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How to: Replace M20 Starter easy!

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    #16
    A thought just occurred to me. The three starter jobs I've done have all been on Automatics. I just took a look at my wife's '90 5-speed. It looks like there is quite a bit more tunnel clearance than any of those autos had. Can anyone comment?
    971-295-7077

    91' 318i

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      #17
      Tunnel clearance on the autos sucks!! No real way to get a socket to the top bolts. I use a long, long 10 mm wrench to hold the reverse torx bolts while I loosen the nuts. Use a long extension and a swivel/universal socket and for sure remove the airbox. Makes getting to everything a lot easier. Never a fun task but I've gotten pretty good at it.

      Also, just FYI, if you go to start the car and get nothing when you turn the key, check the ground between the starter and the vehicle. I had this issue when I finished my rebuild and made a seperate ground from the starter to the grounding point on the frame. Fixed the issue and saved me the cost of a new starter!
      Some people just need a sympathetic pat...
      on the head...
      WITH A HAMMER!!!

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        #18
        i just replaced my starter and it grinds when starting the car. why is that? is the starter bad. is there anything i need to align first. any tips? thanks!
        Your signature picture has been removed since it contained the Photobucket "upgrade your account" image.
        ---------------------------------
        89 E30 S52
        ---------------------------------
        Transaction Feedback.

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          #19
          haha this was in march 2011
          Your signature picture has been removed since it contained the Photobucket "upgrade your account" image.
          ---------------------------------
          89 E30 S52
          ---------------------------------
          Transaction Feedback.

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            #20
            Bernpeed wrote-"i just replaced my starter and it grinds when starting the car."

            The starter gear isn't engaging the ring gear on the flywheel. I wouldn't keep hitting the starter. You need to pull it and see if your starter gear is crapped or the the ring gear is somehow mismatched along with troubleshooting a limp dick bendix . You would have to work at it pretty good to get the starter bolted in at a F**ked up angle. When you get the starter out hit with 12v and check the bendix. Check the ring gear for mangled teeth also. Good luck, a big PITA awaits you unfortunately. If the ring gear is trashed your looking at a proverbial anal reaming.
            Last edited by Eddie Haskell; 02-03-2012, 11:40 AM.

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              #21
              can you post pics? seriously...in writeups. pics are worth a thousand words.
              Renting my rear wheel bearing tool kit. SIR
              http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c5...ps6debf0b0.jpg

              Your signature picture has been removed since it contained the Photobucket "upgrade your account" image.

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                #22
                When I pulled mine I welded a plate to the nut that goes behind the bell housing. The tab hits the bell housing and allows you to tighten the starter bolt without needing a wrench on the nut. If you dont have a welder swing it into a local shop, most will do for free.

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                  #23
                  I thought my starter was bad, but turns out that one of the ears that holds the starter to the transmission broke, and the other bolt was missing....wondered what happened?

                  I removed the airbox and intake elbow. I was able to access both bolts by hand...although they are pretty scratched up. I don't see the need to access anything from underneath. I used my fan clutch tool to keep the torx end steady while I remove the 17mm bolt....reinstall should be pretty easy. My question is how do I ensure the teeth on the starter line up with the teeth on the flywheel so I don't grind the teeth after I install it?
                  1997 Artic Silver M3
                  CES GT4094r 651hp/615tq @ 24 psi

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                    #24
                    I can do this job in 20 minutes.. dont even ahve to remove the airbox

                    Use a long ass screwdriver and jam it between the tranny bell housing and the torx screw. Problem solved

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                      #25
                      Originally posted by 5Toes View Post
                      I can do this job in 20 minutes.. dont even ahve to remove the airbox

                      Use a long ass screwdriver and jam it between the tranny bell housing and the torx screw. Problem solved

                      Bumping this thread, because this guy saved my life!! This was by far the best way to get that bitch off!!
                      Holy shit did you even read this post before you posted?

                      http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/announcement.php?f=156

                      This thread sure sucked last night. It just plain sucked. I've seen threads suck before but this is the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.

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                        #26
                        I had a pretty easy time of getting the starter off since I was replacing it at the same time as doing a headgasket.

                        However, putting it back on was a huge pain in the ass. If you're stuck with a slushbox, the dipstick for the transmission makes it a HUGE pain to get a reaction tool around the back of the bellhousing where the torx bolt lies. Seriously just spent almost 90 minutes straight trying to jam stuff back there, just to get within a 1/4 of an inch of the bolt. I was the most pissed I've ever been at my car. Luckily I had a punching bag handy, seriously...
                        '91 325i

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                          #27
                          POSTING THIS TO HELP EVERYONE. Took me 15 min to do starter I was very pleased!

                          Get a 3/8 mini wrench on back side. To hold the Torques bolt. It takes some nice finessing but can be done. Then 16mm socket on the nut. Do the same on bottom but bottom but was 17mm for me. Remove wires before unbolting. And ur done!

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                            #28
                            Does anyone know the size of the bolt that holds the starter bracket to the side of the engine? Mine appears to be stripped or at least the first few threads are buggered up. My guess its M10 1.5 but by chance can anyone confirm?

                            The new to me E30 needed the starter replaced and much to my surprise it was only held in by the bell housing bolt. I would like to install it correctly this time by chasing the threads.

                            Thanks!

                            Figured it out. Used a tap to chase the threads, if anyone else runs into this the bolt is a M10 1.5
                            Last edited by tomstin; 05-04-2015, 08:36 AM.
                            2004 525i Manual - 1985 325E Coupe Manual

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                              #29
                              If this helps anyone, I used a 10mm brake line wrench on the torx head on top of the starter and wedged it so it wouldn't come out, along with about two feet of wobble extensions to get my ratchet to an area where it could be used.

                              Also, you may have to put on a new connector on the little wires, one of mine disintegrated when I tried taking it off.

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                                #30
                                I know I could weld tabs on the bolt head end to stop them from spinning but, I had another idea... What about using star washers on them? My thinking is that the star washer will bite into the bell housing and bolt to provide enough friction so the bolt won't spin while the nut is tightened.

                                Thoughts?

                                I will report success or failure in a couple days when my new starter arrives.
                                Attached Files
                                1986 E30 325E
                                1989 E30 325iX
                                2003 E54 X5.
                                1993 Mercedes W124 300E
                                1995 Mercedes W124 E320.
                                2009 VW Touareg
                                2007 Porsche Cayman S

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