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2000 BMW E46 323i
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys! I just wanted to show you my car. I joined this forum in autumn 2020 when I bought my first BMW. It´s an E46 323i sedan made in June,2000. I imported it from Berlin, Germany since here where I live (Slovakia) everybody drives either 320d or 330d models. Six cyl gasoline models are not as common so buying one here was a nightmare. If you can find one that suits your needs (for me it was either 323i or 328i) it´s either in bad shape or just a swap from 4cylinder. (That´s basically illegal in my country). So here it is.
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Now, I would like to tell you my journey. I bought it because I wanted rwd car with manual gearbox and inline 6 gasoline engine. In the past I was a big hater of BMW in general and I could not stand seeing E46 or E36. They were pretty much everywhere and there was this stereotypical image of 18yo guys with a hoodie driving his old BMW with fresh driver´s license....but one day I started to read this forum and gather information regarding E46 BMWs. I started to like them and when I went to buy my first one I fell in love with that smooth inline 6 and nice feel while driving it. So here I am with my 46. It´s lichtgelb metallic (light yellow metallic) but it´s more golden than yellow to be honest. It´s only a year younger than I am so there are also problems. YES, the car rusts. In Slovakia there are hot summers and in winter it snows. I would compare it to a "rust belt" to all of you US guys. They use salt in winter thus cars do rust here. In germany it´s the same so the car was rusted to some extent. I found out that they "repaired" the rusty areas (typical E46 areas) but it started to rust again :( It´s just a cosmetic that I will take care of when I finish all mechanical problems.
After a week of ownership my radiator literally exploded when I floored it in 2nd to redline. I was fully aware of E46 and neglected cooling systems. My cooling system was 21y.o. original from the factory, excluding expansion tank, that was replaced in 2014. So I did almost complete cooling system overhaul by myself. This forum helped me to gather information which brands of components to use. Behr radiator, Wahler thermostat with RTV "preventive maintenance", Hella expnasion tank and Meyle waterpump, some hoses and sensors. It works flawlessly. Here is a picture of my original radiator. It cracked because it was bent in lower part.
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Somehow I managed to buy kind of "neglected" car. Not only cooling system was original but so was fuel filter and air filter. 305 000 kms on original cooling system, fuel filter and air filter! Sparkplugs were also original! So previous owner was a pig. However the car runs great ...you know, German quality.
 

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Registered
2000 BMW E46 323i
Joined
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
After this, I bought complete rear subframe assembly with fresh set of brakes, pads and handbrake shoes for a good price. Intention was simple - original bushings worn out, spongy feel, diff bushings were rotten so that movement of the differential when depressing clutch pedal while shifting in upper RPM range created horrible clunk under the rear seats (like a sledgehammer hitting underside of my car). So this has to be sorted out. I disassembled the whole assy, removed subframe bushings using propane torch and a hammer. This is how the spare subframe looked (before bushings removal)
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After that I cleaned it and repainted it with fresh coat of anti corrosion primer and top color. I disassembled the whole rear trailing arms. I learned how everything works so it was a challenge for me. My 4 ton press is not enough to remove bushings so this sparked an idea of going POLY with all the bushings in the whole car. And so I did that. It´s because of easy assembly, but also I wanted my car to be very stiff on the road. I went with STRONGFLEX bushings brand from Poland since they are affordable and many guys run them here without problems. I have chosen yellow (stiffer) ones for the whole car except for diff bushings. Here is how it looks like.
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Now, I bought sligtly used FCAs, rebuilt rear brake calipers, painted everything and now I´m waiting for additional parts for the rear assy (RTA top and bottom bushings instead of balljoint), rear wheel bearings, handbrake cables, etc...
I am not racer or anything like that...I just want my car to handle good and to be on the stiffer side when it comes to comfort. Currently I´m working on complete front suspension assembly. I pressed in FCA bushings, bought new struts and all the hardware associated with it (top mounts, dust boots and so on) I bought Meyle struts because I had a killer price for a set and since I´m a student I don´t have money for fancy Bilstein or Sachs....in the future I will buy quality shocks but for now I have to work with Meyle. They are Mtechnic 2 struts because I have sports suspension upgrade.
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Currently, that´s all to it. I will update my progress as soon as it will be installed (front assy).
 

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Registered
2000 BMW E46 323i
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Today I´ve done almost complete front end overhaul. New struts, strut top mounts, FCAs, FCA poly bushings and sway bar linkages. It was PITA! 20 years of service on all factory original parts was the biggest problem here. We could not get the FCAs out. FCA to spindle ball joints were stuck...nothing worked for us. Ended up cutting the spindles from FCAs with angle grinder to push the remaining ball joint parts (cone) out....but nothing worked. No heat, not even hitting that thing with a sledge hammer. I ended up buying used spindles that were in good shape, excluding wheel bearings which are noisy but I was going to replace them anyways. The bigger problem was FCAs to subframe ball joints. Top of the threads were rusted as hell, so after unscrewing the nuts to the foremost position it got stuck and ball joints started to rotate. We are not professional mechanics so we had to think about some sort of way to get them out. After a few tries with different methods we welded thicker rebars to ball joints between FCA and subframe so that one can hold it and my friend unscrewed that tight-ass nut with 1,5m extension on a wrench....leverage was our friend. Meanwhile I managed to break both wheel speed sensors, because they were really crusty or brittle should I say...so I ordered new ones. Assembly was really easy. After a test drive I could not believe that I´m sitting in the same car. Everything is really tight, steering wheel moves harder, steering itself is sharper and the car´s front end is stiffer - but in the good way. I really tought that it will be stiffer than it is so it kind of surprised me - it´s still comfortable. I have to do an alingment. Now everything works in order, there´s no squeaking nor clunking from the front end. However now the rear end became the weak link. It can not keep up with refreshed front end, it´s really soft and spongy. Cannot wait to install new rear end! Looking forward to update with something more, probably front swaybar bushing since they are original ones. Photos kinda suck because there was a shitty light.
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1980 733i, 2006 m3
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168 Posts
Dig that color also! What is it called?
Good work for "not professional mechanics". Way to look the problem in the eye, and keep on going.
Well done!
 

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2000 BMW E46 323i
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Today I bought a "poor man's supercharger". It's 3.38:1 medium case differential from 2.2L E46 320i - a direct bolt on. Disassembled it, poured out that BMW "lifetime" gunk and cleaned it with wire brush. Degreased with acetone and applied a nice layer of gloss black. As a new seal I used RTV sealant that I've had a good results with. I used it many times as a sealant for two halves of 2 stroke motorcycle engines, so I think it would hold the gear oil. If not...I will use something else. I didn't replace the output flange seals since they look good. If they will develop a leak it's an easy job to replace. I really can't wait to test that diff out.
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