That’s my 2013 list. There are a couple other good ideas on last year’s list so be sure to check that out. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
Substituting a non-airbag wheel seems like a bad idea for a car that’s also a daily driver. But airbag equipped options are limited. Aside from the slip ring and OBC controls the e36 and e39 Sport wheels are identical. While I considered that wheel a good upgrade for our wagon I don’t find the thumb rests beneficial. Steering wheel options are:
I ordered my Euro wheel from eBay user Tainik who is well known in the BMW community. I decided on non-perferated leather without thumb rests. Alcantara is popular but does not resist wear so I opted for plain leather. The airbag arrived from England about a month after I paid for the order and the wheel arrived a week later. The wheel’s diameter is a little larger than I prefer but is such an improvement both functionally and aesthetically that compromise is easy. The quality of Tainik’s work is excellent.
To fit the wheel a steering wheel bracket is required which is part number 32311162088. This is the bracket that holds the signal and wiper stalks. The only other things I required were some wire, shrink wrap and tools.
I followed the install instructions from Bimmerforums.The instructions there are complete enough but here are my point form notes from the install:
The first step is to empty the old reservoir. If I lived somewhere where washer fluid was actually useful I’d probably wait until the reservoir was almost empty and then install the new one. But living in California I used a siphon and pail.
Once the reservoir is empty removing the fluid level sensor and washer fluid pump requires no tools: both pieces just pull out with gentle pressure and a little wiggling. The rubber gaskets are pressure fit in place only so these also come out without tools. This is a good time to clean the gaskets with Vinylex or some other rubber treatment and also clean hoses, wires, sensor and pump and the area under the tank. The tank itself is held on with 1 plastic nut.
Compare the old tank and the new one.
Install is the reserve of removal. Be sure to install the fluid level sensor with the plastic float on the bottom or it will always incorrectly report that fluid is low.
For the e36 I ordered what should be a complete kit. This is not a top-of-the-line kit and the price reflects that; less than $30 for everything. Unfortunately my kit was short 2 bulbs so I used and extra LEDs I had lying around. I didn’t feel like wasting time taking it up with the vendor.
Some of the light panels come off with finger pressure but most will require some help from either a screwdriver or a trim removal tool. Generally the Bimmian guide is accurate. A few notes:
To solve the license plate light issue I decided to gamble on some top-of-the-line lights. I say gamble because no one likes it when expensive parts generate errors. I ordered the WeissLicht LED License Plate Illumination Upgrade from JLeviSW which is the same as Bimmian. I ordered the upgrade for the e36 M3 and our e39 touring. The lights appear well made and are complete housings and lenses, not just bulbs.
The lights were installed on the e36 first. I noticed that the connector plugs into the back of the LED housing instead of the side like OEM. This reduces the slack in the wire but is not a problem.
If you have OEM lights you may find that the new lights are a little loose: this isn’t a fitment issue, it’s just that the rubber seal on your old lights was probably stuck to the car creating the illusion of better fit.
The lights are held on more but the trunk handle than anything else, so once the handle is re-installed fitment should not be an issue.
It’s very important with these kits to install and test right away: warranty is usually 30-90 days but if you want to claim a warranty on a DOA part and save shipping costs you usually need to report it within 5 days of receipt. Unfortunately one of the lights has a short in it, but thankfully I just received these 2 days ago.
Until I get a replacement I’ll have one really bright light and one dim one.
I also installed the e39 version for our 2000 540i touring. They look great but fitment was difficult: the left side light kept crushing the bulb contacts which required some adjustment (bending) until they would contact properly.
I found some cheap but apparently good condition all-red tail lights and picked them up. They have no markings on them and the clear coat seems good. Installed these and a UUC clutch stop this morning.
My wife is learning to drive manual transmission and she finds it difficult to get the clutch pedal all the way to the floor, which is the only way to reliably know that you’ve pushed the pedal in far enough. I think the new clutch stop will help.
The clutch stop on the M3 is completely plastic and only about 1/2″ in length. The clutch stop in my e30 was slightly more engineered (like everything e30) and featured a 3/4″ bolt with a plastic disc on the top. Both are too short to make a noticeable change in the throw of the clutch pedal.
I ordered the UUC Big Boy Clutch Stop, which is not specifically for the e30 but installed and works fine. Both my M3 and e30 now have this clutch stop installed.
Installation is simple:
The first time you drive after installing the clutch stop you will be surprised how short the clutch throw feels. To me, I felt like the throw was 1/2 of what it was before even though the distance is only 1 1/2″ shorter.
I sold my Ireland Engineering M20 Performance Wire Set and installed my old “spare” set until a set of black Bremi wires comes next week. They are great wires I just didn’t love red that much.
It was a CG Lock and after the driver showed me how to buckle up the benefit became immediately apparent: the CG Lock stops your lap belt from slackening or tightening. If it’s tight then you are firmly connected to the car and therefore more aware of what the car is doing.
I ordered one, installed it (it clamps on with only 2 small bolts) and tested it while driving around today: works great, feels good. We’ll see how it really performs at autocross tomorrow.
The CG Lock was an excellent addition to my autocross set up and made me feel considerably more “connected”. However, by the end of the day the clamp that attaches the CG Lock to the belt buckle started becoming loose and the whole thing ended up in my glove box. I don’t feel comfortable using it for every day driving but I expect to use it again next time I autocross.
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