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Unread 09-09-2015, 07:36 PM
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Fair! Fair! is offline
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Default Re: Vorshlag 2002 BMW E46 325Ci - Daily/Track Car - Project Jack Daniels

continued from above

this 2001 330Ci had factory projector headlights and clear lenses

My old blue 2001 E46 330 Coupe (above) was a Canadian car, and it came with a KPH speedometer and factory projector style lights and headlight washers, whereas this 2002 325 Coupe had regular non-projector lights and no headlight washers - and these are both pre-facelifted Coupes only one model year apart. There are lots of OEM headlight variations, and I don't know when all the changes were. Throw in the aftermarket headlight options, and you can lose hours chasing down all of the options, costs, reviews, and sources.

There was extra wiring required to power the halos, which we used a fuse tap to power from an "ignition on" source. While we were first testing the lights one of the LEDs on the LF headlight halo burned out, but hey, that's Taiwan parts for ya.

The rest of the install was fairly painless, and the low and high beam connectors plugged right into the original harness. There were some fitment problems but we traced that down to front end crash damage. Upon closer inspection (see below) it appears that the radiator support is tweaked on both sides, especially the Left Front. So that headlight mounting hole isn't used for now. We will order a new bolt-in upper radiator support soon and put that in, but since the whole damned front end has to come off to get to all the bolts for this brace, we will wait until the new harmonic balancer is here, which needs lots of access to remove it (read more about that below).

Again, these new Taiwan special angel-eye projector style headlights came with new bulbs and corner lights, ready to bolt in, for $210 delivered. Hard to beat that price, and with regular OEM headlight replacements at $240-600/pair, non-projector, and without new corner lights... I went with the cheaper Taiwan specials. I might regret this in short order - one LED burned out in the first minute of use - so I will follow up here about long term use results.

The RF headlight "lower trim panel" (above right) was also shattered in the front end hit, so we had to track one of those down. The LF trim piece was fine (above left) Again, lots of options due to the many changes in headlight shapes and headlight washers. A new RF trim piece was ordered from BMW and the unpainted part was about $35. We will repaint this piece body color and install BOTH lower trim pieces AFTER we figure out what to do with replacing the torn up front bumper cover (M3 vs 325Ci bits) and/or front fenders (M3 or leave stock). The bumper cover is sufficiently misaligned that the new headlights and lower trim pieces don't fit together, at the moment.

In full daylight you can see the front end damage - it still needs a new bumper cover, lower headlight trim and side marker light

All told Olof spent 2.94 hours replacing these headlights, wiring in the halos, and repairing the shredded horn system wiring. It would have been a much quicker install if these had been just plain jane OEM replacement lights (no halo wiring) and if the front end wasn't tweaked like it is.


This wasn't at all what I had envisioned for the final street wheel and tire set, but a giant bolt sticking through one of the 325 Coupe's tires forced a quick if temporary wheel and tire upgrade. And those Foose wheels... wow, they were ugly. Glad those are off the car.

Once again I went to the shop Endurance race car E46 sedan to "borrow" some parts, namely the wheels and tires. When we bought this 1999 328i from a fellow racer in Austin it had the original 17x7" 7 spoke "style 44" cast aluminum wheels, which were in decent shape. The tires were all 245/40/17 sized rubber in the Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec model. The rear Dunlops were B-A-L-D but the fronts had some tread left (the shoulders were worn off). The owner of that car autocrossed it in Street class and these tires were the go-to option back then. 245mm is about all you'd want on a 7" wide wheel, and the compound was good.

I found this $10 set of 7 aftermarket "carbon fibre" Roundels, including the four 68mm center caps

So I figured we could put these on the front temporarily until we decided what to do about the permanent street and race sets of wheels. But upon closer examination the remaining rear tires on the Foose wheels were 18" diameter, dry rotted, and some nasty "Nexen" (?!) brand. And they were mounted to these hideous Foose eye sores. Amy liked the Style 44s well enough so we went ahead and bought 4 new Dunlops in 245/40/17 and we will use those on this car - temporarily. They WILL go back on the Endurance race car and will likely be used on the initial track shake-down events for the team. Thanks to UPS never delivering on time, these were not here by the time I published this update (4 days late and counting, UPS).

I still want to go with a 17x9.5" Forgestar F14 for the street wheel sets, and either another set of those or 18x9.5" wheels for the final Hoosier set for TT... but we are still working out the final TT letter class build plan. The time it takes to have a set of Forgestars custom built (4-6+ weeks) is longer than we can wait for now, so these Sedan wheels will work in the short term - and remove the ugliest part of Jack Daniels, the Foostasticly chrome blingstars. Check our clearance page to see these things for sale, if you have incredibly bad taste.


The original rear lateral lower control arms were likely bent by some wrecker driver (they reach under the car to hook their chains and these arms seem like an easy, if stupid, place to tie down a car), which is a common occurrence on BMW E36 and E46 cars. I thought briefly about an adjustable, tubular lower lateral arm, which we have used in the past on other E46 builds... but the TT mod points (+4) were just not worth it. So the bent lower arms needed to be replaced with OEM parts.

I learned a lot this past year with our TTC prepped 1992 Corvette, and when the TT rules say you can replace a suspension part with a new "stock replacement" part, it really means it needs to be the exact same part, brand, and part number as the factory installed. So I had Steve do some searching and he found the correct Lemforder (the original manufacturer for most BMW suspension parts) rear lower lateral control arms for about $45 each, shown below.

These control arms went in relatively painlessly and Olof knocked it out in .95 hours. We could have saved $90 and stolen the 2001 330 Coupe's original lateral arms, as they are identical, but with the new parts so cheap it was worth it to get the new arms. There's a bushing on the inboard side that does wear, so these new arms will refresh that. Trying to re-use old, used parts almost always turns out to be a bad idea.


One of the things we fought with on our 2001 BMW 330 Coupe back in 2009-10, and which more than a few snarky internet expert types like to keep bringing up over and over and over, were oil pump and high RPM reliability issues. Let me say this one more time: I made a mistake, ignored sound advice, and paid the price. Others clearly knew more about the frailty of the M54 engines' oil pump drive, so shame on me.

I still stand by the comment I have made many times: "The M54 has a terrible oil pump design", because it is the truth. We were also revving the stock M54B30 engine to over 7500 rpm (after a local tuner raised the redline for us), in an effort to minimize shifting to 3rd gear on typical autocross courses. Also a mistake. And we were doing this (unknowingly) with a "slipped" OEM harmonic balancer the entire time, along with a flywheel that was half the weight of the stock unit. I also knew better than to not tack weld the oil pump nut in place, but was lazy and didn't do it either.

The chain driven oil pump drive shaft retaining nut can fall off or the shaft can shear clean through, both of which makes the oil pump stop working

All of those mistakes - which were 100% on me - made for an epic fail. Yes, I killed the oil pump drive on that M54 - twice - which quickly wiped out the rod bearings both times. If you need to send some more "I told ya so's", just PM me, and but please don't crap up this thread with more of that. I won't make those same mistakes again. The first oil pump setup on my old 330 was bone stock, with the nut just screwed onto the oil pump drive shaft at the factory (the nut came loose). The second failure was after we replaced the oil pump + shaft and had tack welded the nut in place (it sheared the shaft off). Both of those failures caused the chain driven oil pump to stop working, and the clack-clack-clack of the bottom end knocks started very quickly.

After those two failures with the original M54 engine, we sourced a stock, low mileage 2005 BMW 330 M54 engine (which itself had a slipped balancer at only 54K miles) and swapped that in before we sold the car. We also lowered the rev limit back to the stock 6500 rpm level, added a brand new OEM harmonic balancer, and a VAC heavy duty oil pump driveshaft and sprocket when it was going in, and tack welded nut to that as well - which is probably why its still intact to this day.

This is what I consider to be the minimum track prep for an M54 engine: new balancer + VAC oil pump drive + tack weld the nut to the shaft. That 330 Coupe has been running smoothly since this replacement motor + new harmonic balancer + VAC oil pump drive work was done in 2011, and has been tracked several times a month by the new owner since we sold it in early 2013. Zero engine issues.

Lesson learned: M54 oil pump drives are problematic, and high RPMs tend to kill them earlier than normal.

We also learned, a bit too late, that the OEM harmonic balancer is a ticking time bomb. These regularly fail with track use or even normal street use. They are easy to inspect if you know what to look for, so I'm hoping that some of you see this and go check your factory balancers and look for the same issues. Click on the image below for a higher rez picture, which shows what I'm talking about. You can also look at the crank pulley when the engine is running and sometimes see the wobble they get when the outer damper portion has slipped relative to the crank.

As predicted, the original M54 harmonic balancer (behind the front drive pulley) on this 325Ci has slipped. You can see above that the outer steel ring has shifted and the rubber isolater is poking its head out. After seeing too many of these failures, and reading too many horror stories, I'm convinced that ALL of the M54 engines do this.

The solution? Typically, when you build a car for any higher than stock RPM use or extended track abuse you just buy a quality SFI rated aftermarket harmonic balancer. For some reason (low volume) the aftermarket has not embraced this engine platform yet, or the problematic OEM balancer for the M54/S54 engines, and there is but a single supplier of aftermarket SFI balancers. They can and do charge whatever they want, in this case $949 for the ATI balancer (+$99 add-on for the AC pulley).

Dropping $1048 on a harmonic balancer is kind of nuts, and still causes sticker shock to me even after losing two bottom ends on a previous M54. That amount could pay for a complete, replacement 3.0L M54B30 engine. I'm used to paying $250-300 for a quality SFI rated harmonic balancer for domestic V8s that make 3-4 times the power. It boggles my mind how expensive this ATI unit is, but they make so few of them it probably isn't a big money maker. Being a manufacturer myself, I understand production costs, and super low production numbers can impact costs dramatically.

A new OEM replacement balancer is $180-440/each new, which is still a bit tough to swallow. But the unit on this 325Ci has obviously failed, and we have to do something before we take it on track, where it will see higher RPMs for extended periods. These are not fun to install and require special tools to do so, without damaging the crank. Be wary of doing this as a DIY job.

When we replace the oil pan gasket we will also add the VAC oil pan baffle kit, as shown above

The leaking oil pan gasket leads me to my next upgrade planned - a new oil pump, an upgraded VAC oil pump drive/welded nut, and adding a VAC oil pan baffle kit. These are super important for these M54 motors, and we have done these baffle installs for customers in the years since I had my "bad experiences" with my first M54 powered BMW. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I won't make the same mistakes again, and we will go overboard on oil system upgrades on this car.

Stuff like this make up my least favorite parts of owning an E46, but it is just part of the "BMW experience", heh. I've heard it said that since "Germans make cuckoo clocks" that making things overly complicated (like this crazy chain driven oil pump drive) is just part of their culture.

continued below

Last edited by Fair!; 09-10-2015 at 09:56 AM.
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