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BMW 3-Series 2005 and earlier



  • I frequently set the e-brake on my new 325i when launching from hills (manual transmission in San Francisco) and as the car 'settles' back on the brake the rear wheels emit creaking and poping sounds. Does anyone else's do this? Think I should have it looked at?

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hey Gang!

    This (long) post is sort of a catch-up post, prompted in no small part by our 5-Series friend and compatriot DaBimmer, who just sent me an E-Mail suggesting (very tactfully I might add) that I get off my butt and rejoin the discussions here in the TownHall. Thanks Tony for the kick in the hind quarters. ;-)

    For starters, I am NOT currently driving a BMW, I have instead graduated to a 1998 Green Dodge Caravan Sport (albeit with the 3.8L mill) for my motive pleasure. :-( More on this shocking development later. With that said, I am feeling the need to post some thoughts that are somewhat contrary to many of my earlier posts of the last couple of winters. As some of y’all might remember, I had posted fairly frequently that I felt the recommendations made by many of our peers for winter tires were, at best, over-rated. Well, I am now going to (at least in part) contradict myself.

    As a point of reference, I graduated from a 1999 328i 5-Speed, PP, Xenon, Harman-Kardon, CD and Metallic Paint to a Sapphire Black/Black Leather, 2002 530i 5-Speed, PP, SP, Premium Audio and Xenon via a wonderful ED trip last April. Shortly after taking delivery of my 530i last May, my wife and I engineered a transfer to the Boston area, and we bought a house in southern New Hampshire. Needless to say, this has been an interesting winter.

    Our first snow came on 23-Oct-2002, and even though it was only about two inches, I was hard pressed to get up my driveway! Throughout November we had a few more dustings and driving up my driveway sideways became the norm, not to mention “white knuckling it” while driving along at only 5MPH or so. So, I caved in, and ordered a wheel/tire package from that consisted of four Michelin Arctic-Alpin tires (225/55QR-16) mounted on four Borbet Type H (16x7.5) wheels, total price including shipping $1,007.11. My first chance to use them came on Christmas day, during what turned out to be an eighteen inch snow fall. My first indication that there was something special about these tires was (of course) going up the driveway. Even with over 4” already on the ground, I went right up with without so much as a single flash from the traction control light on the dash! Once on the road (not yet plowed, very rutted and a little slushy as well), I found myself passing cars that were failing in their attempt to climb the various hills around here, and driving right past MANY other vehicles off in the ditch, including TWO police cars! Within a couple of miles I reeled in a conga-line of 4WD vehicles where I made up the caboose. All of this was on a very hilly/winding/heavily crowned two-lane road, and the SUVs and other sundry 4WD vehicles in front of me were having a much more difficult time that I was. Go figure!

    Since Christmas, we have had just over four feet of snow which consisted of two eighteen inchers, along with various dustings, ice/freezing rain, and general dumpings, through it all, my 530i (the one that I am no longer driving) has yet to put a paw in the wrong spot. All in all, that is quite amazing for a car that couldn’t get out of its own way (literally) prior to mounting the Arctic-Alpins.

    As for dry/wet road characteristics, the Arctic-Alpins perform very much the same as did the Michelin MXV4-Plus tires that I had on my 328i. That is to say, quiet, reasonably competent grip and comfortable at highway speeds. Please note if you feel the need to drive over 100 MPH, then you will need to spend an extra $23.00 per tire and get the Michelin Pilot Alpin tires, which carry an “H” rating.

    So, to all of those who have been carrying the “Winter Tire” banner all along, please accept my sincere apology, I am sorry I ever doubted you. ;-) For those of you who are still braving slippery roads on summer rubber, or for that matter on all-season rubber, you will be genuinely amazed by the grip afforded by winter tires. In a word, the feeling is “Uncanny”.

    As for why I am currently driving one of the most ubiquitous, boring and utilitarian of all vehicles instead of one of the best looking and best performing sedans in the world, stay tuned for my next post, which is coming soon.

    Best Regards,
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Welcome back. When Da'Man has something to say... Can't wait for the next installment. :)
  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038

    I got caught once this year in my M3. I couldn't get up a "hill" that rose approximately 3 feet over a length of 50 feet. getting into my driveway was impossible until I shoveled it.

    235/40-17 Yokohama AVS Intermediates... rock hard in cold temps, and way wrong tread to get any traction in snow/ice to boot.

    My $2500 solution was a Taurus SHO. Looking in the garage at the salt all over the Taurus and how shiny clean the M3 is, I'm more than happy with my "winter tires" because while they were pricey they did come attached to a car. ;-)

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Given that I am by nature a story teller, I find myself being compelled to weave the tail as to why I am no longer counted among the ranks of BMW drivers. :-(

    Almost four weeks ago, 9-Jan to be exact, I pulled up in front of my children’s day-care at about 5:30 PM to pick them up and take them to a long promised dinner at Taco Bell. During the day, we had temperatures around here that were just above freezing, and in fact, it was still just above 32 when I arrived.

    I got out of my car, walked to the covered sidewalk (just in front of my car) and stepped into what I thought was a shallow puddle of water (it was actually a VERY shallow puddle, over a VERY thin layer of ice). As soon as I planted my left (leading) foot in the puddle, it shot forward with such alarming speed that I was caught completely by surprise, I knew that a fall was imminent. Due to the speed with which said left leg shot forward my body decided to come with it, much to the chagrin of my right leg and foot which were still ten inches lower, down in the parking lot. As I went forward, the toes of my right foot hit the curb, hyper extended the foot at the ankle, and snapped the Fibula like a twig. I heard it snap, and on the way down, I thought to myself “Yup, it’s broke”.

    Once on the ground (lying in the puddle), I confirmed that I was, at the very least, badly injured, so, contrary to my nature, I actually called out for help. The only response I got was from a lady about twenty yards up the walk, who looked over/down at me and said, “Are you OK?” Even then the stupidity of the question struck me, however, given that I was going into shock, I wasn’t able to properly communicate the severity of the situation to her, so I said, “No lady I’m not, I just fell and broke my leg and I am going into shock!” What didn’t occur to me at the time was that telling someone that you are going into shock means very little, unless they have had some medical training, or of course, been in shock themselves.

    She just got a sort of stupid look on her face, so, given that I was laying in a puddle of water with a temperature somewhere south of 33 degrees, I figured that I had better deal with the situation myself. I rolled out of the puddle and tried to get up. As soon as she saw me do this, she ran down to me saying, “Are you crazy? Don’t try to get up, just stay there!” With that, she proceeded to try and hold me down!

    In my ever evaporating consciousness all I could say was, “Lady, I am going into shock, and I need to get inside the daycare and onto their sofa.” What I should of said was that I was about to pass out, and I didn’t want to do it while laying in a puddle of frigid water.

    Fortunately, some guy happened by and quickly assessed the problem and told her in no uncertain terms, “Help me get him up and inside, NOW!”
    She did, and as I hobbled into the daycare, one of my kids asked me “Daddy, are you all right?”

    I managed to say, “No, I think I broke my leg…”, just as my butt hit the sofa, and I passed out cold. While I was out, the teacher (all of 21 years old), had the presence of mind to send all of the children to another class room, call 911, and then call my wife. Smart kid!

    When I came around, I had literally no idea of who I was, where I was, or how I got there. All I knew was there was a guy holding me down and I wanted to hit him. He said, “Calm down, you are at your children’s day-care, and you fell and broke your leg.” Something he said must have struck a chord, because I stopped struggling and tried to make sense of the bizarre place in which I found myself. I suspect that it took at least 30 to 45 seconds to re-boot my brain and start to put the threads together into what might be called lucid thought.

    Almost immediately after I came around, I saw the ambulance come into the lot, and I was off to the hospital. Due to all of the ice, there were several ambulances at the hospital, no beds available, and a log jam of gurneys in the hallway with folks who had fallen or been otherwise injured by the slippery conditions. The lady next to me was found by her husband when he got home from work laying on the sidewalk in front of their house, out cold. She came around while next to me, and I could really sympathize with the disorientation she experienced, at least I woke up in the same location where I passed out.

    Given all of the broken bones and such, the hospital had already called in an Orthopedic Sturgeon [sic], who, when he evaluated me suggested that they pump me full of morphine for four or five days to let the swelling go down and then he would open me up and screw my lower right fibula back together and to re-locate my right foot (which was about a quarter of an inch too far to the left). I told him that I would prefer either no surgery at all or surgery ASAP, as in that night, if possible, because I was scheduled to fly to Taipei four days later. He told me that an non-surgical solution would be problematic (at best) and that, while he might be able to operate on me later that night if we could reduce the swelling enough, I sure as hell wasn’t going on any airplanes anytime soon regardless of when he performed the surgery. So, I took my morphine (via the IV, which burned my arm, made me want to puke and didn’t kill any pain, not even a little) like a good little boy and shut my big mouth. Just after midnight, after practically freezing my foot and leg to get the swelling down, he decided that he could in fact operate. Success, I was up and around on crutches about eight hours later.

    When the Sturgeon made his rounds later in the day, I asked him again if I could go on my trip. His response was predictable, “Not a chance.”

    So, I asked him, “Why not? Is there a medical reason?”

    That is when he finally came clean and told me that there was a danger of blood clotting (he called it a “Pulmonary Hematoma”) with such a lower extremity injury being combined with the twenty plus hours of sitting in one spot in an airplane. That said, simply taking two aspirin a day and making sure I moved my leg/foot around as much as possible, should partially, if not completely eliminate the risk. Done, I was going.

    The trip came off without a hitch (well, it was a little uncomfortable) , and on 23-Jan, I went back the see my Sturgeon for more X-Rays and a new cast. The good news was that the bone was healing well, however (the bad news) was that due to all of the ligament damage to the foot, I was going to be in a non-weight bearing cast until AT LEAST 20-Feb! Assuming all goes well, I will then transition to a walking cast for another four to six weeks, and then on to therapy and walking with a cane for another couple of months after that. The earliest that I can reasonably expect to drive a car with three pedals is sometime between Late May and mid June!

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Long story short, my wife has the 530i for the duration, and I am stuck driving the Caravan, left footed with my purple casted right leg over in the passengers’ foot well. ;-( Since I started driving a stick shift car back in 1977, this will be my longest stretch of driving an automatic; I hope I still remember how to stir my own gears when the time comes.

    Best Regards,
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152

    Thanks, I am going to have to live vicariously through y’all for a while. Maybe I can beg my wife to take me out on a date in the 530i every now and again, just to keep the memory fresh. ;-)


    Hmmm, an SHO, good solution, however, unfortunately our new house has only two garage bays; so, a third car is not an option. ;-(

    Best Regards,
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    Sorry to hear about your accident. Let's hope you can work that 3rd pedal soon.
  • 1pierce1pierce Posts: 284
    Doesn't it just figure that I've driven FWD and AWD cars my entire adult life until I bought my BMW, and the first winter I have it, it snows every day!

    We've got about 8 inches on the ground right now in Pittsburgh (although this week has warmed up). I drive my 325i every day to work and to job sites. I have the base suspension with 16" all-season Continentals, and Steptronic.

    All in all, the car has gone great. I haven't tried to negotiate a deep snow fall, yet. I have a 4WD pick-up that I can use when it gets really deep. I'd rather drive the pick-up when its really bad than deal with snow tires and aftermarket rims. But, I have been caught out in those fast snows, where the road covers quickly with an inch or two before they get it plowed. My car has gone fine. Starting-out traction isn't the greatest, but DSC compensates and gets it going, and it seems to brake and steer beautifully in the snow - once you get going, it goes up any hill.

    Would I prefer it to AWD in the snow - no way. But, I haven't been scared yet, and the overall dynamic control of the car, and the flexibility of the transmission, does seem to compensate for the lack of spectacular grip. And, it goes down hill in the snow better than any car I've ever owned, 4WD included.

    My recommendation, if you're worried about RWD in the snow - with this car - don't worry. For occasional snow, or snow under 3-4 inches, the Continental all-seasons are fine. If you get deep snow often, put on snow tires, and you'll be better off than most of the cars on the road.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I'm really sorry to hear about your unfortunate fall. Glad it wasn't worse than it is given the weather and that fact that you retained your sense of humor is a good sign of healing :)

    I hope Mrs. Shipo has learned how to drive the manual REALLY well, so she will keep the car nice and loose for when you are finally able to play with 3 pedals again.
  • gosh, so sorry to hear about your fall! it was a very entertaining read, however. best wishes on a full and speedy recovery! you'll be back in your bmw in no time.

    p.s.--your wife knows how to drive a manual? that's great! i'm trying to learn myself for an upcoming new car, and am hoping the mrs. will have the patience to learn as well. if not, i'd be in a real pickle if i were to injur my leg like you. i've actually thought about that somewhat before reading your story. thankfully i live in sunny cal so no ice unless we go up to tahoe. :)
  • djocksdjocks Posts: 124
    Hi everyone. I cannot thank everyone enough for responding to the different posts I have put here. I am the newby to town hall but a long time auto-freak! Time in essence is standing still here in Conneticut. I am waiting to pick up my 2003 330i on Wednesday mid afternoon. It is seriously like Christmas Eve!

    On the snow tire front! As I have stated the sales person I am dealing with has included a great deal on once used snows fitted for the sport rims of the 330i sport package.

    Now the car is a lease. I am not going to get new rims this year b/c it is Feb. already and it was 50 degrees today. However, will the cars abilities in snow be different on the sport rims? And considering it is a lease, should I change the rims to standard rims next winter?

    Thanks for the help
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152

    Thanks, hopefully the fact that I am reasonably athletic (I was running 10 miles three to four times a week at a 7:50 pace on a dirt trail, just prior to the fall) will allow me to respond to the Physical Therapy faster than would otherwise be the case for a typical 45 year old. ;-) In the meantime, I let my wife drive when we go on a date, just so I can stay familiar with my car. ;-)


    Given that we have very limited garage space in this new house, my wife and I will have to make due with one vehicle each (I HATE cleaning off cars after over night snow and ice, haven’t had to do that since I was single…). That said, if I had the luxury of a place to park another vehicle, I would surely have considered a small 4x4 before I bought the winter tires for my 5er. Since discovering how well my car deals with the slippery stuff with these new tires, I am in a position that if I cannot get there now, I don’t need to be there. ;-)


    Fortunately for me, I have always been of the opinion that I would rather be dead than lose my sense of humor. ;-) In an odd sort of way, I found that laughter was able to help offset some of the pain, to that end, I found myself telling jokes to the Paramedic while in the Ambulance on the way to the hospital. It was either that or let them give me a shot of morphine, which in addition to the shock and the diesel fumes would have meant blowing chunks all over the inside of the Ambulance.

    Regarding Mrs. Shipo, she was an experienced stick shift driver long before I met her. She is pretty good at it too. ;-) True story; back in 1998, our growing family made it obvious to me that we needed a Mini-Van. When I first broached the subject with her, she said, “Are Mini-Vans available with a 5-Speed?”

    My response was, “Ummm, well not the ones that we would consider buying.”

    To which she replied, “Then I’m not driving it, you are!”

    Tonight, at the dinner table, we were laughing about, “Mommy driving Daddy’s car.” In the midst of her laughter, she managed to get out, “Yeah, and when this leg finishes healing, I am going to break the other one so I can keep driving the BMW!”

    Yup, she will keep it nice and loose for me. ;-)



    Congratulations on your decision to learn to drive a stick, so far, EVERYBODY that I have ever known who has wanted to learn how has mastered the art of driving with a third pedal without too much difficulty. The only question is; does your other half REALLY want to learn?

    I wouldn’t let the remote possibility of an injury sway you from driving a three pedal car, after all, this is my ninth car spanning 25 years with a stick shift, and this is the first time that I have been medically unable to drive it. Another thing to consider, MOST people never break a leg in their entire lifetime, I, however, am on my second one (the first was 28 years ago), so, I just used up your allocation! ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • wow, i've never had anyone break their own leg for me. that is so thoughtful! ;)

    i don't think the wife is too interested in learning how to drive a manual, but i'm hoping she can learn to drive the car as well. it would just seem like a waste for her to be stuck driving her little miata, especially if she ever needed the extra carrying capacity of a sedan (it'll be either an A4 or 330i, still deciding).

    thanks again for your touch of humor here. it gave me a good chuckle.
  • Shipo,
    That is the worst/best story I've ever heard. Get well soon!
  • The upshifts in my "03 330xi are {in my opinion} very sluggish and choppy. Dealer says shifts are
    "normal". When I move trans into 'sport' mode shifts seem to smooth out & become more seamless.
      With zero highway travel, I'm considering shifting trans into Sport mode for all driving, but am wondering about the fuel consumption penalty. Concerned, also, whether this strategy would have a negative effect on transmission/motor
      Any comments would be very much appreciated.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    Your wife drives an automatic Miata?! :O
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    For anyone who feels 330 is underpowered, this company offers a supercharger which will get you close to M3 power:

    BTW, sites in German. If you can't read German, then find someone who can, or go pick up a March issue of European Car. ;)
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    They do have the site in English, although I did not see the supercharger. AC-Schnitzer also has a supercharger for 330.
  • vkwheelsvkwheels Posts: 218
    It's like when I took vicodin for a toothache last year, I was expecting a nice buzz to go with the pain-killing aspect, but all I wanted to do was sleep. (sigh) Where did all the good drugs go? ;-)

    Seriously, I hope your recovery is swift and uncomplicated!

    Pierce1, same good wishes go for you too!
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