Thursday, August 18, 2016

Top 10 Parts to Fail on your E46

Top 10 E46 Failures
These 10 parts will certainly fail on you

The BMW E46 3-Series produced from 2000 to 2006 is one of the more reliable BMWs you can buy.  You may have read my widely distributed and viewed post on the BMW E46 Cooling System detailing the common failures and the catastrophic results a single failure can result in, or you may have read my other posts on which recommend full system replacements rather than picking, choosing, and replacing each individual part as they fail. I highly recommend you check out those threads including the links in my signature.

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However I realize not everyone can afford to replace $3,000 worth of parts to restore their BMW E46 3-Series back to reliable and well handling condition.  So I've created a top 10 list of must-replace items for your BMW E46 3-Series.  These parts are the 10 failures of the E46 platform and are certain to leave you stranded, frustrated, or leave your car with dangerous sloppy handling.

Number One - Expansion Tank

While I still recommend full replacement of the E46 cooling system, the expansion tank is an absolute must.  It is not optional and it should 100% absolutely be replaced upon your purchase of an E46.  Do NOT skimp on this.  The common failure is for the tank to develop a hairline crack down the side of the tank resulting in a low coolant light and shortly (seconds) after that, an engine overheat which will destroy your soft aluminum engine in mere seconds.  Many have been in big trouble because they've neglected to replace this $60 part.  You can also buy the E46 Expansion Tank here on Amazon.  The links are to OEM expansion tanks.  Do not buy this part aftermarket.

Number Two - A/C Blower Final Stage Resistor
This part fails on ALL BMW E46s.  And E36s for that matter.  The BMW E46 Final Stage Resistor is responsible for your A/C Blower Fan speed.  The failure is erratic fan speed behavior or the fan completely failing to turn on.  This is torture on a hot summer day.  This failed part has also been known to cause car fires.  Very dangerous.  

Number Three - Fuel Pump

Experiencing long cranks? Hard starts?  Does your engine just crank and crank but doesn't turn over? If you haven't experienced any of these symptoms, you will.  This failure will happen. Replace the fuel pump on your BMW E46 every 60k miles or 5 years for maximum protection from being stranded.  Some go longer, others aren't so fortunate. Luckily it's extremely easy and cheap to replace. Pull up rear seat and voila.  Right there.  Don't forget the seal.  Buy the pump here on Amazon.

Number Four - Throttle Body Intake Boots

Very common failure.  The boots that connect your air filter box to your throttle body dry out and crack over the years.  Will cause vacuum leaks.  The symptom is poor fuel mileage and/or stumbling, idling problems and stalling.  Replace your upper and lower intake boots.  Cheap stuff. Don't skimp.  Make sure you align the tab on the lower boot with the space on the throttle body.  Very easy install.
325i/323i/328i lower boot:  and the upper boot:
and 330i lower boot: and upper boot:

Don't forget the throttle body sealing ring:

323/325/328 models:
330 models:

Double check your model's part #s before ordering.

I read that the M56 powered BMW 3-Series uses the 330 boots. Check to make sure. 

Number Five - Crankcase Vent System

The BMW E46 Crankcase Ventiliation Kit will certainly fall causing a vacuum leak.  Poor idling, stumbling, poor fuel mileage.  Rubber and plastic cracks and fails over time.  Replace it once and never touch it again.  I recommend Genuine BMW but the above linked kit is available at a fraction of the price.

Bonus: Don't forget to replace the vacuum tubing that connects to the F connector to semi-hard line that goes to the fuel filter.  

Info credit to HodgkinsC330i: Hose diameter: 5/32", available from O'Reilly part# P3340: $3.49 - Product Description: Thermoid Windshield Washer & Vacuum Tubing 5/32" x 6'

Post here showing diagrams of the system (see post #6):

Number Six - Control Arm Bushings

The rubber in your front control arm bushings rot over time and will cause sloppy and loose steering/handling.  If totally failed, your suspension will clunk as you brake and your entire front wheel will move forward 1 to 2 inches -- very dangerous at highway speeds.  If you can't brake, you may crash.  Easy install, two bolts hold it on.  Get a 3-jaw puller and pull the old one off.  Spray windex or soapy water on the new bushing and tap it on with a rubber mallet.  Torque it down and enjoy your new handling. Buy them here on Amazon.

Number Seven - Rear Trailing Arm Bushings (RTABs)

Same as above.  These rot out and cause sloppy rear handling.  Replace every 50,000 miles or 35,000 miles if you are really picky.  These are responsible for rear wheel toe control.  Give your car gas and if the rear end wags under acceleration, your bushings are toast.  Very dangerous if they fail. Buy here at Amazon.  

Bonus: I recommend M3 rear trailing arm bushings as an upgrade for more solid handling.  Direct fit. Plug and play. This kit comes with the famous shims for even greater control.

If you want to do these yourself, I recommend an RTAB tool.  You can also search Google for an "MIS RTAB tool."

Number Eight - Alternator or Voltage Regulator

Battery light flickering? Constant dead batteries?  Even if you don't experience those symptoms, you will.  It's usually the voltage regulator that fails, but many just replace the alternator which will include a new voltage regulator (it's bolted to it.)  Many figure "why not?"  You can also just replace the voltage regulator here for $40 -- this is surely to leave you stranded one day as the brushes on the regulator wear down! It bolts on the back of the alternator using a screw driver.  Make sure you look at yours closely and see what plug it uses. The one I linked is the square plug. Usually the one installed on most E46s.  

MAKE SURE YOU GO LOOK AT YOUR CAR TO SEE WHAT CONNECTOR YOU HAVE. SQUARE OR ROUND?  Also install the same or higher amperage as what your car came with.  

More common square plug alternator for 325 and 330:

Less common round plug alternator for 325 and 330:

Number Nine - Pulleys and Belts

These pulleys carry your belt system and will dry out and rot over time.  Do your pulleys sound like skateboard wheels when spun?  Does your engine make a squeaky noise as it runs?  Your pulleys are ready to fail. When they do, it will throw the belts off and take your engine down with it. Instant overheat. Instant engine rebuild.  Don't risk it.  Don't forget to get new belts. You may as well.

See my thread here for what parts you need and where to buy them

Number Ten - Battery - Autozone H8 DLG

Very simple.  Replace with a battery from your local parts store. Personally I went with Autozone brand -- paid $200 for my battery.  You may be able to find it for $150.


Prevent yourself from being stranded when you need to go to work -- or worse yet when in gang territory. This part is known to suddenly and unexpectedly stop working.  Get it here

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

So you wanna install new brakes on your E46 huh? The Ultimate E46 Brake Guide by Mango

BMW Brakes 
Some of the best brakes in the business

So you're in need of new brakes on your E46?  This guide will go over some of the basics of the brakes on your BMW E46 3-Series and will provide a guide to quality replacements at all budget levels.

First off, the brakes on your BMW are large.  Your BMW 325i/325ci/325cic/325xi come with 300x22mm front and 294x19mm rear rotors.  If you drive a 330i/330ci/330cic/330xi, the brakes are even larger at 325x25mm front and 320x22mm rear rotors.  That's 11.8" and 12.8" diameter, respectively for each model's front rotors.  This translates into strong, reliable, and consistent stopping power under most conditions. The large size of the rotors means the brakes are able to operate under severe conditions with low risk of overheating quickly.  

The efficacy of the factory BMW brakes on your E46 is not only the size of your rotors, but the pad material and suspension tuning.  That's right, the quality of the factory BMW brakes are dependent on a specific recipe which the engineers at BMW have spent years and millions and millions of dollars developing.  Virtually every automotive journalist the world over has praised the BMW E46 3-Series for its world-class brakes.  

Not to say there isn't room for improvement.  Every manufacturer has to consider development costs, tooling, market research, supplier contracts, noise and wear characteristics, profit, etc.  I think it's safe to say, however, BMW has struck the perfect balance at balancing all these considerations.  

For 99.99% of your driving, the stock BMW brakes are optimum, in my opinion.  Sure you can get some race pads and gain marginal increases in pedal feel, consistency namely after high-speed repetitive stops, but for a daily driven car, consider that these upgraded "race" brake pads may not provide the consistency and quality of braking stock pads deliver, particularly in "cold" temperatures you will normally see on the street.  The last thing you want is to T-bone a car that pulled out in front of you on the way to work because your "race" pads needed 10 repetitive stops on the track in order to become immediately effective.  Race pads also tear into rotors and make a ton of noise.  There's usually a price to pay when you gain performance.


These are some of my personal recommendations and opinions on these BMW E46 brake parts:

BEST: Genuine BMW Factory Pads and Rotors
Very good: Brembo, ATE, Jurid
Acceptable: Meyle, Stoptech, Zimmerman, BMW Performance rotors 
Poor: eBay generic, Autozone, BimmerBro etc. (generic BMW store enthusiast brands), anything non-BMW drilled/slotted 

Remember to exercise extreme caution and safety when working on and servicing your brakes. Consult a professional for assistance if you are not able to perform brake service yourself or if it is your first time.  Use proper safety equipment such as eye protection, quality jack stands and jacks if necessary.  If you decide to lift your car to perform any work, always place your wheels underneath sturdy portions of the vehicle such as the frame as a fail safe. Always work on your car on a stable sturdy dry flat level surface free of any debris. Always let someone know you are working on your car and have them be with you if possible.   These postings as well as any postings on this blog is for information and education purposes.  Happy motoring!

Here are some examples of BMW brake kits.  Do your own research and what brands you want.  These are for information/example purposes.  I personally recommend BMW or OEM as stated above. Or high quality aftermarket.  

BMW 330i brake kit (Complete Front/Rear Aftermarket)
link to buy - 330 Coupe/Sedan
link to buy - 325i Coupe/Sedan

BMW 330i OEM Textar pads (Rear Set)
link to buy

BMW 330i Genuine Front Set
link to buy

BMW 330i Performance StopTech Front Pad Set
link to buy

BMW 325i Front BMW Value Line Pad and Sensor Set
link to buy - Front Set
link to buy - Rear Set

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Mango's Gadget Review: Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk WR200

Superb Value for Money

Stainless steel, Eco-Drive Solar Movement, Mineral Crystal Lens, Water: 200m, Face: 41mm, Lug 22mm

Citizen Nighthawk WR200 with Panatime 22mm Perforated Genuine Leather Band with Red Stitching.  (Photo taken with my Canon EOS M3 and Rokinon 21mm f/1.4 prime lens)

I'm not much of a watch guy.  I had a cheap (by comparison) Seiko watch which I lost.  So I wanted to get back into wearing a watch.  It just completes the look when going out to dinner or going to work. I looked into getting another Seiko.  Scoured Amazon for what felt like eternity only to come up short, finding mostly your typical silver drug store watches.  I realize you can easily find something expensive out there from Hamilton to Tag Heuer to Rolex.   But I'm not that flashy.  Besides, I'm not willing to drop over $800 on something I'm sure I'll damage or lose.  I wanted something unique, high quality, a bit hip.  

I stumbled onto the Citizen Nighthawk after seeing gorgeous photos of this gorgeous watch.  I don't know much about watches but when I saw this I knew I had to have it.  This watch has been out for a few years now and has quite a following due to it's value for money, build quality, and cool looks.  Mine came with a typical silver metal watch band.  I wanted something to match the red print on the watch face and opted for a Panatime 22mm Perforated Genuine Leather Band with red stitching.  Voila!  It matches the watch and I've gotten a TON of compliments on it already.  Don't forget the spring bar tool set. You'll need it. 

The watch feels great to wear.  It's not too bulky, not too heavy, and best of all requires only the power of the sun to run it.  It has a quartz Eco Drive movement which uses the front of the watch to power it--it's a solar panel.  A full charge will allow the watch to run 180 days (6 months) without interruption.  The Citizen Nighthawk also features illuminated markers that glow in the dark as pictured below.  It also has some other complicated features which I haven't looked into yet.  Particularly a slide rule bezel which is used for measurements of fuel and distances. Some pilot stuff.  I'm really happy with this purchase and am starting to look at higher end Citizen watches.  Particularly, I'm checking out the Citizen Navihawk.  For the price, $300, I can't recommend this watch enough.  Get one for yourself, for dad, brother.  Inexpensive, cool looking, and substantial enough to want to stare at it in awe.  A very nicely made piece, indeed.  

(Not my photo, a sample photo I found by using Google showing the beautiful illuminated markings that glow off the power of the sun!)

(Another beautiful photo of this beautiful watch as pictured on right which I found on google)

All photos used which are NOT mine were found on google.  If the owners of these photos would like credit, please tell me and I'll gladly mention you or remove the photos at your request.  Lovely photography!  I did, however, take the first photo with red background.

I appreciate you guys using my links to shop at Amazon.  I get a small cut for whenever you use them and it helps me generate new contents and all gadget or BMW E46 related articles.