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Old 09-04-2012, 04:07 PM   #1
Throttle Happy
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What to look for when buying used S/C?

Hi all,

Please help a newbie here. I am purchasing a used supercharger kit for my 330i and need some advice. I pretty much need a s/c guide for dummies

1. I'm on a low budget and will be *attempting* to install this myself. I would say I'm mechanically inclined but only to a certain degree. Doable? I was told this kit is very easy to bolt-on and is one of the most reliable and upgradeable.

2. What should I be specifically looking for or inspect when buying a used kit? How do I inspect the blower, pulleys, injectors, etc. Is there a way to test if it leaks? Anything I should replace regardless of condition?

3. Should any mechanical upgrades be done to the car to accomodate the kit? I want to keep everything simple and I don't want to invest much more.

4. What kind of maintenance is done after installing s/c kits? Maybe I dont know what I'm getting myself into but I want something low maintenance and not something I will have a headache with every other day. Any comments about this particular setup?


All advice is appreciated!
TIA

Last edited by Throttle Happy; 09-06-2012 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Added detail
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:10 PM   #2
E46_330i_Stud
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IMO if you want low maintenance, stay far away from boost. Plugs need to be changed more often as well as the oil. Clutch won't last. Bushings start to fail, etc. Your putting everything under much more stress than it was designed for.

Without knowing you personally, I have no idea if you have the ability to install the kit yourself.

If your receiving the tune on another computer you'll have to get the car towed to the dealer to have it all realigned before it can be driven.
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1995 325i 5mt ArcticGrey/Dove - SOLD
2004 330ci ZHP 6MT SilberGrau/Black - SOLD
2001 330i M-Sport 5MT StaulGrau/Grey - SOLD
1992 Accord LX Sedan 275k miles all original - DAILY
2002 Chevy Suburban LT Autoride - TOY HAULER
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:39 PM   #3
jbfrancis3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttle Happy View Post
1. I'm on a low budget and will be *attempting* to install this myself.
Usually, you can't have your cake and eat it too. This is pertaining to the low budget. Here's a recent example of one of the many situations you could find yourself in: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=927584

Don't let it discourage you, just know the risks. I would certainly not attempt this if you rely on your car for commuting or errands.

Search used sc installs, and read around. You'll get a better feel for what you're up against.
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:40 PM   #4
Throttle Happy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E46_330i_Stud View Post
IMO if you want low maintenance, stay far away from boost. Plugs need to be changed more often as well as the oil. Clutch won't last. Bushings start to fail, etc. Your putting everything under much more stress than it was designed for.

Without knowing you personally, I have no idea if you have the ability to install the kit yourself.

If your receiving the tune on another computer you'll have to get the car towed to the dealer to have it all realigned before it can be driven.
What I mean to say is that I don't want a nightmare of problems to pop up after. I have no problem changing plugs and oil.

What do you mean about getting it realigned? So for me to use the tune it comes with, I would have to bring it to the dealer?
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:15 PM   #5
E46_330i_Stud
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How will you be recieving the tune? Through another computer right? That you'll be installing in the place of your stock flashed one? If so, your car will not run until the car and ECM are realigned and programmed together.
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1995 325i 5mt ArcticGrey/Dove - SOLD
2004 330ci ZHP 6MT SilberGrau/Black - SOLD
2001 330i M-Sport 5MT StaulGrau/Grey - SOLD
1992 Accord LX Sedan 275k miles all original - DAILY
2002 Chevy Suburban LT Autoride - TOY HAULER
2005 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT - RACE TRUCK!
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:41 AM   #6
Bdave
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Right off the bat, even if your install goes 100% perfect and you never have a DEFECT, your costs are going to increase by a good bit.
1) Poorer gas mileage
2) methanol costs if you have a meth system
3) Maintenance cost of any meth system...replacing motors that simply wear out etc etc
4) Increased TIRE costs. Dont think this one is insignificant. Quite the opposite.
5)Clutch life. Often you are NOT the guy who gets away with the stock clutch. Your OEM clutch fries and takes the flywheel with it..OUCH!
6) Belt costs. Even if your alignment of the compressor is perfect, you will still have to replace that expensive belt more often. If you are even a pubic hair of alignment off, then your belt will fry in short order and take the AC belt with it and a nice CHUNK out of your hood insulating blanket!!
7) Splitting a weld on your new INTAKE manifold is FUN! NOT!
8) Axles..probably a non issue for a FI 330
9) Front differential mount?.Not sure of the 330.
10) Have you ever torn an RTAB? You might now. Replace with poly.
11) Rear Subframe. Oh that is a good one!!! Research THAT!
12) Coil life?...sometimes fine, sometimes NOT,,,due to boost.
I could go on, but you get the picture. maybe.

Now, picture ALL of the above and serious install problems. I got a good one for you...the CRANK trigger being LOOSE. That will take a good 2 weeks to find. How would I know that? Dont ask.

Yes, 2 shredded belts, a totally exploded brand new intake manifold, 2 ruined AC belts, 2 ruined hood blankets, mysterious NEW leaks in oil lines and Power steering lines. Are we having FUN yet?

Some of this will cost you $$, some will not. Oh..WAIT! You are SAVING money by buying USED..EHHH!!!(harsh buzzer sound) NO WARRANTY!! Oh, YES! ALL and any issue that arises is ALL on you and your tight little pocketbook!

If I had not had a warranty? THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars it would have cost. I had problems that stumped the manufacturer a few times. Not ONE SINGLE person I asked guessed "loose crank trigger". Not ONE! I asked a LOT of outside experts. AA only found it by dissembling and reinstalling the kit from scratch several times. I think that's why my 35 dollar catch can(price on Ebay for EXACT SAME CAN...except IT probably would not have LEAKED like a SIEVE all over the inside of my hood bay!) turned into a 500 dollar install! They do get an A for effort for not giving up until they found the high RPM break up in power. Now, imagine this is YOU for 3 months of your spare time or you are PAYING a shop to find the problem!

The weeks and multiple trips to get all this fixed, RENTING a car, gas charges....NOT priceless. You can definitely put a price on all that. How is that 'low" budget looking now?

You want LOW maintenance you said? Get a bicycle...LOL

Seriously, lots of guys have very little issues. You THINK you will be one of THOSE GUYS. It's a crap shoot. Your costs and down time are just going to increase no matter how lucky you are.

But dont let all this deter you. What did I do? Get something FAR more complicated and potentially more problems...an HPF kit! But I dont need no stinking BELTS now to make compression..LOL

You are either as boost junky or NOT a boost junky. Boost junkies ACCEPT the higher maintenance costs and ALL the potential problems that CAN arise because its an addiction. You dont NEED FI. You must want it very badly to justify going to the 'dark side"

Guys go through IMMENSE amount of pain and suffering to keep that boost gauge swinging to the right. It is rare, but it does happen: Some owners get so fed up they rip everything out and get a NEW SYSTEM. JJKING. They go back to NA. But all joking aside, yes, that is a symptom too. Selling a kit and going turbo or a buying a kit from a different manufacturer hoping HE will be your savior! This happens a LOT in our world!

So, by all means, JOIN US on the DARK SIDE, but know the costs and potential costs before you cross over!

FYI: "Low Budget" and "successful FI experience" do not exist in the same sentence in the real world. Only in Make Believe Land. Ok,,MAYBE a teeny tiny percentage of the population. If you are 100% CONVINCED that is going to be YOU, then by ALL means....Just make SURE you drive the car in a manner where you dont use a single HP or ft/lb of torque of your new potential!

CONSIDER another option...a motor transplant. There is NO substitute for cubic inches (or cc's). Ever hear that before? Many 330i guys have done well with a good used S54 motor or even an M5 motor!

Or you could always end up like my Bud Tom...with a 1200 HP boosted, Nitrous inhaling 325i. Seriously!
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Last edited by Bdave; 09-09-2012 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 09-10-2012, 03:29 PM   #7
TrippinBimmer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdave View Post
right off the bat, even if your install goes 100% perfect and you never have a defect, your costs are going to increase by a good bit.
1) poorer gas mileage
2) methanol costs if you have a meth system
3) maintenance cost of any meth system...replacing motors that simply wear out etc etc
4) increased tire costs. Dont think this one is insignificant. Quite the opposite.
5)clutch life. Often you are not the guy who gets away with the stock clutch. Your oem clutch fries and takes the flywheel with it..ouch!
6) belt costs. Even if your alignment of the compressor is perfect, you will still have to replace that expensive belt more often. If you are even a pubic hair of alignment off, then your belt will fry in short order and take the ac belt with it and a nice chunk out of your hood insulating blanket!!
7) splitting a weld on your new intake manifold is fun! Not!
8) axles..probably a non issue for a fi 330
9) front differential mount?.not sure of the 330.
10) have you ever torn an rtab? You might now. Replace with poly.
11) rear subframe. Oh that is a good one!!! Research that!
12) coil life?...sometimes fine, sometimes not,,,due to boost.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Maybe.

Now, picture all of the above and serious install problems. I got a good one for you...the crank trigger being loose. That will take a good 2 weeks to find. How would i know that? Dont ask.

Yes, 2 shredded belts, a totally exploded brand new intake manifold, 2 ruined ac belts, 2 ruined hood blankets, mysterious new leaks in oil lines and power steering lines. Are we having fun yet?

Some of this will cost you $$, some will not. Oh..wait! You are saving money by buying used..ehhh!!!(harsh buzzer sound) no warranty!! Oh, yes! All and any issue that arises is all on you and your tight little pocketbook!

If i had not had a warranty? Thousands and thousands of dollars it would have cost. I had problems that stumped the manufacturer a few times. Not one single person i asked guessed "loose crank trigger". Not one! I asked a lot of outside experts. Aa only found it by dissembling and reinstalling the kit from scratch several times. I think that's why my 35 dollar catch can(price on ebay for exact same can...except it probably would not have leaked like a sieve all over the inside of my hood bay!) turned into a 500 dollar install! They do get an a for effort for not giving up until they found the high rpm break up in power. Now, imagine this is you for 3 months of your spare time or you are paying a shop to find the problem!

The weeks and multiple trips to get all this fixed, renting a car, gas charges....not priceless. You can definitely put a price on all that. How is that 'low" budget looking now?

You want low maintenance you said? Get a bicycle...lol

seriously, lots of guys have very little issues. You think you will be one of those guys. It's a crap shoot. Your costs and down time are just going to increase no matter how lucky you are.

But dont let all this deter you. What did i do? Get something far more complicated and potentially more problems...an hpf kit! But i dont need no stinking belts now to make compression..lol

you are either as boost junky or not a boost junky. Boost junkies accept the higher maintenance costs and all the potential problems that can arise because its an addiction. You dont need fi. You must want it very badly to justify going to the 'dark side"

guys go through immense amount of pain and suffering to keep that boost gauge swinging to the right. It is rare, but it does happen: Some owners get so fed up they rip everything out and get a new system. Jjking. They go back to na. But all joking aside, yes, that is a symptom too. Selling a kit and going turbo or a buying a kit from a different manufacturer hoping he will be your savior! This happens a lot in our world!

So, by all means, join us on the dark side, but know the costs and potential costs before you cross over!

Fyi: "low budget" and "successful fi experience" do not exist in the same sentence in the real world. Only in make believe land. Ok,,maybe a teeny tiny percentage of the population. If you are 100% convinced that is going to be you, then by all means....just make sure you drive the car in a manner where you dont use a single hp or ft/lb of torque of your new potential!

Consider another option...a motor transplant. There is no substitute for cubic inches (or cc's). Ever hear that before? Many 330i guys have done well with a good used s54 motor or even an m5 motor!

Or you could always end up like my bud tom...with a 1200 hp boosted, nitrous inhaling 325i. Seriously!
amen!
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:50 PM   #8
DOC_Race
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Just be prepared to spend a bit of money like everyone else was saying. But it's all fun and games when it's done!!
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:00 PM   #9
Throttle Happy
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Well then... it looks like I need to up my budget haha. Thanks for the replies! A lot to think about before pulling the trigger.

I'll be on the lookout for a good low mileage s/c kit and get a reputable shop to install it then. This will be for a project car so facing all those problems you listed will be worth it in the end. Buying new is not an option unfortunately, because it's double what used kits go for. I wanted a cheap solution for power but I guess you can't have cheap and fast together.
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Old 09-11-2012, 02:07 PM   #10
Bdave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttle Happy View Post


Well then... it looks like I need to up my budget haha. Thanks for the replies! A lot to think about before pulling the trigger.

I'll be on the lookout for a good low mileage s/c kit and get a reputable shop to install it then. This will be for a project car so facing all those problems you listed will be worth it in the end. Buying new is not an option unfortunately, because it's double what used kits go for. I wanted a cheap solution for power but I guess you can't have cheap and fast together.
That's all fine. Dont forget to get as much BEFORE data certified, in print, as possible...DYNO, compression, and a leak down of each cylinder. Failure to do this leaves you wide open should any problems arise after installation.

Try as HARD as you can to get a warranty on the shop's WORK. Obviously they cant warranty any used parts, but you MUST come to some agreement that their WORK must be warranted barring any hardware failures that is not their fault. Even that can be subjective. But you can only do so much to try and protect yourself.

I have no idea what a shop might agree to, but 90 days would be the minimum warranty I would look for. The car must run with out over heating, prematurely wearing any belts, idle correctly, display correct AFR through out the range of RPMs. IDK what else. MAKE a list.

Maybe some other members have an idea what time frame a shop might warranty their work for. Thirty days is not enough. Six months would be great. I think 90 days is probably what you might be looking at. Ask. Get things in WRITING ahead of time. make an agreement not to pay in full until the shop can demonstrate they have met certain minimum requirements. That may entail a lengthy test drive. Make sure its in the hottest part of the day and simulate traffic by letting it idle in their lot with your AC running for 20 to 30 minutes. Dont be afraid to protect yourself. Some shops will try to bully you out of doing a lot of testing saying their work is always "perfect". "There is nothing to worry about" etc. You know the drill.

Good luck. You CAN have success. Unfortunately it does not involve a lot of TRUST. You have to forge your own protection.
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