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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 10-23-2012, 11:50 PM   #1
erikfed
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Performance upgrades, what do you think of my plan?

I have a 2003 330xi that just hit 100k. I currently have an AFE intake on it. I'm also planning on adding some headers from ebay and a Scorpion exhaust from Bavauto.com. For suspension I'm planning on a front tower strut bar and a rear sway bar. FYI, Not going to spend money for new springs and struts.

I'm looking to get a bit more out of the engine and eliminate some body roll.

What do you think of this plan?
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Old 10-24-2012, 12:44 AM   #2
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Replacing your worn out stock springs, dampers, and sway bars with more performance tuned pieces will all make a huge difference(even by themselves) on body roll and steering response. Strut tower braces make almost no difference in comparison, and headers are a massive headache between check engine lights, installation, tools, emissions, etc...

As for the engine, you're not going to get huge gains without a supercharger, and small gains will be very expensive. Especially so on a 330 where the entire intake system is very free flowing from the factory. Certain maintenance items like various sensors, the DISA unit and VANOS, and vacuum leaks can all rob you of power if they aren't working just right. Look into engine maintenance because replacing malfunctioning pieces not only gets you more power, but also better engine response and better gas mileage too.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:49 AM   #3
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mkodama pretty much hit it on the dot. i would do your suspension before i would put on a strut brace which helps minimally but only at the limit. if it's a manual get a short shifter
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:11 AM   #4
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Modding a car that's about 10 years old and going to need replacing of some fairly expensive parts/systems is not exactly a great plan, but hey, for some fellahs, modding one's sled provides enjoyment and if it keeps you right so to speak (meaning doing something you like to keep yourself sane), by all means spend away. I say save the dough for a rainy day in this uncertain economy or save for a new car, like a new M3 in say a few years from now! A M3 would be much more fun than a 10 year old sled with mods on it.
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by lucky_doggg7 View Post
Modding a car that's about 10 years old and going to need replacing of some fairly expensive parts/systems is not exactly a great plan, but hey, for some fellahs, modding one's sled provides enjoyment and if it keeps you right so to speak (meaning doing something you like to keep yourself sane), by all means spend away. I say save the dough for a rainy day in this uncertain economy or save for a new car, like a new M3 in say a few years from now! A M3 would be much more fun than a 10 year old sled with mods on it.
While a new M3 would be fun if you could afford it... I disagree in general. I have more fun in my 325Xi than in most cars and would prefer what I have now, a 2002 325Xi, over 95% of the new cars out there now. I know it, I fix it and I trust it. It just rolled over 100k miles but still rides like new because I stay on the upkeep... And it's been paid off for years!
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:56 AM   #6
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A new M3 starts at $60k. You could buy 5 Xi 's for that! Then, don't even talk about comparative maintenance costs.
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:33 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by erikfed View Post
I have a 2003 330xi that just hit 100k. I currently have an AFE intake on it. I'm also planning on adding some headers from ebay and a Scorpion exhaust from Bavauto.com. For suspension I'm planning on a front tower strut bar and a rear sway bar. FYI, Not going to spend money for new springs and struts.

I'm looking to get a bit more out of the engine and eliminate some body roll.

What do you think of this plan?
I'm assuming you've already addressed the important maintenance items for an e46 with 100k miles?

Anyways, as others have said - you won't get anything noticeable out of the engine without FI. Forget about it - it is a waste of time & money. The limited increases you can get without FI would be unnoticeable 99% of the time (unless you routinely run in the 4500+ rpm range).

Take that time and money and put it into your springs & struts - strut tower bar & rear sway bar would be done *after* upgrading your suspension and understanding how the car handles with new springs/struts first.

Take it from one who already has done a spring & strut upgrade on his xi - I have very little body roll and almost zero nose dive. Car handles like its on rails (but it does take a beating on chicago roads - there are pros & cons).

Unlike the engine mods you are thinking about, the handling differences are dramatic and constantly there!
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:07 AM   #8
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You guys see that Top gear where they try to get that (I think it was a) Renault crossover as fast as a Mitsubishi Evo? They spent tons of money on brakes (too much), then finally did the suspension and tires(duh)... then discovered the car was down 50hp from stock just because it needed maintenance / tuneup.

Not saying your car is 50 hp down....but my $.02 is that do maintenance first, then practical mods around suspension and brakes.

Don't kid yourself though, if you want a 300 hp 330xi then you probably don't want a 330 xi... better to look for another type of auto IMO.

Anything can be done with enough money, it's the business of many people to convince you of that and then help you realize that reality.
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Old 10-24-2012, 12:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by erikfed View Post
I have a 2003 330xi that just hit 100k. I currently have an AFE intake on it. I'm also planning on adding some headers from ebay and a Scorpion exhaust from Bavauto.com. For suspension I'm planning on a front tower strut bar and a rear sway bar. FYI, Not going to spend money for new springs and struts.

I'm looking to get a bit more out of the engine and eliminate some body roll.

What do you think of this plan?
I like the rear swaybar idea. Cat-less headers aren't cool.

FYI - You WILL be spending money on springs and struts. It's inevitable.
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:37 PM   #10
erikfed
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I'm fairly satisfied with the handling. I'd like it stiffer but don't want to spend the money for springs and struts to get it there. The previous owner already replaced the rear springs with OEM ones since one was cracked. I just thought the rear bar would be a way of inexpensively (relative to new springs and struts) increasing handling. I just drive it around town to work and back basically. I do drive aggressively though.
As far as the headers I'm guessing there's more to it than just purchasing and bolting them on? I'm not going to be doing this work myself, I'll be having my mechanic do it. Above you guys talk about the Cats in relation to the headers and cat-less headers. I don't know how they are related I'm not a car guy myself? I thought the headers and the cats are two separate parts? If someone wants to explain this to me I'd appreciate it.
"mkodama" above suggests keeping up on maintenance of the sensors like the DISA unit and VANOS. Are there any others you suggest?

Keep in mind I'm not a car guy myself. I'm just looking to buy stuff off the internet and tell my mechanic to install it in hopes of improving performance and handling.
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:39 PM   #11
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^Ebay headers remove the cats. It's illegal. For good reason.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:17 PM   #12
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Keep in mind I'm not a car guy myself. I'm just looking to buy stuff off the internet and tell my mechanic to install it in hopes of improving performance and handling.


High performance blinker fluid adds at least 10hp. And don't forget to change your summer air to winter air, it helps the handling.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:42 PM   #13
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After reading last post I have the following to add:

Headers and Exhaust mods will not give you much additional performance, other posts and experiences from folks here point to that. I suggest you think long and hard about spending $$ on that. The Return On Investment does not seem to be good.

Headers on a restricted 1990 civic or a 1981 trans-am are very effective, Headers on a more highly engineered BMW are less effective as they are already good to begin with.

If you are having a mechanic install these this further hurts the R.O.I

If your object is to spend money to tell people you have cool parts while making your car louder than headers are highly suggested.

"better handling" is somewhat subjective, a rear sway bar will make your car handle more "loose" / aka oversteer... this can make it feel better so I think that is a reasonable upgrade if you want that. I can't speak from experience on the bmw because I haven't driven one with a rear bar yet.

I've discovered that when people here don't answer your questions or respond smart-allecky it's because you're not listening to what they are saying inbetween the lines..

What about some sticky upgraded brake pads like Hawk or others for a cheap upgrade?
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:05 PM   #14
erikfed
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Hey SamDoe1 go take a spin on a left handed screw driver.

My object is not to spend money to have "cool" parts. Don't look down on me because I'm not doing the work myself. I have a mechanic install the stuff because I can't have my car down for more than a day and I don't have the tools. If I had the time and money I wouldn't hesitate to learn and get my hands dirty and learn this stuff myself.

I used to have a Mercedes C230 Kompressor and it handled like it was on rails. I want that stiff handling out of my XI if possible. I realize the Benz was RWD and the XI is AWD so there will be a difference. I definitely don't want a rear bar if it increases oversteer. I'd like to be on rails again. If the only way to do that is springs and struts then so be it. as far as the headers go if that's going to open up a can of worms with emissions then forget it. I was just wanting to know if there are some half measures to improve hp and handling without going all in.
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:40 PM   #15
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Hey SamDoe1 go take a spin on a left handed screw driver.
Dear 3 post newb,

Seriously, read what you wrote and tell me you don't sound like a 15 year old dumbass.

No one is mocking you for not installing your stuff. I'm mocking you because you want to buy "a bunch of parts off the internet in the hopes of increasing performance and handling". In the HOPES OF?? Based on your comment, we could tell you to do anything and you'd do it.

You want to increase your handling? Shocks, struts, and make sure all your suspension components are still good. Rear sway bar will increase oversteer, proper set up is key to get neutral handling. AWD vs RWD has nothing to do with anything when you're off the gas.

Want to increase performance? Get a supercharger kit or a new car. Those are your only two cost effective options. Headers will cause you to fail emissions testing if your state has that, if not you're good. You will also get a CEL all the time without a tune that ignores the O2 sensors. Other option is an O2 sim. In any case just slapping headers on is not a good idea. Any other performance mod for your car is a gimmick and will not give you any improvement. Obviously, the above comments assume that you have, in your infinite knowledge of all things cars, done all the appropriate maintenance and upkeep to ensure your 225hp engine is in fact turning out 225hp.

Good luck.

Last edited by SamDoe1; 10-24-2012 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 10-24-2012, 05:06 PM   #16
erikfed
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SamDoe1 as hard as you might try you are still coming across as a pretentious prick. It's people like you who drive newcomers off sites like this. I'm simply collecting information here and doing research. I would verify any advise given here before just "doing anything you told me to do". As far as the 225HP, that is the factory spec, that's why I put it down in my profile. And sounding like a 15 yr old "dumb ass"? All I wanted to know was what parts will make me go and turn faster. That's what it's all about with a car, you go, and you turn. If my oversimplification offends you then that's your problem. I have a life outside my car and don't need all the minutia and reading between the lines.

Now after thoroughly ridiculing me you finally gave me some useful information in your last two paragraphs. That is what I was looking for, thank you. Now wouldn't it have been a whole lot easier to just say that in the first place or do you just troll on here looking to pounce on "newbs"?
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:02 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikesandcars View Post
After reading last post I have the following to add:

Headers and Exhaust mods will not give you much additional performance, other posts and experiences from folks here point to that. I suggest you think long and hard about spending $$ on that. The Return On Investment does not seem to be good.

Headers on a restricted 1990 civic or a 1981 trans-am are very effective, Headers on a more highly engineered BMW are less effective as they are already good to begin with.
Headers on these cars are the best bang for the buck performance mod available. However you will have to deal with CEL issues for being catless and like kubica mentions it is illegal.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:48 AM   #18
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SamDoe1 as hard as you might try you are still coming across as a pretentious prick.() It's people like you who drive newcomers off sites like this. (I disagree, it's the newcomers who come in here thinking they know everything about the world that gets them pounced on and pushed) I'm simply collecting information here and doing research. (This is not how your post came across, please re-read it and tell me I'm crazy for thinking that) I would verify any advise given here before just "doing anything you told me to do". (See previous comment) As far as the 225HP, that is the factory spec, that's why I put it down in my profile. (Cool beans, so you have the same car as hundreds of others ) And sounding like a 15 yr old "dumb ass"? All I wanted to know was what parts will make me go and turn faster. (You stated you were not a "car guy". Saying you want to go and turn faster is about as vague as saying you want a new house and that's it. There is a lot more to your wants and desires for speed and handling than you might think. Other people already posted, before I did, about the right way to do things and you proceeded to say you didn't want to spend the money on it and that you were satisfied with the handling.) That's what it's all about with a car, you go, and you turn. (Don't forget about stopping faster and making your car more comfortable/enjoyable.) If my oversimplification offends you then that's your problem. (I've been here for over 2 years, very little offends me now.) I have a life outside my car and don't need all the minutia and reading between the lines. (Cool, join the club.)

Now after thoroughly ridiculing me you finally gave me some useful information in your last two paragraphs. That is what I was looking for, thank you. Now wouldn't it have been a whole lot easier to just say that in the first place or do you just troll on here looking to pounce on "newbs"?
Dear now 4 post newb,

See above comments.

I'm not trolling. I haven't been on here and posted almost 2000 notes just by trolling for newbies. I have helped numerous new guys to resolve issues with and upgrade their car. Of those numerous new guys, you are the very first to ever say that you just want to make your car go and turn faster without any insight into what you want and stating you "weren't a car guy". As in my previous post, I am not opposed to helping you or anyone else at all. Actually it's quite the contrary, I enjoy helping new guys. But posting up that you want new stuff but don't really care about what it is, what it does, and how it does it is really quite dumb.

Please remember that stupid comments and arguements will be met with smart ass comments and d-bag responses. Go see the thread about the guy who wrote like he was texting his BFF Jill.

Welcome to E46F.
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:07 AM   #19
Kubica
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Headers on these cars are the best bang for the buck performance mod available. However you will have to deal with CEL issues for being catless and like kubica mentions it is illegal.
I'll see your illegal headers. And raise you a double 3.46 diff swap (or MT conversion).
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:12 AM   #20
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Why not address the FRONT sway bar to reduce body roll? Is it because its an XI?

sent from my ATARI sc1224
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