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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hydraulic Tensioner Installed

(Image: Closeup of parts associated with the hydraulic accessory belt tensioner)

While I had planned to finish up the driver's door overhaul two weeks ago, after waiting almost three weeks for the door handle assembly to arrive I was informed that there were 40 open orders for the assemblies and BMW was waiting for their supplier to deliver new parts to them for coding. On Thursday I was told that the assemblies had arrived at BMW, they had started filling the orders, and I should see the new handle, fully coded, sometime this coming week. I have all the other parts I think I'll need for the job, so that means I should be able to wrap this up next weekend and get the E36 back into daily driver mode.

News of the delay, of course, left me with more than enough time this weekend to complete the hydraulic tensioner swap. I found the task old hat at this point, but that's not to say it was without its purplexing moments, however, including a bit of head scratching trying to figure out exactly how to mount the tensioner to the block. As it turns out, the hydraulic tensioner baseplate is secured to the block using three threaded holes. It abandons one of the holes used by the mechanical tensioner and and selects another hole, as yet unused.

When I attempted to test fit the bolt into the "unused" hole, I found it would not thread in more than 2-3 threads before stopping with more resistance than I could overcome with hand pressure. I took that as a sign to mean I had to clean out the threads, which I did quickly with a combination of brake cleaner, some Zep lube, and about ten attempts to alternately screw and unscrew the bolt into the block until it fully seated. After that, it was pretty much plug and play. Lacking any official torque specs, I just tightenend everything to feel, which is exactly what I did during last year's accessory overhaul.

The picture shows the three holes in the block used for the hydraulic tensioner (arrows 1, 2, and 3) with the bottom hole (arrow 3) being the "unused" hole I had to clean out (Note: this is the "before" picture). For orientation, note the crank pully / balancer on the left (arrow 4) and alternator on the right (arrow 5). Sorry for the non-centered picture...it was difficult to take pictures accurately with the camera wedged in the small space between the engine and radiator.

After I reassembled everything short of the engine driven fan, alternator cooling duct and airbox, I started the engine for the first time in three weeks. Once I verified the new tensioner and pullies were perfectly quiet, I shutdown the engine and wrapped up the job.

Book labor for this task is reportedly 1.2 hours and I completed the task in about an hour and a half, but I wasn't exactly interested in rushing. I'll translate that into $155 labor saved.

Mileage: 208880, Labor Saved: $155