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Technical_   Engine_  M20 E to I 2.8 Liter Engine Conversion_  Engine Removal

M20 E to I 2.8 Liter Engine Conversion
Fred Kim

V.   Engine Removal

4.)  Engine Removal

The removal of my engine wasn't that complicated because half of it was already gone. I gave the cylinder head to one of my co-workers, provided that he take it out himself. So one day he did, and this is what I ended up (er, started out?) with:


(As a side note, my old head gave life to another '86 325 with 272,000 miles on the clock. It suffered a cracked head and was going to the wrecking yard before my friend Darryl Evans saved it.)

Back to business. Half the coolant was already drained, but I drained the rest of it by unplugging the radiator and block plugs. Take out all the coolant hoses (you should label them) and set them aside. Some of them are actually reusable, though I bought all new ones since I didn't want 100k mile old hoses in my new engine. Then I removed the oil filter and drained the oil, but had a hell of a time taking out the plug since I stripped it the last time I did an oil change. Oops. I also disconnected the two lines from the power steering resevoir and the lines from the pump and let all the ATF drain out. Leave all the power steering hoses disconnected, and if you have the car in the air, it may help to turn the wheels back and forth to get more out of the system. FInally, I disconnected the line from the windshield washer resevoir to the hood (because I'm going to remove the hood later), took out the holding screw and unplugged the sensor, and removed the entire resevoir. But instead of dumping it, I gave it to a friend of mine who was too cheap to buy windshield washer fluid (just kidding bro).

Take out the radiator as well. It's only held in place by two 10mm bolts on the left and right sides.

The 325e engine wiring harness can be removed and discarded since it cannot be used for the conversion. From inside the car, unplug the connector to the ECU (hell, while you're down there, take out the ECU and idle control module [green box]), then pull the wiring harness through the firewall. Trace the wires back to various components such as the ignition coil, oxygen sensor, alternator, fuel injectors, fusebox, airflow meter, throttle position switch, idle control valve, oil pressure switch, coolant temperature sensor, crankshaft sensor, auxiliary relays, etc and disconnect every one of them. You'll want to use a pick to take out the clips that hold the connectors, but you may want to save the clips for later use. (Labeling the connections is somewhat useless since everything is going to be replaced with 325i parts.) Once it's out, toss it aside.

Take out the 2 or 3 bolts that hold the starter onto the transmission and block. You may be able to get it out from there, but if it still doesn't move, don't worry because you can get it when you're taking out the transmission.

Disconnect the two lines heading into the air conditioner compressor. You're basically letting all the stuff in there escape into the atmosphere, and if your A/C is fully charged, then you're going to have to figure out how to keep your R12/R134a in there. Even if you let it escape, it's going to be very, very cold when you take it out, so be sure to take necessary safety precautions. My A/C was completely gone so I just put on some safety goggles, opened the lines half way, waited a few minutes for the pressure to decrease, then took them out. If your compressor is still good, plug the holes so no dirt enters it. Mine was bad so I didn't care. I unbolted it from the car and tossed it into the trash can. (Be careful, all that stuff inside will stain your clothes permanently if it spills.)

Jack up the car and take out the lower transmission/oil pan cover. You'll need an E14 torx female socket and a 10mm socket, I believe. Once that's out, you'll have to drop the tranny to pull the engine out. (Well, you don't have to since I've seen some people pull out the engine with the transmission, but whatever.) In order to drop the tranny, you'll have to drop the driveshaft, and in order to do that, you'll have to take out the exhaust, heatshields, and transmission supports. My exhaust came out very quickly since the catalytic converter wasn't attached to the cylinder head or the manifolds. All I had to do was remove the oxygen sensor (you don't need that anymore), take out the rubber donut, and unscrew the two 10mm muffler hangar bolts. It is helpful to actually jack up the exhaust itself to remove the rubber donut. I removed the entire exhaust assembly as one unit, but I had some assistance. Unplug the oxygen sensor harness (it is hidden behind the metal cover, runs to the battery tray inside the engine bay, and connects to the engine wiring harness). Throw it away or sell it so some poor sap on eBay for $50.

The transmission support comes out by taking out the two 13mm bolts on the left/right sides, then by loosening the 13mm bolts on top of the rubber mounts.

Remove the heatshields by unbolting the two 10mm bolts towards the rear of the car, then all the other 13mm bolts along the sides and front. Watch out for dirt falling into your eyes! Once it's out, take out the two bolts that hold the center support bearing of the driveshaft. I needed to have mine replaced, so I dropped the entire thing. Starting at the differential, I turned the wheels (your car is off the ground, isn't it?) so the 17mm bolts were accessible. A pry bar is necessary to apply force and get the bolts loose. Then remove the 17mm bolts at the front of the driveshaft. The flex disc should come out at the same time.


If your car had a leak at the rear transmission seal like my car did, then you'll probably see a whole lot of sludge built up in that area. Use a good degreaser and scrub it down if you care about how your car's most intimate parts look.

Drain the transmission fluid by removing the plug at the very bottom of the transmission,  which makes things less messier when you take it out. While it's draining, go inside the car and take out the shift boot and knob. Once the tranny is empty, close the plug and place a jack under it. I had my car on a lift so I used a tall screwjack, which I placed just aft of center. From there, take out the crank and speed sensors with a 5mm allen socket. Now, here's something to note: The 325e has these sensors located on the transmission, but the 325i doesn't. The "i" doesn't have the speed sensor connected on the wiring harness and the crank sensor is located on the vibration damper pulley on the front of the engine. You can either remove these sensors and plug the holes or leave them in place but tie them out of sight. I chose the former. Remove all the hex (17mm) and torx bolts (E14) from on the transmission bellhousing (some of them are a nightmare to get to, so just use several extensions, a flexible ratchet, and a breaker bar to get things loose. Air tools are a definite plus here.

Before breaking the transmission loose, make sure that the engine is properly supported so it doesn't fall below the car. Even a piece of wood behind the block and a support jack in front will help, but make sure nobody is under it anyway. Once all the tranny bolts are out, gently rock it back and forth (a friend here will help) and it should slide out. If not, then grab a pry bar to get things loose. If your girlfriend is just standing around looking pretty, put her to use and have her remove the jack under the transmission so you and your friend can move it out.

Now you're ready for the engine to pop out. Double check to see that all the coolant, fuel, electrical, vacuum, brake, power steering, or A/C lines are free and that there is nothing else holding the engine in place. Be careful because if you lean on the engine, it will definitely fall forward. We wanted to use a cherry picker to pull the engine, so removal of the hood is necessary. I took out the clip at the arm of the hood and released the pin so the hood was free from the shock. The windshield washer fluid should be already free, so all there is left are a bunch of 10mm bolts and one ground strap to remove. While you're doing this, have some people hold the hood so it doesn't fall forward or backward. Once the last bolt is free, gently move the hood away from the car and set it down somewhere. If you can, lie it flat, but if you're short on space, lie a bunch of soft rags/towels on the ground so you don't damage the paint.

We rolled the cherry picker towards the motor and attached the straps on the front and rear of the block. One went around a head bolt near the #6 cylinder and the other went around the water pump (hey, it works). For additional reinforcement, we wrapped the timing belt around the cherry picker straps, because as we all know, BMW timing belts are stronger than steel ;).


You're actually supposed to remove the 13mm bolts from the engine mounts to completely free the engine, but mine were so wasted that I just said hell with it and lifted the motor with the mounts still attached. Just like I expected, they tore right out and made life easier for all :). Once the engine was out, we backed it away from the car and pulled off the 13mm bolts from the clutch disc and pressure plate and the 17mm bolts from the flywheel. The pilot bearing also came out quite nicely as well. We also pulled off various parts (such as the power steering pump and A/C bracket) before loading the engine onto a storage truck. Despite the cylinder walls still showing the original factory cross-hatching (even at 221,000 miles!), the outside of the block looked pretty sorry because of various oil and coolant leaks I had.

Coolant leaks on the side...
...and oil leaks on this one. But the piston walls are still good!
In deep thought

Now, with no motor in the car, the front end lifted way up in the air despite the Racing Dynamics lowering springs. (Wonder how high it would be with the stock springs?) Looks like my car is drag racing...all I need to do is Photoshop in some tire smoke and a hood!


Now, is installation of the new engine the typical "opposite of removal?"




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Table of Contents

1.) FAQ

2.) Parts List/Price Guide

3.) Short Block

4.) Cylinder Head/Intake Manifold/Fuel Injection

5.) Engine Removal

6.) Engine Install/Wiring Harness

7.) Cooling/Belts

8.) Tachometer Wiring

9.) Final Thoughts

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