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Your Opinions Requested - E39 "Tinkering"

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by x888jmo, Sep 2, 2009.

    • Member

    x888jmo

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    New to the CCA and forums (joined last week). Looking for advice and help from other experienced fans of these great cars.

    Have an 02 540i with the M Sport package, black on black, 6-speed, 17" staggered fitment wheels, etc. Bought the car in 05 with 32k miles and it has been my daily driver since. Recently had the car repainted (see "Ugly Mugs" posting) and have decided to make it a summer driver only, No more Ohio winters!

    Looking at ways to "improve" the driving experience and know this forum can offer some valuable insights on what works and what is a waste of money. Considering the following:
    1. Suspension: I'm sure the suspension is "tired" after all the miles. Suggestions on suspension kits? Not looking to make it a hard core racer, want to maintain "civil" road manners for daily driving but also be competent in aggressive driving/rallies. What about upgrading the sway bars (in addition to springs and struts)?
    2. Brakes (got to be able to stop!): Will need brakes before next summer. Want to keep the 17" M wheels so don't think a "big" brake kit is for me. Comments on vented (drilled/slotted) rotors? Recommendations for pads? Love the look of the Brembo calipers but don't think they are worth the money just for looks. Anyone had any experience with caliper covers?
    3. Cold Air Intakes - Comments on value/bang for the buck? Suggested manufacturers? Have heard of problems with some of these as far as screwing up mass air flow sensors and "confusing" the computer.
    Any other suggestions? I plan to keep this car until they take away me drivers license!

    Thanks for the help!
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    If you haven't been through a handful of BMW CCA driver schools, spend your first $1000* there. No one here will say that's a waste of money.

    Buckeye and Northern Ohio chapters both operate schools at Mid Ohio, one of the greatest tracks in the country. NOC also runs at Nelson Ledges, which is a fun track for learning what your car can do (that you may not be able to do with it).

    Every longtime instructor will always tell you to improve yourself first and your car second. ;)


    * Adjusting for inflation over all the years I've been saying this, it should probably be $1200-$1500 now.
    • Member

    190796

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    See my post recently discussing my experience (very positive) with Dinan Stage II suspension upgrade. It really transformed the car and maintained if not improved road manners. The shocks wear out and you don't notice the degradation in handling because it is so gradual. the Stage II kit was worth it.
    • Member

    CSBM5

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    They're on the higher end in price, but the Dinan springs are a great compromise for general street driving. Dinan springs, Konis, and front and rear sway bars will dramatically improve the car's feel. At the very least, just swapping in the Konis will likely clean up a lot of slop the original shocks have by now, but the labor is so high to do so, it makes sense to change springs at the same time. Other likely needs are the front thrust bushings and perhaps the steering center and side track/tie rods.

    On my M5 I'm using Dinan springs, Konis, Dinan rear sway bar, Ground Control adjustable camber plates, Dinan monoball front thrust bushings, and rear 9.5"/275/35 all round. The car handles superbly, and I have it tuned just like I want now (i.e. lots of front negative camber, etc). However, it also rides very decently still...better than a stock ZHP or E90 ZSP.

    Speaking of driver's schools...hey, I remember going to weekday Summit Point events for $50-$80 per day! The fall "Hotshoe" event put on by the National Capital chapter was a heck of a lot of fun each year. In those days we timed laps and had major battles for FTD and such not to mention the "tag-team" races we did at the end of the day. Fun times!
    • Member

    x888jmo

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    CR, Thanks for the input. I agree with you. Have joined the local branch and will take advantage of the next school session. A big mid-Ohio fan, but have only seen it from the spectators point of view. I have done the half-day BMW experience down in Greenville (in a Z4, not the 5). Just wetted my appetite!

    Thanks again!
    • Member

    x888jmo

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    Thanks for the feedback. Looking at Stage 2 package on the Dinan site. Question on the front sway bar (showing my ignorance). What is the reasoning behind the optional 27mm bar (versus the 28mm included in the package) for tire size differences over 20mm front to rear. I run 235 front, 255 rear. Quess the key word is more than a 20mm difference.

    Again, thanks for the feedback!
    • Member

    az3579

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    That is one thing you'd have to start driving on the track to understand what it affects. I learned about what I need to buy for my car based on what I felt at the track. Too much body roll? Great, bought a new suspension setup with stiffer springs and sport shocks. Still a bit too much roll, so I now know that I need sway bars, and the upgraded links and shock mounts to deal with all of this. I have found out that my stock brakes work really well on the track, and someone who has never been to the track would have immediately thought "I need to buy bigger brakes so I can handle the track". Just drive it first and then see if the items you are considering would benefit you.




    All of this goes without mentioning that track driving is addictive! Not only do you learn from it, but you have massive amounts of fun in the process. When I first went, I worked a $9/hr job part time, so you can see how difficult it must have been to be able to afford a day at the track. But, I pulled it all together and have made sure that I had enough money for the next track day event!

    Of course the financial situation has changed greatly for the better, but I still make the effort to save up enough for the next event. I can't wait 'till registration opens on the 14th... :D
    • Member

    CSBM5

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    I think their point with the bar is that the more tire/wheel size stagger you have front to rear, the more understeer the car will have. Hence for tire size differences of 30mm or more, they are suggesting using a slightly smaller front swaybar. A smaller (less stiff) front swaybar will reduce understeer some by slightly altering the front-to-rear balance (i.e. the rear now becomes slightly stiffer in comparison).
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    YESSS! That is what I'm talkin' about!

    And, FWIW, Chuck nailed it with the reason for those bar recommendations.

    You shouldn't just throw parts at your car and hope you make it better. Dinan does some thinking for you, but it's always better if you have analyzed what you have, what you need, and add one thing at a time, as if you were doing a laboratory analysis. That way, you can see whether the thing you did made the car better or worse and know which thing it was. Of course, this usually means you need to learn more about cars and handling dynamics. EWWW! :D

    ViolinARC guest

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    Yahoo...

    Sounds like it's gonna be fun. I'd recommend you poke around over on the BimmerForums site for more info as those guys are always trying to improve on BMW's multi-million dollar R&D from their garages, carports and street parking spots...

    There are so many possible combinations and there are so many tweakers over there that most of them have been tested and approved or rejected by the owners...

    GL...

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