Tim Baxter PowerDork
Aug. 8, 2012 1:23 p.m.

I remember not that long ago, the E30 was considered the 'last BMW normal people could work on'

Then it was the E36.

Now I see the E46 referred to the same way?

So I ask ya'll what you think. Is there a point at which BMWs can no longer be wrenched on by mere mortals, or is it a moving target for whichever one is about 10 years old and has moved out of the hands of trophy wives and into the hands of GRM types?

BoxheadTim UberDork
Aug. 8, 2012 1:26 p.m.

I think it's probably the latter, as it takes a while for the necessary information to disseminate before they're "wrenchable" again by normal types like us.

Grtechguy PowerDork
Aug. 8, 2012 1:29 p.m.

The mortals have adapted their abilities and now use computers to wrench on cars.

Shade tree mechanics now must pull out their scan-tools and laptops.

Past that? Left loosey, righty-tighty (usually). Cars are still built with nuts and bolts.

Ranger50 UltraDork
Aug. 8, 2012 1:55 p.m.
Grtechguy wrote: The mortals have adapted their abilities and now use computers to wrench on cars. Shade tree mechanics now must pull out their scan-tools and laptops. Past that? Left loosey, righty-tighty (usually). Cars are still built with nuts and bolts.

This.

Plus a scan TOOL, not the $50 handheld scanner at your local fast food auto parts place. The scanner just tells what is wrong, a scan tool tells you what is really wrong from the data stream.

MadScientistMatt SuperDork
Aug. 8, 2012 2:28 p.m.
BoxheadTim wrote: I think it's probably the latter, as it takes a while for the necessary information to disseminate before they're "wrenchable" again by normal types like us.

It probably also takes a while for companies like PEAK to create aftermarket clones of dealer-only diagnostic tools.

cdowd New Reader
Aug. 8, 2012 2:32 p.m.

I agree with the previous posts. once these cars get to be out of warranty for a while that aftermarket and internet start have solutions to keep the cars on the road. I have a 2003 BMW X5 with a manual transmission and it really is fairly easy to work on. You can now get the GT1 diagnostic software for a laptop for only a couple hundred dollars. So unless people are going to start throwing out used cars they will find a solution.

Chris

tpwalsh Reader
Aug. 8, 2012 2:40 p.m.

sometime before the e39: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnw3H8wX_Jk

dean1484 UltraDork
Aug. 8, 2012 4:57 p.m.

After 10 years you don't care that much if it catches on fire or blows up so wrenching on it becomes an option.

oldtin SuperDork
Aug. 8, 2012 5:13 p.m.

Moving target. Pigeon (RIP) was pretty active in working through new programs to access newer bmw systems or canbus stuff. EFI bits used to feel untouchable - now people commonly build MS systems or re-solder or modify ECUs. There's just a bit of a lag between new stuff and the knowledge making its way downstream.

njansenv Dork
Aug. 8, 2012 5:49 p.m.

Wait, Pigeon passed on?

BoxheadTim UberDork
Aug. 8, 2012 5:52 p.m.

Unfortunately, he did. A couple of months ago or so.

SlickDizzy UltraDork
Aug. 8, 2012 6:14 p.m.

http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/off-topic-discussion/thinking-of-scott/48469/page1/

On topic, I am currently E46 shopping, so I will find out just how DIY-able they are...

calteg Reader
Aug. 8, 2012 6:22 p.m.
oldtin wrote: Moving target. Pigeon (RIP) was pretty active in working through new programs to access newer bmw systems or canbus stuff. EFI bits used to feel untouchable - now people commonly build MS systems or re-solder or modify ECUs. There's just a bit of a lag between new stuff and the knowledge making its way downstream.

I think the important part of this equation is that enthusiast's skill sets are also a moving target.

How many can tune a carb?
How many can rebuild an EFI head?
How many can troubleshoot and fix electrical symptoms?

3 different phases of enthusiast. For my money, I'd stick with an E36, but that's just me.

fast_eddie_72 UltraDork
Aug. 8, 2012 6:38 p.m.
calteg wrote: How many can troubleshoot and fix electrical symptoms?

That's a good one- as if anyone can do that.

Ranger50 UltraDork
Aug. 8, 2012 7:02 p.m.
fast_eddie_72 wrote:
calteg wrote: How many can troubleshoot and fix electrical symptoms?

That's a good one- as if anyone can do that.

If you can find a schematic for your particular vehicle, it isn't that hard, provided you keep an open mind about it. Only a closed minded person can't fix an electrical problem in the spaghetti.

glueguy Reader
Aug. 8, 2012 8:23 p.m.

Certain aspects of technology marching forward scare me. BMW now ties in battery life into the computer, so something needs to be reset when you change the battery. Or so I've heard. That's too new for me. I have an E46 and there is enough info on them, so I will hope that the modern BMW's will continue to be serviceable by us mere mortals after they get some age and there's no one left to love them but us.

Knurled SuperDork
Aug. 8, 2012 9:42 p.m.
glueguy wrote: Certain aspects of technology marching forward scare me. BMW now ties in battery life into the computer, so something needs to be reset when you change the battery. Or so I've heard. That's too new for me.

You'll really like that BMW sometimes doesn't have a single 12v battery, they distribute the battery around the car.

Why? Because, that's why.

Moving_Target New Reader
Aug. 8, 2012 10:00 p.m.

One of the reasons I picked up my E36 project was the guy selling it (got cold feet I guess) explained that it was much simpler than the later cars. Engine computer and ABS and that's it. I'm going to use megasquirt for the fuel/spark and having working abs or not isn't a big deal.

heh, moving target..good one.

Keith MegaDork
Aug. 8, 2012 10:37 p.m.
tpwalsh wrote: sometime before the e39: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnw3H8wX_Jk

That just shows long. Shade tree mechanics can still do it. How many times have I heard stories about drilling holes in the firewall just to change spark plugs, back when spark plugs weren't 100,000 mile items? HVAC parts are usually one of the hardest to get to.

I'm more comfortable with EFI than I am with a carb. To me, I'd rather keep my E39 running than the boss' 2002 - the one that's running, not the one that has been stripped to a shell. You just need a different skill set, that's all.

Knurled SuperDork
Aug. 9, 2012 7:13 a.m.

Modern cars are way easier to work on than the older stuff.

Let me tell you about the trials and travails of replacing axle seals in an old Plymouth....

mad_machine MegaDork
Aug. 9, 2012 7:27 a.m.

you can't bring rust into this, Knurled.. that is a different issue.

I will not own any BMW newer than an E36.. MAYBE an E39.. but those are not necessarily "newer"

I love the looks and performance of the Z4... but I have seen them with the hood up....

Knurled SuperDork
Aug. 9, 2012 7:32 a.m.

Rust-free car. You don't get to be a 63 year old car without being well-preserved.

If you've ever had to deal with removing a Mazda rotary flywheel, multiply that by two and that's the fun of removing the rear hubs, since it has two-piece axles.

Sky_Render Reader
Aug. 9, 2012 8:13 a.m.
fast_eddie_72 wrote:
calteg wrote: How many can troubleshoot and fix electrical symptoms?

That's a good one- as if anyone can do that.

I'd rather rewire a dash than change a head gasket. But then again, I'm also an electrical engineer.

yamaha HalfDork
Aug. 9, 2012 9:58 a.m.

Solution, convert E36's over to e30 drivetrains......

But I agree, it takes awhile for certain things to become available to the general public for reasonable pricing.

njansenv Dork
Aug. 9, 2012 11:05 a.m.

It's AMAZING what the home mechanic can now access on a BMW using software readily available online. The E46 is still DIY friendly, as is the E39. Frankly, the newer cars don't interest me much, but that's less to do with the DIY aspect. I'd still REALLY like to find a mint E39 as a DD. FWIW, the E39 is an order of magnitude more complex than an E36.

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