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Dr. Flyview 03-07-2013 11:18 PM

Changing main belt tensioner (M50)
As some of you might know, there's two types: mechanical and hydraulic. I thought the hydraulic came on later cars, but it looks like my 6/94 has the hydraulic.

It's bad so I took it out, and I had a spare mechanical replacement part. From what I had heard, they should be interchangeable so I was going to try and throw this in before going out and buying a new one.

There's definitely some interesting differences. The hydraulic one mounts with 3 bolts, the mechanical only in 2? Also, one of the 2 holes on the mechanical tensioner mates up a little further out from the engine...if that makes sense. So I'd need some sort of spacer to bring the tensioner hole to touch the hole on the engine before passing the bolt through.

Anyone have experience with this?

Dissembler 03-07-2013 11:57 PM

You are probably missing some of the pieces required to mount the tensioner.

E46s went through a similar update where the updated 3 bolt tensioner used a hole in the block that you would never see unless you knew to look for it.

kenmar 03-08-2013 12:08 AM

There's a mechanical-to-hydraulic conversion kit (, but I don't think there's a hydraulic-to-mechanical conversion kit. I went from mechanical-to-hydraulic and then back to mechanical, but I reused my old mechanical parts. I think hydraulic has better long-term reliability so BMW discontinued the mechanical parts.

Dr. Flyview 03-08-2013 02:06 AM

Right, chances are mine's already been "converted" so I think I'm just gonna grab a new one in this style and be done with it.

I think the kit is really just different bolts + the new style hydraulic tensioner body. Which after the first time, you only need to buy the actual hydraulic piece to fix a broken tensioner. Looks like now I have to pull this very piece off the tensioner that just got pulled off the car (which is leaking so it's obviously done)... I don't know if I'll be able to undo that bolt without putting the body/brace back on the car grrrr.

Dr. Flyview 03-08-2013 12:40 PM

Hmmm the mechanical one mounts up differently than I thought:

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