BMW E46 CCV Replacement, Intake Manifold Removal, Vacuum Hoses, and Revisiting the DISA

In which I solve the case of the missing engine oil, and dig deeper into the belly of the beast than ever before.

The following error codes were all encountered prior to resolving the issues detailed within.
E3/B1 – Oxygen sensor controller, bank 1, deviation too great, deviation rich
E3/B9 – Oxygen sensor controller, bank 1, deviation too great, deviation rich, low fuel level signal, active during fault entry
E3/F1 – Oxygen sensor controller, bank 1, deviation too great, deviation rich
E4/B1 – Oxygen sensor controller, bank 2, deviation too great, deviation rich
E4/F1 – Oxygen sensor controller, bank 2, deviation too great, deviation rich
5A/12 – Exhaust temperature before catalyst, bank 1, signal line, short circuit to negative
5B/12 – Exhaust temperature before catalyst, bank 2, signal line, short circuit to negative
5D/12 – Exhaust temperature after catalyst, bank 2, signal line, short circuit to negative
EE/B6 – Misfire, cylinder 1, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1), misfiring at operating temperature, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B4)
EF/B2 – Misfire, cylinder 2, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1)
EF/B6 – Misfire, cylinder 2, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1), misfiring at operating temperature, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B4)
F0/B6 – Misfire, cylinder 3, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1), misfiring at operating temperature, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B4)
F1/B1 – Misfire, cylinder 4, misfiring with cylinder cutout (Misfire CARB_A)
F1/B2 – Misfire, cylinder 4, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1)
F1/B6 – Misfire, cylinder 4, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1), misfiring at operating temperature, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B4)
F2/B2 – Misfire, cylinder 5, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1)
F3/B1 – Misfire, cylinder 6, misfiring with cylinder cutout (Misfire CARB_A)
F3/B2 – Misfire, cylinder 6, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1)
F3/B6 – Misfire, cylinder 6, misfiring during warm up, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B1), misfiring at operating temperature, worsening emissions (Misfire CARB_B4)
FA/B8 – Function check, tank ventilation is faulty

My 2003 BMW 330i (E46) had been ‘consuming’ oil for some time. Years back, when I visited Joe Machens BMW in Columbia, MO, a BMW technician had told me that one of the CCV lines was about to go, but I kept on driving. These engines, I reasoned, were bulletproof.

Meanwhile, the check engine light had become a constant in my life. I don’t even know when it started haunting me. All I can say for sure is that I was rather surprised when I passed Texas’s annual vehicle inspection in the spring of 2015. I recall that the check engine light had been intermittent back then, and it held off just long enough for me to pass inspection.

So prior to this year’s inspection, I pulled out my laptop, and fired up BMW Scanner v1.4.0.6 to clear the error codes from the DME. I did this while waiting to have my vehicle inspected. It came back with “Not Ready” on a host of sensors, and my vehicle failed inspection brilliantly. I drove the car following the inspection, only to find myself faced with the check engine light once again.

The last time that I worked on my car was in January 2016, when I replaced the suspension on all four corners with Koni FSD + Eibach Pro Kit. It was time to get my hands dirty once more…

I pulled the spark plugs, starting from the front of the car. Observed that the top, where coil sits, was covered in fine carbon buildup, kind of like soot. The plugs definitely didn’t look new. Exhibited corona wear. Threads were fouled up as well.

Inspected the inside of CCV tube leading to valve cover and found brown, cakey looking deposits.

Pulled the DISA valve and found the flap loose. Fortunately, the vacuum pot was still functioning. On October 21, 2010, I’d used epoxy to bind the flap to the connecting rod. On this inspection, I observed that the end of the rod had shorn off, leaving the flap inoperable. I placed an order for the German Auto Solutions DISA valve repair kit (MSRP $79.95,, German Auto Solutions) – I’d previously ordered one of these kits on February 29, 2012, but didn’t install it at the time because my epoxy fix was still holding up. At that time I did, however, install a new DISA valve o-ring after scraping out the original gasket.

The CCV vent hose (connects to the bottom of the CCV, returns oil down the dipstick guide tube) had failed completely. In line with what others have observed, it appears to have been worn through by continued abrasion against the positive cable connecting to the back of the alternator.

I’ve read threads where people have installed oil catch cans in lieu of the CCV. I also saw a pretty cool project that involved replacing the M54 valve cover with an M56 valve cover.

Parts Order (Prices from BMW of West Houston unless indicated otherwise)
11617544805 DISA ($304.34) vs. old part 11617502275
11617533331 ($0.69) screw for air distribution piece

Oil Separator – CCV Kit

CCV Kit (Cold Climate Version)
#1 11617533400 (Pressure Regulating Valve, part of kit)
#2 11617533398 (Vent Pipe, part of kit)
#3 11617504399 (Connecting Line, part of kit)
#4 11157532629 (Vent Hose) ECS $23.18 / FCP $23.99
11617534237 (Repair kit – cold climate version) MSRP $116.83 ($59.31 / ECS $53.18 / FCP $58.99)

CCV Kit (regular climate version)
#1 11617501566 (Pressure Regulating Valve) – $55.10
#2 11611432559 (Vent Pipe) – $23.54
#3 11617504535 (Connecting Line) – $32.32
#4 11157532649 (Vent Hose) – $20.44
#7 11617504536 (Return Pipe – same applies to cold climate version) – $25.17 / FCP $28.99

Updated (?) Dipstick Guide Tube + Lower O-Ring
Dipstick guide tube (11437531258, part #9 in the diagram above) – I ordered and received this part, only to discover that it was the same dipstick guide tube as was originally shipped with my vehicle
Dipstick guide tube lower o-ring (11431740045, part #12 in the diagram above)

Placed orders for parts on 5/9/2016. I also purchased new headlight lenses, which I’ll touch on later. I chose the Automotive Lighting (OE) product instead of going with the BMW pieces.

Picked up parts from BMW of Houston West on 5/14/2016 to round out parts list. They won’t give me good pricing unless I can get a dealership to call it in, which I’m not pleased about.

My original plan was to pull the old CCV and replace it along with the various hoses. I ultimately pulled the intake manifold. I was contemplating doing this earlier, because I’d dropped one of the screws used to secure the air distribution piece to the intake manifold, and wasn’t able to recover it following removal of the splash tray, but the decision was made for me following discovery of severely degraded vacuum hoses going to the back (near firewall) of the intake manifold.

The vacuum hoses in question appear on the parts diagrams for these two systems:

  1. Air Pump for Vacuum Control (RealOEM), Part Number
    11657803732: 3,5×2,0
  2. Vacuum Control for Exhaust Flap (RealOEM), Part Number 11727545323: 3,5×1,8

For reference, the measurements above indicate the inner diameter of the hose, followed by the wall thickness in millimeters. (IDxtwall)

I decided to redo the vacuum hoses with silicone. While searching, I turned up a Contitech part that fit the bill perfectly. There weren’t any reviews on the vacuum hose I bought on Amazon, so I took a gamble, and was pleased to find that I received one meter of it.

The 7mm vacuum cap (1161727176) on my intake manifold was also in need of replacement. The original piece had a break near the lip, and two hairline cracks running partway down the length of the cap. Someone had suggested that using a zip tie on a failed vacuum cap (around its base) would help, so I installed the new vacuum cap with a zip tie for reinforcement.

Observed that my vehicle (production date 10/2002) already had the updated dipstick guide tube. I should have checked this before placing the order.

Prior to removing the intake manifold, I trashed the insulation (Armaflex?) on the cold climate CCV while trying to install it, and felt kind of silly. I ultimately stripped the cold climate CCV of its insulation entirely. It probably works out okay, given the low cost of the cold climate version kit when compared to buying individual parts, but the whole mess could have been avoided with more care.

I tried to be careful while pulling the intake manifold fasteners (07129905541 ~$0.64), but still managed to drop a couple of them into the engine bay. My magnetic pickup tool came in handy on more than one occasion.

Observed significant gunk inside of the fuel injector ports (is this the right word? I’m referring to the point that the fuel injector plugs into along the intake manifold). Also buildup of gunk on the fuel injector bodies. I’m unsure whether this is indicative of air making its way past the fuel injector seals (12 altogether), or if the air came from further upstream.

Fuel injectors original to the car were Siemens (Siemens Part #1439800). They have been superseded by Siemens VDO (BMW Part #13537546245). I didn’t perform any fancy fuel injector cleaning, though it probably would have helped recover some of my vehicle’s missing ponies.

Carb cleaner may be helpful in cleaning up.

Fastening torque on the intake manifold nuts is 11 ft-lbs.

The engine wiring harness had been falling apart for some time. I looked around to see how other people had been handling deteriorating engine harness wire looms. People suggested hockey stick grip tape, but I don’t like tape. On 5/24, I ordered some 1/4″ diameter TechFlex split wire loom. I’m pleased to report that it’s solid stuff, and it looks sharp inside of the engine bay.

Engine wiring harness has connections to the following locations – at least:
Idle Control Valve
Mass Airflow Sensor
Purge Control Valve
Oil Pressure Sensor (single wire, more on this when I go over troubleshooting…)
Oil Temperature Sensor
Intake Camshaft Position Sensor

I finally got around to putting everything back together again on 6/2/2016. Progress was halted a couple of times because of dropped fasteners. Nearing completion, I observed that the intake boot that connects to the throttle body (13541438759) had cracks along the accordion section connecting to the idle control valve. I am considering replacing this with a silicone intake boot in the next installment (update 6/9/2016 – I have placed an order for Mishimoto’s silicone air intake boot kit, in black).

If I had to do this again, I’d definitely get the front end of the car up. I felt myself tilting after a few hours in the garage. The job is made difficult enough by the lack of working room – protect your back!

Additionally, fooling around with anything near the firewall is a dozen times easier after the firewall is removed. Removing the firewall is trivial once the cabin air filter tray is out of the way.

So long as everything is put back in its place, the car should start up again. In my case, I made a small mistake, the discovery and resolution of which will be detailed shortly.

In performing this work, I referenced the following:
Injectors replacement and/or servicing DIY (E39) – Bimmerfest
Intake Manifold and Vacuum Caps – E46Fanatics
M54 vacuum tubing … what diameter … what brand … what material … what length? – Bimmerfest
My CVV [sic] (Oil Separator) DIY Journey in Pictures – Bimmerfest
Oil Separator and Intake Manifold DIY – E46Fanatics
Oil Separator – Never Before Seen Pics!! – E46Fanatics
Tips and Tricks for CCV – E46Fanatics
Where does this vacuum hose go? – E46Fanatics

Bavarian Autosport’s blog also has a video series on replacing the CCV, which may be helpful to review: DIY Video – Replacing the BMW M54 Crankcase Ventilation Sytem, PCV, Oil Separator, Cyclonic Valve – BavAuto

did some work on the car

I removed and replaced the faulty low horn. It originally failed in the months following the body work that I had done, because the shop had put the horns back in upside down.

I received the replacement parts ages ago, but never got around to getting the car up until today.

Removed and replaced both high and low horns. New horns are working great.

Installed a new passenger-side inner fender liner.

Removed and replaced xenon headlight height sensor arm assembly from front axle.

More impressions (and photos) to come

Limp Mode Returns

It happened so suddenly and without any prior warning.

I was driving the less than two miles from home to Domino’s when I noticed the limp mode icon light up on my dash. I’d seen the exclamation point within a gear once before, while I was living in Columbia, MO. It had popped up while I was near the twisties by Joe Machens BMW, and I’d ignored it.

This time, I was decelerating towards stopped traffic. When limp mode is active, the transmission remains locked to a set gear (either 3rd or 4th). I switched off the car and fired it back up again to find that the SES light had come up as well. One more try before the light turned green.

I pulled away slowly from a stop, observing how lifeless my normally sporty E46 felt at that moment. I parked my car by the side of the building, and went inside.

Ten minutes later, I started her up again, and found that the transmission was back out of limp mode. I drove back home later, SES light still on, curious to find out what had happened.

BMW E46 Windshield Wiper Clips

I went to the dealership today to pick up an order that I’d placed for a couple of minor parts.

The windshield wipers on my 2003 BMW 330i (E46) have been driving me nuts. Years ago, when I tried to replace the rubber inserts by myself for the first time, I didn’t know the correct procedure to remove the wiper blades. I forcibly separated them from the wiper arms, breaking the locking tab on the windshield wiper clips (61618233577, part #8 in the diagram below, buy on in the process.


The part is described in BMW’s system as a “wiper blade clamp” – its purpose is to hold the windshield wiper blade in place. Without the locking tab, the wiper blade can move laterally in the wiper arm.

My windshield wipers used to chatter loudly. The driver-side (left-hand) wiper blade was the worst offender. The noise went away if I allowed a sufficient quantity of water to accumulate upon the windshield, but even at the lowest automatic setting, I’d hear a terrible sound with each pass of the wiper blade. They made this noise with fresh wiper inserts as well. The sound was so bothersome that I started to manually actuate the windshield wipers, running them only when I’d deemed that enough water had accumulated so as to keep them quiet.

(this made me feel like the old bus driver back in my high school days at ISKL)

Before committing to purchasing the new windshield wiper clips, I’d considered swapping the wiper blades entirely. I was inspired to do so after reading a newsletter sent to me by one of the (many) online parts stores that I’ve used in the past. It dawned upon me that it was highly probable the wiper blades weren’t the problem at all, and that I had best exhaust the cheapest options before opening up my wallet any further. I paid just over $5 for two clips.

I replaced the windshield wiper clips while parked at the dealership. The sun was shining brightly outside this afternoon, and, prior to hitting publish, I realized that I had yet to test the wipers after removing and replacing the faulty clips. I’m back inside now, and pleased to report that my windshield wiper blades are functioning as intended.

Looks like I’ll be putting off my purchase of new wiper blades for a while longer, yet.