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BMW E36 Exhaust Manifold Replacement

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E36 Exhaust Manifold Replacement



Applicable Models:

BMW E30 325i Coupe/Conv (1987-93)
BMW E30 325i/iX Sedan (1987-93)
BMW E30 325is/iX Coupe (1987-93)
BMW E36 323i Convertible (1998-99)
BMW E36 323is Coupe (1998-99)
BMW E36 325i Convertible (1992-95)
BMW E36 325i Sedan (1992-95)
BMW E36 325is Coupe (1992-95)
BMW E36 328i Convertible (1996-99)
BMW E36 328i Sedan (1996-99)
BMW E36 328is Coupe (1996-99)
BMW E36 M3 Coupe (1995)
BMW E36 Z3 Convertible (1997-02)
BMW E36 Z3 Coupe (1999-02)
BMW E39 525i Sedan/Wagon (2001-03)
BMW E39 528i Sedan/Wagon (1997-00)
BMW E39 530i Sedan (2001-03)
BMW E46 323Ci Coupe/Conv (1999-00)
BMW E46 323i Sedan/Wagon (1999-00)
BMW E46 325Ci Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW E46 325i/xi Sedan/Wagon (2001-06)
BMW E46 328Ci Coupe (1999-00)
BMW E46 328i Sedan (1999-00)
BMW E46 330Ci Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW E46 330i/xi Sedan (2001-06)
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Figure 1
Figure 2

BMW Exhaust Manifold Replacement

Cracked exhaust manifolds have plagued the E30 and E36 models through the years. The manifolds installed on these cars are made of cast alloy steel. This alloy is heavy and durable, but over the years, it can become increasingly susceptible to cracks. It's not uncommon to discover a loud exhaust leak coming from the engine compartment. If it's not a worn-out exhaust gasket, it's most likely a cracked manifold. A cracked manifold will introduce an exhaust leak into the system. Besides making the engine noisy, it can cause the engine to run roughly and erratically.

The exhaust manifold connects each cylinder's exhaust ports to the exhaust system. Before you go near the manifold, make sure the car is completely cold. To remove the manifold, you will need to remove the nuts from the exhaust studs on the head. A set of swivel sockets comes in handy, as they are great for reaching nuts in hard-to-reach places. It is highly likely that the exhaust studs will come out of the manifold when you try to remove the nuts. If this happens, replace the studs with new ones, as you cannot properly install the manifold again using the studs if the nuts are frozen on them. You won't know if the stud bottoms out in the head or if it's actually holding on the exhaust manifold, and that's why it's best to just use new studs and nuts.

On 1996-and-later cars, you have to remove the secondary air check valve and pipe from the exhaust manifold. Also, on some models, you may need to remove the oxygen sensor prior to removing the manifold (see our O2 Sensor Replacement article).

A word of caution: Always use new exhaust gaskets when reinstalling the manifold. If you reuse gaskets, you may introduce an exhaust leak into the system, which can result in a noisy engine and erratic engine performance.

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.

Comments and Suggestions:
Ryan Comments: Follow up, the exhaust studs, do I need to double nut them or would the new nut seat them correctly. Because space is limited for a guy with big hands to do the double nut trick.
December 21, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have new nuts, they are self-locking. So one nut is OK. Just confirm you have the right ones. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ryan Comments: Hi thanks for all the writeups.For a 98m3, What orientation does the gasket to the manifold go? Do I pull the tab off to expose another side, because both sides seem similar
December 20, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The raised portion goes toward the manifold. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Zane Comments: The front cover fell off my right mirror on my 95 740il BMW. Where do I find one???.
May 23, 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
2fysh Comments: When installing Manifold studs, should you bottom the stud out into the head? I know on my m10 the studs can travel through the head into the cylinder. is this possible on the m42?
February 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The stud should stop at the smooth collar, then it should be torqued. It should stop before it bottoms out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bob Comments: Nick, You didn't mention if there was a bolt tightening pattern to follow for each of the exhaust manifolds, nor did you mention the torque setting for the bolts. A 6mm bolt nominal torque is 10 NM 7ft-lbs is this the value for an E36 exhaust?
October 22, 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.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
motor2172 Comments: Should any sealant be used when installing manifold gasket?
August 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
calm Comments: i have a question but it probably stupid but can a e30 325 exhaust manifold bolt right up to 88 735i motor
July 23, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not that I know of. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jayy320i Comments: Hello
I have an e30 320i, with a pretty loud exhaust system but standard manifold, so recently my car just starts randomly missing, it revs up fine at full throttle, but once she's at a constant throttle it's an absolutely terrible miss but the car runs okay, at idle the rev does tend to idle at different rpms, matters on if the car is hot or cold and the weather, I recently heard that the exhaust has a leake at the manifold or somewhere around that, could this be my issue? I have changed the spark plugs, put in new plug leads, fuel pressure is perfect, borrowed an afm from a friend with the same car,no ddifference, I've even tried a different computer box, still no luck, I'm clueless if it's not this exhaust leak,help
June 2, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: An exhaust leak should not cause a misfire. If you have an engine misfire, check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mad simmo Comments: Hi I have e46 saloon as have removed windscreen water bottle to getore space but can't seem to get to manifold the back one? How can I get this done also what soze are the nuts on it.. 10/11 mm! And does it pull out or pull down thanks Chris
October 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The nuts are 11. See this tech article: - Nick at Pelican Parts
J Comments: Quick question i'm installing headers in my e36 should I use any type of copper sealant along with my gaskets?
October 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No need for a sealant. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DougD Comments: Do you advise using Loctite or something similar when installing new exhaust manifold studs in the head. If so, what kind/color? Thanks in advance!
August 26, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Manifold studs. NO. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
kev927 Comments: I have recently done a head gasket on my 95 325i. I removed the exhaust manifold to do this. All the nuts came off the studs where the manifold meets the mid pipe. But when i later had to replace the cat mid section i broke off the ends of two of the 6 studs. I should have used anti-seize. I now have a leak there, should i try and remove the manifolds and attempt to replace the studs or should i buy new manifolds. I hear removing those studs is almost impossible but ive seen it done on youtube with a pair of vice grips and lots of heat.
July 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Usually if you heat them, then bang them out with hammer. They press into the manifold, no need to unscrew the studs. If I remember correctly. I do this with the manifold installed, however I have a lift. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jke Comments: Hello,

Just wondering if there would be asbestos in the manifold gasket heat shields on my '90 325is. I put new plugs in recently and accidentally punctured each of the heat shield. They seem to be made of a fibrous material and was just wondering about any safety precautions.

May 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would think not. However I can't be sure because I don't know the manufacturer or history of the gasket you are replacing. If it is in question, were the proper protection. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ultimate-tester Comments: I have a question regarding this my car is E36 320i '96 EUR. Is it really a level 4 procedure?

I see you have to open up the actual engine to get to the point you need to get to replace those studs but I also see the guide talking about replacing the head gasket, which I am not planning on doing.

To replace just the exhaust manifold and only that, do I need to open up my engine? If yes, do I need to leak or bleed anything in order to get everything working again?

May 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is hard to access the fasteners and they tend to break. So that is why the rating is on the harder side. When replacing only the manifold, you just remove it, then install the new one and torque the fasteners. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
TheCussingMechanic Comments: I just replaced my exhaust manifolds on my 1987 BMW 325. I am now having some trouble with getting the downpipe to fit onto the flanges. The down pipe seems to be hitting the passenger side motor mount heat shield before I can get the downpipe past the studs on the manifolds. At this point I see a couple of options. First I'm going to try to loosen the manifold from the head and get the downpipes loosely on thet studs then tighten the whole thing. If that fails me I might try removing the manifold studs then mating the downpipes and re-installing the studs and tighten. Any other ideas? Or am I missing a key element. I'm trying to avoid messing with the motor mounts.
March 31, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try detaching the front pipe from the mid-section of exhaust. This may help as it will be more maneuverable. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
kyle Comments: Hey, i'm hoping you can help. I have a 1994 bmw e36 325is.
I was trying to drain the transmission fluid on it and i'm having some trouble. I can only find the drain bolt, which i'm assuming it is because there's no videos and nothing in the manual for my car, but no fill bolt? I can see a bolt that looks like the same shape and size, plus it would make sense that if on the tranny there's two bolts that one is drain and one is fill. But there's a problem , it's obscured by the exhaust manifold and i don't want to risk rounding it out with a crescent wrench. If it even IS the fill bolt. So i guess to recap i'm looking for the drain bolt and fill bolt for transmission fluid on a 1994 bmw 325is e36. Thanks in advance- kyle
October 25, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It will be just above the rail for the trans pan, and it is usually blocked by the exhaust.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
miniwrench Comments: How do i install the exhaust manifolds back on the bmw 235i. Is there a tricky move.
October 7, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year make and model do you have?
- Nick at Pelican Parts
mdsullivan Comments: When replacing the gasket, does the steel side of the gasket face the head or the exhaust manifold?
May 8, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would put the steel side against the head.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Justin Comments: I just replaced the rear exhaust manifold and all associated gaskets and it was a tight job on my m3 taking around 6 hours. Without the air ratchet it would have taken twice as long to do the job. I did order new studs and nuts but didn't get enough for the front manifold where the air check valve connects. All you have to do for this is put the old stud in a bench vice, jaws on the old nut, double nut some m7 fine thread steel nuts2 11mm open end wrenches in opposite directions to lock the nuts and back the stud out and finally remove your 50 cent stud extractor. Be sure to lube and clean the threads with a die.
January 6, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Iman Comments: Can you make any suggestions on installing the exhaust manifold gaskets? The cylinder head does not have the studs installed, and I tried doing this from the top cannot see, not much room, etc.. I have the bolts attached to the ends of the studs, and when I put them through the exhaust manifold it seems impossible to properly align the gaskets. Would I be better off trying it from underneath the car, or am I missing something? I have a 1994 325i convertible.

August 19, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yup, I did it from underneath the car - I couldn't do it from the top without cursing too much! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 2/16/2018 03:33:27 AM