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2003 330i Touring Build - Photo Journal

15129 Views 76 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Dynamic Entry
I converted an automatic 2003 325i Touring into a 330i Touring 5-speed.

My previous 2005 325i Touring (EZ15752) was wonderful and almost perfectly equipped (from M steering-wheel to Sports suspension to Shadowline trim) but when I learned that 330i wagons were available in Europe and not in North America, I decided to make my own.

EZ15752 was just too nice to modify, particularly since it's M54b25 still ran like a dream, and deserved to live out it's life as is.

So I sold it, and I was on the hunt for worthy donors.

I picked up a 2003 330i manual Sedan (KM01933) that was well equipped and well cared for, but the owner walked away when it needed a new clutch.

And I found my project Touring a few months later, a GreyGreen 325i auto (PC11796) with a solid body but neglected maintenance that made it a perfect fit for a complete swap.

Wrenching on the e46 chassis is pretty straight forward and enjoyable, and I ended up learning a LOT about the electronics and coding side.

I paid as much attention as I could to all the details, and I especially took into consideration what should be done "while you are in there"

I am excited and very satisfied by the results, and am finally taking the time to document the process.

This thread won't be instructive enough to qualify as a DIY/Tutorial, but the majority of information I relied on for mechanical side came from experience (wrenching on 4 previous e46s), the Bentley Manual, and these 2 swap threads on e46Fanatics.

Happy Trails to the 2.5L

Hello to the 3.0L Longroof

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Almost all parts are either Genuine BMW or OEM (eBay headers being the primary exception)

The aim and result is a factory spec 330i Touring, but one major 'modification' I made during this swap is deleting the plastic M54 Valve cover and network of CCV system tubes/valve by replacing it with the M56 aluminum valve cover that has an integrated CCV system.

2003 BMW 325i GreyGreen Metallic - PC11796 - Active Status
  • Complete m54b30 and 5 speed swap
  • lots of maintenance and extras
  • flashed/coded with EU2 DME software and deleted $205 from Vehicle Order so the car believes it is a manual transmission
Donated from 2003 330i Sedan (KM01933)
  • M54b30 engine incl airbox, MAF, DISA, etc
  • ZF 5 speed manual transmission (replaced 5th and Reverse detent pins to fix common shifter issue)
  • 330 propeller shaft and rear diff input shaft (retained 325iT 3.46 rear diff)
  • clutch pedal, hydraulic lines, shifter assembly
  • 330 calipers
  • 'ZHP' Yellow tag steering rack & tie rods
  • radiator & electric cooling fan
  • Sports Seats, leather/electric/heated
  • Leather door cards
  • 17" M-sport Wheels
  • StahlGrau Metallic Hood
  • 330 exhaust (flap deleted)
  • eBay headers, ceramic coated
  • Genuine BMW M-Tech 2 front bumper and replacement fenders, painted to match 442 GreyGrau Metallic
  • M3 Steering Wheel
  • BMW M Performance shift lever
  • BMW ZHP shift knob
  • Alcantara Shift boot
  • Aluminum interior trim
  • BMW Coolant expansion tank
  • M56 aluminum valve cover, with new cap and membrane

  • BMW viton valve cover gasket
  • BMW engine oil pan gasket, crank seal, rear main seal, OFH gasket, Mann oil filter
  • BMW transmission input shaft seal, pilot bearing, pivot pin, fork lever spring
  • BMW detent pin bushings, shifter bushings and guibo (FEBI)
  • Valeo single mass flywheel and clutch kit
  • Sachs clutch slave cylinder
  • UUC SS brake lines and clutch line (Clutch Delay Valve deleted)
  • Bosch Starter
  • Brembo Rotors & Akebono Pads
  • Bosch Parking Brake shoes
  • Pentosin DOT4 LV brake fluid
  • Contitech accessory belts
  • NGK Ruthenium Spark Plugs
  • BMW trans fluid ATF-2
  • BMW Coolant
  • Moog front end links

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The engine swap is basically plug and play, since both the 2.5L and 3.0L M54 are interchangeable as long as the 3.0L brings along all of it's intake hardware and gets the proper tune applied to the DME/ECU

The transmission swap was also very tidy, since you can swap over all the factory bits without modification. There is only wiring circuit that needs to be added/spliced - to add the Clutch Pedal Switch that allows the factory systems to be retained (Cruise, Clutch to Start, and EWS security module).

However, the transmission swap also afforded opportunities to get creative or at least make decisions about what to end up with.

I decided to:
  • Keep the 3.46 ratio rear end and prioritize low end pick-up over top end speed
  • Swap the rear diff input flange to bring over the beefier 330 propeller shaft
  • Ditch the factory dual mass flywheel for a Valeo single mass kit
  • Add a factory short shifter while the gearbox is dropped
  • Service the 5th & Reverse gear detent pins
  • Add a stainless steel clutch line and delete the delay valve
Teaser pic because headers.

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The 330i Sedan donor was a lucky strike. When the clutch went on it the owner decided they didn't want to invest in the repair. They kept their aftermarket bumpers and let the car go for very cheap. The car started up & idled nicely, had no engine codes, and compression check was great.

Given it was a complete swap and the donor chassis was going to scrap, I decided to take the entire front end off so that I could simply walk the Engine & Trans out of the car as an assembly. I was very happy with this decision and even if it takes more time it is a lot 'easier' than fighting to separate things in the car

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The 330i was evidently taken decent care of by the previous owner. The interior was clean and donated the Sport Seats, full leather door cards, and Sport steering wheel.

Other little clues, such as the oil being amber colored and not black indicate that even though the p/o decided to walk away from the car they had been doing normal maintenance.

The M54b30 had 235,000 KM on it when it was pulled.

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The wagon came to me with 259,000 KM and a typical case of medium neglect. It still ran OK, the seller drove it 150KM to meet me. But it was throwing codes for SAP, o2 sensor, and it would only run if the MAF was unplugged.

It was originally sold in and lived out it's entire life in Alberta, so it does have a bit of typical rust starting in the corners. But all in all it was in decent shape for it's age, an interesting color, and I felt it was a great recipient for the swap.

It compression tested well, so I ended up selling the M54b25 to someone that needed the short block.

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I didn't have space to keep the 330 donor car around for the entire project, so I pulled as much stuff as I thought I would need - from grommets for the firewall to the sunroof cassette.

Getting dejavus with another front end off and engine/trans assembly ready to come out.

It's messy and time consuming but taking everything apart is actually simple and easy.

I knew I would be swapping over the manual spec cooling system parts like fan/radiator etc, so taking it all apart was an easy decision yet again.
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I used a heavy duty gambrel ($20 at BassPro) to span the engine and make sure my chains were running up from the mounts and not inward pinching things.

Walking the Engine&Transmission out as an assembly is pretty satisfying.

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With the engine out, a lot of things that are otherwise painful to do (gaskets!) become easy and even relaxing to work on.

Headers were something that I would not be willing to contend with on the car, but could not pass up with the engine out.

I became convinced that eBay headers provide 95% of the performance as Super Sprint for 5% of the cost, and I was willing to contend with the probability of relocating o2 sensors.

PSA: if ordering pay special attention to the difference between the 323/328 and 325/330. I ordered the 330i stuff but got the 328i fitment. I didn't pick up on this until after I had installed the engine and went to hoop up the exhaust and discovered a 2 inch gap. I'm not the first to get the wrong stuff, and won't be the last so pay attention and measure it against your existing stuff before you install :)
I ended up getting an exaust shop to extend the 'catback' to meet the headers, no big deal but added cost.

Taking the factory stuff off definitely feels good.

The eBay headers are 6.3 KG lighter than the factory stuff

Even if they didn't add 15 horsepower, they are worth installing just for the pictures :)

Test fitting

I used the VHT ceramic coating spray, instead of header wrap

I skipped the junk eBay gaskets that came with, and re-used the factory gaskets with integrated heatshield. New genuine gaskets are three figures, but adding a little Copper RTV has never let me down

Getting the headers to fit did require modifying o2 bungs.

I don't have a welder but luckily my neighbor was able to help me out.

Adding de-foulers to gap the post-cat o2 sensors was successful in keeping the CEL off (but later on I also flashed the DME to an EU2 tune that doesn't look for catalyst function anyhow).
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Vacuum Lines!

The 330 has that weird exhaust flap function, which is vacuum activated. I skipped the golf tee in the line at the back and capped off the nipple on the canister behind the engine instead.

Even though I planned to deactivate the Secondary Air Pump with my EU2 flash, I wanted the vacuum lines to be present and fresh because I would never want to try and deal with these with the engine in the car (the lines are behind the engine right up against the firewall.

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"Whileyou are in there"

Oil pan gasket

Rear main seal

I had done the oil filter housing gasket on my previous 325i Touring, and while I can't recommend pulling the engine just to make it easier - it sure does make it easier

I did the valve cover gasket also, but that's another story with the M56 vc conversion.
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M56 Valve Cover!

The M54 valve cover is plastic and people report it warping.

The M56 (SULEV variant engine that no one likes) valve cover is Aluminium, so it don't crack.

But the main thing about the M56 VC is that it has an integrated Crank Case Ventilation system built into the top of the cover.

The M54 CCV is a network of brittle hoses running in and out of a plastic valve, and it is a weak point on these otherwise extremely robust engines.

If you would like to know all about the ins and outs of this, feel free to read all 78 pages (at time of writing) of this thread dedicated to it

- The M54 CCV is extremely prone to failure as the plastic valve degrades over time, and the whole system tends to clog with 'mayo' of condensed oily vapors that gel up when they get cold - this 'mayo' even starts accumulating in the top of the VC and can be found on the bottom of the oil fill cap on cars that are having CCV issues (common).

There is a 'cold weather' variant of the plastic CCV with insulated hoses and a little jacket for the valve to wear. It is ever so cute but just like a chiwawa you still might not trust it to be OK in -30

- The M56 VC has a channel in the 'roof' of the aluminum valve cover that separates the condensate from the vented air, and this chamber will never clog because it will stay warm long after the engine is off, allowing drainage back down

If I had put in all new M54 plastic CCV stuff, things would probably have been fine for the rest of the car's life - but, the M56 is a superior design and I liked the idea of applying this factory BMW 'modification'

One major issue with this setup is that the Membrane & Cap for the VC can not be purchased individually from BMW. So you if these components need renewal you are basically stuck buying an entire new VC.

But the internet has solved this issue, with a spec membrane made in Russia and a forum-sourced 3D-printed cap. I actually helped in this process by sending my factory cap in to get it scanned for the 3D print.

Pictures of install with BMW viton gasket to follow
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M56 Valve Cover Install:

All M54s have plastic valve covers, but there are 2 styles.

The older ones have the bolt-on ignition coils and the newer ones have the slimmer push-in coils. They have different harnesses too.

The M56 valve covers use the push-in coils and corresponding harness.

The KM01933 330 Sedan engine had the older style coils.

But the PC11796 325i Touring has the push-in coils and harness, so it just so happened that swapping to the M56 valve cover was a perfect fit from the perspective of compatibility.

The M56 VC requires it's own particular gasket around the edge, so I got the Genuine BMW viton one.

I painted the 3D-printed cap with high temp silver paint. Wanted it to be distinguished from the rest of the cover buy wasn't willing to go color or anthing....

Ruthenium is the new hotness?
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The installation of the valve cover itself, plugs, coils, and electrical is all plug&play.

But the fact that we have deleted the external Crank Case Ventilation system creates a need to modify/customize some of the venting.

Specifically, on the M54 the front corner vents the air/moisture mixture down a hose to the plastic CCV valve that separates the moisture (which then drains down to the dipstick)

On the M56 the oil/moisture has already been separated from the air by the time it gets to this corner - so the hose goes directly back to the intake manifold.

If the M56 hose #10 was able to connect to the M54 intake manifold I would have bought it and connected the VC that way, but my understanding is that it has a different sized connection at the intake so it would need to be modified anyway.

Some people decide to removed this fitting and run a rubber fuel hose directly from the M56 VC to this port on the intake manifold.

But as we see, this port on the M54 T's another line back to another port at the back of the manifold - so when people run a rubber hose dirctly here they delete that fitting with the T and simply cap the rear port.

(The M56 does not have this second port at the back and I have never seen a concrete explanation of why they are different)

I wanted to keep the intake manifold setup as factory, so I chose to run my rubber fuel hose sideways around and then under the intake manifold so that it could connect to the factory fittings on the intake manifold (that naturally points down, because it was aimed at the plastic CCV valve that used to reside down there)

This would have been almost as difficult as replacing the factory CCV valve if I wasn't in the middle of an engine swap, but with my unfettered access I was happy with the results.

The factory tubes use different sized fittings on each end, so I needed to make a connection with a fitting so I could step down from one size hose to another

Running the hose in this direction also allowed for me to use the plastic beauty cover on top of the fuel rail for my final install

The M56 system also has it's own dipstick tube, that isn't connected to the intake....... yay!

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Transmission Detent Pins:

The ZF 5-speed gearbox has a good reputation for good reasons, but one downfall is the 5th and Reverse detent pin bushings tend to go bad and make shifting in/out of these gears hard/sticky

I noticed before I pulled things apart that 5th tended to hold the shifter over toward that direction and so I knew it would be worth the effort to replace these things.

1,2,3,4 had no issues and I read that 5th & Reverse are the main culprits so I decided to do both of them.

The process was actually pretty fun! But if you were forced to drop the trans just to do this it could feel like a horrible job.

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ZF stuff:

New Input Shaft Seal

Sachs slave cylinder

New Pivot Pin & Clip

and Throwout Bearing

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New Pilot Bearing bridges us back from the gearbox to the engine again

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Clutch Stuff:

Valeo single mass flywheel

110 NM = 81 ftlbs

Clutch itself

Pressure Plate

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Starter motor was working fine, but I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to install a new unit with almost zero effort

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