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Keep M3 stock or Mod?

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  • Mod

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Discussion Starter #1
Been dreaming of having this car and decided to pull the trigger! Love that the forum is so active!

As a semi-new car enthusiast, looking forward to reading everything here !

Just a couple questions: What are your opinions on keeping it stock vs mod?

For in favor in stock: what things could I do to it to keep its "stock" label but improve it?
For in favor in mods: what are your favorite mods to do / first mods to do ?

Thanks and appreciate the learning i can from all of you !
 

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Mods are definitely fun, but the cars are already great so it’s hard to improve without spending loads of cash. The stock muffler isn’t all that great sounding, but plenty of sick aftermarket ones out there. I say refresh the suspension with stock stuff, and get a nice sounding muffler and leave it alone.
 

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Buckle up and welcome to the E46 M3 community! Prepare for some maintenance because before mods, taking care of the key points should be priority. Being new to E46 M3s probably around $1000-2000 should be budgeted for preventative maintenance. Here's a list of websites ideal for your parts:

Bimmerworld
ECStuning (good prices but sometimes screw stuff up)
Turnermotorsport (Owned by ECS)
UUCmotorwerks
Beisansystems (old website style but the best for Vanos refresh)
VACmotorsports (not a first choice as they've screwed some members)
Doctorvanos (self explanatory, I think has the cheapest exhaust hub)
Fcpeuro (Lifetime warranty on everything including fluids. Yes, fluid warranties)
Vividracing.com (keep in your basket for deals)
Pelicanparts (Alot of part #'s and descriptions are wrong for the E46 M3)
RalleyRoad (For 996 BBK upgrade. They're the best and great customer service)
Redline360 (Sometimes has deals)
Nam3forum.com (best forum to buy parts on and alot more info than here)

I would start with pulling the valve cover and check the Vanos. The exhaust hub should be changed to a reinforced one. You can get the oil disk it goes into redrilled for smaller holes to prevent tabs from breaking. Then a Beisan Systems rebuild should be on your mind. All the gaskets are old and the vanos has to come off for the hub anyways. It's worth doing and only having to retime the engine once. For timing, only use the BMW bar that sits against the head. It's $165 and a worthy investment. You don't have to buy the BMW pins for it.

The cooling system may need to be addressed. 80k-100k miles water pumps start to go bad. Don't wait to do it. Saleri is the OEM brand. Wahler is the best thermostat to get. Do the upper and lower radiator hoses as well as all the orings around the water pump. Use BMW coolant. Get a gallon on concentrate from FCP and you can just return it with your old fluid to get your money back the next time you need to buy coolant.

Do an oil change. Liquimoly is subpar. Don't believe the marketing garbage. Castrol TWS is OEM and Motul X-Power has the best shear strength which is very good. I use Mann filters because they're the best price for quality but just dont buy crap like Fram.

If the car has around 100k, do rod bearings. Don't take a chance. I lost and engine at 71k. The 6th piston disintegrated. You never know the prior neglect the engine has been subject to. The oil is like syrup when cold so letting it idle for 10 to 15 minutes should be mandatory in your routine. Don't drive the car cold otherwise you'll hurt your bearings.

Do your diff fluid, trans fluid, and brake fluid. Get baseline your maintenance and you'll be good.

Adjust your valves.

Part of the joy is taking care of the car. It's not for the faint of heart but a very rewarding experience. There are many of us to help you on you journey through all of this so don't feel overwhelmed. You made a good choice buying an E46 M3 and I hope you're ready for the amazing experience. It's so worth it.
 
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Here's my blown engine if you're curious.
 
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