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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Friday, April 27, 2012

More Front End Parts

This month I ordered the remaining"big ticket" items needed for the front suspension overhaul including the springs, struts, and guide supports. After a lot of thought I decided to go with OE guide supports rather than aftermarket camber plates for financial and logistical reasons. With everything I have planned for the car this year I felt the money would be better spent elsewhere and I just didn't want to deal with any fitment or noise issues that might come up with the plates while the car is a daily driver.

For some reason I seem to recall that the original guide supports for the E36 were stamped out of steel but that may just be my imagination. In any case the new parts I received are made of aluminum and appear quite similar to what I've seen on the newer cars. Toward that end they come with an alignment dowel installed (see picture). The dowel is screwed into the base and thus easily removed for the E36 application.

I also managed to pick up the M3 strut tower reinforcements because the roads in New Jersey continue to deteriorate and I want to minimize the chance of any deformation or ballooning of the strut towers. As it turns out these are made out of some surprisingly thick steel -- I didn't have my digital calipers handy but I beileve it to be 1.5 mm or about 16 gauge. The strength is bolstered by roughly 5mm long flanges bent on both the inner and outer diameters. Use of the reinforcements will naturally raise the front end by a hair but I think it's fair to say that the effect will be minimal.

The last thing on the order was a pack of four bolts required to reattach the subframe to the vehicle. The TIS shows two torque specifications:

Neither specification includes an torque angle yet the TIS does require replacement of the bolts. So those values are sufficient to bring the bolts beyond their yield point, or the point at which permanent stretch occurs. During my research I discovered many people advocating the use of star washers with these bolts. Again according to the TIS that only applies to "Up to model year 1993". "Since 1993", the holes in the frame were tapered and the star washers were removed from the assembly process. Both torque specifications are with threads dry and that precludes the use of thread-locker or even anti-seize as others have incorrectly advocated. To summarize, the bolts are installed dry and torqued to 105 Nm. That's it.

The few remaining items I need to start the work include:

If you're wondering why I'm doing the fender liners it's not for cosmetics though I'm sure they'll polish off the project quite nicely. Rather, I have to replace them because they provide a couple mounting points for the "pork chops" that long ago broke off. I guess they don't respond well to the shock of deer bouncing off the front bumper. Whooda thunk it?

I am also considering the installation of a metal underpanel which would eliminate the pork chops entirely, provide additional protection for the radiator/condensor assembly and streamline the airflow to boot, but I'll have to do some additional research first to figure out if there are any reasonably-priced parts available.

The month of May will likely be quite busy for me so my guess right now is that I will start work in June sometime.

Mileage: 221200, Parts: $950