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Old 02-14-2013, 04:24 PM   #1
bigjae1976
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Why I am moving on from my FI'd 330Ci?

As I've progressed in my track driving, I'm now running in the advanced groups for DE/track days. I keep the needle pinned to the redline for 15-20 minutes at a time. While my 330 proved to be pretty damned quick, it just won't hold up. So I'm said bye-bye to my supercharged 2004 330Ci which had almost everything under the sun! Unfortunately, I've also learned a LOT of hard and expensive lessons which will not be repeated.

I addressed the major issues. Rear subframe was reinforced and had PF bushings. The cooling system had the zionsville aluminum radiator and expansion tank, SPAL fan, and Stewart pump. Only plastic were the hose fittings and the thermostat housing. The oil pump had the VAC pressed on shaft/sprocket which was later welded, ATI damper, S54 chain tensioner. I also fitted an oil cooler. So the car had reliable parts.

The story goes I lost the oil pump nut back in March 2012 at the track. Side note, if anyone thinks you'll save the engine when your oil pump nut comes off...you are sadly mistaken. I was going into a turn and I heard a sickening crunching sound. Rod #6 blew out both sides of the block. Like an idiot, I didn't disengage the tranny (mostly because I was shitting myself) and locked up the engine which then threw metal up through the head into the compressor. Also blew the starter out of the bell housing. So...new block, head job, new S/C/ compressor, new transmission (could have just swapped the bellhousing but the 2nd gear synchro was iffy). Also installed all of the other crap.

Lesson...find an engine builder before you blow up your engine. If you ever find and engine builder or a tuner that says they can build engines and tune them? Run away. Ain't no f'ing way in hell one guy can do both. Its just way too much. The key is to find an engine builder that uses a good machine shop and then a tuner who can work with your engine builder.

Back to my saga. I just wanted to get the f'ing thing fixed. Didn't really do my research which ended up costing me. After much incompetence, on track break downs and trial and error...my VAC oil pump shaft shears off...taking another engine down after 5 months. The shop, to its credit, rebuilt another motor using some lessons learned (most of which I already told them about). But to make an FI'd M54B30 reliable for long term track use just doesn't make sense. Estimate about $10,500 in engine building, parts, stand along, tuning, and labor...

On top of the incompetence, the MS45 DME is a total PIA and it so limited in its capability.

$4500 - Forged rods, forged low CP pistons, customer provided block/crank
$1000 - Install engine
$3000 - Stand alone ECU
$2000 - Install ECU
$10,500 total

So lessons learned....

First, off the shelf F/I kits are not made for the track. You're wasting your money. With the exception of ESS, other tuners are in a dyno # war. So their kits will push the edge of the envelopes. Many DO advertise their kits being used on the track which is total crap. Go to the track, see how many off the shelf kits you see there and keep running. Might see some novices but I have seen ONE F/I'd non-M or even an M3 of any generation last. Most realize its too expensive...or you don't really get the advertised power in that environment. For the street? They work. On the track? Nope...at least you'll need to spend a lot of get it back up to that level of power. I'm willing to bet that you're WAY down on power at the end of the day because its heatsoaked so bad. If any FI company claims other wise...let me test one of their cars. I bet you I can get it to heatsoak after 25 minutes.

Second, thicker head gaskets to drop compression is a disaster in the waiting. The critical spec for FI is the referred to as the squish height or the clearance between the valves and the piston head. It is absolutely critical to get that right. If not, you'll run a higher risk for detonation. Its the cylinder walls and metal that keeps the unburnt fuel cooled. So as you increase the clearance between the head and the piston head, more fuel is suspened in air, which is actually the hot part. So the fuel eventually detonates instead of being cooled and expelled through the exhaust. So most tuners see the detonation so what do they do? Add fuel and pull timing. This then makes the problem EVEN worse. So the tune is leaning on the knock sensors to save the engine. If you take the knock sensors out, your engine would come apart.

Third, choose your tuner carefully. They must monitor more parameters than AFRs and timing on a dyno. You have to create a harmonious relationship between your engine builder and tuner if that does not exist.

I really don't care if this hurts a company's feelings. Yes, I had an AA Twinscrew supercharger. It is what it is. I 100% agree that these kits are safe for the car in a street environment, they will last long, and be reliable. I am NOT arguing that claim. Never had a problem with the kit before I really started running it hard on the track. It even did well with light track use. BUT...if you think you are going to run One Lap of America, do 6+ DE's per year and have the engine last 2+ years? I think you'll end up disappointed and ripe for a breakdown. If you want to track the car frequently...get an E46 M3 and keep it NA. Why am I putting this out there? I think its a disservice to this community not to. The point is to share.

I wouldn't hesitate to bolt on an AA, ESS, VF, TT, or HPF kit on my street car. Won't ever do it for a track car. Then again, what's the point of having a 400hp car to drive on the street?

Most have probably seen this...I'm in the blue car in front...



I will admit...this car was F'ING FUN








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Old 02-14-2013, 05:02 PM   #2
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Good information, but like anything else there are exceptions to the rule. You bring out ESS as a company that you would take out to the track but I know of a guy that does more DE's in a year then most do in the life of their car on his Technik kit, all of which run well and reliably.

I think at the end of the day it boils down to just like building an engine it's a fine line between pushing the envelope of a vehicles tolerances as well as keeping it reliable. Obviously in your case you did the right set up, just a negligent issue that caused failure. But that failure would be possible even it your engine were left NA given the level of track abuse. I'm not saying anything negative towards you or about NA vs FI engine set ups I'm just stating it's not always black and white and that proper research just like teams do before track day will make or break any scenario first and foremost.

That said What's next for you? E46M, an E90m, or Porsche?
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:13 PM   #3
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E46M3 is the next car. Not saying I favor ESS, haven't heard of any issues. Doesn't mean that there are not faults or issues.

No offense taken, I've got much thicker skin than that. I'd like to see some discussion about both sides of the issue. Its not a case of can't because you can. Its more like...how much money do I need to flush down the toilet before I get to the level that I want to be at? My point is that there are other ways you can get to the level of a reliable FI'd 330 for less and/or be prepared to spend a lot of $$$ to get it to a high level of reliability. High level of reliability on the track, to me, means that you get a solid 2-3 years out in a typical HPDE weekend scenario once a month.

At a minimum, I think everyone should get the point that they should start finding out where you will get an engine from before something happens if they have FI on a non-M and track it. Probably should do it if you track a non-M without FI.
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:53 AM   #4
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Great post BigJae. Thanks for sharing the info.

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Old 02-15-2013, 07:10 AM   #5
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Would you say the Zionsville Rad worked better or as good as an oem one?
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Would you say the Zionsville Rad worked better or as good as an oem one?
I think the Zionsville unit was excellent. Well built and the backside has the fan opening which works like the OE shroud. Never had a cooling issue on track which was a great thing. Needle (although buffered) never budged even in 105 degree heat. The problem is it makes servicing anything on the front of the engine (belt drive, alt, p/s tensioner, VANOS, etc) a total whore. It was either really tight or god forbid you need to remove a long bolt...you'd have to remove the radiator. That really pissed me off.

If you had the zionsville unit and the stewart water pump, the only plastic left was the thermostat housing and the hose ends. So your cooling system was pretty reliable.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:36 AM   #7
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Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with our forum members and shedding insight on your track experience with your E46 330i. Everything in life cost money but it's the lessons and experiences we learn and enjoy then eventually pass on that count more than anything. Well hopefully we can some get Active Goodies on your E90 M3 and see how does the ///M Perform on the track.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:09 AM   #8
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Thanks Viral! Sheesh...the E90 M3? I have never really said, "This car needs more power"...just needs a more performance oriented suspension and some weight loss.

With all of the pain there was still way more JOY in the end. I've always gotten out of the car with a smile after a track session, going to work and EVEN when the engine blew. It was a fantastic car. The best part is it was such a sleeper. I was running down C6 Z06 vettes, McLaren MP4-12C, Ferarri F430, Vipers, Porsche GT3s, and every generation of M3s in a stinkin' 330Ci. I caught them all (on the road course, I don't street race). I can't tell you how many times I get asked...Is that REALLY a 330? The only cars I really had trouble catching were the Lambo's and GTRs with their AWD. Some of that was driving skills, but the power REALLY helped me to keep me close on the straights and convince them they need to let my POS 330 pass them. I'm sure it pissed some off.

I want to emphasize that this is not bashing, just an honest assessment that I think is needed amongst the marketing and hype that goes on here. Some from vendors, a LOT from members. Know what you are getting into and understand the service demands before you jump in. I think we (the customers) will be happier with this info. I also think the vendors will be happier with a better informed customer.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:51 AM   #9
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Nice post! Always good to know the limits of your car and the parts you put on it.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:48 PM   #10
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Maybe 11PSI was too high for your track use? ~8PSI is the common boost pressure on the 330 with stock compression.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:56 PM   #11
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Would you also recommend buying an E46 M3 instead of running a non-M E46 (NA) on the track?
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:59 PM   #12
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100% agree with the OP. Forced Induction, especially aftermarket FI, in a track environment adds so many new challenges to an already extreme environment. Most kits are not designed with 20 minutes (or more) of continuous high RPM, high load driving in mind. Not to mention the additional mechanical stress on the rest of the driveline.

An NA E46M isn't bulletproof on track, but it takes a lot less preventative maintenance to have a very fast, very reliable track car. And it makes quite a bit of power.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:28 PM   #13
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Great post, well-stated and completely true IMO.

Less power may be a little less fun, but you end up getting a lot more seat time with a lot less hassle. I don't foresee doing anything else with FI for a long, long time.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighBoostin330 View Post
Maybe 11PSI was too high for your track use? ~8PSI is the common boost pressure on the 330 with stock compression.
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhp43867 View Post
Would you also recommend buying an E46 M3 instead of running a non-M E46 (NA) on the track?
I'll answer both...kind of the same actually.

I don't think so. It ran at 10.5psi for awhile. I don't think the amount of boost is the issue. The car for many reasons is just not made for track use with FI. 5psi or 11 psi.

I've seen 2 other E46 Non-Ms blow engines (one rod, not sure about the other one). All supercharging does is get you there faster. It doesn't give you the advantage that you think you'll get. The problem is heat. These cars have enough trouble stock...now add more fuel, more power which equals more heat.

You can make it reliable. Forged pistons and rods, billet crank, dry sump oiling, stand alone ECU. Now you've dropped $16k+ into a car that is on par with an E9X M3. Is it worth it? Not to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
Great post, well-stated and completely true IMO.

Less power may be a little less fun, but you end up getting a lot more seat time with a lot less hassle. I don't foresee doing anything else with FI for a long, long time.
I think the common misconception is that power doesn't always equate to fun. Speed through the corners is where it is at...suspension and brakes.
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I think the common misconception is that power doesn't always equate to fun. Speed through the corners is where it is at...suspension and brakes.
Too bad most people don't get this. Thank you for sharing your experiences, it's great to have a REAL data point about serious tracking and FI!
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:39 PM   #16
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Great insight. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:24 PM   #17
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I don't think so. It ran at 10.5psi for awhile. I don't think the amount of boost is the issue. The car for many reasons is just not made for track use with FI. 5psi or 11 psi.
Amount of boost definitely adds fuel to the fire.

I think you opinion is strongly colored by your own experience, but does not reflect the general population.

I will continue to beg to differ that a kit, tuned correctly and properly cared for with a reasonable amount of boost pressure, will work on the track just fine. My car has been on the track plenty of times and done more mountain runs and autocrosses than I can possibly remember. I've done extended runs on AMP without issue. 30+ minute sessions and 3 hrs of track time in 1 day. So much so that a brand new set of r888's were worn down to 1/4 tread.

I won't be chasing down C6 corvettes and GT3's, but it is fast and fun for me and reliable.
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:51 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Amount of boost definitely adds fuel to the fire.

I think you opinion is strongly colored by your own experience, but does not reflect the general population.

I will continue to beg to differ that a kit, tuned correctly and properly cared for with a reasonable amount of boost pressure, will work on the track just fine. My car has been on the track plenty of times and done more mountain runs and autocrosses than I can possibly remember. I've done extended runs on AMP without issue. 30+ minute sessions and 3 hrs of track time in 1 day. So much so that a brand new set of r888's were worn down to 1/4 tread.

I won't be chasing down C6 corvettes and GT3's, but it is fast and fun for me and reliable.
There is a point there. I don't think my tune was ever spot on. Part of the problem is that BMW tuners are so far from me. Eurocharged is close but I'm not sure how much experience they have with the MS45. There is the problem. I'm always in search of a tuner.

There is a problem with the MS45. The IAT is built into the MAF where as the IAT is in the intake manifold in an MS43. Not an issue NA. Bolt on a supercharger and then the DME in an MS45 car sees the IATs at the MAF. In the twinscrew, the air goes through a hot twinscrew compressor. So that IAT reading is no longer accurate. So tuners pull timing and add fuel at the top...then you run into the issue in my original post. There was a theory you could rewire the heater lead in the MAF and locate an IAT in the manifold. Apparently the MS45 DME overlays fuel adaptations to the entire fuel map. So any adaptation at part throttle gets applied to full throttle and vice versa. All of this was discovery learning.

Yeah I could deal with that hot mess and dial the boost down a bit. Or I can get an E46 M3, spend less, drive more, fewer issues, throw in some 4.10 gears which cost about $2500 plus install and own twinscrew'd non-M's on the track all day long. Especially at the end of the day when they are all heatsoaked and slow...ripe for a blow up.

I can say that I've seen 3 other NA non-Ms lose engines at the track plus mine over the past 2 years. You have to consider that a non-M E46 is pretty rare to see at the track...that's a VERY high percentage. The M54 is a great motor on the street. Borderline crap for hard use.

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Old 02-15-2013, 04:14 PM   #19
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There is a point there. I don't think my tune was ever spot on. Part of the problem is that BMW tuners are so far from me. Eurocharged is close but I'm not sure how much experience they have with the MS45. There is the problem. I'm always in search of a tuner.

There is a problem with the MS45. The IAT is built into the MAF where as the IAT is in the intake manifold in an MS43. Not an issue NA. Bolt on a supercharger and then the DME in an MS45 car sees the IATs at the MAF. In the twinscrew, the air goes through a hot twinscrew compressor. So that IAT reading is no longer accurate. So tuners pull timing and add fuel at the top...then you run into the issue in my original post. There was a theory you could rewire the heater lead in the MAF and locate an IAT in the manifold. Apparently the MS45 DME overlays fuel adaptations to the entire fuel map. So any adaptation at part throttle gets applied to full throttle and vice versa. All of this was discovery learning.

Yeah I could deal with that hot mess and dial the boost down a bit. Or I can get an E46 M3, spend less, drive more, fewer issues, throw in some 4.10 gears which cost about $2500 plus install and own twinscrew'd non-M's on the track all day long. Especially at the end of the day when they are all heatsoaked and slow...ripe for a blow up.

I can say that I've seen 3 other NA non-Ms lose engines at the track plus mine over the past 2 years. You have to consider that a non-M E46 is pretty rare to see at the track...that's a VERY high percentage. The M54 is a great motor on the street. Borderline crap for hard use.
So with the correct tune and proper boost pressure, then the combustion temperatures would be controlled. It is true that tuners have a much harder time to tune the MS45 than the MS43. I just believe with a proper setup is essential for reliability and power. I personally thinking the 11PSI was really high for the M54.

I still had yet to see a stock E46 M3 pass me on straight away at the end of the track day. Yes, that includes days where my ambient temperature sensor in the car read 100F at Thunderhill.

Most race teams rebuild their cars often to reduce that chance of breaking down, but the Bimmerworld and Turner teams ran the E46 325i with no issues, but had preventative measures done.

I believe the VAIO oil pump is essential for preventing oil nuts backing out. The VAC one wasn't proven to stop the nut from backing out. Welding the nut just caused the shaft to break instead.
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Old 02-15-2013, 04:23 PM   #20
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But why do you have to put the Vaio oil pump on? I know the answer...that answer is why I've said what I've said.
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