BMW 3 Series E36 Clutch Replacement DIY
If you'd like to do this on your E36, autoevolution offers you a DIY thanks to a forum post we stumbled upon.
Remember, you'll need a lot of patience. Take your time, it will take a while, especially since this is the first time you do it. Use the proper tools. Don't use any improvised solutions. They might turn this into a nightmare, leaving your car unusable. Use a lot of WD40. The E36 is an old car and the bolts will surely by stuck.
Usually, when replacing the clutch you are actually replacing 3 pieces: the pressure plate, clutch disc and throwout bearing. That is why, usually, the vendors sell them as a clutch kit. While you're at it, it is recommended to replace the pilot bearing too. Other parts will not wear down so easy so you don't really have to replace them (parts like the fork, pivot spin, guide tube, etc.)
For this job you will some special tools. These are: external torx socket set for the transmission bolts, clutch centering tool, a flywheel lock tool (only if you decide to replace the flywheel too) and a few different ratchet extensions from 6'' to 10''. These ratchet extensions, when put together, will have to be almost 2 feet in length. That is a minimal because this is the distance you will need to cover in order to be able to get to the upper transmission bolts. It is also recommended that you get some baggie to help you organize and label the bolts that you are taking out. You will also need some torque wrenches to tighten the screws back together. The torque values are written at the end of the DIY guide.
Step 1: Raise your car. If you have an elevator at your disposal, great. If not, use a jack to raise your car but don't keep it on jacks the whole time. Use some cinder or wooden blocks to keep your car raised as you do this. Make sure you have enough room under the car (at least 10 inches from the tires to the ground). You will need the rear wheels to be able to spin when disassembling the gumbo. The suggested way to suspend your car is to insert the blocks under the jacking points.
Step 2: Take out the exhaust system and everything that protects the transmission. The exhaust system is better off being removed as a whole. As mentioned before, use a lot of WD40 on the nuts as they will surely be really stuck. Wait for 10 minutes for the WD40 to sink in and then take a shot at them. Disconnect the O2 sensor harness before you drop the exhaust and leave it attached to the exhaust pipe. The stuff that comes out is shown in photo no. 1.
Step 3: Remove the clutch cylinder (it has 2 nuts) and unclip the wiring harness for the backup light switch. Tie everything up and take them out of the way. (Photo no 2)
Step 4: Support the transmission with a floor jack and remove its support bracket (crossmember). Leave the bushings intact but loosen the top nuts of the assembly. Make sure you mark the way they are installed before taking them out. That way you will know how to reassemble them back on. (In photo no 3 white electric tape was used to mark the assembly of the guibo). If the markings come off, or if they are spoiled in any way you can figure out how to assemble the parts: note the alternating arrows molded onto the edge of the guibo. Each arrow points to the side where a corner of each triangular flange should go.
Step 5: Disassemble each nut and bolt assembly on the driveshaft. In order to be able to do this you'll need to rotate the driveshaft by hand so the rear wheels would have to be free to spin. Once you reach the needed position to access the nuts, apply the parking brake so that the driveshaft doesn't move while you're working on them. They will be pretty hard to take out so use a lot of WD40 and let it soak in. Those self-locking nuts are not reusable so you should replace them. If you don't want to, and plan to reuse them use a threadlocker. (Photo no. 4)
Step 6: Mark the outline bolts and the bracket of the center bearing before removing it. It has to be put back in the same orientation so that the driveshaft is aligned. If it is properly reinstalled there should be no slack at the rear section of the driveline.
Step 7: Remove the rear cross brace by loosening up the guibo coupling. This will release and lower the entire driveline that has to be supported by jackstands, otherwise you can damage the u-joints on the rear flange. If you'd like to change your transmission fluid, now's the time. The refill and drain plugs are marked in Photo no. 5).
Step 8: Take the shifter assembly apart. After lowering the transmission on the jackstands, you should now have enough space to reach the shifter assembly. You need to detach just the shifter arm and the selector rod from the transmission.
Step 9: Disconnect the battery's (-) cable. You should have the transmission standing on the jackstands about now. Now you need to loosen the bolts of the transmission. In order to do that you'll need to use the ratchet extensions. You will do this for the upper bolts on the driver's side. In order to get more room between the car's body and the transmission you can remove the MAF sensor, intake bellows and throttle position sensor harness. That way you might get your hand in there to reach the bolts. The very top bolt might be difficult to reach if you have big hands, and an extension is recommended in this case. (Photo no 6, at the right you can see the ratchet extension). The starter might pose some problems. BMW had 2 ways of mounting them. Some have threaded flange holes on the starter and some have thru bolts with a nut on the starter side. The latter will be harder to take out. You'll need someone to hold the nut on the engine side while you unscrew the bolt on the transmission side.
Step 10: After disconnecting all the bolts you should be able to slide the transmission out, towards the rear and away from the car. The engine might shift backwards slightly but it will rest on the firewall. While taking away the transmission, try to keep it upright since there is a pressure vent on the side that will leak fluid if you don't. You will now be able to see the spring clip, the fork and the throwout bearing inside the bellhousing (Photo no 7). The clip is attached to a plastic pivot pin hidden behind the fork. Coat the new throwout bearing and the guide tube it rides on with grease before putting it in ( the plastic pivot is show in the left bottom corner of photo no. 7)
Step 11: You will notice the pressure plate on the engine side. There are 6 6mm socket cap screws holding it, highlighted in green in photo no. 8. Remove the screws and pull the pressure plate off the guide pins. Along with the pressure plate, the clutch disk will also fall out. (photo no 8)
Step 12: After taking out the pressure plate and the clutch disk, the pilot bearing will be visible inside the center bore of the flywheel. Take it out by using your pinky or any other tool. It really should be hard to get out if its straight in the whole. After taking it out, insert the new one, pushing it as far as it goes, lubrication is not needed (Photo no 9).
Step 13: Clean the mating surface of the flywheel. Place the clutch centering tool through the center bore of the new clutch disc and hold it in place while you slide the new pressure plate onto the guide pins. The clutch will be sandwiched in as you tighten the pressure plate screws. Cross tighten the screws. When you're done, remove the clutch centering tool (photo no 10).
Step 14: Ease the transmission on to mate with the engine. Make sure the starter guide pin goes into the starter flange correctly.
Step 15: Reassemble everything back on, following the steps in reverse order. While doing so check to see if the driveline runs straight across the whole length and if it's centered in the chassis tunnel. You should have no trouble if you marked the bolt positions as recommended earlier. When reconnecting the exhaust make sure that there is no part that has less than 1 cm clearance with the chassis.
Step 16: Reconnect the battery's (-) cable.
-manifold nuts: 29 Nm (22 ft-lb)
-support bracket to transmission: 23 Nm (17 ft-lb)
-center hanger brackets: 23 Nm (17 ft-lb)
-rear muffler clamps: 15 Nm (11 ft-lb)
-heat shield: 15 Nm (11 ft-lb)
-guibo nuts & bolts (grade is stamped on the nuts):
M10 : 47 Nm (35 ft-lb)
M10 : 64 Nm (47 ft-lb)
M12 : 81 Nm (60 ft-lb)
M12 : 100 Nm (74 ft-lb)
M12 : 115 Nm (85 ft-lb)
-center bearing mounts: 22 Nm (16 ft-lb)
-rear cross brace: 23 Nm (17 ft-lb)
M8: 23 Nm (17 ft-lb)
M10: 42 Nm (31 ft-lb)
-bushing mounts: 22 Nm (16 ft-lb)
-drain/fill plugs: 50 Nm (37 ft-lb)
-clutch slave cylinder: 23 Nm (17 ft-lb)
-transmission to engine bolts (external Torx):
M8: 22 Nm (16 ft-lb)
M10: 43 Nm (32 ft-lb)
M12: 72 Nm (53 ft-lb)
-pressure plate screws (grade stamped on bolt head):
M8 : 24 Nm (18 ft-lb)
M8 : 34 Nm (25 ft-lb)
The "M" stands for the screw size in mm.
This is a DIY guide and, as such, you must be aware the procedures described here involve some risks. autoevolution cannot be held responsible for any possible damage that might result while following this guide.
❐ Check out the BMW 3 Series E36 Clutch Replacement DIY photo gallery