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Old 04-17-2017, 10:23 AM
JP-X3 JP-X3 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 26
JP-X3 is on a distinguished road
This past Easter weekend I successfully completed my wife’s 2005 X3 oil pan gasket replacement project. I am left with a feeling of accomplishment and physical exhaustion. I worked three consecutive days logging 7 hours the first two days and 9 the last one.

It was very important to plan ahead by making a parts list, tools list, sequential procedure and tightening torque list.

I made some mistakes and that cost me 3 additional hours. There were parts which I didn’t order and that means I have to work again next weekend. Here are some remarks:

Special Tools:
• Head lamp. I bought a powerful rechargeable one (innogear 5000 Lumens 4 mode Cree XM-L T6) which was fantastic but the batteries were on the back of my head so I moved them to the side. Feels awkward but need to get used to them.
• An impact driver makes a big difference in speed and managing energy.
• A 36” extension with drive was very useful to remove the engine mounts, the right axle housing, the front differential and the steering shaft bolt.
• Wobble extensions preferably on the 36” extension or separate help with those hard to reach nuts like the Right engine mount.
• The Harbor Freight’s scissor type transmission jack and a 4ft 4x4 lumber was useful to lower the sub frame and the front differential.
• A good shop creeper is mandatory, preferably with head support otherwise the neck muscles will be sore the next day (ask me).
• 4 Lb dead blow hammer
• E-torx sockets
• 6 jack stands (4 for the car + 2 for sub frame)
• Power steering hose removal tool
• Harbor Freight crowbar
• OEM Axle puller tool 27032 from Autozone to remove the front half shafts. *
• Chlorinated brake cleaner and shop rags (blue ones)
• Proper ventilation like a fan (especially because of the brake cleaner and the front diff oil).
• 2 boxes of harbor freight 7 mil nitrile gloves.


• * OEM Axle puller tool 27032 from Autozone: the slots are too small for BMW’s M14 lug bolts so I had to spend 1h opening them with a file, a manual file. Power tools will make it faster but I did not have a grinding bit.
• Make sure to mark the location of the sub frame relative to the body. Makes it easier to re-install.
• Even though I marked the location of steering shaft to the connector, my steering is misaligned by - 5. Awful, this makes my job look crappy. I can fix it either by removing and reinstalling the connector or by adjusting at the steering wheel (removal and re-insert).
• I decided to disconnect the power steering’s lines, should have drained it from below next time to avoid spills. Removing the alternator makes it easier.
• Front differential will leak fluid from the axle holes so it’s just better to drain it and replace it (need large hexagonal socket, can’t remember size.)
• Inserting the right half shaft or axle is better done before installing the sub frame. The housing has to be pushed towards the axle (small hammer taps) and then the axle has to be pushed towards the differential. Very complex step. I lost 2 hours just because I installed the sub frame first so had to do it slowly.
• One of the front sub frame to body bolts suffered cross thread damage. I didn’t have time to lower the sub frame again and repair with helicoil (which I didn’t have available) so I just continued tightening it until it’s torque value. I hope never to do this job again, will probably trade the old X3 for a reliable Japanese car if I manage to convince my German wife that Japan makes cool cars too.

Parts I should have ordered:

• 3 years ago I replaced the L half shaft, I should have done the same this time with the R one because I noticed a crack in the inner boot.
• The Left engine mount came apart. Should have ordered a new one. This car is 12+ years old with 117,000 miles. Now I have to work again next weekend.

I was quoted $1540 in labor from a BMW indy shop and I now realize this price is quite fair. Having a lift would have made my life easier so instead of 20 hours I could have done it in 16 hours.

It was a fun job I hope I never have to repeat but it can be done by us DIY’ers. I took only a few pictures.

Feel free to ask questions.
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