BMW 533i Starter Replacement

Two bolts secure the starter to the area where the bell housing and engine meet. Follow service manual instructions regarding ancillary systems that need to be removed to provide access to the starter bolts. The reserve/overflow tank for the engine cooling system and several heater hoses on the firewall are best removed.

The bolt heads are in indentations on the starter. Try your wrenches or sockets on the replacement starter with an extra 10mm shaft bolt (17mm head) to learn what will fit.

Lower Bolt:
I used a Craftsman 17mm Socket, 6-point Universal Flex (Item #: 00943208000) with several extensions and a breaker bar for the lower bolt. This is a shallow socket combined with a 3/8" universal. It is difficult to keep the socket on the bolt but it can be done. If I had it to do again, I would use a solution similar to that I used for the upper bolt.

Upper Bolt:
Use the Heyco 12-point 17mm x 19mm flat thin box wrench included in the BMW trunk toolkit. Purchase a heat treated 8.8 (hardened) 12mm shaft bolt and nut. Both the bolt and nut should measure 19mm on the surface of the hex. Obtain another 19mm box wrench with as little offset as possible.

Place a light at the driver side center firewall facing the area under the #6 cylinder intake manifold. Looking from the passenger side through the space between the 5th and 6th intake manifold, you will see the upper starter bolt head.

I used a cut wire coat hanger and air compressor with hose airjet attachment to clean the bolt head area so I could fully seat the Heyco wrench on the bolt head. My wrench seems to have a very slight bend at the box so I had best range with "Heyco" facing the firewall. Try the wrench on the bolt at various clock positions to determine available range. Make certain the wrench is fully seated on the bolt head.

Now fully seat the wrench in the right most position as you will be turning it counterclockwise. Fully seat the nut on the 12mm shaft bolt that you obtained for the project. Put the 19mm bolt head in the Heyco wrench with the bolt stub toward the firewall and place the other 19mm box wrench on the firewall side of the Heyco wrench while engaging the exposed nut. Again make certain the Heyco wrench is fully seated on the starter bolt and that the wrench shaft is pressed against the intake manifold near the 19mm end. Now using your 19mm wrench for leverage, carefully with increasing pressure pull the wrenches so the bolt is rotated counterclockwise. If you have fully tightened the extra bolt and nut, all your initial effort will be transfered to the starter bolt. Mine came out with little effort.

I considered many alternative approaches and purchased various special purpose tools. The key is well seating the Heyco wrench and adding effective stable leverage by using an extra bolt/nut to add a second wrench. I normally would have used a cresent wrench as a cheater but I was extremely concerned about stripping the bolt head.

Breaking the starter free:
I tapped the starter with a pipe near the end farthest from the firewall. I then used a flat bar to pry the starter away from the engine. It came free easily despite 22 years and almost 170,000 miles on the Maine coast.

Remember this article documents my experience and frustrations. I take no responsibility for the ill advised activities of others.

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