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Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/9/18 12:04 a.m.

Hello and welcome!  I'm about a month into ownership of this here vehicle and I really wasn't going to do a build thread (especially after I fell behind in my last thread and could never find the time to update it) but  I quickly discovered that being a GRM member without a build thread is like hanging out in a bar with a non alcoholic beer.  So here goes.


This is my 2003 BMW 330ci. 



(Pictures straight from the advertisement I answered)


This is my first BMW, and so far I like it!  It's definitely a case for the "Good from far, far from good" saying though.  You know that part when Han Solo introduces the Millenium Falcon and he says "she may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts"?  

Yeah, this one isn't like that at all...  This one looks great but once you get passed the glossy pictures in the advertisement you start discovering the ugly bits right away.

For instance, that carpet isn't original.  It's simply a lighter colored carpet glued over the old, darker, carpet.  And the pillar trim definitely leaves something to be desired:





And most of that is probably because almost every exterior seal on this car gave up the proverbial "ghost" long ago...

(sun roof, windshield, back windows...)



But then again, it doesn't rain here a whole lot so why bother with things that keep water out? laugh


and before you ask:  No.  All the pixels do NOT work wink



Unless of course, you're talking about fault displays.

The fault displays all work GREAT!  I've got one headlight that's out, and I've got a perpetual amber gear light thingy which I can only assume is a check engine light, but the darn thing never goes away.  Even when I reset the codes.  Of which there are many.

(** it is entirely possible that gear thingy might be alerting me to overdue scheduled maintenance.  But who knows)



By now you're probably asking "geeze Bill.  Why would you take on something like that!?!  I mean, did you actually pay money for that or did someone just leave it in front of your driveway with the keys in it?"

Here's the thing.  I've had a lot of very nice cars lately that I think I've treated pretty well.  And that has me feeling a bit "bottled up".  Every car I buy (1966 Impala, 1985 4-Runner, 1969 Mercedes) ends up really nice and then I feel bad when I do stupid things to them for the sole purpose of making me giggle.  And that's where this car comes in.  This car, out here, is ANCIENT!  Cars out here are damn lucky if they make it to see their tenth birthday.  The fact that this one is 15-years old has my neighbors stopping by my house and telling me "oh, I love classic cars too!". 


It was 1000kd ($3300) which is almost as low as cars go out here.  Essentially, this is the Kuwait version of a challenge priced car. (and boy is it already a "chellenge")


The sole requirements when I was looking for this car was :  "Sporty, room for 2.3 children, manual transmission".  This was the first car I found online and boy was it a winner.  I've heard nothing but good things about the engine, the car was RWD (big bonus for me there), and it has a HUGE aftermarket available.  All this was important because the other reason I bought this car was because a new track opened in the area, and I'm hoping to attend a few track days (assuming they're going to open it to the public soon)    http://news.kuwaittimes.net/website/amir-opens-kuwait-motor-city/


So here goes.  This is my new daily/hpde hopeful. And if you'll excuse me just this once, I'm going to be a little childish for just a little bit with this car and do a few of the dumb things I've always wanted to do but havent because #grownup.



Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/9/18 12:29 a.m.

As I've mentioned before, I've owned this car for about a month.  I've already done a few things to the ol girl (her name is "Zsofi", by the way), but I don't have time today to post all the updates at once.  Here's hoping I can keep the thread moving forward while covering some of the things I've done in the past.

First though, a few things about the car I didn't mention in the first post:


  1. Originally an automatic car, some previous owner (probaby the 20-something year old guy I bought it from) swapped in a manual.  That means I have a lower rear end gear ratio (3.38?  i think)
  2. The undertray is missing (boo)
  3. one headlight is burned out
  4. I found a melted wire (actually a couple melted wires!)
  5. The traction control is very intrusive and the switch to turn it off doesnt always work (almost caused an accident once... oops)
  6. Seat warmers dont work (I mean, I'm never going to use them, but still it's a fault)
  7. The rear screen thingy doesnt pop up
  8. the rear seat belts lock if you pull on them at a speed greater than a snail's pace in molasses
  9. previous owner was a smoker
  10. I can not figure out the controls to the radio
  11. the horn doesnt work (actually, none of the controls on the steering wheel work)
  12. the wheels are the wrong offset
  13. Chineese 225 series tires in the front, Bridgestone run flat 245's in the back
  14. caveat to the above.  the car PLOWS like a pig (see "intrusive traction control" and "almost accident" above)
  15. another caveat:  the car tramlines like it's its job.  (on one particular exit, I have no directional influence over the back of my car.  I'm simply along for the ride)
  16. another caveat:  The tires rub when the car travels over anything that is not perfectly smooth (and the roads here are anything but.  Plus I have to drive over 20 speed bumps on my way into work.  not kidding)
  17. the car developed a habit of dying randomly about once a week
  18. Check engine light is on (that amber gear thingy).  Codes suggest a vacuum leak, plus a p0600 (which says "no serial communication" but for the life of me I dont know what's not communicating with what)
  19. Some of the emissions components were removed
  20. The cabin gets that "hot oil" smell after about 30 minutes of driving
  21. The shocks are definitely well passed their prime
  22. The car once had coilovers installed.  or at least camber plates as I can see the top mount of the macpherson struts have been drilled to allow negative camber.



Basically it's everything you'd expect from a neglected E46, but man does this thing feel good to drive!

I haven't felt this excited about a car since my last RX-7 (and that's a big compliment)


Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/9/18 12:45 a.m.

First things first:

Wheels and tires.  The old ones made driving my car absolutely miserable.  SO!

Gone is the staggered setup and crappy tires (I dont like run flats or chineese tires), in comes a better rim offset, 245's all around, and continental sport contact 5's.  Oh man, what an improvement!!!!

Originally I was looking for something a little more aggressive than the sport contacts, but pickins here are pretty slim sometimes.   So really, I had to take what I could get.  Same with the rims.  Nothing aftermarket here is in 17's for some reason, and with the roads being what they are, I wanted a little more rubber between the road and the rims than what the 18's had to offer.  I think, normally, the quick/easy way to do things in the states would be to buy two sets of "rear rims" and run them all around (allowing for 245's front and back) but I figured anything in the junk yards here probably had dented rims too.  So, I was kind of at the mercy of what was hanging off the wall at the store.

All in all, I don't think they look half bad:



(did you see that?  I just knocked 5 lines off my "complaint list" just like that!  Plus, the traction control has been MUCH more bearable ever since.  Still cant turn it off all the time though)

Good times.


Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/9/18 1:41 a.m.

Before I get to that melted wire.  I should mention that this is the newest car I've ever owned by a long shot.  my previous record was a 1987 Toyota pickup (ooh!  and a Lada.  My Lada was a 1987) if you don't count a 2000 Mustang I bought and flipped to buy the '87 Toyota.


So about the same time I bought the rims and tires I also bought a Bentley manual smiley




And a good thing too!  because around the time I was ordering the manual, I was finding melted wires!

(melted, corroded, now uninsulated...)



It goes to a grounding block there at the top of that last picture.

Right about now I've got most things related to that wire opened up for inspection.  I only get about 30-minutes every other day (always at night) to do work so it's going to take me more than one sitting to inspect all the other wires in that loom for damage and fix things accordingly.


Here's where we're at:

(quick note:  the blackness there you see by the firewall isn't more melty bits, it's some sort of environmental sealant from the manufacturer.  I had to scrape it away for the inspection.  The wires run pretty parallel at that point so I figured if there was going to be any major damage to a wire or a group of wires, it'd be at that point.  So far things are looking surprisingly ok!)


The relay in the first picture was the culprit.  Using my trusty new Bentley manual I was quickly able to discern that this relay (and related wiring) controlled the "Secondary Air Injection Pump", wich of course is missing from my engine bay.  I know I said I was going to have a bit of childish fun with this here beast but I hadn't planned on removing emissions components.


Except in this case I think I can make an exception.  1) it was already missing   2) it obviously introduces a fire danger if re-installed back into my car


To try to mitigate disaster while I daily drive this beast, I used the wire diagrams and found I could pull the 50-amp fuse and the relay associated with the SAI pump.  The fuse and relay removal will render one of the power lines "inert", one ground wire melted itself out of the equation, leaving only a red/white power line (slated to be capped and stowed), and a brown/black line which I can remove.

Image result for e46 auxiliary air injection wire diagram

From there I'll have to give another look at the wiring behind that relay panel and make decisions from there.  Most of the damage seems relegated, at this point, to the wires behind the air conditioning relay.

Speaking of wiring:  The car deciding to die about once a week...  This got bad.  One drive home the car stalled three times.  It's like someone turned the key off for three seconds then turned it back on.  I had no idea what the heck was happening or if it was related to that P0600 code...

Doing some research online I saw it was recommended to clean the battery terminals to fix this sort of thing.  I did, and I found some calcium-ish looking deposits between the positive terminal and clamp, so we'll see if getting rid of that made any difference.  Two days in and no dying so so far we're lookin good.

(unfortunately no pictures of cleaned battery terminals)


Good times.


If you want to see some electrical awesomeness, check out Mezzanine's X1/9* thread.  The stage is being set:


*X1/9?  X/9?  X*0.11111?


Mad_Ratel Dork
5/9/18 4:57 a.m.

So I bought one of these with 200k miles, drove it until 215k when it got hail damaged and totalled by insurance.


Check your CCV, injector orings, heater core lines (prone to dry rot and leaking), entire cooling system has a max life of 10 years before failure and if the overheat light comes on your motor is 99% done as they did not give any elbow room.

Also go ahead and order a DISA valve and replace yours.  From how you say people repair things there it's mere minutes away from falling in and blowing the engine.  


if you are into preventative maint: order all of the above, you ahve to take it all out of the way to do the heater core lines, might as well redo the intake gaskets, injector gaskets, disa valve, ccv system, etc at the same time.  ~700 in parts.


Heck, I have some of these parts in a drawer right now.  Pay shipping and they are yours. (if my wife did not throw them out last time we tidied the garage up.)


MazdaFace HalfDork
5/9/18 6:16 a.m.

Well it definitely looks like you found a project lol. New wheels look good. 

02Pilot Dork
5/9/18 6:31 a.m.

The gear fault light is the transmission, not the CEL. The commo failure fault is due in all likelihood to the fact that it's been swapped from auto to manual, so there's no transmission electronics for the DME to talk to.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/9/18 6:43 a.m.

O2Pilot:  I was JUST watching 50sKid's videos on the youtubes and came across a video where he explained things and showed me how to program it out.  Could that also be causing the P0600 code?  I ordered the INPA cable and disc from ebay for about $20.  We'll see when it gets here.


Mazdaface:  Oh yeah man.  I was warned ahead of time so I can't claim ignorance.  Even still, this beast was a little worse for wear than I was expecting.

Mad_Ratel:  That would be AWESOME!  if you've got stuff you're never going to use, I'd gladly pay you 'em!  I'm pretty sure the CCV is what's causing the oil smell after driving.  I originally thought I had a leak but second inspection revealed nothing in the common leak areas.  I'm going to "O2pilot" mod it as soon as I can get my hands on some vacuum hose (which is surprisingly hard to find...).  Also, my understanding of the common DISA valve failures were that there's the flap that quits moving, potential vacuum leaks, and worst case was some pin comes out and causes the whole thing to get sucked in to the engine?  Could I get away with a kit like this:  https://www.amazon.com/3-0L-DISA-Valve-Repair-Upgrade/dp/B00GFWM98S 


Really, I need my little air mattress pump back from my boss so I can smoke check this beast.  I'm very positive there's a vacuum leak somewhere (multiple misfire codes and a bit of a mis when cold.  Goes away and runs like a stabbed rat when warm)


Good times.


Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/9/18 6:43 a.m.

Perhaps most importantly:



Mad_Ratel Dork
5/9/18 7:09 a.m.


I'll take a look when I get home tonight to see what I have. I bought a few extra hoses that ended up already having been replaced. 

For me the full valve was just easier to get than the repair kit.  at 200k the metal piece was on teh verge of falling into the motor. I would consider this a priority to fix due to the age of your car and the unknown age of the disa flapper.  You have to take it out to get to the ccv... 

CCV was a pita. Took me two days as I broke an injector taking the intake manifold off.  (or the oring... cannot remember).  I could probably do it in half the time now but man was the last bit of that not fun.  

02Pilot Dork
5/9/18 9:05 a.m.

No need to remove the intake to do the CCV - you can get in under there by just removing the intake hoses, the dipstick guide tube, the throttle body, and a junction box. Just break the old hoses, since they will break anyway when you try to undo the connectors. Put a little WD-40 on the new o-rings to make the connectors easier to lock in. Since your oil filter housing gasket is probably leaking anyway, do it at the same time and give yourself some more space.

java230 UltraDork
5/9/18 9:49 a.m.

Following along Bill! :D

smokeysevin New Reader
5/9/18 3:01 p.m.

If you have xenon (hid whatever) headlights, that year was notorious for having the insulation turn to E36 M3 and fall off the wires inside the headlight housing. 



ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
5/9/18 3:46 p.m.

The GAC DISA kit is pretty good.  Depending on shipping it may be slightly cheaper to by directly from them at the link.

FCP Euro has a slightly cheaper kit. FCP DISA 

+1 on just doing the oil filter housing while you have the rest of the stuff apart.  If it isn't leaking yet, it will be soon.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/10/18 12:48 a.m.

Hey, Java!  good to see ya!  (Very jealous of your recent PNW adventuring, by the way)

Mad_Ratel and O2Pilot, man PLEASE dont tell me about broken things!  I'm having the worst time finding hose out here.  I'm supposed to make a junk yard trip next weekend.  I might rob a good handful of cars of their washer hoses to have some scrounge handy when I go after the CCV.  I don't know what to do about the injector o-rings.  Maybe I'll grab a couple on my next trip to the states.

Smokeysevin (13b with bad oil control rings?):  Man, I was intentionally NOT researching that.  In fact I could drive 3 miles away and grab a light bulb to fix this and I haven't even doen THAT because deep in my heart I must have known something like this could potentially exist (I mean, why else would you sell a car with one headlight working).  Thanks for the heads up man.  I'll see if I cant dig in there while check out my DISA.

ManhattanM:  I was just looking at a similar kit from X8R.  Not sure what shipping would be on either but the GAS link you shared is $5 cheaper with Viton o-rings.  (win!)  Thanks!

I do have an oil filter housing o-ring handy (and a valve cover gasket, just in case).  Originally I thought I spotted an oil leak on the driver's front of the engine.  looking now from the comfort of my garage pavers, I don't see anything (and no recordable loss of oil on the dip stick).  Maybe I'll knock it out while I'm in there, just in case.  I only plan to have this car for about 4-years but it'd be nice to not have to do that job unscheduled.

Also:  The stigma about it always raining after you wash your car holds just as true here as it did in the pacific northwest...



Good times

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/10/18 1:31 a.m.

Speaking of vacuum hoses...

I'm sure most of you know, but for those who don't this car has a butterfly in one of the exhaust tips that closes so your loud exhaust doesnt bother your neighbors when you're idling in your driveway.  It looks like this:



And looking at the diagrams (vacuum diagrams for this car are very hard to find apparently) it's fed by a looooooooong vacuum line originating at the engine.  This gave me an idea!  I was going to delete that butterfly valve anyways, why not harvest the vacuum line I needed from THERE and use the scrounge to hook my CCV to a vacuum source (a la O2pilot style). 

Louder cars scratch the boy-racer itch, CCV to vacuum source might eliminate the smokey smell a bit.

So off I went.  Unfortunately I found out two things.


1) I've been out "boy racered".  The mod has already been done.

2) the hose was kaput anyways and isn't good for anything.  it came off in crumbly bits...


^  That's all I could get from the ol girl before I gave up (that's right.   Wires might be melted and I'm trying to make my car loud...  I have no good excuse to offer)

Furthermore, the previous boy-racer took my next boy racer idea!  He's deleted (and re-installed) the muffler!



(and would you look at the quality of those welds!)

I found a capped line in the engine bay after all this, and I'm going to assume it is the line that originally went  to the exhaust butterfly.  There's not enough lead there either to scrounge an O2pilot mod from, unfortunately. 



(it either goes to the exhaust butterfly, the canister thing on my exhaust manifold, or to the secondary air injection pump.  Not sure, but I'm also not too worried about it.  since this provides me an easy spot to port to my CCV)


That last one there isn't new to me, but I thought I'd show you anyways.  It's been capped.  I'll get a blank off plate and delete it eventually.  No big deal, but more signs as to this things past.


Ok, well... Striking out in the boy-racer department, I went back to what I was supposed to be doing.  Wire inspection and repair!




I got it all opened up under the engine bay, and things are looking a lot better than I had originally thought.  I'll have a few spots that I need to do something with, but most of it survived the overloaded wire with surprisingly good results!


Inside the car, I cut and capped the power line just before the damaged insulation started.


The uncapped side is just a 5-inch run that goes to the terminal on the removed relay)

And that's where I kind of got REAL luck for me.  I thought that the air conditioning wiring had suffered some heat damage because it all looked black and... well... black.  It turns out that the stuff I thought was damage was just some sort of rubberized coating, and the insulation underneath was immaculate!


I'm puttin that one in the "win bin".  I've got the relay panel back on its mounts.  next time I'll reinstall the glove box and focus on the wires under the hood.  That should about do it for that one laugh

Good times.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/10/18 1:36 a.m.

ugh.  time to start taking pictures with something other than my phone... Sorry guys.  I swear those looked better on the small screen.

Stickers make car go faster (not mine, no affiliation.  Also not installed in car):


aaaaaand I think it might be time for new shocks

(That bump stop has seen better days)


Good times.

Mad_Ratel Dork
5/10/18 6:26 a.m.

The problem with the CCV is that all of the hoses use specific bmw connectors. IIRMC.


FYI, the intake take off was the replace the heater hoses which run through the valley under the intake.

it's a giant pita but this is one of those $500 in parts and do it all once and forget it for 100k deals. 


I forgot to look last night. I'll try remember tonight.

02Pilot Dork
5/10/18 6:49 a.m.

The Bentley manual is quite good, but a useful adjunct to it is here: https://www.newtis.info/

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/13/18 6:16 a.m.

The car modified it's "I'm going to die and restart" issue.

So when I went out in the morning to start it for work, I turned the key forward and nothing happened (radio and odometer turned on).  Turned it to start and no action from starter, no relay click.

Released pressure on key (now in "on" position) and the HVAC fan kicked on and the dash came to life.

Cycled key back and then to start and everything fired up.

Same at lunch at work

Same when I got in it after work for the commute home.

Then it stalled on the highway.  I tried letting the gear drag for a second to see if it would come back to life (it wouldnt).  clutch in, clicked key back, then forward, clutch out, and the car restarted. (#I friggin love manual transmissions)

In what little reading I've done over the weekend it seems like the key antenna, or the ignition switch themselves are the likely culprits.  Both require ordering parts, so I figure I'll just try a key reprogram on that one first and order parts here in a day or so.  More to follow on that one I guess.

Good times.

02Pilot Dork
5/13/18 6:40 a.m.

The ignition switch was a common failure point on E39s, so I wouldn't be surprised if your E46 is similarly afflicted. The temporary solution on the E39, which likely doesn't apply to your car but is worth mentioning for its sheer oddity, was to flip down the passenger side sun visor. Yes, really. Apparently the vanity light coming on would backfeed current through the system in such a way as to rectify the fault caused by the ignition switch.

Slippery SuperDork
5/13/18 2:45 p.m.
Hungary Bill said:

For instance, that carpet isn't original.  It's simply a lighter colored carpet glued over the old, darker, carpet.  And the pillar trim definitely leaves something to be desired:


The fault displays all work GREAT!  I've got one headlight that's out, and I've got a perpetual amber gear light thingy which I can only assume is a check engine light, but the darn thing never goes away.  Even when I reset the codes.  Of which there are many.

(** it is entirely possible that gear thingy might be alerting me to overdue scheduled maintenance.  But who knows)



Did not ready the whole thread as I am on my phone, but a couple of things that caught my attn.

The first picture, it is common for the fabric to come off the pillar, looks they covered it up and cut the slit for the airbag. there is a plastic strip that goes there, might want to pull the pillar and redo that as it might get in the way of the airbag. There are two or three torx screws holding it.

The "cog" light I am 100% sure is because that car was not a manual from the factory. Hopefully I am wrong, but most likely it was converted to manual and it was not coded properly.

Will look over the whole thread later, but it looks like a great car.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/14/18 12:33 a.m.

02Pilot:  You have GOT to be kidding me laugh That is awesome!  I'll give it a try.  Today I used my "valet key", which I found out has the same microchip in it that my fancy key has, and made it to work no issues.  I've got some errands to run after work, but if all goes well I think I can safely say that my key might be the culprit.  If that turns out to be the case, I am DEFINITELY trying the sun visor trick


Slippery:  There were three torx screws holding it in, now there are only two.  I took it off for inspection when I first got the car but didn't think to take pictures.  The airbag is still back there.  I'll see if I cant pull it off next time I get some "car time" and throw some pictures on here to see what you guys think.


Good times.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/21/18 5:35 a.m.

Some updates:


I've been playing with the OBD2 interface this baby has (hey, this is my first car with OBD2.  This sort of stuff is exciting to me!).  Specifically I have a small handful of gauges cued up on my phone and when I'm done driving I look at where they peaked smiley



You'll notice two things there.  The first is I have a message from Mezzanine I need to check (hey, no phones and driving!), and the second is that throttle peak isn't at 100%.

Now, I know there are PLENTY of other things I should be looking at, but still I couldnt help but to mess with it.

So I posted this picture to facebook as a "gee wiz, look at me play with things!" and of course did the required complaining about the 96%.  Then, M4ff3w sent me a link about how to reset the throttle position sensor in the gas pedal!


Remember the key issues I was having with EWS?  yeah, it did NOT like this proceedure one bit.  All that turning off and on the key left me stranded at work for a good 20 minutes while the car did absolutely nothing.  In the few occasions the key DID turn some of the things on, the fuel was still cut through EWS so there was no hope for an engine start.


Narg.  but that's exactly what I get for playing with pointless things that dont need played with (I mean 96% is probably 100% in real life, or at least close enough to that I was never going to notice)

Eventually I got EWS to recognize my keys (I had both with me) but got stranded again at the pet food store.  Then it died in traffic (restarted quickly) but behaved after that.

Soooooo short story long, now I have an ignition switch (just the electrical part) and a new EWS key antenna on order.  (this is, of course, after I spent the weekend looking at EWS delete threads.  that's a messy hole to fall into... ugh.)

Perhaps worse yet.  The pedal reset did nothing to change the 96% throttle position.  Ah well.

Still no big orders of parts yet.  I'm holding off on spending lots of money until we can get all the cash we made from the sale of my Mercedes transferred into our US accounts.  To help kill time, I ordered acomputer cable that's USB on one end, and OBD2 on the other (an INPA cable).  Our bank account's not going to miss that $12, and I'm not going to miss that cog-like fault light on my dash...

so it's off to 50sKids videos so I can figure out what the heck I'm doing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yswbiySn9T8


also, the wire repair is wrapping up (bee-dum.  tss!).   I've been tackling the inspection and reinstallation little by little.  We're in the final phase of finishing up now.


I'll be happy to have that done with, so I can put the dash back together.  I had some rubberized self adhering tape (we call it "black racing stripe") from work that I'm using to re-wrap the harness.  the zip ties are just there as place holders for the time being.

Good times.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
5/21/18 5:36 a.m.

oh!  almost forgot:

O2Pilot:  tried the sunvisor trick....  It turns out the visor light doesnt work.  I'll have to find a bulb and try again.

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