How to Replace a Cabin Air Filter in a BMW 3 Series

Written by leonardo r. grabkowski
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BMW vehicles are known for their German engineering. They're also known for being technologically advanced and difficult to work on for the typical home mechanics. Fortunately, this is not true for all maintenance and repair procedures. Replacing the cabin air filter in your BMW 3 Series (E46, 1999 to 2005) is a quick and easy procedure. The process takes less than five minutes; no tools are required. BMW recommends replacing the cabin air filter every 12,000 miles.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Replacement cabin air filter

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  1. 1

    Purchase the correct replacement filter. BMW uses a charcoal activated filter for its 3 Series. You may be able to purchase an aftermarket substitute at an automotive parts store, but you can purchase a factory replacement at your BMW dealer.

  2. 2

    Shut the engine off and pull the hood release. Locate the cabin air filter cover in the rear part of the engine compartment, right beneath the windshield (it extends to the width of the engine bay).

  3. 3

    Twist the three fasteners counterclockwise to unhook the cabin air filter cover. Once the fasteners are loosened, pull the entire cover up and set to the side.

  4. 4

    Pull the old filter out of the compartment. It's clearly visible with the cover removed. Inspect the compartment for foreign items and debris; remove them, if applicable.

  5. 5

    Insert the replacement filter into the compartment. Position the cabin air filter cover back in place and turn the three fasteners clockwise to secure it.

Tips and warnings

  • This procedure is applicable to the BMW 3 Series coupe, sedan and sports wagon.

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