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My BMW 335i


PranK
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My 330i thread is here;

 

This one starts a little messily.

The N52 in the 330i is notoriously difficult to get power out of unless you turbo it or fit a blower (of which I did consider). I knew this when I bought it, but its primary task at the time was as a commuter. It started to grate on me last year that I wanted more power and I wanted forced induction again. I'm now working from home every day so my requirements in a car had changed.

The replacement car wasn't up for negotiation. I wanted an N54 powered 335i. Twin turbo and 300HP but as the sedans never came with a manual, I'd need to put up with the auto (which is not a big deal once flashed and with paddles - lightning shifts!)

In the beginning of December I saw a very cheap 335i on carsales at a stealership 4 planets away.

So, my mate (who is also a bit of a BMW guy) and I jumped into the dirty 30 and went to have a look. It was fairly rough in the body but suspension was solid, as was the engine. With 140,000 k's it didn't feel a day over 80,000. The interior was in really good nic, it rode well, the engine response and boost was strong. It did have a rattle on cold start but I was pretty sure it wasn't the typical N54 wastegate rattle as it didn't happen on boost or off boost or when revs dropped, which is when you're supposed to hear it. The brakes were rooted and the steering wheel shook when braking hard. The tyres were shot too.

So, I made an offer and it was accepted. As the car needed a blue slip, the shop was able to provide one and replaced front discs and pads along with a new set of tyres.

We were to go down the next day to get it but they called to say it wouldn't be ready.

I organised another time to pick it up in a few days. On the way down we were called 10 mins out to say car wouldn't start and needed an alternator. So they replaced that too. We went down 2 days later to pick up.

It came home fine.

20221210_190303.jpg

 

New one on the left. Its been a confusing few weeks with these two.

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So, I went to work moving everything over from the dirty 30 that I could.

  • Whiteline front sway bar. Rear can stay there, you need to drop the subframe to put it in and I didnt notice much over stock.
  • Front M3 control arms
  • BC coilover
  • Wheels
  • Head unit / dash cam / reverse cam / throttle controller
  • M-Sport Seats. These needed slight rewiring
  • OEM Black Line tail lights
  • Number plates

As I mentioned above, the suspension is really solid. All the bushes look brand new. Theres no excess movement anywhere and it really feels super planted.

It's such a hoot to drive. Boost comes on smoothly, theres not much lag to speak of.

So, after a few weeks it was clear that the rattle was definitely wastegate rattle. For those that don't know, this can plague wastegates causing the flap inside the wastegate to rattle against the housing. For most people (myself included) its just a noise on cold start and there is no other issue. If it gets much worse it can lead to boost leaks. Generally causing a turbos replacement which requires dropping the front subframe. BMW turbos are $4400.... each. :D

I'll just keep an eye on it for the time being.

2 weeks after I got her, I was picking my daughter up from a party and we got a quick red warning on the dash about engine temps and then we lost all power. Engine would run but it was like an uber limp mode. There was nothing there.

I let it cool and tried again but it went from 100 to 120 in 300 meters or so. We were on a seriously dark road (Wakehurst Parkway north) half way round a corner and not able to move further over. Couldn't believe that 30 seconds after we stopped the highway patrol pulled in behind and stayed with me until the towie came.

To cut a long story short, had to replace the expansion tank and upper hoses, when that didn't work the electric water pump was replaced. Both by a shop because I could claim around $1k on the warranty I bought.

To be honest I'm really happy that the water pump went. They generally fail around this mileage anyway so I know I have another 20 years before this one goes again.

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So, I'm not looking for big power here, most of what I'm planning will just be to future proof the car.

For power;

  • New front mount. The OEM one is very restrictive.
  • I put some pods on as the OEM airbox is .... ready? really restrictive.
  • I have a new charge pipe and will keep the stock diverter valves
  • I'll do an MHD tune. Stage 1 (I hate these labels) will give me around 380HP.

BTW, the car had an option for removed boot badge. I find it funny that that is an option. I'll leave it off also.

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I also swapped the license for my transmission XHP tune and the new transmission is WAY faster to shift with paddles than the last one.

Over the next month I'll be;

  • Power steering fluid flush and refill. Steering feels a little heavy and occasionally a slight bit notchy.
  • Front brakes have to go. They're brand new and fine for street but feel like shit compared to the 30's DBA 4000 and Bendix Ultimates. I'll go with the same combo. The 335 has 18mm larger rotors so no swapping these over.
  • I have some braided HEL lines coming. Once these go on I'll do a full brake fluid flush.
  • Got some Red Line diff fluid.
  • I'll get a service kit for my transmission. The whole bottom cover gets replaced. Its very odd.
  • I wont do oil and filter as I need to pay a shop to do this in order to retain warranty cover.
  • I have an oil catch can to fit.
  • I might do the PCV but this might not be needed.
  • I have all new bulbs to replace horrible orange ones. Xenon bulbs, fog light bulbs, angel eyes. Head lights really need a polish. They're not terrible, but not great.

Looking to get to Luddenham as soon as my brakes are done. (I wish it was Wakefield :( )

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Been meaning to comment on this. Have been quite unfazed by Johnny's ongoing longing for an M3. But you are making me want to buy a BMW. Not to replace the Nissan but as a second car. Maybe one day and I'll be in touch to get your advice.

So please keep this updated. Looking forward to see where it goes.

You don't happen to have a recording of how different the shifting is after the tune? It sounds very promising.

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2 hours ago, soviet_merlin said:

Hah, there is nothing wrong with proper M cars but they are just way beyond my budget. Can't tempt me with what I can't possibly afford :)

There will be a point in time our JDM shit boxes are a straight swap for a M car.

Another option is just redraw from your mortgage and make it happen (this might lead to a divorce too, this is not financial advice) lol.

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23 hours ago, niZmO_Man said:

you're brave with an N-series engine

Hmm, I've got 2 N series engines (N54 & N55). The N54 has had a new water pump, and a weeping oil pan seal replaced. The N55 has had nothing done other than normal servicing. Both have done north of 150K km. I think the reports of N series issues are somewhat exagerated.

Fairly large jump in price as well between N54/N55 and B58 engined cars.

Also, don't use Bendix pads....

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On 18/02/2023 at 12:01 PM, soviet_merlin said:

Been meaning to comment on this. Have been quite unfazed by Johnny's ongoing longing for an M3. But you are making me want to buy a BMW. Not to replace the Nissan but as a second car. Maybe one day and I'll be in touch to get your advice.

So please keep this updated. Looking forward to see where it goes.

You don't happen to have a recording of how different the shifting is after the tune? It sounds very promising.

Yeah definitely will keep it updated. I've not done much lately but I have a heap of parts (mainly maintenance) to go on. I'll get the GoPro out and do a video of it shifting, it really is amazing and not sure I could live without it now.

On 18/02/2023 at 1:25 PM, Dose Pipe Sutututu said:

Please don't put Benshit pads in, have respect for your car, life and money.

Lol.. @soviet_merlin

Wow, seriously? The Ultimates were awesome on the 330i at Wakefield. No fade at all. I didn't realise they were not trusted.

On 19/02/2023 at 8:38 PM, niZmO_Man said:

you're brave with an N-series engine, I'd go for B48/58 haha... In saying that, plastic water pump still an issue...

Oh please. Properly maintained N-gines are fine.

16 hours ago, GeeDog said:

Hmm, I've got 2 N series engines (N54 & N55). The N54 has had a new water pump, and a weeping oil pan seal replaced. The N55 has had nothing done other than normal servicing. Both have done north of 150K km. I think the reports of N series issues are somewhat exagerated.

Fairly large jump in price as well between N54/N55 and B58 engined cars.

Also, don't use Bendix pads....

Another Bendix hater. I didn't know that was a thing. Whats the alternative? I know most people will say different pads for street and track but thats not going to happen. YellowStuff?

And I agree with you on the engines (obvs) - well maintained and they do very well. My water pump has already gone so thats one of the big issues fixed already.

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5 hours ago, PranK said:

Yeah definitely will keep it updated. I've not done much lately but I have a heap of parts (mainly maintenance) to go on. I'll get the GoPro out and do a video of it shifting, it really is amazing and not sure I could live without it now.

Wow, seriously? The Ultimates were awesome on the 330i at Wakefield. No fade at all. I didn't realise they were not trusted.

Oh please. Properly maintained N-gines are fine.

Another Bendix hater. I didn't know that was a thing. Whats the alternative? I know most people will say different pads for street and track but thats not going to happen. YellowStuff?

And I agree with you on the engines (obvs) - well maintained and they do very well. My water pump has already gone so thats one of the big issues fixed already.

N54s are notorious in the US for a steady stream of failures but by now I'm pretty sure the biggest issues like HPFP, injectors, wastegate rattle, etc have all been figured out. So if you're willing to invest the time/money/etc into getting all the fixes done if the car hasn't had them done yet then you can have a pretty reliable engine.

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Injectors haven't been sorted out entirely and the price has trippled for them over covid. You're looking at USD500 a pop, and you'll need six in one go (sometimes can get away with one bank of 3 depending on your car) if you're moving above index 10 (or 11,- can't remember), 12 is the latest version.

I bought an N53 325i last year, which has most of the trauma of the N54 but none of the power. That said, I do want to turn it into a 325i cup car. I've since realised the Skyline is significantly cheaper though E90 is a better car for normal use. 

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I have index 9 injectors which means they're not the latest but have likely been updated by a previous owner as I believe my car came with index 6's from factory. I believe there was a recall for this problem.

Wastegate rattle is affecting my car but no boost leaks. Yet.

I'm definitely looking to get all the bits done that need doing before I start putting money towards making it a little quicker. It hardly gets driven as it is with 2 x sub 5k trips since Sunday :D . As stated, all the main problems with these cars have been researched and sorted with solid replacements now available.

Worst part about buying a used car is not knowing what has been fixed / replaced or not.

I have a new power steering reservoir and the aluminium charge pipe to fix today or tomorrow to check off a few more maintenance / pre-problem items.

After that, maybe this weekend, I have new thermostat & housing, mickey mouse flange and fresh BMW coolant to go in. Radiator was done a few years ago ( I have a receipt) and the water pump was done last month. That should make the cooling system rock solid for another few years at least.

For those unaware of the mickey mouse flange it attaches the cooling system hose to the block. But, alas, its made of plastic and completely disintegrates over time. The one on my 330i quite literally fell apart in my hands as I was replacing it. I have a billet replacement. Check this for an example;

 

 

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I did the one thing that I needed to feel less stressed in the car yesterday. Replaced the thermostat and housing (which was a bastard as it sits right at the bottom of the engine but just above the sub-frame and has 4 big hoses attached) and also the Mickey mouse flange. Then flushed all the green stuff out and filled up with fresh BMW coolant.

The Mickey mouse flange was intact thankfully but fell apart as I pulled it out so good to get it done.

20230225_175515.jpg20230225_175504.jpg

I also replaced my charge pipe as the OEM one is plastic and prone to cracking after a while.

A few good steps towards better longevity as the whole cooling system is now new (rad was done a year or so ago by previous owner) and all the hoses seem nice and fresh.

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The flange does look a bit like Mickey mouse, maybe Mickey mouse designed the thing too, lol.

I feel your pain with the injectors. The ones for my Audi are around the same from the dealer.  Thankfully in my case they're made for Audi by Bosch and you can now buy them from Bosch under a different part number. Still pricey but substantially cheaper.

May be worth doing some research to see if there is a similar option for the BMW DI injectors.

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On 26/02/2023 at 1:29 PM, admS15 said:

The flange does look a bit like Mickey mouse, maybe Mickey mouse designed the thing too, lol.

I feel your pain with the injectors. The ones for my Audi are around the same from the dealer.  Thankfully in my case they're made for Audi by Bosch and you can now buy them from Bosch under a different part number. Still pricey but substantially cheaper.

May be worth doing some research to see if there is a similar option for the BMW DI injectors.

Yeh there are a few yank sites that sell them for half of BMW Australia (even with exchange and shipping). So I at least know where to turn if I need to later.

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On 2/22/2023 at 12:57 AM, GoHashiriya said:

Injectors haven't been sorted out entirely and the price has trippled for them over covid. You're looking at USD500 a pop, and you'll need six in one go (sometimes can get away with one bank of 3 depending on your car) if you're moving above index 10 (or 11,- can't remember), 12 is the latest version.

I bought an N53 325i last year, which has most of the trauma of the N54 but none of the power. That said, I do want to turn it into a 325i cup car. I've since realised the Skyline is significantly cheaper though E90 is a better car for normal use. 

Woof, I would've figured like a decade of revisions to those parts and experience from the N55/B58 would've fixed those issues by now if you paid up for the latest part numbers. I've seen shops in the US that show how to drill out and weld in larger bushings on the wastegate actuators to try and get the actuator arm to stop making those noises too. I still never quite understood how an RB can have 175k miles on the original turbos with no wastegate rattle yet the N54 can be so troubled with decades of advances in material design and available parts and experience using said parts to BMW engineers.

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