Back on the Wagon! 2005 BMW E91 3 Series Touring 325i

Back on the Wagon! 2005 BMW E91 3 Series Touring 325i

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beambeam1

Original Poster:

260 posts

7 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Found myself enjoying a lot of the threads in this section and hanging about 'BMW General' like a bad smell lately so figured it was time to fire up my own journal in here. I have had a thread running on DW so will be copying across a series of posts to bring it up to date. Strap in...



After 4 years and 48k miles of somewhat problematic but faithful ownership, a private hire taxi rear-ended me whilst stationary at the beginning of August 2020.

Sadly, it was quickly written off but the valuation given to the car was more than complimentary so that was a plus. It was rusting a little here and there plus covered in a hellish amount of dents and scratches. Factoring in long-term running issues it was actually a relief to be shot of it as I would never have comfortably taken half of what the insurance paid out had I sold it to someone else. I guess I'm just too nice...

So, the search was on for a replacement. I was keen to find another more modern version touring but good ones for good money seemed to be in short supply in the COVID-moment. Several dealers lamented that COVID-19 was causing gaps in the market between quality stock and meeting demand but none of the cars I viewed floated my boat. I was either finding poor condition/high-spec cars or vice versa but did eventually stumble across a Gumtree advert when changing location to my hometown in the N.E of Scotland.



After 3-4 weeks of waiting for the car to be ready, it was finally in my possession and I was really happy with it. The delay was partly due to the seller's own search for a replacement as well as repair work being carried out. Around the time it was listed for sale, a stone thrown up from traffic smashed the panoramic sunroof leading to an insurance claim. The garage tasked with repairing this had difficulties with missing parts ordered from BMW but ultimately the frame was also replaced due to glass shards found in the greased runners.

The previous owner bought it as a Japanese import into the UK early 2019 at 45k miles, it now sits at 65k miles. Only a new tyre was required for September's pre-sale MOT and the car features Alcantara M sport interior with electric memory seats, Xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof and folding mirrors. A pretty good spec list for a 2005 BMW I feel! The colour is Titan Silver and the paintwork seems to be in very good condition apart from a small patch of lacquer peel on the bonnet.

It's a lovely car to drive and I have come to appreciate the idea of an automatic recently so the car suits me in that flavour. It is far superior in condition to its predecessor and I am looking forward to another few years of BMW ownership. The seller threw in BMW roof bars which will be great for transporting my mountain bike. I use the bike a lot for commuting now which will help reduce annual mileage. Since COVID-19 lockdown in March we have also taken to walking the dog TO places we'd normally drive to which should also help!

Some more images:





The car comes with a lot of service history but it is all in Japanese! I'm keen to maintain it well so will probably service it before the end of the year. Primarily, I am keen to just run the car gently and retrofit a few BMW options such as cruise control. I'd also like to fit a single din head unit featuring Apple Carplay but options are limited or too expensive for my liking just yet.

One of the priorities are to organise some rust proofing or protection for underneath the car as soon as possible. This hasn't been carried out since it arrived in the UK and the approximate cost was factored into the sale price.

:thumb:

(I think I'll do separate posts until up to date or at least combine some into a single post).

beambeam1

Original Poster:

260 posts

7 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Managed to cover a couple hundred miles in the first weekend and was really quite happy with it. I had no chance to clean it yet but I did quickly order some new gas struts to replace the ageing units that were struggling to lift the boot lid.





One of the easier maintenance jobs I've ever had to do on a car. Just prise off these clips above, dunt the top and bottom and they pop off! I found a useful YouTube guide beforehand and they waxed lyrical about OEM spec stabilus items, providing an affiliation link in the description which takes you to Amazon. Sadly, I didn't bother to check before and it was not the same items in the video being linked to... fitted and working now but lacking that touch of refinement which genuine BMW items excude. I also dug out the rubber floor mats I retained from the previous E91m sprucing them up somewhat prior to fitting:





I used a cheap hose brush normally reserved for my mountain bike to scrub them clean and shift the bulk of crud that had built. Once they dried outdoors I brought them in for some further cleaning and dressing using AutoGlym vinyl and rubber care they turned out alright!



It wasn't long before I swapped out the chrome grilles/bonnet trim to black ones, wiping down and cleaning normally unseen areas as I went along. There were also from my previous E91 and although genuine BMW items I wasn't sure until fitting them if I was going to like the contrast with a silver car. Pretty pleased overall, I think it sharpens up the front end a little bit and matches the black mirror base plates and roof rails nicely.





I only have one key for the car and have been noticing varying success with distance and height of hands when remote locking/unlocking the car. I think either the diversity antenna located beneath the rear spoiler or some of the wires in the boot lid hinge areas may need attention.



Been through this before with the last E91 and it's unlikely to be the diversity module or antenna since my radio signals are pretty good. With frequent use of the boot, the hinge wiring harness is a common problem with tourings (as pictured above) and I think I will deal with this as a preventative measure soon. I have found some helpful guides on how to remove the rubber tubing and grommets without cutting into them and making a pig's ear off it.

Talking of wiring... has anyone heard of Pioneer Carrozzeria? Stickered along the top of my windscreen are what look like thin wires for DAB and GPS as well as various modules down the pillars. I also have a remote and together it all corresponds to some type of pop out screen head unit from when the car resided in Japan. It's difficult to find much information or serial numbers to replace the head unit which I assume was removed prior to export so I think I will seek to remove all of this one day. The car also has a Clifford alarm installed and the remote is there too so if I can find a manual I'll look into using this as a backup should my wiring/antenna fail unexpected. The current BMW Professional head unit has some dead pixels on the display also so I may have a stab at repairing that if I can finesse my soldering skills!


beambeam1

Original Poster:

260 posts

7 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
As mentioned in the last post, I may be right about suspected wiring issues. Towards the end of October 2020, I had the dog in and out of the car one weekend with various walks away from our usual spots and an intermittent light fault started throwing up on the dash before clearing itself again. Holding in the the OBC button displayed 'CC-ID 123 – Rear Light Right Failure' which originates from exactly where I thought my issues may be so made a note to tackle that ASAP.

Managed to finally spruce the car up with a wash around this time too. Pre-washed with Autoglym's pressure wash through a snowfoam lance twice over, rinsing off in-between:



A decent reaction from Autoglym Magma when sprayed across the wheels before second pre-wash dose:



Then a 2BM wash using Sonax "ocean fresh" car shampoo that I was getting to the end of. I like it but I'm sure there are better products for me out there:



Overall, I was really pleased with the condition of the car now that I'd gone over it whilst cleaning. I had a few errands to run and promised to wash my neighbour's car with him (colleague and a mate, as grim as it sounds haha) so ran out of time for much more during this session. The plan was to get back on it on a clear day with some new products from EZ's halloween sale. Tyres came up a treat and altering cleaning/dressing them though.

V5 finally arrived too allowing me to transfer my private plate. I wanted to fit a colour coded BMW number plate plinth I found on eBay first. The part needed a clean up but was going to look better than the plates that had been drilled into the front bumper as you will see in previous photos. Here's an image of the front without plates and the bumper tidied up, the drill holes for old plates are just about visible.



Frustratingly, there are two sets of holes but I was hoping that the BMW part would cover those areas, sitting flushly in place like this image I've pulled from a google image search:



I should be so lucky. Really annoyed by this as it's just carelessness but I guess they had no reference point or pre-existing plinth to use due to differences in Japanese plate size or placement.



As you can see, the holes remain on show if this part is fitted. I was reluctant to drill more holes and fit this part so decided to just fit my pressed plates in a good enough position for now. The boot has gone through a similar mishap even though BMW provide pre-drilled holes!



Private plate fitted. The wife's previous initials but she'll always be known as SOG to many so it's a keeper. Here's a shot of the previoust mentioned BMW rubber mats fitted too alongside a BMW flare clipped inside the passenger footwell! Turns out it is a legal requirement for Japanese car ownership.



Oh, and I managed to track down some mini discs to see if the OEM head unit worked. It does! When did you a) last see or use one and b) ever see an actual BMW one?! There are some dead pixels in the display that need sorting but I think I'll leave it fitted and get around to fitting my parrot kit again for audio streaming. Makes for a relatively neater and OEM look.



beambeam1

Original Poster:

260 posts

7 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Taking us into November 2020 now. I've made a few past/present tense changes in the posts but apologies for any confusion if I've missed some thus far!

Nice photo before I gave away the onboard bike!



With all my previous wiring/electric issues at the rear my default setting when I had a dodgy light at the back of the new steed was to chop into the wiring and fix. I had a few quiet evenings at work last week so decided to practice some soldering and fix up 12v fuse wiring required for the parrot kit I'm trying to fit. The Halfords item was too short so needed extending.





These are great little things for a ham-fisted git like myself and for those that have used them before you simply tidy up the wire ends, feed them through the tube and heat the ring of solder in the middle to create the desired connection. Easy!

Anyway, emboldened by my successful run-through I was assembling the bits needed to start working away on the boot hinge harness when I happened across a little spare bulb kit I always stow away in my car kit. Before I hacked away at anything I quickly unclipped the trims and bulb holders, swapping them round. Sure enough, it was the bulb that had blown. Felt a bit daft but the relief at not having to hack away at the wiring for now soon outweighed that. Just shows you sometimes need to step back and realise solutions can be simple and right in front of you! Sadly, I still haven't managed to get the Parrot kit up and running so will revisit that at a later date.

Wiring crisis averted I turned my attention to replacing a bit of missing trim on the windscreen washers. It's nothing major but I replaced and lost the same items on my last car it kept catching my eye whenever I crossed the front of the car. I was going to leave it but for only a few quid posted for a genuine item thought better of it. I realised this time that it takes a little force before it properly 'clicks' into position, sorted.







As previously mentioned I bought the car knowing that as a japanese import it would require some rustproofing/undersealing and ideally I'll get this done before winter really kicks in. The approximate cost of this was factored into the purchase price but I'm really pleased that preliminary quotes from a place that has been recommended to me several times is quite close to that figure. Furthermore, the work is far more extensive than I had understood but they provide a photographic documentation which I will hopefully share here when completed. I think it's worth paying out a little extra for that to help maintain the vehicle history should I ever sell it on.



Aside from a few random flat battery incidents, I enjoyed 1000 trouble free miles in the car between during this initial period so far and was thoroughly pleased with it. I gave it a quick wash about 400-500 miles ago but it wasn't looking too bad when I went over it again:





Rinsed it off gently first with the hozelock spray gun on shower setting before giving the window trims and other typical areas a skoosh of EZ citrus wash, agitating with a cheap Amazon detailing brush as I went along.



I haven't used this type of product in my pre-wash routine before but it made an easy job of shifting bug splatter from the front bumper and number plate so a thumbs up from me thus far. After a quick rinse with the pressure washer I then went round the wheels with some fallout remover, using up the last of a bottle of Autoglym Magma.





This is my third bottle of Magma and I must confess I liked it mostly due to the quite satisfying bleeding effect. So much so that it had me convinced I was doing a good job in the past when I simply sprayed then rinsed it off... Thankfully, I watched the detailing world YouTube review of fallout products recently and saw the error of my ways! This time I left the product to dwell a few moments before agitating and cleaning the wheel face throughly with a wheel brush. (Definitely need some better brushes for this job). What a difference. I gave the tyres a quick scrub too aided by EZ citrus wash again. Next time I hope to achieve a proper wheels off job of it, applying poorboys wheel sealant that I have too..

Rinsed the whole car off using the pressure washer then set about the car using EZ Sub Zero snowfoam. To be honest, I wasn't impressed with the foaming effect and it seemed to run off the car quickly. I went over the car again increasing the amount of product by 30% but I wasn't seeing any better performance than that re: foam. The snowfoam lance seems to run through product much faster than previously experienced with the likes of Autoglym Polar Blast, strange.



For the second application I actually added a capful of citrus wash as recommended on the bottle... the car seemed pretty clean afterwards but I'm not in the habit nor feel qualified to really assess the cleaning performance here. It did seem to shift a lot of the lower level grime but my previous car was black and I'm sensing silver paint can hide a multitude of sins compared to black so it's difficult to compare! I think it's wise to consider that as a lower level detailer I'm possibly bowled over easily with the snowfoam effect rather than actual cleaning performance! (Don't be fooled by the fact I've held an account here for over a decade, I'm a long time lurker!)



After rinsing off thoroughly I then set about the car with two buckets, a wash mitt and the last of some Sonax auto shampoo I've been using this year. It's been alright but looking forward to trying a new product once it's finished. I was fast running out of daylight here but was anxious to at least get one wash carried out on the car before I attacked it for a following decontamination, polishing and waxing session.

As I finished up I took the opportunity to clear out the contents of the car, removing various items of clothing, dog leads and crap I tend to hoard inside it. It needed a hoover but other than that it wasn't in a bad state so minimal work for now. Caught this final image of how she stands as I left her for the night, GoPro's night time mode works really well and I am quite pleased with how well the wheels look especially.



Got back on it the following afternoon. Not as many photos this session because I was conscious of time and losing sunlight.

Started off going around the car attacking any spots of tar with EZ Glue & Tar remover which worked but some spots were only tiny and took a couple of concentrated passes before clearing up. Rinsed off everything then went around the whole car with EX Reset but quite well diluted as I don't think there was much protection barring the polishing the previous owner carried out before selling. Reset was quite easy to use, foamed up nicely when used with a damp mitt. Quick shampoo wash of the car again and rinsed off.





During all the preparation for polish/wax I found two areas that require attention. The sill trim is quite easily replaced so will order one shortly but the weird mark is possibly due to duct tape. The previous owner had suffered a smashed sunroof when a lorry kicked up a stone so I'm guessing duct tape was used to cover the area before he got to a garage.



On to polishing with the auld faithful, Autoglym SRP. I'm loathe to buy anything else when I have such a large bottle but I think I've only ever used this stuff across all my cars! Once buffed off I then applied a layer of EZ ceramic wax extreme. Caught this in a sale for a tenner and it goes on/off easily but this is my first experience of ceramic products so I wonder how ceramic it can really be at that price point. The proof of the pudding will be in the tasting with frequent washes incoming.

Looked great after polishing:





Looked fantastic after waxing:





Only managed to grab a handful of photos with the iPhone before I had to run a few errands and walk the dog but I was thoroughly pleased with how it turned out. Due to the silver paint and fading light it was difficult to ensure maximum coverage with the wax so I may well apply another coat, just to be sure. Ordered some more double sided tape too because that front plate is annoying me...

Edited by beambeam1 on Thursday 10th December 02:55


Edited by beambeam1 on Friday 11th December 02:40

beambeam1

Original Poster:

260 posts

7 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
December 2020! So, time for some recent updates from the last week to bring this thread bang up to date. I'd stick a brew on first as it has the potential to be a bit text/pic heavy... but first, enjoy a wee bit beading off the back of last month's cleaning session:



First of all, couple of cosmetic things tidied up. The M Sport sill trims on driver's side of the car were broken in areas but good condition replacements were easy to come by. Here's how they looked beforehand, the plastic retaining clips are fiddly little bits that have a habit of flying off and disappearing into the depths of nowhere so best to have some spares handy. Thankfully the seller included most of them with the trims.



I also bought some simple numberplate holders off eBay to help address the untidy front end with all the additional and unnecessary screw holes. Easy to fit and can line them up easily with the OEM holes provided so I know they are straight. Need to correct the front a bit more still.





I still haven't managed to get the bluetooth parrot kit up and running but in the pursuit of some tunes/call options I decided to revisit the AUX facility. I never liked it in my previous touring as it was never loud enough for me when listening to podcasts. Small matter as I was born with moderate to severe hearing loss and have worn hearing aids all my life. I was browsing random threads about the E9X 3 Series and found someone talking about setting the AUX volume correctly and had a go myself.



Gamechanger. Within the AUX menu on the head unit is a volume adjuster setting that you can activate. Works great and the call quality is perfectly fine too so I'm well pleased with that as I hammer through some Audibles I've fallen behind on during commutes. It's the little things...

So, a handful of minor touches to the car to improve it. Grab a biscuit for that cup of tea and enjoy the next part.

On the very odd occasion during the first month or so of ownership, I encountered starting issues. Basically, the car would fire up and I'd drive away. However, no sooner had I dropped off my drive and turned down the street when the car would stall and refuse to start again. I'm talking total loss of power, no lights, nothing meaning I would coast 20-40 yards in front of my neighbours drive and have to jump start the car. It always ran well after this and didn't happen again for another fortnight... then weekly... then every few days... then all the time.

I contacted the previous owner and he informed me the battery was only a year old and provided receipts in case I needed to cash in the Halfords warranty for it. I charged the battery and even swapped it with a recent spare from my Mum and Dad's X3, no improvement. I remembered that a friend gave me his old laptop with BMW software on it after he sold his Z4M roadster so I had a play with that and found the following diagnostic codes:



2E77 Ignition, Votage Supply.



Not knowing what could be the issue behind this and finding very little useful information across various BMW forums I did what any eejit with no clue can do. I cleared the codes with that weird sense of optimism that doing so would cull my electric gremlins. Yeeeeaaahh... that didn't work.

Time to have a look.



Down the passenger side of the engine are parts I know all too well having dealt with failed DISA valves on my old touring which had the same engine. Removing the airbox showed me a weird oil residue on the underside of it which I was able to understand was due to the oil filter housing gasket and oil cooler gasket failure failing. (Replacement gaskets have been ordered alongside new filter and fresh oil).



Since I was poking around down there I pulled the first DISA valve out as it is easily accessible. I was pleased to discover it was fine as it is a £250 part.



The green edges are a sort of membrane that help form a seal when the flap closes. These can fray/split over time but the flap can also fail and get sucked into the intake if they break... worth checking if you're ever poking around that side of the engine investigating maf or throttle body issues.

The investigation continues...



On removing the engine cover it was clear that the gasket for the oil filler cap has failed. Mental note to address that soon.



I decided to check all the ignition coils and subsequently, the spark plugs. The coils looked fine and I knew from the previous owner that No.5 had been replaced within the last year alongside all 6 spark plugs. However, ignition chambers 3 and 4 looked like they had a little oil inside them. Difficult to take a clear picture of this at the time so I'll show you the spark plugs instead. The image of them all in a row is after I had given them a quick wipe.





Not good. This sort of oil residue, backed up by feverish forum searching, convinced me that the valve cover gasket was failing and needing sorting out before the oil leaking gave me further headaches with the car. All necessary part and gasket part numbers acquired ahead of pay day and a dreaded phone call to BMW.

It seems uncanny that the oil filter gaskets and the valve cover gasket has gone around the same time but perhaps it is just bad luck. It can't have been happening for too long as I've not had to top up the oil and the oil misting evident on the underside of the bonnet was not there when I purchased the car. Anyway, I bolted everything back up but still none the wiser about what was really wrong and what '2E77 Ignition, Votage Supply' meant for the car and my wallet.





I drove to work that night and in the morning could not get the car to start at all. It was time to call the AA for roadside assistance and ultimately, a tow home. Sadly, in the process of getting me backed up on to the drive some damage to my front bumper was caused. I was fizzing but on the back of a night shift and frustrated by car troubles I just held my cool and said I'd make a claim for it through the AA. The AA guy took images for his report and I did file a claim but it has been two weeks almost and I haven't heard anything barring a missed call/voicemail.



A costly follow up to come in the next post regarding the starting trouble!

beambeam1

Original Poster:

260 posts

7 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
So, where were we?



Ah yes, tackling '2E77 Ignition, Votage Supply' that resulted in me being towed home by the AA. Whilst the AA guy tackled the car it became apparent that the source of the issue was from the plethora of fuses and relays in the fuse box situated in the engine bay, as pictured above. He checked several fuses and relays but after 90 minutes gave up and relayed me to my choice of garage or home. I contacted a garage that specialises in BMW's first but they couldn't squeeze me in until the end of December. However, upon hearing that it was electrical/diagnostic work required they recommended a fella who happened to operate only a couple of miles from my address so I booked in with him for the following Monday and left the car parked up at home until then.

http://www.gfmdiagnostics.co.uk - absolutely delighted with the service. GFD is a proper nice chap who certainly knows what he is doing. By the end of Monday he had belled me up explaining that the ECU (aka the DME) had been waterlogged and needed replaced. He had already priced up a replacement but supplied me with part numbers knowing I'd want to hunt for a cheaper option.



Here's the offending item. It slots into the aforementioned fuse/relay box like a slice of toast which explains the water damage on the lower portion. The diagnostics fella said there was visible water at the bottom of the box containing all the fuses and relays but when he removed this unit loads of water came trickling out from inside it. Not good. Even worse was finding out that BMW would like approximately £1100 for a replacement.

Thankfully, I found a newly listed secondhand unit unit on eBay for for £180 and paid about the same again for my old one to be copied and cloned to this new unit by GFD. This involves all sorts of electronic trickery such as altering VIN and mileage information on the replacement unit but I am delighted to report that it all worked a treat. The eBay seller was an absolute gent and accommodated me by posting it via next day special delivery.

Here's the replacement against the waterlogged item:





The car has had no issues in this department since I got it back and I am delighted to have all-in paid say a third of the price BMW want for a new unit and that isn't factoring in labour costs for fitting and coding... I dread to think. Other options from a reputable independent in London was £550 for a refurbished unit which would still require fitting and coding by GDF!

I'm delighted to have resolved this fairly cheaply in the end and with the car back before the weekend, I was able to fetch my latest treat to myself with the money saved. An additional Halfords Advanced tool chest to go on top of my roll cab!



So, that brings us on approach to this weekend past. I got the car back on Friday morning but if you live in the central belt of Scotland you will know all about the atrocious snow/sleet/rain situation we had for a few days. Mindful that I had other issues to attend to and that I hadn't resolved the water issues damaging the previous ECU/DME unit, I arranged to use my brother's unit to work on the car under shelter for Saturday before the water issues cropped up again.

The plan for this session was to trace and tackle the water issues affecting the DME, replace the valve cover gasket, oil filter housing gasket and the oil cooler gasket. It was going to be a long shift and I popped round for 4pm armed with coffee and disappointing SCO v IRE rugby results.



Can you tell my brother is a welder? This fact comes in very handy later...

Knowing we had plenty to do I got stuck into removing various panels and bits to provide as much space in the engine bay as possible whilst my brother finished up a couple of welding jobs. Knowing I was in for the long haul I fired up Audible and took my time cleaning all the bits I removed as I went along.



So here's a top down view of the fuse box which the ECU/DME resides in:



Worryingly, I could see a significant amount of water had pooled up inside the box already following the heavy rain only 48 hours prior. I didn't want to move too much too soon but set about removing as much water as possible with the hose and trigger from a spare spray bottle I had in the car.



I thought this was quite clever! It took a solid 10 minutes of pumping to remove most of the water I could reach which helped me realise that there was even more water elsewhere in this area that was compounding the problem. Once I felt I had removed all the water I could I felt confident enough to lift and remove all the components safely.



Hopefully you can see in this next image the water remaining after I had removed approximately a litre of water from the fuse box already. You can see a sort of tide mark up the sides and the clean squiggle lines are from where the hose of my trigger was striking the bottom during the removal process. I have also circled what appeared to be a drain hole for the fuse box which was clearly not draining...



With plenty of space to operate, it was time to remove and investigate further. As with everything else, this was going to be cleaned thoroughly before reinstallation. This is the underside of the fuse box in the following images:





A sort of plastic grommet clips into this drain hole, look at the state of it!



It took me a lot longer than I'd like to admit to clean this out but assisted with my trusty pick, I well and truly gutted out all the crap and clipped it back in. I don't anticipate any more issues with this now but I'll be paying close attention in future, regardless! Looking clean when I reinstalled it towards the end of this garage session though!



However, that wasn't the end of my issues with water here! The fuse box resides in a cavity behind the front passenger wheel arch/suspension turret:



Upon removal I discovered another alarming amount of water. I've tried to use a bit of blue roll to indicate the volume here:



The small white plastic bit is just the filter from the end of the hose of the spray bottle trigger I had been using to remove water but just check out the amount of crap down there clearly blocking wherever the water is meant to drain from. At this stage I knew exactly where it was all coming from just not where the blockage was.



The above is an image of the drainage channels/gutters below the corner of the windscreen that we all often find leaves and other types of detritus in. The mesh cover had previously been found full of crap but the secondary channels that lead down into the fuse box and the area underneath were just full of what can only be described at this stage as organic sludge. Again, as with everything removed, this was all cleaned inside and out prior to refitting to prevent similar issues in the future.

It took a fair amount of water removal, wonder wipes and blue roll to clean this cavity beneath the box and figure out why water wasn't draining. I couldn't see any obviously plastic grommets, even ones that were missing but in the process of scraping out very fine areas of sludge with some wire I discovered a very slim channel - as indicated by said wire in the next image:



That's it. That's bloody it. censored My brother handed me another piece of wire about 1.5m long and with significant poking and scraping I was able to clear the channel completely, eventually poking through until I was tapping the engine undertray below the car. What a relief but also, what a disappointment. The channel must only be 2-3mm wide and 40-50mm long which makes it easy to understand how over time blockages can occur. In my opinion, this is poor design by BMW.



With that issue finally resolved and thorough measures of preventative cleaning carried out I set about reinstalling the fuse box and associated fuses, relays and the ECU/DME unit. This was a tad premature as I would need to shift some of this again whilst tackling the second job of the session which was the valve cover gasket.

Time to whip out my other Halfords Advanced purchase! This is actually my mate's kit that I purchased with a trade card for him but having transferred my kit to the roll cab and chest I had no option but to plunder his! :lol:



For the very amateur mechanic like myself, these things are worth their weight in gold!

So, on to replacing the valve cover gasket after discovering some oil in the ignition coil chambers of cylinder 3 and 4 previously. This is probably the most complex task I've ever undertaken on a car and I was glad for my brother's assistance at this stage as there was a lot of issues to navigate. The car is so bloody low for starters so we had to take it in turns bending over and working on it to give our backs some relief!



For the most part I relied on this useful guide: How To Replace The Valve Cover Gasket On A BMW N51/N52N (328i, X3, X5, & More)

This took us several hours with plenty of breaks and deliberation. We didn't actually put everything back together and get away until 5.30am. As such I didn't take too many photos along the way of things like the replacement parts and so on but I'm extremely satisfied and chuffed to have carried this job out with success.

It basically requires the removal of various covers and panels to get to the valve cover which is when you unscrew all the bolts holding it in place. There was visible leakage around some areas which indicated clearly this job was required. It was also clear that at some point in time someone has been carrying out work in this department as we found one bolt at the rear of the engine was barely hand tight whilst another bolt was found to be previously over-torqued and sheared completely. As seen when held up against a new bolt...



Nonetheless, we plodded on until we ran into difficulties removing the valvetronic motor located on the top of the valve cover. You need a 4mm hex key/socket to unwind the motor whilst you undo three tore bolts situated at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock if you were looking at it side on. The bolt underneath, in the 6 o'clock position is very difficult to get at and we found that the torx socket piece we were using had too large a profile, preventing adequate access to the bolt in question. In steps my useful brother, remember when I said he was a welder... smile

First of all, he grabbed a similar socket piece from his own toolkit and welded it to his workbench to hold it in situ:





Then it was out with the grinder to the socket piece in half and utilise the thinner portion:



This was then welded on to a spare extension bar before being ground down further to reduce the profile and provide us with the tool we needed to finish removing the valvetronic motor!



Bear in mind that it was about 1am Sunday morning so we couldn't nip out to Halfords or similar for this...



Removing the valve cover after this stage was an absolute pig and we twisted up the old gasket during the process. In the following image you will see some hazards such as the ignition wiring is present. We set about disconnecting and clearing all of this out the way before fitting the new gasket. With it being so tricky to remove we were under no illusion that reinstallation of the cover would be easy. We only had one gasket set to hand so I'm glad we took the time to properly disconnect and shift everything (which is beyond the instructions provided in the link previously) to avoid damaging it.



With it pushing past a 12 hour session in the workshop and the temperature dropping outside we decided to call it a day once the valve cover and everything was reinstalled. Unfortunately, we snapped a head bolt when my torque wrench failed so I need to get an extractor set and sort that out ASAP. I'm planning on tackling this soon alongside the oil filter housing and cooler gaskets that we didn't get around to.

Overall, I'm really really pleased to have gotten through this batch of issues/work and achieved successful outcomes. I'm not afraid to admit at the onset of all this I felt like a gallon of petrol and a zippo were my best solutions but I'm glad I persevered. The previous owner saw a couple of instagram posts I had made whilst documenting what I was up to and reached out to me. On the day of sale he thought the car had a starting issue. We've determined that this was likely very early signs of the waterlogged ECU/DME failing and he has very kindly insisted that he will pay for the replacement. This is very kind of him and I'm blown away by the gesture. It really has made the whole process feel that little bit more satisfactory and worthwhile. I didn't for one second think he had knowingly sold the car with issues but it's great to encounter a genuine and honest seller in a world of colourful private car sales.





With all that said, my Sunday was spent sleeping then treating myself to a cracking breakfast and even tastier beer! Well deserved I would say!

Thanks for reading if you managed to get this far. :thumb:

Edited by beambeam1 on Thursday 10th December 03:10

d_a_n1979

2,651 posts

36 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
What a great project and write-up; nice to see another Jap BMW touring on these pages (I'be got an E39 530i touring from Japan FYI) wink

Mine, fortunately, hasn't had any niggles like yours, mines just been more of a full suspension, braking system overhauls and various bits of TLC along the way smile

Re the Pioneer stuff; mine had all that crap fitted; it's useless here in the UK, so it all got ripped out and I fitted a Grom Audio BT3 Bluetooth kit to my car that does away with the CD changer (plugs into the wiring) and gives full Bluetooth hands-0free and A2DP playback.

Mine also had a crappy Clifford alarm system fitted to it; that got ripped out also by my auto-sparky pal for the price of a crate of decent ale smile

The electric issues remind me of the MG ZT/ZT-T niggles they have with the bulk head filling with water and drowning the ECU! They were built at the time of the BMW ownership; you'd have thought/hoped they'd have learned from those mistakes.

The cavity would fill with water and the drain tube, which was a crappy rubber style one, would get filled with cack and then block and then the cavity would fill with litres of water! Easy enough to fix, but no good if it's too late and the ECU has gone for a swim!

Looking forward to more updates smile

tobinen

7,579 posts

109 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Great write-up and top spannering. That BMW (lack of) drainage idea is very poor.

stichill99

548 posts

145 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Really interesting and enjoyable write up. I will add GMF diagnostics into my diary for the future if needed as not too far away from Edinburgh!

Coin-Slot

729 posts

7 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Good read, and as above, how difficult is it come up with a better drainage system?!

pmorg4

114 posts

80 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Great write-up, bookmarked smile

Having recently picked up an E91 330i manual with N52 engine, there are some great tips in here.

Yours is much better specced than mine, which has halogens, manual leather non-heated seats, although it does have professional nav (which I don't care much for, but it can be replaced with an Apple CarPlay compatible unit). I really wish mine had bi-xenons, but even on the 330i they are surprisingly uncommon despite only being a £400 option - yet people are happy to pay well over £1000 each for leather and nav rolleyes. Generally I think the alcantara cloth seats on yours are preferable to leather, although with a young family I'm sure I'll be thankful for leather's wipe-clean ability.

Is it just me or is the hinged oil cap on the N52 much more difficult to open than the old style twist-off that the M54 in the E46 had? Mine seems to have a real reluctance to turn. I might try to replace it with an older twist-off type, as it looks like the same fitment. It's not like I've ever lost an oil cap so I don't see any benefit in the hinged cap.

RS Grant

1,173 posts

197 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Nice car, good progress and a great write up.

I've got an E91 and a friend of mine with an E91 335d has just (in the last couple of days) had to fork out for a new ECU after his was drowned, so checking mine has rocketed to the top of the priority list this weekend. I keep an eye on the wee plastic mesh parts and clean that top area out regularly but I'm worried about what might be underneath that now.

pmorg4

114 posts

80 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Just reading back through the post properly (it was a skim read earlier) I'm surprised at how challenging the valve cover gasket replacement is on the N52. I replaced mine on my E46 330 (M54 engine) and it was probably about an hour worth of work, with no instructions required, all pretty self explanatory really. The hardest part of the job was getting the old gasket off as it had solidified into the cover and disintegrated during removal.

I appreciate that the N52 has valvetronic to deal with, but even that aside the whole job seems to have become much more difficult than it was on the M54. I previously thought to myself that this is an easy afternoon job should mine require it (and it seems that all 6-pot BMWs need this gasket changed sooner or later) but now I'm not so sure!

Barchettaman

4,265 posts

96 months

Thursday 10th December 2020
quotequote all
Great work there - what a slog.

Bizarrely enough I still use MiniDisc, all the time in fact, for work (I make study discs to learn operatic roles). They’re really handy.

beambeam1

Original Poster:

260 posts

7 months

Friday 11th December 2020
quotequote all
d_a_n1979 said:
What a great project and write-up; nice to see another Jap BMW touring on these pages (I'be got an E39 530i touring from Japan FYI) wink

Mine, fortunately, hasn't had any niggles like yours, mines just been more of a full suspension, braking system overhauls and various bits of TLC along the way smile

I'm actually well aware of your thread, really enjoyed it thus far and especially wanted to ask you how you got on with this oil catcher for oil changes. I've got one too but wary of using it.



d_a_n1979 said:
Re the Pioneer stuff; mine had all that crap fitted; it's useless here in the UK, so it all got ripped out and I fitted a Grom Audio BT3 Bluetooth kit to my car that does away with the CD changer (plugs into the wiring) and gives full Bluetooth hands-0free and A2DP playback.

Mine also had a crappy Clifford alarm system fitted to it; that got ripped out also by my auto-sparky pal for the price of a crate of decent ale smile

Yeah, I've since learned very little extra about the Pioneer except that it is redundant for use in the UK. I'd like to remove it and the alarm but the whole lot has been very nicely wired in and taped up that I have no confidence in distinguishing OEM v aftermarket wiring!

d_a_n1979 said:
The electric issues remind me of the MG ZT/ZT-T niggles they have with the bulk head filling with water and drowning the ECU! They were built at the time of the BMW ownership; you'd have thought/hoped they'd have learned from those mistakes.

The cavity would fill with water and the drain tube, which was a crappy rubber style one, would get filled with cack and then block and then the cavity would fill with litres of water! Easy enough to fix, but no good if it's too late and the ECU has gone for a swim!

With my previous E91 I always spotted this small pool of water at the driver's side of the car when parking up at work (I have the CCTV aimed at it) but I never had this with the new E91... always wondered what was leaking. The other night after parking up at work I poured a small amount of water down the channel and sure enough a small trickle made it's way out from under the car on the driver's side! At least I know it is working for sure now!

Coin-Slot said:
Good read, and as above, how difficult is it come up with a better drainage system?!
tobinen said:
Great write-up and top spannering. That BMW (lack of) drainage idea is very poor.
Thanks, both, I'm not the handiest but in the last couple of years I've gotten better when armed with time, tools, forum wisdom and youtube guides. Agreed, such a very thin channel or gully just doesn't seem appropriate for drainage... especially in Scotland!

pmorg4 said:
Is it just me or is the hinged oil cap on the N52 much more difficult to open than the old style twist-off that the M54 in the E46 had? Mine seems to have a real reluctance to turn. I might try to replace it with an older twist-off type, as it looks like the same fitment. It's not like I've ever lost an oil cap so I don't see any benefit in the hinged cap.
It is definitely more awkward to operate, my last E91 felt like it was locked on tight which was a pain as it called for a litre every 1200 miles. I was looking up the gasket for this area and think they may have an updated version much like you describe instead of the hinged version. If I do find out for sure I'll be sure to get it and update with part numbers in this thread.

RS Grant said:
Nice car, good progress and a great write up.

I've got an E91 and a friend of mine with an E91 335d has just (in the last couple of days) had to fork out for a new ECU after his was drowned, so checking mine has rocketed to the top of the priority list this weekend. I keep an eye on the wee plastic mesh parts and clean that top area out regularly but I'm worried about what might be underneath that now.
It's worthwhile checking, for sure. The simplest way would be to use a spray bottle trigger and tube from inside said bottle like I did and see if there is anything to pump out. I do believe now with a decent bit of wire I could reach that drainage channel without removing everything but it really isn't that complicated to remove and check properly. I find a lot of the clips and fixtures in the engine area to be robust so don't hold back if you feel something won't give up.

stichill99 said:
Really interesting and enjoyable write up. I will add GMF diagnostics into my diary for the future if needed as not too far away from Edinburgh!
Genuinely seems a good guy and definitely knows what he is doing. It's a small unit operation behind some houses where he seems to work away in peace. If you ever find the need for him and can't get a hold of him on the phone then it's likely because he is stuck down his pit under the car and isn't for dropping tools and climbing out just to answer it!

pmorg4 said:
Just reading back through the post properly (it was a skim read earlier) I'm surprised at how challenging the valve cover gasket replacement is on the N52. I replaced mine on my E46 330 (M54 engine) and it was probably about an hour worth of work, with no instructions required, all pretty self explanatory really. The hardest part of the job was getting the old gasket off as it had solidified into the cover and disintegrated during removal.

I appreciate that the N52 has valvetronic to deal with, but even that aside the whole job seems to have become much more difficult than it was on the M54. I previously thought to myself that this is an easy afternoon job should mine require it (and it seems that all 6-pot BMWs need this gasket changed sooner or later) but now I'm not so sure!
Looking back on the job, it isn't THAT difficult but I tend to be methodical and take my sweet, sweet time which drags things out a bit. There are quite a few items to be removed or disconnected and moved out the way otherwise you run into some clearance issues. The valvetronic is a tricky item and definitely best tackled with a second pair of hands. The guide I used and linked to could do with some additional information if you ask me. Prior to reinstalling the valve cover we disconnected the ignition coil harnesses, ground wires and some other cables which allowed us much more room and freedom. Without that I don't really see how you can reinstall the cover without damaging/fouling the gasket you have just fitted.

Barchettaman said:
Great work there - what a slog.

Bizarrely enough I still use MiniDisc, all the time in fact, for work (I make study discs to learn operatic roles). They’re really handy.
Interesting! I'm very fond of the unit there which is why I think I'll make a point of getting around to fixing the dead pixel situation. What is your setup for recording to MiniDisc then? I used to have a portable MiniDisc recording player for recording university lectures years ago. Sold it a few years ago which is a shame as I wouldn't mind recording a few DJ sets from YouTube to them and keeping them in the car. If you wouldn't mind sorting me out with some if I covered the cost of the MiniDiscs and some beer tokens, do let me know!

It's mad. I was looking up the MiniDisc history when I got the car and found out that this sort of tech was announced in the early 1980s. The popularity for it stemmed from significantly improved anti-skipping as the audio files could buffer for approximately 40 seconds. Wife's cousin is married to a DJ who chucked some old mixes my way. I blessed him with some firewood in return and some cracking chat about N52 engines since he has a Z4.

Thanks for all the positives responses folks!

d_a_n1979

2,651 posts

36 months

Friday 11th December 2020
quotequote all
beambeam1 said:
d_a_n1979 said:
What a great project and write-up; nice to see another Jap BMW touring on these pages (I'be got an E39 530i touring from Japan FYI) wink

Mine, fortunately, hasn't had any niggles like yours, mines just been more of a full suspension, braking system overhauls and various bits of TLC along the way smile

I'm actually well aware of your thread, really enjoyed it thus far and especially wanted to ask you how you got on with this oil catcher for oil changes. I've got one too but wary of using it.



d_a_n1979 said:
Re the Pioneer stuff; mine had all that crap fitted; it's useless here in the UK, so it all got ripped out and I fitted a Grom Audio BT3 Bluetooth kit to my car that does away with the CD changer (plugs into the wiring) and gives full Bluetooth hands-0free and A2DP playback.

Mine also had a crappy Clifford alarm system fitted to it; that got ripped out also by my auto-sparky pal for the price of a crate of decent ale smile

Yeah, I've since learned very little extra about the Pioneer except that it is redundant for use in the UK. I'd like to remove it and the alarm but the whole lot has been very nicely wired in and taped up that I have no confidence in distinguishing OEM v aftermarket wiring!

d_a_n1979 said:
The electric issues remind me of the MG ZT/ZT-T niggles they have with the bulk head filling with water and drowning the ECU! They were built at the time of the BMW ownership; you'd have thought/hoped they'd have learned from those mistakes.

The cavity would fill with water and the drain tube, which was a crappy rubber style one, would get filled with cack and then block and then the cavity would fill with litres of water! Easy enough to fix, but no good if it's too late and the ECU has gone for a swim!

With my previous E91 I always spotted this small pool of water at the driver's side of the car when parking up at work (I have the CCTV aimed at it) but I never had this with the new E91... always wondered what was leaking. The other night after parking up at work I poured a small amount of water down the channel and sure enough a small trickle made it's way out from under the car on the driver's side! At least I know it is working for sure now!
Re the oil change equipment; get on with it very well. It works superbly with zero issues. I've done the drain that way and via the sump (on my pals ramp) and theres around 250ml difference all in, so that's good enough for me to not have to keep crawling under the car in the future, unless my cars in for work at my pals and on the ramp, and it needs an oil change etc

This is what I use:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealey-TP696-5-5ltr-Manua...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealey-DRP07-10ltr-Recycl...

You'll need the correct socket for the oil filter housing and whatever oil and filter you normally use (personally I use TripleQX 5W40 and Mann filters bought vai 'carparts4less' or 'gsfcarparts' on ebay), both a lot cheaper than ECP and that's even with the discount code. It's usually £35 for 10l oil and x2 Mann filters, delivered!

The catch can works well; I think it's the more careful you are, the cleaner the whole experience will be. Good to have decent brake cleaner on hand too wink

As I only do around 5k miles a year, sometimes not even that; I like to keep the oil fresh, so x2 changes a year and it costs me less than 1 tank of VPower!

As for the Pioneer & Clifford alarm, my auto-spark pal came and removed it all for me, took him around 30mins and left it looking very neat & tidy, OEM really... Said the alarm fitting wasn't a good job and it was very easy to trace the wiring and necessary connections. So I'd recommend that if you've a local auto-sparky you know smile

Edited by d_a_n1979 on Friday 11th December 13:58

pmorg4

114 posts

80 months

Friday 11th December 2020
quotequote all
d_a_n1979 said:
Re the oil change equipment; get on with it very well. It works superbly with zero issues. I've done the drain that way and via the sump (on my pals ramp) and theres around 250ml difference all in, so that's good enough for me to not have to keep crawling under the car in the future, unless my cars in for work at my pals and on the ramp, and it needs an oil change etc

This is what I use:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealey-TP696-5-5ltr-Manua...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealey-DRP07-10ltr-Recycl...
Shame BMW "forgot" to include a dipstick when building the N52 furious

d_a_n1979

2,651 posts

36 months

Friday 11th December 2020
quotequote all
pmorg4 said:
d_a_n1979 said:
Re the oil change equipment; get on with it very well. It works superbly with zero issues. I've done the drain that way and via the sump (on my pals ramp) and theres around 250ml difference all in, so that's good enough for me to not have to keep crawling under the car in the future, unless my cars in for work at my pals and on the ramp, and it needs an oil change etc

This is what I use:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealey-TP696-5-5ltr-Manua...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealey-DRP07-10ltr-Recycl...
Shame BMW "forgot" to include a dipstick when building the N52 furious
Ah; good call! Completely forgot that...

Court_S

4,400 posts

141 months

Friday 11th December 2020
quotequote all
Enjoyed reading that.

I’m a big fan of the E91 but struggled to find a good one when I was looking years ago. They were all absolute dogs. So I had to settle for an E90 330. It was a great car but the spec was a bit pants for a car that had been a dealer demonstrator originally with the lack of xnenos being the biggest omission.

d_a_n1979

2,651 posts

36 months

Friday 11th December 2020
quotequote all
Court_S said:
Enjoyed reading that.

I’m a big fan of the E91 but struggled to find a good one when I was looking years ago. They were all absolute dogs. So I had to settle for an E90 330. It was a great car but the spec was a bit pants for a car that had been a dealer demonstrator originally with the lack of xnenos being the biggest omission.
You're not the only one...

Before I bought my previous 730D I viewed a number of E61 530d/535d's and a few E91 330i and 335D tourings and they were all stheaps mad Obviously they were described as in excellent condition on the advert; as they always are rolleyes

I haven't seen many since TBH and would still consider a later version of one, if in budget

A great looking touring IMO