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Roger, BMW Master Tech
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 5890
Experience:  10 yrs. experience as BMW Master Technician, shop foreman and dealer.
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Replace a starter motor on my 2003 BMW 540i (E39)? Is it a DIY job?

Resolved Question:

How do I replace a starter motor on my 2003 BMW 540i (E39)? Is it a DIY job?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: BMW
Expert:  Roger replied 6 years ago.

Hello and welcome to


My name is XXXXX XXXXX I would be glad to help you with this.


It does help to have a lift to do this repair but this can be a DIY job. Working on the ground is always difficult for maneuverability but the starter can be changed this way.


Can I have the last seven digits of the vehicle identification number and I will post some instructions that should help.



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The complete VIN is: WBADN63423GS57402
Expert:  Roger replied 6 years ago.

The first thing to do is to make sure the battery is disconnected. The starter is on the passenger side under the vehicle. The heat shield might have to come down to access the starter easier.



The starter is dropped out right from under the vehicle. On your vehicle the exhaust does not need to be removed.







Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks. Do I need any special sockets to unfasten the starter bolts?
Expert:  Roger replied 6 years ago.

If my memory serves me right, you will need some Etorx sockets. The normal size range that we use is E10 and E12.


I set usually included e8 and up.


I hope this helps :)

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi Roger,

Everything was going smoothly until I got to the upper bolt holding the starter. I just spent two hours trying to undo it. There is no enough room to swing the ratchet, because the exhaust manifold stands is in the way. How difficult would it be to take the manifold down? The nuts are quite rusty. Is there a danger of shearing the studs? Will I have to replace the gaskets?

Thanks in anticipation.



Expert:  Roger replied 6 years ago.

Hello Jerry,


It would not be a good idea to remove the manifold due to the rust and the gaskets would have to be replaced. I think the manifold removal will lead to more problems.


I would recommend a swivel socket or and Etorx with a swivel built in and some extensions. Hopefully you will be able to get the angle you need.


Let me know how it goes. I hope it comes free for you!

Roger and 5 other BMW Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thanks Roger. I'll give it a try tomorrow, but I accept your answer today.


Expert:  Roger replied 6 years ago.

Thank you Jerry.


I hope it comes free easy tomorrow! I know how bad it is working on the ground. Been there many times. One day I will get a lift at home too :) It makes life so much easier!