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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E36 Fuel Filter Replacement
Jared Fenton
Wayne R. Dempsey

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     A common part of basic maintenance that often goes over looked is replacing the fuel filter. In this article, we  will go over the steps involved in replacing the filter. Itís recommended that you replace the filter every 80,000 miles. A new fuel filter ensures that a clean fuel supply reaches the fuel injectors. If the fuel filter is clogged, it can cause your car to surge during acceleration, poor fuel economy, and the car may not even start at all.

     This article is intended for the BMW E36 3 Series, however it applies to nearly every other fuel injected BMW model. Keep in mind that you are going to be working around raw fuel, so use extreme caution.

     The first step in replacing the fuel filter is to drive the car until you are just out of fuel. This is a safety precaution in case you accidentally rip a fuel line. With a small amount of gas in the tank, you prevent a potentially dangerous situation.

     The first step in the actual replacement is to disconnect the battery. Trust me, you donít want to accidentally short circuit the fuel pump while you are working around fuel or fuel vapors. I have seen fires start because the battery was not disconnected.

     Next, we need to locate the fuel filter. On early 4 cylinder cars, (318i/is/iC and 318ti) the fuel filter is mounted under the car on the left front bulkhead, directly behind the left front control arm. On early 6 cylinder cars, (325i/is/iC) the fuel filter is mounted on the front left motor mount in the engine compartment. On later cars, (4 and 6 cylinders) the fuel filter is mounted under the center of the car.

     Once you have determined the location of the fuel filter,  begin by clamping both ends of the fuel line shut so no fuel escapes from the lines. I usually use a pair of vise grips or locking pliers. Take care not to use excessive force with the vise grips or locking pliers, as you can break the rubber lines .Just use enough force to keep the lines closed. Now clean the connections around the fuel filter. This will prevent any dirt of grime from entering the fuel system while you have the filter out.

     Now, put on a pair of safety goggles, gasoline and human eyes do not mix. Loosen the hose clamps holding the fuel lines onto either end of the fuel filter. Make sure you mark which fuel line goes where, and pull the lines off the filter. NOTE: there will be some fuel spillage when you do this because of the residual fuel in the filter. Just donít have any open flames around when you do thisÖ.

     Now, remove the filter from itís mounting bracket. On the early 4 and 6 cylinder cars, remove the bolt at the bottom of the fuel filter bracket and slide the filter out of the mount.

     On later model cars, there is a protective cover over the fuel filter that must be removed.  Take this off and remove the fuel filter from the mounting bracket.

     Now take the new filter, and install it in the mounting bracket and secure as needed. Make sure that you take note of which direction the filter flows in. You should an arrow printed on the filter. What this means is whichever direction the arrow is going, install the filter so that it is pointing towards the engine. The fuel flow will enter from the tank then flow to the fuel injection system. Next, slide the fuel lines back on to either end of the filter and tighten the hose clamps.

On the later cars, re-install the protective cover over the fuel filter.

     Next,  remove the vise grips or locking pliers from the fuel lines, and add approximately a gallon of fuel in the tank. Now check for leaks under the car. If you detect any, fix the problem immediately. Wash your hands to get off all the residual fuel and re-connect the battery.

     Now we are ready to start the car. Keep in mind that since we replaced the filter, we introduced air into the fuel lines. It may take a few turns of the key to get the car started, so donít be alarmed if the car suddenly dies a second after starting. After one or two times, the car should start.

     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:
325i/1993 Comments: It should be supported with pictures inorder to visualized those area being mention because some cars had different location or mounting of fuel filters.
August 27, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See photos here: /bmw/techarticles/E36-Fuel-Filter/E36-Fuel-Filter.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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