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Old 04-02-2009, 01:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Edmond, Ok
Posts: 16
skrach77 is on a distinguished road
Starter Removal/ Replacement on 3.0i

To All:

I have spent the last several days searching all over the web looking for a DIY writeup on this topic with very little- actually no luck! I found a few things about how to do this on a few of the other X5 models, but nothing that really helped me with my 2001 X5 3.0i. So here it is...

Ok, first things first. Get the vehicle off the ground. I used ramps in my driveway (yes ramps, it can be done that way although I would have loved a lift). Next, chaulk off the back tires so it can't roll backwards (if using ramps). Third, disconnect the negative terminal from the battery (if you don't know how to do this, stop reading now as you will never get the rest accomplished, I'm sorry but its just over your head, no offense!).

Next, tools. Here is the list of what I used once I was ready to begin the starter removal, although I'm sure there are some other combinations that would get this done, like 1/2 drivers instead of 3/8...

1/2-3/8 reducing socket
E12 reverse torquex socket
8mm open end wrench
10mm open end wrench
13mm open end wrench
10", 8", and 3" socket extensions
3/8 universal joint socket extension
3'-4' 1/2" square tubing bar stock, or equivalent socket extension
(I used a 45" piece of barstock and it worked perfectly)
1/2 open end wrench
big, long, flat blade screw driver (I used a 12" one)
Buddy's help made all the difference, as I'm not sure 2 steps can be done alone.

Now lets get to work.

First thing to do is get under the vehicle with your head near the driver's side front wheel and look up at the engine compartment, just behind the reinforcement plate and the roll bar and locate the starter. I first noticed the soleniod with the terminals on the front side of it. Once you have found the starter, there is a fuel tube that needs to be uncliped and moved out of the way for now, it has two clips that I undid. Next is the wiring harness lume that is about 1" in diameter and has a few zipties holding it to a mount which is bolted to the bell housing with the only visible bolt that holds the starter on. This bolt is your first target. Using your E12 torquex socket and universal joint socket, get the head of the bolt inserted into the E12. Once you have the socket on the bolt, take all 3 of your extensions and link them together and feed them along side the tranmission housing, starting at where the front driveshaft leaves the transfer case (I know its not a real transfer case, but stay with me). You will feed the extensions up to meet your hand which should still be holding the torquex socket and universal onto the bolt. Join the extensions to the universal, and you can now, using your socket driver on the extensions back near the end of the driveshaft, loosen the first bolt on the starter. Once it is loose, you should be able to remove it by hand and slide it out (put it somewhere safe, you reuse it) (FYI, don't try to do this without the proper E12 socket, if you strip one of these bolts out, I'm pretty sure you will have to have the transmission dropped from underneath the vehicle to extract a stripped bolt!!!) When you remove this first bolt, the mounting bracket that the large wiring harness is ziptied too will come loose and you can move that harness out of the way. Next, take your hand and run it along the top of the bell housing until you feel the second mounting bolt for the starter. This is where things get really tricky! Take your E12 with the universal joint, and the 1/2-3/8 reducer on the other end of the universal joint, and using your fingers slide it over the bolt head on the top of the bell housing (the bolt you are looking for is the next bolt you find on the bell housing as you work your way around the top, it will be just past the allignment pin). Now, you need to (well this is where the help of a friend that understands what is going on is needed) feed the super long extension you are using, in my case the 45" piece of barstock, starting from behind the transfer case go up and over it working it back and forth and from different angles until you can feed it all the way along the top of the transmission housing up to where your hand is holding the assembly of sockets to the bolt and link the extension to the reducer. When you do this correctly, you will be able to use your socket wrench, or in my case the 1/2 open end to turn the barstock extension, and loosen the 2nd bolt that is holding the starter on. Again, once you have loosened this bolt, you will be able to remove it by hand, and bring it and your assembly of sockets out and put in a safe place. Leave the long extension in place for now, you need it again in a few minutes. Now don't worry about the starter just simply falling out at this point, because it won't! It is still being held on by the allignment pin. This is where the flatblade screwdriver come into play. Using the flatblade, you need to work the seem between the starter mounting casting and the bell housing until you can get a gap opened up and then pry the starter off the remaining length of the allignment pin (the pin is about 1/4" long). At this point, the starter should come free and you can now begin to wiggle and twist it free from the surrounding wires until you can get access to the wiring terminals that were at the front edge of the soleniod. There will be 2 large cables that attach to the same post, held on by a 13mm nut. Use your open end and remove this nut and the two cables. Now you have 2 smaller wires attached to either side of the larger posts. One wire is slightly bigger than the other and should be all black. This wire is held on by the 10mm nut. Remove. Last, remove the 8mm nut holding the other black wire with the yellow stripe. You should notice that the smaller wire with the yellow stripe is mounted to the smaller of the 4 terminals. Now you are ready to work the starter free from the vehicle. Once you have it out, remember that you may have a core charge to return it and get some $$$ back, so don't go "office space" on it in the driveway with a sledge hammer like I wanted too!

Congratulations, you are now half way done with the project, and the hard part is now over. Up to this point took me almost 4 hrs to compete because I had no idea what I was doing and I took some extra steps that I later realized were not needed (like removing the reinforcement plate).

Now is the time to inspect the ring gear in the transmission to ensure nothing is wrong with it. There is a small opening on the bottom of the bell housing, on the passenger side that will let you see in. I didn't mess with turning mine because I knew that was not my issue, my throwout mechanism was my problem. I did take a look to make sure I did not see any metal shavings there, or on the starter assembly gear before proceeding.

Now come installation. Yep, you guessed it, just like removal only backwards!

Feed the new starter back up into the engine area gear first until you have it in a position that will let you reconnect the smaller wires to either side of the soleniod terminals. Again, make sure to hook up the correct smaller wire to the smaller post. Don't worry about the larger cables at this point. Once you have the wires on, get the starter back into position and get the allignment pin to start to insert into the casting on the starter. You will not be able to push the starter all the way against the bell housing yet. Take one of the mounting bolts and put it into the first hole you removed it from and use that to help allign the starter assembly and hand thread the bolt into place. Don't worry about tightening it yet, as you will be taking it back out in a few minutes. Once the starter begins to seal up to the bell housing, push up from the front of the starter and work the starter all the way onto the allignment pin until the gap is less than 1/8". Now you can take the other mounting bolt and reach up over the top of the bell housing and find the hole again that it came from and insert it, then hand tighten it being super careful not to get it cross threaded as that would be awful to fix! Once it is hand tight, you can use your extensions that you should have left in place from the removal process and reattach the E12-universal joint- 1/2-3/8 reducer assembly onto the bolt and then slide the extensions into place and tighten the bolt back down. It calls for 33 ft-lbs of torque on these bolts. Now take the first bolt that you hand tightened back out, and find the large wiring lume that has the bracket ziptied to it and remount the bracket using the bolt and then re-handtighten the bolt to avoid cross threading. You should be able to take up most of the thread before needing a wrench. Now use the 3 extensions from the first bolt removal and retighten that bolt to the 33 ft-lbs required. Almost done! Now take your 13mm open end and reattach the two large cables to the top terminal post on the soleniod. At this point, you should have no left over pieces or nuts or bolts except for what came as replacements on the new starter. Last thing to do before cleanup is to reinstall the fuel tubing that you moved out of the way back into its clips (there are two remember) and then make sure everything looks cleaned away and nothing is dangeling or anything. You can now take the long extensions out from the side and top of the tranny housing and pick up all of your tools. Reattach the battery. Trust me, clean up first before attempting to start the car, you don't want to leave anything under there that doesn't belong.

At this point, once all tools have been accounted for, you can turn the key and make sure everything works properly. Have your buddy look under the hood and make sure there are no sparks or anything unusual coming from the starter and you should now be in business! Congratulations, you just completed what several BMW techs told me was an impossible feat for the untrained do-it-yourselfer...

German engineering, got to hate it, got to love it!

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Old 06-29-2009, 09:51 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 854
lo_jack is on a distinguished road
Did your starter look like this?

I could have sworn my two big cables were on different posts, but now that you mention it maybe they were both on the same post (the left one here). The second small blac wire is obscured under that hose in the top portion of the pic.

I didn't put this back right I think.
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2001 E53 3.0 5pd
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 854
lo_jack is on a distinguished road
^ Just for clarification, in this picture it is wired wrong. The picture is taken from the engine bay, above the starter.

The alternator and other positive lead go on (in above picture) the right of the larger lugs. The exposed copper is on lug that remains on the left of the larger terminals.

The larger black wire from the harness that lacks a color stripe goes on (again in this picture) the bottom small lug. There is another small lug at the 12 o clock position where the black/with a stripe lead connects, not shown in the picture.

You can get at this all much easier by taking the air filter box and hoses off up to the throttlebody, unbolting the harness from the intake and pulling the adjuster unit from it's two torx screws and finally the throttle body itself. The starter wiring is then quite accessible.
2001 E53 3.0 5pd
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:20 AM
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Location: Cook County
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First thing you should do is disconnect the battery. Removing the hot lead from the starter can be dangerous if the battery is still connected.
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Old 03-13-2015, 12:57 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Socal
Posts: 106
billdo is on a distinguished road
I am gonna have to do this job, and I am not looking forward to it. Looks like a major PITA.
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:56 AM
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 7
logle is on a distinguished road
Did this yesterday and was prepared for an all day job based on what others have described. Turned out taking only a couple hours. Key is having a decent set of extensions. You really need about 3-4 feet worth to get to both torx bolts. Once these are off the starter can be removed fairly easily. I did not have to disconnect any other cables or fuel line to get to it. Also found I could reach two of the nuts attaching the starters three connections with it still attached. I did have to have the started off the bell housing and rotated down to get the 8mm one on the top though. Reverse was the same. All work was done underneath the vehicle with it on jack stands and battery disconnected (obviously).
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Old 02-22-2020, 01:15 AM
andrewwynn's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Racine, WI
Posts: 10,862
andrewwynn will become famous soon enough
Starter Removal/ Replacement on 3.0i

I’m mid way though this job. I found a set of extensions that allowed me simple access to the E12s and a way to tap the starter off the transmission bell with a long steel bar and a hammer.

I made the goof of not loosening the electrical connections while it was still attached so now I’m stuck. I’ll be starting again tomorrow. I will share the magic arrangement of wobble and flex that got me around the transmission when I wrap.

Also I'll add: simple to disconnect the power at the B+ jumper connection. The power comes from the battery to there and then to the starter and then to the alternator.

Update: the 13mm was way way too tight to remove from below.

I should have went with my instinct and removed the intake air boot and DISA valve to start with since I wasted two hours trying to remove from below.

Anyhow 20 minutes to remove the top of the airbox filter and MAF (didn't even have to remove the snorkle) and I was able to bend the starter into a position I could see the main power connector.

I could get a socket on but could not turn hard enough to loosen so 3 wobble extensions and a flex and I got my mini impact wrench on and two seconds later the nut was off.

Blue : 13mm gorilla tightened nut
Red: intake boot openings
Yellow: DISA valve opening.


I used the same impact setup to knock off the 10 and 8 mm. Figured why fight it? Notice the vertical chrome bar is a small prybar I have wedged between the starter motor and solinoid for counter torque (would not be needed for imoact)

From below very easy to pull out. (that little hose in the way I think is transmission vent pipe it just pushed out of the way).

I will make a complete write up including how to know if your starter has failed "shorted" as mine did and how to confirm it before you destroy your battery and maybe a friends trying to jump start putting 1000+A though the system. Fortunately the battery voltage drops so fast the solinoid opens but In a fit of temporary moronity I try like six times to slam 1000A into the starter until the solinoid won't pick up and my battery resting voltage is 9.6.

FYI: careful about locking car when battery is low: when I came back I couldn't get in any door besides driver because of double lock and no power. (or trunk of course).

The quick summary of changing starter:

• Jack stands in front is plenty of elbow room
• a few wobble sockets and about 25-30 total inches of extension will get you around the transmission and it's easy to do solo: Hellen Keller style (all by feel you cannot see the top bolt)
• take off the DISA and intake air boot to undo the power connections from above
• B+ disconnects the power: I have an entire trunk full of tools it would have added 60-90 minutes to disconnect battery at the trunk. I won't officially recommend this as I don't know what complications can come from the feedback to DME connector being connected through the starter.
• one bonus: I plan to quick test the starter after the power is hooked up before putting back in the transmission bell. I suppose if you have the trunk empty and open easy enough to reconnect the bat neg back there also.
• a long rod about 30" and a hammer all it takes to knock the starter out of the transmission bell.

I will make a awr-fix thread showing the magical combination of socket extensions that work to get the E12s out and in.

I wanted to add to this post in case anybody needs to replace a starter before I make my official how to thread.

2011 E70 • N55 (me)
2012 E70 • N63 (wife)

Last edited by andrewwynn; 02-22-2020 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 02-22-2020, 11:57 PM
andrewwynn's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Racine, WI
Posts: 10,862
andrewwynn will become famous soon enough
Quick update.

This was the magic combination of extensions that worked perfectly to remove the two E12 bolts holding the starter.

The blue are 2,4,6" 3/8 wobble impact extensions. The red is my 3/8 Impact flex joint. The yellow are 6,10" straight 3/8 extension.

The wobble allow the E12 to align perfectly with the bolt and curve around the transmission. The flex makes a distinct bend to get out of the tangle of the shifting cables and get a breaker bar or ratchet on it.

I didn't bother trying impact I know from experience the long train of extensions act like a torque stick limiting the torque to useless but once broken free feel free to use a drill to spin that sucker out.

The top bolt is a strickly by the feel but it's the only E12 directly above the one you can see from below.
2011 E70 • N55 (me)
2012 E70 • N63 (wife)
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Old 03-09-2024, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA
Posts: 1,120
Bdc101 is on a distinguished road
I used this guide to great effect today, thank you skrach77 and andrew!

One thing I would point out for posterity: it was mentioned in this thread to get 25+ inches of extension, but I found that I could get by with only about 15-20 inches of extensions. You can finangle a wrench in between the bell housing and the unibody if you don't have enough length to get to the other side of the transfer case. Also, if you have a good electric impact you can get the bolts back in with far fewer extensions, since you can fit an impact in that cavity even though you can't really move a ratchet inside of there.
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Purchased in 2016 and surprisingly still running
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Old 03-09-2024, 07:39 PM
andrewwynn's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Racine, WI
Posts: 10,862
andrewwynn will become famous soon enough
I read though quick and didn't notice if I left this out: disconnect the B+ at the alternator to get much more freedom getting disconnected and reconnected at the starter!
2011 E70 • N55 (me)
2012 E70 • N63 (wife)
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