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BMW E36 Muffler Replacement

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E36 Muffler Replacement


2 hours2 hrs






Floor jack and two jack stands, hammer, WD-40, Safety glasses, a handy helper, metric socket set, ratchet, metric wrench set, two wheel chocks

Applicable Models:

BMW E36 3-Series (1992-99)

Parts Required:

Rear muffler replacement kit

Performance Gain:

Your car's exhaust system won't leak any more and will sound sonically pleasing

Complementary Modification:

Replace your catalytic converter
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

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Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7
Figure 8
Figure 9
Figure 10

When I first bought my darling wife her own E36 BMW 3-series, one of the first comments she had about the car was "it's too loud." It seems that the car had been originally ordered with a factory sport muffler option that was a bit too macho for her sensibilities. Well, I promptly ordered the standard factory muffler from Pelican Parts, and proceeded to install it on her car.

The E36 series uses a very long muffler and tailpipe assembly that connects to the catalytic converter in the center of the car. Replacement is a very easy process, primarily because the exhaust components and bolts are very easily accessible. One thing to remember though, the muffler assembly is quite heavy and very unwieldy to manipulate under the car - this is a project best performed with a helper. (Figure 1) shows the new muffler, along with new rubber mounting brackets. These brackets and two muffler gaskets, or donuts (close-up in Figure 2) should be replaced when you replace your muffler - they have a tendency to get old and break. (Figure 3) shows the ends of the new muffler.

The first step is to raise the car off of the ground and elevate the rear on jack stands. See the Pelican Parts Technical Article on Jacking Up for more details. Then, using two wrenches, simply disconnect the bolts on either side of the muffler flanges. With a few taps of a hammer, the flanges should separate from the muffler (Figure 4). The donut gaskets that seal the muffler to the rest of the exhaust system should always be replaced when you disturb them. In (Figure 5), you can see how they have cracked. Press on a new gasket (Figure 6) before you mate your new muffler.

The main body of the muffler is held in place with those rubber muffler hangers and a few brackets that clamp the side of the muffler (Figure 7 and Figure 8). Carefully unbolt and release the clamps from the side of the muffler, taking care to be aware that the muffler will fall once you release the clamps. This would be a good time to have your helper hold the muffler while you release the clamps. Also make sure that you wear eye protection when working underneath the car - it's very easy to drop a muffler on your face if you're not paying attention.

The rubber hangers are bolted to the frame of the car (Figure 9). Simply remove them, transfer over the muffler hanger bracket, and remount them to the car. When mounting the new muffler to the car, I recommend that you loosely attach the pipes to the rest of the exhaust system, and then loosely hang the muffler in place. Again, this would be an excellent time to solicit the help of a friend to hold the muffler in place while you fasten the exhaust flanges and muffler clamps. With the muffler loosely attached to the clamps, and loosely connected at the flanges, tight them up, compressing the exhaust gasket (Figure 10). Then tighten up the clamps on the muffler.

Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. 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:
Edwardo Comments: I just replaced the muffler section on my '94 325i. The fasteners on the flanges were torqued to 16 foot pounds as has suggested in the Bentley manual. The clamps on the muffler hangers have no torque specs so they were tightened just enough to give me peace of mind that they won't come undone. However, I'm getting a bit of a vibration feeling borderline rubbingwhile inside the car. Is it possible that the clamps on the muffler hangers can be too tight which might, in turn, limit the dampening capacity of the rubber hangers?
March 16, 2018
becho4 Comments: It would be very helpful if you could complete the article adding torque specs for this job.
April 16, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have torque information.

I would suggest you grab a repair manual, you should own one. 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
ljones Comments: I replaced the muffler on my '95 E36 325i this weekend. It was still the original muffler, but it this dry California weather it lasted over 20 years! I bought all my parts, except for the muffler, from Pelican Parts. Thank you for the excellent article, it was really helpful.

It took my 4 hours to replace; I'm slow with tools since I don't do this every day and I didn't have all my tools ready. You definitely will need a helper when installing the new muffler. A few thoughts and notes for others.

1. The ESCO Flat Top Jack stands are sweet! I love them, they are my new favorite tool! They fit perfectly on the jack point with the rubber pad. The car was really secure and I tried to push the car and pull the jacks out but they are very stable. This made me feel very safe under the car and I was comfortable the whole time. Highly recommended!

2. Spray WD-40 rust release spray on the bolts and allow it to soak and penetrate, 20 year bolts were really rusted!

3. Have the right tools! Flange bolts were really tight. I was using short wrenches and sockets and it took a really long time to loosen everything. I stripped the last nut and end up having to use vise grip pliers to hold in place and a long breaker bar to remove. All this could have have been avoided if I had used two *LONG* 12mm & 13mm wrenches in the first place. This part took a long time without the right tools! "The magnitude of torque depends on the force applied, the length of the lever arm". Physics, physics! Use long wrenches it will save you time and effort.

4. Removing the rear rubber mounting brackets was really easy with a deep socket. Just note the original positions and take a few digital pictures for later reference. Removing the hanger brackets from the rubber mounting brackets was hard. Again, short wrenches were problematic and hard to remove with only your hands. My neighbor had a vise and by holding the bolt in place, nuts came off in 5 seconds!

5. When remounting, as noted in the article, loosely hang the rear muffler in place. I had to redo the hanging. You need a loose rear muffler to allow the pipes to travel forward into the flange brackets. I had long wrenches for installation and it was much easier. Also be wary of your nuts! I had stripped a nut and went to OSH to buy replacement nuts. They only had nylon insert lock nuts, but I think they should suffice.
March 14, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
ljones Comments: In replacing the muffler on a '95 E36 325i, you need new nuts, and new gaskets.
Do you also need new rubber muffler hangers? Can I re-use the ones old ones?
February 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The old ones can be reused, but on a vehicle as old as yours, I would replace them. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Dee Comments: Hi im going to soon be replacing a transmission on an 1991 318i sedan stock M42 and clicked the link from transmission removal to here for exhaust removal. i see that the Applicable Models are for the E36 here would this still apply to the E30?
December 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: E30 articles are here: - Nick at Pelican Parts
Dan Comments: Two questions:
1 Do we need to replace the nuts that connect the flanges? I've read elsewhere that BMW recommends this to prevent them from getting stuck later.
2 I have a 1996 E36 328i Sedan. There is a rubber tube that connects from underneath the rear bumper to the stock muffler tip. What is this and what do I do with it if I'm installing a muffler without the same connection?
July 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would replace them, yes.

You will need to connect to the hanger somehow to support the new muffler. - Nick at Pelican Parts
lgaston Comments: I have a 1997 M44 318ti. in the past 5 months I have noticed that when ever it rains, if I drive through a puddle my exhaust gets EXTREMELY loud. I have a stock exhaust that isn't loud by any means but as soon as I hit a puddle *BOOM* I sound like a riced out Honda Civic with a coffee can strapped to my engine. any thoughts on what this might be?
February 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a crack in the exhaust expanding or contracting from the temp change. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
euro3er Comments: I have a question about the sports exhaust as this is the second time I am reading about it, I've been lead to believe it was a pre 6/92 system, Is there a way of finding which setup you have and is anyone still making the replacement for the sport unit.
February 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. If anyone can find it, they can. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mick101 Comments: I just bought a 2006 bmw 330i but its not loud enough so i was wondering if it is possible to just remove the back silenser box for a little bit more rumbel but not sure if its bad for the motor or wil it effect my performance or wil it be way to loud ?
January 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What silencer? If you are referring to the air filter housing, removing part of it may set a fault code. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dhee Comments: My e36 328i is suffering from poor fuel consumption in city driving, long distance is wonderful. I suspect the cat is failing, and bought a used replacement one. Possible to DIY at home? Any special tools needed? I have all basic ones
September 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You might have to cut some of the bolts off if they a rusted badly, a torch or a cut off tool might be needed.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
oldefezziwig Comments: I have the same problem I think as stuck - I can't get the rubber brackets off because the bolts holding them to the car are seized and rusted as opposed to figure 2 here, which shows nice clean bolts I would be up for replacing the studs I think they are mounted here in figure 7: but does anyone know what all would be involved in doing that? Would I need to take the mounting bracket out? Get at them from the trunk maybe?
August 28, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure uf the are in a body rail on or in the trunk. if they are rusted, you have no choice but to remove them and replace as needed. Before breaking them, it might be worth your while to have a shop heat the nuts and remove them. I have had good success doing this.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Turbo320 Comments: Hi - I am replacing my exhuast system with a custom build one, however i cannot find the bore of a E36 320i 95 exhaust?
i assume its around 2"?
I hope to hear from you : ! ! ! Great site by the way
July 8, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I am not 100% sure, I never measured it, it will be metric pipe. I would measure it and replace with the closest size you have. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
over-night wrench Comments: You will underestimate the weight of these pipes... I did!

Even if you've got a friend to help, I recommend an old skateboard or creeper to help you roll the pipes out/in.
March 21, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
Thanks for the additional information. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
stuck Comments: I have a question , the lower bracket that holds the muffler broke offrusted after hitting a block of ice , i bought the set from BMW , removed all the screws to replace it , but i coulndnt get the rubber brackets off, they just wouldnt budgefigure 2, , got any tips of how to remove them???
December 21, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Unfortunately, if they are really stuck on there, then the only solution I would have is to use a saw and to cut them off. They are rubber, so they shouldn't be too difficult to remove. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Thu 3/22/2018 02:10:45 AM