Readying my car - LF parts and advice
(warning: long-feel free to skim, and thanks for stopping by)
Hi there, I am trying to get my (new to me) daily driving 1997 328i ready for some track time next year.
I am trying to conserve funds for the other things in life (wait, what?), but some things just have to be done.
I have already started the project (lsd, m50 manifold, ssk, cai, and m-tech wheel are already picked up for great prices, thanks Maxbimmer members, and already have a couple installs finished), and am already reminded at how the little things (bushings, fluids, tools, etc) add up scary fast, and are so easy to forget about during initial planning.
I will continue to search for answers and deals alike, but I thought that having a thread may help bridge the gaps, or inspire somebody with old parts kicking around who aren't bothering to put them up for sale (I'm bad for that) to PM me about it.
A few questions off the bat-
I've recently picked up a 3.15 lsd from Richie on here and I have a few days off after Christmas and want to drop my sub frame so I can clean it up and paint it all nice for the install. This means I need to pick up all my mounts/bushings/oil soon.
>can I safely go without the reinforcement plates if I pay a little more for the solid mounts?:huh?: I've heard that reduces the stress, and I thought it would be cheaper than paying for bushings And the reinforcements/welding.
I know everybody here is rockin a BM and they love to take care of it, which is great. The community seems to love support mods for support mods (you know,- while you're in there, why not do such and such) and I really do believe it will make everything better/more enjoyable, but there's gotta be a point of diminished returns because budget really is super tight, and if I spend more than I have to, it just means I won't have any left to actually go to the track or marry my lady friend basically haha.
same goes for sway bar tabs. Is it really necessary to reinforce if I'm only going to be running stock sport sways?
Ps looking for these, as my non-sport sways are bad, but the bushings that are split into atleast two pieces are worse..so I'm looking for a deal on some stock sport sways/bushings asap from somebody who may have upgraded to aftermarket and just have them sitting there. Note, I am also looking for H&R race springs to replace the sports if those are around too, just sayin.
I hear back and forth about the X-brace. I have done a similar mod on my old WRX and it made a big difference, but it is an extra though.
I'll also need some gear oil for the diff swap, so if somebody has some kicking around that they didn't end up using and wants to sell, let me know. I'll search about the different kinds so I'll know what to buy otherwise, but is there a shop (Canadian or otherwise) that you guys recommend for being cheap and efficient and honest?
Brakes is another pricey but important area. I've got some super blue and will be doing a flush shortly, but I just have a street set up right now. If I get some heat/dryer vent duct and rig up some brake ducting, will that be enough, or will I likely need to pay for proper pads and everything?
last but not least, I'm riding on 195/65/15 motomasters right now on steels. Obviously theres some room for improvement here, but again endless possibilities to spend money. Current plan is to (hopefully) find some 16-17's with decent summers or all seasons for a bargain and have fun learning to drive. Sound plan?
Thank you for anyone who took the time to wade through this*wiggle*(I shouldn't post late at night, it always ends up long and rambly) and help out, and thanks to the members that I've already met and done business with. Everyone's been awesome, and I'm excited for this new experience outside of japanese cars, and to get starting with this community.
more than anything, tires tires tires. just to get you going, just get a set of stock m3 wheels or something of that sort, throw some DOT slicks on them, and you are good to go. My car is bone stock and it does pretty well on the track with some good tires. dont need to go crazy if its just for fun. get a feel for the car first, then see what you think its lacking, and go from there. Like you said, just all regular maintenance items, oil, trans, diff, brakes etc. GL
lol, I donno about DOT slicks just yet... tires are certainly important but they are also one of the most expensive consumables for a track car. Plus during the early stages of sorting a track car of this age out, less grip is actually much better for a shake down. The M3 wheels with some good summers off kijiji will suffice on a budget. You have more pressing matters.
Let me just start out by saying, when you go to the track, you gotta pay to play. Itís a sad fact. Your budget saving tactics sound great. You gotta save where you can and there is no point in getting hosed on parts you donít need, or can get for cheap used. But if this thing is your daily driver and your starting to play the budget game and go to the track with a 15 year old car, you better have a bus pass ready, or a decent size reserve fund on hand at all times for those unexpected problems. I am speaking from experience. Once you get to the track, all bets are off and shit starts to break, and that gets expensive.
When you have months to plan for upgrades you can penny pinch, but when you have to go to work on Monday, and your car develops issues at the track on Sunday, your either pulling an all nighter if your lucky enough to have the parts on hand, or your gonna have to pay someone else to do it for you and that is were all that penny pinching gets undone... and I'm not even factoring in if the unspeakable happens.
First. I know where you coming from, you dont wanna spend needlessly. However, you also dont wanna skip on curtial areas either. If the subframe comes off, weld in the reinforcement plates, end of story. Your car is not new and even with solid mounts its only a matter of time for a track car. Why gamble...
Sway bar reinforcements in the rear are so unnecessary. Many track cars donít even use a rear bar. For a car pulling double duty like yours, stick with a stock bar and youíll be ok. You can save a few bucks there if you want.
While the subframe is out, replace all bushings and get rid of that shitty lower control arm while youíre at it. Those things have caused me so many issues, and on top of that, you will prolly have so much trouble removing the inner control arm bushing for replacement, that the arms will end up breaking anyway in the process. I would also upgrade the diff bushings as well.
Preventative maintenance is the best defence against stupid last min spending. Here is a list of what I would replace if you want a solid daily driver that can be tracked. In no specific order.
It includes almost nothing you have spent your money on so far so if youíre on a budget spend wisely.
-All bushings (Iíll get to bushing choice another time as Iím sure we could all debate about that.) Im only really suggesting this cause your subframe will be out and you will save long term by doing this right the first time.
-Front control arms (unless you KNOW they have been replaced in the last 20k)
-Mounts. Front and rear shock tower, Diff and even Trans and Motor if they are bad.
-A good set of pads, and I would go for SS break lines if you have the cash, if not a good fluid is fine for now. You break duct idea will help.
-I would tackle your cooling system asap, a Aluminum rad, fan, and all associated items. I know many who have been stranded cause of this issue.
Once all thats done, then you should seriously think about a good suspension if you dont already have one.
I dont think I missed anything.
Brian! good to hear from ya! heres my insight, all IMHO of course and anyone feel free to correct/add to it
Regarding bushings, solid may be a bit much and polyurethane or similar may be more fitting, but its up to you
OO and he brought up cooling system, agree 100% very good preventative maintaince
Good luck and happy modding!
thanks alot for the replies.
Yellowfever3, I know what you're saying about the tires making the biggest difference performance wise, but I'm afraid that with slicks everything will take more of a beating,and then I'll absolutely have to upgrade brakes, reinforcements, etc?
Decostar, I appreciate the wise council....it's definitly not what I would like to hear, probably more like the cold slap of reality, but definitely good to be said and in mind before I get myself into trouble (again)
I've heard both sides of the cooling system (clutch fan vs electrical fan...seems like most people leave it at that unless if there are specific known problems, but I very well could be wrong) so I was going to leave it for now since there are arguments against either side, but perhaps this is the wrong approach. I don't know why I would replace radiator, unless it blew/ was leaking on me though, especially if I were to get rid of clutch fan?
as far as the shock tower mounts, after the bushings and mounts I Have to do, the subframe reinforcements, etc...are they reaaally necessary? It's just not something I hear come up to much so I guess I wrote them off. I will be skipping some mounts for sure (ie engine mounts) just because I'm not afraid of hurting anything by running old engine mounts. It just won't feel as good as it could be and I'll just have to deal with it.
Again, I don't want to come across as unappreciative of the advice and like I'm not listening, but I am going to have to think hard about some of the extras because a big part of what got me into financial trouble with my last car was trying to make an old car feel better than I could afford, until I stepped back after and...oh crap.
It's possible I'll just have to do this slowly over time, and skip going to the track for a year or two until she's ready, but I feel a bit rediculous since I know people that have taken complete trash to the track and ripped around. Right or wrong, I figure my car seems pretty solid and capable, and I shouldn't have to spend more than I did to buy the car just to prep it to track it a couple times a year, you know?
Cormier, I really appreciate the offer with the welding. I hate to say but I may take you up on that one day. I don't know much, but maybe if you've got some lugging to do or something I can help with that stuff in return if/when I come over.
well i dont mean Lemans series slicks. im talking about DOT R compound tires. such as Hankook Ventus R-S3. Those are what im running on a stock setup. Ive used Hoosier slicks before as well, which arent a DOT tire. And they were unbelievable. but something along the lines of the hankooks will be, in my opinion, the best thing you can do before you start spending some large cash. i think you are looking too far into this. Have you ever driven on the track before?
For the cooling system, not really about fan choice mechanical fan should be fine however the other items are prone to failure under stress -- most commonly plastic t start housing and rad hence the suggestions to upgrade to all-aluminum units with more capacity and better flow. An electrical high flow fan would be added benefit, or even oil cooler but ya cool motor is a happy motor :)
Tried to find this video forever finally did -- coolant hose bursting corner 8 at mosport .. U get the idea lol this is the preventative maintenance that matters if you're gonna be running hot on the track
I wouldn't be worried about the shock mounts unless you have excess cash, more pressing matters lol
And ya -- with the amount of thinking ur putting into this you can track ur car no problem :p
^^ ps +1, Ventus is an awesome tire on a budget, I thought u were talkin a lot bigger budget slicks
So you guys are saying the kid should drop close to 800 on tires, when heís debating on spending money on gear lube?
Even if he got them for free, your still forgetting that increasing the grip level is really the least of his worries, and on top of that it will only lead to more wear and tear on parts which may or may not be in good working order, which will then cost him more money.
The shock mounts (especially the rear) are another typical weak point on the e36 and e46. Sure he could go without them. He could go without a M-tech steering wheel also, and a 3.15 diff. I was just giving him what he asked for. A list of what should be replaced first if he wants to be able to drive to work all week long, and then hit the track. I'm sure I even missed stuff.
If this was a weekend track beater, this would be a different conversation.
Maybe I should have just said this.
Gear lube for your 3.15 diff:
aprox 1.5quarts 75W-90 = $40.00 (if I round up to the nearest $40)
Just 1 day at the track:
Track fee = 60.00 (Cheapest TMP day available)
1 tank of gas (Atleast) = $75 (If you put in 87, which you shouldnít, but Iím assuming he will.)
so... 75 + 60 = $135 (in a world with no tax)
I would say based on that very conservative estimate, if you cant comfortably afford to buy new gear lube then going to the track is really not smart with your 15year old daily driver.
Yellowfever (and others) - I have zero experience, just reading up and always loving cars.
I'm just hoping to get out a couple times/year until I can afford to see how serious I want to get into it (this is down the road) to help keep me sane while having to drive like a grandpa more-less on the roads, stuck in traffic for most of the time.
Cormier, I wasn't able to see the video (my internet is screwy,doesn't like streaming) but it sounded pretty exciting from the comments haha. Wow I didn't realize that the cooling system was such a weak link. Idefinitely have more research to do before going out.
Discostar, you are right. I'll look over everything (welds, mounts, etc) closely when I'm working on it in the fairly near future, and see whats in good shape and what isn't right off the bat. I wanted to get my feet wet this year since the one passed didn't work out, but if it has to wait another one, there's still lots of time (Lord willing) left, and if not, then it wouldn't have mattered anyways haha.
I'm still on the lookout for some of those subframe bushings / mounts, stock sway bars+bushings (either 318ti front/m3 rear, or 328is), diff oil, reinforcement plates, cooling system parts, etc)
ps, what is everyone doing to stay in their seat better outside of buying race seats? I just have to regular ones, and being new to (owning) leather, man is it slippery!
Pull your seat all the way back, lock your seatbelt and fasten it do it doesn't losen any, then adjust your seat up to where you want it. This gets it nice and tight with oem belt with a little getting used to it gets easier to do
ah Brilliant! I lock myself in at times, but never thought of the seat movement first, thanks for that.
So I am running under the assumption you have no track experience. If I am correct, welcome to a very exciting and slippery slope, lol. This is going to be a long post :)
You need to prioritize what you want: To actually track your car, or modify it to the point where you can only afford 1-2 days a year, and can't drive any faster than if you did nothing. IMO you want the former, and only change things when you find that you cannot possibly squeeze any more speed out. Racing seats, diffs, all that crap is not going to make you faster. You want to budget your maintenance to keep your car on the road for those track days and your DD, then budget your track days, then mods.
You seem like you are aware that you probably can't drive that car at it's limit in stock form, let alone with changes. That's not a shot, it's just the truth. I couldn't, no one can, when they first start. It took me a year and a half before I could take my M3 to the point where I needed to make any significant changes because I was pushing it too far.
I go to a lot of track days, especially at TMP, where people think they are fast but they are actually slow as molasses, and mod their cars with no clue how to drive them. You seem like the type who wants to learn, so that's a good start :) It's quite satisfying to learn to drive fast properly, and then make guys with enormously modded cars look like they are standing still :)
With that being said, let me give you some input on "mods". This is just based on my experience, others might think differently, that's fine. Just throwing in my 2 cents. Maybe others will have some thoughts too, and this thread could be useful to others looking to do the same thing as you.
Not one of the first things to get. You will want them eventually, but get used to the car on good summers first. R's will also break loose with a lot less warning. At TMP, that's not too bad. At Mosport or other walled tracks, it's a new car. Keep in mind R's will also cause a significant strain on your suspension and brakes, so this is something that happens after you've done some stuff there. Putting R's on your car as the first thing when you've never tracked before is NOT a good idea.
This will likely be the first thing you need to do. When you do start getting even moderately faster, you will melt street pads. Just on a matter of cost savings in the long run, I would get pads, SS lines, and fluid. You will spend more on street pads than track pads over a year, guaranteed, if you run streets on the track. One day at TMP and I went through an entire set of street pads, and all I had was street tires and I might have had my GC suspension. Adding pads did a LOT of good, kept the brakes cooler, and let me stay out on track longer as I wouldn't experience brake fade as quickly. Keep in mind as someone new to the track, you'll probably brake too much and heat your pads up even sooner. I'd encourage pads, lines, and fluid as something you get now, or at least when you track more than 2-3 times a year.
Then you should be good for a while. I didn't need a BBK until I stopped going through pads and started going through calipers.
And before you ask, no you can't run a track pad on the street :) Track pads won't work at low temperatures and your braking will therefore be compromised for dd. Also, at low temperatures track pads will eat through rotors very quickly. You need to swap.
Not sure if you need anything here. If you already have a sport suspension, keep it. Forget about upgrades here until you do other things. When you get faster you'll want to mess with spring rates, at which point you might want to do a more complete upgrade. If you do have a sport suspension or an adjustable height, don't slam it like a gangster either lol. You're going to go off the track. You will. I promise. And there are spots at TMP where you will bottom out on a nice big chunk of rock if you are too low. As for sway bars, I have a stock rear and it will stay stock probably. On these cars it can actually be a hindrance as others have said. A front sway is good but unnecessary right now. If you do get one, get the sway mount reinforced at the same time or it might rip right out of the car. Ask how I know.
Drivetrain / Engine:
You need nothing here for a long time. Save your money.
Reinforcements / Mounts / etc:
I can't say this would be a bad thing in the right places. Subframe, yes. It can save money down the road in more expensive repairs. Depends what they are. I don't know enough about the 97 3's to comment, but on my E46 M3 I wish I had gotten the subframe and sway mount reinforcement done sooner. I'd defer to the others here who have a better idea what is needed for your car.
Be diligent but don't worry too much about this UNLESS the cooling system hasn't been maintained for a while. That's a neat link :) but you don't own a 911 so you don't have to worry about exploding cooling systems. I've never personally seen this happen to street cars outside of Porsche, and never heard of it on a BMW. The reason the cooling systems fail on them is because Porsche uses a cheap substandard part on the system which they have yet to fix. But I digress... That being said, a fluid flush is cheap maintenance (though messy) and check to see when the last time the rad, pump, etc was replaced. Every 160,000 km is fine. If it's never been done, this would be a worthwhile investment. A failed cooling system on track can get VERY expensive. It's super easy to replace too, at least it was on mine.
Don't underestimate this. Although these cars are great for track, you will be doing fluid changes and brake rotor replacements more often, and you're right, they add up! Also you will need tools which gets expensive over time. Plus track gear, like tire pressure gauges, portable tire inflation, a jack, etc. It's not a small amount of misc things... Plus all the preventative maintenance you'll want to do as Discostar said.
THIS! You want this! The BMW Trillium school at Mosport or one of their other sessions on the Mosport DDT (I think this might be a better option for you at first) is a great investment. They run one in April, June and again in Sept so if you want to track a bit at TMP before tackling the big track, may not be a bad idea. It's the best mod you'll make this year, I guarantee it. They run a great school and will teach you how to drive on track properly and SAFELY!!! <-- cannot emphasize enough. The classroom instruction is fantastic for beginners, and you get your own instructor for on track driving. You will also learn a lot on Mosport you won't learn elsewhere due to the elevation changes and whatnot (turn 2 and 4 what! :) ). If you only plan on going to 2-3 track days this year, make one of these if you can. But no matter what you do, I HIGHLY encourage you to get instruction the first time you go out on any track. Understanding the proper line, signals, etc is crucial for your enjoyment and safety, as well as that of others.
Here's a read for you. It's a great guide on lapping, car prep, track days, everything. It's fantastic and will give you something to read while you get ready for spring :)
Download the PDF's on the left hand side.
Whatever you do, do yourself a favor and get the right instruction in advance so you don't develop bad habits like 80% of the ppl who go to track days to begin with and end up in walls for doing something stupid. Going to the track and schools to learn and educate myself is IMO the reason I haven't had a car damaging incident in the 5 years I've been doing this, despite 10-15 days per year of track. I still go to the schools, and probably always will. There's always more to learn.
Trust me, when you start going on track you won't want to stop. You will crave every weekend you can get and it sucks if you can't because you don't have the cash. Why spend money on mods when you can spend it learning how to drive fast? Then when you do need to mod you will appreciate it that much more. You will have plenty of opportunity to blow wads of cash on mods when you get faster :)
There, hope that was long enough lol.
....ya, everything that Jay said LOL
Just do brake fluid, pads, and a coolant system check. You may also want to replace your coolant pump as it's a common problem (at least on E46's).
I ran my car bone stock for a while. Now I have lightweight rims with sticky summer tires (Dunlop Direzza Star Spec Z1's are a great value).
Also basic maintenance items are a good idea as well since everyone should be doing them.
I changed all fluids (coolant, transmission, diff, power steering) and replaced coolant pump (after it failed on the highway, replacement was sitting in my trunk) and drive belts.
With this I'm able to compete at the top of the autocross championship, which is another great way to improve your skills without beating up on the car or spending too much on the track.
I'll also plug the driving school as a mandatory item for anyone looking to track their car.
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