Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Top 10 BMW E46 Misconceptions

Top 10 E46 Misconceptions  

1) CCV will stop your oil consumption, bro.  

No it won't.  Unless your car is billowing clouds of smoke out the back when you start it up, that quart of oil you're using every 500 miles is not being caused by your CCV.  BMW engines are notorious for burning oil, even brand new from the factory. My 2006 did.  And even new ones today!  BMW says 1 quart every 1000 miles is acceptable. Porsche says it too.  Obviously, it's not acceptable to most of us, but just realize an engine that many times burned oil when new will no doubt be tired 12 years+, 100k+ miles later.  Your options are this: keep adding oil or rebuild the engine with new piston rings and valve stem seals. Or get a new car.  

2) Put "anneeseeze" (anti-seize) on your spark plug threads, bro.  

No.  Don't.  As Jason Statham once said, "Whatever you're thinking--unthink it. Not only does the manufacturer of the OEM spark plugs say not to, most manufacturers of most modern plugs (ones that would apply to the E46 anyway) say not to.  Your torque will be way off due to the junk you've just brushed onto the threads and now you've just muckered up any solid connection. Besides the plugs come with factory's own special recipe of anti-size on the threads--just not in auto parts store paste form.    

3) Put anneeseeze on your hub faces, bro!  

No.  Don't do it, Elmer. This can result in extreme injury or death.  Here's why:    So... Elmer.  Look.  Your wheels are held on to your car by clamping force at the wheel-to-hub interface as a result of your properly torqued fasteners.  Not your luggo nuts, your lug nuts, your lug bolts, your wheel bolts or your hub-centric ring/lip.  So by slippering up your  hub/wheel interface with anti-seize, you're preventing the wheel from reaching proper and  consistent clamp force.  The surfaces need to bite into eachother and clamp down hard and you can't do that properly when you've lubed it up. This is why you should also super-clean/grind down that interface as to 1)achieve superior clamping surfaces and 2) to prevent debris from crushing, effectively reducing clamping force as time progresses.So yeah don't lube up your hub faces-- You better hope your fasteners can take the extra load when your wheel is fidgeting around. ONLY use anti-seize on the hub lip to prevent sticking later but--NOWHERE else in or around the wheel. And CERTAINLY not on the bolts.  

4) My Kukebono pads dust less and brake just as good as stock!  

Nope. They don't.  There are no free rides when it comes to brakes. If you dust less, your performance suffers.  Go ahead and use them to get less dust, but don't expect them to perform just as well as stock--especially cold bite/feel.  That full sized Ford Expedition unexpectedly pulls out of the driveway while you're barreling down the road first thing in the morning should make you think twice before not going with stock. Some of those low-dust alternative pads are shown to increase your stopping distance anywhere from 8 to 20 ft.    Go OEM. 

5) ZHP or M3, bro? Can't decide? I need ZHP cuz has special rack and ZHP has unique suspension/control arm geometry.  

No you didn't and no it doesn't and no you don't. And no it doesn't.  And stop calling me bro, bro.  I've pummeled this rack topic years back and secured internal BMW docs supporting my research.  I posted those docs online and I alone can solve this rack mystery! And have, bigly!  Anyway long story short, you don't have a ZHP rack.  You have a 4/01+ 330 rack, which just so happens to be installed on the ZHP. Your ZHP's rack is not unique to the ZHP is what I'm saying.  Great rack, though. No denying.  My 02 330 had the same 'ZHP" yellow tag rack before the ZHP even existed.  And a huge no to special geometry on the control arms as someone once tried to claim.  I, along with someone else, smashed that theory some years ago, including in the thread w/ someone who did measurements. Your ZHP has cool trim/diff and other options, but it's primarily, today, a looks better package. That extra 10hp and more aggressive diff should account for the heavier, larger (better looking) wheel and tire combo.  Assuming that 10 hp isn't not 8hp over the years.  Definitely get a ZHP if you can find one in good condition, superb looking cars especially in convertible form, but don't think at all that it's in a similar category as M3 or some other upper echelon sports car category. It's a 330 with a body kit at 10 hp.  Whatever E46 you get will have a suspension that ends up in the trash anyway and a 3.38 diff from a 330 auto is just $100 and a craigslist ad away.  

6) Change your guibo (steering coupler) if your steering wheel shakes when braking!  

No, ding dong! That has nothing to do with steering wheel vibrations.  You should always change your coupler so you have new stuff and for maximum road feel/feedback/performance but the coupler has nothing to do with vibration or brake shakes. A new coupler would only make vibration worse as the rubber would be firmer.  A typically worn coupler will not cause added vibration.  It will simply dull response time from when the driver turns the wheel and when the front wheels actually turn.  A worn coupler causes and adds to sloppy handling but does not in itself cause vibrations.  If your wheel shakes when brakes, I wrote a whole 'nother article for that.  

7) You don't need no euro or BMW oil--your car will be fine if you use regular ol' oil.

Short answer is this: BMW requires euro-spec oil for use in its gasoline engines.  It meets BMW's standards for sheer/temp stability, wear, solubility, etc. under high loads, under extreme conditions, for extended periods of time--think autobahn.  By definition (not opinion) these oils are superior to non-spec oils.  And they cost the same or cheaper than your granpappy oil.  So why not.  Especially important for enthusiast driven cars who tend to rev longer, harder.   

8) I blacked to backed all my trim to make it look new again. 

You're adding liquid/oil/paste/cream to your trim so inherently it will become darker just due to physics.  But all you're doing is adding stuff.  And once that oil dries out or gets washed away, your faded old trim will just reappear again. So you'll spend $20 a month on cream for your trim to make it appear black for a week. You need to remove stuff, haze, oxidation, contaminants, etc. And the way you do that is through abrasive sponge such as Magic Eraser. You (gently) sand it away using this sponge. You just soak the magic eraser in water and scrub plastic trim away--never scrub painted surfaces as it can scratch.  Make sure you tape adjacent painted areas before using the sponge! Remove the top layer of filth on anything black and plastic and maintain with water after that.  This usually goes for your body/bumper trim, black areas around the mirrors, etc. No need to smear grease over your car to give you the impression you've just corrected your trim.   You can just reach in your pantry and use vegetable oil for that!

9) You has to use special tool to align RTAB! 

If you happen to have the tool, use it. But not necessary to stress over this and spend $300.  Simply install the RTAB bracket the same way it came out--use a pen to mark the angle.  For me, the bushing bracket has always been naturally lined up with a cast line in the trailing arm. Perhaps BMW did this on purpose.   

10) You need PPI before getting E46!  

No you don't, bucko.  If you are already a fanatic, know a thing or two about cars, you may be able to skip that PPI and save you $300.   All a PPI on an E46 is going to do is tell you things I could've told you about your E46 to begin with.  It's going to need a new suspension, a new cooling system, etc.  Other things like brakes, leaks, you can see with your eyes. You have eyes, don't you?  All these things needing replacement should be assumed with a new-to-you 13 year old E46. What else would you expect? The most useful thing on a PPI can, perhaps, be a compression and leak-down test.  However, there are other ways to tell if your car has compression--like driving it.  See further. (Your results may vary.)    

The Mango Method
The alternative way to PPI
The Patriot as seen in the Santa Monica Mountain Range

1) Know who you're buying from
In the transporter, the quote goes "the way a man cares for his car is the way he cares for himself." Are they dirty in appearance? Stained clothes, bad odors, ketchup-covered shoes, etc. Talk to the owner too. Ask about the car's history.  How does he carry his/herself?  Do they talk with a lot of slang? Are you referred to as "Dawg" or "Homie"? Does the car smell like drugs? If so, run.  That's all fine for a used XBOX or something, but not a used BMW. Turn on the radio and see what music they were listening to also works. That in and of itself is not a true factor but combined w/ the smell of drugs or stack of unpaid parking tickets, it may be.  Point is buy from someone who has something to lose. Someone responsible. Also look out for horrible mods with poor taste. Intakez and the likes. Pass the test? Proceed to step 2.  

2) Drive the car. Long. Hot. Hard. With A/C on
Does the car pull strong? Superb. You've typically ruled out any compression problems.  Use the OBC trick to monitor coolant temps (google search how to access this). Has the temps stayed between 96-99c during your extended hot test drive? No overheating? Superb.  You can rule out any present cooling leaks/HG problems. Ask if the car has ever overheated.  If no, ask what cooling service (request specifics) has been done.  Ensure no check engine lights. Passes these tests? Proceed to step 3.  

3) Pop the hood. Look around with a flashlight  
Ensure no coolant stains, excessive oil stains (it's an E46, there's likely to be SOME oil stains).  Look to see everything is in the right place.  Reference my engine bay pictures and compare.  Anything missing or out of place? This may be reflected in the practices of whoever touched the car.  Is the car dirty but engine bay super clean? He could be trying to cover something up.  Also check all fluids and look for signs of abuse.  The coolant should be CLEAR blue or close to it. The oil is fine, if dirty, but ask the owner about specifics of the oil he used and how often changed. It should be BMW oil or an approved euro-spec oil.   I use this beast of a LED flashlight.  I do mean beast. 

4) Walk around the car. Look at the exterior
Are their excessive/abnormal amount of door dings? Not only can this indicate an irresponsible owner, but consider this as an added repair cost once you buy the car. Use it to negotiate a price.  Also look at the paint and clear coat, signs of prior repair.  Panels should have some orange peel to it from the factory.  Look for signs of repair such as tape lines, mismatched colors, smooth glassy paint next to a panel with orange peel factory paint.  Repairs in and of itself are of little concern as long as done correctly per BMW, but it could reveal a bigger problem or a lying seller. Look at the interior, too.  To me, a sign of abuse is an overly shredded/ripped apart worn driver's bolster.  A true E46 fanatic gets in and out of their E46 carefully and respectfully.  If they do that, you bet they treated the rest of the car that way.  

5) Records check
Do your diligence.  Ask a dealer nicely for a record history based on the vin.  Run a car fox or equivalent.  Google the vin # and look for anything.


The above has been my personal way of looking at potential cars to buy and it's never disappointed me.   Your results may vary and I recommend doing what you feel is best for you. However it is my opinion that PPIs aren't a good use of money so long as the car looks good, drives good, doesn't overheat after a long drive, and accelerates strongly with no check engine lights or other glaring open and obvious problems.  Most of us fanatics here are more knowledgeable on these cars than your average mechanic and already know what to expect based on the massive knowledgebase established for over a decade.  Be savvy, be informed, be safe!

Happy motoring,

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why Stancing is a Poor Lifestyle Choice - Project E90 335i Part 1

Stancejerks. No Bueno.
"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."
Dangerous, Poor Taste, Inconsiderate, Abusive, Expensive
Why stancing is a lifestyle that has to go and what you can do about it.

E90 335i with 19x10 wheels and spacers in the front. Rub City =(
All of my photography Done with a Canon EOS M3 and Canon EF-M 22mm F2 lens

I've got a new project on my hands.  Project E90 335i.  This is part 1 of the series.  I came upon this car that had many, many problems. The most glaring is it came with Avante Garde M359 19x10 wheels in the front with undersized tires AND spacers with STOCK lug bolts. It has 19x10s in the rear too but they fit fine. I remedied these by purchasing new AG M359 wheels in correct 19x9 ET35 and 235/35/19 tires.  I think I could've gone 245 or even 255 but I wanted to avoid the risk of rubbing as it's still a tighter fit than I'd like. It's not my money so I wanted to go the safer route.  I purchased Hankook V12 Evo 2 Tires.  These wheels were barely holding on by 3 or 4 threads of the wheel bolt due to using spacers with stock bolts.  WOW.   You know the saying birds of a feather flock together?  Well this stancebird had with it many maintenance and upgrade no-nos, it doesn't surprise me that someone with enough disregard to safety to use stock BMW wheel bolts would install spacers just to get that aggressive look.  Now I use the term stancing here loosely for this particular case. This isn't the typical stance-slam, but it's a variation of it.  Pushed out wheels to the limits, forcing on thin small tires to clear the fenders etc.  Thankfully this car wasn't slammed.

Stancing is a modern-day phenomenon which has its roots to the 80s low-rider era in Southern California where gangsters up and down the state from LA to the Bay Area would slam their impalas and put the widest wheels possible with the most stretch possible as to allow fender clearance due to their oversized wheels.  At least in those days, these gangsters cared about their Impalas as their prized possessions.  Immaculate car art, paintwork, body work, interiors.  They had pride. 

Pic I found on Google

Today? Well stancing has taken a hold of import Japanese and European cars.  

Pic I found on google by searching for stancing

What's wrong with stancing?

You can't go anywhere, Elmer.  The whole point of a car is to GO places.  Stancing means you use larger than intended wheels and driving around 5mph and a half mile an hour over speed bumps and dips causing delays in traffic.  Using large wheels means you can't fit the proper size tire.  So what do you do? You use a smaller tire!  What this does is puts additional stresses on an already-sensitive low-profile wheel/tire combination.  

The following are symptoms of stancing:

Body Damage

This E90 came to me with popped and twisted fenders from the wheels striking the fender over bumps.  The front bumper popped out and was sagging and hanging.  I carefully molded the steel fender tab/mount back to shape and used a zip-tie (temporarily) to secure the bumper.  Thanks to stancing, Elmer screwed up a once $45,000 luxury car and nearly turned it into a rolling trash heap. Stop it, Elmer!  Also people who stance their cars often jerk their fenders off with rollers so they can fit their oversized Pepboy wheels and generic tires--this results in paint cracking, waviness, unevenness, and general poor taste rusted out beat up body work.  Good luck if you ever plan to sell your car.


So you purchase the Ultimate Driving Machine or (your brand equivalent sporty car) and then stance it? Why?  That's like buying an expensive camera then rubbing peanut butter on the front of the lens.  How does stancing ruin handling? Well first of all, stancing means oversized wheels resulting in heavier wheels and then...typically doubly HEAVIER than that due to being generic wheels.  You just got double heavied.  This does wonders for response and agility.  And not the good kind!  Then you have lowered contact patch due to the tires being undersized both in width AND diameter AND being tilted w/ negative camber due to the ALIGNMENT that's required to clear the fenders.  So you have a THIN, NARROW, and TILTED and sometimes GENERIC tire rolling down the road at 80mph. 


By stancing, you are endangering yourself and others.  Your now crappy thin and small tires stretched on heavy wheels are not only severely reduced in traction and response, the additional load and stress on the tire means its extra VULNERABLE TO IMPACTS causing risk of BUBBLING and, TIRE SHREDDING BY RUBBING THE FENDER, AND EXTREME BLOWOUTS!  People also tend to install spacers without using the proper extended wheel bolts. By doing all the above and more, you've risked peoples safety and livelihoods all cause you wanted to sag your pants by hardparking at the next car meet.  Hardparking is when you try to look extra bad ass as all the dudes look at you as you park your slammer car next to other slammer cars. Also usually accompanied by cheap generic coilovers which presents its own set of problems.  Stop slamming, Elmer!

 Shredded tire due to fender rubbing.  The E90 fender has a knife edge void of factory paint due to rubbing.  The result is a shredded tire.  Stance your car? It's like taking a knife to your tires while hanging out the window at 90 mph. Like that prison execution knifing scene in Breaking Bad. Is that what you really want?

This was the "best" of the bubbles.  The other tire had 3 bubbles more severe than this. It was getting late and got lazy to take additional photos.  Just wanted to finish.   Your stancing and popping pushes the sidewall to the limit as it's now stretched beyond its intended function.  Making it even more vulnerable to sidewall separation and air leakage.  Imagine jabbing a properly sized tire with a butter knife.  Now stretch that same tire over a larger wheel and jab it again.  The tire is stretched and stressed beyond its intended limit while having to cope with road forces and impacts.  Yes this can happen to correctly sized tires or even new defective tires but stretching your tires isn't helping this. These conditions many times lead to bubbles that will eventually grow causing your tire to blow out at 90 mph on the highway potentially crossing the center divider risking an accident with a 35,000 lb loaded 18-wheel rig.  Are you a stancer? Check the inside of your tires NOW.  Bubbles are likely hiding where you can't see them.

There's already a dashcam video of a stanced Lexus circulating the internet where the car was doing nothing but going in a straight line and a slight bump sent it spinning out of control into oncoming traffic. This was due to the drastically reduced contact patch. Don't do it, Elmer. Safety first.  

Someone installed these 5x120 BMW H&R Spacers (Good stuff) but with stock wheel bolts.  Always use extended BMW wheel bolts with your BMW wheel spacers.

Poor Taste

Even if all the above wasn't an issue, it's just ugly.  You may as well pull your upper lip up and walk around showing your teeth. That or sagging your pants extremely low.  The whole point of a BMW is to perform.  Stancing goes against everything performance to compromise for perceived looks.  I have news for you Elmer, it looks like crap. 

Wow.  Look how far it's sticking out. That's causing unnecessary drag and turbulence increasing fuel consumption and robbing horsepower. Unlike you, your car cannot gain this power back with your Monster energy drinks.


Here's the after-shots with 19x9s in front with 235/35/19 tires and 19x10s in rear with 265/35/19 tires (I plan to install a fresh set of tires on those soon) I also removed the spacers.  Now the wheel bolts have enough thread engagement to be safe. This car has many more projects to complete.  I've fixed the cigarette lighter, the sagging bumper that popped due to the stance, and other misc. odds and ends.  This car will get the Mango touch!  Oh the BMS 335i cone filters are BLACK.  The headlights and sidemarkers are faded. Sadly, there is no lens (that I know of) offered for Xenon E90 pre-lci sedan.  Sigh.  

Professional Sport Look  

 Look, Ma! No more wheels sticking out with goofball sized tires!

E90 335i fixed with correct sized front wheels and new correct size tires. You see that inch or so of gap between the fender and the tire's edge? That's the professional look you want.  Anything more aggressive and it's obvious you're trying too hard to be aggressive and have deviated far from the factory setup.  Too much of anything is bad. This has a classy, high quality performance balanced look.  

I realize a lot of stancers like Elmer are really nice guys and I mean no disrespect to anyone but this is an issue that really bugs me especially when these actions really compromise safety. This car had so many safety issues due to oversizing the front wheels, it boggles my mind.  A lot of people blindly stance, slam, stretch their cars on oversized wheels, undersized tires, and cheap coilovers without thinking. This post hopefully will get people to think before they modify their cars and risk others.  Be safe!

Covercraft Lexus IS250/200t/350/300 3IS Sun Heat Shield UVS100 UV10965BL

Covercraft UVS100 Heat Sun Shield 2014-2017+ 

So you just got your third generation Lexus IS and want to protect the interior from heat and stray UV rays huh?  I've had my Covercraft UVS100 on my Lexus CT and now Lexus IS and by far it's my favorite Sun Shield. It's custom fit and durable and folds up neatly and stores nicely on the rear floor facing sideways.  You simply unfold it, tuck it into the dash at the base of the windshield and hold it in place at the top of the windshield by folding the sun visors down.  I've had my Covercraft UVS100 for a year now and love it! 

Here it is in action!

Keeps your car cooler on hot days by reflecting sun radiation and preventing direct sun on the dash from overheating it.  

This is how I store it. Fold it up like an accordian and tosses in back. No fussy ties to deal with like those auto part "diaper" foldable ones. 

 Custom fits to the windshield.  
Looks professional from the front.

Pro tip: crack each window about 1/4" to 1/2" and pop the sunroof up for extra venting ability and maximum cooling effectiveness.  Wanna get it? Get it here!

I appreciate your support when you use my links.  I get a few pennies for every dollar and it helps me pay for this domain and post more helpful info for you guys. Thanks!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Eye Love Polarized Wayfarer Style Sunglasses - Cheap and good!

Eye Love classic Wayfarer style Sunglasses
Polarized - 54/18/150 - UVA/UVB Blocking - Lightweight 

Eye Love Polarized Wayfarer Style Sunglasses - In Classic Gloss Black (They offer Matte too)

I own my share of decent sunglasses from Prada, Ray-Ban, etc.  However sometimes I don't want to engage in outdoor activities where I'm bound to lose or damage my sunglasses.  In search for a Wayfarer every day throw around replica, I've used many and I've found my favorite -- Eye Love Polarized Sunglasses.  

(I will get some models to pose for them soon!) and update with new pics!

I've owned my particular gloss black Eye Love Sunglasses for a year now and they're as perfect and as tight as the day I bought them.  I'm serious.  No scratches, no looseness, never need to adjust them. And I wear them almost daily.  I'm kind of shocked.  The plastic frames show no ripples or signs of cheap molding.  The feel is very high quality.  They don't feel as heavy as the real Ray-Ban New Wayfarers (which I own and also LOVE) but that may be a plus for some.  

You can't go wrong for $29 and free shipping -- and to top it off, Eye Love donates an eye exam, a pair of glasses, and sunglasses to someone in need for every pair purchased.  And their Amazon page has a $7 off coupon code when you buy both black and brown. My female friend has tried these on and they look great on her too. As far as I know, they're unisex just as Classic Wayfarers are. 

I purchased the Eye Love Gloss Black version a year ago and loved them so much I just purchased the brown.  The polarizing effect is very pronounced and the brown pair is really soothing to look through as blue is filtered out.  The result is a very soothing and subdued clear brown tint to what you see.  Helps driving in bright sun.  I personally and highly recommend these. 

Here's an illustration from Eye Love and the specs on the glasses. The brown ones are identical as far as I know. The fit is great. No creaking or looseness. The feel is very high quality.