenoid, the solenoid engages a lever that pushes out the drive pinion on the starter driveshaft and meshes the pinion with the starter ring gear on the flywheel of the engine.

The solenoid closes the high-current contacts for the starter motor, the starter motor then turns the engine. Once the engine starts, a spring in the solenoid assembly pulls the pinion gear away from the ring gear, and the starter motor stops.

ON E83 X3 models with an M54 6-cylinder engine, the starter solenoid signal is controlled via a control module from the input of the ignition switch to the EWS module. Diagnosing the start signal can be tough as in some modules it runs through a few control modules. If your starter motor is good, but lacks the solenoid signal, start by acquiring a wiring diagram for your vehicle and tracing the circuit. Once you are familiar with the layout, check where the signal fails to flow from.

When a starter motor fails, your engine will not start. You may turn the key and attempt to crank the engine but nothing happens or maybe only a few clicks. It is important to be sure your battery is fully charged and in good condition and that the battery terminals, positive connections and ground cables are tight and corrosion-free before condemning your starter.

Another cause of a no-start condition could be failure of the electronic immobilizer system. If the ignition key does not communicate with the immobilizer or one of the electronic modules responsible for granting access to the starting system fails, you may have a situation which mimics a failed starter. To test the starter itself, you need to make sure that full battery current is available at the main starter terminal (B+) and that battery current is switched on at the small starter terminal when the ignition switch is engaged. If electrical current is not available at either of those terminals then the no-start condition is caused by an electrical or electronic failure and not necessarily by the starter motor.

The engine starter motor is located on left side of engine below intake manifold. It is not the easiest part to access on your BMW and is best replaced by removing the intake manifold first. The all-wheel drive system makes access difficult and nearly impossible from below. The dowel for the starter is known to get stuck and with the intake removed, driving the dowel out is much easier.

Remember your car may have been serviced before and parts 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 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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Disconnect negative (-) battery cable. See our tech article on Battery connection notes. Remove engine covers. See our tech article on removing engine covers. Remove the intake manifold. See our tech article on intake manifold removing.

I am going to illustrate how to replace your starter from below on the M54 6-cylinder model.
Figure 1

I am going to illustrate how to replace your starter from below on the M54 6-cylinder model. Photos show intake manifold removed for access to the starter motor (red arrow).

Working at the rear of the starter, pull the plastic cap off the main terminal lug.
Figure 2

Working at the rear of the starter, pull the plastic cap off the main terminal lug. Then remove the 13mm nut (red arrow).

Remove the two battery cables from the starter solenoid (red arrow).
Figure 3

Remove the two battery cables from the starter solenoid (red arrow). Be sure the cable ends are clean and free from corrosion.

Working at the starter solenoid, remove the 8mm nut (blue arrow) and 10mm nut (red arrow).
Figure 4

Working at the starter solenoid, remove the 8mm nut (blue arrow) and 10mm nut (red arrow). Then remove the two starter solenoid wires. Inspect the terminal ends for corrosion or damage.

Next, you have to remove the starter bolts (red arrows).
Figure 5

Next, you have to remove the starter bolts (red arrows). The bolt heads are E12 (external Torx). This photo shows the bolts, looking down from firewall area (intake manifold removed). Remove starter from engine by wiggling it as you pull it straight out toward the front of the vehicle. If starter doesn't come out, the dowel pin may be corroded and stuck in transmission (blue arrow).

If you run into this issue, you can drive dowel pin (blue arrow) out using a 10mm punch (red arrow) and small hammer.
Figure 6

If you run into this issue, you can drive dowel pin (blue arrow) out using a 10mm punch (red arrow) and small hammer. A new starter should come with a dowel pin installed; if not, transfer old one over to new starter. Install starter and tighten fasteners. Install electrical connections. Do not over-tighten battery positive (+) terminal: the stud can break. Reassemble remaining items and reconnect battery. Check operation of starter, then recheck that all wiring is routed as before.

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Page last updated: Fri 6/23/2017 03:14:53 AM