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Thought I'd share my E46 experience for the fanatics here. I bought the car in January 2006 right after I finished my MSc degree. Given the fact that taxes to import a car here are so high, I was limited to the 2.2L engine. 2.2 was the absolute limit since over 2.5L, taxes grew exponentially per cc. To import an M3 or 330 for example would cost over $70000. Long story short, a car dealer found me a "pristine" condition E46 in Topaz Blue with 1 year warranty as well. I went ahead and ordered the car and his mechanic went through a thorough check (mistake #1). Happy that I got a nice car. This is how the car looked the first day I got it




I didn't know much that time about BMWs or how sleazy dealers worked so I paid the car and left with a smile (I bet the dealer was smiling too). And then all kinds of problems started. While cruising in highway, yellow oil light came on. I consulted my manual and said I had 50 miles left to drive and then a top-up is necessary. Ok no big deal maybe dealer didn't put as much oil inside. Toped up with 10W40 semi-synthetic oil - yes, semi-synthetic, recommended by the mechanics here. Next week, same thing, again and again, to realized that I needed 1L of oil every 200miles. Something seriously wrong here. Car would blue smoke under hard acceleration. If that wasn't enough, car would just die when coasting to idle sometimes and cats became clogged with oil contamination, triggering a CEL every once and while. Went back to dealer in an ordeal of angry talks, lawyer threats etc etc to find out that the best he could do was to open and try to fix the engine or just get me a barrel of oil to top up forever. The official BMW dealer here would not open the engine because the labor was too high and they couldn't even warranty that the repair would fix anything. Bear in mind that here there is no lemon law or anything. You bought it, nobody cares if it blows next day. After I banged my head on the wall several times I decided to take action. I convinced the dealer to pay me the cost of a replacement engine and never talk to me again, ever. After a lot of searching I found a rear-ended E46, with 8k miles so I grabbed the engine along with several of its peripherals. It was that time when I met my current mechanic, a nice guy with over of 20 years experience in BMWs, trained at the factory and willing to let me observe all the work done to the car. I did learn a couple of things that time:

Waterpump was leaking, something that led to previous owner overheating the engine


Radiator became like that breaking the bottom supports


So, my mechanic took the old engine out:


And the new 2.2 was installed, along with new radiator, wp, new fluids, sparks, etc and above all, Mobil 1 0W40. The car drove beautifully ever since with no issues at all and not a single drop of oil burnt. Back to happiness mode after a lot of frustration. That time I registered in this forum as well :p wish I did that before I get the car.

After the engine was sorted and discovering the search button here I decided it was time to start moding to stand out of the crowd.

First mod and quickly trashed were powerflex bushes, which failed after 2k miles.


Being in the IT industry, I could not imagine my car without something PC related so I started the carputer project, which took a good two months to complete. Paired with multimedia, Bluetooth, GPS navigation, voice commands it still provides a complete ICE.




To complement this setup and to replace the shitty factory speakers, I used a 5 channel MB-Quart amplifier with rear 3-way MB-Quart speakers, front CDT Audio 6.5" components and an elemental designs slim sub. Wrapping the inside of doors with sound deadening material helped to eliminate outside noise.




Next mod:
Chrome gauge rings not glueable version


Factory alarm improvement with 3 shock sensors


Being in hot weather I discovered its impact on rubber, so I have been treating all rubber seals with silicone grease. Keeps them soft and squeak-free


As the majority of E46 owners, my car suffered from poor radio reception, and the replacement of the antenna booster with a newer version helped solved this issue


Something that I really liked from the M3 E46 were the autofold mirrors so after a little research here I managed to get a pair and install it.


One day I got tired of the glossy black trim and I patiently waited till I got an awesome deal on a brushed aluminum trim. Absolutely love it and by far one of the best interior mods you can do.



Discovering that I could not see well at night, I investigated my options and ended getting a pair of genuine M3 bi-xenon headlights for peanuts



But without a pair of angel eyes they wouldn't seem right

Next mod was to get a new front bumper so I chose the M3 style front bumper along with some nice CF splitters


My fiancée made me a present on day:


One day I was up in the mountains wondering why I can't see #$%@% in front of me when the weather was foggy. So I installed a pair of 3000k HID foglights to solve this annoying problem



Since I was dealing with light issues, I grabbed the opportunity to install a light in the secret compartment the Euro E46 enjoy


And then some extra lighting in the trunk


Light mods were completed with genuine M3 rear LED install with a brand new ebay light switch flashed for LED.


Armrest is optional in lower spec E46 so I bought one from ebay for 20 GBP (~$35)


Also my favorite dealer, ebay, bought me a brand new M-Tech steering wheel which for some reason I can't find any pics of it. (will insert later)

After all this moding, it was time to move to some more serious stuff. The E46 M54B22 IS SLOW.
First thing for removal was the clutch delay valve. Much better clutch feel ever since


One day I exchanged an LCM for a set of Eibach Pro-Kit springs, gave my mechanic a PC for his son and had it installed for free. I really like the ride and I still have this setup after 3 years


Being ignorant, I threw $50 to get a K&N drop-in filter


Since the $50 filter didn't give a performance boost I was looking for, I searched for something more hardcore.. and I stumbled across ESS Twinscrew Stg2 s/c kit. By far the best mod ever, something that made me to never consider a N/A car again. I finished the look of the engine bay with a stealth 3rd cover and a genuine AC strut bar



Rogue Engineering provide me with a fee their short shift kit which really transformed the shifting experience. I believe all cars should come with ssk ***61514;

During the S/C install we noticed one of the wishbones had torn rubber boots and the ball joint inside was shot. Perfect excuse for a pair of Meyle control arms and bushings



At some point, I helped a friend get rid of his genuine staggered 18" MV2 alloys and I paired them with 4 brand new Michelin PS2 tires.


One day, weird sounds from the front-end told me that the waterpump was having a heart attack so I decided to change it along with the rest of the cooling system. As an upgrade I got the stewart components wp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Burnt motor oil smell in cabin indicated leak in valve cover gasket, so since I was going to change that, I did the VANOS as well even though I didn't have any startup issues. Was happy to see my engine sludge-free



We all know how much the handling is improved by uprated sway bars. So I got a pair of Hotchkis sport sway bars, with rear adjustable endlinks and fron hotchkis endlinks. Mega handling difference as now I will soon need tires with stronger sidewalls.



And finally, as soon as my brakes worn, I decided to upgrade them with Stoptech Stg 1 kit, which included Axxis ULT ceramic pads, Motul brake fluid and stoptech SS brake lines. Very noticeable difference to heat fade resistance although still inadequate for my driving style. The Axxis pads appear to eat my rotors for breakfast as they have already created a lip on them after 500 miles of driving.


Now, I am completing the E46 line of mods with a 330 brake upgrade which I wait to arrive from USA. After this, I will stop working on this car and see what will be my next car. I expect to keep the car another good 5-6 years.

Take Care
 

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holy crap! you've done so much to that car! all i can say is Bravo! :bow:
 

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Excellent, and to think I just ordered vanilla BMW front sway links, I had never seen pics of the Hotchkis ones :banghead:

Your project is amazing. You have good taste in mods as well, great work.

EDIT: I can't find those links on the Hotchkis site, how do I get a set?
 

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I'm not skilled enough to understand half of what you did.....but I am smart enough to be impressed!

Great job...and great pics! Thanks for sharing.
 

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Excellent thread :bow: Impressive work man :thumbup:
 

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I love cloth interior, tons of e46 have them elsewhere. Four years ago I rended a 320D touring in Germany it had cloth, rear foglights, no sunroof, awesome fuel economy, I was pretty bummed about how much you can't get here.
 

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awesome read! I really like how you disguised the supercharger with another engine cover haha!
 

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:rofl: i kept laughing as I scrolled.

felt like you were adding mods out of spite for the dealer screwing with you initially. lol

all in all, awesome stuff
 

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Wow really good job, well done!!

So you can just bolt the supercharger on and the ECU can handle / work out the fueling etc?

Oh and I can't help but wonder, but when the yellow light comes on it usually means the sensor is screwed.. hope you didn't keep dropping oil into your old engine without checking the level otherwise its no wonder it dumped oil into the exhaust (crank case overfilled).
 
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