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E46 Touring
The E46 touring forum. Talk about your sport wagon E46 here.

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Old 03-29-2020, 11:43 AM   #1
billy bee
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Location: Arroyo Grande, CA
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My Ride: '00 323iT/'81 633CSi
Year: 2000
Model: 323iT
Transmission: Auto > 5MT
New-to-me 323iTA ---> 330iT 5MT M-Sport

Been driving a 2011 Toyota Sienna Limited AWD for several years. Don't laugh. It was necessary to tow/launch our ski boat and super comfy. But terribly boring.

Recently bought my wife an Audi Q5 TDI for her driving pleasure and boat towing and launching duties, and I unloaded the van. Spent about a month deciding what to buy. Finally landed on a E46 Touring and found an inexpensive car in Los Angeles. Drove down last week to pick it up. Gray interior. Sport Pkg but, otherwise, few options. Power but not heated seats. 150k on the odo...

Body is really pretty straight other than it appears to have been backed into by a bro-dozer...the front bumper is crap and the grill is tweaked. Interior has some wear, and bad vinyl repair goo was used to patch the leather. Runs fine and drives OK except for a little front-end shimmy and terrible suspension. Three of the four shocks are completely blown. Tires were shot, too...as in cord was showing.

Here's what it looked like when I got it home:



I am particularly impressed by the mis-matched, chromed-versus-painted Style 45's. Sweet, huh?

Got it up on the lift the other day and the car is not bad underneath. New Mahle LCAB's. Little oil leak at the oil filter housing. Really needs tie rods, inner and outer, steering rack boots, trans and engine mounts. Auto trans looks brand new. So, I'll get started on those simple fixes.

Meanwhile, I am planning to pinch some goodies off of a rear-ended 2001 330i with the M-Sport package to convert this wagon to a 330iT/5 with the M-Sport look. The goal is to make it a fun daily driver and occasional autocross car.

I do not plan to track it. We race Lemons and Lucky Dog in this:


Fueling at our last race:



So, not need to go crazy for a daily driver and street car. Anyway, since the tires on the E46 were so bad, I started by swapping the wheels over. It already made a difference in the car's feel. And I love the look of the Style 68's. They are staggered, however. Need to get two 8.5's for the front. It's a big improvement already:



I'm not going to write up a detailed build thread, but I'll keep you posted on our progress and detail any challenging issues we encounter or that may be helpful to others considering a similar swap. Open to any guidance you have along the way.

Things I'm adding/replacing, in no particular order:
  • all fluids
  • front strut reinforcements
  • K-Mac Stage 3 camber plates
  • engine and trans mounts
  • inner and outer tie rods
  • steering rack boots

Things on the list to swap over in order of priority:
  • larger brakes and struts/shocks from the 330i
  • engine and 5-speed
  • front bumper and side skirts
  • black sport interior
  • Harmon Kardon speakers?
  • other M-Sport goodies?

What should I do to the M54B30 before dropping it into my wagon? Here's the things I plan to address:
  • entire cooling system
  • address oil leaks
  • maybe install new 3-piece oil rings
  • Vanos rebuild

Any additional ideas?

--Bill
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:04 PM   #2
VpointVick
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You probably know but just to be sure, You know that you have to swap the 330i trailing arms too to keep parking brake functionality with the brake swap, right?
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:08 PM   #3
markseven
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Nice looking car. Congrats!

I dig your Sixer, btw.
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:12 PM   #4
yjsaabman
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Look forward to your progress and I imagine the Touring was priced right.

As for the interior swap, the back seat is very different between the touring and the sedan or coupe. The good thing is that the back seat doesn't change between sport and standard interiors, so any touring backseat will work.

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Old 03-29-2020, 12:14 PM   #5
billy bee
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My Ride: '00 323iT/'81 633CSi
Year: 2000
Model: 323iT
Transmission: Auto > 5MT
Quote:
Originally Posted by VpointVick View Post
You probably know but just to be sure, You know that you have to swap the 330i trailing arms too to keep parking brake functionality with the brake swap, right?
No, I did not know. Definitely want to retain the parking brake. Thanks.

I am doing his with a buddy who has done tons of swaps. He knows a lot of this stuff, but I appreciate the information you all share here.

I have been reading up on the engine swap. Mostly see S54 swaps here, but the M54 will be a huge improvement over the M52/slushbox combo.

--bb
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:23 PM   #6
billy bee
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My Ride: '00 323iT/'81 633CSi
Year: 2000
Model: 323iT
Transmission: Auto > 5MT
Quote:
Originally Posted by yjsaabman View Post
Look forward to your progress and I imagine the Touring was priced right.
The seller was asking $3250. I offered $2000 and we settled at $2400. I may have paid too much for the car, but it is a solid foundation for what I want to do. CA car. No accidents. Every body panel is straight except the LR wheel well lip has a dent in it and the hood is slightly distorted near the grille. But every button works, and I can daily it while I compile parts for the swap. Plus, I have a crashed silver 330i donor car on standby...

--bb
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:23 PM   #7
yjsaabman
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Here's a tip on the 3.0L: it's a good idea to safety wire the oilpump drive sprocket nut when you have the pan off to change the gasket. For some reason the 3.0L m54 seems more prone to having it back off than the 2.5L. Meanwhile the 3.0L seems less prone to the oil consumption issues the 2.5L tends towards.

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Old 03-29-2020, 03:57 PM   #8
VpointVick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billy bee View Post
No, I did not know. Definitely want to retain the parking brake. Thanks.

I am doing his with a buddy who has done tons of swaps. He knows a lot of this stuff, but I appreciate the information you all share here.

I have been reading up on the engine swap. Mostly see S54 swaps here, but the M54 will be a huge improvement over the M52/slushbox combo.

--bb
The rest of it is a straight bolt on, and swapping the trailing arms themselves is as well, it's just that the 330i uses a larger diameter parking brake drum than the 325i does, so it's necessary to 1) swap the trailing arms, 2) sleeve the drum portion of the rotors, or 3) fab custom shoes, either by using extra thick linings or by fabbing hybrid shoes that use the smaller mounting holes but the larger diameter.

Given that most all of these cars are due for rear suspension refreshes anyway and you have the 330i parts car it's probably best just to use its trailing arms.
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Old 03-30-2020, 08:27 AM   #9
VpointVick
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One more thing re: the rear trailing arms so that you keep your parking brake.

The rear axle bearing is larger on the 330i trailing arm so that necessitates using the 330i's axles, and the diff output flanges have a different bolt circle that the 325i's axles, so you have to use those as well. They pop right out though and are a straight swap for the 325i's output flanges, you just pop them in in their place.
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Old 03-30-2020, 03:09 PM   #10
nextelbuddy
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the wagon you picked up has the mechanical throttle pedal. any plans to convert to a 330 means you will need to install the electronic throttle pedal and wire in the 6 wires to the body harness plug of the car so you can run either MS43 or MS45.1
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Old 04-01-2020, 10:36 PM   #11
billy bee
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Year: 2000
Model: 323iT
Transmission: Auto > 5MT
Thanks to you all for sharing your experience here.

I will be driving this with the M52/Auto for a few months. So, I ordered a bunch of parts that will both improve the car now and can be used during the swap. Today, I tackled the engine mounts and transmission mounts. I did not take any pictures b/c I left my phone in the car while the car was on the lift. Oh well. I had the car as high as it would go and used what I call a jiggle jack (it's a HF under lift jack) to raise/support the transmission to replace the mounts. It is a very straight forward repair. I found it easiest to support the trans, move the pass. side heat shield aside , remove the trans crossmember, lower the transmission to gain easy access to the nuts atop the trans mounts, loosen them, and slide the bad mounts out of their slots. It was easy to then replace the mounts in the slots on the trans, tighten them, replace the crossmember, and raise the trans and crossmember back into place.

The engine mounts are a lot more difficult. I first unbolted the bolts atop the mounts. Requires a 16mm universal socket. Remove the intake hose to get to the driver's side. Then, I raised the car up and put the jiggle jack under the front of the oil pan using a black of wood to distribute the load. I have to loosen a steering cooling line to make room for the wood. After I raised the front of the engine up, I loosened the low mount nuts. My old engine mounts were pancaked; so, they came out easy. Getting new ones in is a pain. I jacked the engine up as much as I could without removing the fan and shroud. There was still not quite enough room to slip the mounts in. So, I had to rock them into place, starting by sneaking the top stud into upper mount and I was just able to squeeze the lower stud into the lower mount. It's TIGHT. But totally do-able.

Passenger side is the same but a little harder to get the mount in there in the first place. Again, I started by sneaking the top stud in the upper mounting arm and standing the mount up until I was able to get the lower stud in. I did not have to rock the engine left to right to make more room. There is enough room to make it work.

While I had the intake hose out, I discovered the it was not properly clamped to the collar. I had to take the collar out of the lower hose and install it in the top hose properly to make it seal up properly. Can't believe there wasn't air getting in there.

--bb

Last edited by billy bee; 04-01-2020 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 04-18-2020, 08:51 AM   #12
Geo31
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Welcome to the club (almost). Last fall I had George Hill convert my 325iT 5MT to a 330iT 6MT. It really wakes the car up and is really enjoyable to drive. If you can find a 6 speed, I'd highly recommend it. I regularly do 80 mph on a portion of my commute (when actually working from the office) where the SL is 75. The 6th gear with the 3.46 rear end brings the rpm down from 4k to around 3200. Doesn't sound like a lot, but in real life it makes a big difference. The 3 liter with the 3.46 rear end makes the car very peppy (the 330i comes with a taller rear end; the manual wagon comes with the 3.46).

It's tons of fun and I have a "car guy" 1 hour commute on country roads through farm and ranch country. It may be long, but it's really fun to drive with only about 10 miles on what could be termed a freeway (it's not an Interstate, but it's limited access 2 lanes each way with large separation between them). That's the place where the SL is 75. Haven't driven it much lately. Getting about 4 weeks to the gallon right now.
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Old 04-23-2020, 08:32 AM   #13
billy bee
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My Ride: '00 323iT/'81 633CSi
Year: 2000
Model: 323iT
Transmission: Auto > 5MT
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geo31 View Post
Welcome to the club (almost). Last fall I had George Hill convert my 325iT 5MT to a 330iT 6MT. It really wakes the car up and is really enjoyable to drive. If you can find a 6 speed, I'd highly recommend it. I regularly do 80 mph on a portion of my commute (when actually working from the office) where the SL is 75. The 6th gear with the 3.46 rear end brings the rpm down from 4k to around 3200. Doesn't sound like a lot, but in real life it makes a big difference. The 3 liter with the 3.46 rear end makes the car very peppy (the 330i comes with a taller rear end; the manual wagon comes with the 3.46).
Not sure what the diff ratio is in the 323iT. I would guess higher to compensate for the lower power and slush box. Iíll dial in the diff once we get the swap done, including looking for a limited slip.

Probably going to stick with the 5-speed for now, unless a 6-speed falls into my lap, simply b/c we have two 5-speed transmissions.

Of course, we are not getting much done right now. Canít wait to get together with my team to work on the race car and start this swap...

óBill
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Old 04-23-2020, 09:57 AM   #14
norcal_cyclist
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My Ride: ZHP / ZHPTouring
Year: 2002
Model: ZHP
Transmission: 6spd
Quote:
Originally Posted by billy bee View Post
Not sure what the diff ratio is in the 323iT. I would guess higher to compensate for the lower power and slush box. I'll dial in the diff once we get the swap done, including looking for a limited slip.

Probably going to stick with the 5-speed for now, unless a 6-speed falls into my lap, simply b/c we have two 5-speed transmissions.

Of course, we are not getting much done right now. Can't wait to get together with my team to work on the race car and start this swap...

-Bill
This site:

http://www.bokchoys.com/differential/GearRatios.htm

has your final drive at 3:46 perfect for a 6spd, too low for a 5 speed. My 6 speed converted ZHP has a 3.64 and is a bit low even for my 6th gear. I am looking for a 3.38 to add to the conversion list for my Touring though the 3.46 is ok for the 6speed also.

EDIT: BTW you run against Craig Evans in my old E46 US Touring Car
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Old 04-23-2020, 11:21 AM   #15
VpointVick
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Originally Posted by norcal_cyclist View Post
This site:

http://www.bokchoys.com/differential/GearRatios.htm

has your final drive at 3:46 perfect for a 6spd, too high for a 5 speed. My 6 speed converted ZHP has a 3.64 and is a bit high even for my 6th gear. I am looking for a 3.38 to add to the conversion list for my Touring though the 3.46 is ok for the 6speed also.

EDIT: BTW you run against Craig Evans in my old E46 US Touring Car
Too low.
Bigger numbers=lower gear ratios.

I'm planning on running my 3.46 with my 6MT swap and am having several people tell me that they think it's going to be too low. I don't know about that, and we'll see (easy enough to find a higher ratio diff in the wrecking yard if that's the case) but I definitely think that it's going to be too low for OP with a 5MT which has a 1:1 final drive ratio and no overdrive.
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Old 04-23-2020, 12:49 PM   #16
norcal_cyclist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VpointVick View Post
Too low.
Bigger numbers=lower gear ratios.

I'm planning on running my 3.46 with my 6MT swap and am having several people tell me that they think it's going to be too low. I don't know about that, and we'll see (easy enough to find a higher ratio diff in the wrecking yard if that's the case) but I definitely think that it's going to be too low for OP with a 5MT which has a 1:1 final drive ratio and no overdrive.
Fixed - gets me every time! FWIW I bought a manual 2004 ZHP Coupe brand new and the single best thing I did was move to a 3.38 diff. My current ride has the OG 3.64 and the ratio is too low (haha) for sustained freeway driving imo.

255/35r15 is about 25" tall, here's RPM at 65

3.64 = 2701
3.46 = 2569
3.38 = 2510
OEM at:
3.06 = 2280

There's very little difference between the 3.46 and 3.38

http://www.csgnetwork.com/multirpmcalc.html
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Old 04-23-2020, 06:32 PM   #17
Geo31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VpointVick View Post
Too low.
Bigger numbers=lower gear ratios.

I'm planning on running my 3.46 with my 6MT swap and am having several people tell me that they think it's going to be too low. I don't know about that, and we'll see (easy enough to find a higher ratio diff in the wrecking yard if that's the case) but I definitely think that it's going to be too low for OP with a 5MT which has a 1:1 final drive ratio and no overdrive.
Unless you spend a LOT of time at VERY high speed, I think you'll find the 3.46 with the 6spd to be great. My hour commute is spent usually above 65mph and typically 70-75mph. The final/first 10 minute stretch is at 80mph. The 6spd makes ALL the difference. I think it's a great balance between performance and economy. I could have used the 330i rear end, but I wouldn't have anywhere near the performance and I find the combo very easy to live with. If you spend the majority of your time at 80mph or less, I think you'll like the combo.

[edit] Bonus enticement.... If you come to wagonfest you can drive mine.
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Last edited by Geo31; 04-23-2020 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 04-23-2020, 09:33 PM   #18
VpointVick
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Originally Posted by Geo31 View Post
Unless you spend a LOT of time at VERY high speed, I think you'll find the 3.46 with the 6spd to be great. My hour commute is spent usually above 65mph and typically 70-75mph. The final/first 10 minute stretch is at 80mph. The 6spd makes ALL the difference. I think it's a great balance between performance and economy. I could have used the 330i rear end, but I wouldn't have anywhere near the performance and I find the combo very easy to live with. If you spend the majority of your time at 80mph or less, I think you'll like the combo.

[edit] Bonus enticement.... If you come to wagonfest you can drive mine.

The original date was a no for me only because of all the great music that I was supposed to be seeing all this spring. Hell, there were three shows that I was supposed to have gone to just that week alone!

I;m definitely down to road trip if the calendar works better when it's rescheduled!
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:38 PM   #19
DrewDawg
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Fellow 325iT 5MT to 330iT member here! I still have my 5 speed with the 3.46. I do plan on doing the six speed swap at some point. Simultaneously,I plan to do a zhp (330i) rear subframe( for larger axles and diff., etc). My initial thought was to get a diff out of an early 330ci (5 speed) to drop the rpms. Cost wise, (for me, as I have to pay for labor) it will work out almost the same just to drop in the complete 330i rear subframe with diff. I think I will miss the acceleration of the 3.46 with the 3.0 liter though ...it is fun! I haven't considered a six speed with the 3.46 though...sounds interesting!
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Old 05-13-2020, 09:13 AM   #20
VpointVick
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Originally Posted by DrewDawg View Post
Fellow 325iT 5MT to 330iT member here! I still have my 5 speed with the 3.46. I do plan on doing the six speed swap at some point. Simultaneously,I plan to do a zhp (330i) rear subframe( for larger axles and diff., etc). My initial thought was to get a diff out of an early 330ci (5 speed) to drop the rpms. Cost wise, (for me, as I have to pay for labor) it will work out almost the same just to drop in the complete 330i rear subframe with diff. I think I will miss the acceleration of the 3.46 with the 3.0 liter though ...it is fun! I haven't considered a six speed with the 3.46 though...sounds interesting!
There's no difference between the 325i and 330i subframes or diffs, and you can get the larger axles by simply swapping the trailing arms (brakes too) and axles as long as you also swap the diff output flanges. They pop right into the 325i diff.

There's no need for you to miss the acceleration of the 3.46 gear. Keep it!
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