BMW 3 Series (1991-1999) Fuel Pump Replacement

Replace the Fuel Pump on an E36 (1991-1999) 3 Series BMW

Works For:
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 .

I was planning on writing a technical article on the fuel pump replacement, but was unfortunately “forced” into it when the pump in my E36 3-Series died on us in Las Vegas last year.  We spent all night trying to figure out why the car wasn’t starting, checking ignition, electrical components, etc.  Then we decided to check the fuel pump.  We pulled out the rear seat, and pulled off the fuel pump cover.  Surprise – the pump was not making any noise or vibration when we tried starting the car.  Disconnecting the electrical harness and checking the voltage supplied to the pump revealed a healthy 12 volts – the problem was definitely with the pump.

Luckily for us, one of Pelican Parts’ suppliers had a warehouse a mere two miles away, and we were able to obtain a new pump the next morning.  We then set out to perform the arduous procedure of a fuel pump replacement in the parking lot of our hotel!  Needless to say these weren’t ideal circumstances for performing this repair, but I thought I would document what we did, as you may find yourself in a similar predicament if your fuel pump fails on you.

A little background is in order here.  This particular car had been sitting for an entire year, as I slowly performed a head gasket replacement on it.  I had put about 500 or so miles on it since the head gasket replacement, but the gas that was sitting in the tank probably still had some old gas mixed in there.  While we were tooling around in Vegas, I let the gas level get really, really low in the tank.  Then I filled up and let the car sit for about an hour.  When we came back to the car to get some dinner, the car would not start and (as we found out later on) the fuel pump wasn’t working.  My conclusion here (and also after looking at the pump as it came out of the car) was that running the car very low on gas was a bad thing, as it allows a lot of dirt and debris to be sucked up into the pump mechanism.  So the moral of this story is to make sure that you don’t run your car very low on gas.

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