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Discussion Starter #1
In the next week or so I will be purchasing my first E46 and BMW for that matter. I have a long history with Nissan and have been in the Subaru world for the last 10 years. Still am with my current project 9-2x. I will be buying a 330ix to be my new daily. I have been reading up on basic maintenance and typical issues these face. I do most of my own wrench turning and feel I have a pretty good understanding of what to look for that are specific to these cars.

As I mentioned, this will be my DD. I plan on getting some decent dampers, either KONI or Bilstein. I’m still researching springs as I don’t want the car to be lowered much. If I can’t find the ride height I’m looking for then I’ll just stick with OE springs. Other than that I’m starting to research which bushings, sway bar sizes, and braces make the best improvement without making it too harsh. I have my 9-2x for that. Anything else anyone would specifically recommend to make this a fun DD, please feel free to chime in. Looking forward to my first true European car.
 

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Thanks. Went for a test drive in the car I’m interested in tonight. It’s an 04 manual. Looks like most of the things that need to be done have been. Even has new tires, though they are cheap all seasons. First owner was a smoker and the current (second owner) has done a lot to clean up the interior as a result. It does make me worried that the smell of cigarettes will eventually show up. Any good advice on how to keep this from happening?

Otherwise, not much rust underneath. No record of any accidents. Drives straight and true. Pulls nice when you step on it. Idles smooth with no dips or rev hang. He wasn’t trying to hide anything about the car and didn’t have it warmed up before I arrived. No CEL. PCV system, intake manifold gasket, iridium plugs, brakes, driver side CV axle, and diff flush have all been done in the last 3 months he has owned the car. Previous owner did valve cover gaskets about a year ago. No record of the clutch being replaced. There’s a little surface rust on each quarter panel and it appears to be shallow. About the size of a quarter on one and golf ball size on the other.

He wasn’t sure if it has halogen or HID headlights. Not sure how to tell without pulling the bulb first. It does have projector lenses and when he turned them on, the one working one did take a second or so to get to full brightness. Guessing they are HID. Only asking because the pass side needs a new bulb and I’ll probably replace both so they have the same output.
 

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I have a few questions. I am starting to notice through my research that most BMW owners seem very “stick to OEM” in their outlook toward these cars. I know they are performance vehicles from the factory, but that they also have a bias toward safety since many people don’t take driving as seriously as they should or enjoy the spirit of driving itself. I do spend time at the tack and occasional auto-x. My other car will be used most of the time for those outings, however, I may want to join a BMW day at the track now and then or do an occasional auto-x to really learn the limits of this car. So......

1) options for a performance alignment - I have read that the front camber is and isn’t adjustable on these cars. Which is it? If it’s not, then does anyone make camber plates that will work with OE style dampers? What’s the adjustable range for rear camber? Toe settings for spirited driving?

2) CSF aluminum radiator - this is considered a reputable company in the Subaru world. Is this a good option for our cars? I hate plastic end tanks in general, but they really don’t handle the added abuse of spirited driving. Other options if there is something better?

3) Fluids - almost all info I am finding is for non-awd versions and YouTube videos always seem to say approximately X quarts of fluid. Mostly I am concerned with engine oil, but would like to know what the manual says. My car no longer has the manual unfortunately.
Engine oil - Euro spec 0w-40 7qts? Planning on using Amsoil as I’ve had good experiences with it in my other cars.
6 speed trans fluid - MTF-LT2 Xqts? I’ve seen people say to use ATF, but that lacks certain additives so I plan on getting the MTF from the local dealership
Front/rear diff - 75w-140 approx 3.5qts between them? Just need an approximate for these so I buy enough. Will fill them till fluid drips out and then let them settle.

4) Are the fuel filters in tank or external?

5) wheels and tire fitment. If anyone has a link for the xi specifically, please link it for for. So far all the info I’ve been finding is for RWD models. Based on what little info I’ve found, it is recommended to stay within 3% of the overall diameter to the OE wheels/tires which appears to be about 25”. I’d like to stay with a 17” rim and am thinking 235/45 tires since that will be very close to the OE diameter and have plenty of meat for the way I drive. I’m leaning toward a 17x8 +35 to make it a little more flush and keep fairly close to OEM for bearing life. Does this sound right? Are there any BMW specific rims that fit this or close to it? I would like to keep them fairly light, 19lbs or less per rim. I do like the concave look, but would take performance over aesthetics if I can’t have both. I don’t mind having to roll fenders, I have done it on other cars, but what is the max width the xi can take without rolling and no more than a 1” drop in ride height if I move away from OEM springs?

6) and finally, exhaust. I’m looking for something that stays fairly quiet when traveling at highway speed, but has a little more pronounced note under WOT. I DO NOT want something raspy. I hate when cars sound like chainsaws and go carts. I have been thinking about the Stromung axle back as these sound good on VW and Subaru and are a quality piece. Like I said, not looking to over do it, just wake up the tone a bit more. Anyone with experience with these please chime in. I’m open to other options as well.

Thanks in advance. I appreciate whatever first hand experience anyone can share.
 

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So I had finally settled on the 04 I mentioned earlier. It was high mileage and I knew I’d need to do dampers, springs and clutch. Unfortunately, between the time I told him I would buy the car and actually being able to pick it up, it appears he drove the piss out of it. I’m taking care of some of the issues that came up after the PPI and finally had a chance to do an oil change yesterday. Luckily there’s no coolant in the oil. So that’s a plus at least.

Now I’m trying to decide what direction I want to go with this. It’s leaking coolant from somewhere. I replaced the upper rad hose as that started leaking less than 20 min after picking the car up. There’s a small amount of dried coolant around the water pump. Looks clean everywhere else. No coolant in the oil as mentioned before. Anything else I should look at for a coolant leak? Expansion tank was replaced in 2017.

Theres a sound/feeling of driving over rumble strips coming from the rear end when shifting from 1st to 2nd. Only does it in that gear change and only does it for a couple seconds. Guibo and carrier bearing have been mentioned. Anything else it could be? If it’s the guibo, does anyone know if the billet guibo from IRP fits the xi models? They have 2 versions listed on their site but no description. Haven’t received a reply to the email I sent them. And yes, I want to replace with something more solid. I don’t like how numb the drivetrain feels. I don’t mind some NVH. I will also be doing the single mass flywheel conversion as well.

It is burning a bit of oil now as well. When I went to check it out, inspect and test drive it, oil level was fine, no smell or smoke coming from the exhaust. It is burning oil though. Noticed puffs coming out of the exhaust after about 1 hour of highway driving. I am leaning toward the CCV being the issue as it appears he replaced it with the cheapest parts on Amazon he could buy. No oil leaks around the VC. Records show it was replaced toward the end of 2017. Anything else that could be causing it to burn oil?

I noticed ECS has aluminum pulley wheels for the PS and water pumps. Are these worth while? Do the OE pulleys break that easily?

Now on to the bigger picture. My M54 vs an S54. I would really like to have this car be my daily driver. Interior is in great shape, though I need to find a way to get rid of the cigarette smell. It’s mostly gone, but if anyone has any ideas to really kill that smell, I’m all ears. Exterior is mostly good. Needs a new front bumper cover and a couple small spot of rust that I can easily repair. If there ends up being an issue where it makes more sense to replace the engine then for me the choice is either another 3.0 M54 or an S54. I enjoy high revving NA engines and my other car has FI, so I’d rather keep this NA even though many people enjoy super chargers on these engines. Would the difference between the 2 engines be worth it? Are there performance options for cams, intake, etc that would bring the M54 closer to the performance of an S54 for less than the swap would cost me? I’m open to input on this.
 
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