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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone! I'd like to start a build thread about my beat-up old BMW. Maybe someone will find it interesting? LOL

Anyway, here's some backstory. My previous project car was a Pontiac Fiero. It was a fun little car. But the drivetrain setup had serious limitations. Plus parts are getting scarce. So I decided to move on to something else. I wanted my new project car to have a front engine RWD layout. I also wanted decent handling. And I didn't want a large or really heavy vehicle.

After some research, I narrowed the options down to the 4th generation F-Body or the E46 BMW. To be honest, I was biased toward the F-Body. I grew up around Chevys and Fords, so it's familiar. But I found a really good deal on an E46, and jumped on it. Now I'm the proud owner of a 2001 330i. I was specifically looking for a 330i, because it has the biggest (non-M3) engine and beefy brakes. IMO that's a good starting point.

Here are some photos from the FB ad. Isn't she gorgeous?! :p







Looks like this car was rode hard, and put away wet. I wanted a project, and I got one! Here's an intro video I made, right after buying the car.


IMO a project needs to have a goal, or at least a direction. So here's where I plan to go with this car. First of all, it will not be a daily driver. And it will not be a "nice" car. This car is so rough that trying to make it pretty would be an exercise in futility. So instead, it's going to be a weekend fun car. My previous project (the Fiero) slowly morphed into a street-legal race car. And I think the BMW will do the same. I plan to do some drag racing, some autocross, and maybe some road racing. I'm not building it to fit into any particular racing class. And I don't really care if it's competitive. I just want to have some fun.

Also, the project car is just a hobby. Other things will take priority. So progress will be slow. But I plan to keep the car for a long time.
 

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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I bought the car in July, and it's now November. So there's some catching up to do. I'll be posting frequently, until we're caught up.

After buying the car, the first priority was to make it road worthy. As you can see from the previous post, it was really rough. The front bumper, and the associated underbody parts, was missing. The driver side front fender was mangled. The door was binding against the fender, so it was hard to open. Also, one of the tail light lenses was shattered. It needed new tires. And the engine ran rough.

I was able to find the body parts I needed at the local salvage yard. I got a front bumper, core support, impact beam, and front fender. I couldn't find all the trim for the front bumper. But no biggie. Also, there wasn't a pristine fender in the yard. So I grabbed the least damaged one. At least I can open the door now.





I also snagged a tail light housing, and bought some new tires.

Moving on to the engine... I decided to check the spark plugs. They were so worn, the ground straps were more like ground nubs. I'm surprised the engine even ran! After replacing the spark plugs, the engine still ran rough. So I checked the coils. Two of them were bad, so I replaced them. That helped a lot.

When I checked the fluids, I found clear fluid in the power steering reservoir, and plain water in the cooling system. So I drained that stuff out, and refilled it.

When I bought the car, I noticed the MAF sensor was unplugged. When I plugged it back in, the engine ran like crap, and was hard to start. The culprit was a torn intake boot. So I replaced that.

I also checked the DISA valve, and it was in pieces. Thankfully, the little metal pin didn't get sucked into the engine. It was sitting there, in the intake manifold. So I rebuilt the DISA valve, using a repair kit.

Here are a couple videos I made about those repairs.



At this point, I was hoping I could just do some minor fixer-upper work, and have a driveable car. Spoiler Alert: I was mistaken. Very mistaken. We'll talk about that soon.
 

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2005 325i Auto
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Mate I wish you all the best, but holy hell that's rough!!

I looked for 8 months until I settled on a very clean 05 325i (240,00kms) with brand new tires all round and 6 months rego, but with the dash lit up like a Christmas tree and in limp mode. I paid $3k (AUD), so with the tires and rego put aside I figure the car owes me about $1500.

I allowed 3k for a full engine bay refresh with all plastic/hoses/sensors/belts/rollers/electric fan conversion, but that's headed for 4k with a new starter and alternator. I will try to recover some of that selling the old parts.

Mine's been serviced by an old school mechanic who didn't understand CCV's etc, but he did keep all the undercarriage in order and was regular with the oil changes.

Obviously I'm going for a nice Sunday driver, and you're looking to build a "hoon mobile", but I do hope you've tested the motor for compression and head gasket leaks. At least do so before you start shelling out on parts.

I was talking to my son about getting another old one to race/drag/something with as well...I think I'm having a mid life crisis, just without the Harley or motorboat. I'm not above fanging my Sunday driver down a drag strip if they'll let me lol!

Good luck and better pre emptively refer your wallet to a rape councillor!

EDIT

In the time it took me to type that post I see you're all over it!!

It must be great to be in the US and be able to find so many parts/cars available...comes with more than 10x my countries population.

I'd have left that Aux fan out myself and gone with an all electric puller fan behind the radiator myself. Especially for racing...no fan clutch.
 

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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the compliments! And yeah, this car was SUPER rough. But like you said, it's gonna be a "hoon-mobile". I have a nice, reliable car as a daily driver. So this one can be a science project.

In addition to all the problems, I also was new to BMWs. Never owned one before. So I had to climb a steep learning curve. Countless hours were spent researching stuff online (including this forum). I also got a service manual.
 

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2005 325i Auto
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Thanks for the compliments! And yeah, this car was SUPER rough. But like you said, it's gonna be a "hoon-mobile". I have a nice, reliable car as a daily driver. So this one can be a science project.

In addition to all the problems, I also was new to BMWs. Never owned one before. So I had to climb a steep learning curve. Countless hours were spent researching stuff online (including this forum). I also got a service manual.
I'm a reasonable mechanic, but I'm new to BMW's as well. And yes we have a Kia as our "actually need to get there on time" car.

These guys here are pretty helpful and right up on it. Here's some references they have recommended:



 

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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
While I was doing the above repairs, the gauge cluster decided to let out the magic smoke. I did some reading online. Apparently it's a common problem. The fuses were OK. I tried some of the "rebooting" tricks that people talked about. Nothing worked. I also read about capacitors going bad and causing circuit traces to corrode. So I disassembled the cluster and tried to repair it.

Yep, traces were corroded. Yep, capacitors were leaking. I cleaned up the traces, and replaced the capacitors with new ones. No luck. Off to the salvage yard again...

After replacing the intake boot, the engine still acted like it had a vacuum leak. I checked the vacuum hoses, and they looked good. Then I learned about the cam cover gasket, and the weird CCV system. When I checked the cam cover, there were a couple oil leaks around the gasket. If oil is leaking out, then air is probably leaking in. It didn't help that most of the cam cover bolts were missing.

Previous owners... :rolleyes:

While I was at the salvage yard looking for a gauge cluster, I got some cam cover bolts. I also ordered a new gasket (with grommets for the bolts). While I was dorking around in the engine bay, I also noticed the power steering pulley was damaged. So I nabbed one of those too. I had to remove the clutch fan to get at the belts. I noticed one of the fan blades was damaged. I don't like clutch fans anyway. So I didn't re-install it.

When I removed the cam cover, I was greeted with this:



That's a lot of sludge! 😨

I wasn't ready to do a full engine rebuild. And to be honest, I may swap another engine in, anyway. So I re-installed the cam cover, and decided to deal with that later. Probably not the wisest choice.

Anyway, this video covers the gauge cluster debacle, and cam cover gasket replacement.

 

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E46 '04 330Ci convertible 780 K km
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Do not sweat too much about sludge. Use cheap oil, even 20W50, and change it as often as possible, with filter, of course. Adding half liter of ATF to oil 20 km before oil change would help to wash a bit. Just patience. That sludge itself isn't that dangerous, although looks ugly and gives some idea how bad piston rings could be. Yet, you can have it driveable. Avoid using any engine flush at this stage, as you risk to get some chunks to get free and clog oil passways.
 

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2005 325i Auto
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I'm just blown away that the thing ran well enough to run 2 drag races!! The fact that it drove an hour trip to get there was good...let alone driving home afterwards. I can't deny I was expecting a bang followed by a lot of clattering when the light went green lol.
 

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E46 '04 330Ci convertible 780 K km
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I used BG epr oil treatment then started using Rotella T6 oil. Last time I was under the valve cover it looked great.
When you looked under your valve cover it was great because it was that way even before you used BG).
BG is great thing (instructions do not recommend to use it on heavily slugged engines), but it is not powerful enough to clean such mess, not at once. So less aggressive way like several often oil changes will help, before going whole nine yeards with BG.
As I promised couple of weeks ago, soon I am going to post the description of how-to-clean engine to his virgin condition, just need to get more pics to illustrate the process. Such procedure will be helpful in this particular case of OP engine.
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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When you looked under your valve cover it was great because it was that way even before you used BG).
BG is great thing (instructions do not recommend to use it on heavily slugged engines), but it is not powerful enough to clean such mess, not at once. So less aggressive way like several often oil changes will help, before going whole nine yeards with BG.
As I promised couple of weeks ago, soon I am going to post the description of how-to-clean engine to his virgin condition, just need to get more pics to illustrate the process. Such procedure will be helpful in this particular case of OP engine.
Good to know. Thanks
 

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E46 '04 330Ci convertible 780 K km
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So I'm finding out right now...

Broke
My
Wallet
Free cheese only is in mousetrap.

Think about that way. It is great car which , on some stage of its life, being neglected to some level , until it gets into your hands. You do all right maintenance and you get reliable no-headache car for next few years. Every work you do on this car is increasing your karma score.
 

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2005 325i Auto
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Free cheese only is in mousetrap.

Think about that way. It is great car which , on some stage of its life, being neglected to some level , until it gets into your hands. You do all right maintenance and you get reliable no-headache car for next few years. Every work you do on this car is increasing your karma score.
There is no commonsense factor in hobbies. I'm not too fussed about what it's costing, I just want to do it. I just put that up there for comedy reasons in relation to the previous post.
 

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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I can't deny I was expecting a bang followed by a lot of clattering when the light went green lol.
LOL! :ROFLMAO:

It's true, this was basically a parts car. Trying to bring it back to like-new condition would've been a huge waste of time and money. But my plan is to put a decent suspension and drivetrain in it, and send it. I don't really care what it looks like. And the interior is being stripped out, as we speak.
 

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LOL! :ROFLMAO:

It's true, this was basically a parts car. Trying to bring it back to like-new condition would've been a huge waste of time and money. But my plan is to put a decent suspension and drivetrain in it, and send it. I don't really care what it looks like. And the interior is being stripped out, as we speak.
Hey mate, absolutely hats off to you on this one. Gotta hand it to the Yanks, there's always this energetic approach and desire to make it work on a shoestring with no failure or surprise bringing you down.

It must be great being allowed to do all these things...you're probably allowed to have an assault rifle on the back seat or something as you race, you guys just have so many less rules than us and so many resources available it must be awesome fun!

And yes mate, better sort that suspension at least well enough that you don't get the death wobbles while you're pulling the ton (100mph) down the drag strip. That could take the fun out of it.
 

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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
This thread isn't quite up-to-date yet. So let's continue the madness.

While I was trying to decide what to do about the sludge situation, I decided to perform some minor mods, as a morale booster. I deleted the SAP and windshield washer tank. That was pretty easy. Then I took the vacuum line for the SAP vacuum valve, and re-routed it to the CCV (i.e. the O2Pilot mod).

I also had a new set of 24 lb/hr fuel injectors on hand (from another project). I decided to swap them in. They aren't BMW injectors, but they fit... almost. I had to shim the fuel rail, and use slightly longer bolts. Side note: I also have a set of 36 lb/hr injectors on hand, in case things get spicy. ;)

Here's a photo of the new (gray) injectors, compared to the BMW (purple) ones.



And a shot of the new injectors, installed on the engine.



And last but not least, I had a Delphi fuel pump on hand (also from another project). It's made for a GM LT1 V8, and can support 350+ HP. So I swapped that in, as well. It was not a direct fit, but I made it work.

In this video, I show you the above mods:

 
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