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BMW DIY Video – Spark Plug And Coil Replacement, 4-Valve Engines (V8 and 6-Cylinder)

September 8, 2010

All 6-cylinder and V8 models, 1992 and later (except 535i and 735i), use a Direct Ignition system (also known as “coil-on-plug”). In this system, individual ignition coils for each spark plug are mounted directly above the plugs. As a result, BMW models with Direct Ignition do not have the distributor cap, rotor and spark plug wires that many of us grew up with.

BMW models with “Direct Ignition” use two basic designs for the coils; “bolt-in” and “pencil style”.  This DIY covers the bolt-in coils (bolt-in coils will have either square or round coil upper sections) that are used on the earlier 6-cylinder and V8 models. See our other DIY vieos for the later pencil-style coils in 6-cylinders and V8s.  Click the links below:

* Click HERE for DIY Video for Pencil coils in V8 engines (N62)

* Click HERE for DIY Video for Specific Pencil coil install points

Follow along with our DIY video (below) as we show you how to replace the spark plugs, boots and/or coils on a 2001 3.0 Z3. This is the M54 6-cylinder engine, with the bolt-in coils. The earlier M50, M52, S50, S52 and the later M56 and S54 6-cylinder as well as the V8 M60 and M62 models, will be similar. Later models will use the pencil-style coils. In this case, see the DIY video referenced above.

On models with Direct Ignition systems, BMW recommends 100,000 miles before changing the spark plugs. We believe this is part of an industry-wide effort by car manufacturers to make their “cost of ownership” figures look better to potential buyers and consumer reporting agencies.  All this may mislead one into assuming that no standard “tune-up” maintenance is required on these engines.  This is simply not the case. Now that these Direct Ignition systems have been out in the real world for several years, we are seeing specific areas where ignition tune-up maintenance is needed. We are finding that, for better fuel mileage, better performance and longer catalytic converter life, it’s a good idea to change the spark plugs sooner than the recommended 100,000 miles. Additionally, the rubber boots that connect the spark plugs to the coils are deteriorating. This allows sparks to arc to the spark plug tube walls, creating misfires.  One of the most common “check engine” fault codes Otto is asked about is “Random Misfire.”  When this code is generated, a common cause is faulty spark plug connector boots.

Another cause for the “Random Misfire” fault code is a leaking valve cover gasket. If the rubber seals for the spark plug tubes begin to leak, engine oil can collect in the tubes. This creates the possibility of a misfire due to the spark arcing from the connector boot.  Given these reports of failures and poor performance, we are recommending a simple tune-up on Direct Ignition systems between 60,000 and 75,000 miles. Performing this tune-up is relatively easy and straightforward, and the cost ranges from $100 to $250, depending on the number of cylinders, etc.

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  1. Damien permalink

    Nice Post!

  2. Ron Brackett permalink

    I did not realize how easy it is to change plugs. boots and coils on my 03 530I. I think I will be doing this in the near future.

  3. Mike Piela permalink

    Strongly recommend re-installing the oil cap when working on the coil overs. This simple act can avoid having to fish nuts, bolts, etc out of the area beneath the valve cover.

    • Thanks for the helpful suggestion. A simple step that certainly can prevent much grief!

  4. Hecky100 permalink

    Very Good!!!

  5. Kevin Faust permalink

    Great post! And thanks for the tip, Mike Piela! :)

  6. Fred permalink

    I chnaged my spark plugs and did an oil change on my 2000 BMW 528 with 180000 miles and my high way milage went up to 27.8 miles per gallon. I also have nitrogen in my tires

  7. Josh permalink

    What spark plugs do you recommend for a 2001 325i?

    • We recommend, and use, the original Bosch replacement spark plugs for our BMWs. The Bosch replacement plugs are the same ones that BMW originally installs, but without the BMW box or emblem (or price tag!) on them. For your 2001 325i, this would be the 4417 Platinum Plus-4.

      Click HERE for spark plugs

  8. Emilio Baez permalink

    I just finished removing all spark plugs and coils from 2007 BMW 550i (v8), I spent over 3 hours. The first 3 coils on each side any human can easily take them out, but the 2 next the firewall, if you are not really enthusiastic about the job you are doing, there is a big chance you will get frustated, at least i did. The 6 cilinder engine is a piece of cake

    • Would you like to share any points in how you accessed the rear plugs (that gave you trouble) on your V8? We’re sure that other owners would like to hear about it.

  9. Matt C permalink

    Now I know I can do this

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