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Old 01-11-2013, 06:44 PM   #1
wildirish317
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Critique of Dorman DISA

With the price of an OEM DISA replacement climbing above $200, I decided to try the one manufactured by Dorman. But first, I want to post some pics of it here and get some feedback on it. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak (looking at it will not tell me how it performs). Here are some pics.

First, the label on the box. No hiding the fact that it's made in China.



Next, the part, still made in China. Have they made 12254 of these?



Next, the damper and frame. Notice how the gasketing is some type of high temp RTV that is molded onto the frame. This is where I begin to have some doubts about the construction. Another member assured me it's the same as OEM. My experience with RTV as a sealant is that it works great for two parts that are stationary to one another, such as a VCG. However, this damper blade is constantly opening and closing, and air is rushing past it during the process, with the highest velocity just before it closes. This stuff really doesn't bond to the plastic that well, imho.

Take note of the ridge at the edge of the damper blade (near top of photo). You will see in the next pic how that seats into the gasket.



Three things I want to point out in this pic. The first is a continuation of the one above. If you look at the frame, you can see how the aforementioned ridge fits snugly into the u shaped groove in the gasket. I think they put the RTV on, let it skin, and then close the damper until it sets up. At least that's what I would try.

The hole in the housing next to the damper blade is the vacuum port. I assume that it's on the engine side of the damper (as opposed to the throttle valve side) so that it's exposed to the highest vacuum. The vacuum draws air out of the vacuum actuator (next pic) and closes the damper. The damper is spring loaded to the open position.

The infamous pin (the one that falls out into the manifold) at the top of the frame is carbon steel. At least a magnet sticks to it. It seems to be a press fit, and is pretty tight at room temperature.



Last pic. Here you can see the relief port, along with some molded porting for the vacuum. Below and just to the left of the relief port housing you can see the linkage. To the right of the relief port housing you can see the actuator diaphram, and a vacuum port connected to one side of the diaphram. At this point, I'm glad they molded all of this vacuum porting, so we don't have to keep track of which hose goes where. On the other hand, vacuum hose is a lot cheaper than DISAs.



So here's what happens (again, imho): At high vacuum (did you know that your mpg gauge on the dash is a vacuum gauge - the higher the mpg, the higher the vacuum? 1960s technology survives!) the air is drawn out of the DISA housing, which pulls the diaphram, which pulls the linkage and closes the damper. When you put your foot to the floor, the vacuum in the intake manifold drops, and the spring overcomes the diaphram and opens the damper. When you reach 4200 rpm, a signal is sent to the solenoid valve in the relief port chamber, which opens a valve which ensures there is no vacuum to close the damper at high rpm. This also creates a vacuum leak, which is not noticed at high rpm.

I'm not going to explain in this post what the DISA actually does. There is another thread that goes into that discussion, and I will post a link to it shortly.

Let's hear it gals and guys! Is this thing worth $130? Is the OEM version worth $100 more?
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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 01-11-2013, 06:49 PM   #2
wildirish317
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And here's the link to the discussion of what the DISA actually does for us.

http://www.e46fanatics.com/forum/sho...&postcount=123
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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 01-11-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
wildirish317
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And a link to the post that contains the diagram referred to in the discussion above.

http://www.e46fanatics.com/forum/sho...&postcount=113
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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 01-11-2013, 08:56 PM   #4
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Good photos.
Sub'd to see long term reliability testing.

One thing I would be interested in seeing is the quality of the plastic used for the flap and overall frame.

Last edited by BimmersGarage; 01-11-2013 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:09 PM   #5
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wildirish137,

Thanks for going out on the limb and posting this up here for all of us to at least visually see.

The problem as you have pointed out is how with this hold up long term?

Plastic have a lot of different additive and properties, so do we know the plastic will last as long as the OE DISA without hardening and cracking?

The silicon sealing, will it hold up like OE or is the OE far superior?

Mechanically will the flap and shaft hold up as well as OE, or maybe better?

These are all things that probably only time will tell.

The single biggest thing that probably has everyone a bit nervous is the country of origin. Unfortunately the country of origin could probably provide quality products, however, history shows many shortcuts and substandard products.

Again, thanks for your efforts and contribution.

Let us know if you install it and provide a future update. Suggest maybe every oil change pop the DISA out and inspect?
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmersGarage View Post
Good photos.
Sub'd to see long term reliability testing.

One thing I would be interested in seeing is the quality of the plastic used for the flap and overall frame.
Thanks. The plan is to install it next weekend (I'm out of town this weekend). I'm going to run a test to determine if I'm correct about the 4200 rpm solenoid opening. I will connect the new DISA electrically, but not installed, and ramp up the rpm to see when it dumps the vacuum. I can't pull a vacuum on the manifold side, but if I put my finger over the relief opening with the damper open, it stays open (mostly). If my reasoning is correct, when the solenoid triggers, the damper will close. I haven't figured out a way to test how the loss of vacuum at WOT affects it. (Actually, I have, but not an affordable way to do it.)

If the test works, I'll video it and post it here.

Over the long haul, I want to test the DISA in the "always open" and "always closed" positions. IMHO, the car will get better mpg in the "always closed" position, but suffer top end performance. I also think it will bog at low rpm in the "always open" positioin. I may test that this week, since I can force it to "always open" by unplugging it.

Stay tuned....
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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.”

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 01-11-2013, 09:19 PM   #7
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The problem as you have pointed out is how with this hold up long term?
At least, now that I've seen the gasket, I'm not worried about bending valves when the gasket goes through the engine. It may hang up on the cat until it burns up, but I don't think it's substantial enough to do any damage.

The pin is another story. Frequent inspections (every oil change), and I'm keeping the original DISA.
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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.”

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 01-11-2013, 10:41 PM   #8
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Looks good to me. I would buy it.

And the RTV stuff is more or less how the OE one looks, IIRC.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:03 PM   #9
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Looks good to me. I would buy it.

And the RTV stuff is more or less how the OE one looks, IIRC.
This^
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wildirish317 View Post
At least, now that I've seen the gasket, I'm not worried about bending valves when the gasket goes through the engine. It may hang up on the cat until it burns up, but I don't think it's substantial enough to do any damage.

The pin is another story. Frequent inspections (every oil change), and I'm keeping the original DISA.
Please explain to me how the pin will fall out while the DISA is installed in the car. Everyone freaks out about this possibility, but look inside that hole. Notice how the PIN will be sitting at the very edge of the manifold wall -- no room for it to slide out.

It's frequent inspections that'll actually make it more likely to fall out
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:18 PM   #11
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Looks good to me. I would buy it.

And the RTV stuff is more or less how the OE one looks, IIRC.
Thanks for the encouragement. I'll keep you posted on its durability, along with the drivability of it locked open and locked closed. Like you said, it's not going to leave me stranded, or throw me off a cliff, or overheat my engine.
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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.”

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 01-11-2013, 11:26 PM   #12
wildirish317
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
Please explain to me how the pin will fall out while the DISA is installed in the car. Everyone freaks out about this possibility, but look inside that hole. Notice how the PIN will be sitting at the very edge of the manifold wall -- no room for it to slide out.

It's frequent inspections that'll actually make it more likely to fall out
I tend to agree about the pin falling out when installed. If it falls out during inspection, it will fall out DURING inspection - no threat to engine. I'm not overly concerned about this. I think the concern is disintegraton of the frame when installed, which allows the pin to fall out.

When I inspect it, I will put the frame under a bit of stress to make sure it's still structurally sound. I had an E36 that had a failure of the radiator nozzle, which is plastic. I could break off pieces of the nozzle with my bare hand with very little pressure. I feel confident in testing the structural strength of plastic.

Worse comes to worse, I destroy the engine, and buy another car. I can sleep with that. (That's for you, Zell. haha)
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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.”

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 01-12-2013, 08:36 AM   #13
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Another pic of the DISA. This one shows the linkage between the vacuum diaphram and the damper. You can see it between the electrical connector and the bolt hole. You can easily watch its operation when mounted in the engine. It's an easy way to check the operation of the diaphram.

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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 01-12-2013, 09:29 AM   #14
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It looks good to me as well... When I replace mine (if mine ever goes out, I inspected mine 2 weeks ago and it was fine 150,00mi) Ill pick one of these up. I don't have much of an issue trying parts like this, depending on what the part is.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:38 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by wildirish317 View Post
I tend to agree about the pin falling out when installed. If it falls out during inspection, it will fall out DURING inspection - no threat to engine. I'm not overly concerned about this. I think the concern is disintegraton of the frame when installed, which allows the pin to fall out.

When I inspect it, I will put the frame under a bit of stress to make sure it's still structurally sound. I had an E36 that had a failure of the radiator nozzle, which is plastic. I could break off pieces of the nozzle with my bare hand with very little pressure. I feel confident in testing the structural strength of plastic.

Worse comes to worse, I destroy the engine, and buy another car. I can sleep with that. (That's for you, Zell. haha)
The E36 radiator neck breaking is extremely common on the E36 once years accumulate on the radiator. Let us know how it performs. any whistling, etc. I wonder if it would be a good idea to get a pick tool to pick out the stock Dorman molded o-ring and install a G.A.S. o-ring. or could the gas valve/pin, etc even be compatible with this?
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:38 AM   #16
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To add to the information gained here with the Dorman DISA, I want to link to the previous references:

- In-depth teardown and repair solution of the original BMW DISA by Gary @ German Auto Solutions, HERE
and
- a Detailed DISA Autopsy by teklord69, HERE

@wildirish317
On page two of "DISA Autopsy" will give you a pretty good idea what steps are needed/used to test operation of your Dorman DISA.

Last edited by BimmersGarage; 01-12-2013 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:40 AM   #17
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Death to DISA threads.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:39 PM   #18
wildirish317
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmersGarage View Post
To add to the information gained here with the Dorman DISA, I want to link to the previous references:

- In-depth teardown and repair solution of the original BMW DISA by Gary @ German Auto Solutions, HERE
and
- a Detailed DISA Autopsy by teklord69, HERE
These are good links to some great information.
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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.”

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 01-13-2013, 06:46 PM   #19
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What's life without a dream?
Someone who will never be disappointed about their achievements.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:58 PM   #20
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"Hecho in China" - LOL! Sure, y'all put that thing on your cars. Along with 3rd world body parts with wafer-thin sheet metal that don't fit right until the body guy hammers them into submission, cut-rate motor oils, bargain "rep" wheels that look like BBS wheels but are heavy as boat anchors and bend at the slightest road imperfection, Ebay-sourced lighting from China that is neither DOT-approved nor safe, etc.

Why not just buy an old Yugo and go all-in??
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