Since it’s introduction in 1975, the BMW 3-Series has earned itself a reputation as one of the world’s greatest sports sedans. Not only has the 3-Series been improved and refined over the years to a state of near perfection, it has also garnered a huge, loyal following of people who love to drive them. BMW 3-Series owners tend to adore their cars and also enjoy restoring, modifying, and maintaining them to perfection. If you’re one of these people, this book was written especially for you.
Information is the key to success in any project or endeavor. Without the proper knowledge, you can make costly mistakes and waste your time as you trudge through the learning process. The projects in this book aim to eliminate any guesswork that you may have while working on your BMW. My slogan has always been, “Let me make the mistakes and warn you about them, so you won’t do the same.” Believe me, I’ve made many mistakes and learned the hard way the best and worst way to repair, restore, and modify these cars. My lessons, as well as the lessons learned by the expert mechanics I’ve consulted with, are compiled here for you.
Who am I? I am the owner of one of the largest BMW online parts retailers, PelicanParts.com. I designed and built Pelican Parts especially designed for the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mechanics who love to work on their own cars – people just like me. Our website has hundreds of BMW technical articles that are the foundation for most of the projects in this book. If you like what you see in this book, then you will definitely enjoy more of the same at our website, www.PelicanParts.com.
The projects in this book are written in a format and style that should empower anyone to work on his or her car. One of the principal drawbacks to owning a BMW is the high cost of maintaining it. You can literally save thousands of dollars in mechanic’s costs simply by performing the work yourself. It is the goal of this book to get more people out working on their BMWs - it’s too much fun not to! Plus, when you personally complete a job on your BMW, you get the added satisfaction of having done it yourself. Working on your own car can give you that emotional attachment to your 3-Series that is common with BMW owners.
This book is divided into 11 sections, each focusing on a particular system of the BMW 3-Series. The “backyard” mechanic can perform almost any of the projects contained within these pages over a weekend or two. In an attempt to appeal to everyone, some of the projects are basic, and some are more advanced. Some of the projects are simply overviews of systems found on the 3-Series. For example, Project 22, which covers the supercharger installation, is simply meant to give you an inside look into what happens when you take your engine’s performance to the next level.
Most projects follow a distinct how-to format. Step-by-step instructions tell you how to perform the job, what tools to use, and what costly mistakes to avoid. The photos that accompany the projects tell a story of their own. I’ve spread hints and tips throughout each project, so make sure that you read all the text and captions in the photos before you start.
In addition to this book, I’ve also created a bonus CD-ROM that contains additional information and photos that I didn’t have room to publish here in print. The CD-ROM is available for purchase at the main website for this book, www.101projects.com. In addition, I’ve setup the site with a discussion forum so that you can ask questions and get feedback regarding any of the projects in the book. You can often find myself and many other BMW experts there, ready to share knowledge and exchange ideas.
Please don’t be afraid to get this book dirty - take it with you underneath the car. Get it greasy. Compare the pictures in the book to your own car. Follow along step by step as you tear into each project. If this book gets dirty, then I will sleep well at night knowing that it’s being put to good use.
While this book is a great guide for determining what upgrades and maintenance you need to perform on your BMW, it’s not meant to be the only book for your car. Limited by a fixed page count, I can’t provide the detailed diagrams, torque settings, and factory procedures that are documented in the original factory workshop manuals. If you are planning to work on your own car, I recommend that you invest as much as you can in books and information that will help you along the way. Make sure that you review the Information Resources section in the next section of this book for my recommendations of the best places to find additional technical information for the BMW 3-Series.
This book is not meant to be read from cover to cover, but is designed to be flipped through so that you can get an idea of what projects interest you for your BMW. I’ve structured the projects so that you can simply open up the book and start working on your car. I do recommend, however, that you read the “Tools of the Trade” section in the first part of the book, and also Project 1, “Jacking Up Your Car,” before you start working on any of the projects.
One of the features in this book that I have taken special care with is the index. I find it especially frustrating when a good book has a lousy index, where you can’t find anything useful. For that reason, I’ve personally indexed the book according unique words found within each project, and also listed each index item under multiple names. This way, if there are different names for a part or procedure, it will still be easy to locate it within the body of the text. For example, shocks are listed as both shock absorbers and inserts, as they are sometimes called. Please feel free to use the index as one of your primary guides to the book.
Finally, remember that safety should be your Number One concern. It’s very easy to get so intimately involved with working on your 3-Series that you forget how fragile and vulnerable the human body can be. Have patience, and think about every action you make. Think ahead as to what might happen if you slip, or if something breaks. Using your head a little will go a long way toward protecting yourself.
I hope you enjoy the book, as I have spent a long time compiling this information and filtering it so that it’s easy to understand and follow. If you have any feedback or questions for me, you can contact me at this book’s dedicated website, http://www.101projects.com. Enjoy!