Archive for the 'BMW E46 330d' category

The e46 sport touring is gone – long live the e46 sport touring

After 12.5 years and 105,000 miles, the black car has departed. Bought in early 2006, it followed two E36 M3s and raised eyebrows at the time. A diesel? An estate car?

330d in Scotland on snow

Fast forward through countless holidays and road trips, with freeze frames of it as one of our wedding cars, using it to move house, bringing our puppy home for the first time, our first child home for the first time, and then our second. 25 laps of the Nordschleife. 20 hour days driving around the country on business. Trips to Rock am Ring, Cairngorms, Cornwall and Snowdonia. It had a magnificent innings and by the end, with two kids and a golden retriever, it made perfect sense.

330d on Nurburgring

The 335d was acquired in 2013 to replace it but that never happened. The 330d remained our go-to car for all day-to-day activities right up until its sale. It was too good, too reliable, always ready. It never once let us down.

Given the 335d failed to depose it, a significant event was clearly going to be required to move the black car on. I had supposed that event would be a plug-in EV – and that is still likely to shuffle the pack at some point – but in the meantime a curve-ball arrived.

This latest chapter actually started in May 2011, when long term BMW E30 S50B32 hero Ian decided to buy a second car. We adventured north and bought an “Imola Rot” 330d built in October 2003. While that build date is just eight months after the black car, this red car benefited from a host of improvements mainly around the engine (more capacity, horsepower and torque), and the gearbox (six speed manual).

Red and black cars together in 2011

That car stayed the night while logistics were sorted, and I wrote a comparison piece at the time.

In the seven years since, Ian proved yet again that he knows how to look after a car. The M3 number plate went in the bin. Dents and rusty bits were resolved. Both interior and exterior were restored to near showroom conditions. Heated seats were retrofitted. The Scandinavian engine pre-heater unit with remote start was fitted. The stereo was sorted. It was well and truly fettled.

When Ian came to move the car on, as I’d long ago said I’d like to have it, he offered and without thinking I said yes. When Ian handed the car over, I plonked it on the front lawn and wondered what I’d do with it. There was no plan at that point.

I realised I wasn’t entirely happy with a car existing on the lawn, so I cleared the garage. That was a significant improvement. Yet, three cars still felt like overkill. The black car still performed a useful function in tackling the school and station runs, moving the dog around and generally dealing with household chores. Yet fundamentally it became clear that Diane would rather be driving the silver car and I’d rather be driving the red car.

Two E46 330ds on the drive in 2018

The more I drove the red car the more I felt myself falling for it. I have two controversial things to say and I may as well spill them now, clearly and in bullet point form. Before you load up the comments section with venom though remember that this is just my opinion, and I’m allowed to be wrong in your view:

  • The red car reminds me of my E30 M3s.
  • The red car is better than an E46 M3.

Yes. You’re fuming now aren’t you?

The first point. I find myself going out to work on the red car in the evening. I find jobs to do. They aren’t chores. While I’ve no where to go, I take it for drives because I want to drive it. That’s how I was with the E30 M3s. It has a great sound system. It’s a hoot to drive. It feels alive, and restless. I need to focus when going quick. The M5, the Impreza and the 335d were all devastatingly fast, but felt refined and almost tame in a way that this car, and the E30 M3s, do not.

The second point. E46 M3s aren’t facelifted. They are expensive to run without being meaningfully faster than this 330d (drag-strip use excluded). They eat fuel, lack torque, and aren’t practical (no touring). They do though have one very real and important advantage: they have a limited slip differential.

So I moved the black car on to fund an LSD for the red car and now it is the best E46 for me. You may prefer the M3. That’s nice for you. The red car is better for me though.

While I received the car in frankly excellent condition there is an initial to-do list:

  • Complete the audio install (well thought out, all parts provided, just another 6×9 sub needed installing).
  • Gear knob worn.
  • Steering wheel worn.
  • No LSD.
  • Front lower grill faded from black to grey.
  • Wheel paint lacquer lifting and peeling.
  • Privacy glass needed to prevent dog and children cooking.
  • Boot liner needed to prevent interior becoming infested with golden retriever hair.

In two short weeks I’ve made excellent progress on that list. I completed the audio installation and I’m now very happy with the way it sounds.

Red car boot with trim removed revealing the installation of two Genesis 6x9 sub woofers

I’ve replaced the gear knob with a brand new, illuminated item.

6 speed illuminated gear knob

I’ve ordered a temporary steering wheel; once that arrives I’ll be able to send off the existing one for refurbishment. The final drive has been refurbished by Bird’s – it now drives very nicely indeed. And I’ve sourced and fitted a boot liner.

330d with boot liner in place

The car now has 35% transparency privacy glass. Having got so used to it in both cars, I felt really exposed without it!

Imola Red 330d with 35% privacy glass

I have another set of wheels for the car in storage; I’ll probably wait until the spring before fitting them.

I really hope I can keep this 153,000 mile, 15 year old car, in as good a condition as that in which I received it. The silver car seems to have become the family wagon (which is hilarious in itself – turbos whistling etc!), so the red car should stand a chance so long as I can keep it on the black stuff.

330d with gloss black kidney and lower grilles

Winter tyres vs 4 wheel drive

This is the second winter I’ve put winter tyres on the 330d. It’s also the second winter we’ve had the Impreza. Last winter it didn’t snow properly; this year, we’ve had a proper dollop!

Elsdon snow 2013-01

This situation quite naturally raised the question that I’m sure was on the nation’s lips this weekend: is four wheel drive on summer tyres better in the snow that rear wheel drive on winter tyres? Admit it, you’d love to know, wouldn’t you?!

Impreza snow scoopInitially I thought I’d take the Impreza out, so I brushed the snow from its nostrils. Last year we had a one inch coating of snow one morning and I recalled it being the superior vehicle. Certainly it’s a lot of fun. With all four wheels properly locked together with a mechanical centre diff, and a limited slip diff at the rear, it goes where it’s told and it oversteers on the way. Brilliant, brilliant fun. It doesn’t stop too well though. Or corner well off throttle.

I think the Impreza does better than many other cars on summer tyres because it’s light (just over 1,400kg) and the four wheel drive system locks the wheels together in such a way that even off throttle, wheels don’t slip as much as they would otherwise.

So let’s take out the BMW next and see how that goes.

330d snow 2013-01

Just look at those tyres! What a machine!

The 330d of course suffers from terrible snow woe. There’s really not much weight over the driven wheels, but the car is heavy at nearly 1,700kg. Changing velocity is therefore a challenge.

Winter tyres make an amazing difference. Pulling away isn’t as easy as it was in the Impreza, but after that, the 330d is better. Its ability to put the power down on snow and ice is simply remarkable when compared to its attempts on summer tyres. There have been years where we simply couldn’t get it off the driveway! That was easy enough today, but it also gathers pace very smartly indeed on snow.

Braking though, is where there can be absolutely no doubt that the BMW is the better car to be in. Despite a near quarter-tonne weight penalty, the 330d stops and even turns while stopping significantly better than the Impreza. It also has DSC (dynamic stability control) which means that if you don’t want to go oversteering everywhere, it’ll look after you. Not sure why you’d want to do that though.

So in conclusion, if I knew there was no one else on the road and I wanted to bop about on the snow for a bit of fun, I’d choose the Impreza. If I had to hill start on the snow, I’d choose the Impreza. For everything else, otherwise known as real-world driving, the 330d on winter tyres wins hands down. I can only imagine how good the Impreza would be given winter boots!

Winter tyres on the BMW e46 330d at last

Some 15 months ago I embarked on a project to have a set of winter wheels and tyres for the 330d. Naturally I didn’t get around to it for last winter, so we had lots of snow. This year however, I am ready! So this week as temperatures seem to have dropped below the magic 7°C mark, I’ve taken the 18″ MV2s off for the winter.

Getting the rear wheels off the 330d was a real bitch, a combination of the cold and a lack of copper grease ensured this job took me hours. The new tyres are 225/45 R17  Pirelli Sottozero Series 2s which I mail  ordered from Oponeo. Below the difference in tread style is obvious when compared to one of the 255/35 R18 summer tyres (Falkens).

The tread blocks are much bigger and further apart, which should make them far less liable to clog up with snow. Also the rubber is slightly different – far softer at lower temperatures.

So the car doesn’t look quite as purposeful on these smaller wheels, although the brakes really do look like they’re bulging out of the wheels now! The ride quality has certainly improved thanks to the higher profile tyres, but then the 18s demand such skinny tyres that even the M5 rode better.

I can’t be too critical of the performance just yet as the tyres haven’t had a chance to bed in, but so far things feel pretty good. There’s slightly less stability when I grab the car by the scruff of the neck, but any misbehaviour is entirely controllable as breakaway is less sudden that on the 18s. When out and about in the wet in near freezing conditions, the car is certainly at least as capable as on the 18s. Due to the camber matters have always noticeably improved as tyres bed in on the 330d, so I’m hopeful for some serious winter performance. I’ll report back when I’ve got some mud, snow and ice experience!

e46 window regulator replacement

Recently I made the mistake of lowering a rear window while a window blind was stuck to it. The suction cup disappeared down into the door, so I went to raise the window, at which point it all went horribly wrong! There was a sound like breaking glass, and the window got stuck. Fortunately it transpired that no glass was broken, but the window regulator was, and that needed replacing. So the most obvious question is, what the hell is a window regulator?

So in the above photo, the top item is a replacement window regulator, and the lower item is the broken one I removed. There’s a steel cable that’s wrapped around the central drum, and that had burst off the drum, and the noise I’d heard was it flipping around the drum and hitting the window glass.

Replacing the item isn’t especially hard. I found a good guide here:

The part is BMW B51. which currently retails at £75.84 ex VAT.






BMW e46 speakers not working

For a few years now, the 330d’s rear right speaker hasn’t been working. As I sit in the front, I chose not to let that bother me. However recently, both front and rear left speakers cut in and out a few times, and then stopped working altogether. This left the front right and the sub, which was enough to prompt me in to action. I know the screen at the front is a fairly dumb terminal, and that the audio gear is all in the boot:

I traced the problem to the item described above as “Radio/Car Amp”. It’s a Becker BM54, and a short trawl of the internet quickly revealed that the amplifier’s output stages are a fairly weak link. Replacement units seem to cost several hundred pounds. Hmm.

There were some eBay sellers willing to effect a repair for a couple of hundred quid, mentioning reflowing solder joints. While consulting various forums though I saw a recommendation that caught my eye. It seems that Cartronics, a firm based just a few miles up the road from me who did a decent job of installing a Thatcham approved immobiliser in my second E30 M3, offer a warrantied repair for similar money. They claimed their repair involved entirely replacing the amplifier’s output stages to both ensure this wouldn’t happen again and provide a superior sound. I concluded that while the £210 they were asking was a bit rich compared with the cost of a standard head unit, the sound quality certainly couldn’t get any worse, and they were at least a devil I knew.

I dropped the unit off late on Saturday, and they called lunchtime today (Tuesday) to say it was ready. I understand they also provide a service by mail. This evening I’ve verified the repair, and also concluded that the sound quality certainly isn’t any worse.

So, if your BMW (or Range Rover) speakers are cutting out, locate your amplifier module and get it sorted. While mine is a B54, it replaced the B24 which also suffered in a similar matter, and I noted Cartronics had a couple of those also in for repair at the same time. In e46-land, to remove the module, start by lifting up the boot floor:




Remove your rude-boy sub, tow hook and spare wheel cover. Then using a 10mm socket release the two black plastic nuts and open the flap to the comms deck. I found a 3/8 extension a useful prop to hold the flap up.




There’s a big black block connector that can be unclipped. Before going too much further though I’d trace that to the nearby (and just out of shot below) black connector and make sure all the pins in that are firmly home – I’ve lost sound before due to those working loose.


In the above picture I’ve got two unused white connectors. The lower left one is from the old CD changer – my rather primitive iPod kit actually replaces that in the black block connector. The loose white connector at the top by the TV module is the old A/V connector – my DVD player has replaced that. So, remove the black block connector, the aerial (on the left) and the 8mm nut, and whip out the unit.


Send it off to repair, and it should come back with one of these stuck on it.

Plug it in and off you chug down the road. Boom-tish, boom-tish, etc. :)

E46 330d comparison

I’m currently lucky enough to have an extra 330d sport touring on the driveway, as it’s half way home to its new owner. It’s a year younger than mine, which means it’s the 204hp 2,993cc unit with a 6 speed gearbox; mine’s a 184hp 2,926cc 5 speed effort. It’s finished in Imola red, which was my first choice colour (I settled for black). This article was originally intended to represent my thoughts based on these comparisons, but as I was photographing it quickly became clear that it would also cover a list of my customisations, as the red car is absolutely in stock condition, while the black car has now been in my possession for over 5 years. I’ll cover the cosmetics first, and come around to the driving experience at the end.

It turns out that my tractor was very much between the two E46 revisions, in that it had the facelift body but not the newer wheels, engine and gearbox. The wheels were rectified a while ago, but of course the other elements remain. The point is though, that colour aside these two cars look the same.

So, red. It’s not a colour I’d usually choose, but BMW’s Imola red with black trim just works for me. My last 4 BMWs have been black (or near enough; the M5 is a very, very dark blue), and that’s been far more about the car’s other attributes than a concious colour based decision. Oh, please ignore the tragic plate – the new owner will be removing that promptly, at which point it’ll revert to its 53 plate.

Anyway – the first customisation is most apparent there: the black kidney grilles. Given that both these cars have the black shadow gloss option, which basically means that the chrome trim around the windows is replaced with a black gloss effect trim, in my view the chrome kidneys look a little out of place, especially on a black car.

Under the bonnet there’s a slight difference in the engine covering but in this case the real difference is how filthy my engine bay is.

The wheels, as mentioned, are the same, but of course the black car is sporting those floating and drilled brakes.

Moving to the boot, the most obvious difference is the significant amount of dog hair and general filth I carry around with me everywhere I go! More seriously though, the red car lacks navigation. This is the only thing that it lacks that my car doesn’t also lack – sunroofs and heated seats would be nice too. Ian (the red car’s new owner) seems quite keen to retrofit heated seats to his, so perhaps that’s something I’ll get involved with too.

So yes, rather hairy. The sat-nav computer is the factory difference, but there’s also the DVD movie player and an inverter present in that cubby hole in the black car. This photo also neatly highlights the 6×9 speakers I fitted in the rear. Cars with the Harmon Kardon audio upgrade pack (neither of these cars has that) have a larger basket in the rear to accomodate 6×9 speakers, and before the days of this blog I got hold of some of these baskets and upgraded the rear speakers. The result isn’t much to write home about, but these photos make it really obvious.

Under the boot floor I was again reminded of how a standard car should look. I’ve dug out an older pre-dog photo of my car for this comparison.

Bling bling mo-fo! There’s no detachable tow-bar on the red car, but the black car has the tow-bar stowed under the circular cover in the lower boot floor. Remaining in the boot area I’m reminded of another customisation – the metal dog guard. I’m so used to this I had to pull the luggage net up in the red car to make myself feel more at home!

The red car still has the standard droopy exhausts:

These cars have a leather tag connected to the boot floor that ends in a plastic clip – handly for lifting up the boot floor and hooking it in place if you need to get under it. I’m especially good at leaving this dangling out over the boot lip, and then slamming the boot lid shut on it shattering the plastic hook. The average life expectancy of one of these in my car is about a month. However yesterday I learnt that they can be neatly stowed in a way so as to protect the plastic clip under the boot floor, while still exposing the leather hoop to permit the boot floor to be easily lifted, look!

Moving on to the interiors, we once again return to the question of colours and taste. You see, while the outside of my car is a nice safe black, the inside really isn’t. It’s yellow. A fairly bright yellow at that. I’m not going to lie, I really wasn’t sure about it at first. It’s certainly a bit refreshing.

Ultimately I warmed to it, as an all black interior can look rather drab. Or, as is the case within the red car, rather smart:

So, are you ready for the comparison? Brace yourself…

I actually quite like it now, especially the way the black is used for contrast in places such as the door arm rest and handle. Of course, it’s a similar story in the front of the cars:

I would say that the E46 interior is exceptionally hard wearing. The red car has done 113,000 miles, the black car 130,000 miles, yet neither looks like it has suffered anything like that kind of use. Moving to the dashboard, we start to see the first signs that all is not the same under the bonnet.

Note that the black car, with nav and the older engine, red lines at 4,500rpm, where the newer car red lines at 5,000. I’m sure that’s a rather basic view and that more specific details may show less of a difference, but it is an indication that translates to the driving experience. The newer engine seems to drive slightly more like a petrol – the power stays accessible for a little longer before melting away. The older engine by comparison is marginally weaker up the top, but my fettled version at least provides a touch more grunt down at the bottom end.

The newer car comes with a six speed box, something I’m especially familiar with from various M cars and this is the single feature that has generated the most tractor envy! The whole package adds up to suggest to me that the newer car is worth quite a premium over the old.

I had the pleasure of piloting the new car from just north of Oxford back to Woking. There was a healthy section of bendy A roads, most of which was taken at a brisk pace, followed by the M40 tackled at typical motorway speeds. My 330d would have managed all this at around 40mpg while showing a clean pair of heels to most other vehicles on the road. This 330d reported 51.4 MPG. Simply amazing given the performance.

If I could blend Ian’s car with my modifications and nav, and add a sunroof and heated seats, we’d have quite a machine. Of course I can’t do this, but I can hand the car over to Ian later today, and I’m sure it won’t be long before the car is a magnificent example. Overall this car has certainly reinforced my position as a massive E46 330d sport touring fanboy. :)

Comparing: E46 330d to E46 318i

Last month I popped the tractor into a local independent garage to have a small PAS leak sorted. While it was there, I had a similar age 318i touring, and ignoring the obvious it made for a very interesting comparison. I’ll compare them in terms of looks, performance, ride, economy and interior, and finally discuss the main point: overall value. So the 318i; here it is next to the M5 on the driveway.


To the untrained eye (for instance, my father’s) it’s the same car. I appreciate the high gloss shadow line and the white indicators – with chrome around the windows and orange corners it’d look really basic. That said, those 16″ wheels are tiny (the tractor wears 18s – even its winter wheels are 17s – those 16s wouldn’t even fit over my front brakes!) and the SE bumpers look far more placid. The chrome kidney grilles complete the “wouldn’t say boo to a goose” image. For comparison:

Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder, but I felt the 330d won this round.


This comparison isn’t supposed to be a one way street, but I must get the numbers out of the way. Compared with my dyno figures the 318i has 70% of the power and just 48% of the torque. On the road that difference is painfully obvious under all circumstances, so again, the 330d wins this round hands down.

Initially I tried to motivate the 318i into proving that it was in any way an Ultimate Driving Machine, but I soon realised it was best to waft. This worked well: the 318i is extremely smooth and makes a delicious noise. Especially in warmer weather with the windows down I find myself operating the 330d’s accelerator fairly digitally; the rush of the torque wave and the sound of the wastegate releasing are extremely addictive, so it was good to be more mature with the controls and thus travel with a little more comfort.


On the subject of comfort, having ridiculed those teeny wheels I soon noticed the transformation in ride quality. It’s fair to say that while a lower ride height on stiffer springs and ultra-low profile tyres makes for some eye-popping cornering, it also makes for a spine shattering ride over bumps and pot holes. On comfort suspension and big floppy tyres the 318i was a real pleasure over Woking’s battered roads. The compromise of course arrived with each corner, but the whole package makes sense: without performance and supportive seats there’s no point trying to corner fast, so I didn’t. Even so, without question the 318i wins a round here.


I’ll lay down the facts here, and we’ll come to the topic of overall value soon enough. When I was really, really kind to the 318i, I got 30mpg. If I tried in vain to extract some performance, that figure tumbled. The 330d either does 40mpg on a sensible run, or 35mpg if you drive it like an animal. Yes, diesels are renowned for economy, but smaller petrol engines shouldn’t be this bad. I guess here the sheer weight of the car meant that the engine was always strained. In any case, a definite win for the 330d.


Compared with a late E46 M3 the 330d certainly lacks some switchgear on the panel in front of the gearstick. However, inside the 318i was a bit of a barren wasteland.

The lack of sat-nav was the most obvious visual difference, but the flat seats and narrow steering wheel certainly left the 318i feeling substantially less focussed. Here’s a comparison with the 330d taken when I fitted the new E46 M3 steering wheel (but before the black leather illuminated gear shifter).

So while there was nothing wrong with the 318i’s interior, getting back into the 330d felt a lot more right. 330d win, again.

Overall value

Now we come to the point. Given that the 330d gives better performance, is a more pleasant place to be and costs less to fuel, what are the benefits of the 318i? The smaller petrol engine still has two clear advantages: it’s cheaper to purchase, and it’s cheaper to maintain. Brakes cost less, services are cheaper, tyres I imagine are a fraction of the price. Yet the 330d no doubt holds its value better.

Clearly I’d rather have the 330d – that’s why I’ve got one. But if pushed for funds would I rather have a 318i touring than a similarly priced Vectra estate? Yes – it’s properly built and the correct wheels are driven. It’s a good car, but the 330d is simply excellent.

330d brake upgrade – floating and drilled!

Unless this is the first sentence of mine you’ve ever read you’ll know that despite being a BMW fan-boy, I am eternally disappointed by their brakes. It’s not that they don’t stop well enough, or that they overheat, it’s that the discs warp, and that happens well before the pads are so much as half worn. It was an ongoing problem with my E36 M3s, it was an issue with my E36 328i (until I upgraded to drilled discs) and with this 330d, the situation has been chronic. Here are relevant excerpts from my 330d maintenance list:

  • 26/09/2010 – front discs replaced (warped)
  • 11/06/2010 – rear discs & pads replaced
  • 11/06/2010 – rear right caliper replaced
  • 25/10/2009 – Front nearside caliper replaced
  • 24/10/2009 – Front discs & pads replaced
  • 27/09/2008 – Rear brake pads and sensor replaced
  • 18/08/2007 – Front brake discs replaced (warped)
  • 24/03/2007 – Front discs and pads replaced
  • 01/04/2006 – Front discs & pads replaced

We got the car in March 2006, so in 5 years and 50,000 miles, including today’s episode, I’ve replaced the front rotors 6 times. Good going, eh? In the past I started replacing with genuine BMW items, then as the tedium set in, I reverted to ECP’s finest. This time, thanks in part to advice from Jim Marren, I’ve “invested” in BMW’s new drilled and floating disc offering for the 330d. So this morning, I set about the replacement job. Before – standard massive rotors:

Up we go – by now an all too familiar pose:

Wheel off:

Caliper off:

Carrier and disc off:

On the near side (the side that seems to warp worst), I’ve elected to also replace the caliper as I suspect it of sticking (it is nearly 14 months old now after all). ECP offer a Pagid refurbished item for only £97.20 if you give them your old unit, so I taped up the hose and nipped into town to make the purchase.

Now we get to the good bit. How’s about this then for a bit of bling brakey-brakey action?

So, what are they?

They are obviously drilled, but they are also “floating”, which means the outer disc part (that comes into contact with the pads) isn’t the same piece that the wheel is clamped to on the hub – the two different materials are connected by a series of “bobbins” that reduce heat transfer and permit some adjustment as the disc changes shape subtly with temperature. This is supposed to reduce the chances of warping. The drilled holes help with heat dissipation, removing gases that are created under braking, and even stopping a film of water developing on the disc surface in wet weather.

My E36 M3 Evos has floating discs; their brakes warped all the time. However, I fitted drilled discs to my 328i and the brakes were just lovely from that point on, so here’s hoping! Final information about the discs:

B34. – left disc – £144.17 + VAT
B34. – right disc – £144.17 + VAT

Pricey. Time will tell if they’re worth it!

BMW e46 – winter wheels for winter tyres

We’ve been mulling over whether to change a car before winter. I’ve got quite a hankering for a four wheel drive, but for a variety of reasons (not least that we really like both of the current cars!) we’ve decided to stick with what we’ve got. The real issue we faced last winter was the snow and ice – we couldn’t get either car off the drive, let alone navigate safely. I’ve read many good things about winter tyres, most notably the fact that they out perform normal tyres when the temperature is 7 degrees or lower regardless of the presence of snow or ice – and that kind of temperature can usually be found in December, January and February. So I’ve decided to source another set of wheels for the 330d, and fit them with winter tyres.

The 330d’s large front brakes mean that the smallest wheels that can be fitted are 17 inches, and these come as standard with 225/45 R17s. 17 inch wheels are less desirable than the “sport” 18s, and are therefore easier to come by. Winter tyres are also more readily available in smaller sizes, so it made sense to start hunting for E46 17 rims. Ebay of course came up with a variety of options, and last weekend I managed to pick up a set of my preferred style 44 E46 17s from a nice chap in Salisbury. As is so often the case, the 330d wasn’t available when I needed it, so the M5’s passenger space ensured the new rims had a comfortable journey home.

This morning I was up bright and early to take the wheels to my preferred tyre centre.

Wheels in the garage. The tyres aren’t up to much, but they have now been disposed of.

Today the 330d was available, and it made short work of swallowing its spare wheels.

I was a bit taken aback by the tyre centre’s reaction when I asked to talk to someone about winter tyres. “Are you going abroad?” No, but England is having a winter. In any case, I was instructed that I’d have to call back during the week to get them to let me know the options. A little disappointing really – offer a good range with decent brands starting at £105 a corner. In any case, I will call them in the week, and they did at least pop the tyres off the rims and dispose of them for me.

I gave them a clean and considered their rather dubious state of repair – they’ve received some fairly heavy kerbing in their time.

Here’s a close up – three of the wheels were like this most of the way round – the best wheel just had about 60 degrees of this kind of damage. It looks like someone has tried to touch them up – I thought I’d try to improve on their attempt.

Here’s the same wheel after I’d had a go at it with a power detail sander.

Still looks a bit wrong but it was smooth to the touch. I did the same to all of the wheels.

Then it was time for another wash before I painted them. In the garage ready for a paint:

And here’s the same wheel painted:

Final photo: the full set, painted and lacquered.

The photo actually makes them look better than there are. If you look closely it’s pretty obvious they’ve been touched up rather than professionally refurbished, but I’m satisfied with the result given just a few hours work. The next step is to source and fit some winter tyres – then wait for winter!

The car is currently on 225/40 R18s (and 255/35 R18s at the back), so these 17s won’t look as bling, and even with summer tyres wouldn’t provide the same grip in the warm and dry. However, it won’t be warm and dry in mid-winter! Also, the old man in me is looking forward to the higher tyre profile – it’ll be interesting to see if the ride quality improves noticably.

e46 330d rear brakes overhaul

It became apparent yesterday that the 330d had a sticking rear right caliper – apparent because after a journey of only a few miles, the brakes were really juddery and the rear right wheel was what could only be described as ‘bastard hot’. This morning I leapt into action – grabbing new rear discs, pads and sensor from the Woking ECP. The chap there was super helpful, advising that I check that the hose hadn’t collapsed before assuming that the caliper was at fault. I was pleased to return at 9:30am with this haul:

I was pleased that nothing was seized, stuck, rounded or rusty; everything came off a treat.

I’d been advised to check if light passed through the hose in order to determine whether or not it had collapsed. I couldn’t do this, so returned to ECP with both the caliper and hose to see what the chap there thought. With the aid of an LED torch he proved the hose was okay, and so a caliper was ordered – to be available from 2:30pm – bonus! So, back home and time to do everything else I could.

Shiny shiny!

An all too familiar sight…

I enjoyed a spot of lunch from the BBQ while watching the world cup opening ceremory. The chap was right – the caliper was ready at 2:30. So, back to it:

I bled the brakes off and verified that nearly everything was fine. The handbrake didn’t work. I noticed while changing the rotors that the old shoes were pretty worn, and in a desperate attempt to tighten things up at the handbrake end to allow me to get back to the world cup match, I’ve snapped a cable. Grrr!

So in order, I should have:

  • Slackened off the handbrake at the lever before trying to remove the rotors
  • Adjusted up the shoes properly from the rear of the car
  • Stuck to my principals and refused to work on a car while the world cup was on

So I’ve booked the car in to have new shoes and a new cable fitted on Tuesday. That’s pretty pricey, but the shoes definitely need replacing, and I wouldn’t want to do that myself (especially during the world cup!). I’ll be very pleased to know all the rear brakes are renewed. While I’ve replaced the rear pads in September 2008, the rotors looked pretty old when I got the car over 50,000 miles ago, so it all certainly needed doing.

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