Materials to Maintain Your ZHP IIIII Hand Protection IIIII Tools to Maintain Your ZHP
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Englewood, NJ
    Posts
    54

    Affordable subframe to shock tower support brace options (partsshopmax, slrspeed)

    Looking for a way to do rear subframe mount reinforcement on my 2004 330i Sedan. I don't know how to weld and rather not rack up a huge bill at a shop having it done.

    This thread got me interested in seeing if there were any other options on the market by now: http://www.zhpmafia.com/forums/showt...zaman-himself)


    In the US a "e46 subframe brace" google search gives these two options:

    https://slrspeed.com/products/e46-re...ck-tower-brace

    https://store.partsshopmax.com/E46STSFB.html

    Similar price and cheaper than getting mason engineering or the SME brace shipped to the US.


    Not sure if these designs are inferior or similar enough.

    I have a 330i with non-folding rear seats. I did the diff bushings and peaked around the subframe and didnt see any big cracks, but I know thats a definitive answer. I don't drive my car too often but I do like to drive it in a sporting manner, but likely won't be seeing the track except maybe once or twice.


    What do ya'll think of these?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Englewood, NJ
    Posts
    54
    I just got off the phone with parts shop max, really cool dude. He said the brace was mostly designed to allow for true coilover installation and reinforce the strut towers. He would do the subframe mount reinforcement plates and solid subframe bushings to prevent the movement/tearing of the rear floor. He said he has done the install with 3m panel bond and had good results, so no welding required.

    The cost of the solid subframe bushings + reinforcement plates is 320+ shipping, and the panel bond seems to be about $50.

    VERY tempted to try this out as this would be easily done at home in the garage.


    Edit: I've found some negative reviews of the PSM bushings on here and other forums, maybe not a great idea.


    I am thinking of doing the SLRSpeed bar and their solid bushings. But trying to find some reviews. I think I read on this forum somewhere that if your rear floor is in good shape a top side reinforcement + solid bushings is all you need.
    Last edited by REF84; 09-21-2022 at 06:40 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    3,114
    I maintain that plates are just bandaids to put over existing cracks and the real reinforcement is in changing the load path. I believe I posted diagrams in another thread.

    Stay away from the partsshopmax brace. I had it and it is hot garbage. Made with heavy, soft steel. Includes little bitty bolts to make it easy to install from the top but not strong enough for the forces were putting into it.

    The other one looks solid, but I know nothing about it.

    There are some good ones in Europe too - I can vouch for SME in particular. Dude is sharp and makes an excellent brace. Really does it all right on the hardware side too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Irvine, CA
    Posts
    738
    If you reconsider the welding / shop fees for welding, then perhaps you can consider a CMP's new pieces:

    Link to his post on NAM3forum.

    Like ZHPizza said, changing load paths seem to be the key.

    If you still don't want to weld / pay for welding, there was a guy on the old m3forums with the screen name CCE46M3 who came up with another solution for the cracking problems of the e46. His solution used multiple bolts to secure the top and bottom panels of the RACP. I think he's since sold his m3 and is no longer active on the new NAM3forum, maybe there's an archive of his post. Pretty innovative, and cost effective for cars without existing cracks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Englewood, NJ
    Posts
    54
    Going to hopefully drop my subframe today to inspect for any cracks. The new CMP piece seems similar to the SME weld in brace but about half the price shipped. SME doesnt say you need to weld in plates so that might be a good option. Looks like the welding part is minimal maybe I can find a mobile welder to come in and do it at my home for a couple hundred bucks. I think regardless Ill go solid bushings on the subframe

    Im going through the archive of the m3 forum to see if I can find CCE46M3s posts.


    Edit: Here is when he reposted on e46fanatics:
    https://www.e46fanatics.com/threads/...-welds.998275/
    Last edited by REF84; 09-22-2022 at 11:35 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Irvine, CA
    Posts
    738
    ^ that's it! Nice find. I forgot about e46fanatics.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Englewood, NJ
    Posts
    54
    I have a pesky parking brake cable that is stuck inside my subframe and doesnt want to budge. It's the only thing holding the subframe up right now. I lowered it a bit and took a peak, and there are no major cracks from what I saw.

    I'm probably going to end up cutting off the parking brake cable if I cant get it out, its only $15 on FCP euro, and its driving me insane lol.

    I went ahead and ordered the CMP rear weld-in brace: https://cmpautoengineering.com/colle...r-weld-in-beam

    It is only 182$ express shipped from AUS to USA right now. And since its welded from the top I should easily be able to find a local welder to do it for me. I'll cut the trunk myself so all the guy has to do it is weld on the bar, the new CMP brace is same height as trunk so dont even have to reweld the trunk floor back on. This probably shouldnt cost much more than $100 from some dude on craigslist or something. So $300-400 for a welded in top support I think is pretty darn good.


    As for bottom reinforcements I dont think I'll need much if I do the topside kit. I might do what CCE46M3 did with the front mounts: bore out the hole and install a longer high strength bolt.

    Although I am a bit confused about that, how would I replace the stud thats currently in there for the front mounts? Im guessing the idea is that the bolt goes up through to where the seats are and then goes all the way down to the subframe bushing?

    @ZHPizza In an e46 thread you mentioned you would recommend a throughbolt, is this something you did?



    I'll also be replacing bushings to solid, planning on doing these UHMW ones from condor speed shop (a little bit cheaper than aluminum and supposedly is still solid but with some mild damping characteristics): https://www.condorspeedshop.com/coll...ngs-e46-e46-m3
    Last edited by REF84; 09-23-2022 at 09:18 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    SF Bay, CA
    Posts
    1,138
    God speed on those handbrake cables. If your car is from the rust belt like mine is, it could be super seized in the subframe. I think I spent a full 2-3 days getting them out

    Sent from my SM-G781W using Tapatalk
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Englewood, NJ
    Posts
    54
    Finally dropped the subframe, I had to cut the driver side parking brake cable on both ends, its still stuck in the subframe lol, ill deal with it later...

    Name:  sTwyh92.jpg
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    As for my RACP, I'm no expert, but looks good to me? 195K miles. Must of been a highway cruiser.

    Front Driver Side (over exposed photo but didnt see any cracks, ill get a better one) :

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    Front Passenger Side:

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    Rear Driver Side (that black line going horizontally is just a smudge I wiped it off):

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    Rear Passenger Side:

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    Do ya'll think I'll be good just welding in the top side reinforcement? If there is another place to look for cracks let me know and I can shoot some photos.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Stamford, CT
    Posts
    71
    Itís too late replying but if a cable stuck in the subframe pull it out from the inside and leave the subframe part in. Once you get it out itís easier to deal with, heating with a torch or some penetrating fluid.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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