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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-09-2007, 03:58 PM
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Mods and upgrades explained - Very Long!!

Hey

A lot of people on the fest ask what mods are best for their bimmer so i thought i would list the most popular ones and describe why they are good for your bimmer. Will put them in order you should do them too.

These include engine performance mods as well as stability etc

This is just my view but will try to be as accurate as possible. Am sure MANY of you will disagree with some of the things that i say, but that is the beauty of a forum. These are compiled from my experiences as a racing driver, test driver as well as an avid Bimmerfest member

1 - Decent petrol
People often go and spend HUGE amounts of money on enhancements or their cars and then use rubbish fuel. E36's are fitted with 'knock sensors' which will advance and retard your timing to sure different octane fuels. The higher the octane of the fuel, the higher the flash point. You want to make sure that the fuel is being ignited in the cylinder at the right time and not any where else. I recommendV-Power 98 RON or at least the highest octane car fuel you can find in your area (US octane ratings work a little different. Not only will you get more power and a more drivable car, but your engine will be cleaner and you also get better MPG.
2 - Good Spark Plugs
Ok, so you have you good petrol being sprayed into your cylinders, now you need to make sure there is a good spark. The OEM plugs are great but improvements can be made for a small cost.
The best plugs out there are NGK IRIDIUM IX plugs. They are brilliant and the affects can be felt right away. The car is smother through the rev-range and pulls better at low revs. They are cheap too and should only set you back around 35GBP ($70).
DONT go for Platinums as they are very problematic and can cause some very strange engine issues. Iridium has a massive melting point and so the electrode gap stays the same no matter how hot or how hard you push your car
3 - Decent Tyres
So often people spend loads of money on upgrades and then put crap tyres on their cars. Remember, your tyres are the only things connecting your car and power to the road and so decent tyres are an absolute must! Tyres are very personal and need to suit your driving style. I always run Pirelli P6000's on my cars as they are perfect for normal driving as well as when i push it. If you want them to last a long time but dont need massive amounts of grip then a hard compound like Bridgestone. If you want lots of grip but dont mind replacing them often then a soft compound like Yokohama is the way to go. There are of course tonnes of others out there!!
4 - CAI (Cold Air Intake)
The most common upgrade for the E36 (and most cars for that matter) is a CAI. A CAI allows cooler, denser air into your engine. Dense air contains more oxygen and the more oxygen you have, the better the bang in your engine leading to more power. The stock airbox on a bimmer is very restrictive and so does not let in the maximum amount of air into your intake. A CAI is a cone filter (such as K&N) with a metal heatshield that replaces the plastic air-box. The heatshield creates a cold pocket of air around the filter that blocks a lot of the heat of the engine. The result is a more powerful (up to 10BHP) and smother engine that also sounds amazing. A good CAI will cost around 150 GBP ($300) but you could get the cone filter without the heatshield for 60GBP ($120) and will still see big gains due to the increased air flow. I recommend K&N
5 - Brakes
Ok, so you have more power by adding the bits above, now you need to stop the flipping thing. An E36 weighs around 1.5 tonnes and so you need some decent brakes to stop it. The OEM brakes are ok but if you need to stop from a high speed in a hurry then you are going to get 'brake fade'. Brake fade is the sporn of all evil and occurs when your brakes get hot. The pedal goes hard and your braking efficiency is massively reduced. You need to install cross drilled discs (rotors) to dissipate the heat caused by the friction as well as some uprated pads. I recommend EBC Green stuffs pads for normal to spirited driving or EBC Red stuffs ceramic pads if you like to really push it or do track days. The increased braking is amazing and brake fade is almost completely eliminated. To get rid of it, you will need to install braided hoses. When your brakes get VERY hot, your brake fluid boils and the standard pipes expand losing efficiency. The uprated discs (rotors) should also stop 'warping' which can be VERY nasty
6 - ECU re-map/chip upgrade
All cars that roll off the production line have to conform to emissions and country laws. They are also made to allow for the worst fuel, the worst drivers, bad servicing and bad weather conditions. Although the ECU is adaptive and so will advance/retard the ignition timing as described above, there is still plenty of power locked away behind your ECU maps. An ECU remap done via your OBC port or a physical replacement of your chip modifies the map to the most efficient possible. This give you lots more power throughout the rev-band and increased MPG as the engine is working at it's best. NEVER EVER EVER add cheap devices that claim to trick the ECU into thinking the air is colder. These are a con, plain and simple. Always go for a well known, reputable companies product. Your ECU is your car's brain and you should never short change it. You would not go to back alley doctor for brain surgery and the same goes for your bimmer. Price is anywhere from 100-300GBP ($200-$600)
7 - Performance exhaust
After fitting the CAI, you will have increased airflow into your engine and it needs to get out. OEM exhausts are restrictive like the intake and so a decent cat-back exhaust will give you more power gains and a lovely sound too. There are many many brilliant companies out there that supply excellent systems for the E36 depending on what you want, what sound you like and how much you want to spend. Prices are anywhere from 100-500GBP ($200-$1000)
8 - Strut Brace
Strut braces stiffen up the geometry of the front and rear suspension giving you a more positive turn in. Prices are around 50-150GBP ($100-$300)
9 - Underdrive pulleys
Underdrive pulleys are smaller and lighter than the OEM ones and reduce the parasitic drag caused by running your alternator. Gains of around 6BHP can be seen with no ill affects to your electrical system. Prices are around 100GBP ($200)
10 - Uprated Engine Bushes
Engine bushes hold your engine in place and the OEM ones can cause the engine to move under hard acceleration/braking and spirited cornering. This increases momentum and can destabilise the car. These stiffen up the engine and stop it moving around so much
There are of course many more out there (including suspension upgrades) but these are the most common and the ones i have the most experience with.

Hope it helps

Pirate (Pete)
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2007, 05:12 PM
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Nicely done Pirate!!!, I was waiting for someone to put the subject of 'modding' together. I think someone should make it a Sticky aswell!!
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Old 05-09-2007, 05:40 PM
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Thanks for sharing! Need my glasses, I thought there was 68HP gain on underdrive pulleys. You got me excited there for a sec.
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  #4  
Old 05-09-2007, 05:45 PM
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Nice writeup Pirate! All of the things keep the car looking stock . I hate externally modded BMW's. I will vouch for # 1 and 2. Good fuel and plugs are important and will make a big difference in the way your car runs. Also, I bought my set of NGK Iridiums for $52 US online.
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Old 05-09-2007, 06:01 PM
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Thanks a lot Pirate. I am always lurking here, but you are a great help to this forum everywhere I turn This will help me prioritize. I'd like to see a few suspension upgrades in there too, just to see where you'd rank them in priority. Also what do you think about the long CAIs that go downward without a heat shield? I am about to buy a Cosmos Racing one from Ebay for 100-150. They look good, aluminum with a painted heat coating and an adjustable position K&N filter.

What about rotor brands? I know Brembo is awesome but they are really expensive...

And lastly, are there any decent catbacks for the $200-300 range? The lowest quality one I've seen is 400-500 for a Stromung or something. Or should I just get an OEM M3 one?

Thanks
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Old 05-09-2007, 06:09 PM
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There was just a thread about the advantages and disadvantages of long CAI's, IMO, I dont think that a long one adds anything over a properly shielded short one, also the risk of hydrolock is also small. On eshausts, it seems to be that you get what you pay for. If you get a cheap one, dont expect OEM fit.
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:20 PM
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Nice one pirate! This definitely should be sticked. Mind if I add a few myself?

Lightweight aluminum flywheel
Your stock flywheel is pretty darn heavy, so it takes the engine awhile to get it up and spinning. Aluminum flywheels are up to 15lb lighter, so it takes a great deal of stress of your engine's rotational thinga-ma-jigy. ($400 - 600)

Short shifter kit
Less shifting, more accelerating. Need I say more? (about $300)

CDV Removal
The CDV (Clutch Delay Valve)is a tiny little screw placed in your clutch fluid line that restricts fluid flow. So as a result, clutch movement is delayed, so you can never really "dump" the clutch. It's great for first-time drivers, but a pain in the arse for skilled drivers. For my E46, the valve was right in the middle of the rubber fluid hose and steel line transaction, which was underneath my car right next to the transmission. Clamp the hose shut with a pair of locking pliers and unhook the damn thing. It made a world of difference for me. (NOTE: Only cars made in 1996 and on came with a CDV)

Upgrade your clutch
Aftermarket sport clutches clamp much harder, and are also more resistant to force. You get no delays, no extra pedal travel and an explosion of power after each shift. Not only that, but if you upgraded your horsepower, you'd probably want to upgrade the clutch too, because the stock clutch is made for stock horsepower. If you upgrade horsepower on a stock clutch, you increase the chances of failure. ($400 - $1,000)

Royal Purple fluids
These fluids are a lot more "slippery" than most other brands. As a result, your parts experience less friction and move much easier past eachother, which translates out to less precious horsepower being wasted as heat. Engine, transmission and differential fluids gave a Mustang an extra 15 rwhp. It'll most likely do the same for you. (about $100 for engine/tranny/diff oils).

Adjustable fuel pressure regulator
Automatically enriches fuel mixtures at an astronomical rate (much faster than stock), which vastly approves throttle response in all ranges and slightly increases higher RPM power. ($200)

Limited-slip differential with shorter gear ratios
This is what I consider the "ultimate" upgrade for a BMW. You essentially compromise top speed for more acceleration. The torque-biasing also skyrockets your cars ability to accelerate out of corners. ($1,500 to $3,000)

Racing camshaft
This will let more air to enter your engine, and more exhaust gases to get out at higher RPM. It will give you huge boosts mid-range torque and high-end power, but will sound lumpy as hell at idle. (about $600)
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:43 PM
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Het, Pirate. Somebody just hijacked your thread. Don't fret. It happns all the time. This is ADD central.
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  #9  
Old 06-11-2007, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Talon328 View Post
Thanks a lot Pirate. ... This will help me prioritize. I'd like to see a few suspension upgrades in there too, just to see where you'd rank them in priority.
Along these lines, anybody have any good idea on control arms for an e36? I have a 10/95 M3 with a Dinan S3 sus. and it looks like i need to replace my front bushings and ball joints. So I might as well do the control arm too right? In particular I am looking for a racing manufacture a-style arm that does not wander under hard braking/cornering. Any help would be great.
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  #10  
Old 05-10-2007, 12:31 AM
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Now Guys, can you see why I have no money left

Now I know what you were doing until the early hours this morning. Great Thread Son and very articulately put. Even I understand it
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:13 AM
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Thanks for the nice replys guys, have been meaning to to it for ages.

V33_n00b - Agree with your points 100 percent buddy. Mine was more for the 'usual' and most popular mods.
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:52 AM
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Great thread

Would make a good sticky, especially if people discuss all their mods and stuff here.

So take the 318i...

With the iridium spark plugs, V-power and the K&N panel filter am I getting around 8% more horsepower already? I guess it's not worth getting a CAI without replacing the exhaust because that is just a bottleneck? Plus I remember reading the MAS on the 318i doesn't recognise increased cold air flow or something like that
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Last edited by B/\/\W; 05-10-2007 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 05-10-2007, 02:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B/\/\W View Post
Great thread

Would make a good sticky, especially if people discuss all their mods and stuff here.

So take the 318i...

With the iridium spark plugs, V-power and the K&N panel filter am I getting around 8% more horsepower already? I guess it's not worth getting a CAI without replacing the exhaust because that is just a bottleneck? Plus I remember reading the MAS on the 318i doesn't recognise increased cold air flow or something like that
Unfortunately true buddy, the MAS just doesn't have the range to feel the benefit of the colder air.

Increased natural air induction is always good though!
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by B/\/\W View Post
Great thread

So take the 318i...

Plus I remember reading the MAS on the 318i doesn't recognise increased cold air flow or something like that
search on shawn fogg mate..if u have an m44 or m42 engine then this is a great way of getting more power !!
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Old 05-10-2007, 02:48 PM
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search on shawn fogg mate..if u have an m44 or m42 engine then this is a great way of getting more power !!
I'm stuck with the M43

At least it was the updated version with a timing chain though!
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Old 05-10-2007, 02:06 AM
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This is just what I've been looking for - a "how-to of mods for your car".

Thanks Pirate copy and v33 nOd3, now I can really start planning what I'll do to mine.
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:53 PM
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nice thread! i've just got 1 question - how can you measure the pressure you are putting on the spark plugs when you're screwing them back in? i think 25Nm was recommended. is there a special key that gives up after applying certain amount of force? then i would rather buy the key, than take my car to the service station
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Old 10-20-2007, 01:39 AM
TheOnlyE36 TheOnlyE36 is offline
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nice thread! i've just got 1 question - how can you measure the pressure you are putting on the spark plugs when you're screwing them back in? i think 25Nm was recommended. is there a special key that gives up after applying certain amount of force? then i would rather buy the key, than take my car to the service station
yeah I normaley just try to feel it out, I have never come across even one spark plug that i stripped the thread on them. But I did strip the thread on my oil drain plug on my bike witch it sucked easy fix but it was uncalled for when you have people waiting for you to go riding.
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:12 PM
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You will need a torque wrench buddy

You set it to what you need and then when you go over, it just click as opposed to tightening further

VERY clever tools

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torque_wrench
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:20 PM
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You will need a torque wrench buddy
You set it to what you need and then when you go over, it just click as opposed to tightening further
VERY clever tools
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torque_wrench
cool, thanks! that was most helpful
do you suggest buying new spark leads as well?
and i'm sure i will replace the valve cover gasket when i find some oil in the sparkplug holes.
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:30 PM
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Here is a link - http://www.ackthud.net/shawnfogg/

Not a big fan myself but have heard some good things
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:08 PM
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Good engine you have there

I miss my M43
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:26 PM
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Good engine you have there

I miss my M43
I'll quote parkers.co.uk, "workman-like, but will run to high mileage"
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:26 PM
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i wouldn't replace them if it isn't needed buddy.

I learned a long time ago not to fix stuff that isn't broken

Plus, if you do replace them, then get OEM ones. Performance leads and coil packs are honestly not worth the money
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:38 PM
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