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S54 6-Cylinder Starter Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

S54 6-Cylinder Starter Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$250

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, E12 socket (external Torx), floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 M3 Coupe/Conv (2006)
BMW Z4 Coupe/Conv (2006)

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. The modern BMW 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.

If your starter motor is good, but lacks the solenoid signal, start by acquiring a wiring diagram for your vehicle and trace 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 occur. 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 the left side of the engine below the intake manifold. It is not the easiest part to access on your BMW and can be replaced a few different ways. On Z4 models, you can access the starter from below but it is a tight workspace. I prefer to pull the intake manifold. You have much better access and can avoid lying on your back for hours. The dowel for the starter is known to get stuck, and with the intake removed, driving the dowel out is much easier.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had 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 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.

Jack up the front of your vehicle. See our article on Jacking Up Your Vehicle.

Disconnect negative (-) battery cable. See our tech article on Battery Replacing.

Remove the intake manifold. See our tech article on Intake Manifold Removing.

The engine starter motor (red arrow) is located on the left side of the engine below the intake manifold.
Figure 1

The engine starter motor (red arrow) is located on the left side of the engine below the intake manifold.

It is not the easiest part to access on your BMW and can be replaced a few different ways.
Figure 2

It is not the easiest part to access on your BMW and can be replaced a few different ways. On Z4 models, you can access the starter from below but it is a tight workspace. I prefer to pull the intake manifold. You have much better access to the starter (red arrow) and can avoid lying on your back for hours. The dowel for the starter is known to get stuck, and with the intake removed, driving the dowel out is much easier. This photo shows the intake manifold removed.

Working at the back of the starter, remove the 13mm battery positive (B+) cable nut (red arrow).
Figure 3

Working at the back of the starter, remove the 13mm battery positive (B+) cable nut (red arrow).

Remove the cables from the solenoid (red arrow).
Figure 4

Remove the cables from the solenoid (red arrow). Then, remove 10mm nut for starter electrical connection (green arrow). Then remove wire from starter.

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

Next, you have to remove the starter (green arrow) bolts (red arrows). The bolt heads are E12 external Torx (inset). This photo shows the bolts, looking down from the firewall area (intake manifold removed). If removing the starter from below, you can access the bolts easier by unbolting the transmission mount and lowering the transmission, if needed. Using a 24-inch extension, universal joint and an E12 socket, reach up from below the left side of the transmission and remove the starter fasteners. Remove the starter from the engine by rotating it counterclockwise and in a downward direction.

Removing from above, use a ratchet and an E12 socket (red arrow) to loosen bolt bolts.
Figure 6

Removing from above, use a ratchet and an E12 socket (red arrow) to loosen bolt bolts.

Then remove the bolts using a smaller ratchet (red arrow).
Figure 7

Then remove the bolts using a smaller ratchet (red arrow).

Now you can remove the starter from the engine.
Figure 8

Now you can remove the starter from the engine. Just pull it out of the engine. Wiggle it if it is stuck. They usually come right out with no problem. Install the starter into the engine. Install the starter fasteners and tighten. Install the electrical connections. Do not over-tighten the battery positive (+) terminal. The stud can break. Reassemble the intake manifold and reconnect the battery. Check the operation of the starter. Then recheck that all wiring is routed as before.

If the starter doesn't come out, the dowel pin (red arrow) may be corroded and stuck in the starter (green arrow).
Figure 9

If the starter doesn't come out, the dowel pin (red arrow) may be corroded and stuck in the starter (green arrow). If you run into this issue, you can drive the dowel pin out using a 10mm punch and small hammer. You cannot access the alignment pin from above easily with the intake manifold removed, but it can be done. To remove from below, put your punch into a deep socket installed on a 24-inch extension. Align the punch with the pin and drive it out from below, through the same access area used to remove the starter bolts. Be sure to reinstall the dowel with the new starter.

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:58:38 AM