- Post is under moderationWhen your youngest car is 15 years old you always have maintenance and stuff to do and when you have four cars and a project car the list is long! / #BMW / #BMW-E46 / #DISA-valve-replacement-kit / #DISA
This month I have had to focus on the daily fleet. My #BMW-330i-E46 has been neglected of late and I have been meaning to do the DISA valve (the DISA valve alters the inlet runner length to aid low-down torque) for some time. My #BMW-330d-E46 has started to get smelly in the cabin and the fuel economy has got worse. The #BMW-330d has the label of parts car and has always been a bit of a beater but this doesn’t change the fact that it still needs to be maintained to retain some of its value and keep the engine going if I do break it!
As with all cars there are well-known faults and maintenance issues that raise their head in the car’s lifetime. I have addressed a lot of them in the past with the 330i: the cooling system, Vanos seals, CCV, lower control arm bushes, rear trailing arm bushes, oil filter housing gasket, rocker cover gasket… the list of repairs is really quite long!
The DISA valve in the #BMW-M54 engine is a component that wears over time and it can then fail and the results can be catastrophic as the engine ingests the plastic… yes again plastic. BMW, why do you love plastic so much for your components?!
The M57 engine is an all-time great but there are some well-known problems, one of which is the exhaust manifold. The manifold is made from stainless steel and it is made up of several parts which are welded together. As a result the manifold, after many heat cycles, can crack along the weld lines causing it to blow. This means the engine bay has exhaust gases in it, leading to a smelly cabin. The turbo fails to spin up how it should as exhaust gases are lost before reaching the turbo and there is then a knock-on effect on fuel economy as induction is altered.
As with Vanos kits there are various companies who offer off-the-shelf solutions for these common issues with various cars (not just BMWs). X8R has been the company of choice for me this time as they offered solutions for both DISA valve and manifold issues. They also offer Vanos seal replacements and in addition to that they don’t just cover BMWs, they offer parts for pretty much most makes!
The DISA solution is to replace the plastic flap in the unit with an alloy one and a replacement stainless steel spindle. This means that there is no longer a risk of the flap and spindle failing. The replacement manifold, meanwhile, is a cast item which is substantially stronger and more robust than the stainless OEM item. All new gaskets and fittings are supplied to ensure the replacement manifold is secured and sealed properly. The DISA valve is a relatively simple job which requires removing the unit from the side of the inlet manifold but the same cannot be said for the manifold swap. You can either come at it from the bottom and up, or from the top and down and both ways are a complete faff and have their respective problems. Without a two-post lift I am going top down! More on this next month where I will cover both jobs!
DISA-valve-replacement-kit . New manifold for the 330d.
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As promised I am finally getting on with re-suspending the old girl! The old subframe that I pulled apart too long ago was taken down to Trestan, a powder coating specialist local to me in Southampton. They have been around for years and do a top-quality job. It was interesting going down there and seeing all the different things they were doing for customers: big brakes, railings, BMX bike frames, wheels and motorcycle frames. If it’s metal they will strip it and coat it!
One of the things that I am really enjoying about my journey with cars is the people I am meeting and how there is a community in all things metal and powered by fossil fuels! My buddy from the garage with the T-Rex arms has just finished his bike build with Attitude Cycles in Southampton.
We have joked that he had to have a custom build in order to deal with his shortcomings! Mickeytaking aside, his bike is awesome and I got to go down and have a look around Attitude Cycles, total respect, blown away with what they do! With everything powder coated I have started getting bearings in with the aid of Preston the press at KWR. B and B Components have again sorted out all of the wheel bearings and new Meyle lower control arms and tie rods, they really are a super-easy internet company to deal with! Once I have completed the initial work of preparing everything, one day with Kirk at KWR should see the whole shooting match on the car. Exciting stuff!
It is going to be a bit of a journey into the unknown… Will things be too extreme? Will I have ruined my comfortable daily? Getting a bit lower, staying flatter, greater control, I think those will be a given. Once this is all done, I think you know what will be next on the list of things to do… more power! Oh and the UUC shifter has bedded down and I love it, it just works!
No powder coating job too big or too small for Trestan.
Subframe and E30 Touring wheels prior to powder coating.
Looking shiny and new after powder coating.
Fitting bearings an easy job with help from Preston the press.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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When you have your BMW aftermarket dealer’s number saved in your phone it is cause for concern. And when you are considering setting up a monthly direct debit to him it’s really time to start worrying! Last month was about unboxing the suspension but unfortunately this month isn’t about fitting it as I have more bits being sorted before a mammoth day down at #KWR services in Southampton. Kirk and I will be fitting front and rear subframes and all the new suspension components, including new front hubs and all wheel bearings. I’ll probably fit new #ABS-sensors as well as I had an E46 ‘Christmas tree’ dash moment driving in torrential rain. Wild speedo readings: 60mph whilst stationary at lights and zero at 70mph on the motorway… yes, only 70! Along with ABS traction control and handbrake lights on!
As I mentioned a few moons ago, my significant other has a Mazda MX-5 which has possibly one of the best shifts of any OE gearbox. The shift has been one of the constant frustrations of the E46 so I have finally had enough and have decided to do something about it. So I hit up my dealer, Roy at CA, and asked him what the deal was when it came to shortshifts?
I kind of didn’t really need to ask as #UUC has been making one of the most wellengineered solutions for many years. One of the things that I am enjoying about breathing new life into the E46 is the really great companies that support older BMWs. As an aside my old man lives in Oz and he loves cars and one of the trends he is seeing more and more of is people driving older, modified, updated whips instead of new cars. People are shunning the overly complicated expensive to fix new cars for older ones which are more fun and enjoyable to run modify and bond with. His choices are a bit older than mine: Volvo Amazons and Alfasuds (apparently they don’t rust as much in Oz!)
So back to the short-shift kit. I love things which have been thought through, designed and engineered. I’m 6’2” and, unlike my friend Dan, I don’t have T-rex arms. I don’t want a shifter that becomes a bit TVR i.e a ball on top of the transmission tunnel. I need to still be able to clear the armrest. And this is where the UUC shifter comes into its own with its adjustable height feature. In addition, the design of the double shear linkage means that a large amount of slop is taken out of the whole gear throw mechanism. The theory is all good but once fitted I will let you know what the reality is like.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Suspension month! A couple of weeks ago I travelled to #CA-Automotive and picked up my stockpile of suspension components. I did this on my birthday and I did it in my second BMW, a little E30 #BMW-3-Series-Touring I may have recently bought… Yes I did say the #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46 was the one car to do it all, but I was wrong and the slope is slippery!
There may be more on the #BMW-E30 in the future but this is about my journey with the E46. As you may know from previous installments, I have changed the front lower control arm bushes and rear trailing arm bushes for Powerflex ones, which in both instances have made a world of difference. The rest of the suspension is no longer factory fresh at 103k miles. I thought long and hard about what I was going to do suspension-wise and decided that I was going to go extreme. If it really was too much for the road then I could re-do the beam that comes off the car to a less extreme version and swap it out.
Bilstein B16s and Eibach anti-roll bars form the bones of the upgrade and, whatever happens with bushes, these will stay the same. Ground Control and Rogue Engineering provide supporting roles, with Ground Control top mounts and drop links for the front suspension and rear upper inner bearings. Rogue Engineering provides reinforcement for the front turrets and ties them together with one of its strut braces. At the rear it also provides top mounts (a smart solution for a Touring as I only have to pull apart the interior once – after this the bolts are accessible from under the car!), spring perch reinforcement and trailing arm spherical bearings. Powerflex Black Series bushes step in for rear subframe and diff duties.
I have an ongoing debate with Kirk (his M50 turbo E36 Touring is alive and is now on its wheels and is on the home stretch!) and boys down at KWR Services; will I be turning the E46 into a boneshaker or will it be firm and controlled? I also have another dilemma: do I have the rear floor reinforcements including a brace done before bolting all of this on? Find out in my next installment!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Autumn reminds me of the lyrics: “Years slip away and I get older, leaves hit the ground and it gets colder” (Jungle Brothers – Beyond This World). I only have a simple update for you this month but it’s important! One Sunday the car didn’t start! No sparks, nothing, dead as the perverbial dodo! I live on a hill and the car is a manual so once we pushed the old girl off the drive we got rolling and a bump start later we were on our way. On Tuesday the weather turned colder and the same thing happened. It always surprises me how heavy steering and brakes are without the assistance!
I decided to buy a new battery at Euro Car Parts to hopefully cure the problem. The one I removed looked like the original BMW one so after 13 years of service it was probably time for it to go to battery heaven. I bought a #Bosch-S4-008 model costing £108 and the sockets required are a 10mm, a 13mm and a Phillips screwdriver. I took the negative terminal off first, pulled the old battery out, put the new one in (not forgetting to transfer and reconnect the vent tube) and that was it! The car starts much more easily now and everything seems brighter but maybe that’s just my imagination! Next month things will get interesting as the modifications start in earnest: coilovers, top mounts, reinforcement plates, anti-roll bars, strut brace and more… much more!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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After a quick weekend break across the most expensive stretch of water in the world to the IOW, summer hols have given me a bit of time to get on with another major job, the dreaded Vanos seals. Like most of the things that I have already done on the wagon, the Vanos seals are another thing that needs sorting because of perished rubber/plastic. The double Vanos system on the #M54 engine varies the cams on both the intake and exhaust in order to increase power and torque for any given engine speed and throttle position. After time, the four rubber O-rings on the pistons inside the system harden and perish because of the material they’re made from. A Vanos rebuild centres around changing the old seals and the O-rings are upgraded from Buna rubber to Viton; Viton copes much better with the oil and heat inside the engine.
So all of that sounds simple and it kind of is, except you have to pull apart all of the usual things when working on the M54 engine: the air intake, radiator fan and cabin filter housing and rocker cover. The ’50s Kid on YouTube has a great tutorial on how to do these things. He also has a Vanos rebuild tutorial, which includes the antirattle rings (which I don’t need to do… yet!). I have watched the videos of ’50s Kid several times now so was pretty happy with how to do things. I had stockpiled all of the parts to do the job with the replacement seals themselves where from I6 Automotive.
Whilst taking on this job it is a good idea to change the gasket between the block and the Vanos unit and then, whilst the rocker cover is off, all of the gaskets on that. I also decided to change the spark plugs whilst everything was off as it was easier. Six NKGs sorted out the pretty tired-looking Bosch plugs!
Once the system is off it’s fairly straightforward to swap out the seals for new ones. Like everything you just take your time and work in a clean environment! Make sure you have plenty of rags around when you are getting the unit off as there is quite a bit of oil which will come out and happily cover all of your radiator hoses and drive belts – not something you want to happen!
With the seals done it is just a case of getting everything back together again. On start up the engine will sound a bit rough but that is just the system having to refill with oil. I am currently pootling around for 100 miles below 3000 revs to bed things in, so will let you all know next month how things have changed, if at all!
What has happened every time I have done a major job to the engine? You guessed it, a coil pack went down, the engine light went on and the car started running on five cylinders! So I sorted the problem for good and replaced all of the remaining old ones. Apparently if one goes they all start to go, as the next weakest one becomes the weakest link!
I am hoping that now the Vanos seals, spark plugs and coil packs are all new the engine will have a new lease of life and fuel economy will improve that little bit more as well. Next time I should have changed the fuel filter, as I’m not sure when that was last done. Also the rear suspension will hopefully be back from the powdercoaters!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Last month we sorted the brakes and that meant no more seized pistons, knackered discs and pads, 13 year-old lines and fluid of an undetermined age! Considering what my brakes were like before, after a thousand miles of bedding in what is the new EBC setup like? It is a revelation, that’s what!
Starting with the point of interaction, the pedal is much firmer but still offers modulation. Having ridden push bikes for years, both mountain and road, modulation of brakes is possibly one of the most important aspects – power without control is an unruly beast! New fluid and the braided hoses probably account for a lot of this new feel. The firmer pedal also gives me a better pivot for trying to heel-and-toe.
The YellowStuff pads and BSD discs work really well together, even in the hustle and bustle of daily driving. I have never had that ‘nothing there’ feeling that you can get from a harder pad before they are warmed up, which was my only real concern going with this setup.
Once the pads were bedded in I engaged in some more spirited driving and braking to explore the performance. I have found the noise of the slotted discs strangely addictive! It is a pleasant drone which lets you know things are working. Pad squeaking has been minimal and has reduced as things have bedded in. Once up to temperature the pad and disc combo is great, I can’t really think how I would have to drive on the road to over tax things, let’s just say it would be Reckless with a capital R. A couple of emergency situations requiring a lunge at the brakes have definitely confirmed that there is no problem with initial bite.
As you can see from the pictures, OE dust issues have been significantly reduced. This is after a week of driving. The OE setup would mean the alloys looked like they had been painted gunmetal! I am also impressed with the Geomet finish, which has remained on all surfaces not touched by the pads. Much nicer than a rusting disc surface behind your wheels!
Big brake kits are nice to have but like a lot of things at what point is there a diminishing return on an investment? Until I bolt on the supercharger the EBC disc, pad and braided hose upgrade is going to be more than up to what I’m going to throw at them. I would recommend it to anyone looking for more than OE but not wanting to spend a fortune on a BBK. Many thanks to Gareth and the EBC team!
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12 years of ownership have resulted in one gorgeous E46. It’s traditional after 12 years of marriage to celebrate your silk anniversary, so it’s fitting that 12 years of ownership have resulted in one super-smooth E46. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Petrie
Ah, the E46. What a great car, both to own and drive. It’s arguably one of BMW’s best efforts on all fronts. It’s also a great way to get your first taste of modified car life, a nice way to ease yourself into the scene gently and take things slowly while you find your feet, right? Well not for 27-year-old New Jersey resident Jorge Hernandez. Not only is this awesome build is his first BMW, or even his first modified car; it’s both of those things, as it’s his first ever car. It’s not that he’s just learnt to drive, though, he’s actually owned this E46 330i for 12 years!
“I was first made aware of how special BMWs were when my cousin came home with his brand-new car: a Techno violet E36 M3,” explains Jorge. It clearly made a big impression on the young man. “Since then I knew I had to have a BMW,” he says. However, as a four-door fan, with no E46 M3 Saloon available, Jorge ended up buying a blue E46 330i Saloon in 2004.
While he was well aware of the modified car scene at that time, he had no clear vision for his E46. Flick through a 2004 issue of PBMW and you’ll see that the modified BMW scene was a very different, and rather scary, place back then. It was full of outrageous body kits and dubious styling mods that have, thankfully, long since been forgotten about. It was a world that needed some careful navigation to avoid creating a car that would end up looking like a mobile eyesore. Luckily, help was at hand in the shape of the E46Fanatics forum and after some quality time spent online, Jorge soon began to form a clearer picture of the direction he wanted to take his E46 in.
One thing he’s not done much with over the past 12 years is the engine. “I always wanted to keep the motor semi-stock as I’m not a big speed freak,” he explains. “I just wanted to do all of the little bolt-ons to make a little quicker it and sound better.”
That sounds pretty modest but Jorge’s chosen some really choice mods under the bonnet and he’s definitely not scrimped on quality with his selection of engine upgrades. To start, there’s an extremely sexy GruppeM carbon fibre intake and a set of Technik Gen 3 equal-length exhaust manifolds, which most definitely give the E46 a bit more power and ramp up the volume level of that glorious straight-six.
And the whole lot is topped off with a Remus Powersound quad exhaust that really looks the part and sounds fantastic, too. The engine bay itself has been treated to a whole host of carbon fibre goodies, including a Radenergie strut brace and engine cover plus an EAS carbon ECU cover and oil filler cap.
On the styling front this E46 delivers big time. Jorge has done an awesome job here and he’s definitely achieved his goal of creating a car that looks both clean and aggressive. “I feel like everything has to flow in a particular way, and that meant mixing and matching the pieces from a bunch of different companies,” he says. PBMW regular, Autocouture Motoring, was entrusted to work its magic and fit Jorge’s array of parts.
We really have to talk about the bonnet, not just because it’s a Vorsteiner GT-R carbon fibre item, which makes it pretty special, but also because of the paint finish on it. Where some people might choose to leave their vents unpainted, exposing the carbon core of the bonnet, Jorge has had the whole lot painted but the slats of the vents themselves have been finished in a crazy rainbow flake blue that looks spectacular when it catches the light and which really makes the vents pop. The front bumper is an M Tech 1 item from the pre-face-lift Sport E46, and while it’s not as aggressive as the latter version it’s got a much smoother, fatter, fuller look that a lot of people prefer.
It ties in perfectly with the face-lift styling, too. The bumper has been enhanced with the addition of a Rieger front lip that’s been blended into the bumper for a cleaner look. The mirrors are genuine AC Schnitzer items and are complemented by a Schnitzer roof spoiler while the sculpted side skirts are Hamann GT-R items. At the back, there’s a Euro-spec carbon fibre CSL bootlid, which looks great on the Saloon, and an SRS-Tec rear bumper with a dual-ribbed diffuser plus space for the quad tips of that Remus exhaust. Jorge’s also had the body mouldings colour-coded and fitted Euro turn signals all-round.
The interior has been left alone. “I think BMW did it right,” says Jorge, but one area that has been improved is the audio as the stock system is pretty disappointing unless you or someone else ticked the Harman Kardon upgrade box on the options list. Up front, there’s a Kenwood double-DIN DDX371 headunit, while in the boot you’ll find a JL Audio 500/1 amp and 12w6v2 sub plus a Stinger capacitor, all mounted in a custom enclosure which has been painted body colour and features a suede-wrapped floor and side panels.
So the styling is well and truly sorted, but it’s no good having a killer car if you don’t have the wheels to match. Fear not, Jorge’s choice for the E46 is awesome. “I’ve always been a fan of having wheels that you don’t see often,” he says. “I was offered a sponsorship by Rotiform and it had exactly what I wanted: a set of SJCs.” This bold, intricate wheel is the perfect choice to sit alongside that strong blue paint and Jorge opted for the forged multi-piece design in a brushed finish and mirror polished stepped lips. The wheels – 9x19” and 10x19” front and rear respectively – really suit the E46 well and the decision to keep them unpainted was definitely the right one as they really stand out. Plus the brushed finish looks so good. The Rotiforms have been teamed up with a stud conversion kit which has been topped-off with a set of neochrome wheel nuts. Beyond the spokes sit some bright yellow Porsche 996 911 calipers and a set of CSL discs.
Jorge has also sorted the suspension and there’s actually a lot more going on here than meets the eye. The drop in ride height comes courtesy of a set of Broadway Static coilovers but then there are the H&R anti-roll bars, the Turner Motorsport adjustable endlinks, the Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts and, finally, the Bimmerworld camber arms. Jorge’s clearly put a lot more thought into his suspension setup than most do and this combination has not only given this E46 that all-important visual drama but also sharpened-up the handling no end, making it far more than just all about the looks.
It’s rare to meet someone on the modified #BMW scene who has owned their car for this long but it’s refreshing to see. And aside from planning to swap the Steptronic gearbox for a six-speed manual, it looks like Jorge’s reached a point where he’s happy and the modifying will stop. For the time being, at least. And who wouldn’t be happy with this E46? It’s a fantastic-looking car with a lot of great details and it’s an incredibly satisfying point for Jorge to be at after over a decade of modifying.
Above: 19” Rotiform SJCs with brushed centres and Porsche 911 brake kit. Right: JL amp and sub add a bit more bass to musical proceedings.
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i / #BMW-330i-E46 / #Rotiform / Steptronic / #Technik / #BMW-3-Series-Sedan / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #Technik-Gen-3 headers, #GruppeM carbon fibre ram-air intake, #Radenergie carbon fibre strut brace and carbon fibre engine cover, #EAS carbon fibre ECU cover, air filter cover and oil cap, #Remus-Powersound quad exhaust. Five-speed #Steptronic gearbox
CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) Rotiform-SJC wheels with brushed centres, 215/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres, Broadway Static coilovers, H&R anti-roll bars, Turner Motorsport adjustable endlinks, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Bimmerworld camber arms, Porsche 996 Carrera Brembo BBK, OEM E46 M3 CSL floating discs
EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner-GT-R carbon fibre bonnet, M Tech 1 front bumper with moulded Rieger lip, #AC-Schnitzer mirrors, #Hamann GT-R side skirts, painted body mouldings, Euro turn signals, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, Euro-spec carbon fibre CSL bootlid, SRS-Tec rear bumper with dual ribbed diffuser
INTERIOR Brushed aluminium trim, Kenwood DDX371 head unit, JL Audio 12w6v2 sub, JL Audio 500/1 amp, Stinger capacitor, custom enclosure painted body colour with floor and side panels wrapped in suedeStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.