Thursday, December 24, 2009

Interior Trim Tool Kit for Christmas

I'm getting a few things for my car this Christmas and one thing I wanted to add to my toolbox is a decent set of interior trim removal tools. After some searching, I found a great set of 10 nylon pry tools from Eastwood. The kit is $39.99 plus tax and shipping is currently free. Looks like a good kit and I saw it mentioned on Bimmerpost from someone doing a full trim replacement on a 1-series.

To order the kit, go to Eastwood's site. It's a nice set for our cars and any future automotive projects. more.

LeatherZ Complete Gauge Kit

LeatherZ has released a relatively affordable gauge cluster kit for the E9x 3-series cars, including the E93 convertibles. The kit allows for 3 gauges to fit in place of where the ashtray currently is in the center console. Pricing is about 10-20% lower than other custom solutions I've seen and the cluster kit is configurable running from $305-$550 depending on which VDO gauges you choose.

There are a few recommendations from the supplier dependent on what kind of car you have:
E9x 328i - Oil Pressure, Oil Temperature and Voltmeter

E9x 335i (Stock) - 0-15PSI Boost, Oil Pressure and Water Temperature

E9x 335i (Modified) - 0-30 PSI Boost (Or Vacuum/Boost), Oil Pressure and Water Temperature

E9x 335i (Track Setup) - Pyrometer, Oil Pressure and Water Temperature
Installation takes from 4-6 hours and instructions come with the kit when ordered. I was disappointed the instructions are not available online. This would really help those of us considering buying the set who are DIY types to see what is involved.

This is definitely something I plan to do with my car in the next year or so. Hopefully someone on the boards will beat me to the task and post some instructions with photos. more.

Friday, November 20, 2009

BMWCCA Going Social

The BMW Car Club of America is extending their social reach with a new Facebook Fan Page and a more active Twitter account @BMWCCA. If you are not a BMWCCA Member, I highly recommend joining. The Roundel publication alone is reason enough to join as it has the best BMW owner, history and enthusiast content available. I've been a member for over 10 years and have loved every minute of it.

The Club also holds several driving performance and safety events. I wish my car was able to join the track events, but Club rules force me to have a roll cage which is a real shame as the requirement is quite extreme as compared to most track policies which only require rollbars and 5-point belts for convertibles. Oh well, it's still a great club and worth joining so do so today and at minimum join the Facebook and Twitter accounts to stay engaged.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2010 Facelift Images Show Minor Changes Coming

Car Magazine (UK) is reporting some coming changes for the next BMW E93 convertible. Several images hint at areas that may get some modification in what looks to be a minor-facelift.

Some changes appear to be modifications around LED usage on the front and rear lights, expect tiny LED bulbs galore like the Audi A5. LED lighting abuse is the new trend in automotive design.

Other changes could happen around the side skirts, lower rear bumper and front lower lip. All areas are hidden on the "mule" pictured by Car Magazine. I'm personally hoping for some new side skirts as I would love to see something a bit more sporty than the current M-Sport side skirts and not as aggressive as the M3 sides.

In-car Internet access and the improved iDrive changes are all part of the technology changes. BMW Blog is reporting that there is a lot of speculation about the new N55 engine replacing the current 335i N54 engine. more.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Service Manual Released Covering E93

Bentley Publishers has finally released a service manual for the 2006-2009 BMW 3-series models that covers the 335i and 328i convertibles. If you are not familiar with these books, you should be. Bentley makes some great books for the do it yourself mechanic.

If you are not so daring as taking on the projects yourself, the books are great for understanding what is being done to your car if you hire the work out. Also, I find these books to be a great resource to help diagnose problems and use for routine maintenance.

The price is a bit steep at $81.87 right now on, but at over 1,200 pages it sounds very comprehensive. more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One Owner Shares His Waterfall of Angst

Sometimes the ownership experience can be ruined by a engineering failure or design flaw or you happen to get the "lemon" of the bunch. Such is the case with one owner who is suffering a down pouring of dislike on his E93. He started a blog - called BimmerIssues - with one post to get the word out about his car's flooding issue that happens in heavy downpour or car wash.

I personally haven't had this issue. I will on occasion get a small amount of water coming through the corner where the top connects with the front windshield and the driver's window, but I've owned a couple convertibles and have always had some minor drips, but it's nothing like the video above.

It's always good understanding what issues can happen to best understand the car. So, I decided to post this person's experience if you want to know the other side of ownership that isn't all roses and balloons, like mine has been. more.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Garage419 Reviews the 335i Convertible in Paradise

Loaded with great driving shots of the 2009 BMW 335i convertible driving along California’s ultra scenic driver’s road The Pacific Coast Highway, the team at Garage419 takes out the E93. “Wide open stretches, tight corners” is some of what makes the PCH such a great road to enjoy the dynamics of the 335i convertible.

There are some great sounds from the exhaust note too. Nothing is really new here but some great video shots make the video a joy to watch and personally makes me weep thinking how my car gets beat to hell on Michigan’s pothole infested roads; instead of living in the paradise that is driving through the windy roads of Northern California.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Euro Split Armrest for Added Comfort

There are a few features we don't get in our 3-series BMWs in the States, well at least we don't get them stock. Of course you probably are used to the game of being able to buy OEM parts after your purchase, even if they are parts that could've come on your car from the factory like they are made available across the Atlantic. After owning several BMWs, this has become old hat in my experience.

I fell for it again and decided to order a $265 part (price included shipping) from Tischer BMW, the OEM BMW E90 Sedan Split Armrest (the E90 part fits the E92/E93.) I had put this modification off because it seemed kind of dumb to me, but a couple of good friends did the install and really liked the improvement of the upgrade.

There is also a lot of talk on the boards in a DIY thread concerning the hassle of a small gear you have to install to get the full effect of the upgrade (gives a more natural not so springy pop of the armrest when it is released. Stock just shoots right up.) Anyway the gear was a bit of hassle but two posts really helped: Putting in the spring and the other tip is "So here's a tip so this doesn't happen to anyone else. Once the gear is inserted properly and you're attempting to place the armrest in, HOLD the gear in place firmly with your finger. Trust me, you'll avoid a lot of aggravation."

Another helpful post, involved how to remove the armrest from an E92/E93 as opposed to the E90 model the DIY was originally done for.

Also, before installing the new armrest you'll want to remove your iPod holder from the stock armrest and install it on the new armrest. Details can be found on this post. I removed the iPod holder and used a small piece of card paper for a magazine subscription and made a template from that for drilling the new holes. Be careful not to drill too far in. Don't worry if it pokes right through quickly, as there is just a thin piece of plastic to drill through. Make sure your drill bit isn't long so you continue to the other side, tough to do but just be careful and don't worry when the drill pokes through the thin layer of plastic since you did not go through any leather.

The install took me about 20 minutes including the time to remove and reattach the iPod leather holder.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

BMW Performance Automatic Shift Knob

You gotta love an installation that involves pulling up with a little force and snapping out a small leather boot, taking a mere two minutes. That's all that's involved in installing the new BMW Performance Auto Shift Knob. The new knob is the first and only automatic shifter replacement for the E90/E92/E93 BMWs with Steptronic transmissions.

It looks good with some Alcantara trim and smooth black leather. The shifter also is a bit bulkier than stock and has a very nice, sturdy, sporty feel to it. The boot that can be ordered continues the Alcantara and leather theme.

I took some photos comparing the new knob to stock to help everyone see how the two differ. Hope you like what you see. I've had some great compliments about it from the E90Post board and even Tischer BMW asked to use one of my photos for their online product catalog.

Price for the item is $115 ($185 with the boot) from Tischer. Details are on this group buy thread.

Next up, a leather split armrest...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Best Cosmetic Modification: New Wheels

I have done quite a few modifications to my car over the past two years of ownership, but nothing makes it really unique and custom like some new wheels. Fortunately, a good friend of mine whom I originally met on the E90Post forums is in the process of buying a new M3 coupe and he was selling his 19" BBS-CH wheel and tire set from his 2006 BMW 330i.

I had the set installed yesterday and had to add TPMS sensors since the 2006 models didn't need them. This added some minor cost both for parts and installation. It seems worth it since you have to get the dealership to program turning off the warning light when no sensors are installed. Seemed like an annoyance I wanted to avoid so I went with new TPMS sensors. Tire Rack has a great non-OEM set that ran $200.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Exhaust Tips for the Warranty Cautious Modder

I really want a Eisenmann quad exhaust system. Really. After looking into adding an after-market exhaust that wasn't Dinan, to my Dinan modified 335i, I decided to wait until I'm out of warranty before I change the whole exhaust system on my car. A good modification that is low cost and adds a nice after-market look is exhaust tips.

I went with 3.8" chrome tips from Cyba off the E90 board. Ordering was easy and the price was far better than Dimsa tips. The Cyba tips ran $99 including shipping. Dimsa tips are $145 (special right now down from $175) not including shipping.

Locally, I went to S & K Muffler in Royal Oak, Michigan to have the tips installed. They do require that the stock exhaust is cut and the tips are welded on. Cost was $60 for the installation. It took about an hour to install, while I waited.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Even More Striking Interior

Tastefully modifying your interior is a very difficult thing when you start changing trim pieces out with non-OEM or something different from the typical carbon fiber treatment. Sometimes, interior customizations look a bit too "Pimp My Ride." Fortunately, a customization worthy of consideration was done by Richy,, from BMW MotorSport (Richmann Motorsports).

The center console is wrapped in black leatherette, giving the 3-series interior a bit of a M3 look and actually it really cleans up the look of the aluminum trim and black leather interior combination. Fit is a bit tight, as the installer mentioned it took some strong arming to get the trim to pop back into place since the leatherette ads some thickness to the pieces, but it does click in.

Sorry, but there are no details on pricing. It looks pretty low cost though, particularly if you are just trimming the center console section with your existing parts.

All in all, I think it looks amazing and may consider this as a way to give my car some new life after five or so years. Provided of course, I stop looking at the photo and think 'damn that looks good and probably isn't too bad price wise...' more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Sexier Skirt

I was on yesterday, yeah I know -- big surprise, and I came across some great photos of one of my favorite E93’s on the board (see photo at left.) Of course, the first thing you notice about Steven’s montego blue 335i convertible is the BMW star spoke 179 wheels. If you take another look, you’ll notice some aggressive side skirts.

At first, I thought the skirts were the OEM M3 side skirts from the M3. That’s not the case as Steven told me his were a better choice as the OEMs don’t fit properly and require quite a bit of customization to get a better fit, that still isn’t perfect. Fortunately, an after-market supplier has solved the problem.

The car above features M-Force Design’s E92 M3 Style Side Skirts. Fitment is 100% and the installation requires no tape or glue and are installed “exactly like an OEM replacement part." Pricing painted that includes shipping from a recent group buy on E90Post is $570, $410 unpainted/primed.

These definitely have my attention as my stock side skirts could use a more aggressive look and the car wash I used during my first winter with the car put some nice scratches into the clearcoat, though I was able to buff most of them out using my Flex random orbital polisher.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Featured Custom Phillipino 335i Convertible

This car has been featured in several global car magazines. For the most part, it is a beautifully modded alpine white convertible. The wheels, quad exhaust and various touches make it a standout. My only gripe is the black and white hood. It's not horrible, just not my thing. Other than that, it is a beautifully executed, extremely modified convertible.

Accolades include, "Auto Extreme (local TV show) and has bagged 8 trophies in 7 major car shows here in the Philippines. Mostly best Euro and best BMW. She has been featured in 2 international magazines and 2 local magazines. She has also been featured in a Japanese website and a local website."

You can see all of the featured publications, full articles, on - check it out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

M Sport Perforated Leather Steering Wheel Installed

After researching various steering wheel options, I decided to forgo the BMW Performance Steering Wheel once I learned its installation estimate at the dealership increase from 1.5 hours to 4 hours. The install also seemed beyond my skill level since it required some wiring modifications from both sides of the . I was very impressed with the new M Sport Perforated Leather Steering Wheel after I spent some time checking out my friend’s 2008 M3 convertible.

I decided to save $300 on the part and do the install myself, as it looked fairly simple. There is an excellent DIY on that helped a ton and the install only took me 40 minutes. Post #573 in the DIY helped immensely as the removal of the airbag took the most effort and it was unclear in the original post to see how you pop the airbag off with a screwdriver. I was also able to avoid the step of disconnecting the battery. The car goes into “sleep mode” if you let it sit with the door open and keep the key inside the house and don’t open a door or engage an interior light. If you do the sleep mode thing, you avoid the hassle of getting access to the E93’s battery, which involves removing several screws.

The M Sport wheel really has a nice feel. It is much thicker than the standard wheel. You can see the difference in the photo on the side. You’ll love the feel and it is a great modification, though a bit pricey for models with paddle shifters ($695 for the part from Tischer BMW online.) You always grab the wheel while you drive, so it really is a modification you enjoy all the time.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Is This Too Much of an Exhaust Note for a BMW?

One of the best parts of making the car you have "yours"is the research in finding what performance and cosmetic modifications make sense to your car and your taste. Choosing a pedal set or a front lip is pretty simple stuff. Deciding which exhaust upgrade to buy is the most complex of all, in my opinion. Sound, look, cost, and performance gains all go into one of the most cosmetic performance upgrades you can do to your convertible. Most performance changes you can see when you pop the hood, exhausts can beautify and increase your horsepower gains.

After spending a little time in my friend's new 2008 E93 M3 and hearing how amazing the quad exhaust of the M3 is, I decided to spend some time researching exhausts. I had narrowed down my choices to two: Active Autowerks and BMW Performance. I thought for sure I'd order one of these in the coming month that was until I heard the Eisenmann quad RACE exhaust and how amazing a quad exhaust looks on an E93.

Of course, going with a quad exhaust requires some other cosmetic changes to the rear end of the car. The best look I could find is using the 92/e93 OEM M-Technik Rear Bumper with a carbon fiber rear diffuser. An example can be seen on the E93 at right; though, not with quad exhausts. The M-Technik gives the rear a clean look in my opinion, add quad exhausts and you'll have a very sweet custom change to your E93. Non of this is cheap when you add the $2,300 for the quad exhaust and about $1,800 for the M-Technik parts.

For those interested in a less dramatic and less costly change, the BMW Performance exhaust is getting some great reviews on and you can pickup this exhaust for about $1,500 and it is a simple bolt-on installation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Intake Options for the 335i

My latest infatuation is researching air intakes for the 335i engine. There are quite a few out there now and some really have a great looking setup. Here are few things I've learned looking at intakes:

1. Dual or Single cone? Dual cones definitely give you a higher performance boost and most choices give you about a 12-15 horsepower gain. Single cone benefits are minimal compared to stock so if you are doing this you want some performance gain.

2. Costs range from $130 for a nice BMS dual cone to almost $2,000 for a beautiful, yet insane, all carbon GruppeM model. I find the better choices are in the $300-$400 range for a good looking dual cone setup.

3. Low or high sitting intakes. Some intakes are installed where the filters sit low in the engine bay and this setup can cause water getting easily into the filter's air flow which can lock up your engine. The best choice is to go with an intake that sits high in the engine bay so water is less likely to get into your air flow.

4. Warranty. Replacing an intake could affect your warranty with BMW (or in my case Dinan.) It's a rare thing but intakes affect engine performance and if you have a major engine issue it seems you could get into some sticky discussions on a warranty claim if the reason for an issue isn't crystal clear. So, be aware of this when considering this kind of modification.

There are two dual intakes I'm considering. The best looking one is the Injen model (see image above) that runs in the $400 price range and even comes in a red color with red filters. Sure the red/red thing is a bit "ricey" but there is something very cool about the look that is appealing. The other choice is probably the favorite preference of the board, aFe Dual Filter Intake; it's gain is a supposed 27 horsepower. It's a nice setup in the mid $300 range. It looks good and actually is considerably easier to install than the Injen product.

My big issue with any option after researching all of this is warranty. I have the Dinan software and really wonder if any future claims could be derailed if I do have an engine issue before my 4 years or 50,000 miles are up. For this reason, I may just wait two and a half years and do this modification and look at getting the BMW Performance Steering Wheel now.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Excellent How to Change Oil Steps from BMW Blog

I have been following BMW Blog on Twitter and found a great link to one of their recent blog posts. They are doing some How To topics and this time covered something many of us can benefit from considering owners (like myself) don't like to wait 15k - 20k miles before BMW will change our oil under their free maintenance agreement.

Check out their detailed, visual instructions here: How To Change Oil On a BMW

The cost to change the oil at my dealership runs about $105 a change, so this How To can save you a lot of cash for more modifications.