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'02 E46 M3 upgrade advice? wheels, rims, exhaust and other

Discussion in 'E46 M3 (2001-2006)' started by boyermike, May 28, 2008.

    boyermike guest

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    I have decided to hold on to the old girl (47K miles) and give her some new parts rather than buy the new E90 at this time.

    I am at a convenient time to replace wheels and breaks because of wear and had thoughts of moving from the 17" rims to something larger.

    I am welcoming suggestions on what people have had success with along with pros/cons in the 18-20" size. Please share any issues or modifications you had to make for the larger sizes. Also interested which tires you switched to for the front and back. I plan to keep the 17" rims an equip them with some all season or snow tires.

    I also need to replace the breaks and rotors. Any suggestions on BMW vs aftermarket breaks? If so, did you replace the calipers as well?

    Last, looking for votes on some common upgrades to add a little spring and bling. The wife backed the exhaust into some gravel a year ago so I am contemplating a change on that front.

    Considering struts, stabilizers, air intake changes, etc. Please opine!

    Thanks! -M

    EEM3 guest

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    One of the first modifications I made on my car was the Borla Cat Back Exhaust, and still I'm very pleased not only by the sound, also by the looks. Also I added a carbon fiber cold air intake that also looks great and gave the car a more aggresive sound when you accelerate at low rpms.

    As for the wheels, I have AC Schnitzer Type III 19" Chrome wheels with Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires. They also look great but the ride is a little more rough, although there is an improvement in cornering.

    Latter on I'm planning to upgrade to a Brembo Big Brake kit and change the sway bars to an Eibach Adjustable sway bar system.

    Let me know if you want some fotos to se how my mods. looks.

    boyermike guest

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    Thanks and more info

    I would defintely like to see some of the pictures.

    Also interested if you would in the specific models on the tires.

    Did you need to make any shock or travel adjustments to take the 19" or did they work straight up? I assume no rubbing?

    Will you upgrade just the core breaks or will you also do the calipers?

    Thanks for the info

    EEM3 guest

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    E46 M3's came with 18" or 19" oem wheels depending on what options you request from your dealer. I am presently using Pirellis P-Zero Rosso tires 255/35 ZR19 rear and 225/40 ZR19 front. That is the stock configuration. My rims are 9.5" rear and 8.5" front. I added a 15mm spacer for the rear wheels in order to take them further out. The car looks wider from the back and still they don't rub in any way. I still have my stock 18" wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tires, but is very hard turninig back to them once you have upgraded to AC Schnitzer wheels.

    As for the breaks, Brembo has a kit that comes with the four piston calipers, cross drilled slotted rotors, pads and barided lines. They are around $3,000. There are a few other brands with simmilar kits. Check this link for AP Racing Brakes.. http://store.bimmerperformancestore.com/E46-M3-Brakes.aspx. Also Stop Tech has brakes for the E46 M3.

    I tried to upload some fotos, but did'nt work out. I think the files are larger than what the system accept. I will try to send them to your email.

    Take care....

    mdheller guest

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    My answer to your questions would depend on whether you plan to use it as a track car or a street car. I am running a Dinan S3-R set up which has pretty much everything done to it and I love it. If this is a track car I would recommend keeping the wheel size at 18 because it should be less weight than the 19inch. I personally have the bmw m3 competition wheels which are great. I actually have an extra set of them with some older pilot sport PS2s (size: 225-40z19 front 255-35ze19 back) on them if you would be interested in picking them up. I think I bought them for 3k with rubber and the rubber is shot. Rims are nice though, so if you were thinking about picking up a set I might consider getting rid of my wheels. Only problem is that they are 19inch so if you are planning to race they might not be what you are looking for. I typically think that BBS makes some of the best and sexiest wheels for the BMW and I would personally stick with either BBS or BMW wheels most bmw wheels are bbs anyway (if I'm not mistaken).

    As far as brakes go, I think it will depend again on what you want to use them for and how much money you have to spend. I have a Brembo Grand Terismo brake kit on my car which has 15inch rotors in front and 13inch rotors in back with 4 piston calipers all around. I can stop on a dime, and it is honestly the best braking car I have ever been in. If you have the money to put in a system like this I would recommend it. aside from a brembo kit I would personally keep it stock, I can't see changing out the whole braking system for something that wont significantly improve the stock braking system. You could always look for cheaper alternatives to brembo like stoptec if you don't want to pay the premium for the name. but I think it is important to either go big or go home in this area, feel free to disagree with me if you want but I can't see spending all the money for a new braking system that is only a little bit better. I've seen used kits on e46fanatics.com in their forums for around 3-4k that might be a great place to look if you don't mind a used kit.

    You mentioned the exhaust, I would consider Dinan, Borla or supersprint systems, I have had all of them on various model m3's in the past. I can't say that I could notice any huge difference between the performance I got because they were all on different model m3's but I think they all make quality systems and it would depend on if you like the sound or not. You should probably listen to somebody with the exhaust you are thinking about getting. I'm in PA outside philly if you want to come hear a dinan system.

    Hope that helps- Mike

    jdbunda guest

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    Wow, talk about an open-ended question! I agree with previous replies, what do you want to do with the car? If it's just for street, I would not bother upgrading brakes, they are already excellent, so unless you are experiencing fade on the track, I would leave them alone. If it's bling you want, maybe paint your calipers and be done with it (caliper paint is available from many aftermarket suppliers).

    For wheels and tires, you can run up to 245F/275R with no rubbing issues. Lots of people use spacers to position the wheels for the best looks, a personal preference issue. Also, lowering the suspension is popular too, there are several good coil-over kits out there.

    I highly recommend doing some research to figure out what performance/look you think you might want to achieve. Lots of photos and mod discussions on m3forum.com, suggest you check out that site to help dial in.

    I have a few upgrades on mine - I put ZCP (CSL lookalike from the Competition Package) wheels on my silver gray car, Tischer BMW sells them for ~$1600/set. I also have some minor cosmetic things - clear front marker lights, blacked out roundels. My car came from the previous owner with a Dinan exhaust, which has a great sound.

    I have purchased numerous other bits from European Autosource, which is an aftermarket supplier specializing in E46 M3s, and Tom who runs it is a great guy, highly recommended, check out their web site.

    After you have a better idea what direction you want to go, it will be easier to advise you.

    boyermike guest

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    Ends up being academic

    Ironically, in the midst of soliciting all this advice, I took the car to the dealer to have the 45K service and the head rebuild done. I decided to replace the worn rear brakes, rotors and tires with stock for the time being while I got my act together on what I wanted.

    Well. After picking the car up and proceeding less than a quarter mile from the dealer, a 21 year old college gal on her cell phone coming the other direction decided to turn left without being able to see through another fully stopped lane of traffic with a couple large trucks in it. I was going straight in my lane with no obstacles visible and green lights.

    Needless to say, her car came out of nowhere between two trucks not even leaving me time to hit the brake pedal. My M3 smashed directly into her vintage 1990 POS at around 35 mph.

    Airbag. belt. wham.

    Both myself and the college kid were okay. But the M3 was officially totalled the other day. A sentimental and loyal friend has been lost :(

    I placed my order for a new '08 M3 the other day.

    'mdheller' - I would still love to hear your exhaust as I am sure I will be looking to play with the new M3 before too long. I myself live north of the turnpike north of Philly. Drop me a line if the offer is still good at mboyer@alumni.upenn.edu

    Rascasse guest

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    The E46 M3 is a very tunable and upgradable car. It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

    I track my cars, so the first things I looked at were the brakes. I went with a Brembo set up w/6 piston calipers. I then felt that the suspension set up was a little soft for me... so coilovers were next.

    After that my company developed software that brings hp to ~370.

    For me, this set up works very well.

    jdbunda guest

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    Man, that is terrible news, but at least no one was hurt. Good luck with the E92.

    CryNoMo guest

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    I miss my e46 M3 sometimes, its the best 6 cyclinder car I've owned :eek:

    crbnblk03m3 guest

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    Where does one acquire software to get to 370 hp?

    • Member


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    I believe that cell phones while driving should be banned nationwide :mad:
    • Member


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    It is in most states (using a handheld, at least) but people don't care and they do it anyway. It is illegal here to use a hand held cell phone while driving here, but I'm willing to bet that you can drive down the street here, with a cell phone in hand, in front of of a cop, and they won't care. It's because people do it so much that they just don't bother pursuing.

    If I was a cop, I would probably end up meeting the quota 10x over every month, THAT's how many incompentant and stupid drivers there are in Bridgeport. And don't get me started with New York...
    • Member


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    Any responses here?


    tmiked guest

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    Upgrading to the CSL brakes is an alternative low-cost option.
    I spent ~$800. but I would have spent close to $500 doing a normal brake overhaul, regardless.

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