Hey. So the lure of another Bmw was strong, so when one requiring a few jobs popped up for a reasonable price I went along to have a look. I've never been a fan of the 1 series previously as I consider them to kind of look like a boot (!) in 3 door form but the 5 door breaks up that long look I think.
- 137,000 k's
- 6 speed manual
- 3 litre with 195 kw / 261 bhp
- 0-100 kph in 6.1 secs.
There's a huge spec list on these M sport versions and this one also has loads of additional options ticked as well. There's a 2 page print out that I have for the options list on this car but some of the betters ones are:
- M sport steering wheel
- M sport gearknob
- M sport sill plates
- M sport front and rear bumpers
- Dual zone auto climate control
- Cruise control
- Electric sunroof
- Electric leather seats with memory function
- Upgraded 10 speaker Bmw professional sound system
- Xenon headlights
- Comfort access package
- Lights package
- Rain sensors
The car came with a host of nice modifications that the last owner had carried out within the previous 10k -
- BC Racing coilover suspension
- E92 front sway bar
- Bmw Performance brake package front and rear from a 135i which consists of 338mm 6 piston front brakes and twin piston 324mm rear brakes. (a $4000 price when new apparently).
- New front and rear brake discs
- New E92 M3 front arms
- New EBC Red stuff pads all round
- New stainless steel brake lines
- New front dust shields
- New rear wheel hubs
- New rear wheel bearings
- New front and rear brake pads sensors
- New bolt stud conversion kit for the wheels
- New battery
- E70 X5 wheels (8.5" wide all round)
The above pictures have changed slightly as I've added the Bilstein B12 kit, stubby aerial and new front badge since I've taken them.
The car needed some work - the air conditioning didn't work and the rear window didn't work due to - *shock horror* an issue with the regulator. The air con issue turned out to be the front pulley of the compressor had actually sheared off so that needed replacement. Overall it needed a new compressor, vbelt, and a full system recharge with leak test. Once that was done I was back in relative comfort in the Brisbane summer heat. It wasn't too nice driving around for a week in a black car with black leather interior in 34 degree days at the time. The rear window regulator was fairly easy to sort as well meaning I could finally take all the sticky tape off the window to stop it from falling down.
The eagle eyed among you may also notice that there's one fog light on the front missing - the previous owner hit a small kangaroo one night coming home and bent the front bumper slightly and knocked out the fog light - luckily there wasn't any other damage. The bumpers are pretty strong - I remember hitting a fox years ago in an E30 325i Sport I had - I managed to hit the brakes before I hit it but I still hit him at around 70 kph before I saw him bouncing into the ditch - the mtech front bumper was surprisingly alight with only a slight kink at the bottom. It's pretty hard to get a second hand 130i Mtech bumper over here, especially an mtech bumper in black so I'll just keep an eye out for one.
Anyway, I started out doing my own mods as well to improve the car. One of the first areas was to change the suspension from the BC coilovers to full Bilstein B12 kit. I wasn't overly happy with the way the car handled with the BC's and I've always found it hard to go past the shortened Bilstein B8 dampers with matching Eibach springs so I ordered a set of those. There's actually 2 different versions - the Pro kit and the Sportline kit. The Pro kit lowers by around 30mm and the Sportline kit lowers by 50mm. I went for the Pro kit as it got good reviews and the car is still a daily driver. While I was at it I decided to upgrade the rear subframe bushes with Whiteline inserts. (Whiteline KDT918). Basically the rear subframe bushes in these have alot of voids in between them and flex a fair bit giving a vague and "elastic" feel to the handling. The whiteline inserts basically fill the voids in the bushes and help stiffen up the rear end considerably without much increase in NVH. You can put M3 bushes in but the time to do put them in is drastically increased as you essentially have to drop the whole subframe as the bushes only go in one way - from the top. These whiteline inserts can be installed in an hour and were only around 45 USD to buy. A cheap upgrade (and a bit sad when you consider that an Australian product was cheaper to buy overseas than actually buying locally.)
Bilstein B12 kit:
Here's a pic I found on the net of the full B12 kit, I must have deleted my own one on my phone.
I also upgraded the front top mounts while I was at it with Lemforder - Bmw OEM - have a look at a picture as an example and you can see where the Bmw logo has been scratched off!
This happens alot with OEM branded materials. The rear top mounts (powerflex) were changed previously along with a new set of bottom mounts. All the spring perches etc. were perfect so there was no need to change them. I was also researching new bump stops and was Bmw sell a shortened bumpstop (it's actually a Z4 item I think) but they were silly prices for them. It was only when I looked into it further that I realised the Germans were nice and efficient and included bumpstops for all the shocks in the Bilstein kit. (The fronts have an internal bumpstop.)
There's a fair sandwich of parts in the front and rear suspension - have a look at the Realoem diagram for the front and rear shock and spring set up:
When these were all done I got a full wheel alignment from a Bmw technician mate of mine at Bmw. The car now handles way better, corners better and the steering feels alot more direct especially when combined with the E92 M3 front control arms and sway bar.
There was already a bolt stud conversion on the wheels when I got it. Studs theoretically help you get the wheel on easier as you slide the wheel onto to be bolted up but I can't say that I've ever had an issue putting wheels on with normal wheels bolts before. The other reason this may be is that there's E70 X5 wheels on the car and the center bore is slightly bigger than the E87 so maybe it was easier to fit the X5 wheels properly without any vibration at speed etc. Dunno, but it meant me having to buy a new long socket for the nuts as the studs were 70mm long.
This is a random internet pic of the type of calipers on the car, pretty good stopping power with them.
I'm always a bit suss when previous owners say that they have changed the fluids etc. so I also decided to start fresh with the car and change the diff and gearbox oil. Bmw state that the gearbox (and possibly the diff?) is a "sealed for life unit" which is rubbish as they just want less / longer service intervals until you're all by your lonesome when the warranty tuns out. So I changed the diff oil and box oil with Motul Gear 300. Not cheap but it's a great oil.
As Bmw also do away with a dipstick these days, you rely on the onboard computer to see your oil level, but unfortunately there's no way to really pop out any dipstick to see if it's golden brown or jet black bar having a nose around with a light under an open oil cap. So I changed that for Castrol Edge 5W-30 - needed to buy 2 containers as the N52 takes a fair amount - around 6.5 litres of oil.
I also changed the air filter and the micro filter (these are activated charcoal which filter outside odours etc. apparently.)
Old micro filter wasn't too bad, but was a while since it was changed last:
I was going to order stuff from Bmw here in Oz but they generally want your first born child as a deposit for stuff here so I ordered a bunch of stuff from FCP Euro in the USA. Prices were very good so I also started fresh with a full set of coil packs (Bosch) and 6 new spark plugs (Bosch FR7NPP332). The prices Bmw charge for these is eye watering but the prices I got them for on FCP Euro weren't too bad for genuine Bosch stuff.
I also didn't like the RC car look with the aerial antenna so I wanted to get the Bmw performance stubby aerial but once again Bmw were having a laugh at the price they wanted (even overseas) so I did some research on the aerial dimensions etc. I eventually got a brand new Peugeot 206 / Citroen C2 one for 8 pounds delivered from Lithuania. Fitted perfectly and no reception issues.
About this time my son was playing in the car and was playing with the smart key. Pushing it in and out and turning the steering wheel etc. When I then went to start the car I got this symbol:
Had a look in the manual and it was a steering column warning light. When there's a problem with the column you get the amber warning symbol and eventually if you don't get it looked at you get the red steering column warning light of dooooooooom. This is because it can render the car immobile as it completely locks the electric steering column and the car won't start requiring the need for a tow normally (unless you can find a friendly Bmw technician with the right expensive software - not the cheap fault code software - to do an EVL internal counter reset to free the steering so you can at least start the car.
The annoying thing is is that there doesn't seem to be any pattern to how many tries you get before it goes from the yellow to the red symbol but I didn't want to take any chances. A quick look online said it's an extremely common problem for the E81 / E87 / E90 etc. You have to wonder, mechanical steering locks did cars perfectly fine for decades - trust Bmw to over-complicate things.
Anyway, I rang a few independent Bmw specialists to suss out how much I was going to get bent over for and it wasn't good. I was quoted $1800 from a local independent specialist. When I picked myself up from the floor I needed another solution as $1800 was a joke / horrible nightmare. The issue is when the electronic steering lock gives issues the standard response is "you need to change the whole column." There were quite a few people on the forums who spent hours taking apart the electronic part, cleaning it all out and re-greasing it all again - some with success, some with no success.
With the E87 / E90 column you can't buy a new electronic lock part so you have to buy a new column - a $1200 part from Bmw and the independent was quoting me 5 hours to change the column and then the column needed coding to the car. I asked if a second hand column would do the reply was "no it's coded to the car with specific VIN etc" With the smell of suspected bullshit still strong in my nostrils, I rang a mate of mine Sam who's a Bmw technician - he was a bit shocked when I told him what I was quoted. He said Bmw themselves allow about 1.25 hours to change the column and the only coding needed was the proper software to clear the CAS module and the EVL internal counter reset. As I was sussing out any other options I came across an emulator (a chip) for E90 models. Basically you take the loom out from the steering column, plug this emulator in and it fools the ECU into thinking that everything is ok with the column and you never have a steering column fault again. So I ordered one which was around 90 euro (about $150) + delivery from the UK, popped it in and all good - job done and a hell of alot cheaper than $1800. It was pretty good to fix it for that considering every man and his dog on the internet was telling me I needed a new column as there was no other way around it.
The front bonnet Bmw badge was also looking a bit crap as it was an after market black job that was such high quality that it had melted in the sun. I bought a new one from Bmw (overseas of course) along with the 2 grommets for fitting it and it was looking good as new again. I used a credit card to prize off the badge lifting each side a few times to slowly get it out of its grommets. It had some sticky crap on there as well from when the black badge was on there so I had to clean that off.
Looks a bit tidier:
The previous owner also carried out a popular mod to the car known ad the clutch delay valve delete.
The Clutch Delay Valve (CDV) is a small restriction that's in the hydraulic line between the clutch pedal and the slave cylinder that releases the clutch.
It's a one way check valve that allows full flow as you're disengaging the clutch, but creates a restriction to the flow as you release it, causing the clutch to re-engage more slowly.
From BMW's perspective it is probably there to reduce shock on the clutch, pressure plate, and driveline that's caused when someone dumps the clutch. From a driver's perspective it sort of creates a slight disconnect between what your foot is doing and what the clutch is doing, and it can make it harder to get a smooth shift, especially going from 1st to 2nd. It would seem that it would also have to create additional slippage during a hard shift under power, which is bad for the life of the clutch.
The clutch is a wear item, so BMW probably figures it's better to reduce the life of the clutch slightly than increase the risk of an actual failure due to the shock of "dumping" the clutch but it gives the clutch an odd sense and many people experience a harsh gearchange as the car can often pogo and bounce as if you're an "L" driver learning to drive in a manual for the first time. By modifying the valve or removing it you have no restriction and the gearchange is more direct with less jerking on gearchange.
To do the mod you can either punch out the reducer in the valve itself (with an allen key or something similar) or you can simply remove the valve altogether which is what my car has.
The exhaust: On certain Bmw models these days you also have an flap in the exhaust that opens at a certain RPM to give a sportier noise. You can actually disconnect this which means the exhaust is full open at all times which gives a much nicer sound at lower RPM. This can be done on the E87 by either unlpugging the connector in the boot, or simply by cable tying one of the vacuum hoses coming from the control valve under the car on the exhaust. It really helps the car sound great now under 3000rpm.
Anyway, that's where I'm with the car at the moment.