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3-Series (E21, E30) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.

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Old 11-30-2004, 12:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello, I bought my car used, and have had it for 2-3 months. Even with the HUGE exhaust leak and unreliable transportation due to exhaust, I still love my car to death.

According to the sticker, the timing belt on my car was last changed roughy aroudn 25000 to upwards of 30000 miles. Time for a new one =( but I am not that mechanically inclined and nor have the money for a shop to do it. I love learning about cars, and I love working on my car.

My question for you people is, If i get a bently manual and belt/tentioner, do you guys think ill be able to replace it without messing up my car? I love my car to death, I need advice/opinions.

-Andre
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Old 11-30-2004, 03:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sure!!!! It's not that difficult. Those belts should be replaced every five years or about the milage you state.

Special tools: I didn't have any but next time I will buy the wrenches to hold the fan & water pump shaft. Fortunately mine was semi-loose and anti-siezed from the last mechanic so it came off easy (left-hand threads).

First gather all the parts.

Timing belt/tensioner (buy as a set)
Water pump (replace every two belt changes)
Distributor cap & rotor (You will see they need replacing)
Thermostat housing gasket.
Fresh anti-freeze (two gallons)

First thing is remove the hood. The radiator, shroud & fan must come out also. Spark plug wires, cap & rotor come off. When you get the belt covers off (2) an upper and lower. Look for the timing marks before removing the belt. Align those marks and do not turn the engine as you replace the belt & tensioner. I locktight the tensioner bolts because the threads get worn from being loosened & tightened so many times. Blue locktight is not permanant like red is, use blue only. Double check those timing marks. You don't say which car you have so I can't tell you where those marks are. Mine is a '85 325e. I didn't have a manual nor experiance working on the car when I replaced the belt. Next time will be much easier as stated before as I plan on buying the thin wrenches needed to remove the fan from the water pump. It's screwed on....I can lift the hood off myself, help would make it easier. I tried to make this sound as difficult as I could (joking) it's really not that bad. I was driven by the haunting words that if the belt breaks, valves hit the pistons. Heads go on ebay for $800 and up.

Take your time. Clean everything up and look for worn & possible future problems. Front cam seal leaking? Cam cover gasket ok? I replaced the old hard spark plug wire loom with some hot orange units from BMP. Also replaced the thermostat. Thermostats open by wax expanding inside them. It's not uncommon for some of the wax to leak out over time and the thermostat won't open as far as it should. The result is a slowly escalating problem. When you look at the radiator you will agree, it could use some cleaning. The fins are really close together and trap dirt & whatever. We have cottenwood trees here. In the spring they let off "cotton" it gets everywhere including radiator fins. It can block a radiator and make the engine run hotter. I spent a half hour spraying out the fins and inside as best I could get with a garden hose. The blew it with compressed air, more washing because more dirt came out when I blew it with air. These little details can make a difference and really extend the life of the engine. I also like Red-Line Water Wettor (not sure of spelling) it makes the engine run cooler on hot days. Be sure to check the clutch fan. Mine is shot. Sitting in traffic or drive-threws I watch the temp go up. Turning on the A/C turns on the electric fan in front of the radiator which gets air moving to cool it back down. You can disconnect the air conditioner compressor for cool weather but still hit the A/C button to run that fan in front of the radiator. Next belt change I'll order a new fan clutch....

Hope this helps you on your mission. Good luck, let us know how you did and what you found.

Ryan
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Old 11-30-2004, 10:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you for the instructions rw685! I will have to delay this project till sometime christmas break due to school and work needs right now.

About how long roughly does it take to get the car up and running again by the way? And is it convienient to change the oil pan gasket at this time, or would it not matter?

Thanks
-Andre
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Old 11-30-2004, 03:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sorry I left off removing the crankshaft harmonic balancer or it's lower crank pulley. My best guestimate would be 4 to 6 hours to replace the timing belt, tensioner and water pump. I kind of enjoy working on the car. Everyone works at different pace so it's hard to say exactly how long it can take. If you send the radiator out to be cleaned or decide to add other work besides just changing the belt, like changing the oil pan gasket. You can spend a whole day messing around, which is great. At least you know exactly where you stand mechanically with the car.

I found that radiator hoses come in a kit as do the V-belts. I replaced everything like that because I had some road trips planned the year I did all this work. Three days after I bought my car, the clutch throwout bearing locked up. I pulled the transmission at night with a flashlight. What sticks out in my mind as the most difficult part of that job was the starter bolts. They are allen socket head bolts with nuts towards the starter side (back to front). The bolts spin when you turn the nuts.... How I solved the problem working by myself was to take an allan wrench, reach around the top of the bellhousing (you cans see what your doing because it's all up inside the tunnel) feel for the allen head and stick the allen wrench in the socket head bolt. Then jack up the transmission to "pin" the allen wrench in place. Then remove one nut and do the same thing for the other starter bolt. It didn't take that long actually. Once you run into a problem like that, you have to accept it quickly and do what needs to be done. Throwing wrenches or cursing engineers only slows you down and makes the job more difficult. Spin it around and take it face to face. Accept the challenge and prove to yourself "it can be done". One day someone may ask you how you did it and you can say "it wasn't that difficult". A certain satisfaction comes with doing a job yourself that a shop wanted a lot of money to do. Then you have leverage with your girlfriend/wife that since you saved so much money, you should be able to buy those other parts you want.
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Old 11-30-2004, 05:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Check this out - http://www.e30tech.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1929
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