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Trying to move away from being a checkbook mechanic

Discussion in 'E46 M3 (2001-2006)' started by jituji70, Oct 30, 2009.

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    jituji70

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    I was watching DIY videos on youtube, since I'm trying to make myself more proficient at taking care of my "new" 05 M3. I'm assuming a video for E46 would be generalizable for my M3, right? Aside from the larger rotors on my competition package, I'm guessing that a brake job is a brake job...right? When it comes time for it, I'm planning on finding someone who can work on it with me. As they say, "see one, do one, teach one"...also, I must admit that I don't even have jackstands right now...sigh....
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    espcane

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    Funny, I never thought of checking for or watching DIYs on YouTube. For the most part you should be fine watching anything that is for an E46. Yes some parts may be slightly different but overall the mechanics are the same. Perhaps some nut and bolt sizes would be different, etc.

    I like your approach of finding an experienced person to "show you the way" its a great way of getting comfortable working on your vehicles.

    BIMMIR guest

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    The best first investment might be a Bentley repair manual. You can buy them from Bentley directly, or save a bunch and get one (brand new) from Amazon.
    These will take you step by step through most things, including tools needed and photos.
    Another good resource is www.bavauto.com they are located in Portsmouth NH but have on line information including step by step how to's under their newletter link. They also have very good phone support, and if you like, will sell you all the parts you need as well. You might be able to source parts cheaper through tisher bmw or others on line.
    Though it might be a bit intimidating at first, look at it this way - with the money you'll save on service, you can stock a pretty effective tool box and garage with what you'll need to do the jobs.
    Finally, to your point about finding an experienced person to help the first time, check with your local club. Often there are people willing to help. Sometimes, chapters have tech sessions as well.
    Good Luck, and have fun!
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    TeamStowell We love driving!

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    I admire your spunk! I have been purchasing older bimmers because of the less complicated setups. Just about to head out and adjust valves/change oil on our E30.

    Def get the Bently manual and use Bavarian Autosport for tech support. Don't forget about Mike Miller... if you email him a question he gets back to you usually within 24 hours if not sooner (always been a few hours w/ my questions). His contact info is in the Roundel.
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    Brian A

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    Thats the way we all start. The hardest part is fighting expectations about how long things "should" take. First time doing something sometimes can be really slow. Be patient and you'll get 'er done.

    (Buy big stable jack stands, btw) (Mine are rated for 16,000 lbs and get the car nice and high in the air).
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    John in VA

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    BMP Design has many E46 M3 tech videos. Maybe that is what you came across.
    Hopefully you have an active local chapter that offers DIY tech sessions, or at least has a hardcore DIY faction who can watch or give you a hand.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/528im52

    BIMMIR guest

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    Great points Scott!
    Also, if you e mail Mike Miller and ask nicely, he will e mail you back the latest version of the "Old School" BMW maintenance schedule. This is a great road map of when to do your work.
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    MGarrison

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    Ditto's on Bentley manual, a must. Make sure to read the general techniques stuff at the beginning. Plan double or triple the time to do a project than you think, or that you expect a professional mechanic would take.

    Be patient, and if you get into something that gets complicated, take pictures so you know exactly how things go back together, and mark parts. Putting things back together sometimes is less obvious than it appears upon disassembly/removal.

    It can be ez to hurt yourself working on cars, so make sure to use common sense, and think things through; don't launch into projects if you're tired, otherwise impaired, or hurried. I use nitrile gloves (typically from Harbor Freight) to help keep hands clean and limit exposure to toxins in fluids and cleaners; expect to get dirty - (don't work in any shirt you value). Protect your eyes with safety goggles, particularly when working with fluids or aerosol anything (cleaners, etc), under a car when you have to be looking up (get used to keeping your mouth closed too - you don't want to find yourself tasting some congealed globule of oily dirt that you knocked loose while wrenching), or drilling/grinding or anything similar.

    NEVER trust a jack and NEVER put any part of yourself under a car that isn't securely supported by jack stands, and do not work on soft, or unlevel ground. Opt for level concrete if available, and keep in mind asphalt can be soft, particularly if newer. Jack stands will easily sink into an asphalt driveway, particularly in summer heat, be prepared to protect asphalt w/ thick enough plywood pieces if necessary.

    When breaking any bolt or part free, LOOK at where your hand(s) would go if the part broke free unexpectedly - all to easy to bust knuckles, slice your fingers or hands on anything sharp, or puncture your hands/arms on something pointed - and then tailor your position and force applied appropriately. Sometimes you may need to apply force open-handed vs. a full grasp. If you haven't for awhile, (or can't remember when you last did), then get a tetanus booster shot. Keep some first aid materials available, and a fire extinguisher nearby, and don't forget the possibility of spontaneous combustion from oil or solvent-soaked rags & shop cloths.

    Include torque wrenches in your tool budget, all too easy to overtorque or even break a bolt; you can tell when things are tight, but you're not going to be able to tell by feel if you have, for instance, your brake caliper bolt 85 ft-lbs (or whatever the spec is), or not.

    Pelican Parts also has BMW-specific d-i-y info. Be prepared for creative problem solving - the manuals, for instance, may not offer up suggestions on what to do when the simple suggestion (remove the bolt) is out the window because now, the bolt head is stripped. I changed rotors a few weeks ago - despite my prior best effort to keep the rotor set screw from becoming impossible to remove (with a liberal application of never-seize) and not overtightening, it was still stuck, and the hex-head allen bolt easily stripped, as is typical. So, once again, I had to drill it out, being careful to drill only far enough and not risk screwing up by drilling into the hub itself.

    Anyway, it's hard not to be prepared for contingencies if you don't know what they are, thus the read-through-procedures-first, do research, ask questions, plan-enough-time, & be prepared before starting recommendations. ;)

    Working on your own car offers its own rewards, and is certainly educational, sometimes fun, sometimes a nuisance, and can save some money otherwise spent at a shop or dealer, so - spend some of what you'd spend on labor on tools instead (don't skimp on those!), get whatcha need, jump in, and have some fun while you're at it!

    BIMMIR guest

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    Great points M...

    Another trick I like is to use masking tape to label corresponding parts (2 pieces of tape with a matching number or letter to tell you where it goes) the first couple of times I do something mechanical. You'd be surprised how helpful this is, particularly if something doesn't go as planned and diverts your attention. It can be a lot later than planned when you are putting something back together, and sometimes a different day if you have to chase surprise parts or tools. I know, not you, right? Trust me. You know murphys law? He was a shadetree mechanic!
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    MGarrison

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    Another thing I forgot to mention - wheel chocks. Use your parking brake AND chock at least one wheel opposite of the side you're jacking up when you plan to get your car in the air. If you have some major project where you have to get it quite high, be careful. I don't know what a mechanic's school would say, but if I'm going for max jack height extension, I do it in stages. I get all 4 jacks under the car at a reasonable height, then jack one side or end a little higher. I think doing it a side at a time is probably more stable than an end at a time; the back end jacked higher than the front, with the front on jack stands, always looks to me like it leaves open the potential for the car to maybe slide forward on the jacks, or even have the jacks tilt. Have never had it happen, but to me, the leverages involved in getting the sides up in steps look more stable than raising the ends.

    It's better and far safer to use a jack that will raise the car to the desired height, than using something for a 'spacer' that can slip, or break. I heard of an instance where a hockey puck was being used on the jack pad for a little extra height, and it broke under the weight of the car - not a big distance to fall, but better to avoid any such incident.

    Seemingly solid things may be less so than apparent when subjected to the stresses of many hundreds or even a thousand or more pounds..

    BIMMIR guest

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    Since this thread started, my car is on jack stands now. On the way home tonight, my low tire air pressure light came on. It has run flats, and I made it home. I stopped a couple of times to add air, trying not to run on zero air pressure. If you run a run flat too far on low air pressure it can compromise the sidewalls so the tire can't be reused. I found a piece of metal within the tread, i'm not sure if this one can be plugged. OUCH!
    This spring I plugged another one on the same car, a clean nail with a slow leak, which has been fine.
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    Brian A

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    ... and put any nut or bolt you remove in a sandwich bag and label it with a Sharpie.

    Before you crawl under the first time, give the car a hard shove left to right and front to back. Its going to be stable, but if its going to fall, its better now than when you're wrenching underneath it. After all these times, I still feel a twinge of fear every time I crawl under my car.
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    jituji70

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    these are some awesome comments...definitely getting me more motivated. I'll probably start out with something simple like a brake job and oil changes. I used to change the oil on my old civic about 10 years ago, so hopefully something'll stir up from the ol' noggin.
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    ggondek

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    Frozen brake rotors

    I spent about an hour this afternoon removing a "frozen" brake rotor from the rear of my E39. Claw hammer, penetrating oil, rubber mallet, pry bar, creative language all don't work. 3 taps with a 4 lb hammer works.
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    TeamStowell We love driving!

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    Had the same issue when replacing the rear rotars on our E24 - nothing worked until my friend suggested I release the parking brake! :eek:

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