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This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 08-12-2017, 04:23 PM   #1
jeng
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 43
My Ride: 2001 BMW 330ci
I think I'm single-handedly keeping the tools industry alive...

...with all of the special tools I've gotten for the wife's BMW repair job. At least it feels like I'm purchasing every tool under the sun to rehabilitate her manual-transmission 2001 330ci coupe.

It started when her car overheated back in February. The dealer estimated $5500 in repairs and gave an itemized list that included replacing: thermostat, disa, power steering hose, vanos oil line, ccv, control arm bushings, sway bar links.

She went and bought a new car and we decided to hold on to the venerable e46 because: 1) it still looks great and is in pretty good condition at 184,000 miles (current repairs notwithstanding), and 2) i decided i would do all the repairs so we could have an extra car handy in case of emergencies with the other cars (honda fit and cr-v).

I'm pleased so far (extra tools notwithstanding) because I think the repairs are much more extensive than what the dealer would have done.

Instead of just the thermo, the entire cooling system was overhauled with new water pump, radiator, expansion tank, coolant hoses, vacuum hoses.

The cracked windshield cowl was also replaced.

Turns out the DISA was fine so I upgraded it using the German Auto Solutions rebuild kit.

I'm in the middle of the ccv replacement and thanks to the 50s kid I removed the intake manifold. Well, I might as well change most every hose and pipe in there. So, that's a good thing because I have a feeling the dealer would have just done the more obvious things and then we would have had the 330ci back at the dealer in a short while because of a leak or a broken something.

Since the manifold is off...why don't I replace the starter motor? It would be a pain to do it with the manifold on...

But now I need an E12 wrench (thanks TR4G for letting me know the size)!

Click, click, click...amazon..."Thank you for your (millionth) order! Jeff Bezos thanks you!"

And then 50s kid says the fateful words..."while you're at it, you might want to change the crankshaft position sensor..."

Click, click, click...

(Max at oembimmer): "Is that guy ordering something else? Already?!"

This project has been a rabbit hole...but a good one ($2000 worth of parts vs. $5500 dealer cost for a much less comprehensive repair).

I'll get there slowly...as long as there's internet service available. And I still have a job. And a credit card.

I'm not the only one out there who has experienced "mission creep" when it comes to tinkering with the e46, am I?

Anyone? Anyone?

I feel better already. Thank you. Back to amazon...
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:56 PM   #2
jaga
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My Ride: 2002 325i
Year: 2002
Model: 325i
Transmission: Automatic
Great story! These cars are a beauty for DIYs. I recently changed ps pump and all hoses. Took my time and it worked fine. The way you're keeping your car is anazing. You'd not get the same satisfaction and car performance with a newer cars. That's the damn secret of the E46.***128512;

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Old 08-12-2017, 05:51 PM   #3
generalvp
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I was hoping to see a sea of tools. Failed.
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:42 AM   #4
jeng
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 43
My Ride: 2001 BMW 330ci
Here's the "sea" of tools I used...

including:
  • socket to remove oil filter housing
  • three-jaw puller to remove control arm bushing
  • universal joint set to remove coolant drain bolt on engine block
  • pick set to remove broken, corroded pipe bits from water inlet pipes
  • pry bars to remove starter motor (gently!) and other assorted, stubborn bolts/nuts
  • long nose pliers (straight, 45 and 90 degree) to help ease off various connectors
  • torx wrench set to remove starter mounting bolts
  • vise grip plier to hold bolt stationary when replacing sway bar links (although a 16 mm wrench would be better for this job...but i didn't have one)
  • side cutter to cut various zip ties and to help remove old ccv hoses
  • clicker torque wrench because my bar torque wrench was too long to maneuver in many places
  • magnet wand tool (which was INVALUABLE retrieving inevitably dropped bolts, clips, etc.)
  • BMW service manual, although much of my guidance came from internet videos - mostly 50s Kid, Ask The Car Experts, ShopLife TV and BSKorner (minus the beer)

All in all, I spent about 2K on all the parts and tools to attempt to fix my wife's 2001 330ci. I thought I was almost finished when I realized I threw away the plastic connecting ring that goes between the upper and lower intake boot hoses! Lesson to be learned: Be organized and save the old parts until the job is 100% complete and you're sure you don't need anything that's supposed to be reused.
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Old 08-18-2017, 07:45 AM   #5
shoman24v
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Location: Fresno, CA
Posts: 563
My Ride: 2002 330i 2000 528iT
Last year I was in that boat with my E36, except it was my only car. It all started with blowing out a coolant line under the intake manifold. Car was down for about 2 weeks, only because once I got the intake manifold off, I figured I need to start replacing a lot more stuff.

6 months later I decided to replace my clutch. The dual mass flywheel was shot. $2,000 or so later between all the work I did in the last year... I had a plethora of new parts and a good running car.

Bought a fairly low mileage E46, and have been knocking out the major maintenance the car lacked from its one owner of 15 years.

I'm at about $1,700 in new parts and specialty tools.

So far, I have done:

Disa Valve Replacement
Coolant Flush
Transmission Flush
Slave Cylinder Replacment
Windshield Cowl
Cabin Filter
New Floor Mats
Spark Plugs
Valve Cover Gasket
Vanos Seal Kit
Fuel Pump
Brake Fluid Flush ATE Type 200 DOT 4
Accessory Belt Replacement Contitech Belts
Crank Case Ventilation (CCV)
Oil Filter Housing Gasket
Oil Change
4 Wheel Alignment + used style 68 wheels with almost new tires
Front Brakes and Rotors
Differential front and rear bushing tools
Front/Rear Differential Mounts, Diff Fluid Flush

Control arms and bushings will be in the next week or so, along with rear trailing arm bushings since I'll have to realign the car.

I haven't attacked the cooling yet... but I know some parts have been replaced by the previous owner. Just need to figure out if that included a radiator and expansion tank.

After I finish all this... I expect the car to be trouble free for the next few years. I only drive it between 50-100 miles a week with it too (usually weekends, E36 I drive every day to work).

Since you've done all this work, the car should last you a long time now!
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:34 AM   #6
BaliDawg
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My Ride: E39 E46 E84
I love stories like these. Well done, sir!

And may I suggest a different perspective? The reward for saving money by doing it yourself is the purchasing of the new tools. At least for me, it's all about the tools!
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:52 AM   #7
jmo69
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My Ride: 03 325xi 98 328is
I've only replaced and fixed things that broke and general maintenance and I'm $5100 into my xi and the only "shops" it's seen is the body and alignment shops. So I feel your pain.
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Alternative to expensive xi control arm bushings
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Bad outer xi ball joint?
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:33 AM   #8
jaga
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My Ride: 2002 325i
Year: 2002
Model: 325i
Transmission: Automatic
Awesome stories. All the fanatics are somehow in the same boat of pain&joy. But we backup each other, and we always do it, not for money but because we identify ourselves needing help. That has always been interesting to me....how sick are the E46 fanatics. I hope it last long.

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Old 08-18-2017, 09:39 AM   #9
generalvp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeng View Post
including:
  • socket to remove oil filter housing
  • three-jaw puller to remove control arm bushing
  • universal joint set to remove coolant drain bolt on engine block
  • pick set to remove broken, corroded pipe bits from water inlet pipes
  • pry bars to remove starter motor (gently!) and other assorted, stubborn bolts/nuts
  • long nose pliers (straight, 45 and 90 degree) to help ease off various connectors
  • torx wrench set to remove starter mounting bolts
  • vise grip plier to hold bolt stationary when replacing sway bar links (although a 16 mm wrench would be better for this job...but i didn't have one)
  • side cutter to cut various zip ties and to help remove old ccv hoses
  • clicker torque wrench because my bar torque wrench was too long to maneuver in many places
  • magnet wand tool (which was INVALUABLE retrieving inevitably dropped bolts, clips, etc.)
  • BMW service manual, although much of my guidance came from internet videos - mostly 50s Kid, Ask The Car Experts, ShopLife TV and BSKorner (minus the beer)

All in all, I spent about 2K on all the parts and tools to attempt to fix my wife's 2001 330ci. I thought I was almost finished when I realized I threw away the plastic connecting ring that goes between the upper and lower intake boot hoses! Lesson to be learned: Be organized and save the old parts until the job is 100% complete and you're sure you don't need anything that's supposed to be reused.
Now that's more like it. Not bad but my list would easily triple that! Life of an E46 fanatic. Wife hates me every time I go to the auto parts store.
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Old 08-18-2017, 10:45 AM   #10
kbsilver
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My Ride: 2000 328i
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeng View Post
Lesson to be learned: Be organized and save the old parts until the job is 100% complete and you're sure you don't need anything that's supposed to be reused.
Very good words of wisdom. I can say if you work on cars for a good part of your lifetime, eventually you will already have what is needed for your next repair. I just fixed all the common leaks (VC Gasket, Vanos Hose, Oil filter housing, PS hoses) plus an assortment of other repairs while there. The ONLY tool I had to purchase was the one to separate the PS hoses from the Oil Cooler pipe. They said it was nearly impossible to get these hoses off without the tool, and the were right! It was only $13 but this is one VERY specific purpose tool I am unlikely to use again (but you never know).

While most people already know, Harbor Freight is a great place for getting general tools at very good prices. They will not hold up like professional tools that are used every day, but for the occasional use of a DIY'r, they usually fit the bill perfectly.

Last edited by kbsilver; 08-18-2017 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 08-18-2017, 11:09 AM   #11
74123
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Location: Liverpool
Posts: 4,166
My Ride: 320i SE Coupe
Radiator, expansion tank, thermostat, water pump, belt tensioner, belts, cam sensors (twice), crank sensor (twice), fuel pump, fuel filter, wishbones, rear struts and bushes, ccv, brake discs, pads, all 6 coils, both pre cat O2 sensors and hood catch (it was a bit worn). Plus the usual regular maintenance of components. Only the discs and struts were non preventative to be honest. The other stuff was basically a matter of replace before they started to be a problem.
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