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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 04-24-2014, 11:19 AM   #1
KyleAndrew
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My experience(s) with DIY and a note for those considering it

Hey all,

I'm not sure if this is in any way actually giving back to the community, but I thought I would share my experiences with venturing into DIY myself over the last 18 months or so. I wanted to share a few things I've learned along the way, unconventional tips I suppose, and just notes of what I've picked up on.

Firstly, thank you to everyone here (and by extension, other BMW boards online and YouTube video creators). You've made things relatively painless for someone who hadn't done more than change tires on a car at the side of the road.

My journey began almost two years ago when I had taken my car in for service, and they handed me this long list of what needed to be done, totaling something like $3200 for all parts and labor/diagnosis. I did not have this kind of money available, and wasn't sure what to do. I'd sort of neglected the car (2002 E46 330i) over the years and took my ownership for granted, and now I was going to have to pay the piper.

Somehow I found my way into these boards and started to chip away at the work myself. In that time I have done the following to the car:

1. Changed front rotors and brake pads
(lesson learned, don't install the brake pad facing the wrong way, or you'll gouge the rotor disc and need to replace both immediately. I still broke even on doing this myself if not saved a little scratch).
2. Changed rear rotors and brake pads
3. Changed front driver side brake caliper
4. Changed drive and AC belt
5. Replaced Radiator
6. Replaced upper and lower radiator hoses
7. Replaced water pump
8. Replaced power steering hoses
9. Replaced power steering reservoir
10. Replaced Thermostat
(lesson learned, pay attention to torque specs on tightening things up)
11. Replaced all pulleys
12. Replaced Hydraulic tensioner
13. Replaced control arm bushings/housings
14. Replaced spark plugs (yesterday)
15. Replaced Valve Cover Gaskett (yesterday)
16. Replaced Vanos Seals (Yesterday)

Along the way, I've learned an incredible amount about how these machines operate, and I'm now fascinated to learn and do more. I forgot how much I actually loved cars, and becoming more intimate with my own, I've re-found something that I guess always existed in side of me. I'm a wrench head, even if just a weekend warrior. I have a list of upcoming projects I'm going to be doing as well, or a wish list of what I'd like to do:

1. Oil change, filter, oil level sensor (parts sitting at home)
2. Rear Differential Fluid swap (sitting at home, but I think my fluid pump is shitty)
3. Rear suspension refresh (considering ECS kit, car doesn't feel right) but I realize this involves a lot of specialty tools
4. ICV cleaning

I want to tell those considering getting into DIY that the VAST majority of what I've listed above was pretty damned easy to perform with all the thorough instructions available here and elsewhere online. Servicing your own car is VERY rewarding. I don't mean to knock on shop mechanics out there, but they are under pressure to work fast, and there is no chance they can care about my car as much as I do. I had a very very good shop in my hometown that really did care about the cars (Beech in Hamilton Ontario) but I just didn't want to spend the money any more.

So, little things I've learned:

1. I prefer working with latex Gorilla Gloves (8 mil) more than I do mechanic gloves. Once mechanic gloves starting getting fluids on them, they seem to get ruined. I bought a 50 pack of the latex ones for $16, and I went through 7 of them yesterday doing 8.5 hours of work. This is just preference.
2. Get a nice pair of coveralls to work in. You will get oil on your clothes, dirt all over you, and coveralls come with lots of hand pockets and keep the mess off you
3. Buy a decent jack and stands. duh.
4. Try to make sure you have access to a second car when making repairs. You will inevitably forget stuff. Not an absolute, but yesterday for example I realized I didn't have a spark plug socket, and then later snapped a bolt I needed to replace. A second car helped, but is a luxury.
5. Perform a dynamic flexibility warm up routine before you do work to prevent injuries (this is different than stretching, I actually run an online nutrition/fitness coaching company and I will post some tips on this later in the thread). This to me is a hugely important step for your enjoyment of doing your own work.
6. Optional, but every time I save tons of cash doing my own work, I buy new tools that I need. After a year and a half I have a wicked amount of stuff to keep it going in the future.
7. 'Measure twice, cut once'. Just go slow and be patient. Take your time and do things properly.

I'm sure I'm forgetting other 'tips' but I just thought I would post this in here to encourage those of you still timid about making the leap.

Respect your cars everyone, we own one of the last truly great and mostly mechanical BMWs!!
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:26 AM   #2
wildirish317
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Nice post!

Since you're getting ready to change your diff fluid, here's a lesson learned by others:

Remove the fill plug first, then the drain plug. If you remove the drain plug first, and then cannot get the fill plug out, you're in for a bad day under the car.
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“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”

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I just don't know what I'd do with 560 hp that doesn't involve getting arrested.
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:27 AM   #3
KyleAndrew
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^ thank you for that
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:57 AM   #4
wildirish317
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You're welcome. Please post your dynamic flexibility warm up routine soon. I'm 54 years old, and when I spend a weekend crawling around under the car I can barely move on Monday.
__________________
“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Miller
I just don't know what I'd do with 560 hp that doesn't involve getting arrested.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:06 PM   #5
KyleAndrew
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Warm up routine for lower body/lower back etc:

Option 1:

https://www.t-nation.com/training/defranco-agile-8

Perform steps 4-5 if you do not have a foam roller (you can do the 'tennis ball' one on a foam roller too, no need for the ball).
Perform only steps 1-5 (or 4-5) if you are older and lack flexibility or strength. Work up to the full 8 steps if you can but don't worry if you can't. In a perfect world you'd perform this every day, morning and night. It takes 2-8 minutes depending on how much of the routine you do.

Option 2:

Pick at least 4 of these (but feel free to do them all daily) with my preference being that all routines include the rollovers into V sits, the leg swings onto the different planes, and the fire hydrant circles

Wall Hip Flexor Mobilization -
Two-legged Glute Bridge -
Leg Swings Frontal Plane -
Leg Swings Sagittal Plane -
Fire Hydrant Circles -
Mountain Climbers -
Rollovers into V Sits -
Dynamic Calf Stretching -

Upper Body:

If you have access to a foam roller -

No foam roller -


---

Honestly, these routines are quick to do, and they will absolutely change your life. I used to suffer from heavy Sciatic nerve problems and various other aches and pains (I'm 6'8/255lbs). I incorporated this work (sometimes more, sometimes less) into my daily routine about 15 months ago and have been completely pain and problem free since.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:36 PM   #6
wildirish317
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Thanks. Us old guys will find this useful. Alcohol does a pretty good job too.
__________________
“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Miller
I just don't know what I'd do with 560 hp that doesn't involve getting arrested.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:37 PM   #7
KyleAndrew
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adhering to this should allow you to drink at least two extra beers during your next DIY
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:16 AM   #8
KyleAndrew
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One more tip I just thought of as a follow up:

Be prepared to walk away. Sometimes, with inexperience, you will be confounded by something. You can't get a part off, you can't get it on, it doesn't seem to fit... Stand up and walk away. Let your mind settle, let the frustration leave your body... cooler heads prevail.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyleAndrew View Post
One more tip I just thought of as a follow up:

Be prepared to walk away. Sometimes, with inexperience, you will be confounded by something. You can't get a part off, you can't get it on, it doesn't seem to fit... Stand up and walk away. Let your mind settle, let the frustration leave your body... cooler heads prevail.
I've been wrenching for 15 years... still find myself doing this. Not walking away is a great way to damage something, over look measuring something, forget to install something, and the list can go on. Great advice!

I have tendentious in both hands/wrists... what kind of movements can I do to ease the cramping and increase strength?

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Old 04-25-2014, 08:49 AM   #10
KyleAndrew
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Tendinitis is a tricky issue, and one that is often improperly addressed. People often look at it as a symptom of weakness but that is not often the case. If you've been wrenching that long, my guess is you're a fairly strong guy, certain with strong forearms and hands. Your problem could be lack of strength, but let's evaluate it as a whole. Tendinitis is essentially inflammation.

Inflammation is VERY common in many of us (I suffer from it as well) and more often than not it comes down to three things, in no particular order:

1. Weakness of tissues surround the joint. The muscles and tendons surrounding the joint are weak and offload too much of the stress to the affected area.
2. Overuse - pretty self-explanatory
3. Nutrition! (ugh, I know)

The problem with addressing inflammation issues is that most of us don't do it correctly, or are not told how to address it. There is very little point in trying to strengthen an inflamed area if you don't address underlying concerns first.

North American diets notoriously promote inflammation. This is generally because our dietary intakes of Omega 6 Fatty Acids (which cause inflammation) GROSSLY outweigh our dietary intakes of Omega 3 Fatty Acids (prevent inflammation).

Understand this, your body needs to go through some inflammation, its part of the regular healing process. Too much of a good thing though, and you have inflammation beyond healing, you have a chronic problem. In a perfect world, your ratio of Omega6:Omega3 would be anywhere from 1:1 to 1:4, however the average north american is 16:1 or worse.

The best way to begin correcting this ratio? Stop eating processed foods. Essentially, manufacturers put synthetics like transfats into foods to enhance their flavor, preserve them, etc. I don't want to get too long winded as you can google various sources of the two fats, but know this, if you look at a food product and it has more than one ingredient, the longer that list, the more increasingly bad it is for you.

All of my clients take Fish Oil supplements daily which help to improve their ratio, increase their energy and mental sharpness, and lubricate joints etc. etc.

I'm happy to answer more questions but I'll leave this as is for now. Diagnosing yourself is exactly like diagnosing your car. If you don't get to the root of the problem you're solving nothing. If your body aches, you need to make sure your nutrition is intact first. They call it junk food for a reason.

Finally, stay hydrated. Lack of hydration is the worst possible thing for our joints and tendons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PapiOcho View Post
I've been wrenching for 15 years... still find myself doing this. Not walking away is a great way to damage something, over look measuring something, forget to install something, and the list can go on. Great advice!

I have tendentious in both hands/wrists... what kind of movements can I do to ease the cramping and increase strength?

Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:50 AM   #11
Jools
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Great post.

Disposable gloves are definitely the way to go for any kind of job involving fluids, but I generally find some kind of thin work glove (I've been using these for a few years now) is a lot more comfortable for everything else. If you get oil or whatever on a pair of non-disposable gloves, just soak them in some Dawn dish soap and they'll clean right up.

About the only thing I can add for anyone who hasn't worked on cars before and wants to start: get the right tools. You can easily get by by just purchasing what you need job by job, but there are some tools you'll always want to have on hand. If you don't have access to air tools, then you're going to want a good breaker bar, some extensions, and ratchets of varying lengths. If you do have access to air tools, you're probably still going to want that stuff. If a job "might" need some sort of pulling tool, get the god damn puller. A good variety of pliers and screwdrivers is also far more handy than you might expect. Having the right stuff on hand will seriously save you hours and hours of frustration and trips to the local hardware store. Sockets and wrenches, however, can easily be bought on a job-by-job basis if you're on a tight budget.

Edit- If you ever have to do anything at all with those horrifying little plastic push fasteners that are all over this car, save yourself some pain and get one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Lisle-35260-Pl.../dp/B0002SRCMO. Those little bastards are a pain in the ass to pull off and needle nose pliers tend to destroy the things. Alternately, just order like 100 of the stupid things and cut them to get them off. It's kind of cathartic, really.

Last edited by Jools; 04-25-2014 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 04-25-2014, 09:01 AM   #12
KyleAndrew
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+1 ^ all of the above
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Old 04-25-2014, 11:01 AM   #13
jolaine
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Old 04-28-2014, 02:05 PM   #14
wildirish317
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I'll keep this thread alive with another lesson learned. I learned this on my daughter's Passat this weekend, and it applies to BMWs as well:

When changing brake pads/rotors, take the time to clean and re-lube the caliper slide pins. It's a 5 minute job that will ensure the calipers don't bind when you're finished.
__________________
“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Miller
I just don't know what I'd do with 560 hp that doesn't involve getting arrested.
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:54 PM   #15
jaga
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Great thread. Continue it alive and update the beginners!!!!
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