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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
Hey all,

I just finished up an S85 starter replacement on a 2008 M6 at my shop. There's not a ton of info on the job and since BMW took down newtis.info, I figured I'd post some info on it here.

The starter itself is not terribly expensive, it's around $180 or so for a new Valeo unit— that's what BMW used from the factory. It's a pretty normal-looking starter, but what makes it less normal is where it's placed. It's located in the valley of the V10, underneath everything. Perplexingly, BMW decided to bolt it in from the transmission side, so there's a whole procedure to getting the three bolts out to remove the starter.

This DIY assumes you're reasonably savvy with working on an S85. A lot of the initial steps will not be in great detail as there is plenty of info on stuff like removing the plenum, air filter boxes, etc. Book time is right around 8 hours so plan on a bit more than that, especially if this is your first time doing it. I have a lift at my shop but all of this is totally doable on jack stands, just a bit more work.

Let's start from the top:

1. Disconnect the battery.

2. Remove anything that's in the way of the plenums. That would be the engine air filters (top and bottom pieces), cabin filters, support braces, etc. Highlighted below is what I removed for this job.



3. Remove the power cable from the engine (highlighted in pic below). Then remove the two 10mm bolts holding the expansion tank in place. Move the expansion tank out of the way and disconnect the coolant level sensor. You don't need to open the cooling system, the lines are flexible enough.





4. With all of that out of the way, you now have good access to the 10 hose clamps that hold the plenum onto each of the throttle bodies. Use a long flathead screwdriver to loosen each of them. BMW designed the plenum in a pretty clever way so the hose clamps are always in the right place to be accessed. After that, unhook the two ICV hoses at the front of each plenum, it's a pinch connector and a little bit of persuasion with a flathead will do the trick to getting them loose. Then there are two rubber hoses on each side of the plenum, one will have a spring-style hose clamp and the other will usually have an Oetiker clamp. Use some pliers to move the spring-style hose clamp and some cutters to cut the Oetiker clamps (you'll replace them later). Edited FR: No need to cut the oetiker clamps - release using quick-release connectors on other hsoe end. There are two rather brittle connectors at the very back of the plenum with pinch connectors, carefully disconnect them and push them out of the way a bit. Lastly, there's a rubber coupler that holds the two halves of the plenum together, use a flathead to wedge it off. Depending on what car it is, there also may be a wiring harness hooked into the passenger side plenum, lift it up a bit to unhook it and put it behind the plenum. Pull up on the plenums firmly and they should come right out. If they're not coming out, double check that everything is removed— don't go poking the rubber ITB connectors with a flathead!



5. With the plenums removed, you'll see the ITB's and all the wiring that's normally hidden. Take a moment to appreciate the engineering, and then move on to removing the big electrical box that runs down the middle. Disconnect everything that's connected to the electrical box— it's fairly self-explanatory. Try not to break the connectors, they can be rather brittle. To properly remove the electrical box out of the way for proper access, you'll also need to disconnect all the ignition coil connectors, cam sensors, injector connectors, ionic module connectors, etc. Once everything is loose, undo the two 10mm bolts in the front of the electrical box; one is in the middle and one is on the driver's side. Then undo the two 10mm nuts at the back of the electrical box, you can't really see them but you can find them by feel. With the electrical box freed up a bit, you can now access the 13mm nut on the starter that connects to the positive cable— remove it. After that, the electrical box should be free to move, so carefully maneuver it out of the valley and over to the passenger side of the engine bay. Now you've got fantastic access to everything.





6. The next thing to be removed is the passenger side idle control valve (ICV). The two hoses going to it have hose clamps, easy enough to remove. Then remove 3 10mm nuts and that'll free up the ICV. It's a little bit of a pain to get out of there as it's a tight fit, but it will come out with a little fiddling if you're patient. There's a little gasket plate on the side with the nuts and one on the side going into the head, keep track of those. The o-ring on the ICV is a good idea to replace as well.



7. Now you can see the starter! You might get excited, thinking you're almost done. Sorry to crush all your hopes and dreams but you've got a lot more work ahead. BMW in their infinite wisdom placed the 3 bolts holding in the starter on the transmission side. You can't even really see them looking down the back of the engine, and even if you could, good luck getting those bolts loose— 2 of them are extremely tight and will require a hefty breaker bar. The trick to getting those is to angle the transmission down, so follow along.



8. Remove all the underbody panels and the metal skid plate.

9. Remove the exhaust. In most cases it'll be a large single piece from the headers back, so have a friend help you or use a tall transmission jack if you're working on your own. Bonus round, if you're working on a convertible you'll get to remove half a dozen support braces first.



10. Remove all the heat shields until you can see the transmission and driveshaft.

11. Remove the driveshaft. You'll need to support the transmission with a transmission jack so that you can remove the crossmember to access the nuts on the flex disc (giubo/guibo) bolts. Those should be 18mm. With those removed, you can move onto removing the e-torx bolts at the differential flange, those are an E12 if I'm not mistaken. Once those are removed, you can remove the two 13mm bolts at the CSB, but mark the location of the CSB first as it needs to go back in the exact same place during reassembly. With the CSB loosened, the driveshaft will start falling down, support it and use a pry bar to lever it away from the differential flange.

12. With everything out of the way, you can use the transmission jack to lower the back of the transmission down. That will also tilt the engine along with it, so be mindful of that (that's also why you remove everything up top first). Once you've got it tiled enough, put your head up into the transmission tunnel and you'll finally be able to see those 3 bolts holding the starter in, at the very top of the transmission bellhousing (see picture). One of them is a 5mm allen bolt, and the other two are E12 e-torx bolts. You'll need about 4 feet of extension to reach those bolts, but thankfully it's a pretty straight shot so you don't need to bust out the wobbles or U-joints. Depending on your tool setup you may be able to use an impact to break those bolts loose, but if you're using a bunch of smaller extensions combined like I was, that may not work. In that case, a breaker bar with a cheater pipe is a good bet. Just do your best to not strip the bolts, as they are an absolute nightmare to remove if that happens. The e-torx bolts are very tight whereas the 5mm allen bolt is much more reasonable. Once you fish the bolts out, lift the transmission back up into its normal position, and reinstall the crossmember.





13. Moving back up into the engine bay, you'll now find the starter laying loosely in the valley. Now you can finally retrieve your hard-earned prize and go get a soda (or beverage of your choice). Putting the new starter into the valley, you'll find that there aren't any alignment dowels to keep the starter in the right spot... excellent. My trick was to use a large flathead to wedge the starter into the right position which I roughly eyeballed. You can use a punch or thin screwdriver to align the starter by its bolt holes.







14. Moving back under the car, reinstall the 3 bolts and tighten them. Just get them good and tight— the torque spec is 42nm/~31 ft/lb for the two E12 bolts. The 5mm is just hand tight, don't overdo it.

As for the rest, it's pretty much the reverse of disassembly. The wiring harness goes back together super easily, just make sure to plug everything in properly. One thing that's worth checking before everything is back together is the main power cable going to the starter— it's known for corroding and can prevent the starter from working correctly, causing all sorts of annoying CAS errors. I cleaned and tested it on the car I worked on (see pic) and it had a good bit of corrosion even on this 59k mile car that's lived its whole life in rust-free climates.



Let me know if y'all have any questions, I'd be happy to clarify any of the details if needed. Thanks for reading, I hope it was helpful!
 

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Wow, second that, excellent write up! definitely needs to be in the DIY section
 

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Very nice write up. I like how you did the highlighting in the 1st photo. Any special tricks you used? I assume you did this in Photoshop with magic wand?

A tip to save on book time or for others that will do this, there’s no need to remove the strut tower brace. It doesn’t get in the way of anything or give any better access.

All of the hoses going to the plenums are the quick release squeeze clamps and be careful not to damage them with pliers since they are part of the hose itself and you may have to replace the entire hose if they break. If you have one that has over 80k miles one way to tell if the prior mechanics/owners were careful is to see if those plastic clamps are intact. Often they’re not, based on the engines I have. Those hoses are very expensive, especially the one that goes to the front of the plenum from the IAC. if they’re not intact they will not seal properly and you can get codes from the air leakage.

The 2 rear PCV hoses on each of the sides of the plenum actually can be removed on the other end of the hose, they are also the quick release plastic squeeze clamps, however the access is very tight and you may need to use some wire or string to help pull it out square when removing from the top of the cylinder head cover. Once you’ve done this a few times you get the hang of it and no need to cut the Oetiker clamp off. I think most DIYs won’t have a pair of Oetiker clamp crimpers anyways, but my cars had worm clamps on them, which is the telltale indicator that the plenums have been removed before (I presume any M5 over 40k mikes has had the plenums off before).

Another thing is that you don’t need to remove the driveshaft, although it helps a lot so you can stick you head in the tunnel and see the 3 bolts you need to get at. The trick is using a cheap USB cable endoscope camera and laptop /phone to give you a view of the bolts. You can just undo the 2 CSB bolts and remove the bolts to the body for the on the rear trans brace and that will let the trans tilt down with the drive shaft hooked up on both ends. this avoids the added time and cost since tightening the guibo bolts are a major PITA, especially if this is done on jack stands. The 6 guibo nuts and bolts have to be replaced, and those are like $10 each for a nut and bolt combo.

for cars that have been exposed to humidity and salt (cars that have not spent their lives in the southwest) the starter is usually pretty firmly seated in the block after 10-14 years. there will be some of the typical white aluminum oxide that will bind the starter body to the block. You may need to hit the starter with a hammer to get it out. The last car I did was from FL. The two others I’ve done were cars that were driven year round in the north. A solid whack was required.

IMO it makes no sense to NOT replace the starter when the trans is dropped for clutch service. All the work that is required to drop the trans is the same as outlined here. The replacement interval is really the same and as OP stated these are actually cheap.

Finally, the aluminum belly plate can be left in place, this reinforces the subframe to reduce chassis flex, but the engine tilts fine since it’s on the engine mounts. The bolts and nuts that secure the plate to the subframe are supposed to be replaced and that can save time and money since it can be left in place.
 

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I thought strut braces need to come off to get plenums off?
 

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Not on the M5, and seems as that area is 100% the same with M6. I know on one of mine the PO removed it a few times as the torx heads were starting to strip and were way under torqued too. I was wondering why ppl seem to remove it, perhaps that’s what TIS says? I’ve never actually looked, but again you don’t need to remove it.
 

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I was just in there to change out my PVC valves and TA gears. I thought I would pull the starter and give it some love but as you illustrate that is just the beginning. Nice work.
 

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Odds are this is a job you’ll never have to do again, but wondering about the possibility of threading the bolt holes, drilling out the starter and going from the other direction with the new unit? Would there be enough meat on that plate for threads to properly grab onto?

Probably ugly and not worth it though, you’ve already done all the work to get to them and last thing you’d want to do is send a bunch of metal shavings into the bell housing. Looks like a PM job for anyone doing a clutch/smg refresh.
 

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Nice write-up using the official manual method. I'll sticky later.

Imo more interesting is the other diy that replaced the starter all from the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for sharing 👏
All the work just for a starter replacement... maybe they thought the starter was immortal!!
Thanks! Yeah, that's typical BMW, thinking their parts are immortal.

Excellent write-up! I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Why I love this forum so much.
I've been fortunate enough to use a lot of the DIY's on this forum in the E60 and E39 section in the past, so I wanted to give something back since I'm working on these cars as my full-time job now.

Wow, second that, excellent write up! definitely needs to be in the DIY section
Thanks!

Very nice write up. I like how you did the highlighting in the 1st photo. Any special tricks you used? I assume you did this in Photoshop with magic wand?

A tip to save on book time or for others that will do this, there’s no need to remove the strut tower brace. It doesn’t get in the way of anything or give any better access.

All of the hoses going to the plenums are the quick release squeeze clamps and be careful not to damage them with pliers since they are part of the hose itself and you may have to replace the entire hose if they break. If you have one that has over 80k miles one way to tell if the prior mechanics/owners were careful is to see if those plastic clamps are intact. Often they’re not, based on the engines I have. Those hoses are very expensive, especially the one that goes to the front of the plenum from the IAC. if they’re not intact they will not seal properly and you can get codes from the air leakage.

The 2 rear PCV hoses on each of the sides of the plenum actually can be removed on the other end of the hose, they are also the quick release plastic squeeze clamps, however the access is very tight and you may need to use some wire or string to help pull it out square when removing from the top of the cylinder head cover. Once you’ve done this a few times you get the hang of it and no need to cut the Oetiker clamp off. I think most DIYs won’t have a pair of Oetiker clamp crimpers anyways, but my cars had worm clamps on them, which is the telltale indicator that the plenums have been removed before (I presume any M5 over 40k mikes has had the plenums off before).

Another thing is that you don’t need to remove the driveshaft, although it helps a lot so you can stick you head in the tunnel and see the 3 bolts you need to get at. The trick is using a cheap USB cable endoscope camera and laptop /phone to give you a view of the bolts. You can just undo the 2 CSB bolts and remove the bolts to the body for the on the rear trans brace and that will let the trans tilt down with the drive shaft hooked up on both ends. this avoids the added time and cost since tightening the guibo bolts are a major PITA, especially if this is done on jack stands. The 6 guibo nuts and bolts have to be replaced, and those are like $10 each for a nut and bolt combo.

for cars that have been exposed to humidity and salt (cars that have not spent their lives in the southwest) the starter is usually pretty firmly seated in the block after 10-14 years. there will be some of the typical white aluminum oxide that will bind the starter body to the block. You may need to hit the starter with a hammer to get it out. The last car I did was from FL. The two others I’ve done were cars that were driven year round in the north. A solid whack was required.

IMO it makes no sense to NOT replace the starter when the trans is dropped for clutch service. All the work that is required to drop the trans is the same as outlined here. The replacement interval is really the same and as OP stated these are actually cheap.

Finally, the aluminum belly plate can be left in place, this reinforces the subframe to reduce chassis flex, but the engine tilts fine since it’s on the engine mounts. The bolts and nuts that secure the plate to the subframe are supposed to be replaced and that can save time and money since it can be left in place.
Yep, Photoshop magic wand tool. I used to be a graphic designer/web developer prior to becoming a BMW tech, and sometimes it shows.

Those are all valid points, and a good contribution to this thread. That's the kind of knowledge that I love seeing shared :)

I simply did it the TIS way, as that's proven to be the fastest way for me from my experience— every time I take a shortcut I end up regretting it. I did it under 8 hours so I didn't really need to skip any steps to beat the book time, I've just done all of these things a bunch before (driveshaft removal, exhaust removal, etc).

Not on the M5, and seems as that area is 100% the same with M6. I know on one of mine the PO removed it a few times as the torx heads were starting to strip and were way under torqued too. I was wondering why ppl seem to remove it, perhaps that’s what TIS says? I’ve never actually looked, but again you don’t need to remove it.
TIS does suggest removing the bracing actually, so that's what I went with. My general philosophy is that if it's in the way it gets removed. As long as nothing is damaged while doing so, I don't see any harm in it. I torque everything to spec and have most specs memorized at this point so it really doesn't add much time.

Nice write-up using the official manual method. I'll sticky later.

Imo more interesting is the other diy that replaced the starter all from the top.
Yep, I saw the other DIY to do it from the top after I wrote this one, but I followed TIS. Two ways to do it, I suppose. I did contemplate doing it all from the top but I couldn't fathom how to get my tools into that tight of a space... maybe there's more room in an E60 M5 engine bay than on this E64 M6 convertible. Those bolts were extremely tight— I had to break them loose with a large breaker bar. I imagine it would be worst in a car with corrosion.

I greatly enjoyed your diy and I sincerely hope I never have to use it.
That's the hope! In a lot of cases just cleaning the positive terminal that goes to the starter will work, so I encourage people to try that first before doing everything else. In my case the terminal was not the issue and it was an actually dead starter.
 

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Dang. This belongs in the Sticky! Calling @flacoramos. Sticky on aisle DIY!
 

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Hi everyone new here and to bmw but i just bought an 07 m6 and i had to change the starter but i figured out a trick. That will save half the work thought i mite save some people a lot of time/and or 💰 any ways.

What i did once you get all the stuff taken off from the top of engine there is two 7mm long bolts that bolt the starter motor to the part with the bendix.

All you do is remove those two bolts pull the starter off from top super easy and fast you don't have to touch the three bolts on the back side or drop any motor or trans. So that's it hope it helps.
Sorry no pics
 

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Hi everyone new here and to bmw but i just bought an 07 m6 and i had to change the starter but i figured out a trick. That will save half the work thought i mite save some people a lot of time/and or 💰 any ways.

What i did once you get all the stuff taken off from the top of engine there is two 7mm long bolts that bolt the starter motor to the part with the bendix.

All you do is remove those two bolts pull the starter off from top super easy and fast you don't have to touch the three bolts on the back side or drop any motor or trans. So that's it hope it helps.
Sorry no pics
If I'm picturing what you described correctly then this allows to swap the bendix but not the motor itself as it's still bolted to the engine/trans. Correct?
 

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Just the electric part of the motor comes off.
Wich i think in most cases is the only part of the starter that goes bad. Again just a beginner in the world of bimmer
 
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