1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 8
docwyte SuperDork
9/10/17 4:17 p.m.

So I'm at a junction here.  The machine shop is taking forever to get the head done.  They say it'll be done middle of this coming week, which will mean they've had it for a month.

Then the shop needs to get my car back into their schedule, but the tech is leaving for Nationals at Indy September 18th.  My last track day of the season is October 7th.

At this point, if the shop doesn't think they can realistically get me the car back before my last track day, I'm thinking I might as well have a set of high compression pistons dropped in, along with swapping from the street Schrick cams to a higher profile set of Schricks.

With the aftermarket pistons I'll have more piston to valve clearance so I can run the wilder cams without having to limit the vanos travel.  Shop said it's another 5 hours of machine work for the bottom end/piston work.  I need to find out if the maching shop is dropping in the pistons/rings/bearings for that or not and what the shops time table is.

docwyte SuperDork
9/11/17 11:26 a.m.

Ok, well that thought was short lived.  Between parts, machine work and labor, installing a set of high compression pistons would cost another $3000.

So, no, not gonna happen.  Unfortunately it also sounds like the car won't be back to me in time for my last track day of the season.  Sigh. Tech is going to Indy for 2 weeks, head isn't getting to them from the machine shop until this Wednesday.

So the work won't get started until he comes back from Indy.  crying

There goes this season, only made it out 2 days.  Once with NASA and once with the BMW club.  Oh well.  Bummed as this car basically has one task, which is to be a track car. 

docwyte SuperDork
10/4/17 9:37 a.m.

So, my season has been completely shot by an erroneous assumption on my part.  I assumed that a shop could do the head gasket/head rebuild job faster than I could do it myself.

Got caught in the perfect storm of vacation time and subcontractors taking forever to do their work.

Machine shop said 2-3 weeks to get the head work done.  Nothing fancy, check the head to make sure its not warped or cracked, then replace the stem seals and valve guides.  Well, it took them TWO MONTHS to finally get the work done.

They got the head back to the shop last Friday, but the tech was 2 weeks into his 3 week vacation, he gets back this Thursday.  I've been pinging the shop manager about making sure he's got some time blocked off for the tech to work on my car. 

Argh!!  So now I'm assuming it'll be at least a few more weeks before I see my car back.  That means that'll be at least 3 months that they've had my car.  Yeah, even with working on it an hour or two a night, I *definitely* could've gotten it back together faster than that...

Sigh, what do they say about the best laid plans?  And assumptions?

docwyte SuperDork
10/17/17 8:59 a.m.

Well, shop told me Friday that the car was ready, so I hitched up my trailer and headed over there yesterday, as I had the day off.

After paying, I go to start the car.  Starts up and immediately has a check engine light.  I go back inside, get the tech, he reads the code (DME self test) and resets it.  He remarks its thrown that code while he was test driving it. 

Hmm, new behavior, it'd never thrown that code before.  (Foreshadowing, old German car behavior impending!)

I go load the car onto the the trailer and it throws another check engine light.  Get the tech again, same thing. 

So I get the car home and pull it onto my lift.  Check engine light again!  I read it with my software and get a DME code and a "Vanos mechanically locked" code.  I call the shop, talk to the tech.  Hmm, he says, maybe its the Vanos solenoid.  We'd installed a newly rebuilt Vanos unit when all this happened.  Time to send the car back over to them...

Car got sent back to the shop Thursday evening, showed up after they closed. 


Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/17/17 1:02 p.m.

That sucks. 

Every time I do something like this myself, I wonder why I don't pay a shop to do it ... in the end is because of stories like these. 

Every shop has a bad day, I always visit them on that bad day. 

If it makes you feel any better, my e36 has the same head gasket issue as yours. I am lucky to be good friends with the owner of a valve manuf company down here, they will take care of the head work for free but I still have to pull it. 

docwyte SuperDork
10/17/17 1:18 p.m.

So, yeah.  Car back in the shop for them to address check engine lights.  Not sure why they told me the car was finished.



Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/17/17 1:22 p.m.


docwyte SuperDork
10/17/17 1:33 p.m.


Norma66 New Reader
10/17/17 3:17 p.m.

It's crazy how hard it is to find a shop that will do honest work at a honest price. The world needs more small businesses that just do good work and follow through on what they say. Feel for you man.

docwyte SuperDork
10/17/17 3:22 p.m.

Yup.  Shouldn't be too hard to give a quote on work before you start, manage the techs and machine shop adequately, then deliver a finished product in a reasonable amount of time.

docwyte SuperDork
10/27/17 12:12 p.m.

OK, well, I emailed the shop owner this past Monday and explained the situation.  He got back to me promptly and told me to give him a few days and he'd look into it.

I heard from the shop Tuesday that the Vanos solenoid is acting flaky and they've ordered the wiring harness for it, which would arrive Thursday.

Thursday I hear from the shop that they're rechecking the cam timing.  I can only infer that the vanos wiring harness didn't solve the issue, I was told I'd hear from them at the end of the day.

At the end of the day I got an email from the owner saying he hadn't forgotten about me and he was working with the front desk guy and the tech on my bill and the tech was working on my car for the intermittent vanos and dme fault.  Said he'd call me this morning.

This morning I emailed the shop suggesting they check all the grounds and the resistance in the ground cables.  This was the first time the engines been out in at least 17 years.  In my experience on older German cars, kooky intermittent electrical issues are almost always ground related.  Even if the grounds are tight and look good, that doesn't mean the ground cable itself is still good.

Haven't heard back from them yet.  At this point in the day its getting too late for me to get my trailer and go pick up the car.  Won't get back in time to pick my son up from school.  So at the very least, even if they solve the issue, the car is there another week.

That'll make over three months that its been there, but the machine shop taking 2 months really hosed me.

docwyte SuperDork
10/27/17 7:51 p.m.

Ok, got some info.  

Apparently the brand new crank sensor shorted out and that was what was causing the car to run poorly.  It's been replaced and the car is running great.

However, the DME is still throwing two codes, 1 is "DME self test" and the other is "vanos mechanically locked". 

So it looks like that when the crank sensor went bad it may have spiked the DME.  Now I need to look into replacing the DME, how to handle the EWS and then moving my cam software over from my DME to the "new" one.



docwyte SuperDork
10/29/17 9:18 a.m.

I sent the call out amongst my local E36 owners looking for another DME.  Apparently my friends are hoarding these, as several of them have spares.

I've pinged the shop to find out what the last 3 numbers of my current DME are, then I'll match it up to one of my friends spares and have it sent to the shop.

The shop will then align the EWS and it should start up on the stock map and let us know if the codes are hard codes or fake ones due to my old DME getting spiked.

If the codes stay away, then I'll reload my cam software and hopefully this chapter can be closed. 

I'd like to try and get a few miles on the setup, then take it over to the dyno to see what a rebuilt head, Schrick 264/256 cams and a Riot Racing Big Bore Throttle Body did for power.

I'm also waiting for NASA to release the new TT5 rules, I have a suspicion I'll have to add weight to the car to stay in class.  Hopefully nothing more than running more fuel and adding a full size battery back.  The good news is TT5 will be pure hp/lb, so I won't have to take points for the cams/throttle body I just added. 

I figure if I have 140lbs of weight I can mess around with, as the stock fuel tank holds 16 gallons (~110lbs) and full size battery (+40lbs over my ltw battery).  So I have ~150lbs to play with, hopefully that's enough to keep me in TT5.

docwyte SuperDork
10/30/17 11:16 a.m.

Heard back from Epic Motorsports, the tuner.  He's convinced that the vanos codes are either from the vanos being installed incorrectly, the vanos unit being bad (it's a freshly rebuilt unit from VAC Motorsports) or that there is piston/valve contact.

Hopefully its not that last one, especially since I have Schrick street cams which shouldn't cause any piston/valve interference.

The shop supposedly checked the cam timing last week, not sure if they specifically checked the vanos installation or not.

I forwarded the email on to the shop as well as talked to the front desk guy today.  Also forwarded the invoice from VAC Motorsports and told him to call them and get them to send another rebuilt unit over to the shop ASAP.  

I really want to pick the car up this Friday, the sooner another vanos unit can get there and get installed, the better.

docwyte SuperDork
10/30/17 11:47 a.m.

A little digging turned up that sometimes the Schrick intake cam positioning plate can be indexed from Schrick off from where the stock cam is.  That difference in position can cause the vanos code I'm getting.

The three holes need to be slotted, then the sensor plate locked down to Schricks stated dimensions. 

I've forwarded that onto the shop, we'll see where it leads...

docwyte SuperDork
10/31/17 8:38 a.m.

Shop is convinced its the dme.  Since getting another one is cheap, I bought one off eBay and they'll have it Wednesday.  At the very least, I'll have it as a spare if the shop is wrong.

I'm a bit curious about this, as everything I've read, plus what the tuner said, points to either a vanos installation issue, a vanos unit rebuild issue, or that plate on the schrick cam being indexed incorrectly.  The dme is looking for the vanos to move a certain amount, if it moves less, it'll throw this code.

Regardless, it's cheap and relatively fast for the shop to throw in another dme and see what happens.

docwyte SuperDork
11/2/17 1:29 p.m.

Ok, well I know where the dme "self test" code is coming from.  The tuner said its from his software protection, to keep his software from getting copied.  He then sent me a bit of code to upload to the dme that'll get rid of that code.

So it looks like the dme wasn't needed after all, but it was cheap and it'll be good to have a spare considering the car is almost 20 years old.

I forwarded the tuners email to the shop as well as called them, telling them all this and to look again into the vanos issue.  Haven't heard back from them.  I'll call them in a few hours and see, as I'd really like to go get the car tomorrow but obviously that can only happen if they've resolved the vanos code.

docwyte SuperDork
11/3/17 3:12 p.m.

OK, so talked with the shop owner again last night.  They've checked the vanos install and cam timing and don't know where to go from here.  Car is still throwing the vanos code, they agree with me that the dme is fine, no need to replace it.   So I guess I'll add the dme to my spares box, it may prove useful in the future.

They're unwilling to continue to troubleshoot the car without charging me more, so I got my trailer and picked up the car today.  I took it straight over to a BMW shop that's much closer to my house, tech is a bmw trained master tech and he has all the BMW factory cam/vanos installation tools.

Hopefully a fresh set of eyes is all that's needed to find out what's going on here and fix it.

jfryjfry HalfDork
11/4/17 9:10 a.m.

I have no interest in which shop you were using (I don't live close) but it sure seemed like you guys were having a lot of talks. :)

definitely keep us posted on the solution!

docwyte SuperDork
11/4/17 10:51 a.m.

Well, sorta. I edited a few of my older posts after the first chat I had with the owner.  Felt they might have been a little too harsh.

Not sure why the front desk guy wouldn't call me.  I think they gave up on my car and didn't want to work on it anymore.  

Hence the owner calling me to tell me they wouldn't troubleshoot their work any longer unless I agreed to pay.

At that point, it was time to go get the car.  Get it closer to me and have a fresh set of eyes review the work completed and see what's going on.

This shouldn't be that hard, cams and vanos are a basic install, particularly if you have the bmw factory tools.  In fact, that was the only thing that kept me from doing the job myself, ironically.  So the only thing I really wanted the shop to do, they messed up doing.  Awesome!

docwyte SuperDork
11/9/17 2:55 p.m.

Heard from the other shop today.  They have all the factory tools for the vanos/cams, which are extremely helpful to have.

They found that the vanos is moving to spec, apparently its supposed to move 8.5mm and mine is moving 8.4mm, so VAC Motorsports did send me the correct, unshimmed vanos unit.  Next up was putting the factory cam blocks on, which showed that the intake cam timing was off.  Next step is removing the vanos, setting the cam timing properly, then reinstalling the vanos and measuring its movement.  Tech said he wanted to see around 9mm of movement.

So, looks like the shop that put everything together and said they'd triple checked the cam timing, still didn't have it right...

jfryjfry HalfDork
11/11/17 8:03 a.m.

At least you're getting somewhere!

docwyte SuperDork
11/11/17 9:17 a.m.

Yeah, pretty angry with the first shop.

Car is back together after setting the cam timing correctly with the BMW Factory tools.  Tech wants to measure the vanos movement to make sure its moving its full amount.  He told me he wants to see it move around 9mm.  Then clear the code and test drive it to make sure it's resolved.

So everything the first shop should've done, in other words.  Especially since they charged me a mint for their work.

I'll be sending an email to the owner of the first shop once I get my car back, their service was beyond awful.  As a small business owner myself, I would've been embarrassed to have charged anything for service like this.

docwyte SuperDork
11/13/17 7:25 p.m.

Well, pretty amazing experience with the new shop.  I called him today to see where he was with the job, as he'd told me everything was buttoned back up last Friday.

Told me car is running well, vanos is moving 9.2mm, which is right where it should be.  However, the car is still throwing the vanos code, says on a cold start the vanos is a little sticky, then moves fine when it warms up.  He asked if the gears were new when it was rebuilt.  Said it could be that the seal and gears need to work in a little bit and told me to come pick up the car and drive it a bit, then let him know.

The amazing thing was he refused *any* payment at all for his work.  Told me to call him if the code went away, then we'd settle up.  If it doesn't, then bring the car back.  Wow....

So I drove the car about 20 miles today, runs really well.  Got it home, read and cleared the codes (vanos, dme self test and a random O2 code) then uploaded the new software from the tuner that's supposed to get rid of the dme self test code.

Then I drove to the gym, check engine light popped right back on.  Got home and read it, only code was the vanos code now.  Ok, so making a little progress here.

I pulled the Odyssey battery and put in a full sized one, figured it'd be a good idea to have a proper battery in it since I plan on driving it to work this week to see what happens with the vanos.  

I wanted to fix my broken center hvac vent, the center slat is broken out of it.  I bought another one from eBay, then pulled the center slat out of it.  Went to install it in my car and found that the male nub was broken off into my vent, drat!  I tried to tease it out with a knife, then tried drilling it out, no dice.

Then I gave the vent a little pull and much to my surprise, it pulled out of the dash!  Got the part number, gotta decide if I want to spend the $55 for another used one on eBay or pony up the $170 for a new one.

docwyte SuperDork
11/14/17 8:46 a.m.

I reset the vanos code last night.  Drove the car into work today, no codes thrown!  Cautiously optimistic here now.  Car is running well, next up is center hvac vent replacement...

1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 8
Our Preferred Partners