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BMW E30 3 Series Fuel Filter Replacement

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 3 Series Fuel Filter Replacement

Jared Fenton


2 hours2 hrs






13mm wrench, metric socket set, metric wrench set, floor jack, two jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, flathead screwdriver, vise-grips, shop rags, drain pan, work in well-ventilated area, fire extinguisher,

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)

Parts Required:

Fuel filter

Performance Gain:

An engine that doesn't sputter and starts easy

Complementary Modification:

Replace the fuel pump

A common part of basic maintenance that often gets overlooked on BMW's is replacing the fuel filter. The fuel filter is responsible for filtering out small impurities such as dirt and rust that over time accumulate in the fuel tank. When the filter gets clogged, it can cause the car to run sluggishly or even not run at all. In this article I will go over the easy steps involved in changing the fuel filter on the 1984-91 BMW E30 3 Series. Keep in mind that this article is specific to my 325is, however the basics are the same for all fuel injected BMW models. Only the locations for the filter are different. If anyone is reading this and cannot locate the filter on the car, feel free to email me at The Pelican Parts Message Center. I can tell you where it is located.

First, run the car until you have less than a quarter tank of fuel left. This will decrease the amount of pressure coming out of the fuel lines when you disconnect them. Now disconnect the battery to decrease the chance of a random spark igniting any raw fuel in the area.

Now, jack up the rear driver's side of the car and firmly support it using a jack stand. Never rely on just a jack to hold the car up. Always use jack stands when you are under the car. Be sure to jack the car up using a re0inforced part of the vehicle's frame. If you don't you could damage the underside of the car, or worse, drive the jack right through the floorboards. (I have seen this before, it's not pretty.) For those of you not familiar with jacking up the car, Wayne's article on jacking is a good reference to read beforehand.

Pelican Tech Article: Jacking up your BMW

Now crawl under the car. Directly in front of the fuel tank, you will sea plastic panel. Remove the screws that hold this panel to the chassis. You will now see the fuel filter. Locate the hose clamp that holds the filter onto it's mounting bracket. Pull the filter off it's mounting bracket and let it hang free out the bottom of the car. Now look for an arrow on the filter. This arrow will indicate the correct position for the new filter to be installed. It's important that you install the filter in the correct orientation. If you don't see an arrow on the old filter, find the fuel line that goes towards the engine. You will need to have the new filter connected so that the arrow is orientated towards the engine.

Now, use two pairs of vise-grips to clamp the fuel lines shut on both sides of the filter. You don't have to use extreme pressure to clamp them shut. Just enough to hold them closed. Take care not to rip or damage the fuel lines. Now, put on some safety goggles. Loosen both hose clamps on either side of the filter and pull the fuel lines off. Be prepared to have some fuel come out of the filter itself. (This is why you should wear the safety goggles. You don't want gasoline in your eyes.

Take the new filter and make sure that the arrow on the side faces the fuel line that goes towards the engine. Now push that fuel line onto the new filter and tighten the hose clamp that holds it in place. Now take the other fuel line from the fuel pump/tank and push it onto the other end of the new filter and tighten the hose clamp to hold it in place.

Now remove the vise-grips that are clamping the fuel lines. This will allow the gas to flow from the tank back through the filter and on through towards the engine. Push the new filter back into the mounting bracket under the car and tighten the hose clamp that holds it to the bracket. Tuck the fuel lines back up inside. Now re-attach the plastic panel that covers the filter and re-install the bolts that hold it in place.

Now lower the car. Re-connect the battery and fill the tank up. When you restart the car, it may take a few times to get it to run. This is normal. Keep in mind that the fuel system is under constant pressure and we just opened it up, introducing air into the fuel lines. It will take a little time for the fuel pump to deliver fuel to the injectors and pump all the air out of the system. Just give it a couple of turns of the key and it should start up.

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:
andy Comments: Hi there, Inhave a e30 325 1986 done 200 thoun klm. For no reasoin it just shuts down, like turning of the ignition.Wait a couple of minmutes and she stars again and drives fine till it does it again in a few days ??? its baffling me where to start looking for fault.Fuel pump was replace a year ago. Chee4rs
December 2, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Possible faulty engine speed or crankshaft sensor. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BlakeMaster Comments: I NEVER get a response on here but I'll try anyways.... It doesn't help that you guys didn't include pictures... I believe my 84 318i doesn't even have a fuel filter. There is no plastic covers or really anywhere for it to be hiding. I do have an external pump, however..
March 1, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should have one. Check by the steering shaft on the body, or just below it. Follow the fuel lines. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike328ise36 Comments: Would installing the fuel filter backwards block the fuel or creat turbulence in the lines I think i mightve done that car false starts then dies. e36 328is 1997
February 22, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I am not sure but if you think it is backward I would check and fix that before diagnosing the issue. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Carl Comments: I just replace the hose from the output of the fuel filter to the metal fuel line about 6 in. - easy. Now the line coming into the fuel filter form the tank is leaking about an inch before the fuel filter. It looks like the hose is going above the tank to the pump. I was hoping it would be another short hose replacement. Do I need to remove the back seat to get to the access ports underneath to change this hose? Any tips on doing this? The car is a 1991 E30 318is. Thanks!
August 8, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are two hoses at the tank. One of which has 90° bend in it. You'll need access to the top of the tank to replace them.

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
kezza Comments: Hi i have a M30b35 in my 1989 318i and at the moment it does not run right. it will start but it idles a little rough but when i try to rev it sounds like its about to stall unless i slowly increase to 3,000 then keep it there, even then i cant drive it just splutters and backfires so much. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance
July 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be timing or exhaust back pressure, or a misfire.
I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders. - Nick at Pelican Parts
barryH Comments: Hi good day to you guys at pelican parts, i find your web site very helpful, because i am a bmw fanatic. Well i have just bought a 1991 318is and is doing restoration now, i am going to order some parts from you guys soon, my fuel system was taken apart before got the car, that is tank, pump, fuel lines etc. so i have my work cut but i will write if i need further assistance.
July 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We are here to help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Aaron Comments: Me 1990 325i was running fine after I replaced my fuel pump a couple of months after servicing cause it fired like normal, then just cut like it was cold. But did not start again. Now it did it again with a new fuel pump. Could it be the filter problem or maybe i need to flush the tank? It's definitely sparking but just just a fueless spark. Any advice or assistance would be appreciated, cheers.
February 22, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: is there injector pulse? if so, the fuel pump may have failed again. I would perform a fuel delivery system test. Check fuel pressure, volume and quality.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
boxty Comments: my 318 e30 saloon is letting in water on the drivers side ,any
ideas where to look, if it is the sun roof both sides would be wet but only one side
October 15, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the insulation in the door and the door seals for leaking. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
kbobb Comments: does the bosch 69695 replacement pump simply sit in the fuel pump assembly? Should it have some form of protection against wiring and gas exposure?
September 25, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The pump is designed to be submersed in gas, it connects to the sending unit bracket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
kenlewis111 Comments: I have the Bucking problem for the 3rd time on my 1990 325i. It has been tuned, all fluids have been changed. 2nd at 75mpg it will miss or hesitate slightly. The missing is not present while the car idols.
September 9, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the ignition system for worn parts, check the fuel pressure and volume, and make sure you don't have any vacuum leaks. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Hey you Comments: My 91 325 I have spark but no fuel. It quit on me on the road once but then it restarted and I made it home. And I took it off for another spin and it did the same thing but I could not restart. I disconnected the fuel filter on the load side and tried to start the car and fuel came out. But there was no pressure on the gas when I disconnected the fuel line. Should there been pressure on it? How many pounds of pressure fuel should there be? I jumped pin #30 and 87 together but the fuel pump would not run. Does that mean the fuel pump is bad even though fuel came out when I tried to start it?
September 8, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the fuel pump is faulty, also check the contacts on the fuel pump relay and make sure they are not burned.Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
blackbimmer325 Comments: Good DIY but I have a couple personal notes to add: 1. The fuel filter which arrived from pelican was considerably larger than the one in there. While this worried me at first, I was able to fit it in the existing spot without much hassle. 2. The tip to remove fuse 11 with the car running until it stalls resulted in 0 pressure in my lines. It was just a slow drip. 3. have a jar ready to catch the gas from the filter. There isn't much in the lines but more than you expect in the filter... It just keeps on dripping...

Good luck! Thanks Pelican Parts!
September 7, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
chrisE30convertible Comments: My e30 325iconv chokes up when I step on her at times on 2gear,3rd, so on..usually 2nd when I floor it..any advice? When I say choke,she seems to not recieve any fuel at all...almost like a cut off,and then hesitates....? Help, I love her!
August 16, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try unplugging the O2 sensor, checking the throttle positon sensor and airflow meter. You should also pull a spark plug to see if the car is running rich or lean. It could be a fuel pump problem - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
2fly Comments: I just wanted to know how offten do it needs to be change!!
July 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should change the fuel filter at least once every 2 years - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mani Comments: Hi, i have a 1990 BMW E30, 325i Sport. It has been parked a while in a garage & it won't start. The engine is getting spark, but i don't think the fuel is reaching the engine, any idea's what this may be? Could it be the Fuel Pump as i lifted the car seat & it seemed to be dead, no noise what so ever while trying to start the vehicle? How would i know for sure?
June 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be the fuel pump. You can try to manually activate the pump to see if it runs. You can also check the power and ground feed to the pump to confirm the relay is sending the needed voltage and the chassis ground is good. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Reuben Comments: Just purchase a BMW 325i 1989 but won't start......verify the fuel pump and there was no indication that was working......replaced the fuel pump, try to start the car without no results.....can you give me some other guidance.....thank you
March 14, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You need to check to see what is missing preventing the engine from starting. Check the engine for spark and injector pulse. Also check your fuel pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mattress 320i Comments: My e30 320i looks like the filter is on the passanges side same area is that correct? And I have a problem with it taking off its jerky untill the reves pick up wouldd that be the filter? Also can you get put a e36 fuel pump in the e30 at this stage I have a subaru 1 in there and it cuts out on long drives
December 26, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should replace your filter at least one a year however there are a few other items that can cause bucking and hesitating. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Eddie S. Comments: On my 1989 325i, there was quite a bit of residual fuel pressure. Gas sprayed EVERYWHERE as soon as I undid the hose from the tank to the filter. Scared me a bit and made a nice mess. Expect a lot of fuel to come out when you do this project.

Thanks Wayne, Jared, and everyone at Pelican for your guides. They're invaluable to us DIY'ers.
September 28, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try unplugging the fuel pump fuse and running the engine until it dies. Also put a rag around the hose you are removing and wear eye protection. Remember you are working with a flammable liquid - Nick at Pelican Parts  
laptopdragon Comments: i would like to include...pre-emptive removal of fuse #11 for a 1989 325ic,s,is
before begining, start car, and remove fuse #11 and the engine should stall out in a few seconds.

this releaves the built up pressure of fuel so when removing the hoses, it will at most drip or pour out NOT under pressure

tools needed.
screw drivers both phillips and flat head
10mm spanner, or socket
floor jack and jackstands
July 22, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Assuming this is the fuel pump fuse keep in mind it may be in a different location depending on production - Nick at Pelican Parts  
airbikeman Comments: I changed the filter today and now the car will not start. It did several false starts and then seemed to have no fuel at all going to the cylinders. I used starting fluid to try and get it past having air in the lines, but over 25 attempts at this did not succeed. It had hard starting episodes prior to the filter change; that's why I changed it. Could it be a pump or regulator?
June 19, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: With no fuel it is probably a pump. Maybe you installed the filter backwards? If you can find the fuel pump relay (mounted just outside of the fuse/relay panel) jump pins 30 and 87 on the harness side and the fuel pump should run and make pressure. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
JayNN Comments: Thanks a million sir, I appreciate your detailed description of the maintenance.

I did however, run into a snag while changing the filter. Initially I thought my fuel leak was from a clogged filter but it wasn’t. After replacing the filer the leak got worst, I then looked under the car aand noticed that there was a pin size hole in the inlet hose. So then I went to Auto Zone and got 1 foot of 5/16” fuel hose. Went back to my car replaced the hose and started the car and noticed the outlet hose was leaking so back to Auto Zone I went.

What I realized I that those hoses have been installed for over 20 years. Moving them around to access the filer surly weakened it, so it would behoove you to order the OEM hoses before filter replacement because the Auto Stores do not carry them.

A Bimmer Lover
March 3, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
shary Comments: if you have changed the fuel filter and its still not idoling at 800rpm what else could it be, please let me also tell you that I ran out of diesel before xmas, thanks sharon
January 24, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Most idle problems like these are caused by vacuum leaks in the intake system. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Elijah Comments: Should you pull the fuel pump relay to depressurize the system first?
September 23, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Simply pulling the relay won't depressurize the system by itself, but running the car with the fuse or relay pulled can help a little bit. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
mb15 Comments: Might have a split in the intake boot - my 320i had this problem, worth a check! Cheap fix maybe.
April 23, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Aiden Comments: how do i empty the fuel tank as i think there is some dirt in it, and reflush it.
March 31, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your best bet is to remove the tank and send it out to have it cleaned, usually a good rad shop can do this.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Kal Comments: So how often is the recommended interval to change the fuel filter? Approximately how many miles until it's due?
February 8, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would change it every 30,000 mi on an e30.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
down_doppler Comments: this article is all good, except...

I have an 318i E30 euro, and the fuel filter has an electrical connection on it. I can't find a replacement for it it is 55 mm, and I could just use the straight filter

the VIN is CL77671, and the car was made for the Turkish market.

Where do I find one of these filters, and are there any special procedures for fixing?
January 2, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
john o' Comments: hi i have got a e30 320i convertible 1989 the problem i got is,it has a flat spot when you drive off,the plugs,air filter,cambelt are new,any ideas.
May 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the codes to see if the computer is popping any. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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