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2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I see new people on here all the time.
Like when I was new, there were questions I didn't even know to ask and places I didn't know to go.

Other fanatics said......replace this and that even if it's not bad. It will go bad and leave you with more problems

I'm not looking at the e46 with rose colored lenses. I have a realistic approach to what it is and isn't. Not as much as some and more than others. Is it pretty stupid for us to have to change out all this stuff because it will end in tragedy if we don't......yes it is. I've replaced enough parts and dove into the e46 enough to have an opinion of my own.

Most cars you do have to maintain. This car you realllly have to maintain. In this thread I'm writing information and posting links to helpful stuff for you to navigate your way. I post information over and over again so finally I'll post it here instead in modules. It will be so progressive thread always being added to. If you see a module half way complete......or not making sense. It's because it's not finished. When it is finished there will be no mistake as the information will be provided in its entirety with very little to nothing missing. These will be comprehensive guides. If you want to know more. Pm me......

You will see random replies that make no sense. I want to keep the thread clean and a lot of times I post so much information that it's easier to do it in another post. After a while they get big and hard to edit. Please bear with me for taking up room

.............so your new here..........

How do you post pictures in a thread
There is an attachment icon in the thread that will allow you to post pictures. It will post them into thumbnail pictures at the bottom of the thread.
I don't personally like this. I would rather see them in the thread a lot larger.

...........what you will need to post in the thread
1.Flickr account.....or photobucket. (I don't have photobucket so I don't know where links are
2. Post your picture into the app or account
3. Go to the account and find the picture
4. Copy the link and paste it in the thread.

this is on the flickrstacker app on my iPad.....this is the link you need to use......notice it's bbcode.

I use an iPad to do everything and find it easier to use the Flickr stacker app. Click on the picture and go to the share icon. Then go over to BB CODE adjust picture size to around 600x600.
Copy link and paste it

What's with the acronyms?
Here is a link that shows every acronym we use on this forum.
This list is extremely in depth and is worth look ping at even if you don't need it or already know most of it.
Why.......because Inpa uses the german language and the list has th german To English translation.
Of almost every part of the car. Amazing and the time taken to post this.

This is a smaller version of the acronyms

Below is a small taste of some common ones. Use the link above for the rest as its in Alphabetical order.
SIG- signature, the place at the bottom of a members thread post. Has a picture or link to stuff

ZSP........sport package
ZPP........premium package
ZHP.......performance package

Xi.........all wheel drive

FCAB-front control arm bushings
RTAB-rear trailing arm bushings
STEERING GUIBO-the u joint that connects you steering column to the steering rack

DME-engine computer
LCM-light control module (controls all the lights in the car)
TCM-transmission control module
LEW-steering angle sensor
ZKW-gauge cluster

MAF- mass air flow sensor (right behind the air cleaner)
DISA- box on the intake that controls air (small, rectangular, has a small vacuum pod)
CCV- crank case ventilation (over engineered pcv system)


1. Get the last 7 of your vin #
2. Go to www.realoem.com
3. Press "click here to enter"
4. Type your last 7 vin into serial number box
5. Your car will show up. By year and month it was produced
6. Click browse parts
7. Click "switch to images drill down"
8. Pictures of categories will show up
9. Click the category of parts you need
10. Every single nut, bolt, and part you can imagine is here with oem part #'s
11. Copy part number
12. Go to a site like www.ecstuning.com and paste in your part number
13. Www.ecstuning.com has pictures of your part and ability to buy it.

www.realoem.com with www.ecstuning.com box for part numbers

Parts pictures exploded view-

Copy the blue part number and click on the ecs link above-

-here is number 5 in the picture. My fog light cover......makes parts easy to find and replace-


1. Get one of these elm327 wifi OBDII Diagnostic modules.
2. Buy "torque app for android phone or tablet"
3. Upgrade "torque app to pro"
4. Torque pro is hard to learn to use.....I'll do a tutorial on it and post.
5. Plug ELM327 into diagnostic port inside car
6. Sync ELM327 to torque pro on cell phone or tablet
7. You can just leave ELM327 in your diagnostic port. So small you can't see it there.
8. Reads live data and everything going I with your car.

The elm327 is just an interface and does not have its own software

ELM327 wifi OBDII-

BMW SCANNER 1.4.0 (same as PA SOFT)
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=935613 .....a link on how to use
1. Laptop based
2. Can be purchased for around $35
3. Bmw specific
4. Easier interface than inpa
5. Does about 3/4 of what inpa does but .....like I said...easier to use
6. I have inpa....which is the best of them....however, I have this as well and use it more
7. Comes with its own cord
8. Don't use the cd that comes with it. Don't even put it in
Run down: I use the for quick and total car scans. I also used it to change my door locks to one touch unlock for both doors........no more pushing once dor drive and pushing twice for passenger unlock. It unlocks both doors....one touch. My favorite option
........and to use the key fob to roll down and up all windows. This is very cool. It opens all windows and sunroof at the same time. You hold down the unlock to open them and hold down the lock button to close them.

For android based only
1. Download the app and update to pro version
2. Put elm327 into 16 pin OBDII port
3. Turn on phone or tablet wifi
4. Put phone into Bluetooth discoverable mode
5. Phone or tablet discovers elm327 device
6. Type in password.......either 1234 or 0000
7. Torque pro will show device in top left corner of home screen.
8. Check elm327 connection by ......later or ask in pm
Does not support dsc or srs airbag
.......requires another thread....when I do the instructions on how to use ill do another full thread. Torque is a big animal and does a lot of things


Obd fusion-

1.Apple products based
2.Uses its own elm 327 (the apple based elm327 must have WIFI)
I have it but never used it yet. When I do I'll post more about it. For now......if you have apple stuff you know it exists at least.

I bought it from here for $36. What does it do? Ask....what doesn't it do?
It does everything bmw diagnostic related

.......It came with everything to diagnose and program modules. Checks fuel trims
.......I set it up on a dedicated net book. Small, portable, fits under steering wheel
DIS v57...........dealer diagnostic program
INPA"...............diagnostic program
Ediabas............just a communication module. Lets all the other software talk to the car
Win kfp............flashing computer
NCS Expert.......used to program modules.....
##########List of inpa error codes#########

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)

Look at his sig.....this means signature. Found at the bottom of a members thread. Had pictures and links. Sometimes useful stuff

JFOJ .............cold weather misfires.

JFOJ.............quick rundown on software

MANGO..........maintenance.......above the picture of his car at the bottom of his thread.

JJRICHAR.......5hp19 transmission dissaembly videos. Excellent source

.....................project galeta

Pictures. If you need reference pictures particularly for the e46 body or interior. I have many.....just click on one of mine to get to my Flickr account and there are over 1000 in there for you to use for putting the e46 back together

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)


www.theretrofitsource.com We call it TRS



Price comparison form vendors
www.furious method.com

Downloadable software made by silbervogel....a member here for price comparison. Windows based machines 32 and 64 bit

Watch the video and download the software to compare prices on all websites-

OE vs OEM vs Aftermarket

OE (Original Equipment or Genuine BMW)
These are the parts that you get EXACTLY as if you are walking up to an authorized dealership and buying a part at the parts counter. (Example: Oxygen Sensor BMW Part # 11 78 1 735 499). These parts usually come in BMW marked packaging.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
OEM parts are parts that come from the same factory that makes your Original BMW parts, but they are boxed in their respective brands. (Example: Oxygen Sensor BOSCH Part #13231, which cross references to: BMW Part # 11 78 1 735 499). These parts are sold directly from the manufacturer to the suppliers or retailers and not through the BMW Dealer network, and usually means savings for the end consumer while still having the same OEM standards that the vehicle manufacturer specified.

Aftermarket products are from manufacturers that do not supply to BMW in any shape or form, it is important to note that its not necessary that aftermarket parts are inferior. In general, there are 2 kinds of aftermarket products.

The first kind is a cheaper replacement that provide affordability to consumers, these maybe the same quality as the OE/OEM parts or could be a little inferior to the OE/OEM products. A lot of customers like to purchase non-critical parts like air filters so save a few dollars, as long as it is a good reputable brand, you should be good to go! (just do your research!)

The second kind are considered upgraded parts, a very good example is the aluminium thermostat housing for an E36 BMW, the original BMW plastic housing is prone to failures and the aftermarket aluminum eliminates this problem. In this case, most of our customers prefer to purchase the aftermarket aluminium housing for better longivity.

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Wha's a facelift car
In 2003 they changed the headlights and front bumper for a more updated look. That's basically it.........the rest of the car is the same but the front end styling has been updated.
This makes some parts different. While a lot are still the same.
The fenders, under headlight trim, and possibly the hood are different.. These cars also have led tail lights. For the coupe (ci) they ended the e46 in 2006
The sedan ran from 99-2005

What's with all the numbers?
323 was made from the year 99-2000
328 99-2000 (upgraded 323)

325 2001-2005 (2006 coupe only)
330 2001-2005 (2006 coupe only) upgraded 325

M3 99-2006

whats with all the stupid blind parts replacement?

"Center support bearing, guibo, transmission mounts, engine mounts, drive shaft" 130k
My center support bearing went bad.......all the rubber was gone and it created vibration.
I replaced the guibo while I was at it. Guibo was cracked badly
I noticed my transmission mounts were busted in half and engine mounts leaking. This weird angle offset might have cause the csb to go bad in the first place.....maybe.....maybe not. We will never know.
Point is........whatever caused whatever else, took out the cv axle at the end of the drive shaft and also the u joints. The u joints had a lot of play and the rear drive shaft cv axle had a grinding sound.
I called colorado drive line......they polished the cv axle bearings, replaced the csb, replaced the non replaceable u joints and balanced the whole thing. Guibo and trans mounts are to be done as prevent maintenance........csb goes bad a lot as well.
The rubber in your car doesn't like heat or time. The oils bake out or evaporate out over time. The e 46 is full of soft rubber parts to keep the car smooth feeling. Your drive shaft guibo is only there so that when you step on the Gas it doesn't just torque the drive shaft all at once with you feeling the car take off.....It gives you that bmw smooth take off feeling. The rubber absorbs the torque so you don't.
All the rubber in suspension does this. Same thng with motor mounts having fluid in them. It's all made for comfort and comfortable it is.....but it's not made to last and you pay for this comfort. Comfort+performance =maintenance or.....Comfort+performance=Failed part

Pa lot of this stuff actually does fail before 150k. If you replace a lot of stuff, it's easier to diagnose the car when it has problems. For instance.....a lot of items make the car run lean and throw the fuel trims off. Most of the items are prevent maintenance items. Replacing the ccv and changing the vacuum lines, fuel filter, etc. then when you have a problem you will be asked. Did you replace this or did you replace that. If the answer is no. Then you replace those items. If you still have a problem after you replace them you can rule stuff out. My problem was a bad maf sensor. It was a reproduction from china that was so close in appearance to oem we thought it was oem. It lasted a year and soft failed. A soft failure is difficult to diagnose. It was 15k/sec off....threw no codes and lit no lights. I knew it was bad because my gas mileage was down by 2 miles per gallon. Point is......I would have spent a lot of time replacing stuff and not gotten to the actual problem which took a month to figure out. I don't like to throw parts at stuff so I test items. So why just throw parts for preventative maintenance? Because they go out on all of our cars.....like clock work. At 120k the ccv is bad. When you take the old one off you will watch it crumble in your hand.

As for the preventative maintenance part. It's like this.......your car has 130k on it and the ccv hasn't been replace. When you go to take it off to replace it. It will break apart. There's no exceptions to this. They were not made to last the life of the car. You replace it so it doesn't cause you a problem.

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
do not buy sensors from ebay. They are Chinese junk
Try to buy original parts from bmw.

You can get Bosch o2 sensors from amazon for a good price. Make sure Bosch is stamped on the part. The chines put junk parts in Bosch boxes. Should replace at 100,000 miles......at least the
2 front ones for sure.

.....................WIRING and DIAGRAMS..................
E46 Glove Box Fuse Diagram: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=73889 (there may be better images?)
E46 Relay Diagram/Locations: http://www.bmwgm5.com/e46_relays.htm

www.bmwplanet.com all the diagrams you need : cannot be used in ipad

.....................VIN INFORMATION.........................
BMW VIN Decoder: http://www.bmwarchive.org/vin/bmw-vin-decoder.html

.....................OWNERS MANUAL...................
BMW Owner's Manuals: http://www.bmwsections.com/docs/3series/
BMW Onwer's Manuals #2: http://www.linquist.net/motorsports/bmw/3manuals

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)

HEADLIGHT LENSES and TAIL LIGHTS LENSES/REVERSE LIGHTS.......your original lenses are clear coated from the factory. Same thing that makes car shiny. A lot of times they will get frosted over. They will also get spots all over them.
The spots are the clear coat baking off from the heat and also being sand blasted by the road.

A.You can sand all the clear coat off with 400g sandpaper. Then sand out the 400g scratches with 600g and just reclear the headlights. The clear coat will fill in the scratches and the headlight will look new and last a long time if you use good clear.
Good clear has uv protectors. Cheap clear doesn't. Both are shiny.

B. Sanding them down to make them nice again without re clearing. Sand them down with 400g to remove e original trashed clear coat.
......then step up to 600g to remove the 400g scratches.
......then step up to 800.....then 1000, 1500, 3000 trizact, 5000 trizact. Then polish and protect with headlight armor vinyl or just polish every 3 months. Plastic is easy to restore. You will not have clear coat protecting them from the sun but it won't matter because you can just keeps polishing them and they will never Frost over.

C. If you clear coat is not trashed and you can sand it smooth. Hit it with 1500 to make it smooth and then do the step up as above. 1500, 3000, 5000, then polish. You can skip the 5000 and go straight to polish if you want.

D. Drop $100 on new headlight lenses and change them out

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)

DIY.....taking out rear parcel shelf. The cardboard under the back window

If you need to remove any of these items......click the link
This thread is so good and full of pictures it's what I look for in excellent tutorials.

Avin.....impressive car internet
Avin avantgard 2 guide and install....... http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1034241

Avin avantgard 2-

Dynavin.....sound....radio touch screen

Dynavin n6-

NEXUS?......this is a link to the install of a Google nexus tablet where the radio goes. With steering control.


business cd radio.....factory

1,479 Posts
Subbed! Question about elm327. Does it not work for Apple products or is there an app for them as well?

Edit: I believe I found an app (OBD Fusion) for 10 bucks in the AppStore

Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
I don't know all the details for iOS but make careful checks. If you get that Fusion, then report back.

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Jfoj can answer that more than likely. He did a large thread about diagnostic devices.

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Most of the info above is covered on the bimmerfest wiki?
A lot is but there is also a lot missing. New people ask a lot of questions and need certain tools right off the bat. We have to tell them to go to these sites and get these tools over and over again before we can even begin to help them.
There really is no place for new owners to get........start up information. It took me a month to learn to use torque pro the way I needed if. I could not find anything on it.

It also took forever to learn to effectively post pictures inside the thread post I see all the time people asking how. I see people comment on how they don't know how to. This thread is for people who don't know.

It's also not about replace this and that blindly......it's about why I did and the results of what happened. Pictures help a lot and when I show someone how to do something.....I'm not after rock stardom. I'm after a result......and that result is........you will know how to do this stuff on your own and it will benefit you here and with your car

527 Posts
I have the ELM 327 and never use it anymore, kinda a pain to hook up sometimes and doesnt always sync for me, I saved and additional $30 and got a decent reader. Just my opinion!

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
The elm327 posted here is very small and can't be seen. It sits in my diagnostic port all the time.
I have all the really nice factory software like inpa and pa soft for coding and quality information sitting on a dedicated netbook lap top. Net books are good because they are stupid cheap and very compact. This makes it easier to put the computer in front of the steering wheel where a full sizable lap top gets in the way.

I just use the elm327 for live data that I can convert to an excel file......and I can use my phone to keep track of my car at any time. Going down the road it's easier to use than anything else I've ever seen because it's on a phone.
I've gone through 4 of these and they are junk I'll admit. They don't last sometimes.....They do however give great comprehensive information and are worth mentioning. The fact that it doesn't get in the way or look bad helps. It's not a well made piece but it is handy as to how portable it is.
Last time I bought one.....I just bought 2 of them.
You can read fuel trims from your cell phone for $20. When those two go bad in a year or so. I'll spend another $13 and get another one.

Post which reader you bought that saved you money.......why you bought it and what it gives you that can help all of us........and how to use it if it's complicated

Premium Member
28,878 Posts
OBD Apps and Intefaces

Here is the deal for the iProducts. OBDFusion is a very popular and cheap OBDII App. Issue with iProducts is you CANNOT use a OBD to Bluetooth interface, you MUST use a OBD to WiFi interface due to Apple worried about bi-direction Bluetooth communications and security.

OBD to Bluetooth interfaces. There a LOTS of ELM327 type of interfaces, most made in Asia and they can be hit or miss, but if you get one that works well, they are well worth the $10-$20.

If you want quality OBD to Bluetooth or OBD to WiFi interfaces, you should consider the OBDLink series of interfaces by http://www.scantool.net/ . I believe they make the best and fasted OBD wireless interfaces. They just recently released a OBD to WiFi adapter for the iProducts crowd. The OBDLink interfaces are available from these guys http://store.mp3car.com/Engine_Diagnostics_and_OBD_s/182.htm a bit cheaper than Scantool.net

Nook and Kindle Fire users can also load Android based OBDII Apps as well. Kindle Fire requires a bit of hackery, but it is possible.

EVERYBODY needs an OBDII Smart Phone App and Interface, you are FOOL for not having one.

See some of the interesting things you can do with these tools.





Here is a rather disjointed effort (the thread expanded to be something it was never meant to be!) to cover many of the OBDII/Software options - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=967204

Data is the key to solving problems and keep in mind, if the SES/CEL/MIL comes on, a generic OBDII can read the codes that caused the light to come on, no special software is required. Manufacturer specialized codes do not follow the OBDII rules so these will not trigger the SES/CEL/MIL. Software like INPA or BMW Scanner 1.4.0 may give a bit more insight to a problem, but are not required and often cannot do as good as a job compared to a smart phone OBDII App.

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
For all the new people. Jfoj has written a lot of useful information on this site. His signature links and articles can teach you a lot about your car. He also has a lot of patients helping people out with some advanced problems and is very knowledgeable on our diagnostic software. You should read through his info.
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