Project E36 M3 - Replacing the HVAC Blower Fan April 26 2024

BMW E36 HVAC blower fan cage shown next to the access opening it is supposed to fit through. The text reads "How can this fit?".

Our Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) fan had been squeaking at certain fan speeds. It had a bad bearing and it was time to replace it. While we had the cylinder head off for a head gasket replacement, we decided it would be a good time to replace the HVAC fan, since access would be easier. This job was relatively involved and required us to create some custom tools to make the job possible.

There was no procedure for this job in any of our shop manuals, so we turned to the BMW community on the internet. There are several videos on this topic, but they all omit how the new fan actually goes back into its spot. The problem is that the opening in the firewall is 4.90 inches tall while the fan cages are 5.55 inches in diameter.

Project E36 M3 - Removing the Valve Springs and Valve Stem Seals September 27 2023

Valve stem keepers being removed with a magnetic pickup tool.

While the cylinder head of our S52 was off for a head gasket replacement, it made sense to refresh the cylinder head and valvetrain. To disassemble the valvetrain, you need to compress the valve springs first to begin removing components. We could not find a valve spring compressor tool that we knew for certain would fit our S52, so we designed a custom tool to compress the valve springs. Here is a link to where you can purchase the tool from us: valve spring compressor tool.

Project E46 M3 - Rebuilding Brake Calipers September 20 2023

BMW E46 M3 brake system.

During our last BMW E46 M3 ZCP brake service, I noticed the front caliper piston dust boots had tears in them. I decided to replace these seals and refresh the brake caliper. I bought the rebuild kit from Ate, and they were inexpensive. It comes with the square piston seal that seals the piston to the caliper, and a piston dust boot. While I was in there, I decided to replace a few other parts as well.

Cleaning Extreme Brake Dust Off Wheels September 29 2022

Wheel with heavy brake dust and a pool of bright yellow Sonax wheel cleaner gathering in a nook of the wheel.

Our BMW E46 M3 had brake dust caked onto some of the corners of our wheels from the previous owner. I had tried for years to get it out. Every time I would wash the car, I would focus on those spots and scrub them with a toothbrush, hoping that enough scrubbing over time would eventually loosen the brake dust, but it didn't. Eventually, I found a product combined with a technique that was able to lift these stains I had been fighting for years.

Are Impact Wrenches Worth Buying? August 12 2022

Earthquake XT impact wrench resting on a bench top.

For the first two decades I worked on my personal cars, I didn't have any air tools, like a pneumatic impact wrench or air ratchet. One of my friends was quite surprised, as I worked on my cars all the time. Most professional mechanics I've seen have impact wrenches and they are supposed to make jobs quicker and easier. I eventually got an air compressor and an impact wrench to see what all the fuss is about. Here's my experience and my opinion on whether an impact wrench deserves a place in my garage.

How To Protect Your Wheels When Getting New Tires Installed August 04 2022

Stack of BBS RK2 wheels.

Our E36 M3 had tires that had aged out. Even just moderate acceleration would produce wheel spin. Exiting corners required judicious patience before going full throttle, or the rear would step out. It was time for new tires. There are a few things that I do every time I take my wheels in for new tires that prevent damage and keep the finish looking great.

Project E36 M3 - Valve Cover Gasket Replacement May 19 2022

BMW E36 M3 S52 with oil leak from valve cover. Leaking area is circled.

Eventually, the valve cover gasket starts to leak and get oil all over the headers and engine block. Besides making a mess in the engine bay, burning enough oil on hot headers can start a fire. If the valve cover gasket is leaking badly enough, it can cause rough idling by letting unmetered air into the engine via the positive crankcase ventilation system. This isn't a difficult job, but it can take some time and attention to detail to keep foreign debris from getting in the head.

What Is Inside a Radiator April 13 2022

BMW E46 M3 stock radiator.

You probably know that radiators pass engine coolant through them to cool down the coolant and send it back to the engine. But what is inside a radiator, and how do they work?

Project E36 M3 - Replacing the Foglight and Harness Connector August 18 2021

A screwdriver being inserted in a hole in the brake cooling duct to access the release tab that releases the foglight.

One of the foglights went out on our E36 M3. No problem, just swap in a new bulb, right? With a new bulb in, the foglight still didn't light up. The problem ended up being a combination of the foglight itself and the harness connector. We'll show you how we replaced the foglight and the harness connector.

Project E46 M3 - Replacing LED Taillights July 29 2021

Brand new E46 M3 LED taillight assembly.

Our BMW E46 M3 had a rear turn signal go out. However, instead of being able to simply swap in a new bulb, our M3 is a late model (2003+) with the LED taillight assembly. The taillight assembly is a sealed unit and the LEDs are not intended to be replaceable. Short of opening up the taillight assembly and performing some surgery, replacing the entire taillight assembly is what you'll have to do. Follow along to see how it's done.

Simple Garage LED Lighting Upgrade July 13 2021

Garage door motor with LED light array mounted to it.

More light in the garage is a great thing to have. Everyone knows you can add an array of LED lights to the ceiling, but one often overlooked light source is the light that turns on with most garage door openers. Most garage door openers usually come with just a single bulb in the motor unit. See how we upgraded ours with some cost-effective LED lights to dramatically increase the amount of light in our garage.

Porsche Cayenne S (955) Rear Wheel Bearing Replacement June 24 2021

Disassembled wheel carrier. Text reads "Porsche 955 Cayenne Rear Bearing Replacement. Not for NOOBS!"

There was a faint whirring sound coming from the rear of our Cayenne, so it was time to replace the rear wheel bearings. I typically love working on cars, but I gotta be honest that this was quite a brutal job. There are gigantic bolts with high torque values, finicky parking brake parts, control arms that fight with you as you try to wrestle them back into place, and awkward part geometry that makes putting the parts in a shop press difficult.

Project E36 M3- Battery Compartment Rust Repair April 29 2021

Rusty BMW E36 battery compartment with rusty areas circled in red.

Our E36 M3 had a leaking battery, and this led to some rust in our battery box. This was despite the acid-absorbing and neutralizing mat that we had placed under our battery. We set out to assess the extent of the damage and then fix it. Fortunately, the rust wasn't too deep and was able to be addressed with some rust treatment paint.

Torque vs Horsepower 101 February 09 2021

Equivalent power diagram. Lifting half the weight at twice the speed generates the same about of power.

What are torque and horsepower, and which number is the more relevant number for assessing performance? There are plenty of articles on the internet about the subject, but most seem to focus on the relationship of Torque X RPM = Power. We are going do something different and talk about power and torque in a more fundamental way. What exactly is torque, and what even is power?

Project E36 M3 - Replacing Rear Side Window Trim and Gasket June 28 2020

Crumbling exterior trim around the rear side window circled. Text reads "EWWWW".

The rubber trim around our rear side windows was starting to crumble from age, so it was time to replace it. We bought some new genuine BMW rubber trim bits and got to work.

Porsche Cayenne (955) Transmission Mount Replacement January 24 2020

While having a shop perform a wheel alignment on our Cayenne S, the tech pointed out a worn transmission mount. It was time to replace the mount, and we'll show you how it's done. The job is not too difficult.

Turner Motorsport E36 M3 (S52 Engine) Oil Pan Baffle Review January 22 2020

Oil pan baffle welded in with rubber flaps installed.

While we were putting safety wire on our oil pump nut, we had the engine oil pan out and figured we might as well put some baffles inside to prevent oil starvation in long sweeping corners. This is how the installation looks like and what we think of the kit. This review won't look into how effective the baffles are in keeping oil at the oil pickup, but rather at the fitment and quality of the kit.

Rebuilding a BMW E36 Power Steering Pump August 28 2019

BMW E36 M3 power steering pump rebuild DIY. Pump separated into 2 halves.

I was replacing all the power steering lines in our E36 M3 as a preventative measure, so I figured I should replace the seals in the power steering pump as well. I bought a genuine BMW seal kit for the power steering pump, but wasn't able to find any instruction on how to replace the seals. How hard could it be?

Watch Out for FOD March 12 2019

Underside of valve cover with piece of gasket missing. Text reads "Watch out for FOD".

Starting my mechanical engineering career in the aviation field taught me some good habits. One thing that is obsessed over in aviation is FOD, which stands for both foreign object debris and foreign object damage. Foreign object debris causes foreign object damage. FOD is a big deal in aviation, because even something as little as a lost washer can migrate around inside the aircraft and possibly touch some wires and short them out. Maybe a lost screwdriver can jam up a control cable. Maybe a lost nut will bounce around in the cockpit during negative-G maneuvers. 

We had strict rules and procedures for preventing FOD from being left on the aircraft. Many of these principles are also good practices in the garage.

Why Cutting Springs Is Okay (Kinda) February 01 2019

Infographic showing that springs with squared ends or a beehive design should not be cut.

I've heard internet experts and suspension salespeople alike say that cutting springs is a terrible idea. Almost all of us have come across the guy on the internet who aggressively tries to convince everyone that cut springs will cause you to crash your car into a group of disabled children holding golden retriever puppies.

I, on the other hand have a suspicion that cutting springs a modest amount can yield the benefits of a lower ride height and stiffer spring rate. Why would I have the temerity to question the authority and omniscience of the internet experts?

Are Genuine BMW Parts Better? October 09 2018

Comparison between Mahle and Genuine BMW oil filters.

My friend insists on using only genuine Mercedes Benz oil filters, spark plugs, fluids and pretty much everything else. Genuine parts and fluids from the manufacturer are usually more expensive, but my friend is willing to pay more to ensure the quality of the parts. Is this a situation where you get what you pay for?

Seeing Someone's Soul By Watching Them Drive September 21 2018

Chart showing positive correlation between good people and good drivers.

"Give a man a mask and he will show his true face." - Oscar Wilde. Often, people feel hidden and anonymous behind the wheel of a car, somehow insulated from the outside world by the glass and sheet metal. You've probably seen people picking their noses at red lights, dancing wildly or belting out lyrics whereas in any other context, they would be too self-conscious otherwise do it in public. People tend to truly be themselves when they get behind the wheel. Over the years, I've seen more and more instances of people's driving habits giving unbiased information into who they truly are.

Why You Should Get a Dash Cam (Or Not) September 08 2018

Red Mazda almost clips my front fender.

My friend was livid at the injustice of the situation. His Bimmer had been sideswiped by an uninsured driver. It was the other driver's fault, but he wouldn't admit fault, and the cops couldn't make a determination of who was at fault. My friend was stuck with the repair bill. I had casually thought about getting a dashcam before, but this was the first time I seriously considered getting one. So before buying one, I did some research. Can footage be self-incriminating if you are at fault in an accident? Are there any legal ramifications of getting a dashcam? What features are important? I ended up getting a dashcam and am glad that I made this purchase. I've even recorded an accident and several close calls within the first couple of months. This is a summary of the research that I did leading up buying a dashcam, and my experience of owning one.

Red Eye Garage Tip #9 - How to Increase Drill Accuracy August 24 2018

Large diameter drill bit trying to aim at a tiny crosshair.

When drilling a hole with a large bit in a drill press, it can be difficult to line up the drill bit accurately. The larger the bit, the harder it is for your eye to precisely find the center of the bit. Check out a technique that we use for drilling more accurate holes.