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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 06-08-2013, 08:43 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Jim's 323is thread

I started this thread to document my journey with a 1998 323is. This is my first BMW. Bought it used on CL on June 5, 2013. Got it transferred and tagged on June 6th. Her name, given by her previous owner, is Tiffany. My wife likes it, so I guess I'm stuck with it. Before now, I've never referred to a car as anything but "it". Now it's a "she".

Here she is arriving at her new home with 184,000 miles on the odometer (Mel, the wonder dog, approves):


I trailered because, well, it's a long story and not important. The car runs fine.

Tiffany is to be a dedicated track car. Built up over time. Yes, I know she needs a roll cage and seats and coilovers and more power. All in good time.

First track event is June 21st. She'll be bone stock except for Hawk Blue pads, steel braided lines and whatever high temp brake fluid I just ordered.

This morning I changed the oil and pulled off the door panels. They were only attached by the torx screws and all four map pockets were unglued. The passenger door is missing all of its foam so I need to find a source for that. I also cannot figure out the push clips. Only one or two are broken but none of them will snap into their holes in the door. I also can't figure out how to change the broken ones. Removing them is easy. Just destroy the $hit out of them. But how do the new ones go back in? I'll study the DIY threads again and see if I can understand this.

As usual, everyone with an internet connection has a different opinion about which adhesive works best. I bought three different ones and plan to see which one holds up the best. First up, on the passenger door, Permatex 30 min High Strength Epoxy against Gorilla Glue. I plan to use Loctite Construction Adhesive for the driver's side door. That's tomorrow. I prepped all surfaces with Acetone as best I could. I think it was starting to melt the plastic.

My highly scientific testing procedure is to write the adhesive used, along with the date applied, on the part. Whenever the first map pocket comes loose, I can remove the panel and the failed adhesive will be written on there with the date it was glued on.





Tiffany came to me with three different tires; two Hankooks up front and one Falken Azenis and one Bridgestone on the rear. One rear tire was nearly new. The other one was 80% worn. I ordered two new Hankooks to match the fronts. I'll have to find someone local to shave all of them. I'm not doing a track event on fully treaded tires. Been there, done that, hated it.

The shifter bushings are completely shot and the shifter knob came off in my hand. I ordered the bushing kit from Pelican but I couldn't bring myself to spend money on a shift knob when this one is fine. Maybe I'll just drill a hole through knob and the shaft and stick a pin in it. I don't know. I definitely don't want it coming off on the track.

The headlights are completely hazed over. I bought Mothers Headlight Restoration kit. I'll be employing that while the glue is drying on the driver's side door panel tomorrow morning.

The bumpers need a couple more clips and the front needs the undertray.

The radio sucks but I plan to take it out, along with the 6-disc CD changer in the trunk. The volume control is toast.

While I was changing the oil, I looked at the fan, coolant overflow tank and coolant hoses. Everything looks pretty good. I'll have to keep my fingers crossed that she holds up for the track day. Oil and water temp gauges would be nice, but I can only throw so much money into the pit.

The head room in these cars sucks. I didn't realize this when I went for the test drive. After I got it home and started planning my first track day, I realized that, in my preferred driving position, I have no clearance for a helmet. So, until I can remove the headliner and all the sunroof crap, I'll have to recline my seat a little. Yeah, race seat. I know. Cha ching!

I'm not going to strip the interior yet because I need to drive this car on the street for a while to get used to it. I've been driving an automatic Mazda3 for the last three years. Gotta get used to shifting again.

The steering is not as quick as I'd like. My Mazda feels way better.

There's a lot of stuff that needs work. I'm compiling a complete list and I'll post it up later.

That's all for now. Cheers.

Jim

Last edited by jimgood; 06-08-2013 at 08:44 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2013, 09:59 PM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Jim, welcome to the 'Fest! Cooling system on these cars is their Achilles heel. If the car still has the plastic thermostat housing it likely still has the original water pump with the plastic impeller. The impeller tends to come apart unexpectedly and scatter chunks of plastic into critical places in your cooling lines, etc. Since you're going to track the car and you'll be hitting some higher revs, the plastic fan is something else to look at replacing. They fatigue with age and heat and tend to shuck blades off at the worst possible time and into the worst possible place like the radiator. Speaking of the radiator, the point where the upper radiator hose mount meets the body of the plastic end caps on the radiator tends to develop micro cracks first that result is some small seepage of coolant, followed by complete separation and dumpage of all your coolant in a short time.
Not trying to cause any panic, just some things to think about as you prep for your first track day. If you do nothing else, I'd replace the plastic cooling fan since it could fail with no warning and cause significant damage. For the rest of the cooling system stuff you can keep an eye on the temperature gauge and if you see it climbing you can pull off the track so it's not as critical yet, but something to do for reliability. These engines do not tolerate an overheat well so you definitely don't want to do that.

On the topic of gluing, the single biggest reason for failure of regluing is not getting the old glue off both surfaces. It needs to be sanded off so that the new glue can make an effective bond, otherwise you're just gluing to old glue which has already broken down and the joint breaks loose again relatively quickly.
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Last edited by dc_wright; 06-08-2013 at 10:02 PM.
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  #3  
Old 06-08-2013, 11:31 PM
Niel e36 Niel e36 is offline
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That car has a lot of potential, where you gonna track it at, VIR?
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Old 06-09-2013, 04:30 AM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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dc_wright, thanks for that info. I have been reading the sticky threads about the cooling system and the fan. I'll contact the previous owner and see if that stuff was replaced recently. The car came to him from his parents, who were the original owners. They might remember if any of those parts were replaced.

I'll try sanding the driver's side door instead of using acetone.

Niel, I'll mostly be at Summit Point for now, doing FATT. I can't really commit the time for a full weekend with NASA. I'll keep an eye out for single day events from other clubs. I have driven (and raced) VIR. It's a great track.
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Old 06-09-2013, 05:02 AM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Here's an incomplete list of all the stuff that needs to be done or I want to do:

Brake Pads - DONE
Driveshaft flex disc - NOT NEEDED
Install rear tires and shave tires - INSTALLED, NOT SHAVED
Reglue glove box - DONE
Hood struts - DONE
Hood badge (roundel) - DONE
Finish door panels - DONE (still have a couple broken clips)
Restore headlights - DONE

Shifter bushings - DONE

SS Brake Lines - DONE
Flush Brake System w/ high temp fluid - DONE, BUT NOT WELL. WILL NEED TO DO AGAIN.
Check thermostat housing. Plastic?
Contact owner about cooling system
Clutch (still has original)
Sunroof delete - DONE. THE HARD WAY.
Order pass. door foam. - NAH! SCREW IT.
Odometer is very dim
Clean engine bay
Fix power steering leaks (minor)
Adjust parking brake
Check fog lights. Remove if not working.
Front bumper repair
Rear bumper repair
Rear sheet metal repair
Fix whatever broke at track day - NOTHING BROKE! AIN'T IT GRAND!
Reglue headliner above windshield - NOT APPLICABLE.
Remove radio, CD changer and wiring - DONE
Replace hood with something lighter
Faster steering rack
Adjustable suspension
Roll cage
Race seats - SEAT. SINGULAR. DONE.
Brake ducts
Hood paint pealed off driver side edge
Pass fender paint bubbling
Replace all control arms
Remove heater core
Weld in the sunroof outer shell - NIXED. DID A RIVETED PANEL INSTEAD.

Last edited by jimgood; 07-22-2014 at 03:27 PM. Reason: Reorganized the list
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  #6  
Old 06-09-2013, 10:23 AM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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This morning I reinstalled the pass. door panel. The glue felt strong. The Gorilla glue foamed through the seam and made a bit of a mess that I had to clean up. But other than that it was fine. I found I really had to pound on the pins to get them to catch into the door installing it. But I took a drive this morning and it did not rattle at all.


I also did the headlight restoration with Mothers. Worked pretty well to get the hazing off. But the lenses are still pitted quite a bit so I may use the more aggressive sanding pads.


Driver's door is glued up with Loctite Construction Adhesive. It will set over night and I'll install it tomorrow.

The glove box door is also coming unglued. I'll search for some DIY on how to remove it because I'll need to get clamps in several places that I won't be able to reach while it's installed.

Pics coming.

Last edited by jimgood; 06-09-2013 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 06-09-2013, 12:00 PM
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drivinfaster drivinfaster is offline
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wow!! a noob that reads stickies and searches the forum!!!

welcome to the fest.


thanks for posting the pics, and am looking forward to more.

i do not care for gorilla glue myself for some materials. door panels being one of them. i also think that for the most part people use way too much of it which exasterbates the foaming. tough to get off, too.

the good news it, there are a few tricks i learned while working next to the detail department in one of the dealerships i worked for. they used a lot of acetone and other solvents to remove imperfections and stains, and, if it were too bad, they would use some spray paints.

i saw some amazing transformations done to cars that, had i not seen itwith my own eyes, would have been skeptical about. it's the sort of thing,though, that i would practice first with on similar surfaces or in some inconspicuous location before doing so to my own car.




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Old 06-09-2013, 02:38 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Got the glove box out thanks to google and this guy. Mine came out a little different than his. Just unscrewing the 6 trim screws (two in the vents and 4 in the edges of the box) did the trick. The vents pulled out with the glove box. It looked too risky to try to separate them. I'm missing the glove box light. If there was a fastener behind it, it's gone. The connector for the light is all bunged up.



Here's a shot of the glove box after glue up. I used nearly every clamp I could find.


After shots tomorrow.

Last edited by jimgood; 06-10-2013 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:53 PM
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dtownmikebrown dtownmikebrown is offline
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Originally Posted by dc_wright View Post
If the car still has the plastic thermostat housing it likely still has the original water pump with the plastic impeller.
When I went in to replace the original on mine I was surprised to find that it had a metal impeller. I later found out that BMW wised up and started installing water pumps with metal impellers on newly manufactured cars around mid '97. Still, I wouldn't necessarily trust the original at >180K miles.

If you're considering the FDM, check the condenser fan to make sure it's in good working order before you do. I learned that the hard way when mine finally gave out while I was stuck in a traffic jam on a hot summer afternoon. Whatever you do, just make sure you do a really thorough bleeding of the cooling system. All those little pockets of air will eventually conspire to ruin your day if you're constantly running at high rpms. I found that one out the hard way at an event earlier today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgood View Post
The head room in these cars sucks. I didn't realize this when I went for the test drive. After I got it home and started planning my first track day, I realized that, in my preferred driving position, I have no clearance for a helmet. So, until I can remove the headliner and all the sunroof crap, I'll have to recline my seat a little. Yeah, race seat. I know. Cha ching!
You can always just open the sunroof and then tilt your head slightly to the right. Works for me (See image below).

Looking forward to hearing more about your project as it develops.
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:55 PM
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drivinfaster drivinfaster is offline
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yeah, they like to do that....mine was all busted up when i got it, so i wound up just sourcing a decent unit.

that looks to be repairable, though. there aer a lot of compunds out there that would probably do the job, but that's a tough spot to get clean. what were you planning on using as an adhesive??


oh, and amazon has door panel clips for the cheaps. green eye auto parts.
http://www.amazon.com/50-BMW-Door-Pa...or+panel+clips



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Old 06-09-2013, 07:26 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Originally Posted by drivinfaster View Post
yeah, they like to do that....mine was all busted up when i got it, so i wound up just sourcing a decent unit.

that looks to be repairable, though. there aer a lot of compunds out there that would probably do the job, but that's a tough spot to get clean. what were you planning on using as an adhesive??


oh, and amazon has door panel clips for the cheaps. green eye auto parts.
http://www.amazon.com/50-BMW-Door-Pa...or+panel+clips



df
I'm just using Liquid Nails Construction adhesive. I clamped the crap out of it and I'm leaving it for a full 24 hours before I take the clamps off.

Thanks for the source on those clips!
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:28 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Originally Posted by dtownmikebrown View Post
When I went in to replace the original on mine I was surprised to find that it had a metal impeller. I later found out that BMW wised up and started installing water pumps with metal impellers on newly manufactured cars around mid '97. Still, I wouldn't necessarily trust the original at >180K miles.

If you're considering the FDM, check the condenser fan to make sure it's in good working order before you do. I learned that the hard way when mine finally gave out while I was stuck in a traffic jam on a hot summer afternoon. Whatever you do, just make sure you do a really thorough bleeding of the cooling system. All those little pockets of air will eventually conspire to ruin your day if you're constantly running at high rpms. I found that one out the hard way at an event earlier today.



You can always just open the sunroof and then tilt your head slightly to the right. Works for me (See image below).

Looking forward to hearing more about your project as it develops.
Thanks for the heads up. What's the "FDM"?
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:31 PM
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fan delete mod.





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Old 06-09-2013, 07:44 PM
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Thanks for the heads up. What's the "FDM"?
There's a decent writeup on the FDM here. Also has good instructions on properly bleeding the system.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:30 PM
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Boost it.
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Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
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this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:36 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Boost it.
Yeah, that's exactly what I want right now...several grand on spinning parts, air tubes from the rooter to the tooter, aftermarket electronics, upgraded cooling capacity, dyno time, labor for someone to tune all that crap, tankfuls of premium fuel and questionable long term reliability.

No thanks. I'll just have to be slow for now.
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Old 06-10-2013, 04:15 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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UPS came today with a couple of things from Pelican parts. First up, this is the way to prop the hood when what you really want is a good knock on the head when you elbow your prop.


Now THIS is dignified!


The clips on the hood struts mystified me. The DIY on Pelican was useless as to specifically what to do with them. I used a tiny flathead to destroy the old ones. While putting the new ones on, I recommend starting with the bottom pin, but that's the only useful advice I can offer on the matter. All I could understand is that, once finally in place, the folded edge of the clip at the top of the pin hole should rest in the groove of the pin. How to gracefully get it there?

On the driver's side, the fuse box makes it really fun to get at the lower strut pin and clip. I have no idea whether I got the clip in place correctly, I didn't immediately pop off, so... When removing this one, remove the top first, lower the strut, then do the bottom one. If you try to do the bottom one first, while the top is still connected, you can't get at the clip. Obviously, do the bottom one first when installing.

On the passenger side, I had trouble with the lower one and ended up bashing the strut end onto the pin and securing it with a C clip (finally, that Harbor Freight C-clip storehouse came in handy, even though the size was a little small).

The whole thing was very...um...how can I keep this P.C....third world?

Last edited by jimgood; 06-10-2013 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Better advice on which end to do first.
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Old 06-10-2013, 04:29 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Next up, the worn out badge.



The DIYs had all kinds of suggestions for how to gingerly pop off the old badge. Bet no one has tried this yet. While I was working on the hood struts, UPS arrived with my delivery from TireRack. Rear tires to match the fronts! Woohoo! But, it's what was tying the tires together that appeared like manna from heaven. Those vinyl packing straps are just thin enough, stiff enough and strong enough to use to pop the old badge off.



One quick yank and boink. Off it came. Ok, it didn't come off clean. The right pin broke off. Sue me.

I used the small screw driver to pry up an edge of the left grommet then used pliers to pull it the rest of the way out.





The broken right grommet was problematic. It took some picking, prying and cursing to get it out.

But it was worth the effort! Pay no attention to the handle of the BFH in the upper edge of the picture.


Last edited by jimgood; 06-10-2013 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 06-10-2013, 04:57 PM
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hey!! no using the ban hammer to install roundels....it's against the code....


as for the clips, yeah, they can be a pain, until you see how they are to be done. *then* it makes sense....but alas, i haven't done them in so long that i forget....



took a refresher....see 1:07....





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Old 06-10-2013, 05:05 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Originally Posted by drivinfaster View Post
hey!! no using the ban hammer to install roundels....it's against the code....


as for the clips, yeah, they can be a pain, until you see how they are to be done. *then* it makes sense....but alas, i haven't done them in so long that i forget....

df
LOL...I didn't install the roundel with the hammer. I used my thumbs to press it in. I used the hammer to gently bash the tiny screw driver into the broken pin and grommet. I was unsuccessful in pulling it out, so guess where it is now?

Yeah, it seems that describing procedures for clips of all kinds is a lost art. Automotive clips are quite often very unintuitive, especially electrical connector clips.
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:13 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Thanks for the video. Just in time!

Hopefully it will help the next schmoe that tries this.
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:21 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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So, as I said, the UPS truck arrived with not only my rear tires to match the fronts, but also my Hawk Blue 9012 pads, StopTech 600F brake fluid and Goodridge SS lines.

I might take the car to a local shop and let them do the lines and fluid flush. I don't have the tools to do the flush properly.

If anyone in the Northern Virginia area knows of a shop that can shave tires please pass along their info. It would be great if I could find a shop convenient to where I work (Reston) or where I live (Marshall).
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgood View Post
Got the glove box out thanks to google and this guy. Mine came out a little different than his. Just unscrewing the 6 trim screws (two in the vents and 4 in the edges of the box) did the trick. The vents pulled out with the glove box. It looked too risky to try to separate them. I'm missing the glove box light. If there was a fastener behind it, it's gone. The connector for the light is all bunged up.



Here's a shot of the glove box after glue up. I used nearly every clamp I could find.


After shots tomorrow.
You did the glove box correctly. The box and the AC vents do come out as a unit. Sounds like you were missing the bolt that goes in above the glove box light. Most people get the 6 screws out but miss the top blot and destroy the glove box by forcing it out without removing the bolt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtownmikebrown View Post
There's a decent writeup on the FDM here. Also has good instructions on properly bleeding the system.
The weak point in doing the FDM is that you're left relying on a fan motor that is usually as old as your car and has only seen intermittent operation. When you do the FDM you're relying on an old fan that has to run at a much higher duty cycle.
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:57 PM
jimgood jimgood is offline
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Originally Posted by dc_wright View Post
The weak point in doing the FDM is that you're left relying on a fan motor that is usually as old as your car and has only seen intermittent operation. When you do the FDM you're relying on an old fan that has to run at a much higher duty cycle.
Are you talking about the little electric fan between the AC condenser and the bumper? I remember seeing it when I was under the car changing the oil but didn't really get a good look. Does it kick on when the temperature reaches a certain point?

I'm not completely opposed to doing without a fan. I had a FFR Challenge Series Roadster and ran that without any fan or thermostat. Just had to be careful about idling in the pits. I was dubious about running that way but got used to it and it never overheated on me after removing the fan.
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:07 PM
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dtownmikebrown dtownmikebrown is offline
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Originally Posted by dc_wright View Post
The weak point in doing the FDM is that you're left relying on a fan motor that is usually as old as your car and has only seen intermittent operation. When you do the FDM you're relying on an old fan that has to run at a much higher duty cycle.
This is very true. I really wish I had replaced my aux fan and the applicable relays before I deleted the engine fan, seeing as how I was going to have to do it anyway. Probably would have saved myself some aggravation and $. Oh well.
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