BMW E36 Blog

Changing BMW E36 Microfilter . . . DIY!

3rd December 2007

Changing BMW E36 Microfilter . . . DIY!

posted in Do It Yourself, Interior, Technical Info, Tips & Tricks |

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Hi, I’ve found this DIY (Do It Yourself) about how to replace your BMW E36 Microfilter and I thought I should share it with you guys. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the microfilter. It’s the part which is responsible for cleaning (filtering) the air which is going inside the car from outside while your fan (or condition A/C) is running. I hope you find it useful. Finally, I just want to thank old skool the original author of this DIY.



Disclaimer: Use this info at your own risk!! I’m not responsible if this didn’t work for you :-).

IMPORTANT: This DIY is based on left hand drive cars. If you have a right hand drive E36, you’re supposed to access the filter from the right, not from the left

The first step is to remove the glovebox. Read here about Removing BMW E36 Glove box

After the glovebox is removed, you will want to remove the plastic air vents that feed the footwell in order to gain better access to the microfilter compartment.

To do this you need to push down on the back of the plastic vents to release a vertical clip holding it up. You can see it in this picture:

Just forward of the purple wire in the clear plastic covering you see a vertical post near where the plastic is coated with insulation.

The second clip can’t be seen as it is on the underside of the vents inside the vent right at the center of the car. To remove this press up from the bottom until it pops out and then pull away from the center of the car to release the snap fitting of the vent and then wiggle it out and towards the front of the car to clear the metal frame that it is tightly fitted into.

Now you have to remove this. There is a release clip at the top center. Pull left in the picture and then push up on the unit to remove it.

Here it is removed and you can see the release clip in the middle and the other two slide clips on either side.

(Some people have another black tray attached to the top of this clip. You will have to remove the top tray first. In order to do this, you slide the top tray back as far as it will go and then lift up. You can see the 3-4 sets of grooves in this picture. Installation is the opposite of removal.)

Here is the console it fits into. You can see how it attaches.

Now this is the access to the microfilter. Up is the front of the car, right is the floor, left is the hvac core.

Twist this and pull it out to expose the microfilter.
Push the black tab shown on the filter towards the front of the car to release the foam seal. Then pull away from the center of the car to remove it. The frame is broken in three places and will make a bit of a mess…just keep pulling and working at it until it is removed.

here it is. Yuck!

To insert the new one, simply break it in the three obvious place on the plastic frame so that you can carefully feed it in the opening and clear all the components under the dash. When it is in, just press it towards the front of the car to fit the foam seal. Reinstall the cover and twist in the opposite direction to secure it. Then simply reinstall all the pieces of the dash.


Are you looking for more do it yourself procedures (DIY) ? I recommend the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual for you. I got it and I think it’s a gold mine for us -BMW E36 Owners-. If you didn’t grab your copy yet, get it right now! I’m sure you’ll find this book worth every penny you’ve paid for. Get the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual

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There are currently 8 responses to “Changing BMW E36 Microfilter . . . DIY!”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On April 9th, 2008, edgar chen said:


    I just came upon your website, and I think it’s great. I have a US Spec 96 328is with OEM headlamps. I tried adjusting them tonight turning both screws with a 6mm allen wrench. The screws turned but the lamp remained fixed. My left lamp is too low, and it’s a bit too centered. Can you help please?

    The two screws I tried turning are white in color and they are attached to the headlamp assembly. Are these the correct ones? Could they be broken? Thanks for your help in advance!


  2. 2 On May 7th, 2008, Grumpy said:

    You fail to mention that this site is based on a left hand drive !
    I ripped out all my glove box and couldnt find the filter.
    If you said it is located in the middle of the car with access to it from the right side I could have done it in less than 10 mins
    end of rant

  3. 3 On May 7th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    Hi Grumpy,

    I’m really sorry about this! I will update the post to mention this for the future visitors.

    sorry again.

  4. 4 On May 12th, 2008, Grumpy said:

    no worries thanks

  5. 5 On September 6th, 2008, Eric said:

    I have learned that one should use information put out on websites as an addition to that found in the Bentley manual. I feel for Grumpy, but if he does not have a Bentley manual he will have bigger issues ahead.


    “We never have the time to do it right, but we always have the time to do it over…:

  6. 6 On November 16th, 2008, cabrioman said:

    Did it yesterday and it took about half an hour. One note – my car is a vert and the glove box door locks with the rest of the car so there are a couple extra wires to keep track of. No big deal, I didn’t disconnect any wires anyway and just let the glove box hang there while changing the filter.

    The old filter was NASTY and all kinds of debris came out with it. Thanks for this post.

  7. 7 On February 15th, 2009, ForkMonkey said:

    Just finished doing mine, took a couple hours, first because I hadn’t found this diy and all the others do not mention the 11mm bolt above the light inside the glovebox, next, I couldn’t get the plastic air vent out for the life of me. There is not enough room to push it toward the front of the car to slip the large part out of the metal frame. Ended up taking off the panel below the glove box (top of your foot area) and sliding the air vent downward to get it out. Last hitch was that there was a lot of junk in the filter and some must have fallen out when I pulled out the old filter because the new one would not go in all the way. Looked like it was in all the way but not enough to slide towards the rear of the car and allow the locking piece in, so, my trick was to put your key in the car and turn the blowers on full without the filter in, it must have slid whatever was in there forward or shot it out of the air vents because after that the filter slid all the way in. Everything went back together in under 10 minutes.

  8. 8 On October 8th, 2011, Bill Cline said:

    Thank you very much for such a great job on changing the mircofilter.
    I found sliding the the black tray for me was not required, as I tryed to slide it out and it wouldn’t move. I didn’t want to force it. I use a small screw driver and press it between the mounting wall of the bottom black tray and the locking tap and push it in to release the tray, so both tray were intact. No service manuals or books show details enough to do the job. Thank you Thank you