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Vass

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Vass last won the day on July 5

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About Vass

  • Rank
    3rd Gear

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  • Name
    Vass
  • Location
    Christchurch
  • Car
    '03 e46 325i/330i Touring
  • Car 2
    '07 Suzuki Swift Sport

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  1. Went 50-50 with a mate on this spontaneous project car a few months ago and so far have been struggling to pinpoint what the hell it is that's wrong with it. And just to save everyone the trouble of pointing it out - the engine is what's wrong with it. I know. It's an absolute dog of a 4-banger. Hoping to narrow it down a bit from there. Wouldn't have touched it otherwise but what it's got going for it is that it's got 3 pedals from factory, so that brings the score up a bit. We've (seemingly) tried everything to get her running and are pretty much at our wit's end so hoping the wider hive mind might have some helpful ideas to try and save this ugly duckling. BACKSTORY She's a rather gutless little 316ti with the dreaded N42B18 engine and 165,330km on the clock. All we know is around 3 years ago it developed a "rough idle" and was parked up. A local rally shop owner bought it from one of his clients with the intentions of dropping an M54 in it and turning it into a rally car but never got around to it. After 3 years of sitting it now wouldn't fire up at all so having lost interest he decided to get rid after some quick attempts to get her running didn't lead to anything. I was alerted to it by @Eagle, recognised the name of the fella selling it, quickly got in touch and snapped it up. One other historical tidbit is that in 2018 at 160,700km it got brand new timing chains, guides, tensioners and a bunch of associated seals & gaskets, from Christchurch BMW no less, so it's got one of the 3 big ticket items taken care of at least. WHAT WE'VE DONE Started off by giving the car a good wash, chucked in a battery and read the codes. Checked out the VVT motor only to find the lead not even plugged it. In addition some of the sheeting on the wires was damaged that got fixed with some electrical tape. Plugged back in, cleared the codes, the car will crank and crank but won't start. Checked the fuses, checked fuel pump relay all seemed good. No sound from the fuel pump with the ignition on so sounded like it wasn't priming but seems like these cars operate in some weird, different way, more on that later. Left it there and came back another weekend. Hooked up the battery, tried to start it more out of blind hope than anything and to our massive surprise it fired right up after a few cranks. Even held idle nice and steadily. What a weird little thing. Drove it from the paddock into the garage and onto the hoist. It drove fine but it was stuck in limp mode, still due to the VVT (valvetronic motor) and wouldn't rev above 2.5k RPM. Up on the hoist we unhooked some fuel lines, drained the remainder of the old fuel from the tank and put some 10-15L of fresh 95 in there. Dropped her back down only for her to refuse to start up again... Cranked away for ages but no dice. Removed the valve cover, checked & cleaned the eccentric shaft sensor, swapped in a spare valvetronic motor from a newer 120i, hooked it all up, ran the stop limit adaptation procedure with a scan tool - all ran fine indicating the valvetronic motor and eccentric shaft sensors were both operational. Buttoned it all up, still crank no start. Good thing is no VVT-related codes have come back since, suggesting the fault being to do with a faulty old valvetronic motor. Only code remaining in the DME is for the ambient temperature sensor, which is inconsequential. Decided to check compression and found ~50 PSI across all cylinders which made no sense since the car was running earlier that day. Having read about it potentially being due to the cylinders being flooded with fuel from all the cranking, getting washed down and not sealing properly, assumed it was that and left it there. Came back to it a few weeks later and checked compression again before trying to fire up and risking flooding the cylinders again. Found 170-200 PSI this time around, which was more like it. Also checked fuel pressure. Not sure how these cars operate but with ignition on fuel pressure remained at 0. Only after starting cranking it spiked to 45 PSI then dropped down to 40, and kept falling gradually. After a whole heap of cranking we managed to get her running again just the once. Fuel pressure remained steady at 45 PSI at idle, then dropped with the engine turned off and went all the way down below 20 PSI just 20-something minutes later, indicating potential leaky injectors. So we got the fuel rail out to check. VIDEO Weirdly enough, with the injectors unhooked the car actually fired up for a few seconds and sounded pretty good doing it, much to my mate's audible surprise. The spray pattern seemed roughly consistent and we couldn't note any leakage afterwards with the ignition off either. Spark plugs were completely soaked and reeked of fuel so we swapped in a spare set. Also swapped out some coils for newer spares, checking spark prior to dropping them in. Crank no start. Decided to try another weird experiment by dropping the sparks & coils half way down into the cylinders, which did look quite cool. VIDEO Not sure what this actually tells us apart from maybe that the firing sequence looks weirdly random and inconsistent? The Pattern should be 1342 but it looked like it it skipped one or two cylinders nearly every round. Maybe that's just because it's not all sealed perfectly tight, other than that no idea why it would be off. Bolted everything back on but still... Got fuel, got spark, got compression. Crank no start. Our informed approach has since descended into a crude exercise of 'throwing sh*t at the wall and seeing what sticks' with nothing seemingly sticking. We've since swapped out to a good second hand fuel pump, swapped out fuel filter & regulator, swapped out injectors, swapped out the crank sensor... Haven't been able to get the car running again at all ever since the trick with the injectors. And it got some fresh oil somewhere along the way as well. LIST OF POTENTIALS Take apart & clean out ignition switch Check DME connections for oil contamination Check fuses in DME box, swap out DME relay Update DME software? Borrow timing tool & check timing (probably should have been the first thing to do, although would it have run at all if it were off?) But yeah, that's where we're at. Sorry for the long waffle but thought I'd best lay it all out there. Good thing is that if we were to turn around and part the poor thing out we'd still easily break even so we haven't crossed into silly-territory just yet. As frustrating as it's been at least all we've got to lose is our own time. At this point we're trying to get her running more out of curiosity rather than some pressing desperation but we're quickly running out of ideas. She's a nice wee car and would be a shame to strip it for parts. The compacts aren't the prettiest things out there but I do quite like the look of it in full Msport trim, especially after seeing how well @Harper's one turned out. Was hoping to get her up and running to compare and potentially swap it out with my Swift Sport as a daily driver since it's still a much nicer and more familiar place to be rather than the Suzuki. Other idea was to swap in an M54 but at that point it becomes another weird project car that neither me nor my mate need, nor is there any market for if we were to build to sell. As fun as it would be with a 6-pot it'd be a dumb idea for a daily driver since it'd never get anywhere close to the 7L/100km I get in the Swift, and I already have my "fun" M54 car. Anyway, any thoughts, ideas, words of wisdom much appreciated
  2. You really really really don't need that retrofit kit. Yes, it's not that much money but it's a waste of money none the less for what it is - 3 simple wires with standard BMW pins used in 90% of plugs throughout the car and 2 overly complicated splice connectors. I thought there was more to it so that's what I used the first time doing this retrofit (I bought the same kit for $21 from FCP 3 years ago, and even then it was overpriced) but have found literally no benefit to it. I've done 4-5 of these retrofits since and have never bothered, have just depinned and repurposed wires from parts cars and used a pair of these simple splice connectors instead. They work just as well and the end result is way less bulky than the weirdly complicated connectors that come in that kit. I've got a whole wiring loom sitting in a box in the garage, more than happy to depin some wires for you and post them your way if you don't happen to have any laying around already. Honestly, couldn't recommend that kit any less, not worth wasting money on.
  3. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    A few months ago I helped @Carbon manual swap his E39 530i. Awesome car, a stunning topaz blue 2001 Msport sitting on Style 65's. Shortly after the swap he stumbled upon a cheap, grandpa spec 530i and just couldn't pass it up. Despite the newly manual swapped one having tonnes of maintenance items ticked off and the newest purchase, although being tidy for its age and price, being borderline neglected, he was adamant about the former being noticeably low on power in comparison. My butt dyno wasn't as well calibrated so I couldn't feel much of a difference but to make it scientific, he organised to put both of them on a dyno power run and find out for sure. To satisfy my own curiosity and to add an extra point of comparison, I tagged along. Three M54B30's put to the test. First one up was the 2001 Msport 530i with around 150k km's on the clock, manual swapped with a 5-speed ZF and single mass Valeo flywheel. Maintenance included a rebuilt VANOS, rebuilt DISA, new fuel filter, new genuine camshaft & MAF sensors amongst other things so by all means well up to standard and running the latest EU2 tune. Somehow, it only managed to push out 250 Nm & 157 hp. The air-fuel ratio held steady up to around 4k RPM at which point it fell off a cliff, taking the power numbers down with it. The drop-off seems to occur roughly at the point VANOS and DISA kick in so we suspect one or the other. Currently in the process of swapping over VANOS units so will see what that does. Second was my Touring. Roughly 10k km's post engine rebuild, all reasonable and unreasonable maintenance addressed and well documented. The torque curve looked a wee bit better but still ended up low on power, pushing out 255 Nm & 166 hp. It seemed to be running on the rich side throughout. The tuner said he usually aims for an air-fuel ratio of around 13 when remapping NA engines, mine were floating around 11. He was fairly confident that with a remap there's easily another 20 hp in there and that he could tune for it but it's best to figure out why the mixture is as rich as it is in the first place. And lastly, the grandpa spec 2002 530i automatic with around 180k km's. Still very tidy for its age but out of the three definitely the least looked after and borderline mechanically neglected. Post-dyno we also discovered the DISA to be completely broken and non-functioning - the flap being completely loose and dangling around the shaft, unconnected. Lucky that the infamous pin hadn't dropped into the engine. All this made the results all the more puzzling... 268 Nm (disregarding the early peak) and 186 hp. What the actual hell. The M54B30 is supposed to produce 228 hp at the crank. Account for ~15% in driveline losses, the figure to aim for should be 194 hp at the hubs. The blue car fell 37 hp (19%) short of that figure, mine 28 hp (14%). The grey "broken" car had barely lost any power whilst we and our pReVeNtAtIvE mAiNtEnAnCe had basically managed to downgrade our engines to M54B25's. I guess the takeaway here being that we've both just wasted stupid amounts of money on upkeep and trivial brand new parts when all they needed was a healthy dose of neglect. Less is more. Grandpa spec FTW. I went back to the readings I pulled when I suspected I might have a vacuum leak, with the LTFT's sitting at 8.6%. Sure enough, the 8.6% actually had a '-' in front of it so I had been running rich this whole time, just wasn't clued up on how to read fuel trims properly to realise it at the time. I've since read up on there being a faulty batch of Hengst fuel filters out there with faulty fuel pressure regulators that produce around 60 PSI of pressure at the rail instead of the spec of 50.76 +/- 2.9 PSI. Sure enough, I had installed a Hengst filter just this past October so suspected it might be the cause of my rich running. I hoped for that to be the cause since that would have been an easy fix. So I went out and got a fuel pressure tester to verify only to find that it sits at a steady 52 PSI at idle - well within spec. With the engine turned off, the pressure quickly drops to 48 PSI and then holds steady for at least half an hour, which would also rule out leaky injectors. I tried clearing all adaptations, then ran the car at idle, logging running parameters and sure enough, after a few minutes STFT's shoot straight into the negative territory, sitting at around -15%. Something's not quite right and I'm not sure how to troubleshoot it further. The lack of power itself isn't really that noticeable since I barely ever push the car to its limit but constant rich running can't be good for it. MAF, O2 sensors are brand new OE, DISA is rebuilt and seemingly operating properly (which, judging by the grey car, might actually be a detriment), ICV cleaned, fresh VANOS seals etc etc. I could just go back to the dyno and have the car professionally tuned to aim for an AFR of 13-14 but would be good to figure out why it's currently running as rich as it is. Otherwise, if the issue eventually somehow fixes itself I might end up on the lean side instead. Could it be something to do with the EU2 tune and it being adjusted to the petrol used in Europe that's somehow different to what we're using here? Then again all 3 cars are running EU2 tunes and 95 octane so that shouldn't be a point of difference. All in all, the dyno experience was a good one and well worth doing, despite coming out of it slightly demoralised. Will need to do some more thorough data logging and keep myself up at night even more. Once the car is ready to see the light of day again that is.
  4. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    Yes please! That's further down on the priority list for now but keen to know what works for when I get around to it.
  5. It's a relatively straightforward job, no coding required, just 3 wires to run - 1 to the DME and 2 to splice into the LCM wiring. So long as that's done correctly it will just work. This guide is probably the most detailed one out there. I've got a spare set of Msport sway bars (24mm F & 19mm R) but yeah, down in Christchurch unfortunately. Happy to pass them along if you know of anyone heading up your way.
  6. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    Funny you say that. I recently discovered my B30 isn't as quick as a B30 either 😅 Still enjoy driving it although it's been a good 2 months since I have... I've not done anything on the audio front apart from the headunit so doubt you'll find anything useful.
  7. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    I was out exploring the great outdoors (i.e. Pick-A-Part) one weekend, scavenging for some random parts I needed for a new project car when I noticed one of the cars there was equipped with a feature I'd been thirsting after ever since having it on my first ever E46 325ci - automatic lights & wipers. After a quick Google to look up what all is needed for the retrofit, I turned a quick parts trip into a 4-hour mission of untangling the whole wiring loom to look up exactly how everything is routed in order to get the end result as close to factory standard as possible. Turns out all you need is the rain-light sensor, bulkier mirror surround, LCM fascia panel with the auto lights position and 4 wires to run, then just enable the feature with PA Soft or similar and off you go. Of course the windshield itself will need modifying or replacing with one with a black surround where the sensor attaches to. I'm still hoping to catch a stray rock from a haulage truck passing by and get a brand new screen through insurance but might bust out some black paint and install it as is if I get bored in the meantime. Now I just need to find a towing module & wiring so I can rip out the interior and install this, the heated seat wiring and possibly dash cam + radar detector hardwiring all in one go.
  8. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    One thing I'd been meaning to address ever since getting the car was the fact it only came with one key. Lose that and I'd be screwed. After putting it off for ages I was resigned to finally make my way to the dealership and drop $500 to have a spare made up... until I got to chatting to @Eagle who encouraged me to have a go at coding some keys myself. Having superficially looked into it aaaages ago I had filed the task away as something beyond the realm of my abilities but after all the sh*t I've seen and done over the past couple of years it didn't seem as daunting a mission on second glance. A couple of special tools/adapters were required but I was surprised to find you could get all that you need for under $100 off Aliexpress. Probably even half that but I also got a special adapter for an EWS4 that helps avoid any soldering since RealOEM had told me that's what my car had. Turns out it still had the older EWS3 in it so I could have gotten away with just the AK90 unit but I'm sure it'll come in handy eventually. Getting the EWS data read was a bit finnicky but once that was done the coding of the key itself went smoothly. Did the synchronising procedure in the car and the remote started successfully locking/unlocking the doors straight after. Only thing left to do was to get the key physically cut. Easier said than done. Took it in, got it back 5 minutes & $50 later, got home to the car only to discover the key was cut incorrectly and was essentially ruined. Took it back the next day, they ordered in a new blank key, cut it properly this time, somehow transferred the insides over from the previous one and I finally had a fully functional spare key the day after. Great success. If anyone needs a key coded in the Christchurch area feel free to hit me up, happy to help out. Will also tell you who to avoid going to to get it cut hahah.
  9. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    Hahah doubt it. Not yet anyway, but I'm working on it
  10. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    The detailing mission still slowly chugging along, I took on tackling the front bumper, which is by far the roughest panel on the car. It's suffered quite a bit of abuse throughout its life and probably deserves a full respray but that's not something I'm willing to entertain at this point so will settle for an improvement instead of perfection for now. The mounting rails that slide onto the hanger brackets were already broken when I got the car with the passenger side one being particularly bad. The bumper was sagging quite badly initially but I managed to align it well enough that it wasn't too obvious. Was about time to properly address the issue though so I used it as an opportunity to further hone my plastic welding skills. Bent the broken bits back in place and melted in some steel mesh for reinforcement. Won't be good as new but will hold much better than before anyway. The paint was badly stone-chipped all over, beginning to crack in a few places and had a few rough scratches here and there as well. I polished it up best I could, touched up the rock chips and the worst of the scratches on the underside. The mesh grille was looking quite faded and rock chipped as well so gave it a few coats of paint to bring it back to black. Only got a before photo of it though. The trim inserts got some Carpro Perl treatment to rejuvenate the front end even further. The result was never going to be perfect but from a few feet away now looks infinitely more presentable, which was the best I could have hoped for without it becoming a full blown repaint. Mint.
  11. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    On the first drive post subframe work last year I was going 80 on the motorway near Kaiapoi, going round the bend I suddenly spot a pair of steel cap boots smack in the middle of the road. Only caught sight of them at the very last second due to the car in front and had no time or space for any evasive manoeuvres so ended up running straight over them with a nasty sounding clunk. Didn't think much of it but later on discovered the damage - they'd busted through the plastic arch liner behind the driver side front wheel. Beyond the gaping hole, the liners didn't look great and were also cracked where they meet the front bumper on either side. Thought about replacing them but hadn't yet gotten to the point where I could justify dropping $164+GST each through the dealership. Then stumbled upon a set of aftermarket ones on Spareto, costing just 18€ + 11€ shipping each so around $100 shipped for both. Seemed a decent deal so tacked it on to my starter+brake booster order and was soon greeted with this ridiculously bulky package coming home one day. How this cost just $30-odd to ship all the way from Europe I have no idea but I'm not complaining. Proceeded to strip the old liners off only to discover the catch. The material of the replacement liners didn't feel great but seemed sturdy enough. The problem was the fitment though. The aftermarket one has a weird bulge where the original wraps around the chassis and is also missing one opening for where the reinforcement plate bolts in. Could probably be chopped up a bit and made to work but I couldn't bother with it. Was worth the punt at that price but will eventually get brand new front and rear liners when I've got a spare ~$700 burning a hole in my pocket. For now just duct taped up the new hole and smacked the old liners back on. With the liners and wings off the car I took the chance to give the area a good clean. Man did it need one... 20 years worth of mud, dirt and rotten leaves. Got a good scoop full from either side. Enough to start a wee veggie patch. Also took off the side skirts and cleaned up in behind those as well. With the wings and skirts off I gave them a cut and polish and touched up the worst stone chips & scratches to continue on with the detailing mission, also treating a couple of minor surface rust spots in the newly exposed areas.
  12. Vass

    The Barbara Chronicles

    Put in an order on a bunch of backordered genuine bits through Schmiedmann a while back. After a month-and-a-bit wait the package arrived. Mostly aesthetic stuff as well as some random maintenance items and titbits that never seem to be held in stock anywhere. Most exciting bits were the boot storage tray hook and nice new chrome tips for the ugly tailpipes. Also got a new DME relay (as per @Olaf's suggestion), a windshield washer strainer tube/rubber seal that had started leaking somehow, boot floor cargo straps, caps for front and rear washer reservoirs etc. etc. I'd been having a niggling issue with the windshield wipers where they would occasionally get "stuck" and refuse to work consistently. On intermittent mode, every second/third sweep they'd try to engage, jump a few cm, then abort the mission straight away and skip a sweep or two, then go back to working normally. In constant-on mode they'd work as they should. I wanted to get a brand new wiper relay along with the DME one but somehow a wiper relay is ~5x the price of a main relay ($30 vs $180...) so abandoned that thought with a quickness. Luckily I had a few spare used ones laying around, threw one of them in and the issue seems to have gone away. Another small annoyance ticked off the list. With the car in the garage for some other work I decided to tackle the starter replacement in my never-ending quest to hunt down the source of that niggly startup rattle. After much deliberation I went with a Hella brand one that originated from... *shock and horror* Size wise, the body of the Hella unit is slightly longer than the old Bosch one but fit in all the same. The old Bosch didn't show any noticeable wear but shaking it did produce a rattling noise that the new unit didn't have so I was hopeful it might be the culprit behind my paranoia. Went the least invasive route of tackling it - from the underside without removing neither the intake nor the gearbox. Not the most fun of jobs but got it done with the help of some wrist gymnastics, long extensions and swivel sockets. Ended up essentially doing the whole mission twice. Having hooked up the electrical leads the first time around and managing to start the bolts after a healthy dose of fiddling, the starter flat out refused to go all the way in with the dowel pin getting stuck half way on. After a bunch of swearing I gave up and ripped it back out and decided to try it on the starter adapter plate I'd made out of an old transmission bell housing when hunting for the oil leak post engine rebuild. Turns out the opening was just ever so slightly too tight and it would get stuck on the pin half way on. Filed away at it a little bit to open it up and things went much smoother at the second attempt. I've barely driven the car post install (because reasons) but, incredibly annoyingly, during the few startups it has had since the rattle still seems to be present. It must either be the gearbox itself or some sort of mental illness at this point.
  13. I've been having the same issue since last night. "There was a problem uploading the file." Have also tried with tiny images under 100 KB without luck.
  14. That's... actually pretty cool. Looks to be done to a good standard, can't hate it. Biggest downside for me is the lack of an Msport body kit. The standard bumpers are just bland as hell.
  15. Which part are they alleging to be too low? The front subframe? Have you tried measuring? If it's a few mm then by all means tell them to stuff it. They'd pick it up at the cert inspection anyway whenever you go for that.
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