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BMW E30 Timing Belt Replacement

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 Timing Belt Replacement


2-3 hours






Slot screwdriver, metric sockets from 7-19mm, metric combination wrenches from 8mm-19mm, 32mm, 22mm combination wrench or 22mm socket and driver, metric Allen wrenches, jack and two jack stands, hammer, torque wrench,1/2- or 3/4-invh driver breaker bar, 1/2- or 3/4-inch drive 22mm socket (for breaker bar), visegrips

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)

Parts Required:

Timing belt kit and timing belt tensioner

Performance Gain:

An engine that's not going to implode because the old timing belt broke

Complementary Modification:

Replace - the water pump, the timing belt tensioner pulley, the coolant, the radiator/coolant hoses that need replacing
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

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.

Replacing the rubber timing belt is one of the most important maintenance tasks for the six-cylinder E30 engine. As the engine ages and mileage climbs, an old, worn-out timing belt may break, causing catastrophic engine damage. A broken timing belt typically causes the valves to hit the tops of the pistons, bending the valves and/or destroying the pistons. A broken timing belt can indeed lead to the complete destruction of the engine.

To avoid this fate, replace the timing belt every 60,000 miles or every four years. If you live in a dry climate (like Arizona), or if you don't drive your car often, then I recommend replacing the belt more often. In dry climates, belts can become brittle and worn much more quickly. If your car sits for long periods of time, the belts take on the bends and shapes of the pulleys while the car is parked. Both circumstances increase the likelihood of belt failure.

Jack the car up to gain easier access to the crankshaft pulley and lower radiator hoses; it will also be easier to remove the coolant. Be sure to place the transmission in neutral so you can turn the engine more easily. Also remove the spark plugs, as this will make it easier still to turn the engine and to recognize any interference problems when you install the new timing belt.

Although it's not necessary, it's wise to inspect and/or replace the water pump and thermostat at this time (see Project 35). As a rule, replace the water pump every second time you replace the timing belt.

E30 cars manufactured in 1986 and later years should have a tensioner marked with "Z 127." If your tensioner does not have this code, replace it with one that does. This tensioner design replaced an earlier, potentially faulty, design.

Follow the procedure documented in the photos for detailed instructions on removing the timing belt and camshaft sprocket. Reinstall the tensioner before you install the new belt. To reinstall the tensioner, compress the spring as far as you can, and then temporarily tighten the adjustable tensioner bolt (green arrow, Photo 12). When you install the new timing belt, place it on the engine, working counterclockwise, starting from the crankshaft sprocket. Slip the belt over the intermediate shaft sprocket, around the tensioner, and over the camshaft sprocket. Now, loosen both bolts on the tensioner to apply tension to the timing belt. Verify that the timing marks for TDC on the camshaft sprocket match up with the notch on the cylinder head (see Photo 10). With a socket on the crankshaft pulley, carefully rotate the engine clockwise through two complete revolutions (720 degrees). Verify that the timing mark on the camshaft pulley is in place again. Torque the upper and lower tensioner mounting bolts to 22 N-m (16 ft-lbs).

With the tensioner in place, reinstall the crankshaft pulley and lower timing belt cover. Recheck that the camshaft sprocket is aligned with the cylinder head when the vibration damper or toothed timing wheel O/Tmark is aligned with the lower timing belt cover. If not, remove the damper and lower timing belt cover and reposition the belt. Reinstall the front pulley, applying red Loctite to the six mounting bolts.

When you're finished, reinstall the radiator and bleed the cooling system as described in Project 33.

PLEASE NOTE: We sell a kit for this: part # PEL-WPSKE30-04N

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.

Figure 1

Shown here are the items included with the E30 timing belt kit available from and a few other items I recommend replacing. In addition to a complete set of radiator and coolant hoses,  this photo shows: A: Air conditioning, alternator, and power steering belt. B: Water pump. C: Timing belt. D: Timing belt tensioner. E: Thermostat. F: Camshaft seal and O-ring. Complete coolant hose set (perimeter)

Figure 2

This photo shows the engine compartment of a 1987 E30 325e engine compartment. Although not required when changing the E30 timing belt, I recommend that you also adjust the valves. I have removed the valve covers in this photo for that purpose, but their removal is not required to replace the timing belt. Although you could probably replace the timing belt with the radiator in place (yellow arrow), I do not recommend it. Removal is a snap and makes the job a whole lot easier. Begin by disconnecting the upper radiator hose (blue arrow) and the radiator overflow hose (red arrow).

Figure 3

With a large bucket and paper towels handy, remove the plug on the bottom of the radiator and disconnect the lower radiator hose (yellow arrow). If you replace the coolant (recommended), pull out the plug on the engine block and remove the coolant from the block. Dispose of the coolant properly--it is toxic to children and small animals. Also verify that the engine is cold. When you disconnect the lower hose, you will spill some of the coolant, and you don't want to burn yourself.

Figure 4

With the radiator hoses removed, turn your attention to the radiator mounts, on the left and right sides of the radiator. Remove these mounts with a 10-millimeter socket (blue arrow). Inspect the mounts when you remove them; in most cases the rubber will be deteriorated and require replacement (yellow arrow). The photo inset shows the radiator coolant temperature sensor that also must be removed prior to pulling out the radiator.

Figure 5

Shown here is the front of the engine after the radiator has been removed. At this point, the fan and fan pulley have been removed (see Project 34 for removal instructions). The belts have also been cut off with shears (you should replace them anyway). The yellow arrow shows the front of the distributor cap. The green arrow points to the air conditioning compressor. The blue arrow shows the alternator. The red arrow points to the water pump pulley. The orange arrow shows the main crankshaft pulley, and the purple arrow points to the power steering pump.

Figure 6

Here's a close-up of the alternator and its supporting brackets. You need to remove this bracket in order to remove the timing belt cover. First, loosen the rear alternator bolt, indicated by the green arrow. Do not turn the front alternator pinion bolt until the rear nut is loosened. With the bolts loose, remove the nut that holds the bracket to the timing belt cover (yellow arrow) and swing the bracket out of the way. It's also a good time to remove the crankshaft sensor--simply pull it out of its bracket.

Figure 7

Now remove the distributor cap, which is held on with three small bolts. With the cap removed, you can remove the distributor rotor. Use a 3-millimeter Allen wrench or driver for this task. Replace the cap and rotor with new ones when replacing the timing belt.

Figure 8

At this point, you should be able to remove the few small bolts that hold on the upper timing belt cover. The cover will slide off, and you should see the upper part of the timing belt. The red arrow indicates the camshaft timing sprocket, while the green arrow indicates the timing belt tensioner. If you plan to replace the camshaft seals (recommended), skip ahead to Photo 14, but loosen up the Torx bolt on the camshaft sprocket before you remove the timing belt. If you accidentally rotate the camshaft when the belt is off, you may bend the valves by pushing them into the pistons.

Figure 9

Place a deep 22-millimeter socket on the center of the crankshaft pulley and rotate the engine until it reaches top dead center (TDC) for cylinder number 1. At TDC for cylinder number 1, the O/T mark on the crankshaft pulley timing wheel or vibration damper (green arrow) will line up with the line on the lower timing belt cover (yellow arrow). In addition, the mark on the camshaft sprocket should line up with the mark on the cylinder head. Since this is a four-stroke engine, the TDC setting in the photo may also indicate that the engine is at TDC for cylinder number 6. Check the camshaft sprocket to make sure (see Photo 10).

Figure 10

When setting the timing, it's very important to verify that the engine is set at top dead center (TDC) for cylinder number 1, indicated by the marking on the crankshaft and the camshaft sprocket as pictured The green arrow shows the thin line on the sprocket that must match the corresponding mark on the cylinder head (yellow arrow). These two marks should line up, along with the mark in Photo 9. Only when these marks are aligned should you remove the timing belt.

Figure 11

The front pulley (also called the three-in-one pulley) is held on with six bolts (green arrow) that can be nearly impossible to see without a mirror. Remove these bolts prior to removing the front pulley. Use a 22-millimeter deep socket and a breaker bar to hold the crankshaft steady while you loosen and remove the bolts with a socket driver. After you get the bolts off, you should be able to pull the front pulley off of the crankshaft. Behind this pulley is a vibration damper (a mini-flywheel) that also pulls off the crankshaft (a toothed timing wheel is behind the pulley on later cars). You may need to employ extensive wiggling or a rubber mallet to budge the damper/timing wheel from its home position. With the pulley and damper/timing wheel removed, you can now remove the lower timing belt cover.

Figure 12

This collection of photos shows the removal of the timing belt tensioner. Mark the location of the main tensioner bolt (the one that fits through the slot) so you can approximate its location when you reinstall it. Using a wrench, remove the bolt that holds the tensioner, timing belt cover, and alternator bracket (inset, upper left). Then remove the main adjustment bolt for the tensioner (green arrow, lower left inset). With the bolts removed, you should be able to remove the tensioner and tensioner spring.

Figure 13

It's easy to slide out the timing belt once the lower cover has been removed and the tensioner has been disconnected. This photo shows the crankshaft pulley at the bottom and the intermediate shaft pulley off to the right.

Figure 14

I recommend you remove the camshaft sprocket so you can replace the two seals located behind it. These seals tend to deteriorate with age and cause leaks. Replace them when you have relatively easy access to them. Remove the camshaft sprocket with a T-50 Torx socket. Use a screwdriver propped up against the cylinder head to gently hold the sprocket in place while you remove the Torx bolt. Don't allow the camshaft to turn, as you could cause the valves to accidentally hit the pistons.

Figure 15

Shown here are the two camshaft seals that I recommend replacing while you have access to them. There's a small O-ring that fits into the cylinder head (green arrow) and a spring-seal that fits around the rotating end of the camshaft (red arrow). Replacement of these seals is similar to the replacement of the flywheel seal (see Project 44 in the book).

Comments and Suggestions:
Lee Comments: So I had a problem installing the belt that wasn't on the page. I have a 89 325i convertible that I bought so it wouldn't go to the junkyard. Got it running great and then the timing belt broke. It happened at idle and it was a gentle tink sound and that was that. I thought maybe it wouldn't be too bad. it bent every exhaust valve and I think some of the intakes too. But that's not what I'm writing about. Putting it back together the timing belt was way too tight even with the tensioner as loose as it could be. I couldn't figure it out. I could get it onto the sprocket, but it was crazy tight and that isn't good. And then it would slip besides. It was the crank sprocket. A bunch of the grooves had the old pieces of the old belt. I couldn't really see them because they were on the bottom of the sprocket. On the top it looked fine. Cleaned the crank sprocket and it perfect the first time.
December 15, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yeah, this can happen. Lucky the debris didn't knock the old belt off and cause an overheated engine. If the belt comes apart or is falling apart, always inspect the pulley grooves. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
GamersCreations Comments: Hey there! Great write-up! I was curious though, I searched for a timing belt kit on your site and it came up with just the timing belt and the tensioner? My car is a 1987 BMW 325i, I was hoping to find a kit with every item you showed here :D thanks!
August 2, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There should be a kit available, if not our parts specialists can put it together for you. See halfway down this page, bottom of belts. %3Futm_source%3DSuperTech%23item4

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Needshave Comments: I have a 87 325ic, very low mileage, been stored for years in my warehouse. I want to get her out but of course I need to change timing belt. I tried to search the following kit number, PEL-WPSKE30-04N, but you're website says it can not confirm for my vehicle. DO you need a serial number. I would assume i will need pump as well an hoses
May 23, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Best bet, Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.

Should be here, but I have to use the same look-up tool as you, so probably exactly what you found: %3Futm_source%3DSuperTech%23item4

- Nick at Pelican Parts
Pete Comments: Hi team. I bought this kitb4 years sago but haven't installed. Would belt/gaskets still be ok?
April 17, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yeah, as long as it was stored properly. I don't see why it would age oddly or from sitting. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
John Comments: Hi, I've got an E30 320i m20b20 engine from 1984. Does that kit fit to my car?
March 25, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: In our catalog (which has only US market vehicles) you will need to look up parts for a 1983 320i, if we have a kit that is similar to the one in the article it will be shown under that application data. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Lundis Sweden Comments: I just changed my timing belt on my 325 1990. At the first trail the two marks lined up perfectly using only the force from the spring. But as the slack was measured to 7-8mm between the cam shaft and intermidate wheel I pushed the tensioner so it would eat some more of the slack before I locked everything again. Now the timing is not lining up exactly as previosly. It is now 1/5-1/6 teeth off, the cam chaft is a bit behaind the crank shaft. The tension however is much better as the slack now can be measured to roughly 5mm. I used BMW original belt and tensioner. Should I redo the procedure or will I be fine?

Thanks for a good page.

March 14, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would try to time it again. If the sprocket is moving during tensioning, try to accommodate the movement by placing the sprocket where it will line up when the movement occurs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jon Comments: Hello! I am in the middle of reassembling my 1988 325i convertible and I was hoping you can help, please. There is a thin single wire that runs along the upper timing belt cover and is held in place by a plastic loom. The wire cracked and I lost the plug end. Can you tell me what that wire is for and where the missing plug end might connect? Thanks!
February 27, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I know exactly the wire you're speaking about BUT I never looked to see where it goes!! I will post this to the forums and see if another member can offer assistance... - Casey at Pelican Parts  
AtWitsEnd Comments: My son's timing belt broke, 1989 325is. He swears the car just shut down so I am hopeful no damage. My camshaft is not ot TDC. What is the best way to rotate that without having a timing belt as it should??
January 29, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Set the crankshaft to 90° BTDC, then rotate the camshaft to TDC. The move the Crankshaft from 90° BTDC to TDC. Once aligned, install timing components. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Singapore Comments: Hello from Singapore, I have a 1989 E30 316i with the M40B16 engine, would the steps in this tutorial and kit which you sell be 100% applicable? I understand this is for the 6 cylinder M20 engine, the M40B16 does not seem to be that common in the US.

I have no experience and will set an entire weekend aside for this project, I would like to get everything I need before starting, thank you! ,
December 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I do not know the differences between US and Japanese model vehicles. Wish I could offer that info. My advice is to find a repair manual or ask a local mechanic for advice.

I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Pete Comments: Hi, I have two questions, first what is the touque setting for the six M8 bolts that hold the vibration dampener down?
Second, when I took my belt off both marks were lined up, when I installed my new belt I moved the crank mark and it was off to the right by about 4cm, I proceeded to turn the engine clock wise once, the bottom crank mark was still off to the right about 4cm, I removed the belt and moved the crank anticlockwise to match up the marks, reinstalled the belt and after two turns both marks match up now, just wanted to ask if I can be 100% sure its installed properly now.
Also my car is missing the spring that loads the tensioner, can I run without it?
1998 BMW E34 525i M20

November 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don;t have the torque info. I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799.

With the belt installed, rotate the engine to TDC twice, if the marks line up, it should be OK.

You need the spring on the tensioner.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Ale Comments: 1989 325i. Timing Belt renewal.It is needed some grease to be applied to cam seal lips? Also, it is required some product to be applied to the water pump gasket? Thanks.
September 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nothing on the water pump gasket. if installing new cam seals, clean engine oil on the seal lip and help it go on easier. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mr turtle Comments: The first time I replaced the timing belt it was making something like a squeaking noise when running so I figured it was too tight so I'm retentioning the belt, you losses both tensioner nuts, turn it clockwise a few times then Just tighten them as they sit right? Do you happen to know the amount of play the belt should have? I can't find it in any manual.
August 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The tensioner is spring loaded and should load itself. If not, your may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
kazou Comments: Apologies one more question...can you recommend a water you have a variety to choose from...

July 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You didn't mention what vehicle you are working on. Assuming a BMW, I would go for the OEM if it fits your budget. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
kazou Comments: replacing my timing belt...noticed my replacement contitech belt is thinner than existing contitech belt on engine..
Any recommendations...should I purchase bmw belt.
contitech belt is 11 31 1 713361 131
July 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, belts usually wear on the inner grooves before they crack. If it looks visibly thinner, I would replace it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tania Comments: hi I have a 320 e30BM my car just died last week and I replaced the cambelt but now my car does not want to start there is power but the ignition is just turning what can I do
June 14, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I can't help without knowing what is missing from the system when you are trying to start it. When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume, quality and engine compression. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
eddy Comments: Hello i hav problem with e30 b.m.w 1986 with engine pls me.
Pls whr can i get part of b.m.w
May 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Leo Comments: Hello,

I have a e36 m40b16 engine from 1991 with a timing belt, I would like to know how often should I replace it, because some people say it's every 40 000km25k miles and others 80 000-100 000km 50-60k miles ?
My mecanic says every 45 000km because apparently when the engine stops it goes backwards a little which kinda worn the belt. I need some enlightning, thank you in advance. It's a Belgium car.
May 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: In the US, timing belts on similar models are replaced during Service II, or 50,000 miles. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bill Comments: sorry nick to keep bothering you , it was the nut I stripped now you can see how frusterated I am
March 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem. Can you share a photo of the stripped par,t and the location from about 2 feet away? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bill Comments: thanks for the reply nick, It was the bolt I stripped on the altanator bracket do you have any way I can get this off so I can move forward
March 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: no problem, I am here to help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bill Comments: I have a 1988 325 bmw and I am trying to replace the water pump but I have stripped the bolt that holds the altanator bracket do you know any way I can get this off. Vice grips don't fit to get it off
March 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Drill them out. May require a right angle drill to fit into the space. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dreadneck Comments: Where is the link to project 44 as mentioned above?
February 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: That text is from the print book I believe. All the articles are located here: - Nick at Pelican Parts  
negroponto Comments: Good morning!
I have a timing advance light with advance. I have to read the advance with the Z mark.
How do you measure the timing advance in an E30 325I?
How much is the advance? How much rpms to put the engine in the right advance?
How you modify the advance? Thank you.
November 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The ignition timing is electronically controlled and can only be checked, there are no provisions for adjustment. Check timing at operating temperature with vacuum hose(s) disconnected and plugged. Timing mark is located at crankshaft pulley.
Base Timing [1][2] 10°±5°BTDC at 760 RPM
[1] engine at operating temperature and vacuum hose(s) disconnected
[2] timing can only be checked, no adjustments are possible
Oxygen Sensor Heater Voltage [3] 12 V
Oxygen Sensor Heater Amperage 0.5 - 1.3 A
[3] with fuel pump relay bypassed
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Teemo Comments: I'm rebuilding a 1987 325e....during the replacement of cam shaft seals, crank shaft seals and intermediate shaft seals both the cam shaft and crank shaft have gone off the tdc timing of right now...I have both the crank shaft and cam shaft at the do I know if there has been a problem with the valves being hit by the pistons? The cam shaft has drifted at times by about 2 teeth...and the crank shaft has been off at times about 20 degrees...
November 1, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Perform a leak down test with each cylinder. Rotate the engine so the valves are closed when testing. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
wyattdelsol Comments: Is there a Kit sold from Pelican that includes all the items in Figure one under one price?
June 17, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would think they have a kit out together for this. Should be listed on the page with a link for sure. I will see if someone can add it to the page. For now, give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Harry Comments: I performed this procedure this past weekend on my 1986 325e. Amazingly, the tensioner pin and spring were completely missing, but I had purchased new ones. I would suggest breaking loose the camshaft sprocket torx bolt T50 while the timing belt is still mounted and tensioned. Likewise, perform final tightening after the new belt is on and tensioned. One pitfall I encountered: I could not find the timing mark on the camshaft sprocket. There was no line or arrow on the sprocket. I finally noticed that the timing mark was a stamped dot on the top rear of one of the teeth behind the belt. I had not seen this type and location of timing mark mentioned in any of the photos or descriptions of repair procedures, including the Bentley manual. Hopefully this helps some of you.
April 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
BigBill Comments: I replaced the timing belt a year ago on my 87 325e, last week it died and wont start, crank turns when starting cam does not, I removed top timing belt cover and belt is intact. Any ideas what would cause the belt to not turn even though the crank is turning?
March 31, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The teeth on the belt may be stripped. Check the bottom near the crankshaft. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
1988 325 Comments: what should i torque the camshaft gear bolt to? on a 1988 325
February 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have that info.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Kevin Comments: I have a 1988 325i convertible and the belt belt broke while the engine was at idle. Before I waste time and money on replacing just the belt , what are the chances that the valves are bent and valve job or a a replacement head is necessary?
January 31, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The timing belt? Set the engine timing, then leak down test the engine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dill Comments: It's a 1985 BMW 325e 2.7l and the camshaft and crankshaft both spin. The timing a ? Cause there's an arrow on cam not a line but lined it up as good as we can. It's a mind boggler
January 14, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If they both spin, the belt is on wrong. If it spins freely, there is no compression. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dill Comments: We replaced the timing belt aligned the marks perfect with the firing Oder in all but when we go to start it. It just free spins can you help us out with this very confusing situation?
January 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You didn't mention what vehicle you are working on, so I can't be too specific.

You either have the belt on incorrectly, or a pulley is loose and not rotating the camshaft or crankshaft. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Gabe Comments: How do you change the ac belt on an m20b25 year 1992 e30 vert
November 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See this tech article: - Nick at Pelican Parts
JKE Comments: About to replace the water pump on my 1990 325is. I know lots of E30 owners replace the timing belt as well... My belt was replaced only 20,000 km's ago. Can the water pump job be done without touching the timing belt at all?

Fairly new to this, but am confident I can do the job if I really take my time and stay meticulous.

Also, on this site, where do I find the link to purchase the whole kitfigure 1 as shown above.

Thanks in advance. You're always helpful!
July 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are fasteners for the water pump behind the timing belt. You may be able to sneak it out without removing the belt. I would suggest installing a new belt, just to be safe.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Old Dude Comments: Howdy, how can I make this article fit my computer screen and/or printer? By the time I read a line moving the screen back and forth, I forgot what I read. LOL I am old, not dumb. THANKS
June 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can adjust your web browser so the window fits, by either scaling the size or setting it so it auto-scales. When printing, just print sized to fit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
E30wishlist Comments: First thanks so much for the tech articles! I am changing my timing belt and when I pulled the timing cover off I can see that the cam is one tooth advanced. I rotated the crank several times and with the crank mark lined up with the block, the cam is one full gear ahead of the timing mark. The car was running fine but there are no maintenance records so I am changing it proactively. Any advice? I feel like I should line the marks up when I put the new belt on but since it seems to run fine I don't know if I should change it?
June 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would align the marks to the factory settings. Someone may have installed it incorrectly in the past. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
e30 boy Comments: Never mind found out my way thanks.
June 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What did you find? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
e30 boy Comments: Nick I screw up try to change the timing belt I do not know what happen the mark of head cylinder is all the way down please can you help out I try to turn the top to align it but is hard thanks.
June 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What do you mean by hard? If the camshaft timing is 180° you'll have to put the engine at 90° BTDC, then rotate the cylinder to TDC then rotate crankshaft to TDC. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
e30 boy Comments: Okay can I put the new belt and water pump first and then the tensioner last.
June 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the belt has to go on last. You don;t want to risj getting coolant on the new belt. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
e30 boy Comments: Remove front pulley and camshaft sprocket clockwise or counterclockwise to loosing it thanks.
June 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The bolts? They come off in a counterclockwise direction. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dario Comments: sorry
good evening
I'm redoing the belt of my 320 e30 Jetronic
I allinetato the camshaft with PMS or
I would like to know how to align the distributor, usually on other engines I used the strobe and based on the degrees of advance I worked, I would like to know how many degrees is the advance, and if there is a mark on the lower pulley, thank you very much, sorry for my English, Italian are good
May 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I found this info regarding your vehicle:

OT is top dead center (TDC).
Z is a circle mark on the flywheel to indicate 26* ignition advance.

If you turn the crankshaft snout clockwise and keep looking into the bell housing hole AND the Z mark passes the hole BEFORE the OT then the Z mark is at 26* before TDC. If the Z mark passes the hole after the OT mark does then the Z is at 26* after TDC. Lets hope and assume the former case with the Z passing the hole before the OT. - Nick at Pelican Parts
s Comments: Z è anticipo?
May 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure what you are asking? "Z is advanced?" - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Christian Salcedo Comments: Here is a useful trick to install the belt. Install the tensioner leaving a few mm of the two bolts threaded in, then just compress the spring with a screw driver and wiggle in the belt. Now when you do this there will some slack on the section of the belt between the cam and oil pump sprockets which will cause a misalignment in the crank sprocket mark once you turn the crank clockwise. To prevent this, turn the crank 10 mm counter clockwise before installing the belt, so when you turn the crank the belt will get proper tension and the mark will be aligned. Check the marks on the cam and crank sprokets. Finally, tension the belt a bit more by pushing the spring holder end with a screw driver and torque the tensioner bolts to spec.
April 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Marc Comments: Nick worked like a charm thank you so so so much my job is on a roll again :
February 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Greg Comments: I'm scared to death that I might turn the engine at the wrong time by accident while changing the timing belt. In what ways can I prevent this from happening? It doesn't really say in the details, it just says don't do it near figure 8. What does this mean and how can I be sure?

February 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: When the belt is installed and tensioned the engine can be rotated. When you come to the point of removing the old belt, work carefully not to rotate the engine, then install the new belt and tension it. If you are that worried, I would not perform this proedure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Marc Comments: sorry missed on lower post bmw 1989 525i 5 speed
February 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks, got it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Marc Comments: i did the timing belt and the water pump and the tensioner, before i took the belt out I had everything aligned properly but on the lower part i am fine the mark matches but on top i am one tooth away how do I fix this, i have loosen the tensioner and rotated the crank several times but still one tooth away and my back is broken :
February 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You have to place the crank at TDC, then remove the timing belt and rotate the camshaft the one tooth, then reinstall the belt. Recheck it again to confirm you moved it in the correct direction and amount. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Gary R Comments: I have a 92 vert with a M42 4 cyl engine, how close is this write up to the 4 cyl procedure? Are there any major differences other than number of cylinders?
February 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would say it is close, but not the same. I would suggest grabbing a repair manual for your vehicle: #item0 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Joe Comments: Hey there, i have rebuilt the cylinder head and replace the timing belt and water pump, head gasket , and a few other little things. And there isn't any compression .. why is that? Thanks
December 24, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Engine timing could be wrong. I would double check it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
aaronisaac2 Comments: I have a 87 325i i just bought,but the fan clutch was bad and all the belts. So i decided replace f.Clutch all new belts water pump thermostat and when looking at engine notice oil all over the place so decided it is wise to replace Timing Belt and tensioner also. Disassembled everything and took the timing belt off before aligning everything up? CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO DO? 1ST TIMER!
December 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The engine wasn't aligned before you removed the timing belt?

If so, there is a chance you can damage the engine if you rotate it and the pistons come in contact with the valves. If you feel confident doing so, rotate the engine to 60° before TDC, this will drop all the pistons down. Then align the camshaft timing marks, then align the crankshaft timing marks. Once the engine is timed, install the timing belt. if this sounds difficult, your best option is to take it to a BMW mechanic. - Nick at Pelican Parts
colt Comments: I have a 89 e30 325i what are the torque specs for the intake manifold please help cant find them anywhere
November 24, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 20NM or 14.7 ft/lbs - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Joe Comments: Thanks! I have another question what timing belt brand would you recommend ? I want to make sure it's a good quailty..
November 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like the ContiTech Belts a lot:

- Nick at Pelican Parts
Joe Comments: Hi there! I have a 89 325is and I recently had the cylinder head rebulit because of broken timing belt and rockers.. Any how my question is .. When I purchase the new cylinder head bolts it didn't come with new washers for it so can I used the old ones that were removed ?
November 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's best if you get new washers which are listed on the Pelican Parts page: /DZarDm

Eddy Comments: Can you explain me whats the difference between a z127 and a non z127 tensioner? I have a e30 325i 1990. Thanks
October 22, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The z127 stamped part has an updated design, they look about the same so you are going to have to look for the stamp.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Mycosys Comments: Just want to be clear - does the tensioner pulley need replacing with the belt or is it just that an ealry model tensioner was defective and should be replaced?
If we are not replacing the entire pulley should we be replacing any parts of it - I ask because the idler spring seems to be too common a spare part to be unnecessary lol.
Drive an '89 320i Auto RHD
September 15, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: When replacing the timing belt you should replace the spring and the pulley, they are easy to get to when the belt is being replaced.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Sam Comments: good day,
Please could you inform me ,where can I buy a Tech book for my 1989 E30 320i Auto/.I remember years ago, at spareshops they had these type books where they show everything technical, and how to do the different type of work.Thankyou
August 31, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find what you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
JHS Comments: 86'528e timing belt replacement.i am well along on this everthing re the belt is back.problem is the tensioner-the spring is in place and center bolt installed but not tight. is there a way to get the tensioner to the right so that the right mounting hole lines up with the slot.
July 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try using a pry bar to lever on the tensioner. These belts are tight and this may help you get the other mounting bolt lined up in the slot. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
bigboy740il Comments: @ Nick
The E12 socket was too small and the E14 seemed a bit loose. When I tried the E14 it began to strip the end of the torx bolt. I have searched online and could not find an E13, so that is why I inquired if there was a special tool for this job.
June 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does your socket have a tapered end? For example, the inverted Torx splines start at an angle toward the inside of the socket? This may the issue if so. There are sockets avaialble without this taper. I sourced mine through Snap On. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bigboy740il Comments: Wayne,
I have a 1991 automatic, 325i sedan with a production date of 06/90. I followed your steps and successfully changed my water pump, timing belt, and tensioner. I ran into a slight problem when I tried to replace the camshaft seals. In your article you mentioned that the bolt is a T50 torx, but on my engine i have an external torx bolt holding the cam sprocket. I tried an E12 and E14 torx sockets, but neighter fit correctly. Is there a special tool to remove this bolt, and where can i buy it? I would really like to replace this seal and fix my oil/vacuum leak.
June 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the bolt head smaller or larger than the sockets you tried? i would try the next size inverted Torx socket, E10, E16. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Roman Comments: Follow up … Thanks for your response and as matter a fact I did Leak Down test and end up with 2-3% on all 6 cylinders. Next time I know what to do and probably best way will be mark old timing belt and transfer mark on new belt to eliminate any mistakes. Also using straight edge to make sure that marks are aligned is good idea. My mistake was that I was looking on my marks from slight angle and that angle was enough to get one tooth off.
June 4, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Roman Comments: I just did my timing belt on my 1989 3.25IS but when I start the car I had this loud ticking noise coming from top of the valve cover when I rev the engine little bit it quite down. Anyway I remove timing cover to check my marks and sure enough I found out that my cam gear was 1 tooth off so I fix this error and car starts with no more noise, my question is if one tooth off is enough to bent valves or damage the engine and what was that ticking noise I was hearing? I think it was valves kissing the pistons but again it is enough to do any damage or I was just lucky that I was just one tooth off?
June 1, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Usually a tooth off is not enough to cause damage. I would perform a compression test on the engine to be sure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tbonez Comments: 1974 bmw 2002 labor time for timing cover valve cover
May 8, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would take me with a few years of automotive experience about 4.0 hours from start to finish. However I have air and impact tools and can get the crank pulley off fairly easy. You may have many more rusted/broken bolts to deal with so I would say plan on being there 6 to 8 hours - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tbonez Comments: how long does it take to replace timing cover and valve cover
May 8, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Look in the other comment you posted. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
joe Comments: it made a little tick tick tick tick noise for about 5 seconds befor it died like if something had broke and now the ingine just turns but wont start up help please...... here is my e mail address please help its my first car
May 6, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Right now you have a no start condition. Open the oil fill cap and look inside. Have someone else crank the engine and see if the camshaft is turning. If not you have a broken timing belt. If it does turn the belt may have jumped and thrown off the timing so check the cam crank alignment. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
joe Comments: hi i just bought a 1989 bmw 6cyl when i went to turn it on it turned on i drove it and started to make this tiking noise and died now it wont start
May 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Where was the ticking noise coming from? Does the engine crank when you attempt to start it? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mikey Comments: I replaced the water pump on my 84 528e after getting it all back together i tried to start it and the motor turned over twice then i heard a thunk! I believe i loosened the tentioner bolt by mistake because when i checked my timing belt was broken. Did i damage anything inside my motor or can i just line it up and replace the timing belt and it will be fine?
March 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Mikey,
The engine in your 528 is an inteference engine. This means the valves can make contact with the pistons if the timing is not correct. I suggest retiming the engine and performaing a compressions test on all cylinders to check for valve damage. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Salteedog Comments: This is in response to Michael on 11/4/10 and for the benefit of others. It is plastic dust cover item that snaps in place not very secure behind the two-piece aluminum covers that protect the timing belt, idler pulley, etc. I don't see the item in the photos above. This item conforms to the engine block but is not attached to it. It's attached to the two-piece aluminum covers. This item is probably something that is easily discarded or just falls off eventually between timing belt changes and is forever lost. You don't see it unless you are changing the timing belt. It's blocked from view as it is located under the thermostat housing and hoses, behind belts, and the air intake components when everything is assembled to normal running order. I came across this item when changing the timing belt on my 2.7, 6cyl. of my '87 325e.
October 22, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for giving our subscribers that information and keep in mind it may only apply to the 2.7 liter 20 engine and not the 2.5 liter. We'll keep you posted. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
madman415 Comments: so what is the issue with an'85 325e when a new timing belt is installed, everything went well, car starts right up and runs great, but sounds like a knocking sound. Not actually "rods" knocking, more like either from the valves or inside the belt housing itself. Hard to tell 'cause it's very loud.
August 26, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I do not suggest you run the engine again until it is repaired. Remove all the spark plugs and crank the engine by hand. As you rotate the crankshaft listen to any component that may be rubbing or hitting and that is probably the source of your knocking noise. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jim Comments: I don't see the timing belt kit anywhere listed. Am I missing it somehow?
July 12, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Jim,
On the tech article, click the link that says "Need to buy parts for this project? Click here to order!"
- Scott at Pelican Parts
ken Comments: 1988 528e timimg belt broke and trying to line up crank and cam marks to TDC is there any way i can simply rotate the cam then the crank one then the other little by little to acheve this without removimg the head as it would seem i keep hitting pistons against the valves and dont want to bend any but after i tap somthing and rotate the other it seems im not getting any closer to linning up my marks or am i just stupid and dont have a clue
April 15, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the engine is close to TDC (Top Dead Center) rotate it 90 degrees on the crankshaft either clockwise or counter-clockwise (which ever way it does not hit a valve). Now your pistons are halfway down or half way up and they should not hit anything. Then rotate the camshaft into place and finally carefully rotate the crankshaft into position. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Masterbaker Comments: Thanks Pelican! Just did my first timing belt changed based off of your write up, and of course I used Pelican parts. Things went very well with one exception. I aligned both camshaft and crankshaft to the TDC and placed on timing belt in a counter clockwise direction. Next I hand cranked the crankshaft 720 degrees, one rotation for the camshaft. After hand cranking I noticed a sight misalignment between the crankshaft TDC mark and camshaft TDC mark. While the crankshaft is perfectly aligned to the TDC the camshaft is off about 1/8”sorry don’t know the degrees its off. It’s not off by much but I sure don't want to redo after reassembling. Is for slight misalignment between crankshaft and camshaft TDC’s normal? What should I do?
March 13, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will need to reset the timing marks. Sometimes when you line up the marks and then apply the belt tension to the belt it can pull the cam timing marks out of alignment with the crankshaft. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
NorCalPR Comments: Awesome, thanks! I just tackled mine today and it was a piece of cake. I've done timing belts before, and the M20 motor was easy to do, just tideous and time consuming trying to access everything and replace all the hoses.

Also changed the camshaft seal. It was a no brainer since the front of the motor was covered in sludge and oil.
March 10, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the kudos and remember when working on a older car if you take something apart you are going to want to replace many or all of the components you remove since they all have the same high mileage and may fail. You don't want to have to do the job over twice. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
skwearl Comments: thanks for the help i wish i would have found this site sooner
February 13, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks and now you can use us for all your future projects. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tran0331 Comments: I never replace timing belt before, have no know knowledge and experience about this stuff and am willing to do it. But I'm kindda scare, don't know what to do and how many parts are required for this jobs? If you can provide me complete part list including related parts to timing belt such as thermostat, water pump, gasket, etc and detail instructions/pictures, that'd be great so I won't hesitate to purchase parts from you as long as I know what/how to complete this project in the right way with out any mistakes.
By the way, I recently bought this car in good condition. Everything seem fine but I don't know what condition of the timing belt so I need to replace anyway before too late.
My car info: BMW-e30-m20, 1988, 325i, sedan 4 door, auto-trans, high milleage 250k+.
My next projects are replacement only not repair-preventive before breakdown on brake system, then fuel system, then timing system, then shocks/struts, suspension, etc so on until complete work entire the car because I start loving this car and it is my hobby now
. So please help me out to succeed my first BIG project.
November 22, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Easy, go to our home page and at the top of the page look for the "Tech Info Center" tab. Click on the tab and then scroll down to "E30 Timing Belt Replacement" and it will walk you through the entire procedure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jimm Comments: Thanks for this writeup! I just finished my first new timing belt and water pump! Now on to the valve adjustment!
November 9, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Great work, and now you can go to "Valve Adjustment Made Easy" in Tech Info Center and finish the job. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
wizard Comments: i would like to know why my bmw 528e 1988 locks up when lining up timing marks. i can put it on top dead center with the crankshaft but camshaft locks up when lining up timing marks. i can line up camshaft timing marks but then the crankshaft timing marks wont line up because it locks up. what am i ndoing wrong.
September 6, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: With the crankshaft set up first some of the pistons are at their highest point and will contact a valve as you rotate the camshaft. Try rotating the crankshaft 90 degrees either clockwise or counter clockwise (which ever way they will not contact a valve. Then line up the camshaft into place then rotate the crankshaft to it's correct position. Also make sure the timing marks stay in place when you apply the tensioner. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
suzee Comments: why does my 528e 1988 bmw lock up when i go to line up the timing marks. i had to replace the cylinder head after my timing belt broke while running.
August 27, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Rotate the crankshaft 90 degrees from where it is supposed to be. This will bring all the pistons to the midpoint of their stroke. Set up the cam timing then rotate the crankshaft into position. Be careful the timing marks don't move when applying the belt tensioner. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
xltsaint Comments: i have a 325 of 1986 and dont start there is no power in the fuel pump and there is no power on the ignition i already check the fuses and the relays an its ok but the engine dont start
July 14, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does the check engine light come on when you turn on the key? Does the Engine DME relay click when you turn the key on? You may have a bad ignition switch or the wrong engine relay. You need a 5 prong "double throw" relay for the DME engine relay - Nick at Pelican Parts  

This is an interference engine. You just bent all the valves and probably broke a couple rocker arms. Need to pull the head and rebuild.
July 8, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the help in getting back to Leo Arias - Nick at Pelican Parts  
timninja Comments: How would you make sure your not at BDC and your at TDC?
July 7, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Look at the camshaft and both lobes on the number one cylinder should be pointed towards each other and upwards. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Leo arias Comments: Hello I have a 87 bmw 325e , just last week I turned it on and turned on well. As soon as I got of the car I heard a loud "snap" and the car stalled. I went to turn it back on and the cranking rhythm was completely different, I'm mechanically inclined and figured out it wad my timing belt snapping . I was right. I went ahead and removed the necessary parts to access the timing belt and before installing a new one I set the timing marks to specification, I proceeded to turn the car on and discovered that the same cranking rythym is still present , I love this car and don't want to give up on it so soon over something so simple .... Any suggestions ??? Please help.
June 26, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This M20 engine is known as an "interference" engine. This means the valve may hit the pistons if the valve timing is not correct. You are going to have to remove the cylinder head and have it rebuilt to replace any bent valve that have contacted the piston. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
325e E30 Comments: I HAVE A 1987 325E 4DOOR 2.7L AND WANT TO DO THIS PROJECT. Does anyone have the part number for the kit so I can search it on the catalog? Thanks
June 15, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: From the home page go to the "Tech Info Center" tab and scroll down to "E30 Timing Belt Replacement". On that page there is a link to order parts for your project. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
laptopdragon Comments: my 89 325i has 2 marks for the cams TDC head is 885 pic shows 2 lines.
my cam has a yellow mark and there is another yellow mark on the head..
is the cam now at TDC ?
is the lower mark for the 'e' series ?
May 21, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Don't go by the yellow mark on the head. Line up the machined line on the cam with the machined line on the head. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jonathan Comments: I just got my "101 projects" book and it looks like I didn't order the camshaft o-ring. Is this the one I need?

Its an 85 325e
May 14, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes it looks like the one you are going to need. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
laptopdragon Comments: to micheal and mellisa
i know its late, but better than never.
it is in fact a timing belt rubber cover.

here is your part # 11-14-1-269-557-M9
and link to this part is HERE if my url works

hope that helps.
May 11, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the help in getting back to Mike and Mellisa - Nick at Pelican Parts  
laptopdragon Comments: to; Michael & Melissa
November 4, 2010
posted but no way to reply. pretty sure that part is a cover behind the timing belt, it protects it on the engine side, and is so far tucked away, i don't think its worth it to restore...maybe when you do it again.

if im correct, its below the thermostat area and covers the engine side, clamping itself over the t.b. cover, close to the tensioner, but on the intake side..its not urgent, but will keep fluids off the belt, and longer lifespan.

hope this helps.
May 9, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes the cover will help block any debris from entering the timing belt housing. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
laptopdragon Comments: i can't understand why you purposely left out the removal of the fan, fan clutch, and best way to accomplish that.

its very important this gets covered, as its a reverse thread, and ive seen someone damage their car due to it.

to do it right.
if you want to keep it simple.
get a thin 32mm wrench from a bike shop and with pbblaster on it overnight, it should come off with your hands, if not, use a rubber mallet.

i would suggest anti-sieze on the re-installation.

there is a BMW tool part # 11 5 040 is a special thin open 32mm, but these are much cheaper at a bike shop, or maybe online.
May 9, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for informing our subscribers on R & R of the mechanical fan - Nick at Pelican Parts  
larry Comments: what if the camshaft turned less than an inch is it still possible for valves to hit pistons?
April 18, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure how the camshaft can turn an inch - it turns in degrees, not inches. I also don't understand the question, when doing the timing belt replacement, you can have the pistons tap the valves with no problem as long as you don't force it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
tony Comments: i broke the bolt that holds the alternator bracket, lower timing cover and tensioner, the long bolt with the 17mm hex on it, do you think junkyard or is that an orderable bolt. thanks. just finished the job almost and broke it on the cleanup.
March 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure, our parts department can special order just about anything. Give them a ring at 1-888-280-7799 and they will be happy to take care of this for you. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Mark Comments: I would like to know. Do you need a another tool to remove the power steering pulley ?
To remove the crankshaft pulley you have to hold the 22mm shaft with a tool and then unscrew the 6 bolts. Is the power steering pulley the same ?
I don't think I needed a special tool to remove the water pump pulley...

Thanks for you reply.
February 19, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I can't fully recall off the top of my head, but you do need to hold the wheel steady while removing the bolts. You can use an old belt fastened and clamped around the power steering pulley to accomplish this - or a "rubber band" clamping tool that some shops sell to help remove oil filters. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Kevin Williams Comments: With regards to Michael's November 4, 2010 picture, it's the rubber shield that fits the outside of the upper cam/timing belt cover 11-14-1-269-557-M9
January 17, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for answering Michael's questing on the rubber cover - Nick at Pelican Parts  
gidgaf Comments: It was a two day job! EVERY f'n fastener had been Loctited on, including the big fan clutch nut. The seals were a real PITA, also. I used a sharpie to mark the marks, and that made making the timing right easy. Oh, and "easing" the belt on was cute! My 10 year old one was hard to take off, and the new one was harder to put on. I finally had to remove that lower tensioner bolt before the belt finally went on. But it's done, and done right.
January 16, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes on older cars these things can be problems with rust and corrosion not to mention what another mechanic may have done before you got there. There is no need to loctite the fan because it is a reverse thread and the fan rotates in the tightening direction to prevent it from flying off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bobdude Comments: Just to make sure... the bolt that holds the Cam Pulley on to the cam is NOT reverse threaded? I am on the verge of stripping mine out and really would like to know.

Thank you
January 11, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I'm pretty sure it's not a reverse thread. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Mitch Comments: @Michael re:" The one dilemma we have is in locating where a small plastic shroud like piece goes"

Facing the car, that piece goes on top of the right hand side of the timing belt cover - between the distributor and the alternator. It covers the back side of the timing belt where the aluminum cover does not. The two squarish that stick straight up in your picture snaps over the side of the aluminum cover. The larger portion fits over the back.
December 11, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for getting back to Michael's question - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jes Comments: I just finished changing the timing belt that broke when i was at a stop. does that change the procedure of making sure the cam and crank are alligned when putting on the new belt? because it will turn over and sounds like it wants to start, but it doesnt. also the sensor that screws in to the radiator, the wires broke, does that effect it starting? do i have to take all the hoses out and belts to adjust the cam and crank? thanks
November 16, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm guessing that your spark plug wires are mixed up - it's a common error. If you installed the timing belt incorrectly, then the engine would most likely not turn over at all! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
melasgune Comments: i bought a 1987 325i bmw at the auction and want to do basic maintenance on it so i can get the car in good shape i got a oil change and tune up and fuel injection, brakes front and back new tires , the windows dont work properly rear passenger window dont go down i pulled the switches and cleaned them up the car was really dirty with dust and that work for a while the when i turned on the heat or AC it makes a whrrrling noise like when you clothespin a playing card to the spokes of a bike and the windowshield wiper mount on the passenger side is stripped so the blade down work on that side only can you please suggest what i can do to get the car in shape
November 8, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds to me like you have to replace the blower motor assembly and while you are at it you should replace the blower motor resistor. It also looks like your are going to have to replace the wiper transmission assembly if you cannot file some grooves on the stripped shaft yourself. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: Thanks for this great site, I have undertaken a project with my daughter and practically rebuilt the complete front of the E30 engine. We both have enjoyed the work . The one dilemma we have is in locating where a small plastic shroud like piece goes . It certainly protects some tubes or pipes . I have uploaded a photo. I would appreciate it if someone could help me in finding where it belongs. The car is a 1991 bmw 325i conv
If the photo does not help I can send dimensions.

Thank You Michael & Melissa
November 4, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure, but it looks like the kick panel that goes under the steering wheel area? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Fred Comments: I brought my 1988 BMW 325i convertible to my local BMW dealer for a new water pump replacement today. Shortly after I drove the vehicle home and parked in the garage, all the coolant in the temporary plastic container under the hood on the driver side spilled out. I visually checked all the hoses and clamps for leakage, and they seemed OK.
What woudl be the reason of the spillage?
Should I top the the plastic tank with fresh coolant and return to the dealer for further checking?
October 26, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, I would top up and take it back to them, there's definitely something amiss there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
MrFixit Comments: As it turned out...During my R 'n R of the timing belt, at some pint I had leaned on/leveraged my body on my intake cone air filter setup cracking the mounting bracket. No biggie or so I thought but in turn it cracked the underside of the notorious intake bellows and it wasn't "visible". Soon as I found that and put in a new bellows, life was good!
August 27, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Older rubber intake hoses get brittle over time and may break when you put stress on them. Look around you engine compartment for other rubber component that are showing signs of age and replace them sooner than later. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mrfixit Comments: OK - your pictures helped vastly relative to the vibration dampener removal need to use a gear puller, but successful.
After completing this I have a new problem I can't yet find...The car starts right up but within seconds it won't hold idle OR even hold revving below ~3k. The crank sensor looks to be fine, and there weren't any vacuum lines, other sensors etc. moved/removed. What happens if I'm "1 tooth off"? would the car even run or run w/o excessive valve clatter etc?
I'm stumped and have lost a day at work...
August 23, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you lined up the timing marks you should be fine. It's most likely a vacuum leak somewhere that you forgot to hook up - happens all the time (has happened to me too in the past). - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
madaleno Comments: Great article! I'm planning on buying the parts and following your instructions but i never find my car reference in parts and articles it's a E30 with engine m20b20more info on m20 engines here:
Will parts for 325i fit mine?
August 19, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: For the most part yes. We're working on an expansion of our catalog that will address your concerns - should be complete soon! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
brad Comments: My car is making a very loud squealing noise but only when the engine is cool and in the blue area. mechanic told me it was the timing belt wore down...?
is this true?
2001 bmw 330i
June 16, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be the belts, although I'm not sure the timing belt really makes that type of noise when it gets old. It usually flaps around and makes a tapping noise instead. The drive belts for the alternator and other accessories are what typically makes the squealing noise. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
slmoff Comments: Thanks for the instructions. I start tomorrow. I am doing the timing belt, and replacing the wiring harness. As someone said earlier, don't ask By the way, do you have any tips for that task?

This will be my second time, but this time the instructions are better.
June 5, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Solder all connections and use heat-shrink wrap over any open connections... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Andy Comments: I just finished replacing my timing belt, but ran into a few issues with the Pelican instructions and my own lack of experience!

I have a 1989 325is. My first problem was the radiator. It is a mirror image to the one show in the Pelican photo's. The top hose and expansion tank are on the driver's side of the car. It actually turned out to be a lot easier to remove the radiator once I figured out how it was mounted. The routing of the hoses is a little different and there is a metal water conduit that bolts to the upper timing belt cover and water pump.

The crank sensor is on the other side of the toothed timing wheel. The lead from the crank sensor passes behind the main belt and in front of the timing belt cover along with two other wires I'm not sure what these are. I suspect that these wires might not be routed according to factory specs because they are incredibly close to the main belt and can easily touch the belt. I couldn't figure out how to rewire them.

I was also confused about how to install the "rubber piece" that looks like it goes on the right hand side looking from the front of the car of the upper timing belt cover. There was not one on the car when I started and it isn't shown on an photo's.

Other than the above problems, I was very happy with the kit I got from Pelican and the fantastic "how-to" article.
March 28, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We have bonus photos for the timing belt procedure that show the covers for a timing belt job - Nick at Pelican Parts  
catso Comments: Is the Z-127 a reference to the amount of teeth on the belt? I know there are two belts available, 127 and 128 teeth. I have a 1988 528E and want to get the right parts for mine.
February 24, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes there are also two different designs of belt, a square profile tooth and a oval profile tooth. Make sure you update to the oval design. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jbarton Comments: In attempting to remove the cam pulley on my E30,to replace a brokern rocker I discovered that the torx bolt head had been damaged probably by a previous shop vist to replace a broken rocker several years agomaking the bolt impossible to remove with the torx socket. Is there any solution beyond drilling the head off of the existing bolt?
February 14, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: you can try tapping in an "ezout" extractor in the stripped hole and wrenching it out that way. Otherwise drilling is the final solution. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jjuken Comments: I just finished doing this procedure, I'm sure I did it right, I had the head rebuilt and I brought the #1 piston to TDC and the head marks were aligned, every thing should be perfect cause it's all new, but AI have NO spark. any thoughts,, thanksjohn
November 22, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check to make sure the crankshaft position sensor is installed properly and the wiring did not get damaged while doing the timing belt job. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ranman Comments: Wayne,
Great article and great book.
I just completed the timing belt, hoses and water pump replacement. It actually started and ran, now the challenge, no heat and even though I have loosened the 8mm bolt from the top of the thermostat I still have no heat and it runs hot. Any advice?
[325ic, 1990]
November 18, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Make sure you have a thermostat in the housing and that it is not stuck in the open position. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
james3828 Comments: The timing belt has 4 points of contact; the Crank, the Cam, the Tensioner, and the 4th I believe is the intermediate shaft which i think powers the oil pump. Does it need to be marked or held still relative to the cam or crank? it spins pretty freely. Great article btw. Made my task easy. thanks.
November 1, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No there is no timing for the intermediate pulley - Nick at Pelican Parts  
james3828 Comments: does the intermediate shaft require any special considerations?
November 1, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure what you mean exactly? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Andy Comments: And just to be sure....I have an 83' 528e e28 with the M20 engine. Your write up for e30 also applies for me? Thanks
October 23, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, it should be almost identical. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
bill Comments: I just took my tooth timing wheel off
with just removing the 6 bolts only did not remove the 22mm bolt
October 10, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes that is an alternate method just remember it only goes on one way and you will need the TDC mark to check the belt timing - Nick at Pelican Parts  
e30dan Comments: I have a '90 e30. I have the toothed timing wheel behind the crankshaft pulley. Do I need to remove the 22mm bolt in order to remove the toothed time wheel behing the crankshaft pulley? Or just the 6 bolts that hold the pulley on? I am trying to remove the toothed timing wheel. Thanks for all you help!!!
October 6, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yup, see Figure 10 above, you need to remove that center bolt to get the gear off. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Bob Comments: Please help. My timing belt broke on my 88 325i convertible. 2.5 liter fuel injected. How do i know if it has damage?
October 2, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can run a leakdown test on the engine with the valves for the cylinder you're testing closed. This will tell you if you have any valve damage. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
red 91 bmw columbia Comments: im having a hard time setting my timing.i set it on the t but it still is not time good i dont know if my valves r bentcan i get a helping hand please
August 7, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not much I can add except go through the procedure in the article again very carefully. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Torquey Comments: I would like to add that the bolt in the end of my cam shaft was actually an 8mm allen. I have a 1987 325es.
August 1, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the heads up - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bill Comments: Thanks for the bmw 325 timing belt change procedure and photos. I had one snap on me and it's not fun... Now I change them every 80Kmiles wihtout hesitating... Another tip use "PB-Blaster" in a can to free up those rusty and frozen steel bolts. Spray on all the bolts the night before you begin and then the next morning too. The bolts will come out much easier without risking striping the heads. especially the ones threaded into the aluminum head as the disimilar metals seem to chemicaly react together and freeze up and its not pretty to strip the heads

Why PB Blaster, you ask? Whatever's in it, PB Blaster can really get the job done. I've used a lot of juices to try to get things loose, and nothing seems to measure up to PB Blaster. It works better and faster, and longer, than the other stuff around. Soak a rusty connection and let the juice do the work. PB Blaster will eat deep into the rust and corrosion to help free the nut or bolt. To really rock it, combine PB with a blast of heat from a small torch and tap on it with a hammer putting an axial load on the bolt and you're sure to have things freed up quick.

It can be found at most autoparts stores.
June 26, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Agreed - the PB Blaster stuff is very good! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
oscilloscope Comments: Just finished doing this. Thanks for the detailed report!

A couple of quick tips.

Remove the hood before doing this. You will spend ALL of your time right in front of the engine. Having the hood in the way would be, um... inconvenient.

- Replacing the camshaft seals was a complete pain in the ass. It should be the easiest job in the world, two bolt and you're done. Well the bolts are easy, but getting the seal housing off was near impossible. It took me about two hours just to shimmy it off of the cam. The seal holds it unbelievable tight. I can't see a way to attach a puller to this part without messing with the cam. Not saying you shouldn't do this fix, just be forewarned that it is way more work than it should be. Plan accordingly. Maybe it was just mine...

- My cam timing sprocket had a very shallow arrow to line up the sprocket w/ the mark on the head printed on the face of the sprocket, not on the edge. It was pretty hard to see, even after cleaning the face of the sprocket.

- Be VERY careful when screwing bolts back into the soft aluminum head. It is too easy to get the threads crossed and strip them out. Hand thread and then wrench tighten at the very end. Don't ask how I know this...
June 24, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the tips and tricks - Nick at Pelican Parts  
par Comments: my timing belt striped some teeth it did not go bang i have put new belt on i have but i can not get the top belt cover i have got it to backfire can you help thanks
May 16, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You probably bent a valve and will have to remove the cylinder head and get it rebuilt before replacing the timing belt - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dave Comments: you make it look easy, I will see and get back to you on it. thanks,david
April 21, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Piece of Cake! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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