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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,

I mistakenly created this thread in "introductions". It's really meant to be a build thread, so I'm moving it to here. Hope that's ok?

I picked up the 2002 Steel Blue on grey 330i sedan that was for sale on this board recently. 111k miles and single owner couple from new. They did a great job keeping it in pretty exemplary condition, but as with all 20-year-old cars, it has some things that need to be addressed. They clearly loved the car, and my wife and I hope to do a Euro delivery program one day as they did, so that's fun. Also, a fellow member was a big help doing a thorough inspection before purchase - thanks @jagmandan ! I wanted a clean slate and this car is certainly that. It's never been polished or buffed so I imagine the paint will be a big transformation even though it's in great shape on first glance. I'll take some close-ups when I do that work. Also, Steel Blue is lovely in person. Pictures don't really do it justice. It changes based on the lighting and is generally darker than pictures suggest.

I flew up to Portland and drove it 10 hours home. Nice first drive! Averaged about 28mpg holding it around 80mph. Somewhere along the way I found some extra-legal speeds and it held up well :). It's not my fault - this car encourages and rewards semi-bad behavior, haha.

The goal with this car is to have it be very reliable and perform to new-car levels with some minor improvements. Cosmetically you'll never know it is different than when it rolled off the factory floor, but it'll drive about as well as it can.

Options:
  • Sport
  • Premium
  • Cold Weather

I'm building my list of little items to get it up to semi-bombproof reliability?:
  • Water pump (still original), expansion tank, Hoses, Thermostat. On the fence about the radiator - seems fine.
  • Squeaky pulley somewhere in there.
  • Replace all fluids. Coolant, trans, diff, power steering, brakes, etc.
  • Engine (M3)
  • Pads, rotors, fluid
  • Oil pan gasket
  • oil filter housing gasket

On the cosmetic side:
  • Touch up paint (they don't sell Steel Blue OE touch paint any longer, bummer!
  • Leatherique the leather as it's gotten a bit stiff
  • IronX, Clay, Cut, Polish, Ceramic. Not sure when this will happen (I have a toddler and will prioritize mechanical as that's paramount).

Fun stuff - most of it complete:
  • Koni Yellows, bump stops, strut mounts, etc Just do this! (This is very well thought out and it's what i'm doing for V1.0 in this car)
  • Auto Solutions shifter (this thing feels incredible)
  • Square Indy 5003 245/40/17
  • Vince bar front cups reinforcement
  • SME rear bar
  • DMG co-op bar
  • Rogue trans mounts
  • PFC Carbon Metallic pads
  • Turner Monoball RTAB
  • Powerflex rear subframe bushings
  • Oil pump nut wired + red loctite
  • ZHP Alcantara wheel
  • 3.46 differential
  • Who knows? What's your favorite?
To come:
  • Sunroof delete - it works, but leaks. Time to remove! Need to find a local slick top headliner
  • Make this a streetable-ish spec E46 my son and I can campaign... maybe?

I'm coming from E36 M3, E46 M3, E91 328i to this 330i. It's great to be back in an E46. First impressions after moving the E91 on... I am shocked how much more playful this car is. It's smaller and lighter and more communicative. This is a comparison of a manual trans e46 sedan to a wagon E91 automatic, tho so the combination of more power to the wheelsand less weight is pretty different. Probably 350 fewer lbs with 10% more power to the ground. Also, I would love an E90 sedan spec'd similarly to this. Maybe one day... Classic BMW sound and smell int eh E46 (I missed the Crayon interior smell).

Some pics!







Passed smog, Hooray!

Loving all the content on this board. Many of you are so incredibly helpful. I'm very happy to be back!
 

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309 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
First couple maintenance/repairs...

Fuel filter vacuum connection turned into dust. Replaced with Standard Vacuum hose.

Booooo


Yayyyyy


GAS Disa Rebuild

My DISA was in pretty good shape, but I wasn't sleeping well at night, so out it came.





Up next... Me thinks it's time to address some of the cooling bits, engine/trans mounts and brakes :) Oh, and how could I forget the oil leaks, oh yes!

This "cheap" fun car is adding up, haha! i figure if I have a well-sorted and driving car for another $2.5k in stuff I'll be pretty happy.
 

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309 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I like that the E46 platform is new enough to offer some tech, but not so new that every module in the car needs to be programed every time something is unpluggeed. For example; the Homelink adapter. Easy to add and works great. 15 minutes.

Followed this DIY. Worked out great. Make sure to get a rolling code opener. It's unlikely the non-rolling will do you much good in the future.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Another reason why I'm digging the E46 platform... Data.

Look at all this glorious data:
Fat Cat Motorsport Suspension Data

Need to know how your sway bar will effect your ride? Let the data tell you first. Of course, these are M3 specific values, BUT we all know that stuff fits these non-M cars and all the pickup points are the same, so the equations are very relevant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, this really got out of hand fast.

"While I'm in there" mindset has led me to...

  • Oil pan baffle
  • Oil pump nut wiring with red Loctite
  • Vince bar (front cups)
  • SME bar for the rear subframe mounts
  • 3.46 Diff

I wanted to get the car on blocks and really have a look around. I intend to have fun with the car, aka drive it spiritedly, and I want to survive as it's a good example. So, I wanted to know exactly what the RACP looks like. Maybe I'm overly paranoid as my old E46 M3 was pretty cracked up from track use? The good news is the OE subframe bushings, diff bushings and RACP look basically new. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised as the primary owner was a mature woman who treated the car lovingly.

Anyway, here's me getting carried away. It'll probably be on the blocks for a couple of months as time is limited with a 3yo, but it'll be nice to work on when I can.





The front is very grimy - to be expected on a car that's never had the OFHG or OPG done. But they'll be done as well as the Oil pan goodies above :)



Quick Question: Where is everyone buying their intake manifold vacuum plugs? The 3.5 and 7mm ones on my car are falling apart. Lots of choices on amazon that seem questionable at best and the OE ones seem NLA...

Thanks for the help on this!
 

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2003 BMW 325i
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72 Posts
If you haven't already, I'd look into the CCV system. Either replace it with an OCC or with fresh OEM system. I'm far ahead of you in miles, but I was burning close to 1qt/500 miles before I was finally able/got tired of topping it off to fix it. Would also look at valve cover gaskets and such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Nice car. How do you like it compared to your E36 M3?
Well, it’s been some time since I had that car, but I’d say they’re similar in the they’re both easy to drive. Light compared to the e46 M3, for example

I’ll know more after I get the suspension overhaul over. Right now this car is pretty loose.

If you haven't already, I'd look into the CCV system. Either replace it with an OCC or with fresh OEM system. I'm far ahead of you in miles, but I was burning close to 1qt/500 miles before I was finally able/got tired of topping it off to fix it. Would also look at valve cover gaskets and such.
Yeah, I’m definitely going to go in that direction at some point. Likely when I have to Pull the dipstick tube. Overall the systems seems ok. The car was used and stored in a very mild climate - no freezing weather which I know is tough on the CCV. thanks for the heads up!
 

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Just saw your thread, great car with a good spec. It's always nice to start from a clean sheet, that way you can make sure the car is set up exactly how you want it. I look forward to seeing the SME brace and the MTech suspension with all the good "secret" bits. :)

Does it have folding seats?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just saw your thread, great car with a good spec. It's always nice to start from a clean sheet, that way you can make sure the car is set up exactly how you want it. I look forward to seeing the SME brace and the MTech suspension with all the good "secret" bits. :)

Does it have folding seats?
It does have folding seats, unfortunately. But you know that only makes me want to save my pennies for the Slon rear seat carbon brace. One day... le sigh.

I'm excited to get the suspension in. It should arrive next week. Nice add on the Budget Performance Suspension page with the sway bars!

Also, as an update to this thread - I've changed course from the Koni Yellows to the full Sachs Advatage kit in the link above. Look forward to trying out how this car feels as basically the best version of itself from the original BMW designers.
 

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With the front subframe off, I would go ahead and also replace the engine mounts. Either go with stock or E46 M3 mounts. If you are really adventureous you can try the Group N mounts, but expect some extra NVH. Also, nice Z4M FCABs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
With the front subframe off, I would go ahead and also replace the engine mounts. Either go with stock or E46 M3 mounts. If you are really adventureous you can try the Group N mounts, but expect some extra NVH. Also, nice Z4M FCABs.
Definitely good advice. The stockers literally fell apart when I dropped the subframe. New e46 M3 ones on order :)

No group N for me…yet
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I wanted to try an Alcantara wheel. This one needed paint, an emblem, and the stock foam had come unglued from the inner steel wheel. The movement of the fiber and foam on the steel is incredibly annoying.

I could not find an epoxy that was viscous enough to inject.

This method with needles and CA glue is working quite well. Just poke around until you get a feel for when you're hitting the metal, and inject away.

If I like the wheel, maybe I'll consider putting real coin into a fresh one. In the meantime, I'll report back on the effectiveness of this cheap-as-chips experiment.

 
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