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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Fri, Jul-22-2016, 04:12:14 PM   #1
Louki333
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Default My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Dear all,

This is my first post there as I usually have little to no free time to spend on writing forums.
However, this time it is different, I found that I hugely benefited from forum member’s experience (BIG thank you guys, hats off) and decided that it was a fair payback to the community to share my experiences the good, the bad… and the ugly.
The goal of my post is to share this experience without filters. It is not a DIY thread, it is not a bashing thread, it is not a “this is better than this thread”: Just my first-hand experience. If some people don’t like or disagree about what’s written here, kindly skip and forget, I am just sharing my observations.

The car
2002 E46 M3 Carbon Schwarz 6MT, 65K miles (2016-06-01)
Bought it @ 18K miles in late 2008 in the US at an auction in Philadelphia (repossession) and directly imported it back to Canada where it was one of my 2 daily drivers for years.
I moved to Europe in 2013 and couldn’t made my mind to part with the car, so I re-imported it in Europe. I didn’t want to gamble by selling & buying another one considering the state of many E46 M3 for sale on the market these days.
The car has been kept strictly 100% stock up to late 2011.
With me, the car has always been maintained no expense spared and always had the best mechanics to work on it … except for the very few times the car had to go to the stealership. I had experience with 4-5 different stealerships overtime with this car (and other Ms and non Ms) and every time they have been conforming to what I was expecting from them: they are just a bunch of overly expensive stupid liars that doesn’t no s**t about M cars. This is from multiple experiences, not just mine: They should be banned from maintaining these cars.
I am not tracking the car (I have something else for this), it is a garage queen that is driven 50% highway/ 50% aggressively on mountain roads: the way it was designed for. I don’t redline it, but the car daily sees 7K rpm when properly warmed up.

Car’s accidents history
1 BIG raccoon in 2011: water + oil cooler + Fan + front bumper done by BMW. Expectedly, they charged the insurance 7+K$ and, expectedly, didn’t change the oil cooler’s seals and didn’t even tightened it properly.
1 rear bumper in 2015 (a guy rear ended me at 10mph while texting). Expectedly, I had to go to the stealer 3 times and ended up sending them the right letter to get the job done correctly within the week.

Car’s brief mechanical history (before overhaul)
Besides consumables / regular maintenance items (Brake, Tires, Oil, Filters, Battery, valve adjustments and CPV valve lol), the car had the following issues overtime.
2010: Vanos Actuator + Ignition Coils. BMW Canada charged 1800$ for the coils (despite me explaining them slowly and in simple words that it was Bremi coils recall). BMW North America promptly reimbursed me upon receiving one of my (now usual) friendly letter. Vanos Actuator was bought from Dr Vanos and I had not a single issue with it to date.
2009-2015: 3 CPV valves (they are a b**ch to change when you have the US headers)
2013: Crankcase ventilation, oil pan gasket, ABS sensor, headlight seals, belts, etc…. Preventive: Vanos cam sproket and bolt replacement

Consumables:
I don’t want to start an oil thread here (no please). I am just posting what I use/believe in and the results.
Considering that I am a little bit obsessive with my M3…… I will never put anything bad or that I don’t trust in it.

Engine Oil: LiquiMoly 10W60 since 2012 (Castrol before that). KNECHT oil filters (MANN looks awful compared). 7-8K miles oil change intervals + Magnetic plug
rod bearing showed less wear than expected (my +2 different ///M specialists observations).

Diff Oil: Redline or Motul 75W140. 20K miles intervals + Magnetic plug
when diff overhauled + changed Ring & Pinion (4.10), my old 3.62 showed less wear than normal (the race shop even asked me which oil I used in it, I said Redline 75W140 for most of its life, the guy winked and told me “Your diff liked this oil”).

Gearbox: Redline D4 ATF or Motul 75W90 or Castrol Transmax. 20K miles intervals + Magnetic plug
D4 ATF and Transmax feels the same / easier to shift when very cold, but besides that I didn’t notice any difference. The OE Lifetime Castrol fluid caused my 3rd gear to pop off in my hand 2 times in the first year I had the car. No problem since the “lifetime” fluid was changed.

Power steering Fluid and Coolant: OEM it is important to stay OE for the coolant. Alternate is Motul Inugel Expert (Expert only, the other ones: no go). My advice, believe it or not is: go to the stealer buy your coolant at least you give them a chance to see you once in a while…

Brake Fluid: ATE 200 or Motul RBF 600. Dot 4 is enough for most situations (even track). Dot 5.1 is nice. It’s down to personal preference as long as they can be mixed it’s not a big job.

Tires: Used to be a Conti DW fan for years (good performance/wear/price ratio IMHO), bought cheap Nangkang tires for European Certification and post overhaul break-in (not that bad in the Dry, very funny in the wet), switching to Michelin Super Sports within the next few weeks.

The Overhaul/Mods:
As it passed 60K miles, I decided it was time X-mas time for the M3.
I loved the car, couldn’t find anything else I liked as much on the market, but I wanted it the way it should have been if BMW did leave good engineers work properly on its design without non-technical morons from the marketing and finance department chiming in.
The overhaul was done at My friend’s shop. My friend is a fellow forum member and very good friend of mine. I am grateful to him beyond words. Without him and his experience, nothing of this would have been possible. Thanks bro for everything.

What was done:
- Remove everything underneath, taking notes, pictures and many little Ziplocs in the way

- Rod Bearing (done at VHC Auto Passion in France, top shop for chassis & engine if you ask me, customer cars there speaks for themselves). Used OE parts. Didn’t change the oil pump, will do @ the next rod bearing change.

- Exhaust: Euro Headers (2015) + Remus Exhaust (2015) + Stock Euro Cats/1/2. Love the sound of the Remus either in or out of the car.

- Intake: Stock Intake and Filter, Samco Silicone Intake boot. No K&N or Hot Air Intake for me, I prefer my MAF sensor non oily and working…

- Coding: CSL shift lights, sport memory, exhaust burble/pop, 6k dyno limiter removed, stock redline, US stock map.

- TMS Pulleys: this was done in 2012 with the hope it will save a little bit the alternator at high rpm. Slight/Barely noticeable improvement. Nicest / most noticeable improvement to me was the heavier steering feel.

- Cooling overhaul: Samco Silicone Hoses + Changed waterpump + OE thermostat. Ordered a Saleri all metal pump from ECS, they sent a damaged one (on top of sending non M parts in the order). Notified them, they had no more Saleri, so they sent a Geba. Received the new pump within 48 hours in Europe from ECS at no charge. OK, they made a mistake, but they solved it the proper way. Interesting to note that Geba waterpump casing didn’t work well with TMS pulleys and was not as free turning as the OE (Hella) one. Casing reworked to avoid rubbing. My advice on E46 M3 waterpumps as there is none from Stuart pumps available: stay with the plastic impeller OE and save yourself money and headaches. I did put some Motul MoCool, car runs slightly cooler, not worth the money IMHO unless operating in hot conditions.

- Suspension Overhaul: Changed shocks from stock to Koni Sports (yellow/adjustables). NO DROP / OE Springs. Started on full soft for the first 2K miles to break them in, now I am ½ turn stiff fronts and rears. Very happy with Konis but this is no surprise to me as I have them on my 2 other E46s (330d & 330xi, yes I am an E46 *****). Changed strut bearings, pads, OE front strut tower reinforcements, etc…, everything.

- Power Steering overhaul: Changed the tank (inc. filter), High Pressure hose from WRX2BIMA. WRX2BIMA was very quick to respond, good product. We broke a banjo fitting while (over) torqueing it: we had no torque spec in the kit. WRX2BIMA told me torque settings should have been in the kit, I asked him to put torque value in his DIY thread. Anyway, My friend found me a stronger/better banjo. Nice to know: the line works well with my TMS pulleys. I recommend this upgrade. The E46 M3 should have been standard with a reliably non-leaking high pressure power steering hose.

- Brake Overhaul: Front BBK upgrade (Porsche calipers) with OE CSL disks (the real ones, not the ones drilled post-prod) and Stoptech aeroequip lines. Brackets bought from rallyroad. Ebay calipers: I have been lucky they were in excellent conditions (paid 250$ inc shipping). Sanded + Painted them and the back ones (ATE) using Foliatec paint, will see how it holds. Bought everything else from Steph (p0lar on the forum), he gave me very good advices and was very patient with me. The caliper rebuild kit he sells is of far better quality than Porsche OE + price is more than fair.
Overall opinion: brake pedal feel is changed vs original ATE monopiston calipers (took a little bit of adaptation time for the heel and toe), haven’t checked endurance on the track yet but I already see the difference in braking power. To me the biggest gain of all is in brake modularity under heavy braking. Had to adjust a little bit for proper fitment using rallyroad brackets, but nothing major. Used Ferodo DS2500 pads: for combined Road/Track pads, they are very nice. Compared to Hawk HP+: more dust, less noise, more modularity when cold, can’t say yet on the track…. All in all very nice pad compound for my use up to now besides the dust. The E46 M3 should have come standard with 4 pots in the front rather than E30 318i calipers…

- Differential Overhaul: this one was not needed but to me the M3 should have been standard with the 4.10… but people @BMW were only looking at 0-60 times so they went 3.62 to save a shift and therefore the ever so important 0-60 time. Bought ring and pinion from TMS, Timken bearings from Summit Racing (top notch guys), shipped R&P to Remchem UK (great team) for REM polishing, had it installed by Delage Sport in France (fast and very knowledgeable on Ms, tell it how it is award). Remchem advised me the ring was slightly damaged when they received it, they told me the dent will not affect function. Advised Turner about it, they never replied to my 2 emails (that’s very nice to do to someone who spent 10+K$ over the years at their shop, but I guess they don’t care anymore about E46s). So how is 3.62 vs 4.10? The car is a lot more responsive, seems to always be in the power band. On small mountains roads 3-4-5 are now perfect. Would I do it again/worth it? Yes, for sure. Car doesn’t feel insanely more powerful, but it feels a lot more responsive/always available/always ready to shift to the next gear. RPM is OK on the highway (3500 rpm @ 80mph).

- Vanos Overhaul: My friend told me, “while we’re at it”, lets do the Vanos. I thought it was overkill. Bought all the part from Beisan (Raj was of great help + shipped fast and cheap) and from my dear friends at BMW (lol). And here came the surprise (see picture)
I almost fainted. Yes my legs did shake for a moment… I truly thank him for the recommendation on overhauling my Vanos: I owe you my engine. We did the valve adjustment “while we’re at it”. No need to say a reliable Vanos should have been standard… it seems Honda had far less issues with their Vtec’s.

- Shifter/Clutch Upgrades: Installed Stainless steel clutch line, CDV delete, BMW Performance SSK. The SSK is great and the CDV allows for smoother clutch work. Should have been standard.

- Chassis Overhaul: This is the big one! I started modding the chassis by putting Poweflex FCAB and TMS front and rear sway bars (bigger than CSL). Of all the mods we have done on the car, TMS sway bars were (by far) the biggest improvement. Car is far more stable in corners, more predictable when losing it, easier to get back in shape. Anybody doing this mod will notice the increased cornering speed and the gain in handling/predictability. My setup was full stiff front / full soft rear …now it is full stiff front and rear, OE links in the back, Adjustable links in the front. LOVE THIS MOD.
While we were under the car, we noticed that 1 of the Powerflex FCAB has backed off after 1500 miles only, we put it back the way it was supposed to be with some philosophical arguments (hammer). We also changed the front control arms for de-badged OE ones (Lemfroeder) “while we’re at it” and I ordered OE FCAB in case the powerflex’s craps again.
We sent most of the underside parts for a blue powdercoating. It’s very nice I like it. Even if nobody sees it besides mechanics and me… it’s nice to work on something nice. I like tuning that you can’t see and that improve performance & reliability… therefore not a big fan of flashy Jap style widebody Ms with 20’s. Only cosmetic thing I did is to have the OE 19’s refinished with a diamond head finish (very close to original finish).
While powdercoating was being done, we tackled on the big job: the rear subframe panel reinforcement. Or reinforcementS shall I say. First thing: car has not been molested with me (no runs/donuts/burns), no track, only aggressive driving and occasional drifting. No visible cracks before assembly (not like my 330d which did tear 3 of its 4 mounting points…). Upon disassembly and meticulous inspection by both of us, we only saw one crack (see pic)
We repaired the crack / sanded everything / applied rust converter, and decided together which method to use to be a permanent fix.
We went the epoxy route with TMS plates + VinceSE2 Reinforcement bar epoxy kit. For the epoxy I initially went with Resoltech latest generation of structural epoxy, supposedly the Holy Grail for our needs. After a 1 week curing, we found that this epoxy was not up to the specs for our application (metal to metal structural bonding). These were paper specs to stay polite (supplier is now informed of his product’s limitations). So we removed and re-cleaned everything (yes you read well). I went this time with my long time epoxy supplier Sicomin. I have never been disappointed with their products in 20+ years. If you do surf, take the plane… or fire missiles from a helicopter: you rely on their products every time (I recon the later occurs a bit less often though).
I chose ISOBOND 735 and it is rock solid. Refixed plates and bars + 6.3mm stainless rivets (we didn’t use the one supplied with the kit, we used less rivets but stronger ones).
We changed bushings: Powerflex black for the front diff bushing…. We will see how things goes with it.
Initially put Powerflex black for the rear diff bushing … but believe it or not: they didn’t fit!!! 1-2mm too thick. So, we are back to OE bushings.
For the subframe bushing, I initially bought powerflex Yellows but considering my experience with their other products … I followed My friend’s advice and did put his AKG street (black) bushings. The design and fit was way better than powerflex. No comparison. Will see how they hold. If they crap, I will go solid like modern Ms.
All other bushings were changed for OE including RTABs (OE + ECS RTAB limiters).
We then fully filled the rear mounting points with Teracore structural foam (3X double cardidge).
Sent the car for alignment, chose to put the CSL geo.
If this subframe thing moves, it means that I and the car are both dead.

Conclusions:
Stay with OE parts as much as you can, most readily aftermarket parts doesn’t fit well/require mods some are just useless garbage. Read M3 forum and learn from its members as much as you can, the amount of collective knowledge there is just unbelievable.
If you don’t like the way job is done: don’t be afraid to redo it “while you’re at it”: experience does cost time and money.
The “while we’re at it” costs much more in time and money but makes a far better job in the end.
How is the car now? Better than ever. The black PF front diff bushing makes it a little bit noisy, but I like it.
What’s next to do: 2-3 cosmetic things, upgrade with the newly designed vanos oil line, besides that: nothing. It is/drives exactly the way I wanted it to be.
If we sum things up, besides Vanos and subframe (and other) reinforcements, what were IMHO the best mods for the car for street use? (if more  BBK should be added to the list)
- TMS Sway Bars
- 4.10 Diff
- Upgraded Hoses (brake, clutch, cooling, powersteering, vanos)
- Original BMW SSK + CDV delete
- Koni Shocks (for my use on stock springs they are perfect, YMMV)

Hope my experiences will help you as much as yours helped me in my quest for the perfect (to me) E46 M3 or at least the way it should have been straight out of the factory.
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Old Fri, Jul-22-2016, 04:21:47 PM   #2
Louki333
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Bringing some colours to the thread...
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File Type: jpg DSC_0234.JPG (266.8 KB, 939 views)
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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 09:12:55 AM   #3
Jaap
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Wow that looks really nice.
Does Vince recommend an epoxy? Is yours (ISOBOND 735) better than his suggestion?
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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 10:45:30 AM   #4
Louki333
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

I worked many years with epoxy in aeronautics. Isobond is a structural epoxy glue with a potlife slighly longer and sheer resistance slightly better than the suggested 3M DP420.
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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 10:51:08 AM   #5
Louki333
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Resoltech was supposed to be way better on paper (3X the sheer resistance of what we all us), kind of "new-era in the structural epoxy". Guess what: didn't live up to the hype, stay away from this. Lesson learned: stay with the product brand you know/trust from real-life experience.
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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 11:30:21 AM   #6
VinceSE2
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Nice job Louki333, thanks for sharing!

Have you installed the cover over the rear bar after taking the pictures, or did you decide to skip that?

I honestly don't know for sure what's better, but My intention with the smaller rivets included was to spread the clamping pressure, and shear strength over a larger part of the end plates and the chassis legs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap View Post
Wow that looks really nice.
Does Vince recommend an epoxy? Is yours (ISOBOND 735) better than his suggestion?

I chose Araldite 2014-01 (apparently 2014 without the -01 outside of Europe) because it remains string even at elevated temperatures. Because of the exhaust system it gets pretty hot at the rear left mount when tracking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louki333 View Post
I worked many years with epoxy in aeronautics. Isobond is a structural epoxy glue with a potlife slighly longer and sheer resistance slightly better than the suggested 3M DP420.

I have no experience with the DP420, but I know people have used it to install underside plates.
I


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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 12:46:09 PM   #7
Louki333
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Hi Vince,
In the end I didn't install the rear cover. I like to be able to view/inspect the job periodically and show it to others. Therefore I won't put the cover... it is very nice as it is.

Araldite 2014 is very good. Isobond 735 is roughly the same. Resoltech is a subcontractor of Henkel (Araldite) so make sure you are not buying resoltech product through Henkel by accident. In my view Araldite is better than the DP420. I know there is a DP460 from 3M which may be better than the 420 but I don't remember the specs.
If you can read french here are the specs of what I used. I like the fact it turns green so you know 4 sure everything is well mixed...
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File Type: pdf ISOBOND_735_FT_fr.pdf (240.8 KB, 5 views)
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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 02:17:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Looks like you installed that front tab of the bar incorrectly like I did haha woops. Fyi I haven't had any issues with it like that I also still have the cover off... Nice job btw I did similar restoration to mine as well
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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 03:26:35 PM   #9
Louki333
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Hi KubinB, actually the pics are from the 1st install with the damn Resoltech, as we redid it I did put the bar as it should. So now the bar sits correctly but no picture of the job properly done ... and I a out of the country so no way of taking picture with the right install
Although if you ask me I don't think it does matter... correct or incorrect it will be still waaay stronger than welding plates.
IMHO I think the minimum reinforcement one should consider is Epoxy + bar + plates. TMS plates only are not enough. And welding them is bad as the metal is really thin there.
Since my overaul I have seen 2 E46 M3 with welded plates that failed around the welds. 1 was a shitty job, the other one was a nice welding job... but still...
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Old Sat, Jul-23-2016, 05:03:30 PM   #10
Dave B
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Default Re: My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory

Quote:
My biggest regret is not doing all of these things at the same time I did my brake calipers. It would match my LSB interior and make me smile every time I'm under the car...

Some day, I guess...
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Discussing My E46 M3 overhaul / The way it should have been out of factory in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)