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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Fri, Feb-17-2012, 07:54:10 PM   #1
zcoombs4
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Default SMG Compression Spring DIY

After much anticipation, and waiting on the rain to clear here in Middle Tennessee, I was finally able to replace my pesky compression spring.

For those of you that may not be aware of the symptoms, I experienced severe lag in upshifts (typically at or over 4k) and would coast for 4-5 seconds before it would either catch the gear, or throw the SMG cog light and skip said gear entirely. For instance, accelerating hard in second gear, upshift to third would blink 3 on the dash, and would eventually catch when the revs came down, or would skip third with SMG light on. So far, have had no issues after the spring was replaced, although I've only had about 45 minutes on it thus far.

Sorry for the lack of pictures at this point, I had a third person specifically to take photos, put in SD card--windows wants to format and says the drive is corrupt. Bye-bye photos.

Anyway, things you will need:

-Standard mechanic's tool set (I use the Craftsman 255 piece)
-Standard torx set (you'll need T25 and T30 to do the job)
-Craftsman universal socket set (maybe not necessary, but it made separating section 1 from the headers much easier)
-Magnetic pickup tool
-Jack stands
-Jack (We used two, I'll explain shortly)
-Ramps (in lieu of two extra stands, I use the 56'' two piece Race Ramps)
-32mm wrench and pulley holder
-A buddy to help (no really, this is almost impossible alone)
-Plenty of PB Blaster (life-saver for me)
-I strongly recommend a cordless impact (I use the Dewalt 20v Max, good for this job, but couldn't get some bolts loose on its own)
-A good set of nitrile gloves to save your hands

I think that covers some of the oddities, I'm going by memory here, and still sore and sweaty and covered in grease and pavement nastiness.

I may have done some extraneous steps, but I did a few other maintenance items while we were at it.

Start by putting the car up on your ramps, or jack stands if you're using them. If you aren't comfortable with this, stop now and head to your local independent shop. I mean it. I'd rate this job about a 7 out of 10, but I'm a fairly novice mechanic. Mostly for the time and strain of being on your back for several hours.

We then raised the back of the car by jacking up one side on the subframe bolts, then use your second jack to reach the jack point in front of the differential, remember to NOT USE THE DIFFERENTIAL ITSELF. No really, it could get real, real quick if you do. Once you have the car off the ground to your desired height put stands under the rear stand points (about a foot in front of the rear wheels).

With the car safely up, go ahead and open the hood and make sure you left the car in neutral, DO NOT FORGET THAT STEP. You won't be able to get the driveshaft out, and you'll hate yourself for forgetting.

I removed the negative battery terminal at this point, some have said it's not necessary, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Move under the car and remove the transmission shields, not sure if that's the correct terminology, but there are six or seven 8mm bolts holding them in, you'll know when you see them. I found it easiest to remove them both TOGETHER. It can be tricky to separate them, as they lock together using some semi-circular tabs, do whichever you prefer. Taking these sorts of bolts out is where that cordless impact comes in handy.

With the two shields removed, take the time to hose down every exhaust bolt that needs to be removed with PB Blaster. We hit the section 1 nuts, the braces under the exhaust, as well as the nuts on the hangers for the muffler. You'll be removing the exhaust in one piece, so don't worry about section 1 to section 2, or section 2 to the muffler section (though if you bought an exhaust, no time like the present!).

Crawl out from under the car and let the PB Blaster soak in for a few minutes. We took this opportunity to remove the engine components that need to be out of the way.

I started with the cabin filter housing (one step that may not be necessary, but I replaced my filter while I had everything undone). Undo the three spring clips and lift the cover off, followed by the filter. Then use your T30 torx socket to remove the 4 bolts holding the housing in place. Unclip the wiring loom holder from the front, and be sure to clear all of the wires from within. With some effort, the housing will lift out, pull toward you and up simultaneously, mine took a bit of wiggling.

Remove your strut brace, if equipped, by using a 13mm socket. I reinstalled the nuts onto their threads, after my buddy dropped his two deep into the engine bay .

Remove the left and right engine shrouds at this point, my right one was absent but the left one is held in place by the same pin-thingies as the snorkel. Remove the one on top, and the one right in front of the VANOS unit. Be careful with this one, it's easy to let fly out accidentally, and there's no magnetic pick up tool for plastic.

With that out of the way, move to the intake. Remove the four pin-thingies holding the snorkel to the front of the car with a flat head screwdriver, then use pliers to pull them out. It simply lifts out, pull the small piece that connects the snorkel to the airbox out as well. Now using your flat head screwdriver loosen the clamp behind the MAF (may want to take the opportunity to clean it as well, I did with some CRC MAF cleaner). Unlatch the right side of the box and carefully twist until it separates from the hose, mine took quite a bit of effort, but eventually gave way. Set it up and out of the way, or if you removed the MAF, put it somewhere safe. Remember to use EXTREME CAUTION when handling the MAF, it's delicate, not to mention expensive in the event something happens.

With that out of the way, you may want to lift out the lower section of the intake (that goes down to the bumper). To do so, lift your xenon ballast cover out of the way and take out the two 10mm bolts holding it in place, this will allow you to rotate the bottom section out.

This should give you lots more room to work. Crawl back under the car and remove the engine shroud (not sure if that's the correct term) but this will give you access to the bottom of the engine. In my case there were only 5 8mm bolts here; I'm certain there should be more.

Go ahead and remove the T25 bolts holding the oil cooler in place, this is necessary to remove the clutch fan. Some say it's not necessary to support it, but we used a box to hold it up to prevent stressing the oil lines too much. Remove the two T25 bolts holding the bottom of the radiator shroud in while you're here. There are two more accessible from the top of the engine bay, the left one is right in front of the VANOS unit, while the right is actually on the side of the radiator, and is impossible to reach without removing the lower intake section, it is also helpful to remove the headlight in your way.

With the shroud completely unbolted have your buddy get under the car and weave the pulley holder up to the water pump, we found this to be easier--it's very difficult to use it in conjunction with the 32mm wrench from the top. With the holder fitted, start turning the fan not to the RIGHT to loosen it. It took us a good couple of minutes to remove it completely, but it eventually gave up. Some have noted that theirs was essentially frozen to the water pump, you may want to give your wrench with a rubber mallet if you have one handy if it refuses to budge; I was fortunate. Have your friend pull downward on the shroud, and you should be able to wedge the fan out between it and the radiator. It took us some gyrations, but it finally worked.

With everything out of the way, move to the bottom of the car again. Use a 10mm open ended wrench on the external torx holding section 1 to the headers and break the 14mm nut free with a box end. I fitted my impact once they were free and zipped them out pretty quickly. You'll need various extensions and a swivel socket to make this happen.

Move to the muffler and begin to loosen the 13mm nuts holding the hangers to the body. A deep-well socket is necessary here. Make sure to support the exhaust with a jack (and in our case a 2' piece of 2x4 to support the load evenly) or risk it dropping on to your chest. Ask me how I know.

With both ends free, you'll need to remove the two braces under the exhaust, it's four bolts in total, and I'm a terrible person for not remembering sizes from here on out. Just keep your socket tray handy like I did. With all this removed, have your friend lower the jack under the muffler while supporting section 1. It will all come out as a unit here.

Now you will want to remove the shields covering the driveshaft, again I'm sorry for not remembering the sizes, but there's several; are you missing that impact yet?

With the shields removed, most of the hard work is out of the way--on to the frustrating bits!

You'll now see where the SMG gearbox connects with the drive shaft, mark its position in some way. Whether it be with a metallic sharpie, or the years of grime, make sure to do it. Necessary or not, you won't be pleased if it becomes unbalanced and have to redo all these step. That being said, drop the three bolts (did you remember to leave it in neutral? You will need to rotate the shaft to reach all the bolts), remembering to soak them with PB Blaster if necessary (this will likely damage your flex disc, but I replaced mine anyway, I recommend doing the same if it hasn't been done. I'm over 135k, and mine was thrashed).

You will also need to lower the center support, it is not necessary to remove the driveshaft from the differential. We simply used some strong wire to tie it up out of our way.

Almost there! If you're of legal drinking age (I'm not quite ) then now is the time to grab a brew. My friend slapped in a dip (ew) while I enjoy a Drew Estates Acid. You'll likely be sore by this point, go ahead and pop a couple Tylenol or Aleve. You'll need it.

After your intermission, move back under the transmission and support it with your jack. You'll then remove the bolts from the crossmember. This will allow you to pivot the transmission down. Lower the jack SLOWLY. It will move some, but taking it slow is key here, it'd be a shame to get this far and break a hydraulic line or something dangerous.

Have your friend support the transmission and pivot it down while you locate the blind plug. It is up near the top of the box, very near a nut. You're not hunting the nut, simply the plug. I hit mine with some, you guessed it, PB Blaster, resupported the transmission with the jack, and finished my cigar.

Now, take your long flat head and head back under the car. While your friend holds the gearbox down, make your hands super skinny and pry that plug out. It sucks. It takes time. There's no easy way about it. Just keep prying and it will eventually relinquish its grip. Congratulations, you've reached the spring!

I inserted my pickup tool and pulled out the locking pin and compression spring together. Quickly grabbed the new parts: 23311228397 (spring) and 23311282539 (locking pin) inserted the new spring into the locking pin, and put the roller side in first. This will be apparent when you are looking at the parts, it is kind of confusing looking at the diagrams. Check out the diagram here if you get confused.

With the new pin and spring in, replace the blind plug and thank your friend for holding the transmission forever while you fiddled with that stupid plug.

Installation is simply reverse of the removal. You should have a pretty good idea of what's going on now.

Some tips:

-Removing section 1 proved to suck really bad. Three bolts were easy to remove, while we had to use a Craftsman universal socket to break free the top bolt on the passenger side pipe. Not sure why it was installed backward from the rest, but it is dang near impossible without such a socket (dedicated torx socket is probably best here, but the universal worked great).

-Make sure to torque section 1 back to spec, can't remember it off the top of my head, but it's pretty tight. You'll hate yourself for the leak you create if you don't. I know I did.

-When reinstalling your cabin filter housing, don't overtighten the T30 bolts. I mistakenly used my impact to reinstall them, and got a horrible vibration in the car after the fact. Easy fix, but best to do it right the first time.

-Reinstalling the fan sucks pretty bad too, repeat the same process as above in reverse, with your friend underneath. It took us quite a bit of force to get the threads started. E.g, he supported and pushed the fan while I used the 32mm wrench to tighten, remember it is reverse threaded. Lefty tighty in this case.

Those are really the only issues I ran into. Before bolting everything back up though, check to make sure that your transmission will still engage gears, I've read some posts where people have installed the pin backwards, et cetera. If it doesn't move to 1 then you've done something wrong. I didn't have this issue, so I am unaware of what to diagnose.

This really would be much easier with a lift, but my mechanic was out of town so I did it in my driveway. I still have a fault coming from the Gear Position Sensor, so when the time comes, I'll let him do it. This requires reteaching SMG adaptations, so make sure he has an Autologic system, or equivalent. This can also be done in INPA, but I haven't received my cable yet, so I can't comment on this functionality.

That's it! If you've made it this far, I appreciate your reading. Sincerely. I will do everything I can to recover all my photos, as some are very very helpful if you've never gone that deep under the car before. Remember that this is just for reference and I am not responsible for any damage to your car or yourself from using unsafe techniques.

If I missed anything, or you have any questions, please comment; feedback is much appreciated.

Zach
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Old Fri, Feb-17-2012, 07:58:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

Wow! Great write up for anyone with some good mechanical knowledge!

Might wanna post this over in the Faults, Fixes, & DIY Section!
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Old Fri, Feb-17-2012, 08:00:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by M3ANMACHINE View Post
Wow! Great write up for anyone with some good mechanical knowledge!

Might wanna post this over in the Faults, Fixes, & DIY Section!
Thanks for the reply! I figured that this forum has already saved me tons of time, money, and taken the time to answer some of my really dumb questions. So it was my turn to give back.

Stay tuned for Gear Position Sensor R&R!
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Old Fri, Feb-17-2012, 09:15:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

This will help out many members
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Old Fri, Feb-17-2012, 09:25:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpineEcstasy View Post
This will help out many members
That's what I'm hoping!

One thing I forgot to add was to invest in some clean rags and steel wool and a bucket of warm water. If your undercarriage looked anything like mine... You'll want it clean. And now is the time to do it while you've got everything apart. My transmission was still (literally) black from an old oil leak that the shop who performed the fix didn't bother to address.
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Old Fri, Feb-17-2012, 10:58:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

great write up.
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Old Sat, Feb-18-2012, 12:17:13 AM   #7
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Default

I pulled my spring out by Pulling trans mounts and fan shroud and just getting a screwdriver up there..

Good write up nonetheless
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Old Sat, Feb-18-2012, 12:19:51 AM   #8
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karuza View Post
I pulled my spring out by Pulling trans mounts and fan shroud and just getting a screwdriver up there..

Good write up nonetheless
You are a very lucky man. I couldn't seem to get in there. Plus like I said, I did a lot of maintenance work while I had everything torn apart. It was so dirty up there..
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Old Sat, Feb-18-2012, 04:25:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

Another Top Gear Top Tip:

Don't over-tighten any portion of the exhaust that has to do with hangers touching your car.

Story:

Was hanging out with some friends last night, I offered to drive for them. They get tipsy and want Taco Bell. Car starts fine, and there is the most horrific rattle I've ever heard in my life. I called a cab for them, camped out at my buddy's house and decided to tackle the noise in the morning.

7am rolls around and I begin to do some searching here on the forum. Rattle sound on startup--must be cam gear bolts, right? Rip apart the head, nothing to speak of. Turn the car on again, sound is gone. What gives? Jeremy (the guy's house I stayed at) noticed that the sound seemed to be coming from underneath the car somewhere. Sure enough, the friend who helped yesterday reinstalled all the hangers using the (life-saving ) impact.

I remembered reading somewhere (I think Obioban's sound-deadening post) that the hangers are to be torqued to 17ft lbs. Any more, and the rubber can't isolate vibration, hence the rattle. Too little, and obviously you'll have a similar issue, but you'd probably notice your muffler drooping or something of the sort.

Lesson learned--plus I got to check out the infamous cam gear bolts. Both intake and exhaust had no extra wiggle to them to speak of. Next valve adjustment though, I'll spend the extra few bucks in peace-of-mind. Judging by the marks on the bolts, my VANOS has definitely been removed prior to this--I'm hoping it was already addressed; time to pry my local dealer for some service records.
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Old Fri, Jun-15-2012, 08:58:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: SMG Compression Spring DIY

is it possible you think to get to the compression spring from inside the car? I don't see why I couldn't cut a hole through body work to it at then plug it back up? does anyone have a schematic showing the exact location in relation to the car and smg gear stick etc?
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Discussing SMG Compression Spring DIY in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)