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Old 01-15-2020, 08:27 PM   #1
oldgold2000
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Subframe advise

I am the original owner of a late production 2000 328i with 50,000mi.
The car has the GM 5l40e automatic.
I along with my late father ordered this car new.
It only gets driven about 3000 mi/yr in the summer.
My question/concern is about the subframe.
So far no visible cracks or problems. I enjoy working on this car & would like to keep it, but am concerned about posable future problems with the subframe.
What should I do without spending big bucks to continue to enjoy my car?
I have no welding equipment.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:26 PM   #2
77'911
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My condolences for your father's passing. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Keep decent drive line mounts and suspension components in the car should help some. It seems the cars that get driven "aggressively" are more likely for issues to show themselves. If a crack shows up, then buy one of the factory reinforcement plates and weld it in. Just drive and enjoy it.
regards
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:31 PM   #3
Newbimer
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There is a kit available that uses plates and epoxy, etc. to fix this issue, don't know if your model is included. Check out "Shoplife" videos on YouTube, he does an entire repair with that kit.
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Old Yesterday, 10:27 AM   #4
HayWagon
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Originally Posted by 77'911 View Post
My condolences for your father's passing. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Keep decent drive line mounts and suspension components in the car should help some. It seems the cars that get driven "aggressively" are more likely for issues to show themselves. If a crack shows up, then buy one of the factory reinforcement plates and weld it in. Just drive and enjoy it.
regards
I agree.
Considering the very low mileage, transmission, and "pampered" life it likely had. I wouldn't be too worried. Keep bushings up to date, enjoy it. Just keep the subframe issues in the back of your mind, check for cracking once and a while.

Subframe reinforcement plates are an "easy" job, but very labour intensive. The whole rear end needs to be stripped down. There are no-weld, epoxy versions of the plates which a DIYer can do. Having a shop do it would likely be uneconomical when compared to the value of the car.

Condolences.
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Old Yesterday, 10:40 AM   #5
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OP you could inject foam into the area around the bushings.

That is part of the original settlement repair. If you search for it, I'm sure you can find out how. It would stabilize things somewhat. Tears start at the bolt in the middle of the bushing, so without dropping the rear end, you really don't know if it's begun or not. Probably not, as mentioned.

Still, though...you drill a few holes and put some foam in...then another set of holes for another type of foam...let it sit and cure and voila. Not a complete mitigation, but part of it.
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Old Yesterday, 12:06 PM   #6
Knight
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Originally Posted by oldgold2000 View Post
What should I do without spending big bucks to continue to enjoy my car?
You'll need to spend a fair amount for peace of mind, but certainly less than repairing a torn sub-frame floor.

Redish Motorsport makes the most complete reinforcement kit out there. If you've seen any of their undercarriage restoration videos, it's clear they know what they're doing.

https://www.redish-motorsport.com/Re...tPlateKit.html

There is some debate between using epoxy vs. welding. From what I've researched, epoxy if doing this as PM and welding if torn (obviously, since there is no alternative in a tear scenario).

Once this is done from the bottom, hit the top with the BMW foam and never worry about the sub-frame again.
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Old Yesterday, 12:12 PM   #7
PabloCruise
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Is this a potential issue for all E46? All years? All configurations (Manual/auto, etc)?
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Old Yesterday, 12:27 PM   #8
Knight
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Originally Posted by PabloCruise View Post
Is this a potential issue for all E46? All years? All configurations (Manual/auto, etc)?
Early coupes/sedans (323/328) w/ a MT experienced this issue most frequently.

Later ones still have the potential, but with a lower likelihood.

Convertibles seem to be the least likely to experience sub-frame floor tears.
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Old Yesterday, 12:38 PM   #9
PabloCruise
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knight View Post
Early coupes/sedans (323/328) w/ a MT experienced this issue most frequently.

Later ones still have the potential, but with a lower likelihood.

Convertibles seem to be the least likely to experience sub-frame floor tears.
So an '02 325i w/ auto = somewhat less likely?

Thanks
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Old Yesterday, 01:17 PM   #10
Knight
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Originally Posted by PabloCruise View Post
So an '02 325i w/ auto = somewhat less likely?

Thanks
Yes. FWIW, I had an '01 325i (AT) that I recently sold. Had the sub-frame floor professionally inspected by a BMW specialist @ 140K miles and I would periodically check as well after that.

No tears/issues in 19+ years and 200K+ miles.
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Old Yesterday, 01:40 PM   #11
PabloCruise
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knight View Post
Yes. FWIW, I had an '01 325i (AT) that I recently sold. Had the sub-frame floor professionally inspected by a BMW specialist @ 140K miles and I would periodically check as well after that.

No tears/issues in 19+ years and 200K+ miles.
As always, I appreciate your insights!
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Old Yesterday, 02:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by PabloCruise View Post
As always, I appreciate your insights!
Anytime, happy to help!
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Old Yesterday, 02:41 PM   #13
Alex323Ci
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Originally Posted by dmax View Post
OP you could inject foam into the area around the bushings.

That is part of the original settlement repair. If you search for it, I'm sure you can find out how. It would stabilize things somewhat. Tears start at the bolt in the middle of the bushing, so without dropping the rear end, you really don't know if it's begun or not. Probably not, as mentioned.

Still, though...you drill a few holes and put some foam in...then another set of holes for another type of foam...let it sit and cure and voila. Not a complete mitigation, but part of it.
for your circumstances this is what I was going to suggest but Doug beat me to it. the epoxy foam around the left mounting block will help, since it doesn’t see much use this probably the easiest and cheapest preventative job.
both Doug and myself had our RACP (aka subframe) tears repaired by BMW. his with smaller panel sections and my 323Ci with a whole new floor panel.
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Old Yesterday, 03:27 PM   #14
oldgold2000
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Quik foam fix

Thank you Alex & everyone who replied to my thread.
This site is one of the main reasons that I still own this car.
Could you guide me to a DIY for this quick fix or a YouTube.
Thanks again everyone for the help.
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Old Yesterday, 03:52 PM   #15
Knight
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Originally Posted by oldgold2000 View Post
Thank you Alex & everyone who replied to my thread.This site is one of the main reasons that I still own this car.
Could you guide me to a DIY for this quick fix or a YouTube.
Thanks again everyone for the help.
I am/have been on many forums over the years. The knowledge base on the E46 platform is unrivaled in terms of information available and E46F is a great conduit of this knowledge.

Structural Foam DIY: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=421501
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Old Yesterday, 04:32 PM   #16
dmax
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Originally Posted by Alex323Ci View Post
for your circumstances this is what I was going to suggest but Doug beat me to it. the epoxy foam around the left mounting block will help, since it doesn’t see much use this probably the easiest and cheapest preventative job.
both Doug and myself had our RACP (aka subframe) tears repaired by BMW. his with smaller panel sections and my 323Ci with a whole new floor panel.
It was something like a $5,000 repair...and my buddy Alex posted a thread that prompted me to look again, 1 week before the settlement ended.

I actually had an 'almost new floor put in...a vert floor, but they left the original weld seam alone, beyond the tear.

Ugh, the more I write about my car, the less I want to give it up! Every '99-01 owner is screwed...sort of. Airbags won't be ready until the end of the year. Got my offer of $2231 from BMW today...for a perfectly-ish running bmw?
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Old Yesterday, 05:08 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by 77'911 View Post
My condolences for your father's passing. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Keep decent drive line mounts and suspension components in the car should help some. It seems the cars that get driven "aggressively" are more likely for issues to show themselves. If a crack shows up, then buy one of the factory reinforcement plates and weld it in. Just drive and enjoy it.
regards

+1 for this approach. I did this with mine until I found a hairline crack. At that point I made arrangements to weld in the Turner reinforcement kit to fix it. I was able to drive the car a couple thousand miles from the time I first spotted the crack until I had it repaired.
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Old Yesterday, 05:28 PM   #18
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About the epoxy method mentioned above: I'm not a big fan of this, as with welding you drill a hole through the chassis so you can see the subframe mount inside the chassis, which you then weld up against the new reinforcement plate. With the epoxy method you just glue a plate on top of a plate, not connecting the actual subframe mount. But then again: I have no experience with the epoxy method so can't confirm it does or doesn't work, but welding seems the better option.
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Old Yesterday, 06:55 PM   #19
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About the epoxy method mentioned above: I'm not a big fan of this, as with welding you drill a hole through the chassis so you can see the subframe mount inside the chassis, which you then weld up against the new reinforcement plate. With the epoxy method you just glue a plate on top of a plate, not connecting the actual subframe mount. But then again: I have no experience with the epoxy method so can't confirm it does or doesn't work, but welding seems the better option.
The link above refers to structural epoxy - this is not to be used as a glue to attach reinforcement plates, but as a cavity filler, which encases the mounting blocks, thus reinforcing the spot welds that hold them in place.
BMW recommended this as a fix if the floor is just beginning to crack, so it should work as a preventative solution, particularly for cars that are not driven very aggressively.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with using proper epoxy-based glues to attach the plates, if the floor hasn't cracked yet (or the cracks are very small). This does the same job as the weld, but it binds the reinforcement plate on its entire surface, not just around the edge.

You can still cut and access the mounting block from the top, then weld or secure them by other methods.
In this case, the welding should be done before using the epoxy.
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Old Yesterday, 07:20 PM   #20
Sapote
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Originally Posted by oldgold2000 View Post
My question/concern is about the subframe.
So far no visible cracks or problems. I enjoy working on this car & would like to keep it, but am concerned about posable future problems with the subframe.
What should I do without spending big bucks to continue to enjoy my car?
I have no welding equipment.
Don't drive like a thief and it should be fine as it. My heavier 2000 323i wagon 170K miles has no subframe issue.
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