Friday, July 9, 2010
Oil Service and Analysis
Last weekend I conducted another oil service after 4372 miles in service and took a sample to send to Blackstone Labs for analysis. Today I received the analysis and breathed a sigh of relief when the report indicated that lead had dropped to 8 PPM. This isn't quite back to the baseline of 4 PPM yet but any drop in wear metals is a good thing. This means I can put off plans to pull the engine and instead focus on other things including overhauling the accessory section and the front suspension.
Front Suspension Overhaul Plans
And while I'm on the topic of the front suspension overhaul, I figured I'd point out what I plan to do:
- OE Sport Package Struts and springs: I could do something aftermarket here, but I'm going OE because I don't want to risk upsetting the balance of the vehicle now that the rear suspension is done.
- Lemforder (OEM) Tie Rods: Lemforder produces the BMW OE arms and the Lemforder branded arms are literally half the cost so I see no point in buying OE.
- 95 M3 Control Arms: Unlike the arms used on the 96-99 M3, the 95 M3 arms are identical in geometry to the non-M E36 and thus a direct swap. The 95 M3 arms are equipped with single piece ball joints that are stronger and produce a steering feel that is more connected with the road. Unfortunately, they are almost twice the price of the standard arms and I could find no OEM equivalent, but I think the benefits outweigh the price.
- 96-99 M3 Control Arm Bushings: These bushings position the control arm in the center of the bushing and are a direct swap for the non-M bushings. The M3 parts are solid rubber so I expect them to communicate a bit more road feel and be more resistant to failure.
- Vorshlag Caster/Camber plates and upper spring perches: While caster/camber plates are nice to have in general, given what I learned during the recent alignment I believe they are now required. My strut towers are no longer perfectly aligned and that means the front alignment will remain out of spec unless I add the ability to adjust it.
- X-brace: The X-brace was originally designed for the convertible but has developed a reputation for tightening up the front end of the entire E36 line for a very reasonable price. On later model E36's such as mine the holes in the subframe required to mount the X-brace are already drilled. I just need the nutserts and the tool required to install them.
- Subframe reinforcement kit: A good idea for any old E36. This involves welding in four plates that beef up high stress areas on the subframe. I'll likely take this to the same fabricator that did the rear subframe welding because I was satisfied with the work.
- Powder coat the subframe, king pins and x-brace: Another job for Mike at Shore Powdercoat as required to remove rust, cover the newly-welded areas and just clean things up in general.
- Swaybar links: I replaced these a few years back but they take a beating so I plan to replace them again.
- Steering Column Overhaul: This will include replacement of the lower steering column bearing and a new u-joint / guibo. This is a big job but necessary to eliminate an occasional, but annoying squeak in the steering column and in general tighten up the steering feel.
- Front brakes: Simply because they're ready for replacement.
Many consider a Z3 steering rack upgrade to be a worthwhile place to spend money, particularly for cars that see track duty, but I'm not sure the benefits outweigh the substantial costs in my case. I'd have to purchase the rack outright since I don't have an identical core, and that would translate into something in the neighborhood of $750. Too rich for my blood right now, but perhaps I'll change my mind once I get into the job.
Mileage: 194050 [Oil Service at 193678], Parts: $45, Labor: $25