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petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/14/16 11:06 a.m.

In an unusual twist of events it looks like I'll be picking this up next week for well under Challenge budget.

It's a 5-speed, 2001(IIRC) w/200kmi, but all service is up to date.

I've never owned a BMW and know nothing about these. What suspension updates/improvements are available(on a budget)? Are they competitive in any autox classes? Are there any parts I can sell off for $$$ if I do Challenge it?

Halp!

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
10/14/16 11:20 a.m.

Check the unibody at the four points where the rear subframe mounts. You need to really clean off the grime and look for cracks and tear-out.

Other than that, everything else is bolt-on stuff. There are a lot of common issues and they're all well-documented. BMW made a LOT units of E46 and they fail reliably.

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/14/16 11:37 a.m.

In reply to Tyler H:

Awesome! Where's the best place to learn this stuff? I really am completely BMW-illiterate.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
10/14/16 11:41 a.m.
NEALSMO
NEALSMO UltraDork
10/14/16 11:42 a.m.

Depends. What's "on a budget"?

I paid about $1100 for the Bilstein/Eibach Pro kit and new strut and shock mounts. Lowers the car to Sport suspension package height.

Urethane control arm bushings are about $85.

Those combined with an already great suspension design should handle great.

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/14/16 1:04 p.m.

In reply to NEALSMO:

Well the bushings should be within the budget. I think it may already have aftermarket springs on it, but I wouldn't count on it, or on them being any good. I'll keep a lookout for a used Bilstein/Eibach setup though.

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
10/14/16 3:17 p.m.
petegossett wrote: In reply to Tyler H: Awesome! Where's the best place to learn this stuff? I really am completely BMW-illiterate.

E46 Fanatics

Front control arm bushings, ZHP-type front control arms, rear trailing arm bushings. These will take the suspension back to 90% good from a driving standpoint. You need to rent a tool to replace the RTABs, and you can do it on the car.

Engine -- The cooling system needs gone through and it's probably ready for an intake boot. Oil filter housings gaskets are leakers and take out the drivers side engine mount.

That's the stuff that fails most predictably, but I have found answers to all my questions online and the car is very DIY-able.

captdownshift
captdownshift UberDork
10/14/16 3:21 p.m.

On the book of faces hit up my buddy James on there and tell him that I sent you.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
10/14/16 3:42 p.m.

In April I picked up an 05 330i as a daily and love it. As others said, problems are basically known and DIYable. The PITA part of this car is tracking down random squeaks and rattles, which drive me crazy. Great buy!

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/14/16 4:09 p.m.

Thanks everyone! And Cap't I'll cyberstalk James now.

NEALSMO
NEALSMO UltraDork
10/14/16 5:15 p.m.
petegossett wrote: In reply to NEALSMO: Well the bushings should be within the budget. I think it may already have aftermarket springs on it, but I wouldn't count on it, or on them being any good. I'll keep a lookout for a used Bilstein/Eibach setup though.

The Pro-Kit is actually $800, so you know, affordable

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/15/16 8:45 p.m.

I dove the car tonight & paid for it, going to pick it up tomorrow night. The suspension is surprisingly tight, no squeaks or noises, and it pulls hard. There are a couple issues though:

  • There's an occasional vibration, that feels like it's underneath the car. Is that the guibo failing?

  • Something is misaligned in the shifter. When I release it to neutral, then go straight forward, it ends up in 5th. It's sometimes hard to engage reverse too. Is that a linkage problem, or trans bushings?

  • The halogen(?) headlight bulbs sometimes go out momentarily. What's up with that?

  • It apparently needs a MAF, it's currently unplugged, but seems to run fine.

  • The clutch has a lot of take up, so I'm thinking it may not have much material left. Still grabs good though.

  • I noticed some lifter noise at idle, is the standard Seafoam treatment a good idea?

drdisque
drdisque HalfDork
10/16/16 3:59 p.m.

best autocross class for those is STX, which allows you to take care of almost everything you would want to on that car. The only caveat is that general consensus is that an E46 can't be nationally competitive due to its weight (especially a 4 door) and to even have a sniff of being nationally competitive, you'll have to put a real LSD in it, which is spendy.

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/16/16 5:35 p.m.

In reply to drdisque:

Well then, I guess I'll aim toward Challenge and/or track-rat...unless I flip it for profit first.

Ovid_and_Flem
Ovid_and_Flem Reader
10/16/16 5:40 p.m.

Nice ride

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
10/16/16 5:43 p.m.
petegossett wrote: * It apparently needs a MAF, it's currently unplugged, but seems to run fine.

Remove the oil fill cap with the engine idling. If there is significant vacuum (enough to pull the oil cap back down if you hold it lightly over the hole) and/or the engine stalls, you need to replace the oil separator. With a BMW part, this is not the place to cheap out. It can be done without removing the intake manifold and isn't that big a deal to do.

Or it could be a torn intake boot, you can inspect that while replacing the oil separator. Or it could just be a bad MAF.

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/16/16 6:43 p.m.

In reply to Knurled:

Thanks, I'll check those things out. It actually sounds like it's whistling when I tip into the throttle, but I thought that may just be the cone filter.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy PowerDork
10/16/16 7:31 p.m.

This thread has my interest.

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 HalfDork
10/17/16 7:12 a.m.

Shifter is probably just the shift linkage bushings. They're known to wear and end up causing all kinds of vague shifter issues.

Also, check out realoem.com for exploded parts views, part numbers, and prices for just about everything on the car. Though it's not always the cheapest out there, I usually use pelicanparts.com to get replacement bits.

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/17/16 8:08 a.m.

In reply to gearheadE30: Awesome!

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
10/17/16 2:14 p.m.

Rummaging through the glove box I found a few parts.

Should I be worried these were never installed?

I also found this, any idea what it is?

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
10/17/16 4:41 p.m.

That is a MAF sensor. At least, it appears to be, from this angle.

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
10/17/16 5:08 p.m.
petegossett wrote: I dove the car tonight & paid for it, going to pick it up tomorrow night. The suspension is surprisingly tight, no squeaks or noises, and it pulls hard. There are a couple issues though: * There's an occasional vibration, that feels like it's underneath the car. Is that the guibo failing? * Something is misaligned in the shifter. When I release it to neutral, then go straight forward, it ends up in 5th. It's sometimes hard to engage reverse too. Is that a linkage problem, or trans bushings? * The halogen(?) headlight bulbs sometimes go out momentarily. What's up with that? * It apparently needs a MAF, it's currently unplugged, but seems to run fine. * The clutch has a lot of take up, so I'm thinking it may not have much material left. Still grabs good though. * I noticed some lifter noise at idle, is the standard Seafoam treatment a good idea?

The center support bearing (CSB) or guibo are prime suspects. This is also a job easily tackle on jackstands and costs ~$200. Order e-torx sockets if you don't have any.

Engine and trans bushings aren't anything ultra exotic and can affect shifting.

FWIW...my clutch catches high compared to many other cars I have owned, and mine makes a whistling on throttle tip in. I'm not sure if it's 'normal operation' or 'consistent failure mode,' but there's a data point for you. I also hated the clutch feel when I first got the car, but I was used to Japanesey clutches. My brain reprogrammed itself after a few days.

Lifter noise at idle is not normal in my experience, depending on how finely tuned your ear is. Mine idles silently. I very rarely get some gear rattle (or dual mass flywheel rattle) at idle in neutral, clutch out. I choose to ignore it.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
10/17/16 5:17 p.m.

VANOS is BMWs version of variable valve timing, and on the car it hides at the front edge of the valve cover, right under the forward most bolt. When the O-rings that kit replaces go bad, the blow by and loss of pressure cause bad idle, loss of power etc. AFAIK, a bad VANOS won't likely result in a catastrophic failure, but hits mpgs and performance. The other symptom can be an intermittent loud metallic rattle from the front of the engine.

I was chasing a weird surging idle on my car. I did the basic tune up stuff, changed the intake boot and a bunch of vacume hose, no joy, and ended up concluding it was the VANOS. Iv'e watched people rebuild vanos, and it looks more finicky than hard. I'll cop to hitting the easy button and ordering a rebuilt unit from dr vanos (www.drvanos.com), since I figured the extra $200 over the cost of the beisan kit was worth 2 hours and the worry over screwing up.

The beisan site, pelican parts forums, bimmerfest and e46 fanatics all have pretty good DIYs. Since the valve cover has to come off, plan on replacing that gasket at the same time.

There are two MAFs on these cars, one at the airbox, the other on the emissions control side, that second pic doesn't look like either of them and not sure what it is.

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
10/17/16 7:14 p.m.

yes to guibo for the vibration.

Shifter is worn detent pins. Search and you'll find it easy as it is very common. PIA since the $2 part requires the trans to come out, but if you are doing a clutch you've committed to the hard part.

Your last picture is the oil level sensor. Installs in the bottom of the pan. There is a low oil yellow warning light on the dash that turns on when you turn the car off. Sensor commonly starts tripping the light. Easy replacement at oil change time.

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