Replace the Accessory Drive Belt on an E36 (1991-1999) 3 Series BMW
1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 BMW 3 Series Models
BMW 3 Series Includes: 316, 318, 320, 323, 325, 328, 330 and M3 .
One of the routine maintenance items that you should perform on your BMW is the checking and replacement of your accessory drive belts. The belts are driven off of the crankshaft and power accessories such as the water pump, power steering pump, alternator and air conditioning compressor. There are typically two belts on the car – one that powers the air conditioning compressor and another that powers everything else. Both should be checked periodically (every 3,000 miles, or when you change your oil), and particular attention should be paid to the main belt. The car can run fine without the air conditioning belt installed.
Some of the early E30 cars use a standard v-belt design, and some of the later cars use what is known as a poly-ribbed belt (having many channels or ribs on the underside of the belt). The poly-ribbed belt setup utilizes a spring-loaded belt tensioner pulley that provides the proper tension for the belt at all times, making adjustment unnecessary. The traditional style v-belts need to be tensioned using standard types of clamps and tensioners.
When inspecting your belts, the one thing that you want to look for is cracks (yellow arrow – Figure 1). If you see any cracks at all, you should replace your belts. The cracks will usually occur on the inside of the belt (the surface that typically rides on the surface of the pulley). With the poly-ribbed belts, this is the grooved surface. With the v-belts, this is the surfaces on the legs of the ‘V’.
View the full DIY at PelicanParts: BMW 3 Series (1991-1999) Accessory Drive Belt Replacement