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Thread: 2005 Jet Black/NB 6MT sedan - keeping it in the "family" - Project Log

  1. #1

    2005 Jet Black/NB 6MT sedan - keeping it in the "family" - Project Log

    Ok, hopefully you saw my brief intro explaining how I came to own my 2005 ZHP. By way of background my relationship with BMW’s actually started with an E46, a 2006 M3 coupe I picked up in late 2007 with 16k miles on it. That was my dream car, Silver-Grey over cinnamon with the SMG transmission (I was commuting in Houston at the time and had been driving a 5 speed 2003 IS300 and I was just tired of the clutch in traffic). As I am prone to do, I jumped right into the brand and it wasn’t long until I rediscovered my love of my high school icon, the E30. At this time, mid 2008, E30’s could be had cheap and I picked up a brilliantrot 318i sedan for $2,500. My intent was to restore this one and eventually retire the M3 to garage queen and daily the E30. Fast forward a few months and my unicorn pops up on Houston craigslist, a diamond-black slick top 318iS. $3,500 later I am now the owner of 3 BMW’s and an increasingly agitated wife, decisions needed to be made. The 318i was a basket case, the M3 was absolutely pristine and the 318iS was right in the middle, great patina and mechanically sound. After a few weeks of just driving I made up my mind, the 318iS is my forever car. Fast forward to today and I now live and work in Ohio, my commute being back country roads and zero traffic. As soon as we moved here the E30 was taken off the roads between November and March, so to fill that gap I started down the Land Rover rabbit hole (because I just can’t drive boring, and I enjoy tradition and uniqueness). It didn’t take long for that left leg to start itching for action and there was only one choice, the car I should have bought brand new but didn’t, the ZHP. So with the history behind us let’s pick up where we left off in the intro:

    So it was Friday before Memorial Day weekend when the delivery happened. With a long list of house/yard to-dos in front of me I only had time for a quick spin through the neighborhood and a visual inspection before putting her away for the night. I had not been idle the days prior to delivery, however. Due to Tom’s complete transparency and quite detailed history of the maintenance and issues he provided me pre-purchase, I knew I had a few things to knock out immediately.
    Saturday morning and time to do some work.

    So as to not create any immediate relationship issues, wash the E30 first:
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    Then we knock of the delivery grime:
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    And into the “maintenance bay” for a more thorough evaluation of what lies ahead:
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    I mentioned before my credit card had been active prior to delivery, here is the first parts shipment:
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    Up on the Quick Jack (best purchase ever) for the exam:
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    Brakes are ok, plenty of pad in the front, discs are ok. I am thinking I may do something here this summer just to baseline the car:
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    As expected as a NC car up to now, zero corrosion issues underneath:
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    Transmission is a little wet, visible drip here, so will try and run this down:
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    And our first issue I need to address on the mechanical side, both sides torn, more to come on this later:
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    And now the first mods complete:
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    Sunday morning and we are off to Costco for my appointment to rectify the rubber. I decided on A/S tires for now as I have a longer term goal (1-2 years) to bite the bullet and purchase new 135’s at all four corners. When that happens I will probably go to summer’s and run these wheels with winters.
    Michelins, very nice so far:
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    And now we just drive, and enjoy. And wait for parts to trickle in. Will be continued…
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by av8drvr; 06-02-2020 at 06:53 AM. Reason: Double pictures

  2. #2
    Now for my post looking for some assistance. The car has several issues, again all disclosed by Tom so not a surprise.
    I have an airbag light I need to rectify. Research points to the passenger seat sensor, and my fingers are crossed that the $10 eBay emulator is the fix. I assume I need to have the code cleared after the fix, so my question is for the $10 do I take the leap of faith and take into the shop once to clear the code or do I plan for two visits, one to read/diagnose and two to clear once we fix?

    I have flickering XENON’s, both sides, and some condensation on the passenger side:
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    I already had lenses/gaskets on order (pics above) so I know the path forward to deal with the water. The flickering is a bit more mysterious. It is definitely both sides, lasts for about 10 minutes into the commute and then subsides completely. During the “unstable” time one side or the other will flicker, blink on/off and eventually shut completely down, triggering the bulb out warning. By shutting off and then on it clears the fault and we re-enter the cycle. For the past three mornings it has been pretty damn consistent with only lasting the first 10 or so minutes of my drive. I ordered new ballasts, I figure we may be on originals, but I am skeptical that is the issue. Once I get the ballasts both lights will come out for a complete inspection and reseal. I will also take a look at the taillight grounds. As a note the car does have Halos and the wiring is something I want to clean up as well, they flicker as well when I touch the wires in the engine bay even slightly:
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    If anyone has any other potential thoughts on this mysterious condition I am all ears.

    This brings us up to date with the car. I have both inner and out tie-rods due in from ECS tomorrow, a new key from BMW and a Rennline magnetic phone mount due in tomorrow as well. Ballasts are unfortunately delayed in shipping so I won’t see those until next week. More to come…

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Toronto, ON
    That's one clean E30! Man that halo wiring is a bit sketchy. Perhaps your flickering xenons are due to the wires in the headlight going bad? I had the same symptoms as you (flickering xenon, then bulb out) and one of the wires only had a few small copper strands left connecting it together. It was only that 1 spot so I soldered and heat-shrinked it back together 3 years ago and it's been fine ever since.

    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by View Post
    That's one clean E30! Man that halo wiring is a bit sketchy. Perhaps your flickering xenons are due to the wires in the headlight going bad? I had the same symptoms as you (flickering xenon, then bulb out) and one of the wires only had a few small copper strands left connecting it together. It was only that 1 spot so I soldered and heat-shrinked it back together 3 years ago and it's been fine ever since.

    Did you have broken wires in both headlights? Or does it only take a fault in one to impact both?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Toronto, ON
    Quote Originally Posted by av8drvr View Post
    Did you have broken wires in both headlights? Or does it only take a fault in one to impact both?
    No, just the one side and bulb-out only on that side. Turning the car off and back on fixes it for a bit, until I hit some bumps (jiggling the wire) and causing the error again
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    OC, CA
    If both sides flicker I would double check a grounding fault in the taillights. If the issue is one side only, start by transferring bulb, igniter and ballast one at a time to the other headlight to help diagnose the issue.

    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP, Silver Grey Metallic, Dinan: Stage 2 Software, High Flow Intake,
    Free Flow Exhaust, Front Strut Bar, Stage 2 Suspension System, Staggered Hartge Replica Wheels,
    M3 Mirrors (Side and Interior), M3 Seats

  7. #7
    It is definitely both sides, randomly. I will pull apart the taillights and have a look. Thanks for the feedback folks.

  8. #8
    Awesome writeup, and great looking cars! So do you still have the M3?

  9. #9
    Thanks! No, I should have been more clear, soon after I started driving the 318iS daily I sold both the M3 and the 318i. I ended up selling the M3 to a guy in the building I worked at in downtown Houston so I saw it a lot for the next 3 years. He beat the crap out of it which was unfortunate.

  10. #10
    I was able to address the headlights this weekend. Very easy job all around, with excellent results thankfully. If you recall I had two issues, condensation (failed gasket) and flickering xenon (mystery). I started the job with an inspection of the taillight assemblies, only to discovery what I believe to be the recall completed by BMW. I didn't take pictures but very professionally spliced ground tails spaded to the posts as per all the pictures I reviewed in my research, so I eliminated that as a potential cause. I had ordered ballasts so as I waited for them to arrive via Amazon, I tackled the lenses and a front end inspection:

    New lenses and gaskets both sides:
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    I also took a look at all the connections I could find for potential issues:
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    Everything looked great, the issue is not the wiring. Meanwhile, USPS was still en route with the ballasts so while we wait:
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    ECS beat Amazon shipping, work for another weekend:
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    Eventually ballasts arrived, install was a breeze and I buttoned everything back up. I was lucky, both head lights are now strong and steady. No issues at all. I am very happy I didn't have to dive any deeper into electronic troubleshooting, or replace the LCM ($$).

    My foray into the front end did reveal another area I will have to address. I had noticed the the lower trim (below head light) on the passenger side was a little off alignment and loose to the touch. It took me a few minutes of comparing both sides to finally see the elephant staring back at me:

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    This piece has clearly had enough. This is the good drivers side for comparison:
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    Another trip to the laptop to send ECS more of my $.

    I tackled a few more minor projects. Many may have noticed a missing fastener in some of the pictures I posted when I first received the car. I do love the ease of finding fasteners and the like via Realoem and sites like FCP and ECS. The E46 is still well supported in the parts department, E30's have seen a dramatic drop in parts availability.

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    And finally I wrapped up the weekend with an LED interior light install session. No in progress photos, this was straight forward. I did not change out the vanity/visor bulbs, but the remaining bulbs all got the ZiZa treatment from ECS. The change is dramatic, and really brings the car into the modern era. It is a cheap and easy project that I recommend to anyone using the car everyday. I am a pretty strict originalist when it comes to my E30, but the E46 is modern enough and so well suited as an everyday car that I think it accepts these updates quite well.

    Next weekend I will tackle the steering rack (tie rods and boots) and then grab an alignment.

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