E36 Belts

December 3rd, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Motor Belts

This is the way I changed my belts–I actually took the fan off. I’ve heard of people doing it w/o removing the fan, but you’d probably end up w/ scraped hands. I was replacing the water pump so everything was off anyway. Do what’cha like.Why: You should probably replace your belts every four years, or when they look like crap, like my belts (I had ‘em for five years). They should be checked at every inpection II. A busted belt when you’re driving is bad news.

Cost: A little less than $70, probably cheaper if you go mail order. Probably a lot more if you pay the stealer to do it.

Time: I spent about 20 minutes trying to take off the fan, and then about 10 to actually do the belts. The fan is the hardest part, once you get that off, it’s all gravy. Of course if you can change the belts w/o removing the fan, then you’re tha bomb. That’s a good thing.

Skill level: This is actually semi-difficult, since the way I do it involves taking the fan off. After that it’s pretty easy. Read on.

main belt (BMW P/N 11-28-1-469-266) (list $46.55)
auxillary belt (BMW P/N 11-28-1-437-873) (list $31.73)
8mm hex socket w/ long socket wrench
8mm hex wrench
32mm open ended wrench
Torque specs:
left handed fan bolt–29ft-lbs w/o the BMW tool–if you had it, you’d already know what to do

This is what you see from the top of the car, standing in front of the fan. The belts are behind the fan, and the circle highlights the bolt that attaches the fan to the water pump. This is what you can remove in order to get to the belts easier. I’m sure you can replace the belts w/o doing this (I’ve heard of it being done) but I happen to have the tools to do it and it’s easier w/o the fan there. I removed it to replace the h2o pump anyway.

Okay, here’s the tricky part. The fan moves independently of the shaft that connects it to the water pump, which means that you can hold the shaft steady, but the fan will still rotate. There’s a couple of special BMW tools that you can buy to do this, but I’m on a budget so I did it geto-style. I found that an 8mm hex wrench will fit between the pulley bolts, while still giving you enough room to get to the 32mm fan bolt. I put a lock wrench on the hex wrench close to the bolts for maximum leverage, and then used this to keep the pulley from spinning. Meanwhile, I cranked the fan bolt w/ the wrench. The fan bolt is LEFT HAND THREADED, which means that to UNSCREW it you turn it CLOCKWISE, or towards the drivers’ side when you’re standing in front of the car. Some people used a hammer to break the bolt. Some people used a long bladed screwdriver instead of the hex wrench. Do it however you want, this way worked for me.

This is how the drivebelts are wound. There are two drivebelts (well, I guess one if you don’t have AC but we’re talking MY car here…) one for the AC and one for the h2o pump/alternator/power steering pump. They are threaded as such, and the drivebelt tensioners for each belt are labeled as such. To get slack in the belt to pull it off, you need to untension the tensioner.

Here we see the tensioner for the big drivebelt. Notice the plastic cover on it, you kinda hafta take it off to get to the hex bolt.

This is the tensioner for the small drivebelt. See? The 8mm hex wrench fits in there nicely. You probably should use the 8mm hex socket w/ a long socket wrench/breaker bar if you have one, but I didn’t so I just cranked it pretty hard. I’m hella strong like that.

Crank the tensioner CLOCKWISE and you can slip the belts off over the pulley. See? Pretty easy. Pull both belts off and now install the new ones. REMEMBER: It doesn’t matter what order you take the belts off, BUT THE BIG BELT GOES ON FIRST SINCE IT GOES BEHIND THE SMALL BELT!!!!!!!! And then REMEMBER TO PUT THE TENSIONER CAPS BACK ON!!

Oh yeah, installation is the reverse of how you got here, and the fan bolt TIGHTENS by spinning it COUNTER-CLOCKWISE or TOWARDS THE PASSENGER SIDE. I know I have the torque spec for that bolt, but how to torque it? I just tightened it up pretty good.

This is how my old belt looked, cracked on every rib all the way around. The new belt is on the bottom for comparison.

version 7/12/99

Thanks to Martin Miller for some helpful hints, and countless others on http://www.bmwmpower.com/
Copyright © 1999 by uberjeph. All rights reserved. Yadda yadda yadda.

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