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Old 12-04-2011, 11:45 PM   #1
BrianM
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Question 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? 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(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.

Brian
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:05 AM   #2
yellowfever3
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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
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:14 AM   #3
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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.
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:32 AM   #4
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Brian! good to hear from ya! heres my insight, all IMHO of course and anyone feel free to correct/add to it

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianM View Post
>can I safely go without the reinforcement plates if I pay a little more for the solid mounts?
If youre subframe is out, do all that you want to it as this is a rare opportunity to do it. If you need help with the welding, we can save some labour and bring your subframe over we'll have it done in a few hrs

Regarding bushings, solid may be a bit much and polyurethane or similar may be more fitting, but its up to you

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Originally Posted by BrianM View Post
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?
I used Redline 75/90 and have heard great things about it. Theres is much debate and lots of different oils to use, just make sure it has a *torque? additive for your LSD. I believe royal purple has a similar oil as well. JRP in Missississauga sells Redline. I may still have a bottle left over too I'll have to check when Im at the car again

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianM View Post
Brakes is another pricey but important area.
Fluid is important, SS flex lines would be another good idea (make sure you get the coated ones or they wont last long), pads and then vented rotors in that order IMO

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianM View Post
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.
Tires IMO are of minimal importance right now, I aggree with ^^, its good to have a little more give sometimes, you won't need all that grip right away especially if youre budget conscious. Good summers or even decent all seasons should be alright. If you want rims for show, thats a different story

OO and he brought up cooling system, agree 100% very good preventative maintaince

Good luck and happy modding!
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Old 12-05-2011, 11:16 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:25 AM   #6
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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?
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowfever3 View Post
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?
Those tires aren't officially branded as an r-comp tire are they? I have heard that they act very close to an r-comp, but I haven't seen them advertised as an r-comp tire.
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Old 12-10-2011, 04:50 PM   #8
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Those tires aren't officially branded as an r-comp tire are they? I have heard that they act very close to an r-comp, but I haven't seen them advertised as an r-comp tire.
You are correct - the RS-3 (like the dunlop starspec or kumho XS) are "ultra-high performance street tires - not R-comps. A DOT R-comp is like a Toyo R888.


Anyways - welcome to the world of racing. I was in your position 3 years ago, and I haven't regretted a thing. As I'm sure you're starting to realize, there's an unlimited amount of money you can spend here, so it's definitely about prioritizing. People here have already given you loads of information to start off with. For your information, I'll tell you how i got started:

Since my car wasn't going to be a street car, I gutted the interior. For you - this is probably not an option.

Next, brake pads & blank rotors - I went with an aggressive street/track pad - Hawk HP+

Next, engine oil, tranny, and diff fluid changes. I used Royal Purple for diff/tranny, but Redline is also a great product.

After that - to the track! I had terrible all-season tires, but they was great for finding the limit quicky. I started doing AutoX - i recommend you do this too. It teaches you car control at lower speeds which will help hone your skills and teach you how to react when you get on track.

When those tires were killed, I upgraded to kumho ecsta xs (awesome tires). These were fantastic and definitely enable higher speeds.

It was at this point that I took the car to the track (Calabogie) - i had decent tires, decent brakes, and a bit of seat time to understand the car. I signed up with the Motorsports Club of Ottawa's lapping day, where they provide you an instructor. For your first day on track, DEFINITELY pick a club that provides instruction. You'll pay a bit more, but there's a lot going on at high speeds, and it's definitely important to have someone experienced beside you.


So that was basically my first year. Learn your car, have fun, ask lots of questions, break things, fix things, and keep on going.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 12-10-2011, 06:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sb_600 View Post

Anyways - welcome to the world of racing.
Oops... this is not what he's doing You're not racing if you're just going around a track with point-by passing rules

Quote:
Since my car wasn't going to be a street car, I gutted the interior. For you - this is probably not an option.
:jealous:

Quote:
Next, brake pads & blank rotors - I went with an aggressive street/track pad - Hawk HP+
There is no pad that is good for both street and track though, I still recommend getting a proper pad and swapping. For autox maybe, but not on a track where your speeds are MUCH higher. I wouldn't compromise initial cold bite living in the GTA and dealing with 400 series highways, and at high temp, such as what is experienced at TMP, street brakes will fade pretty quick. Since he only plans on going 2 or 3 times, swapping won't be too bad.

Might want to price out a set of slotted rotors too when the OEM ones are done... some improvement in braking / heat reduction is always good, and they might be close to the same price as blanks... worth checking out. Don't get drilled, they might look cool but they will sometimes crack and if left unattended, shatter on track. You can imagine what that would do to your wheel / car. That's because they are often drilled after the rotor is cast (what most aftermarket manufacturers do) as opposed to the holes being cast WITH the rotor (what BMW does). Drilling reduces the strength of the disc substantially when not cast with the rotor.

Quote:
Next, engine oil, tranny, and diff fluid changes. I used Royal Purple for diff/tranny, but Redline is also a great product.

After that - to the track! I had terrible all-season tires, but they was great for finding the limit quicky. I started doing AutoX - i recommend you do this too. It teaches you car control at lower speeds which will help hone your skills and teach you how to react when you get on track.

When those tires were killed, I upgraded to kumho ecsta xs (awesome tires). These were fantastic and definitely enable higher speeds.

It was at this point that I took the car to the track (Calabogie) - i had decent tires, decent brakes, and a bit of seat time to understand the car. I signed up with the Motorsports Club of Ottawa's lapping day, where they provide you an instructor. For your first day on track, DEFINITELY pick a club that provides instruction. You'll pay a bit more, but there's a lot going on at high speeds, and it's definitely important to have someone experienced beside you.


So that was basically my first year. Learn your car, have fun, ask lots of questions, break things, fix things, and keep on going.

Good luck and enjoy!
All this, agree 100%. The AutoX is a good idea, it's fun for sure, teaches car control and a whole fck of a lot cheaper than track (especially if you become a Mosport GP track addict).

I am quite excited for this year.. all my transmission (SMG) issues are fixed, still have plenty of pad and tire left for April / May.. I plan on hitting a race school if it's offered, looking to get into something competitive on track. OTA might be an option for sure.

All this talk is making me anxious. Gonna go play Forza...

-J
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaym3smg View Post
Oops... this is not what he's doing You're not racing if you're just going around a track with point-by passing rules

Oops is right.... my bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaym3smg View Post

There is no pad that is good for both street and track though, I still recommend getting a proper pad and swapping. For autox maybe, but not on a track where your speeds are MUCH higher. I wouldn't compromise initial cold bite living in the GTA and dealing with 400 series highways, and at high temp, such as what is experienced at TMP, street brakes will fade pretty quick. Since he only plans on going 2 or 3 times, swapping won't be too bad.

Might want to price out a set of slotted rotors too when the OEM ones are done... some improvement in braking / heat reduction is always good, and they might be close to the same price as blanks... worth checking out. Don't get drilled, they might look cool but they will sometimes crack and if left unattended, shatter on track. You can imagine what that would do to your wheel / car. That's because they are often drilled after the rotor is cast (what most aftermarket manufacturers do) as opposed to the holes being cast WITH the rotor (what BMW does). Drilling reduces the strength of the disc substantially when not cast with the rotor.

You are right in that there is no pad that is perfect for street/track, but my experience with the HP+ has been excellent - never had any fade at all at CMP or at Shannonville. Coupled with a good fluid (ATE Superblue is my go-to brake fluid), this is a great starter pad. My brother was running these on the street too and they're a bit noisy & dusty, but still good.

Keep in mind, OP is on a beginner and on a budget. It will take a bit to get up to speed. Furthermore, as you previously correct me () this isn't racing - brake a bit early, give yourself a bit of room, and then you have an extra safety factor. This pad is a bit of a compromise but is very streetable, and surprisingly capable on track.

In my experience in asking questions, slotted rotors are not needed - blanks (chinese or brembo) are fine. CTCC guys only run blanks. Plus, at $40/rotor, replace them every year and you're fine. BMWs have fantastic braking systems so I wouldn't recommend needing a slotted rotor.

$0.02

PS - check out the build thread in my sig if you want to see where i'm at now
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaym3smg View Post
There is no pad that is good for both street and track though,
I guess you could say there is no "perfect" pad in the sense that a good track pad will always out perform a Street/Track pad under the harshest conditions. However, I would have to agree with sb_600, there are some pretty good options out there that would more then suffice for the OPís purposes which do not perform any worse on the street.

I use Performance Friction Carbon-metallic and have no issues getting the abs to kick in even on the coldest days. On the track without SS lines I experience almost unnoticeable break fade. I would highly recommend them.

The Hawks are decent too. They can get a little noisy on the street sometimes though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jaym3smg View Post
You did the right thing... OEM cooling is just fine. You have lots of time, so that's great that you're looking for deals. See if you can't keep your eye open for a deal on a water pump too... and it never hurts to replace the hoses...
I think that statement is only a safe to say if you have full knowledge of the history and maintenance done to the car. Neither you, nor I, know if that cooling system has been recently serviced, and from the looks of it neither does BrianM. It could have been brand new just before he took ownership of the car, or it could be original. He hasnít even told us how many KM's are actually on the car. That thing could be a ticking time bomb for all you know.

So yes, OEM cooling is more then fine, as long as it doesnít fail on you.

I know of three separate people who have experienced a cooling system failure on their E36. One of which was at just over 100k, and it left them stranded pretty far from home with a very expensive towing bill.

BrianM, good on you for taking the initiative and buying that extra rad. However, I would still start saving for an all aluminum rad in the near future. When the cooling system fails itís usually not something you can nurse back home and change. It tends to happen pretty abruptly, like what was shown in the video. So as great as it is to have a backup, unless you carry your tools and that spare rad around with you everywhere you go, its not gonna make a difference unless you plan on making a road or track-side swap.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:40 AM   #12
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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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHiXg...e_gdata_player

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
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Old 12-06-2011, 01:37 AM   #13
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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.
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:14 PM   #14
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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!

Last edited by BrianM; 12-06-2011 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:37 PM   #15
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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
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