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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 Thu, Jun-15-2017, 03:19:55 PM   #1
Fhcrubarb
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Default E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

This winter I was stripping my car as part of phase 2 of my track car build and I noticed cracks in the trunk floor which was rather alarming. I was quick to do plenty of research and ordered the Vince bar given that I had already had plates welded onto the subframe mounting points. After receiving the Vince bar I posted pictures of my cracks just to verify that I wouldn't encounter any issues with the installation. Vince alerted me that I may not be able to save the RACP. I then contacted ETA motorsports and Redish, both being the UK and specializing in this repair, and the overwhelming general consensus was that I needed total RACP replacement.

Luckily I had met another enthusiast locally who works in a body shop and we tackled the project together. I was quoted by one shop for a cool $7,000 and we managed to knock it for about that half all while replacing all bushings and rear camber arms (his labor rate with friend discount included).

I tried to document my experience the best that I could but unfortunately my phone died and I lost a lot of pictures because my cloud was full. I managed to get a decent amount of photos back. Below are pictures of the process. Ask me any questions you might have!


After removing the interior these are the first cracks that I noticed. If you lift your carpet in the trunk you can inspect this area.





Cracks underneath the car, the RACP is literally pulling away from the chassis



Drilling out the spot welds and separating the RACP from the chassis.



Something seems to be missing



New RACP from BMW



Welding up Redish plates



Putting the car back together is somewhat easy, the OEM BMW panel lines up perfectly. There are two guide holes in the chassis toward the front of the car that line up to two holes in the RACP panel. It's definitely a two man job trying muscle it back into place. Then, just weld all the spot welds back in place.

While putting the car back together we connected the battery and noticed some strange lights going off on the gauge cluster. The cluster then began to smoke and eventually had smoke rolling out of it. We panicked and my buddy grabbed the fire extinguisher and quickly blasted it. Apparently we cut some of the wiring in the main wire harness along the side of the backseat and it shorted the cluster. I replaced the cluster and all is well. Along the way I experienced this issue, stripped the front diff bolt, and my DSC/TPMS lights are now on. There were a few bumps along the road but who needs DSC on track anyway



With the subframe removed the installation of the vince bar (other than welding it to chassis) was one of the easiest steps. Vince bar in along with front gussets, seam sealer on all bare metal and welds, spray on coating applied.



All in all I just want to say "F you" to BMW. I love your products but my god I'm not sure how you sleep at night knowing this problem exists. To add insult to injury the new RACP panel was close to $1,000 alone

Last edited by Fhcrubarb; Mon, Aug-21-2017 at 06:37:18 PM.
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Old Thu, Jun-15-2017, 05:04:26 PM   #2
forzanerazzurri
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

Yep, this issue is particularly egregious. Its disgusting that we have to resort to hacking up our cars in order to stop the floor from falling out. Glad you sorted it.
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Old Thu, Jun-15-2017, 06:50:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

So, this is an OE BMW RCAP that you ordered and then rammed home? Impressive!
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Old Thu, Jun-15-2017, 09:10:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

are pics working for you guys? i cant see anything.

edit: jk must be my internet
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Old Thu, Jun-15-2017, 09:31:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

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Originally Posted by Drewster View Post
So, this is an OE BMW RCAP that you ordered and then rammed home? Impressive!
Yep, as far as I know the OEM panel is the only option.
It's a pretty rare repair so I'm not sure if it would be profitable for a company to replicate it.

IMO, BMW should offer these panels for free to people who have experienced this issue due to their design flaw.
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Old Thu, Jun-15-2017, 09:36:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

Man, what a job. Glad you got it all sorted out though. The rear end should be pretty bulletproof now.
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Old Thu, Jun-15-2017, 11:00:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

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Originally Posted by Fhcrubarb View Post
Yep, as far as I know the OEM panel is the only option.
It's a pretty rare repair so I'm not sure if it would be profitable for a company to replicate it.

IMO, BMW should offer these panels for free to people who have experienced this issue due to their design flaw.
Panel is relatively cheap. Labor is expensive..
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Old Thu, Jun-15-2017, 11:44:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

my racp was almost as bad as yours. we managed to salvage it though.

it's quite unsettling that this problem exists and so widespread
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Old Fri, Jun-16-2017, 05:13:51 PM   #9
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

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my racp was almost as bad as yours. we managed to salvage it though.

it's quite unsettling that this problem exists and so widespread
Do you have pictures of how bad it was? Curious to know how you saved it. I was told that if you tried to save it that it would just happen again.
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Old Sun, Jun-25-2017, 09:00:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY

Thanks for the link! That's pretty unnerving. Glad you got it all sorted out, but as you mentioned, it sucks we're having to contend with this issue.
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Discussing E46 Total RACP (subframe) replacement, not quite a DIY 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)