Paintless Dent Repair April 22 2014
I was walking back to the parking lot, when I noticed a huge dent in our E46 M3. There was a section pushed in about the size of a football, and there were a set of hand prints and face prints on the back window, as if someone had been slammed up against the car face first. Some people are jerks, but there's no use in getting worked up about it if you can't do anything about it.
We gave Dent Rescue a call, since one of our Porsche buddies recommended this guy.
Project E36 M3 - Xenon Headlights with Angel Eyes March 23 2014
Our E36 M3 had the plastic US spec headlights, and they had gotten hazy and it was getting hard to see the road at night. We had tried using headlight polishing products, but the haze came back a few weeks later. We got on the phone with BavToys and spoke with Mike. He was very helpful and willing to educate us on what our different options were. We placed an order and this is our unbiased review of the Depo lights that we ordered.
Project E46 M3 - Front Pads and Rotors January 27 2014
Our BMW E46 M3 is fitted with the competition package, which includes brakes that will rip your face off if you get on the pedal too hard. The calipers are the same as the standard E46 M3's, but the rotor has grown substantially from 12.8 to 13.7 inches in diameter. We were getting a weird wear pattern on the front left rotor, so it was time to change the rotors and pads. It is recommended to change both sides at the same time. We'll take you through what it takes to replace the rotors and pads. It is not too difficult, and it took us about 40 minutes per side at a leisurely pace. So let's get started.
Project E46 M3 - Replacing Front Wheel Bearings January 19 2014
We have a friend that had a bad wheel bearing, but kept driving on it for a while. Finally, the bearing seized up and the wheel locked up while the car was at speed. There was lots of tire smoke and plenty of steering correction, and a soiled pair of underwear later, the car came to a stop in the middle of the busy road. Luckily, no one was hurt, and no damage was incurred, but it could have been bad.
When our E46 M3 had started to make a whirring sound at certain speeds, we suspected a bad wheel bearing and wanted nothing to do with a seized wheel bearing. We had recently tackled this same job on our E36 M3, and the process is very very similar. Basically, you strip off all the brake components, pull off the wheel bearing, and then put new parts back in. With the right tools, it's not a difficult job, so let's get started.
Project E36 M3 - Sagging Transmission Liner Meets Clever Solution October 29 2013
A common problem on BMW E36 chassis cars is that the transmission tunnel liner starts to sag over time. We noticed ours sagging against the drive shaft to a point where it had worn the paint off. Some people elect to cut out the liner where it is sagging. We didn't want to slice and dice our liner if we didn't have to. It keeps heat and noise out of the cabin, and it protects the chassis from abrasions and corrosion.
Project E36 M3 - Guibos and Driveshaft Bearings October 29 2013
I remember watching a show called the Forza Motorsport Challenge, where several competitors raced in a series of challenges and winners got credits for mods to be used in subsequent challenges. It was a pretty cool concept of bringing the Forza Motorsport video game into reality. I remember watching the final race. The battle was heated, and everyone was in contention for the top step of the podium. One of the muscle cars was powering down the straight when the sound of a thousand Riverdancers on bath salts erupted and instantly the inside of the car was filled with a violent swirl of debris. I was sure the engine had exploded. When the car finally came to a rest on the side of the track and the cloud of debris subsided, it was revealed that the drive shaft had snapped. In the process it had thrashed around so violently that it ripped out a huge portion of the floor pan. The car was done for the day.
That's what I think of when I think of drive shaft failures, so when I saw a small crack in the drive shaft coupling (aka guibo) of our E36 M3, I didn't waste much time attending to it. The job took several hours performing it solo and documenting every step, but there wasn't anything too difficult.
Project E36 M3 - Replacing the Window Motor and Regulator October 04 2013
The officer didn't seem pleased as I tried to talk to him through the sunroof. "I don't mean to be rude, but my window doesn't roll down," I explained. "Can I open my door instead?" "NO," was his emphatic response. Apparently, he really didn't like open doors. He walked around to the passenger side of the car. Sensing the tension of the moment, I choose not to be a smart ass and lie about the passenger window not being able to roll down either. A few minutes later, I took my ticket through the fully functional passenger side window and continued on my merry way.
The defunct window motor on our E36 M3 was making it difficult to speak with the friendly local law enforcement officers, and paying tolls with coins was awkward. It was time to replace the window motor. A lot of people go ahead and replace the window regulator at the same time, since it is easy to mess it up when drilling out the rivets.
Project E36 M3 - Changing the Fuel Filter September 21 2013
If your car is down on power or sputters when starting, this may be a sign of low fuel pressure. That could mean a leaky injector, a failing pump or a dirty fuel filter. Since the filter is so cheap and easy to replace, it's usually the first thing to try. The fuel filter removes the dirt that would otherwise make its way down the fuel system where it can clog injectors or accelerate wear in your engine. If the fuel filter gets too clogged with contaminants, fuel has a hard time getting through, and you may have reduced fuel pressure at the engine. This means your engine will be running lean and not getting all the fuel it needs. Our E36 M3 didn't experience any of those symptoms, but it has been about 40,000 miles since the last fuel filter change, so it was time to swap it out with a new one. Before we started this job, we ran the gas tank down to nearly empty in case we sprang a leak that we couldn't stop. We also moved the car out of the garage. It's bad if your car catches on fire, but it is worse if your garage goes up in flames too. Good ventilation is important too, since there is going to be spilled fuel. As a good measure, we removed the fuse to the fuel pump and ran the engine until it died to bleed fuel pressure from the system.
Project E36 M3 - Front Wheel Bearings September 15 2013
A nasty whirring sound had started to develop on the front wheel, and it sounded like the wheel bearing was on its last legs. I placed an order for a wheel bearing kit, and when they came in, I went to work. With the right tools, it is not a difficult job. In a nutshell, the process involves stripping the brake caliper and brake rotor off, which gives us access to the wheel bearing. Keep in mind that there are a few uncommon tools that you will need. In regular Red Eye Garage fashion, this was a nighttime wrenching session.
Project E36 M3 - Squealing Brakes September 03 2013
I had been running Axxis Ultimate brake pads and ran into some problems with some massive brake squealing. From 30 to 0 mph, the brakes would squeal like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert. I tried cleaning the brakes with brake cleaner, but that only stopped the squealing for about 30 miles before the squealing came back. Willing to try almost anything at this point, I saw a bottle of Disc Brake Quiet at the local automotive supply store and decided to give it a try.
Project E36 M3 - Dunlop Direzza ZII's August 31 2013
Our E36 M3 got a flat tire, and the tire ended up getting shredded by the time I could pull over. I looked over my options at TireRack.com and ended up choosing the Dunlop Direzza ZII because of the high levels of grip in the dry and wet. Since the car doesn't rack up a whole lot of miles each year, the tires usually expire from vulcanization before they expire from wear, so wear wasn't a large concern.
I had the tires shipped to Texas Track Works in Fort Worth Texas, and made the drive across town to check out their shop. I was greeted by a fleet of fellow E36's.