BMW 3 Series (1999-2005) Cabin Air Filter Replacement DIY

Replace the Cabin Air Filter on a E46 (1999-2005) BMW 3 Series

Works For:
1999 BMW 3 Series
2000 BMW 3 Series
2001 BMW 3 Series
2002 BMW 3 Series
2003 BMW 3 Series
2004 BMW 3 Series
2005 BMW 3 Series

3 Series Includes:  316, 318, 320, 323, 325, 328, 330 and M3 .

Video Tutorial

Source: MillerTimeBMW

Picture Tutorial

Source: M3MadRussian

Step 1: Getting the required items together

This install requires:

  • 1 Air Filter (if using an OEM, then use part #13 72 1 730 946)
  • A BMW M3 (E46).
  • 10 – 20 minutes of free time.

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Step 2: Locate the Air Cleaner Housing

  • Open the hood.
  • Locate the air filter housing (box) (see image).

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Step 3: Unlock Air Box Retaining Clips

  • There are 2 silver clips located on the side of the air box facing the fender (see image).
  • Unlock these by pushing them toward the fender.

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Step 4: Open the Air Box

  • Once the retaining clips are unlocked lift that side of the housing up about an inch.
  • The other side of the box is retained in place by a set of plastic tabs (see image).
  • While lifting the clip side of the box, gently slide the upper portion of the box toward the fender.
  • Once you have moved the upper part of the box far enough (3/4″ or so) the tabs will release and allow you lift the upper part of the air box housing.
  • DO NOT TRY TO PULL THE TOP OFF COMPLETELY! The upper portion of the air box is connected to the intake and the air flow sensor. If you try to pull it out of the car you will tear these items loose or worse. You only need to be able to lift up the top about 2 or 3″ to complete this install.

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Step 5: Removing old filter and installing the new one

  • The old filter will simply lift out of the box.
  • Install the new filter the same way as the old one was oriented (long side down into the box).
  • Once the new filter is in, place the top of the air box over the filter and gently slide it sideways to fit the plastic tabs into the bottom of the housing.
  • Once the tabs are in, check to see that filter is still seated properly and then close the box and snap the retaining clips back into place.
  • Note: New Air Filters tend to have a thicker gasket than the older version making it a royal pain in the ass to close the top of the air box – patience and a little elbow grease maybe required.

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