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BMW 3-Series 2005 and earlier



  • 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!
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    The supercharger is only in the German site under motor.
  • seivwrigseivwrig Posts: 388
    Hope you get well soon. Now I know why I don't miss living in upstate NY.
  • kominskykominsky Posts: 850
    We'll probably be heading up in Spring. I hope I remembered to bounce a 'thanks' for the info when you sent it. If not... THANKS!
  • My car (26K miles) is in for Inspection I and some recall work. The dealership called telling me I need new front brakes and rotors ($465).

    Why do the rocker arms need replacing at only 26K?

    New rotors at 26K?

    Looking forward to your advice...
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    My last vehicle had two brake jobs before 25,000 miles. It wasn't a Bimmer, so I won't mention the name. But a lot of it has to do with driving style. If you drive the car hard, expect to replace the rotors. My friend has a Honda Accord in which the rotors were replaced before 30,000.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    would those rotor jobs belong to a particular 4x4 manufacturer? :)

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    shhhhh..mums the word :)
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    I'm sorry to hear about all this. Hang in there - time will go by fast! On the plus side, we get you back here for a couple of months ;o)
  • new rotors at 26K is not abnormal for a bimmer, but you never can tell if the dealer is playing honest with you. My old Bimmer (1985 325), God rest her soul, would go through rotors very often, and I consider myself a "slightly" aggressive driver.
    I Haven't had to change the rotors yet in the whole 1,400 Miles I've put on my new baby, though ;-)
    A big problem with BMW rotors is you cannot (or should not) ever spin/turn them down for re-use...once they're warped, fuggetaboutit.

    I can tell you this much: you can purchase rotors/pads yourself and do a self-install if you put your mind to it and save a chunk of cash. Rotor replacement is a common DIY job for many bimmer owners, as can be seen on other forums. You may want to consider this route.
  • snyderw -
    Regarding getting new rotors with every new brake svc, BMW (and my mechanic) recommends when replacing brake pads, rotors should be replaced as well since, most newer model BMW's come with a rotor that is not thick enough to be resurfaced. As a side note that is also getting to be true with most new models from mfg. of cars to make one time use only rotors.
    The main advantage of course is with newer rotors (along with new brake pads) you will always get the same as when new short stopping distances and resist to fade after repeat hard brake stops.
    As far as the price you are quoted for a brake job is about avg for a dealer.
    There is a place near my home (x-dealer certified mechanic) it costs about $325 for genuine BMW pads and rotors.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Brave & Kominsky,

    Hmmm, Boston this Spring… Mind if I crash the party in my Dodge Caravan? ;-)


    As I have a fair amount of experience with a 1999 328i, I can offer you some advice regarding your post. First, the “Rocker Arms” are probably “Control Arms”, which, based upon my understanding, BMW has decided to replace (free of charge) for all 1999 E46 models. Mine were replaced during my 30K service appointment.

    The brakes, however, are a different matter. I have had entirely too many mechanics (not just BMW mechanics mind you) tell me that “You need brakes”, only to discover that there were an easy 10K miles left on the pads. Given that A) your car has a sensor connected to a light on the dash that will illuminate when your pads are getting low, and B) like most other manufacturers these days, BMW recommends that you do a complete Pad and Rotor replacement when performing a brake job, I recommend that you just keep driving the car until the light comes on.

    All of that said, when the light does come on, you have three options:
       1) Let your dealership replace the brakes for $465
       2) Find a local mechanic who will most likely do them for between $325 and $375
       3) Do the work yourself for about $225

    I chose option 3 for my 328i, I bought the parts from Steve at (Factory Pads, Rotors and new Sensor) for $225 (per axle) and I was able to perform the work myself with minimal tools (you will need a torque wrench though) in about 30-45 minutes per wheel. I did this work about a year ago, and I posted a step by step how-to, which I should be able to find if you think you might like to go this route.


    Thanks for all of your good wishes and vibes, I know that they are going to help me “Get back in the saddle” quicker. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • gobucsgobucs Posts: 17
    I would like to see your post on the brake job, if you can find it. Also, if you have pictures that would be great also. Thanks
  • Sorry to hear about the fall. I guess it shows that we are somewhat fragile -- you always figure something like that only happens to other people--It hits close to home when it is a fellow 3 pedal pusher that loves bimmers. I would have trouble coping with the recovery as well as losing the car temporarily.

    My wife has a 2000 Maxima and ever since I got my new wheels I have been pressuring her to think about a 540 wagon. I just can't stand the mushy/floating sensations her car evokes.

    Best of luck to you. Glad to hear from you again.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    For those of you who are facing a pending brake job, and might be inclined to save yourself a few hundred dollars by doing it yourself, here is an edited compilation of several posts that I made in March of 2002, along with a snippet of a post from our friend Div2.

    Parts: (purchased from Steve at (keep in mind that these are March 2002 prices))

    Rotors -- $46 x 2 = $92
    Single Axle Pad Set: $46
    Brake Sensor: $12
    Total: $150


    Torque wrench
    17mm socket (wheel studs)
    16mm socket or 16mm box wrench (caliper bolts)
    A set of metric allen keys (I never checked to see which size)-(Rotor retaining bolt)
    A big old honking flat bladed screw driver
    A 14” stack of old news papers or a bent up old wire hanger (to hold up the caliper)
    Goop Hand cleaner (or equivalent)


    1) Loosen the five wheel bolts on a single wheel a half turn each (making sure to use the “Star” pattern)
    2) Jack up the car and remove the wheel (make sure to chock the wheels at the other end of the car).
    3) Work the flat blade of the screw driver between the inside brake pad and the rotor and gradually pry the two apart. Keep working the pad back until the piston is fully compressed.
    4) Loosen the two 16mm caliper bolts behind the caliper bracket, and remove the bottom bolt.
    5) Stack 14" of newspapers (preferable bound with twine or some such) to the rear of the wheel well, or position the wire hanger from the spring so that you can hang the caliper without damaging the brake line.
    6) Remove the top caliper bolt, and rest the caliper on the stack of papers or hang it from the wire.
    7) Remove the single rotor retaining bolt with an Allen key and slide the rotor off the hub.
    8) Remove the spring clip between the caliper bracket and the caliper.
    9) Remove the brake pads from the caliper and slide the caliper bracket off of the caliper (these are floating calipers so the bracket should slide smoothly off to the rear).
    10) Wash the new rotor in a good concentration of dish soap, rinse and mount the new rotor and secure with the retaining bolt, tighten with the Allen key.
    11) Slide the bracket back on the caliper.
    12) Insert the new brake pads in the caliper.
    13) Re-attach the spring clip between the caliper and the caliper bracket.
    14) Slide the caliper over the new rotor, and thread the top caliper bolt.
    15) Remove the stack of papers, insert the bottom bolt and tighten both bolts to about 100 ft/lbs.
    16) (Left front only) Snap the sensor in place on the inside brake pad ("bump" toward rotor), and connect the sensor to the "Box" in the wheel well thus replacing the old one.
    17) Mount the wheel, and screw in the wheel bolts finger tight.
    18) Lower the car to the ground and tighten the wheel bolts to 72 ft/lbs in a "Star" pattern.
    19) Repeat for the other wheel.

    It really is that easy. ;-)

    Assuming that this brake job was triggered by the amber brake warning light on the dash, you follow this procedure to "reset" the brake pad wear indicator: Turn the ignition key to position 1 (ignition on) but not to the start position. Leave it in that position for at least 60 seconds. This clears the memory for this item and the light should not light again.

    I hope this helps. Given that the new “Search” facility is very different, (both better and worse) I will keep this post on file and can E-Mail it to anybody who needs it.

    Best Regards,
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hey ya Doc!

    I hear you on the "Close to Home" thing; it makes you think, doesn't it?

    Regarding coping, I am fairly good at keeping myself up, that said; last night I got a little blue, worrying if I would ever be 100% again. I only have 15 days until my current cast is taken off and HOPEFULLY a walking cast being installed in its place. Gee, if I’m REALLY lucky, they might even use one of those new fangled removable jobs so I can start therapy shortly thereafter (assuming that I don’t find myself back in Taipei again, which is a real possibility). I guess only after therapy starts will we have a good indication of how bad the soft tissue damage is, and how long before I can start pushing three pedals again. I will keep y’all posted.

    Best Regards,
  • vkwheelsvkwheels Posts: 218
    I bought a helmet for skiing, after I noticed how many boarders and expert skiers were wearing them. But it took a nasty fall to change my mind.

    I'm impressed that Pierce's car suffered little damage in a rear-ender, while he (neck/shoulders/back?) did. Driving helmets next? nah...

    Hang in there, your foot will heal.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    In my absence it seems that I may have missed something. Are "on the mend" as well?

    Best Regards,
  • vkwheelsvkwheels Posts: 218
    I bought a helmet for skiing, after I noticed how many boarders and expert skiers were wearing them. But it took a nasty fall to change my mind.

    I'm impressed that Pierce's car suffered little damage in a rear-ender, while he (neck/shoulders/back?) did. Driving helmets next? nah...

    Hang in there, your foot will heal.
  • roc50mgroc50mg Posts: 102
    I ran over a huge pothole on the BQE in NYC and now both my rims on the left side are noticeably bent. There's also a slight bulge on the tire sidewalls. I'm going to call my dealer in the morning to see what I need to do, but for now I just want to know if it's safe to drive.

    My car is a 2001 330 XI w/sport pkg and style 79 rims. Does anyone know how much it'll cost to replace? My car has 16,500 miles on it. Do you suggest replacing just the two rims on the left side or all four rims? What about tires? Should they all be replaced along w/rims? HELP!!!
  • A friend of mine recently picked up a 745, a car I've lusted for as soon as I saw it. (I have a 330i that I love.) I was thinking that just maybe that would be my next car. Until I went for a ride in it. Now granted, I was only a passenger but for me it was too limo-like. Very smooth and quiet, like an S class. As soon as I got back in my 3er I was so happy to hear that roar of the engine and feel the "edge" of the 3.
    I guess I'm more of a sports car kind of guy than I thought.
    On another subject, does anyone out there have real world experience with SMG? I need an auto because of the amount of city style driving I do but was thinking this may be a good alternative on my next 3 as it will be soon be available. I wonder do people really use it in the "manual" mode or just keep it in one of the programs. And if in the program, is it too "lurhcy" causing one to pine for an auto that does the job smoother?
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