I compiled the following list of cooling system temperatures to establish a baseline for monitoring temperature issues and I’ve posted it here in case it’s useful to anyone else. I’m assuming that my car is running at a “normal” temperature and I’m not accounting for ambient air temperature.

IMG_0118

In my experience there is no change in readings when switching from OEM to the Mishimoto radiator but the only way to state that confidently would be to account for ambient temperature and engine load.

Thermostat housing temperature varied +/-10˚C over my tests and should not be considered accurate.

65˚C – Thermostat Housing +/-10˚C
80˚C – Top Radiator Hose
73˚C – Water Pump to Thermostat Housing Hose
75˚C – Bottom Radiator Hose

BMW e30 thermostat housing stat temperature
BMW e30 top radiator hose temperature
IMG_0123
BMW e30 lower radiator hose temperature

October 16, 2014 mechanical, Uncategorized

All-aluminum radiators are a popular choice for race applications and cars with modified engines. My daily driver with stock m20 motor fits neither category but I’ve been diagnosing the common jumpy temp gauge and wanted to make sure my radiator is flowing freely and providing maximum cooling. Also, the super clean appearance of aluminum radiators appeals to my sense of aesthetics so I basically convinced myself to do this upgrade.

My criteria for the replacement radiator was improved cooling and OEM fitment. I set on the Mishimoto e30 / e36 radiator after recommendations from friends and finding only positive reviews in online BMW forums. Mishimoto offers a lifetime warranty which is comforting.

e30 Mishimoto radiator in box

However, my decision shouldn’t be taken as endorsement and I haven’t run this radiator long enough to provide a real product review. After I installed this my close friend and local e30 expert Eric Berger told me that he knows several people who have had these radiators fail. In some cases the failure resulted in motor damage: it’s “buyer beware” as always. For the record Eric recommends Behr.

Because of Eric’s emphatic warning I’m going to monitor this radiator very closely especially as it approaches the first year of service. I did some further internet searches and found few reports of failures with the Mishimoto products. Mostly I found complaints about fitment. The few cases I found of failure were related to running straight water (no coolant) for long periods of time and in some cases not even using distilled water. Since coolant lubricates the moving parts of the cooling system and iron in water reacts with aluminum I blame careless owners for those failures I read about. I’m not sure what the issues were with the other local guys who had failures.

IMG_9789

Build Quality and Fitment


I found the quality of the Mishimoto radiator to be good and I would rate it a 9/10. It loses points for two reasons. Firstly, some of the fins were bent and a couple near the top were sheared off out of the box. Radiators are delicate but I’d expect it to be perfect on arrival. There’s a tool that can fix bent fins so I guess I’ll buy one.

Secondly I found fitment to be imperfect. One of the support posts was angled slightly outward. From post edge to post edge the radiator should be 26″ across but because of this defect my Mishimoto radiator was 26.15″ across. The solution was to cut down one of the rubber radiator mounts so that it would still seat to the radiator support. I don’t like this solution as it looks sloppy and failure due to a weakened mount is a concern.

Not necessarily a show stopper but there’s no fan shroud for a mechanical m20 fan that fits on the Mishimoto. I mean, you can throw one on but there’s no where to zip tie or clip it onto the rad. I’m still researching that.

mishimoto e30 radiator mounts wrong fitment

Above: This post for the radiator mounts is angled incorrectly which caused improper fitment.

mishimoto e30 radiator fitment adjusting mounts with knife

Above: Cutting the passenger side rubber radiator mount for fitment.

Installation Notes


  • Installation was easy. It took 30 minutes to remove the hood and old radiator and another 45 minutes to install and reconnect the new radiator including the time it took to solve the problem with the radiator mounts. From start to finish including bleeding it took me 3 hours. I ran into no problems because my hoses are all fresh and flexible. Older hoses may cause more problems.
  • Don’t forget to buy high temp teflon tape for your fan switch. The radiator ships with an aluminum delete plug for the switch port.
  • The Mishimoto drains directly from the bottom of the rad. Draining will splash coolant off the radiator support and make a big mess. Some kind of petcock with a 12mm x 1.5 would help but there’s not much room to fit it.

Mishimoto radiator installed in my late model 1989 BMW 325i e30
Mishimoto radiator installed in my late model 1989 BMW 325i e30

Above: Mishimoto radiator installed in my 1989 BMW e30.

October 5, 2014 mechanical, repairs

I bought a Ireland Engineering Strut Tower Brace several months ago (over a year?) and put off installing it because I wasn’t entirely sure it would fit. A test fitting indicated it might not fit without jacking up part or all of the car to move the strut towers further apart. But with last month’s steering rack swap it seemed like a good time to put the bar on and have an alignment done.

Install was easy and required only minimal wiggling with the car on the ground but there were two problems: The brace was touching the intake manifold. And when I took the brace off there was a scuff mark to prove it. Also the cruise control bowden cable was crushed under the bar. I was mostly concerned about the the contact between the bar and manifold so I emailed Ireland Engineering and the response was basically

“It is just kind of parr for the course, but you can bend the bar slightly there (or a decent wack with a hammer [after heating up the bar to a good couple hundred degree’s right there as to keep the p.c. from cracking]).”

1989 BMW e30 with IE Ireland Engineering Strut Tower Bar or Brace Installed
IMG_9135
IE Ireland Engineering Strut Tower Bar or Brace rubbing intake manifold
IMG_9148

And this is where I’ll review the product:

  • Once installed the product performs it’s intended function, though I should drill another hole in the strut towers and utilize the 3rd bolt hole to maximize stability.
  • The bar arrived with numerous scratches in the powder coating, some of which were covered up with permanent marker. This should have been a warning sign that build quality is low.
  • The round cut out on each brace end does not match the round extrusion on top of the strut tower. If it was just a little wider it would fit better, instead I had to rely on the strut bolts to pull the bar over that lip.
  • And as mentioned above, the bar will not clear a stock m20 intake manifold. I didn’t buy this bar expecting to mod it myself.
  • If you’re looking for a bar that should fit and have better build quality then I will pass on the recommendation I received, which is the UUC Strutbarbarian. This bar has a bracket to reroute cruise control which shows some thoughtful design. Though I have heard horror stories about UUC build quality (specifically brand new parts breaking during track events) but I believe that the strut bar is a simple enough thing that it can be trusted not to break.

    Hindsight is always 20/20. I got my tools and set about modding the bar. I’m not experienced with fabrication but after only a couple of hits I realized that the powder coating was not going to stay on the bar and I’d have to touch up with regular paint. Thankfully this part isn’t visible because it’s between the bar and the intake manifold.

    Tools for modifying IE Ireland Engineering e30 strut tower brace
    cracked powder coating on strut tower brace
    IMG_9463

    The next project related to this will be sorting out the cruise control cable.

September 29, 2014 mechanical

At my two most recent BMW CCA autocross events the typical comment from my instructors (i’m still a ‘novice’) has been “wow, you’re pretty smooth even though you have to shuffle steer.” It became clear that the stock 4-turn e30 steering rack was slowing me down and needed to be swapped out.


At the outset I thought this project would take a day, maybe two at the most. It actually took 3 weekends to complete because of missing parts and tools. I also wasted a lot of time researching various steps and confirming that I was doing the right thing. Hopefully my experience will help you with your own steering rack swap. I learned some valuable lessons about this kind of work:

  1. Test fit everything “on the ground” before the day of install. This includes checking bolt fitment in new parts and final assembly. Don’t assume all parts were shipped.
  2. Check all available photos and diagrams for parts and examples of how final install should look before the day of install.

I started my research by asking for some opinions which fell into two categories:

  1. The e36 z3 rack is too twitchy, go with a 95 e36 M3 rack with a lock to lock of 3.0 turns.
  2. You can handle it, go for the e36 z3 rack with a lock to lock of 2.7 turns.

e30 rack vs z3 rack

Above: Comparison of Racks. (Photo Source)

I heard so much praise for the z3 rack, like “best mod ever for an e30″, that I decided to pursue it. Next I started researching the method: most of my web searches turned up the same DIY (posted on R3vlimited) time and again so I decided to follow it. Going with the DIY seemed like the only option but was my first and most costly, time consuming mistake.

I want to put a very fine point on this: If you are planning to do an e30 steering rack to e36 m3 or e36 z3 steering rack swap you should buy a complete kit. There may be other retailers but the kit used by people I know is available from Zionsville Autosport. The pros to buying the complete kit is substantial savings over buying the component parts and the kit is complete requiring no retrofitting or fabrication to install unlike the DIY procedure. I wasted a lot of time blocked because of missing tools, fiddling with retrofits and installing things incorrectly. Save yourself the trouble and buy the kit.

But I didn’t know about the complete kits when I started so I set about ordering the parts I’d need. Web searching led me to The Rack Doctor who I ordered from because I felt most confident that I was getting the rack I wanted. On a scale of 1-5 I’d say my experience was a 3.5.

Pros:


  • Rack was clean, painted
  • They called to confirm that I wanted e36 tie rod arms vs. e30 (there is a difference)
  • New copper crush washers were included but just for the rack, not the pump
  • Shipping was quick

Cons:


  • Paint chipped horribly during install especially on some of the plastic hoses
  • Some important nuts and lock clamps for tie rods were not included which delayed install
  • High core charge not refundable except for identical core return

The DIY I referenced listed out the following parts:

DIY Parts List (DO NOT ORDER FROM THIS LIST):


2x 7/16 Bolt 2 Inches Long
2x Bolt M10x50 26111226737
2x Self Locking Nuts 07129964672
4x Copper Seals 14×20 32411093596
4x Copper Seals 16×22 32411093597
4x Self Locking Nuts 07129922716
1x Power Steering Reservoir 32411097164
1x High Pres. PS Hose 32411141953
1x Spacer 72118119268
2x Spacer 72111847480
2x Nut 721119779250
2x LP PS Return Hoses
1x Bottle of ATF

Some of these parts are NLA or the author just didn’t list part numbers. I have crossed out the list entirely because I don’t think you should reference it. Here’s my recommended parts list:

My Updated Parts List:


4x Copper Seals 14×20 32411093596
4x Copper Seals 16×22 32411093597
1x Power Steering Reservoir 32411097164
1x High Pres. PS Hose 32411141953
1x LP PS Return Hose 32411135936
1x LP PS Return Hose 32411133401
1x e30 to e36 Steering Knuckle Kit (either RPKIT or the kit from here)
1x *e36 Left Ball Joint 32111139313
1x *e36 Right Ball Joint 32111139314
2x *Clamp Ring 32111136179
2x *Nuts 32111136494
1x Bottle ATF Fluid

*Necessary only if you get the e36 ball joints and these parts are not included. e30 tie rods require a different locking nut and may be reused from your old rack. Probably.

BMW e36 tie rod clamp ring parts
BMW e36 tie rod clamp ring parts

Above: Clamp rings and chunky nuts required but not mentioned in the DIY.

IMG_8733

Above: The tiny nut shipped with the e36 z3 rack that is not suitable for this swap.

Additional Tools:


Two 15mm wrenches (for the knuckle)
8mm and 6mm extended hex bits (for installing the knuckle kit around the parts of the knuckle – you’ll see!)
Tie Rod Puller
Bottle Jack (for flattening the rack tabs)
C-Clamps (for depressing brake cylinders)

A note about tie rod pullers: There are two styles. The most common style you’ll find at your local auto supply store features a single U shaped clamp with a bolt through the center. This bolt has a pointed tip that seats in the top of the ball joint bolt. The bolt must have a divot in the top for this tip to seat in otherwise it will not work, and it should be noted that the e36 arms do NOT have this divot. Also note that in order to use the U shaped puller you will need to take off the rotors and loosen the dust shield. It’s really loud when the bolt finally breaks loose but a little less violent than banging on it with a hammer or a pickle fork. The other kind of puller looks like a metal clothes pin and a bolt is used to close the jaws of the pin, again pushing the ball joint bolt out. This tool works by pressing down on the ball joint bolt with a flat surface and therefore works on bolts that do NOT have a divot in the top. Like e36 tie rods and ball joints. So if you have the choice get the clothes pin kind of tool since it’s more versatile.

BMW e30 e36 Two kinds of tie rod pullers

Above: Two different styles of tie rod end pullers.

BMW e30 e36 Tie rod puller in use how to

Above: The clothes pin style of tie rod puller in use.

Notes and Addendum to the DIY:


  1. Disconnecting the ball joints and tie rods was impossible for me without using a puller. A hammer and block of wood only resulted in destroying the wood. Tie rod removal also required the removal of the brake calipers and loosening the dust plate to make enough room for the puller.
  2. BMW e30 tie rod end arm puller removal

    Above: The U style puller. Notice how much room it requires next to the dust shield.
  3. I used zip ties and plastic bags to keep the hoses from dripping after disconnecting them. Keep your work space clean.
  4. Take photos of where the old hoses run so you can run the new hoses along the same pathway.
  5. Removing (and installing) hoses on the rack need to be done in order: there is not room to remove the upper banjo bolt while the lower bolt is in place.
  6. The DIY called for bending the rack tabs on the center cross member to make room to drop the rack. In retrospect lifting the motor or bending these tabs the very smallest amount required would be advisable. I spent 2 hours working the tabs back into place with a bottle jack and some folks posit that bending the tabs weakens them.
  7. Plan to soak the knuckle to rack spline in PB blaster over night. The knuckle to steering column spline slipped right off but I could not remove the knuckle from the steering rack and ended up sourcing a donor knuckle while waiting for the PB blaster to work. I finally got the knuckle off by standing on the old rack and pulling. I can deadlift 300 lb. so that says something about how seized up the splines may be. Also note that the bolt on the rack side of the knuckle must be completely removed as it passes through a slot in the spine that holds it on. You cannot remove the knuckle with the bolt merely loosened.
  8. If modifying your current knuckle i.e. not using a pre-fabricated knuckle then you need to remember that the kit or shortened spacer is used to make the knuckle shorter NOT longer. You will need to enlarge two of the holes on the knuckle to fit the bolts through. A 23/32 drill bit was the right size for me but you should use a bit gauge to measure your bolts.
  9. I needed to tap the knuckle onto the rack spline using a hammer. Actually a friend with more experience did it for me. This should not be necessary but if you simply can’t work the knuckle on by hand then be very sure that the splines are not binding and are lined up properly before gently tapping it onto the spline. Go slow, you’re not driving a nail.
  10. The rack and knuckle need to connect to the steering spline when both are centered (this is mentioned in the DIY). I used a protractor and made a measuring tool to count the number of degrees in a complete lock to lock rotation, dividing the total by 2 and then finding that middle point in the racks rotation. In my case middle was 510 degrees. This is very accurate and does not require the removal of the boots, etc. to measure the tie rod ends. I marked this middle point on the rack and spline using a white paint marker for reference during install but marked it on the side I couldn’t see: make your marks so they are visible when the spline is on your left.
  11. Using rubber bicycle inner tube to protect splines
    e30 rack swap how to center rack
    e30 rack swap how to center rack

    Above: Finding the center of the rack.
  12. Even after finding center I still had to disconnect the rack and knuckle and move it over a single spline tooth. If you put a peice of tape at dead center on your wheel and turn it all the way to the left and right you should see that the terminal position of each is the mirror image of the other. My first attempt found it to be 2″ off (about the amount of a single spline tooth).
  13. The DIY reads “if there is binding use your Dremel to grind the knuckle joint.” You should assume that the knuckle will bind and grind it down on your bench where you have maximum control NOT when it’s installed in the car like the DIY shows. I recommend using a cutting bit not a grinding bit as the amount of metal you need to remove is significant. I removed metal from the U but in hindsight grinding down the edges of the fork may have been tidier and resulted in less cutting.
  14. Dremel cutter grinder bit for shaving down steering knuckle in e30 z3 swap
    Dremel cutter grinder bit for shaving down steering knuckle in e30 z3 swap

    Above: The correct Dremel cutter bit used for shaving down the knuckle to prevent binding.
  15. The DIY calls for tapping the cross member tabs into place with a hammer. This is impossible as the tabs will bounce and absorb all the force of the hammer. Using vice grips mangled the tabs. I recommend using a bottle jack and wood blocks under the tabs to bend them into place but be careful not to lift the car by accident. Putting the rack and spacer on the tab while bending the tabs up will help make sure you don’t bend the tabs too far the other way.
  16. bmw e30 z3 rack install bending cross member tabs back into place

  17. If you use the hoses called for in the DIY you can bend the new high pressure hose into place using your hands, or a little heat and your gloved hands. Using a vice or bender should not be required. Only the pump side should require bending. Study my photos and try to match what I’ve done.
  18. BMW e30 steering rack swap high pressure hose bends
    BMW e30 steering rack swap high pressure hose bends
    BMW e30 steering rack swap high pressure hose bends

  19. The new hoses are a tight fit. The new high pressure hose will need to go over the motor mount arm. Just make sure there is a finger’s width between each hose as you tighten it down because rubbing hoses will eventually spring a leak. Two sets of hands can be helpful here.
  20. During bleeding of the steering rack do not press the brakes because you may over extend the brake piston. If you do this by accident you may be able to use a c-clamp to compress the piston back down. Otherwise a bleed and flush will be required.

BMW e30 e36 z3 rack swap tie rod arm bolt and clamp
1989 BMW e30 sedan blue on flat bed recovery vehicle

Above: Towing my e30 to Bavarian Motorsport in Milpitas, CA for an alignment.

1989 BMW e30 alignment at Bavarian Motorsport

Above: My 1989 BMW e30 on the alignment rack at Bavarian Motorsport in Milpitas.

August 29, 2014 mechanical, repairs

I sold my Ireland Engineering M20 Performance Wire Set and installed my old “spare” set until a set of black Bremi wires comes next week. They are great wires I just didn’t love red that much.

BMW e30 with Ireland Engineering red performance plug wire set

BMW e30 m20 with black ignition wires

October 19, 2013 mechanical

If you look at photos of the intake manifold on a BMW M20 engine in an e30 you’ll see a recurring spot of wear illustrated in this older photo of my car:

BMW e30 M20 Engine Bay

This is caused by the black fibreglass hood liner which sags slightly and rubs against the manifold. You can barely see it in this photo:

BMW e30 hood liner

Also note the red tape that’s being used to protect the powder coated intake manifold which is at best a temporary solution. The permanent solution is to remove the hood liner:

IMG_0025

The unadorned hood isn’t ugly but it does allow more noise to escape the engine bay and some armchair mechanics postulate that the heat from the motor will cause the paint on the hood to bubble or wear poorly.

There’s two solutions for this:

  • BMW makes black foam insulating panels for some models but enthusiasts report that it falls apart after a few years of use and soaks up oil and grime. Part numbers are not noted on RealOEM but the set is available.
  • The other solution is mylar covered foam.
  • I bought my panels from BMP Design. They have a complete DIY on how to install the hood liner which is helpful.

    IMG_0802

    Now a few comments about the product:

    • It’s recommended that you “test fit” the panels before installation. Once the contact cement is applied you really only get 1 shot at installing the panel so plan how you will place it (which end will go in first, etc.)
    • You may find that the panels do not fit exactly. I suggest *returning* them if they don’t fit. I tried to cut mine with a ruler and knife, then scissors and it is very difficult to cut cleanly.
    • Even if your panels fit you will find ragged edges where the mylar has been torn. Clean these up with scissors before installing.
    • The panels come with an adhesive backing. This is not strong enough to affix the panels without contact cement.
    • No fault of the product, but it does tend to show wrinkles if not applied perfectly flat on a surface. The e30’s hood has some bends and curves so some wrinkles are inevitable.

    IMG_0812

    Installation was straightforward once I trimmed down the panels:

    IMG_0807

    • Cover the entire engine bay in plastic.
    • The Weldwood adhesive is supposed to be workable for about an hour after application – if it’s applied thickly. I decided to apply it thinly using a foam roller which made application quick, although the roller produced some spider-webs of contact cement that had to be tamped down or pulled away from other surfaces. This saved time but also reduced workability to seconds once the panel and the hood were contacted.

    IMG_0811

    IMG_0808

    BMW e30 m20 engine bay with BMP Design mylar hood liner

August 26, 2013 guide, mechanical

After 20 years of being in the engine bay of an e30 any kind of plastic starts to… look like a cross between dried snot and old cheese. The coolant reservoir suffers the worst because without regular flushes the contents turn slimy and seep into the plastic.

Of course this in no way impedes functionality so replacement ranks low on the priority list. I’ve read that some (ABS) plastic can be bleached in peroxide and regain some of it’s original appearance but that can take weeks and produce marginal results. In most cases DIYers choose paint over replacement.

I’ve collected the following example photos of painted engine bay plastics for example:

My e30’s own coolant tank was especially pathetic. In addition to being cat-vomit brown it had picked up some overspray from the PO’s paint job and accumulated a thick layer of sludge in the bottom. The washer fluid tank suffered the same overspray but I painted that blue which I think really sets off well against the rest of the engine bay. I decided not to paint the coolant reservoir because I don’t have a space to paint in right now and it’s impossible to read the coolant level once painted.

During my engine swap I needed to fill out an order for some small parts and decided I’d add the tank to the order. I didn’t take any photos during the install but it was pretty straight forward and I think the results are nice.

IMG_7061

1989 BMW e30 325i Clean Engine Bay and new Coolant Reservoir

e30 Coolant Reservoir

Coolant Reservoir Replacement


  1. Disconnect the Air Flow Meter and remove it along with the air box that holds the air filter.
  2. Put some cardboard and catch pan under the radiator and remove the lower drain plug.
  3. As coolant drains remove the cap from the overflow reservoir.
  4. Disconnect and remove the coolant level sensor by loosening the large black nut that connects it to the reservoir.
  5. Remove the coolant return hose from the bottom of the reservoir and immediately move it over the catch pan to drain.
  6. Cut off the radiator to overflow reservoir hose very close to the hose clamp, or cut the hose clamp off.
  7. Cut off reservoir overflow hose that runs to a hole in fender.
  8. Remove the old reservoir by pulling up to release it from the clip holding it to the frame.
  9. Put in the new tank, reconnect the hoses.
  10. Use either a very small worm-gear hose clamp or use the OEM “Oetiker Clamp” and end nippers (in lieu of the proper pliers) to connect the high-pressure radiator overflow to overflow reservoir hose.
  11. Refill the system with coolant and bleed it of any trapped air. This is well covered elsewhere in more or less detail.
  12. bmw e30 coolant reservoir

    Parts List


    Radiator Expansion Tank 17111712641
    Hose Clamp 32411712735
    Oetiker Clamps and Pliers on Amazon

May 26, 2013 cosmetic, mechanical

A year ago when I started shopping for an e30 the first car I set my heart on was a red coupe with what is, to this day, one of the cleanest engine bays I’ve ever seen. A week before I got my cash together the car sold.

I forgot about that car until yesterday when I received my new Ireland Engineering spark plug wire set. My current wire set is part original to the car, part Pick n Pull scavenge and long over due for replacement. I almost ordered a set of blue wires but at the last minute decided that was too matchy-matchy and went with red.


BMW e30 M20 with red Ireland Engineering spark plug wire set and crinkle coated intake manifold and valve cover

BMW e30 M20 with red Ireland Engineering spark plug wire set and crinkle coated intake manifold and valve cover

The wires arrived last night and were installed without issue. They look great and I notice that the engine fires slightly smoother with the new wires (maybe just confirmation bias, I’m sure there’s an expert reading who will tell me I’m imagining it). Looking at my engine bay reminded me of that red coupe from so long ago. I went and dug up some pictures – even though I haven’t looked at these photos since I bought my car it’s amazing how many things are similar between the two cars, starting at the red wire set all the way down to the same rims!

red bmw e30 coupe on tr motorsport rims

BMW e30 m20 clean engine bay

May 3, 2013 mechanical

This weekend the project to swap a low-mileage m20 motor into my e30 will begin. The last box of parts has arrived: these will replace the wear and tear parts on the donor motor before install.

My current motor has been well maintained since I got it – in fact most of the same parts were replaced on it less than a year ago – but the clutch is slipping and it’s burning oil. This is the time to retire it.

IMG_7136

Parts List


Rear Main Seal
78 mm Guibo
Motor Mounts
Victor Reinz Top End Gasket Set
Exhaust Manifold Gaskets
Timing Belt
Pressure Plate Bolts
Alternator Belt
A/C Belt
Transmission Mounts
Satch Clutch Kit
Exhaust Manifold Gasket
Hex Nut M10
Redline MTL
Power Steering Belt
Pilot Bearing
Felt Ring
Cover Plate for Felt Ring
Cover Plate for Back of Pilot Bearing
Waterpump
Waterpump Gasket
Engine Block Gasket Set

I also got something special for the car, made in Italy. I’ll post a photo once it’s installed on the car in about a week.

IMG_7137

April 11, 2013 mechanical, status

On Saturday I borrowed an engine hoist from local e30 maven Eric Berger, put it in a rental truck and drove up to Walnut Creek to pull a donor M20 for my car. Though Bernz (owner of the donor motor) and her neighbor Dillan are pretty experienced with motor removal it took 5 hours, lots of spilled engine fluids and a few mistakes to get it out of the car.

The donor motor has 75,382 miles on it and I’m looking forward to putting another 150,000 miles on it myself. The motor will get a complete inspection, all the wear and tear parts will be replaced (except the head gasket) and then it will be installed in my car. My car will probably be off the road for 2 weeks to facilitate the swap and maintenance.

IMG_7057

AFM and airbox removed.

IMG_7065

Finally removing the engine.

IMG_7067

Engine almost removed.

IMG_7073

Dillan removing automatic transmission.

IMG_7083

Strapped in for the trip back to home.

M20 Motor Removal Checklist


  • 2x Heater inlet/outlet hoses at the firewall. Flat head screwdriver for the clamps.
  • 2x fuel lines, the feed and return, 1 at either end of the fuel rail. Flat head screwdriver for the clamps.
  • 2x engine mounts, 1 each side. 16mm / 17mm bolt.
  • Engine ground to oil pan. 13mm bolt.
  • Radiator. 2x 10mm bolts holding the top support bracket.
  • Radiator hoses to radiator. Just more flat headed clamps.
  • Brake booster hoses. Flat headed screws.
  • Exhaust down pipes. 17mm 16mm bolts. You can drop and remove the exhaust if you like, but you have got room in some cases.
  • Intake boot, air box. More flat head screws, 10mm bolts for the air box.
  • Driveshaft, 3x 17mm bolts with 17mm nuts.
  • Shifter linkage. 13mm bolts various sizes in places.
  • Wiring loom, just unplug from the ECU and toss it over the engine, unbolt the harness ground to chassis, usually somewhere by the strut tower.
  • Power cable to the Starter motor. Just disconnect from the back of the starter motor and leave it in the car.
  • Remove gearbox X-member. 13mm bolts.

M20 Motor Removal Walkthrough


  1. Let the car run in the park position if you have an automatic or let it run in the N position if you have 5 speed while you pull fuse 11 to empty all fuel from the system. Make sure you have your E brake on if you have a 5 speed. When the car shuts off turn your key to the off position.
  2. Go to your trunk and unhook your battery. You will need a 13mm wrench. Unhook the (-) side of the battery first then continue to the (+) side.
  3. Once they are unhooked pull them off and push them to the side. This is what you should have.
  4. Then go to your glove box to unhook your ECU.
  5. Open it up and here is the ECU plug. You will want to pull this silver clip back and unhook the ECU.
  6. Now go out to the engine bay and unhook all of the power wires from the distribution block on the firewall. You will need a 10mm wrench.
  7. Then unhook the ground wire from the strut tower. Also a 10mm.
  8. Now pull the plug for the ECU through the firewall.
  9. Next you can unhook the coil. pull the plug wire and boot off the top and you will see two wires. You will need a 8mm socket and a 10mm socket.
  10. Now go to the driver side of the car and unhook the MAF.
  11. Then take a flat head screw driver and loosen the clamp that holds the boot onto the MAF and take it out. You will need a 10mm wrench to loosen the two bolts on the side of the air box.
  12. Now its time to unhook the rad. You will need a bucket to catch your coolant. We have a drian in our floor that goes to a holding tank so we didnt need one.
  13. First take the hose off the bottom of the rad on the driver side. you will need a flat head screwdriver.
  14. Then unhook the hose on the passenger side.
  15. While your over there unhook the coolant sensor on the side of the rad.
  16. Now unhook the top hose.
  17. Now its time to take the radiator bracket off. You will need a 10mm wrench.
  18. Now pull your radiator out and put it to the side so you wont poke any holes in it.
  19. Now go back over to the driver side and unhook your throttle cable. You will need a 10mm.
  20. Then pull the throttle back and unhook your cable and pull it out.
  21. Now its time to unhook the c101 plug. This is located next to the fuse box and it just untwist.
  22. Now you can get down in and unhook your hoses for your heater core. You will need a flat head for this also.
  23. Now you can unhook the vac hoses from the brake booster to the TB. These just slide out with a little wiggle.
  24. Now its time to unhook your fuel lines. First one up is the one on the FPR. Be careful when you do this so it doesnt get in your eyes.
  25. Now do the one on the fuel rail, be very carful on this on since it will have more pressure in it then the first one.
  26. Now unhook your plug and hose from your evap can. This is located under the throttle body.
  27. Now unhook the ground straps from the oil pan to the frame. You will need a 13mm for this.
  28. It may help to jack up the front end of the car slighly higher to make removing the engine easier.

April 8, 2013 mechanical, status

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