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Do-It-Yourself information for essential wear and tear items

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Changing Your Valve Cover Gasket and Spark Plugs

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Difficulty
Changing your spark plugs is very easy and I'd say anyone can do that. The valve cover gasket is a little bit more daunting but is also a fairly easy one to do yourself. Give yourself a couple of hours and takle it. If you're doing this the first time budget about 3 hours for this job. Take your time and make sure not to drop anything in the engine bay (I seem to always do this so learn from my mistakes because things are very hard to find once their down there.)

Tools Needed
Metric Socket Set With Sparkplug Socket
Microtorque Wrench (Capable of going from 5-25 ft-lbs is a good)
Flathead Screwdriver
T30 TORX Socket

Parts Needed
OEM Valve Cover Gasket (BMW P# 11-12-0-030-496) $27
High Temperature RTV Sealant

Optional Parts Needed (These are optional because you don't have to get any of these but I reccomend them since you're already doing the job.)
6x OEM BMW NGK Spark Plugs (BMW P# 12-12-9-071-003) $15
Anti-sieze lubricant for Spark Plugs
15x OEM Rubber Bolt Gaskets (BMW P# 11-12-1-437-395) $1
(If you think you might break a bolt or a stud, you might want to order one or two extra studs/nuts)
Valve Cover Cap Nut (Includes washer and rubber gasket) (BMW P# 11-12-1-738-607) $2
Valve Cover Stud (BMW P# 11-12-1-718-856) $0.50

Valve Cover Gasket Instructions


Remove the cabin air filter


Remove the Torx screws holding the air filter box


Carefully remove cable cover


Remove the engine cover

Remove the cabin air filter box and engine cover
1. Open the hood and remove the three spring twist screws and lift the cover up for the cabin air filter.
2. Remove the cabin air filter and its cover.
3. Using the T30 TORX socket remove the 4 screws that hold entire assembly to the back of the engine bay. Carefully remove the cover that holds the hose and cable to the cabin air filter box. Remove the air filter box.
4. Using a flat head screwdriver, pry up the four plastic covers holding on the engine cover.
5. Using a 10mm socket, remove the bolts/nuts and the engine cover.

 


Engine cover removed


Spark plug coils


Remove the grounding wire


Remove the coil wires from the plugs


Remove the coils

Remove the plug wires from the coil and remove the coils
6. Using your fingers, pull up on the clip on top of the cols and pull back on the coil wire. They will pop right out. Look at the pictures to get a good idea of what is going on.
7. Using a 8mm socket, carefully remove the grouding wire (located two cylinders back from the front of the car). Be careful to not lose this nut that you take off.
7. Pull up on the coils and they will eventually pop out. They are only held in by a rubber gasket over the spark plugs, so it will take a little force to get them out.

Note: If you want to just do your spark plugs, skip down to the spark plug section below!


Remove the vent tube


Unclip the coil wires


Move them out of the way


Remove the wiring and loosen the valve cover bolts


My plugs and coils removed from the car in cylinder order

Remove the vent tube and wires from the valve cover and remove it
8. Squeze the bumped part of the vent tube at the front of the engine and remove it. It will take a little bit of effort to get off, but be careful, since it's only plastic.
9. Using a screwdriver, push down on the clip holding the coil wires to the side of the valve cover. Once you have popped all the cips off, move it out of the way.
10. On the passenger side there are a lot of wires attached to the valve cover. Disconnect them from their clips and move them out of the way. Make sure you get them all or otherwise they will get in the way when you are trying to remove the valve cover
11. Now go around the engine and remove the 10mm valve cover bolts. They consist of a nut, a washer, and a rubber seal. Make sure that you are very careful to not drop them into the egine bay because they are quite difficult to get back out if you do. (Note: there are 15 of these to remove so make sure you get them all. One is pretty well hidden in the back passenger side of the engine bay.) You will most likely need various extensions etc. to get them all out.
12. Slowly and carefully remove the valve cover from the car. Make sure that you don't have any cables attached and it should come right off.

 


The new valve cover gasket


A peek inside the engine


One more


Yet another


Apply RTV sealant in the half moon areas as shown here

Take off the old valve cover gasket, apply sealant and put everything back together
13. Remove the old valve cover gasket from cylinder head (make sure to replace the gaskets for the spark plugs as well even though my pictures still has the old one on there.) If yours doesn't come off in one piece carefully get all of it off. Wipe down and clean the sealing surface.
14. If you desire, clean the underside of your valve cover to remove anything that has built up.
15. Apply RTV sealant around the half moon areas and those areas that might be more susceptible to leaks. Reference the picture to the left.
16. Now you need to put the new valve cover on, you can either put it on the engine and try and fit the cover over it, but what I found easier was to put the gasket into the cover and place it on the engine. Make sure that the gasket has been properly seated before tightening everything up (Use your fingers to run along the edge!).
17. Carefully put the valve cover nuts back on making sure to tighten them to 89 inch-lbs (Note: This is inch-lbs not ft-lbs, so this is roughly 7-8 ft-lbs.) If you do break one, don't worry you can just order a replacement stud and have it fixed very easily by just backing out the stud, which was an excellent design by BMW.
18. Put everything back together in the reverse order you took it apart.
19. Make sure you wait about an hour for the RTV sealant to dry before you start up your car and take it for a test drive. But when you do make sure that nothing is leaking after your test drive. If it is take everything off and reseat your gasket again.

 

Spark Plug Instructions

Note: If you want to just do your spark plugs, follow the first two steps above to remove the air filter box, engine cover, and coils only!


Locate the spark plugs


Create your spark plug socket extension tool


Put a little bit of anti-sieze on the spark plug threads


The old and new spark plugs

Remove the cabin air filter box and Engine cover
1. Create a spark plug tool using a socket extension and your spark plug socket. Using electrical tape, tape the two together, so that there is no way that you can have the two disconnect when trying the remove, install the spark plugs.
2. Using this tool, remove the old spark plugs.
3. Apply some anti-sieze to the new spark plugs so that they will come out easily the next time. You can't really tell from the picture, but it's on there. You don't want too much.
4. Reinstall the spark plugs making sure to tighten them to 18 ft-lbs.

 

Conclusions

This is a fairly simple to complete DIY, and it will keep your engine running healthy for a long time. I reccomend changing your spark plugs betweeen 60-90k just to make sure everything is still running well. While you're doing that, you might as well change the valve cover gasket, because it's going to fail sometime in the future! Happy motoring!

 

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