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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, this is my first post
I bought my E46 M3 new in 2002.
As soon the new E46 was announced I went to the dealer and plunked down a deposit. After waiting a year the dealer called and told me it was my turn to place an order. I had just read about the SMG on a web site, but it wasn't available yet, so I kept my place in the order queue, but waited for SMG to be available. Remember back then it was new and slick and cool. Good thing I waited...

It's a 2002 E46 M3 SMG model, which we took delivery on 11/01. Yes, we had the "exploding engine" M3. Those with stick shift were being blamed for over revving their motors, which was impossible with SMG. Got a new motor at 11,000 miles. Now it's 14 years old, 45,000 miles and SMG kind of sucks, slow shifts compared to my new '16 VW Golf-R, but it's what I've got, don't think an SMG->Stick conversion is worth the $.

I never tracked the car until this year. I used to road race motorcycles, but never wanted to destroy my pristine M3. Now that the M3 is a little long in the tooth and I'd like to have some fun with it. I want to keep it street-able, but add a few affordable, best bang tweaks for the track.

I've put on Turner sway bars, and the Bilstein B12 Pro kit suspension. I learned the hard way racing bikes that good track vehicles are about suspension first and power second.
18" CSL wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires, and thus far nothing else.

I want to spend as little as possible, say a budget of $5k, and get the most out of the car, without making it unpalatable for driving to the mall. Absolutely no cosmetic mods that don't improve lap times.

I'm also not interested in any mods that aren't DIY, I can handle most work myself, so all of the $5k is for parts.

Bring it on
 

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"Destroy your pristine M3"?

People that track their cars maintain them typically far better than those who never venture onto a track. And I suppose I don't understand by what specific mechanism people driving on a track are "destroying" their cars.

The stock E46 M3 is far more capable than 99% of their drivers. Spending money to improve the car in advance of those skills presumes that the car is holding you back.

I'd spend most of that money on track weekends with good organizations that will develop your skills and on maintaining the car to make it ready for those days.

Is your VANOS bulletproofed? Subframe mounts improved? How are all of your bushings? Have you replaced your old cooling system? Which brake rotors/pads are you running? There is a lot of maintenance to be done. Fresh oil, regular brake fluid changes etc etc etc etc.

Spend money on safety first - performance last.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
As I said, I have race experience, no I felt no need to state the obvious.
Yes, destroy. As in off track excursion. As a racer I crashed my motorcycle dozens of times.
I've done a few track days and so far they've been rather tepid compared to racing, so obviously my previous fears may have been unfounded, however I'm fairly competitive and find the greatest enjoyment pushing against the limits of the vehicle I'm driving. I agree,initially the biggest improvement is software, that is the driver. Schools, etc. But I already knew that. I'm asking on an E46 forum what I should do to get my E46 prepped for the track.
No, my VANOS isn't bulletproofed, please explain where to find a document outlining the process.
No, subframe mounts are stock, what do I need to have done? Link?
Bushings, stock as far as I know, what do I need to have done? Link?
OEM cooling, ditto on link

I did forget to mention that I've upgraded the rotors and calipers to BMW Competition, but did not go with aftermarket pads, should I?
Do I need a diff master cyl?
Should ABS be defeated?

Next purchase is Sparco seat, better belts to keep me from sliding around.

All maint is done.


Given all of that, I really want a list of off season todo items to get the vehicle ready.

TIA
 

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Please bolt in a Auto Power half cage or full cage, then install race harnesses on both sides so any future instructors will be safe too. Consider buying a second set of wheels and tires plus race brake pads. Race wheels and tires can be quickly mounted when you arrive at the track. If you stay within the same manufacturer of brake pads, you can swap DD to race pads back n forth without any issues.
 

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1) 3.91 or 4.10 rear diff upgrade should help more often than not depending on the track and other variables.

2) Longer tube headers w/ cats in sect. 1 like OEM Euro or Schrick.

3) check out DR VANOS and TurboToy exhaust hub if you want to service the VANOS

4) New motor mounts, trans mounts, subframe and differential mounts, either OEM or better. New LCAB's and check LCA ball joints. New RTAB's and limiters.

5) Rear Subframe Mounting to Unibody reinforcements like TMS kit and expanding foam in the trunk floor pan around those mounts or custom braces

6) you could get some extreme summer performance tires on another set of wheels for better traction

7) Aftermarket Schrick Camshafts

8) Tune or Custom tune for your configuration through Epic or Frank Smith Tuning

9) Corner balance and custom alignment, I'd recommend a little more camber in the front than the rear but there's plenty of options
 

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"Destroy your pristine M3"?
The stock E46 M3 is far more capable than 99% of their drivers. Spending money to improve the car in advance of those skills presumes that the car is holding you back.
This is a true and an enlightened remark (which destroy all my plans on converting my car to a GT3 - Thank you).

But, there are some exceptions which are VERY important about this car to track it :

- Movement of transmission : Replacing the small transmission mount with a slighter harder rubber or with a different design (like old BMWs) can prevent your transmission to move sideways which leads to miss shifts. Search Rogue one. Also better shifter bushings... When spirited driving in mountains it happened to me two times and I'm very lucky to not have fully depressed the clutch. I thought it was my bad skills but it never happens with my Audi.

Car specific track maintenance :

- Failing tabs that goes in VANOS pump disk : The tabs will break due to the clearance. Search Beisan Solutions. I would never track a high mileage M3 without a new disk. Since your here, do the total VANOS overhaul.

- Cracked VANOS oil line. As you have a '01, be sure that it is changed to the new revision which is upgraded with better attach points. Or it will break and leak on track days.

- Even if you have a new engine, change the rod bearings. Even if the car is well maintain, it is a design defect and these will wear out too fast. Mine has 60K and had a new motor at 10K. I will change them preventively.

- Too soft OEM rear trailing arm bushings (RTAB). Use limiters or go for PU ones.


All that is listed is not expensive and are wonderful DIY works.

I've not tracked my car yet but this is what it will undergo during winter. It is an absolute necessity. A better shifter (solid SSK), or just solid carriage bushings are also a must. OEM is so sloppy ! With $5K I would also go with Ohlins TTX suspension that are incredible both on track and street. It will reduce by 20mm the ride height.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
- Movement of transmission : Replacing the small transmission mount with a slighter harder rubber or with a different design (like old BMWs) can prevent your transmission to move sideways which leads to miss shifts. Search Rogue one. Also better shifter bushings...
Is this needed on SMG trans as well?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks to all for their input.

I have a decent list of items to inspect, repair, "bulletproof", and after a bit of online research I can say the car needs a LOT of work.

The VANOS, Subframe, Various bushings, etc will be more than enough to keep me busy throughout the Winter.
 
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