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N52 6-Cylinder Spark Plug and Ignition Coil Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

N52 6-Cylinder Spark Plug and Ignition Coil Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets (10mm, 5/8 spark plug socket), flathead screwdriver

Applicable Models:

BMW X3 Sport Utility (2007-10)

Parts Required:

Spark plugs, ignitions coils

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine

Performance Gain:

Engine runs well

Complementary Modification:

Replace air filter

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 X3 is part of routine maintenance. BMW recommends replacing the spark plugs on X3 models every 100,000 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.

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 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.

BMW X3 models equipped with an N52 6-cylinder engine utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug (red arrows).
Figure 1

BMW X3 models equipped with an N52 6-cylinder engine utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug (red arrows). 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 on the cylinder head. See our tech article on engine cover removing. This tech article shows X3 models with a N52 6-cylinder engine. You will have to work around the Vavletronic motor (blue arrow) and the strut brace. Start by removing the cabin filter housing. See our tech article on cabin filter replacing.

Start by removing the four T30 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the fresh air plenum.
Figure 2

Start by removing the four T30 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the fresh air plenum.

Lift the intake plenum up and remove from the radiator support in direction of red arrow.
Figure 3

Lift the intake plenum up and remove from the radiator support in direction of red arrow.

Then, remove the four T30 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the intake air duct.
Figure 4

Then, remove the four T30 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the intake air duct.

Push the fresh air plenum toward the firewall (red arrow) to remove from the radiator support.
Figure 5

Push the fresh air plenum toward the firewall (red arrow) to remove from the radiator support.

Lift the plenum up and detach the duct at the intake air housing as you lift.
Figure 6

Lift the plenum up and detach the duct at the intake air housing as you lift. 

Loosen the four 4mm Allen engine cover fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 7

Loosen the four 4mm Allen engine cover fasteners (red arrows). Inset shows the lower right side fastener, hidden from sight in main photo.

Lift the engine cover up and slide it off engine and out from under strut brace (red arrow).
Figure 8

Lift the engine cover up and slide it off engine and out from under strut brace (red arrow).

Unlock the ignition coil electrical connector (red arrow) by pulling the tab up 90 degrees (red arrow).
Figure 9

Unlock the ignition coil electrical connector (red arrow) by pulling the tab up 90 degrees (red arrow). Next, slide the electrical connector out of the ignition coil (blue arrow).

Remove the ignition coil from the cylinder head by pulling it straight up.
Figure 10

Remove the ignition coil from the cylinder head by pulling it straight up. If the coil resists, twist it when pulling 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 (re arrow) the coil up and out of the cylinder head.
Figure 11

You can also use a flathead screwdriver to lever (re arrow) the coil up and out of the cylinder head. Be very careful using this method as the coil is made of plastic and easily damaged.

Using a 5/8 thin-wall spark plug socket on a 12 extension, remove the spark plug from the cylinder head.
Figure 12

Using a 5/8 thin-wall spark plug socket on a 12" extension, remove the spark plug from the cylinder head. If you find that engine oil has contaminated the ignition coil boot or there is oil in the spark plug well (red arrow), you will have to repair the oil leak and replace the ignition coil.

If your spark plug socket does not fit into the spark plug hole, you can remove the ignition coil insulator from the valve cover.
Figure 13

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 degree tip snap ring pliers to grab the insulator holes (red arrow) and squeeze. Then pull the insulator up and out of the cylinder head. When installing, be sure the insulator snaps under the plastic tabs (blue arrows) in the spark plug hole.

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Page last updated: Sun 6/25/2017 03:12:46 AM